Forreston-Polo girls track could emerge as area power


Things have been hot and heavy this week with all of spring sports engaged in the post season. At press time, the only thing to report on is girls track and field, with a sectional taking place May 10.

The girls team at Forreston-Polo continues to shine, with a 101-97 sectional title over defending state champ Winnebago. Since 2017, ‘Bago has dominated the sectional and also added state trophies in 2021 and 2022.

Could F-P be a regular challenger to Winnebago for area supremacy?

With freshman Bree Schneiderman, the daughter of Oregon girls coach Nick Schneiderman, F-P has the potential to become an emerging power. Schneiderman qualified in the 100 and 200 and led the F-P 400 and 800 relays to sectional wins.

Emma Randecker of West Carroll won the 100, 200 and 400 and is the 1A favorite in the 200. With such a dismal year at beleaguered WC for both the boys and girls sports, Randecker has been the lone bright spot.

I rarely get into sports at the lower levels, but the boys program at Forreston-Polo might have a prodigy when Abe Garcia enters high school. Garcia led Polo’s Aplington school to a third-place finish in the 1A junior high state track meet.

He broke state records in the 800 meters with a time of 2:08 and the 1,600 at 4:40, which would have won the eighth grade meets in both 1A and 2A. Garcia also had a 56-second split on a 400 leg to help the 1,600 relay to a third place.

It’s rare for someone that young to put up distance times like that.

Speaking of getting a boost, Oregon girls soccer got one from foreign-exchange student Deb Schmid, who broke the school record for goals. As assistant coach Tiffany Rufer told me, having Schmid has elevated the play of the entire team.

Byron, Oregon and Stillman Valley all are favored to make it to the Indian Creek sectional, where Rock Island Alleman should be awaiting them. It is also a chance for Hawk coach Seger Larson to return to his alma mater.

In the category of how times flies, I remember a 20-something graduate student beginning her first year at my former place of employment, Lorado Taft Campus. Decades later, I noticed that Stillman Valley’s leading scorer is senior Grace Costello, daughter of that same grad student.

As time marches on, it’s a joy to be a long-time resident of the county and witness those growing up around you.

Congratulations to Byron’s baseball team for interrupting the four-year stranglehold Dixon had on the league crown. With a BNC title in hand, the experienced Tigers are poised for what promises to be a very interesting 2A sectional complex.

Quality teams in Marengo, North Boone, Richmond-Burton, Stillman Valley and Sterling Newman, with the best player of the bunch in Brandon Tunink, all feed in to the Byron sectional. Watch out for battle-tested SV with its depth and pitching.

That’s what needed to survive baseball’s post-season, in which every game can be a crapshoot.

As a high-school sports history buff, one place I’ve wanted to go to is Hebron. It was by accident that I ended up there several days ago.

On my way to Wisconsin from DeKalb, there was a road closure on Highway 23. The detour took me all the way to Woodstock, where I decided to continue on to Hebron.

Though it was 10 p.m. and raining, at least I could drive by the high school, home of the 1952 state basketball champs. With an enrollment of 60 kids in a one-class system, that achievement is considered by many to be tops in the history of the IHSA for all sports. It certainly merited the most coverage and truly captured the state’s imagination.

As I circled around the back, I was surprised to see a door open and a hallway light on. Pulling into the parking lot, a custodian greeted me and said he was waiting for the track team to return from a meet.

Since he was killing time, he gave me a guided tour of the old gymnasium where the ’52 team played and all the memorabilia attached with that season.

The hoops and backboards are still up, but it is now used as a stage and cafeteria, with the auditorium style seating still in use. It was a trip back in time and though the Aurora Borealis never made an appearance as promised that Friday night, the walk through Hebron High School more than made up for it.

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