Spring has sprung. Or so I’m told. For sure, it’s a new season around the River Bend.
Instead of basketball, wrestling, hockey or bowling, there’s a change in prep sporting activities. It’s time to go outside, weather permitting. If we can just dust Old Winter off our doorstep, things will heat up soon.
Actually, spring sports got going this week. Baseball, softball and soccer were up first. Tennis, plus boys and girls track, are right behind them. It’s time to turn the page on a memorable winter sports blitz.
Civic Memorial’s girls led the pack with their successful basketball season. The Eagles posted a school-record best 31-3 record, won another Mississippi Valley Conference championship, plus snared regional and sectional titles. The sectional crown was their first.
Alton High boys and girls basketball also stirred plenty of success, as did the Redbirds’ hockey, wrestling and bowling programs. Marquette boys basketball claimed a regional title and 6-foot-4 senior guard Deion Lavender, bound for Southern Illinois University Carbondale, led the way.
Southwestern girls, champions of the South Central Conference, also snagged a regional title in extending their pattern of excellence. Jersey wrestler Brandon Critchfield brought home a fourth-place finish – best in school annals – from state.
Roxana wrestlers snagged a regional title and competed in the eight-team dual finals at state. East Alton-Wood River hockey made it to the championship of the area small-school finals.
Now we are turning the calendar and peeking into a new season. We’re sensing good things for local teams and players. It happens every spring.
Marquette’s softball team is coming off a runner-up finish in IHSA Class 3A competition and it’ll be interesting to see how the Explorers fare without top gun Alexis Silkwood. She’s at Mississippi State and already making college magic. During her prep career, the Explorers went 127-22 and finished in the top four at state three times.
The AHS baseball and softball programs are poised to make major splashes again. The girls, 26-8 last season, are intent upon competing for a Southwestern Conference championship. They have ample talent returning.
The same goes for the guys, who have 6-foot-7 junior left-hander Bryan Hudson at the front of their rotation. He was 6-1 as a junior.
Brent Gibbs (Indiana) and Ron Wisnasky (Lewis and Clark Community College) have graduated, but the Birds have a good thing going. They were 28-10 last year and logged a regional title. AHS is 75-31 the past three seasons.
Hard-hitting Geoffrey Ferguson powers Marquette baseball, which has a new coach in Tim Fahnestock. Former Explorers’ head coach Joe Silkwood is watching his daughter play at Mississippi State. So is Staci Silkwood, a Marquette assistant softball coach the last four seasons.
In soccer, Marquette’s girls finished third at state last spring and have a trio of top three-finishes since 2009. The 2011 squad embraced the IHSA Class 1A championship.
So here we go with spring sports. It’s the time of the season to get those lawn chairs packed for treks to fields where local dreams are made. Let’s hope Mother Nature doesn’t rain too much on the projected parades.