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High School Sports Spotlight for Feb. 18, 2013

Tom Howell Marist

Tom Howell, of Marist

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Updated: March 19, 2013 6:23AM



This week we shine the spotlight on: Tom Howell, Marist wrestling; Danny Swan, Oak Forest wrestling; Skylor Hilger, Shepard gymnastics; and Kyle Fitzgerald, Andrew swimming.

Tom Howell

Sr. wrestling, Marist

Howell, a consistent force all season, surprised even himself by capturing the 220-pound Class 3A state championship Saturday at Assembly Hall.

“I didn’t think I was going to do much,” Howell said. “I was a two-time qualifier, but I didn’t place the past two years. Now I’m a state champion and this is awesome. I never thought it would happen.”

In the title bout, Howell (38-5) topped Willowbrook’s Dan Draski (46-6) by an 8-3 decision.

“My goal for this year was just to place. I didn’t even think about making the finals.”

Logan Malloy

Danny Swan

So. wrestling, Oak Forest

In one of the biggest title bout upsets of the state tournament, Swan became the first state champion for Oak Forest since Mike Neufeld accomplished the feat in 1985.

Swan defeated Rich Central’s undefeated Nkosi Moody 4-2 in overtime by securing a takedown as time expired.

“I really feel like this will motivate the youth club,” Swan said. “The Oak Forest Warriors kids, because I’m just a regular kid, too, and I did what it took.”

“For a long time, we haven’t had a state champ,” Swan said. “I really feel like this will motivate the youth club, the Oak Forest Warriors kids, because I’m just a regular kid, too, and I did what it took.”

Logan Malloy

Kyle Fitzgerald

Jr. swimming, Andrew

Fitzgerald won the 100-yard freestyle and led off the first-place 200 and 400 freestyle relays at the Lincoln-Way North Sectional. Fitzgerald also qualified for the state meet in the 200 freestyle.

“I’ve swam pretty well,’’ he said. “On a couple relays I broke pool records. At conference I went the state qualifying time. Overall, I‘ve just been working hard and having a good year.’’

With Rick Osty the only senior, Fitzgerald said he’s “playing somewhat of a leadership role already. I know next year I’ll have to step it up.’’

Tim Tierney

Skylor Hilger

Fr. Gymnastics, Shepard

After returning to the sport after a three-year layoff, Hilger competed as an individual because Shepard doesn’t have a team and she was a regional all-around champion and qualified for state but had the flu over the weekend and didn’t participate.

Now it’s time to hit the diamond. Despite the success in gymnastics, she is still going to play softball for the Astros in the spring after doing well on the travel circuit in recent years.

“Softball is a whole different season which is good because I like softball as well,” she said. “I played shortstop with the Ice [based in Crestwood] and I want to play high school softball.”

Jeff Vorva



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