Spring sports heat up

Andy Colbert

This upcoming week marks the time that spring sports heat up in regard to the post-season. Baseball and softball regional’s will be in full swing, soccer sectionals on-going and track & field entering their state series.

In a remarkable achievement at the Big Northern Conference girls track & field meet, records were broken in all four relays – the 400 and 800 by Rockford Christian and the 1,600 and 3,200 by Winnebago. Look for each of those quartets to contend for 1A state titles.

Oregon, with individual champs Sonya Plescia (pole vault) and Hadley Lutz (long jump), had a strong showing with a runner-up finish to champ Winnebago. Look for the Hawks to send plenty of athletes downstate.

Heading into the sectionals, Oregon’s 4-by-400, 4-by-200 and 4-by-100 are all ranked in the top 10 in 1A. Relays are a juggling act and the most difficult job for coach Nick Schneiderman will be slotting the right mix into each one.

Likewise with RC and ‘Bago in terms of individuals competing separately and/or on relays. Winnebago is loaded with talented seniors and this will be their last year in a while to contend for a 1A team title.

Stillman Valley plays a tough non-conference softball schedule, so don’t let their .500 record fool you. Last week, they took on NIC-10 leader Hononegah (18-5, 12-0) and came away with a 10-9 win.

In the BNC standings, Rock Falls and North Boone remain 1-2. Forreston is currently unbeaten in their division of the NUIC.

Dixon and RC head up BNC baseball standings with Byron and SV close behind. In the NUIC, Forreston is holding their own in a wide-open conference race.

Baseball and softball regionals begin this week. One potential final that would be enticing is North Boone and Byron in baseball. Another scenario to anticipate is Forreston softball being on odds-on favorite to advance to its own sectional.

Bass fishing sectionals were held last weekend and mention was made of Polo having the largest bass (six pounds, six ounces) caught among the 22 teams competing on the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, that big fish could not put the Marcos over the top in advancing to Carlyle Lake, site of the IHSA state tournament.

Riverdale, Dakota and Fulton took the automatic-qualifying spots, with a total of 17 pounds needed to move on.

In reviewing the results closer, tiny Alden-Hebron crushed the field at the Chain-O-Lakes sectional with 14 pounds caught. The next closest team among larger suburban schools was at seven pounds.

Could Alden-Hebron rekindle the magic of 1952 when they won the state basketball title in a one-class system? Rarely do you see a team double up everyone else on poundage in bass fishing.

Did you know the IHSA has been contesting a girls state badminton tournament since 1977? Perhaps not, because it has strictly been a domain of Chicago-area schools.

As I sat in backyard and looked over to the Park West softball fields on Saturday afternoon, it was a joy to see a good old-fashioned game going on between members of the Mennonite church. It was a co-ed affair, with females clad in full-length dresses and males in long pants and buttoned-down shirts.

It is not too often I ever see whole families getting together for an athletic contest and God bless these good people for maintaining their heritage.

Sorry to hear of the passing of Skip Gooch. Skip was a retired Rockford public schools teacher/coach who helped out at Oregon as a teacher’s aide and PR for sporting events. Skip was always enjoyable to chat sports with and will be missed by all who had come in contact with him.

A little known fact about Skip is that he was an Iowa high-school state champion in the long jump.

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