High School Sports Notes
January 27, 2013 11:00PM
Updated: March 1, 2013 6:36AM
The Joliet co-op swim team has dual-meet victories over Morris and Lockport to its credit this season entering the loaded SouthWest Suburban Blue meet Friday and Saturday at Sandburg.
“This is a very tough conference for us, especially since we don’t have offseason swimmers,’’ Joliet coach Maggie Brandenburg said. “The other schools have their own pool. They swim during P.E. class. They swim before school, after school.’’
Seniors Tyler Wooten and Zach Mikuska and junior Stephen Mahn have been the Joliet leaders. Wooten won the 50- and 100-yard freestyles Thursday against Lockport, which didn’t swim its top individuals. Mahn won the 100 butterfly and Mikuska the 500 freestyle.
Other Joliet winners Thursday at Inwood were Anthony Sims (100 backstroke), Billy Doty (100 breaststroke), the medley relay (Mikuska, David Youell, Mahn and Wooten) and the 200 free relay (Mahn, Youell, Jeremy Arellano and Wooten).
“There has been tremendous progress each year,” said Brandenburg, who started the program five years ago. “This year has been the best. We’ve got a great set of kids.’’
After capturing his second South Suburban Conference title on Saturday, Lemont senior Chris Giatras (34-1) is ready to leave his mark on the state tournament.
So what makes Giatras, a returning state-placer, such a force?
“He’s freakishly strong and has crazy balance,” Lemont coach John St. Clair said. “His body position and balance, and his hip strength and core strength are so good. So what he does, he does well.”
Giatras’ lone blemish of the season came from Oak Park-River Forest’s Joe Ariola in the finals of the Hinsdale Central Invitational. Ariola is regarded as one of the premier wrestlers in Class 3A.
“I thought the loss was good for me,” Giatras said. “It helped me push harder in practice.”
Romeoville senior Naquan Hardy (31-1) continued his stellar season at 120-pounds. Hardy captured the Southwest Prairie Conference title Saturday, and his only loss of the season came in the finals of the Batavia Invitational at 126 pounds to the host’s Joel Shump.
Minooka state-placer Corbett Oughton (3-2) missed time while nursing an arm injury, but returned in time to secure his third straight SPC title.
Shane Matejcak was certainly thrilled about winning the individual state championship Saturday, but it was Lockport’s team championship that the Porters’ senior couldn’t stop talking about.
Lockport’s roster at state consisted of eight seniors, who all contributed in at least one of the 12 games in the state tournament.
What a way to go out.
“We’ve known each other for four years and bowled together and bonded as a team,” Matejcak said. “This was the best way to go out.”
While Matejcak faced the pressure of leading the tournament after Friday’s play, he showed no signs of letting it get to him.
“Shane stayed cool the whole time,” Lockport coach Jeff Wyatt said. “He kept making good shots and it paid off for him.”
Lincoln-Way West junior Josh Glover, meanwhile got all the motivation he needed for next year, finishing fifth.
“I could have done a little better,” he said. “I’ve got another whole year to get better. My motivation next year is to take it all. I want to get my team down to state with me, too.”
Speaking of next year, the top three bowlers for Minooka, which finished fourth, were underclassmen: sophomore Dylan Pickett and juniors Zach Segatto and John Kauffman.
Lockport sophomore Kacie Kenney didn’t know what to say.
She said she didn’t wake up Saturday morning expecting to win a championship at the SouthWest Suburban Conference Tournament later that day and was speechless when asked about it after the meet. She did give a little laugh when asked how much fun it was to win the balance beam event with a 9.300. That was the highest score of any event in the meet.
Andrew’s Jamie Valla, who dominated the conference her first three years, was limited to one event and that allowed some new champs to be crowned. Lockport doesn’t have a full team and Kenney was an independent whose score on the beam easily beat Lincoln-Way coop all-around champ Kaila Pohrte (8.725) and Homewood-Flossmoor’s Aleigha Williams (8.675).
Kenney finished fourth in the all-around with a 33.050.
Her strong showing in the meet helped offset some bad news for the Porters. Junior Athanasia Pappas, who had ACL surgery before this season, re-injured her knee and missed the conference meet and will miss the Illinois High School Association postseason meets. Pappas has been instrumental in trying to form a team at Lockport.