The Granite City girls’ soccer team celebrated another winning season this spring. The team was one of the top stories for a spring season in Granite City that saw ups and downs.
The Warriors went 7-1-1 in their final nine matches and finished 11-9-2 for the second year in a row. They also won a pair of tournament championships — the Tournament of Champions at Burlington, Iowa, and the Class 3A Edwardsville Regional.
The Warriors won their first regional championship since 2011 with a 2-1 overtime win over the Quincy Blue Devils on May 22 in the Class 3A regional championship game at Edwardsville. Granite City was eliminated by Edwardsville in regional tournament play in the last three years before coming out on top in 2015.
The Warriors also won a Tournament of Champions title for the first time on May 2. Granite City won the Iowa Economic Development division of the 42-team tournament by going 3-0, beating West Des Moines Valley (Iowa), Sussex (Wis.) Hamilton and Dunlap.
The Warriors were 4-8-1 on April 28 before turning things around.
“After that Iowa tournament, we just found out each other and we all just started clicking,” said senior midfielder Kendell Paterson, who transferred to Granite City after playing in Collinsville the last three years. “I think the Iowa tournament was important to us and that’s when we found each other.”
Senior Ashleigh Briggs was the team’s leading scorer with 27 points (nine goals and nine assists). Sophomore Grace Neidhardt finished with 10 goals.
For the second time in three seasons, the Granite City girls’ track team had an all-state medalist as senior Catherine Jakich finished third in the shot put in the Class 3A state meet on May 23.
Jakich became just the fourth Granite City athlete to earn all-state honors at the girls’ state track meet. The others were Natalie O’Keefe (2013, high jump), Stephanie Brandt (1994-97, discus) and Debbie Brandt (1984-85, discus).
Jakich qualified for the state meet by placing second in the shot put in the Class 3A O’Fallon Sectional on May 16. A year ago, Jakich qualified for state in the discus.
“I don’t think some people understand what it’s like to go to state,” Jakich said. “Last year, to be able to go and to know what it feels like was just awesome.”
Jakich also earned all-Southwestern Conference honors in the discus and shot put after finishing third in both events at the league meet on May 7 at Granite City. She also had victories in the discus in the Southwestern Illinois Relays, the Madison County meet and the Collinsville Invitational.
Sophomore Robyn Pointer joined Jakich at the state meet this spring. She clinched her first berth to the state meet after placing fourth in the 200-meter dash at the O’Fallon Sectional.
In boys’ track, the 3,200-meter relay team of seniors Tyler and Zach Manion, junior Juwan Riggins and sophomore Will O’Keefe won a Southwestern Conference championship and finished second in the Class 3A Normal West Sectional on May 22 to qualify for the state meet.
O’Keefe, who also qualified for state in the 800, was the only Granite City athlete in the 2014-2015 school year to compete in state in two sports. Last fall, he participated in the state cross country meet.
The baseball and softball teams had new coaches and both encountered tough seasons. The baseball team finished at 10-24 overall and 2-12 in Southwestern Conference play and the softball team was 7-25 overall and 3-11 in league play.
The baseball team got off a good start in Scott Smallie’s first season as coach, sweeping Marquette Catholic in a doubleheader on March 20 at Babe Champion Field and winning three of its first five games. Then, the Warriors lost seven straight games and never got back over the .500 mark.
Smallie replaced current athletic director John Moad as head coach this season. He said he enjoyed his first season as head coach despite the losing record.
“I loved it,” Smallie said. “It was a great opportunity. I’m so thankful for the opportunity that was given to me.”
Senior Bruce Drennan was the Warriors’ top hitter with a .422 batting average. Senior D.J. Miller, who plans to play college baseball at Ole Miss next year, hit .414.
The Warriors softball team lost its first 13 games before pulling off a doubleheader sweep over Greenville on April 11 for its first wins of the season. Granite City also had a pair of wins over East St. Louis and victories over Collinsville, Cahokia and Althoff.
Emily Ashby was the team’s third head coach in three seasons. Ashby, a 2009 Granite City graduate, worked as an assistant for the last three seasons.
Junior Caitlin Patrick led the Warriors with a .459 batting average.
The boys’ tennis team finished with five victories. The Warriors had two juniors — Jeremy Erickson and Chase Zezoff — and four sophomores — Brian Ames, Corey Hackethal, Carter Roustio and Hayden Day — in their starting lineup.
The boys’ volleyball team wrapped up its eighth season with a 2-17 mark. After losing their first seven matches, the Warriors beat Alton in three games on April 21 for their first win. Granite City also had a win over North County Tech on May 13.
The Warriors had 42 seniors competing in spring sports this year, with the girls’ soccer team leading the way with 12.