High School Sports Notes
February 3, 2013 5:24PM
Updated: March 5, 2013 6:23AM
Lincoln-Way West coach Scott Jablonski said it’s been “an up and down season” for defending state champion Morgan Flaherty.
“The last two weeks (conference and sectionals), though, she settled in,” he said. “She knew this was her time.”
Flaherty rolled to the Rich East Sectional title with 1,386 pins over six games (231 average).
“The biggest thing for me was staying slow and staying behind the ball,” she said. “I just stayed focused.”
West freshman Jessica Schram also made her mark in her first sectional, tossing a 300 in Game 3.
“I was really nervous after the seventh frame, eighth frame,” she said. “It was my first 300. My closest before was 268. It was fun to get it. It was unbelievable. When it happened, I just didn’t believe I had done it.”
Jablonski is excited about Schram’s future.
“She’s there,” he said. “Her lower scores came when we were on bad lanes. She showed how mentally tough she was with that 300. She has the mental strength to repeat what (Flaherty) has done.”
Speaking of freshmen, Joliet West’s Taylor Bailey will conclude her first season at the state meet. Bailey was fourth at Rich East and earned an at-large bid.
The Joliet co-op squad had a couple of strong performances Saturday against the area’s top teams in the SouthWest Suburban Blue meet, which was won by host Sandburg.
Junior Stephen Mahn and senior Tyler Wooten finished second and third, respectively, in the 50-yard freestyle. Joliet’s 200 freestyle relay team of Mahn, David Youell, Jeremy Arellano and Wooten took third.
Lockport coach Grant Ferkaluk was asked to assess his team after the Porters took second at conference.
“OK,’’ he said. “We kept it close in the relays we wanted to be close in, worked on some events that aren’t our best events.’’
Jake Knowles was second in the 200 individual medley (2:01.63) to Homewood-Flossmoor standout Kevin Kuchta (2:00.14).
“We’re swimming pretty tired right now,’’ Knowles said. “I thought as a team we did well.”
Lincoln-Way East was third at the meet, led by 50 freestyle winner Spencer Smith.
“Conference meet is a good gauge of how things are going,’’ Lincoln-Way East coach Kelly Byrne said. “I’m really happy with how we did. We’ve improved our speed.’’
After his team won the Class 3A Lockport Regional on Saturday, Lincoln-Way Central coach Jason DePolo was asked to compare his squad to teams that fell short in the past.
“It’s a ton of luck as far as match-ups,” DePolo said. “Having Plainfield Central here, I think they help us by hurting Lockport. That’s luck. And we have a team that can perform under pressure a little bit better than last year.”
While Lockport failed to repeat as regional champ, the future looks bright for the Porters. Seven finalists from Saturday will return next season, led by champs Brian Rossi, Dan Radcliffe and freshman Shayne Oster. “It was cool when we were freshman coming in,” Radcliffe said. “Me, Dom (Naso), Austin (Strzelczyk) and Brian were all middle school champs. We realized when we’d be seniors that we could be pretty tough.”
In Class 2A, Lincoln-Way West’s Lavonte Blackful (138) and Josh Ruettiger (152) earned titles in their return from injuries to help the Warriors win the Tinley Park Regional.
In Class A, Wilmington finished second behind Plano in the rugged Seneca Regional. Because of the loss, Wilmington did not advance to the dual team state tournament. Wilmington set a school record this season with 32 dual meet victories.
The Joliet area has had a hand in some close shaves when it comes to winning and losing championships in the first eight years of the Illinois High School Association state finals.
Seven of the 32 titles have been decided by less than .30 of a point and five involved area schools, including two on Saturday at the finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.
When Lemont suffered a .12 of a point heartbreaker to Columbia in the medium school division Saturday, some may have assumed it was the closest margin of victory ever at the state meet.
Actually, it was the second closest. In 2011, Lemont edged Antioch by .08 of a point, 91.18-91.10 to win its third straight medium title.
The third-closest gap was when Elk Grove Village won its fifth straight coed title in 2010 by nudging Lake Park by .18.
Dwight’s .20 of a point victory over Rockridge, 87.20-87.00, for the small school crown Saturday ranks fourth.
Lake Zurich’s .22 victory over Conant in 2011 ranks fifth.
Sandburg won the meet’s first-ever large school title in 2006 by nipping Lockport by .26, the sixth-closest margin of victory.