High School Sports Notes
December 16, 2012 9:48PM
Updated: January 18, 2013 6:12AM
Swimmers from Joliet Central and Joliet West form the Joliet co-op team, which is in its fourth season.
Coach Maggie Brandenburg, who started the program in 2008, is counting on captains Tyler Wooten and Stephen Mahn from West and Julio Montenegro from Central to be this season’s team leaders.
“Their dedication, hard work and positive attitudes are infectious,’’ Brandenburg said. “We have a young team this year with potential to be successful. So far, we have had a great start to the season.’’
Joliet co-op competes in the tough SouthWest Suburban Blue, which includes some of the top programs in the area in Sandburg, Lockport and Lincoln-Way East.
Upcoming competition includes road meets Thursday against Homewood-Flossmoor and Jan. 10 against Sandburg, which tied for fourth in the state last season. Joliet co-op will have home duals on Jan. 17 against Lincoln-Way East and Jan. 24 against Lockport. The squad’s home meets are at the Inwood Athletic Club in Joliet.
Joliet co-op placed sixth at the talent-laden Sandburg Sectional last season, which was won by the host Eagles. Joliet finished ahead of Oak Lawn, Richards, Lemont and Joliet Catholic.
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.
The Lockport Regional has three of the best teams in the area battling for one dual team slot: Lincoln-Way Central, Lockport and Plainfield Central.
Joliet Central, Joliet West and Minooka should battle in a solid Joliet Central Regional while the Bolingbrook Regional appears wide open. Meanwhile at the Marist Regional, Sandburg and the Redhawks will again lock horns, leaving one of the state’s premier teams at home to watch the remainder of the team tournament.
In Class 2A, the Tinley Park Regional looks competitive with Lincoln-Way West, Lemont and Oak Forest. The problem for whichever team wins that regional is a likely state quarterfinal matchup with powerhouse Montini.
Speaking of Lincoln-Way West, coach Brian Glynn has managed to turn the Warriors into one of the best teams in Class AA.
“We are off to a great start, but the heart of our schedule is right around the corner,” Glynn said, who noted an early surprise has been the performance of Kyle Rodriguez at 132 pounds. “He’s had a few big wins over the last couple of weeks.”
The host Tigers and Plainfield East both had strong showings at the Dec. 8 Plainfield North Strikefest, finishing 10th and ninth, respectively, in the 44-team event considered to be the state’s top regular-season tournament.
Both squads made rare appearances in the Gold Division, which is made up of the top 12 teams after the three-game morning session.
Plainfield East’s Ivory Miles said her team’s initial goal was to make the Silver Division, but the Bengals exceeded that.
“It was really exciting to make it to Gold, because we’ve never made it before,” Miles said. “It’s a nice confidence-builder.”
Speaking of confidence builders, Miles was the tournament’s runner-up, putting together a six-game series of 1,286.
“I just stayed focused and tried to see what I had to do,” she said. “I was able to figure out the angles and the lanes.”
Chelsea Moeller (38th, 1,127) and Kinswana Hubbard (83rd, 1,042) also had strong days for the Bengals.
Plainfield North got a big momentum boost with a 986 in the first game, good enough for third-place after the opener, and were in eighth after the morning session before fading a bit in the afternoon.
Taylor Wilmoth (1,218) led North with a 12th-place finish.
Juniors Kacia Kenney, Kaitlyn Lee and Athanasia Pappas are Lockport athletes who compete as independents at gymnastics meets.
While the three are not at the state elite level just yet, their contributions this season could lead to something more important – the possible formation of a team at the school in the future. They could be Porter pioneers.
“They are responsible for trying to start a program and have begged me to be a part of it,” Porters coach Brooke Nightswander said. “They are trying to get more people involved. Maybe next year they can have a team. I don’t believe they ever had a team in the past. This would be the first and only as far as I know.”
At the Homewood-Flossmoor Holiday Invitational Saturday, Pappas, was 23rd in the all-around while Kenney took 12th in the vault and Lee was 25th on the beam.
The three combined for a combined score of 83.4, which wasn’t all that far from Neuqua Valley’s team score of 87.4.
The team could promote a junior varsity competitor to compete in varsity events in the near future. The varsity athletes could get better as they heal. Pappas is coming off ACL surgery and wears a brace in some events. Kenney is recovering from a hamstring tear.