Patriots look to Feng, Koto
Stevenson's Allen Feng swims the 200-yard individual medley at the Barrington Sectional Saturday. | Joe Cyganowski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 22, 2013 2:46AM
Allen Feng and Nick Koto are only sophomores, but both will be looked upon as veterans on the Stevenson boys swim team in 2013-14.
“We’ve got a couple of senior leaders, but our strength is in our sophomore class,” said Stevenson coach Greg Hartman, whose team finished second in Saturday’s Barrington Sectional, tallying 212 points to trail only the host Broncos (272 points). “And Feng and Koto have taken the reins of the team. They’ve been lane leaders in practice, and their performances have elevated the others, giving the team a comfort zone.
“Out of the pool, those two guys are vocal. They’ll get in there and calm things down — or fire it up a bit. Even though they’re only sophomores, they’re comfortable to get up on deck. They’ll check someone in practice if they hear chirping, and they do it with a respect — not like a couple of meatheads cracking skulls.”
Feng and Koto each qualified for the state meet — to be held Friday and Saturday at New Trier — in two events at Barrington. Feng made the cut in the 100-yard backstroke, finishing first in 51.70 seconds, and in the 200 individual medley, placing second in 1:57.98. Koto advanced in the 200 free, finishing second in 1:42.97, and in the 500 free, placing second in 4:43.33.
“Whenever I’m swimming, I feel everybody’s behind me, so I feel responsible for the rest of the team as well,” Feng said. “I always feel like I have to do well — not just for myself, but because the others are putting their hope in me.”
Koto said he also feels a sense of responsibility for the team as a whole, and that it begins in practice sessions.
“I’ve really tried to focus more on practice, and really encourage some of the other swimmers,” Koto said. “The faster I go, people look up to me and ask how I swim — and that makes me want to go even faster. If you know you can do it in practice, you’ll have less nerves and less stress, and you’ll be even better in meets.”
Sophomore Dmitriy Pelutis advanced in the 500 free for Stevenson. Sophomore diver Blake Ripes (442.10 points) and senior James Lichtenstein (390.90) will also compete at state after finishing 1-2, respectively, at Barrington.