Shepard's Skylor Hilger | File photo
Shepard sophomore Skylor Hilger came as close as an athlete could get to competing in the state meet last season without actually stepping onto the floor.
She easily qualified via sectionals, and was all set to compete in the state meet but fell ill the night before the event and was too weak to compete. She took part in the opening ceremony and cheered on some of her club friends but wasn’t able to perform.
Shepard doesn’t have a team, but Hilger will enter a couple of team invitationals this season as an independent, according to Jody Raymond, her club coach at Action Gymnastics.
Hilger is trying to balance softball and gymnastics, and while she did not put in as much time with gymnastics as other elite athletes in the summer, Raymond said he’s amazed at what she’s been able to do upon her return.
“It took her just a couple of weeks to get back to a high-competitive level,” Raymond said. “She’s done a great job.’’
Reavis improved to 4-0 in South Suburban play with a 1,584-1,569 win over Tinley Park on Dec. 14.
The Rams followed with a solid fourth-place showing in the 26-team Reavis Rock and Roll Invitational on Dec. 28.
Senior Ashley Kouba, who advanced to state as a sophomore, has led the way. She put up scores of 242 and 268 against Tinley Park and finished fourth at the Reavis Invite, compiling a six-game total of 1,228.
Kouba’s veteran presence is key for a young Rams squad.
“We have eight juniors and we have a very young team overall,” Reavis coach Kathryn Ryan said. “It’s a building year for us.”
Kouba also captured the individual championship at the Rich East Invitational for a second straight year. The Rams finished fourth in the event.
Stacey Pratscher, Makayla Spielman and Maryssa Meskill also have had solid seasons for the Rams.
Sandburg got a confidence boost with its third-place finish in Thursday’s Tinley Park Invitational.
The Eagles finished with a six-game total of 6,058 pins, placing behind only Joliet West (6,249) and Romeoville (6,091) in the 15-team event.
“The team did really good,” Sandburg’s Brandon Torres said. “We had a lot of consistent scores. It’s a big boost for us with conference coming up. There were other teams in the tournament in our conference and our regional and we like to see what they’re going to do. We know we have a lot of work to do still but we feel like the team keeps getting better.”
Josh Harder led the Eagles, tying for sixth with a 1,304. Torres (1,294) was eighth and Brandon Goeringer (1,238) 15th.
“We started out with a couple high games early on and we stayed strong throughout the day regardless of what other teams were doing,” Harder said.
Sandburg will compete in Saturday’s SouthWest Suburban Blue meet at Orland Bowl.