High School Sports Notes
December 30, 2012 5:06PM
Updated: February 1, 2013 6:14AM
Lockport will swim against the best Saturday at the Evanston Invitational, which will include defending state champion New Trier and state runner-up Naperville North.
“It’s a mini state meet,’’ Lockport coach Grant Ferkaluk said. “You’re seeing the best competition other than some of the teams that are from down south. It’s a big meet.’’
Despite the tough competition, the top swimmers usually don’t avoid one another while they’re trying to do better than the next guy.
“With the guys teams, it seems like there’s a couple of stars at each program and all of them get along real well,’’ Ferkaluk said. “They enjoy competing against each other.’’
“Swimming has always been in my life, but now it’s the primary sport I do,’’ said Lockport’s Jake Knowles, a state qualifier last season in the 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard freestyle.
Speaking of elite competition, Lockport also will be in the New Trier Diving Invitational on Saturday.
Circle the calendar: The Lockport Invitational, which includes Stagg and Lincoln-Way Central, is Jan. 18 and 19.
Lockport has had a strong season thus far, winning titles at its own invitational and the Rock Island Invitational while finishing second in strong fields at the Palatine Invitational and Plainfield North Strikefest.
But although they’ve established themselves as one of the state’s top teams, the Porters know it won’t be easy to get to state out of a top-heavy Rich East Sectional.
Only two teams will advance out of the sectional that includes a Minooka squad that won the titles at Palatine and Plainfield North and finished second at Lockport.
Also in the sectional: defending state champion Andrew.
“We know it’s going to be a really tough sectional and we’re trying to get ready for it,” Lockport’s Bri Zabierek said. “We’ve been kind of going back and forth with Minooka all year.”
Lincoln-Way West, with defending individual state champion Morgan Flaherty, is also in the sectional.
Plainfield East, Romeoville and the host Tigers will compete in the Plainfield North Sectional, where they will have to try to get past strong squads from Oswego and Oswego East.
Ten teams from the Joliet area qualified for the Illinois High School Association state meet last season and hope to return to Bloomington in February.
Those 10 squads and a host of other area teams will be heading to two sectionals — Riverside-Brookfield and Mahomet-Seymour — in late January.
In the large-school division, Lockport finished second to Sandburg for the state title and will head to Riverside-Brookfield along with Joliet West, which was seventh in the state.
Providence, which finished fourth in the state among large schools, will head to Mahomet-Seymour along with Lincoln-Way East (6th) and Plainfield Central (9th).
Lemont finished third in the medium-school division and will be heading to Riverside-Brookfield, along with Lincoln-Way West, which took 16th in the state last season.
In the small-school division, Wilmington (13th in the state last season) and Dwight (19th) will head to Riverside-Brookfield.
In the coed division, Joliet Central, which finished 23rd in the state, will head to Riverside-Brookfield.
Area squads have won five state titles since the tournament started in 2006. Lockport won in 2007 and 2008, while Lemont won three straight from 2009-11.
Edwardsville senior Blake Blair was considered the top-ranked wrestler at 195 pounds and eyeing an undefeated campaign at the start of the season. The undefeated goal came to an abrupt end after he met Plainfield Central’s Jordan Ellingwood in the finals of the esteemed Dvorak Invitational.
Ellingwood won in convincing fashion, avenging a quarterfinal defeat to Blair from a season ago to take home the title with a 13-5 decision.
Lockport junior Brian Rossi hopes he and teammate Austin Strzelczyk can springboard their Lake Park Invitational co-Outstanding Wrestler nods to bigger and better things.
“Last year our teammate Shaun’Qae (McMurtry) won the award,” Rossi said. “He ended up winning state. I’m hoping I can follow a similar path. Winning the award gives me confidence and shows what I can do.”
In other tournament action over the holiday, Lincoln-Way East’s Kyle Langenderfer, an Illinois recruit, kept his undefeated record intact with a 152-pound title at the 27-team Berman Classic. His Lincoln-Way East teammate Nick Allegretti had a strong showing, but the heavyweight lost in the finals to top-ranked Brian Allen of Hinsdale Central.