There’s no doubt there are plenty of highlights to remember about the spring of 2015 when it comes to sports in Greater Alton.
It has to start with Alton junior LaJarvia Brown winning her second straight Class 3A triple jump state title. Brown leaped 41 feet, 2 inches to corral the triple jump crown at state, after jumping 41-6.25 earlier in the season to set the new all-time IHSA mark.
But it was more than Brown’s triple jump spurring a successful girls’ track campaign for the Redbirds. The Birds compiled 24.5 points and finished eighth at the 3A state meet, a new school best. Brown also contributed a fifth in the 300-meter hurdles (44.31) and sixth in the long jump (18-3), while fellow junior Jewel Wagner was sixth in the shot put (40-9.75) and freshman Katie Mans finished eighth in the high jump (5-3).
The future is bright for the AHS tracksters with the trio of state medalists back to accompany even more burgeoning talent.
The Marquette Catholic girls’ soccer team narrowly missed advancing to state in ‘15, losing to eventual Class 1A state champion Rochester 2-1 at the Springfield Super Sectional.
The Explorers, who wrapped up their season at 15-6-3, topped Alton, Mater Dei and Gibault twice, along with wins over Normal University High, Columbia and Providence Catholic. Marquette also tied O’Fallon, Edwardsville and Granite City in big matches.
Senior Kate Sanfilippo (11 goals, 18 assists) will be missed. She was the leading scorer and is off to Northern Illinois. Marquette still enjoys some underclass success with juniors Adriana Schindler (10 goals, 4 assists) and Lauren Schmickley (7 goals, 3 assists), sophomore Annabelle Copeland (7 goals, 3 assists) and freshmen Amanda Murray (5 goals), Lauren Fischer (goal) and Sonorah Eldred (goal) among a slew of others.
The Alton baseball team reached new heights with regular season success, setting a new school-record in wins by going 30-7. Unfortunately, the Redbirds lost 5-2 to Edwardsville in the regional title game.
They owned single wins over O’Fallon and Highland, while defeating Civic Memorial, Jersey, Southwestern, Lindbergh and Belleville East twice in impressive fashion. A comeback 4-3 win over Quincy in the Class 4A Edwardsville Regional semifinals was arguably the most dramatic.
Phenomenal lefty pitcher Bryan Hudson leaves the program with the innings pitched record (198.0), career wins (25), tied in single-season wins (10), career and single-season strikeout marks (324, 152) and lowest career ERA (1.32). He will be sorely missed along with fellow key seniors Matt Hopkins, Jacob Skrabacz, Drake Hampton, Carter Hayden, Brendan Phillips and Ben Cusac.
East Alton-Wood River says goodbye to a record-holding player, too. Senior pitcher Tori Beachum leaves the Oilers as the all-time leader in strikeouts (844). She will now continue her career at SIUE.
The Oilers, who finished the season 17-20, narrowly missed securing their first-ever regional championship in 2015. EA-WR fell to Dupo 1-0 in a dramatic, eight-inning affair.
The Marquette and Alton softball teams and CM girls’ soccer squad also reached regional title games in the spring, but came up short of nabbing crowns.
Midseason winning streaks by the CM baseball, Marquette baseball and softball, as well as the Roxana softball and girls’ soccer programs accentuated spring success, too.
Other spotlight performances include: the Roxana boys’ track team winning a small-school Madison County Meet title for the first time since 1975 and the Shells sharing the girls’ MadCo title with Metro East Lutheran. It was the first time in school history both teams won in the same year.
The Alton boys’ volleyball team won a playoff game in their first season of varsity competition. The Redbirds beat Granite City 21-25, 25-15, 25-17 in the Granite City Regional opener.
Roxana’s Jeddah Gallego and EA-WR’s Brenden Springman advanced to the boys’ state track meet. The senior Gallego competed in the preliminaries of the Class 2A 100-meter dash, while sophomore Springman ran in the 1A 3,200-meter run.
In boys’ tennis, the Alton senior duo of Carl Stradal and Drew Hays advanced to the second day of the state tournament, finishing 3-2. Fellow Redbird seniors Kain Henson and Jackson Scheiter were also state qualifiers in doubles, while CM senior Brett Norvell and Marquette junior Nick Berkenbile made it in singles action.
There will be plenty of athletes moving on from their respective schools now, but that’s the cyclical nature of prep sports. The good thing is plenty of underclassmen began their ascension in 2015 and look to continue success in the spring of 2016.
Players like: Marquette’s Meghan Schorman, Tess Eberlin and Grace Frost (softball), Zach Weinman and Liam Maher (baseball), CM’s Corey Price and Brandon Hampton (baseball), Katelyn Turbyfill and Shelby Whaley (softball), Cassie Hall (soccer), Alton’s Aaron Bonnell, Jacob Kanallakan, Derrick Allen and Steven Nguyen (baseball), Brittany Roady, Savannah Fisher and Katelyn Presley (softball), Brianna Hatfield (soccer), EA-WR’s Morgan Moxey and Carly Campbell (softball), Blake Marks (baseball), Kayla Hewlett (soccer) and Roxana’s Chance Foss and Blake Vandiver (baseball), Hannah Rexford and Abby Palen (softball), Emma Lucas (soccer) and Jordan Hawkins (boy’s track) will all be back in ‘16 and looking to excel.