OPRF’s Hallman pinning state hopes on relays
Downers Grove Saturday 2/4/12Oak Park's Mark Hallman during the 200 Free at the WSC Silver conference swim meet. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:32PM
For Oak Park-River Forest swimming, team goals exceed individual achievements when it comes to the postseason.
Junior Mark Hallman competed in the 50-yard freestyle and the 500 free at the West Suburban Silver meet Feb. 2, but will not participate in either event at the Fenwick Sectional at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Instead, Hallman will swim only one individual race along with three other higher-scoring relays in order to boost the team total for the Huskies, who finished third at conference.
Hallman’s lone individual event will the 100 free, but he didn’t even swim that event at conference.
“In the 100 free, I feel pretty good. I feel confident,” Hallman said. “It’s all about taking care of myself in practice (this week).”
Hallman noted a contrast to the normal pace of practice this week. Last week, workouts were intense after the conference meet, but now training has eased during the taper leading up to the sectional.
“You have to trust your coaches that they know what’s going on,” Hallman said.
But don’t expect OPRF’s 400 free relay to take a break. Kyle Patnode, Nathan Pimental, Hallman and Nikita Bondarenko were the only combination to win a relay at the conference meet and have high expectations to make it to the state meet Feb. 22-23 at New Trier. The relay finished in 3:15.58 and might need to top the state qualifying time of 3:14.97 at the sectional to qualify for state. That same foursome was disqualified in the 200 medley relay at conference.
Hallman is the only junior of the group along with three seniors. Hallman will be a part of 200 free relay, but the rest of that combination had not been decided as of earlier in the week. That relay will have the toughest time qualifying for the state meet, according to Hallman.
There should be plenty of familiar faces at the sectional since OPRF swimmers such as Hallman regularly run into Fenwick swimmers. Over the years, Hallman has met Fenwick’s Matt Bresnahan and Justin White and has competed against UCLA-bound Matt Farmer during water polo season.
The shuffling of events means Hallman will be unable to gain redemption in the 500 free. He missed last year’s state cut by two-tenths of a second and was third in the event at the Silver meet.
“I’m excited. I think we have a great chance this year,” Hallman said. “(Losing the 500) was disheartening last year, but I know I have to stay focused.”