Byron impresses against Galena

Andy Colbert

I finally made it to a basketball game and came away impressed with how the Byron girls took apart previously unbeaten Galena, the No. 1 team in 1A. Byron beat the visitors in all phases, especially with their defense.

On offense, the Tigers move the ball quite well and blend together as a unit, with no prima donnas. They have a good mix of senior leadership with Ava Kultgren and Ella Grundstrom, along with young kids like freshman Macy Gohering who had 14 points.

On Tuesday, Byron travels to Dixon for what may be for the conference title. One commonality between the two teams is having to face powerhouse Lincoln at the Dixon Holiday Tournament in December.

Lincoln is the only undefeated team in 3A and no one has come within 19 points of them. At Dixon, they won their four games 81-21, 71-29, 72-28 and 49-16.

There is definitely a major difference between 2A and 3A basketball for both the boys and girls. Byron has to like their chances of getting out of the 2A sectional, especially if they play like they did against Galena.

With the NUIC being down this year, Galena is also the odds-on favorite to make it to the super-sectional. Playing Byron was beneficial for the Pirates.

As one of the smallest schools in the state in a one-class system, Oregon bowling has made a name for itself with its boys and girls programs. That tradition was on display again, this time at the Dixon regional, where the Hawks bested Freeport, Sterling and Geneseo.

All four will head to Don Carter Lanes for the sectional to match up with some of the better teams in Illinois and also the best team in the country in Loves Park Harlem.

How good is Harlem?

Earlier this year at the Guilford Invite, the Huskies broke the national record for a single game series with a 1,336, an average of 267 per bowler. They also have a state record for a six-game series of 7,045 and Charlie Hunt tied a national record of 867 for a three-game series.

Those are astounding performances and Harlem will be the favorite to win state. Under the tutelage of Alan Nordman, one of the best in the business, Oregon has qualified for the state before as a team, but this will be a tall task with so many good teams at the sectional.

Did you know that girls bowling has been sanctioned by the IHSA much longer then the boys? The girls had their first tournament in 1973 and the boys not until 2003.

When I was in high school I remember what may have been the biggest controversy in the history of the IHSA bowling. Since boys bowling wasn’t offered, Dixon entered a team in the state tournament with four boys and one girl.

To the irritation of probably everyone in Illinois outside of Dixon, that squad won the 1975 state title. Under much public pressure, the IHSA created a by-law that prohibited boys from bowling on a girls team.

As I reflect back on the 1970s, my favorite decade, another gender issue was in a sport I was involved in – pole vaulting. Due to chauvinistic attitudes, girls weren’t allowed to pole vault because it was considered too strenuous of an activity.

I recall being asked by a girl why she couldn’t do it and I told her the theory was that a girls insides probably couldn’t handle all the physical stress that vaulting required. Yes, that was quite lame, but what else would you expect from a 17-year-old pretending to be an expert on anatomy and physiology.

It took a lawsuit for the IHSA to add the event decades later. Coincidentally, Amanda Moll from Washington became the first high school girl to pole vault 15 feet, as she made that height this past weekend.

As the Virginia Slims slogan said, “You’ve Come A Long Way Baby.” And as my wife once told me, “Males can be such idiots.” Can’t argue that.

Sad to learn that 67-year-old Doug Oleson of Rochelle passed away last week. Chances are you read something Doug wrote, as he was involved with local newspapers for many years.

As a trained professional in journalism, Doug took the time to encourage me, a lowly part-time reporter. The man was a true gentleman and his kind heart will be missed.

Andy Colbert is a longtime Ogle County resident with years of experience covering sports and more for multiple area publications.

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