High School Sports Notes
December 16, 2012 9:08PM
Updated: January 18, 2013 6:13AM
Shepard had some key graduation losses from the team that won the South Suburban Red meet last season, but the Astros’ depth includes individuals moving up from the junior varsity squad that also won conference.
“We’re going to see who can step into those roles, mainly freestylers that we lost,’’ said Tommy Eyer, who swims the butterfly.
Eyer said varsity returnees Mitch Pearl and Sanders Yu will be “key guys’’ this season for coach Tricia Biedron’s team.
“We want to defend our conference title,’’ Eyer said. “That would be a big deal if we got back-to-back years.’’
Shepard’s next home meet is Jan. 3 against Oak Lawn, which was second to the Astros last season in the conference meet. Shepard will host its own invitational on Jan. 19.
They said it: “My mom made me do it. I didn’t want to. But after my first practice, I loved it.’’ – Marian Catholic’s Joe Cifelli, on getting started in diving.
“Beginning of sixth grade and I moved into the high ranks. I was with the slower lanes and I realized I’m going faster than some of these kids.’’ — Lincoln-Way North’s Evan Surma, on realizing he could excel in swimming.
When the 44-team field assembled for the Dec. 8 Plainfield North Strikefest, including most of the state’s best squads, few likely expected T.F. South to be a factor.
But the Rebels averaged 917 over the three-game morning session, making the top 12 cut for the Gold Division.
How tough of a cut was it? Defending state champion Andrew, among many other top teams, fell short.
“It was a good showing getting into the Gold,” T.F. South coach Bob Quayle said. “We really bowled well in the morning and I’m proud of the team.”
The Rebels struggled a bit in the afternoon, finishing 12th.
“We couldn’t make adjustments in the afternoon,” Quayle said. “We’ll learn from this and keep getting better.”
Junior Kayla Garcia led the Rebels with a seventh-place finish.
A week earlier, it was senior Shannon Pollard leading the way with a second-place finish at the Rich East Invitational, lifting T.F. South to the team title.
Seniors Charity Bickcom and Lauren Hart have also performed well.
“I think we have really a strong team,” Bickcom said. “Last year, we only had sophomores and juniors on the team so this year I think we’re more experienced and we’re pretty strong.”
With the recent release of its regional assignments, the IHSA continues to baffle with the allocation of top teams, and the call for a better seeding system should be heard.
Sandburg will again travel to Marist for a meeting with the Redhawks in what should be another intriguing battle between two of the state’s premier programs. Meanwhile, Lockport and Lincoln-Way Central meet at Lockport, and the addition of Homewood-Flossmoor and Plainfield Central make it an even tougher draw.
In 2A, the Tinley Park Regional looks competitive with Lincoln-Way West, Lemont and Oak Forest. The problem for whichever team conquers that regional is a likely state quarterfinal matchup with powerhouse and returning champ Montini, as West and Lemont learned last season.
Speaking of H-F, the Vikings have impressed with a second place finish at the Hinsdale South Invite and a 3-0 run at the Minooka Duals. The Vikings most recently finished 11 of 25 at the Rex Whitlach Invite, one of the top tournaments in the state.
“We struggled for a while, but we’re turning it around the corner,” H-F coach Brett Geijer said. “Once we get more guys healthy it should be fun.”
After skipping the sport for almost three years, Skylor Hilger decided to return to gymnastics this summer.
The Shepard High School freshman from Worth has defied the odds in her comeback. After recently claiming a Level 9 championship on the club circuit for Action Gymnastics, she hopes to be a title contender on the Illinois High School Association level as well.
Hilger competes as an independent since Shepard doesn’t have a team. She finished fourth all-around on Friday at the Lyons Invitational and sixth all-around in the Homewood-Flossmoor Holiday Invitational Saturday.
Her club coach thinks that by the end of the year, she could be vying for a state title.
“She is at a high level and what she is doing is hard enough to do,” Action Gymnastics Coach Jody Raymond said. “But for her to be performing like this after taking so much time off is unheard of. She is definitely a state contender. She doesn’t have a weak event.”
During her time away from gymnastics, Hilger has become a standout softball player as well and hopes to continue to do both throughout her high school career.
She will participate in the Oswego Invitational Dec. 28, the Neuqua Valley Invitational Jan. 12 and the Lincoln-Way Junior Varsity Invitational Jan. 19.