Hinsdale Central’s Portland postioned for big relay success
Hinsdale Central's Brian Portland swims the 100 yd. butterfly prelim at the IHSA Boys State Swim Meet on Friday, Feb. 24th. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: February 11, 2013 6:32AM
DARIEN — When Hinsdale Central swimmer Brian Portland competed on varsity as a freshman last year, he had the perfect teammate to show him the ropes.
Danny Thomson, who is currently swimming at Stanford, splashed onto the scene as a freshman himself en route to winning five individual state championships during his high school career.
“He was my mentor for weights and being part of the team,” Portland said. “He taught me a lot of the things that help me out today, like working hard and how it will pay off in the end.”
Portland adjusted to varsity life just fine last season and appears poised for even greater success this year as a sophomore.
He played a major role in Hinsdale Central winning the Hinsdale South Hornet College Events Invitational Saturday in Darien.
Portland finished second in the 100-yard freestyle (49.46 seconds); teamed with Brogan O’Doherty, Eddie Mapel and Alex Cruz to get second in the 400 medley relay (3:43.50); and joined Connor Schroyer, Brian Powell and Cruz to place second in the 200 free relay (1:31.18).
Senior teammate Schroyer has been impressed by what Portland has already accomplished.
“He’s doing really well,” Schroyer said. “He adds a lot to our team and his fly and freestyle helps us a lot in the relays. He’ll continue to get better and be really good as a senior.”
Hinsdale Central (266 points) edged Barrington (259) for the team title behind first-place performances from Schroyer (50 free, 22.49) and Mapel (200 breaststroke, 2:16.50).
Portland emerged as a key relay member by the end of last season.
He was part of the Red Devils’ 200 medley relay that placed seventh at state, along with current teammates Will Leach and Mapel, and 400 free relay with Cruz, Leach and Schroyer, which placed 12th.
“It was great last year,” Portland said. “I’m glad to be coming back with a lot of the same guys. It’s been a really good year so far. I just want to go out there, have fun and do my best.”
Hinsdale Central coach Corky King has seen a big difference in Portland this season.
“Brian was kind of a deer in headlights last year, but he came through,” King said. “Now, he kind of gets it and is excited. He’s come back so much stronger and he grew a little bit. He’s training better than he did last year.”
King believes Portland possesses traits that will only make him a better swimmer in the future.
“He’s a neat kid,” King said. “He smiles in adversity. When he doesn’t do good he’s mad at himself; he’s not mad at anybody else, but he knows he needs to do better. He’s able to move on pretty quickly and not let it get to him and consume him. He’s definitely a talent.”