O’Toole planning big send-off for Hinsdale South coach
Darien, 02/02/13--Hinsdale South's Ryan O'Toole swims in the 200 free. The West Suburban Gold boys swimming championship meet was hosted by Hinsdale South High School on Saturday. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:53PM
Senior Ryan O’Toole would like to end his career — as well as a two-year drought for the Hornets — with a state berth.
The distance freestyle swimmer will put in 850 yards of combined swimming starting at 1 p.m. Saturday when the Lyons Sectional opens in Western Springs. O’Toole, a Burr Ridge resident, will compete in the 200-yard freestyle, 500 free and both freestyle relays (200, 400) in an attempt to reach the state meet Feb. 22-23 at New Trier.
O’Toole won conference championships in all four of his events earlier this month. His best chances to reach his first state final are in the 200 free and 200 freestyle relay.
“(In the 200 relay), we only need to shave off two seconds,” O’Toole said. “We would need to cut a half-second for each of us in the 50. We have been polishing up on everything — our starts and our turns.”
The Hornets will use the same combination in both relays at Lyons: sophomore Jason Yang, senior Austin Hultmark, O’Toole and senior Gunnar Wagner.
“We’ve put a lot of hard work into the whole season,” O’Toole said. “I’m excited. We should cash in on a great taper Saturday. We’ve had state on a lot of our minds for a long time.”
O’Toole wants a state trip before graduating, as well as give a parting gift to longtime coach Frank Kuchta, who announced his retirement last year.
“It will definitely be emotional (because of coach), but it will be the beginning of a new era,” O’Toole said. “I will be swimming at Illinois Wesleyan next year. I’m excited (about Saturday). I’m looking for a great end to my senior season.”
After coming to Hinsdale South in 1985, Kuchta guided the Hornets to a second place finish in 1986 and third in 1988 when the Darien school hosted the state meet.
Hinsdale South’s boys and girls programs have won 17 West Suburban Gold championships since 2000. The Hornets pulled off another girls and boys sweep when the boys won the conference meet Feb. 2 in Darien.
Kuchta will complete his coaching career with the Hornets as the girls water polo coach in the spring. He started the program and led the Hornets to third at state in 1991.
“It’s been a good run and I have had a lot of really great guys and girls to work with and a lot of memories over the past several years,” Kuchta said.
Kuchta said he plans on staying involved in aquatics, perhaps as an assistant coach at the college level.