Winter athletes excited for season

Red Devils happy to be back in competition in the gym, in the pool and on the ice

Most athletic teams faced abbreviated or interrupted winter seasons last year due to COVID-19. Among them were the girls gymnastics team, boys hockey team and boys swim team. These coaches and athletes are happy to return to a more normal season this year, with hopes of continuing play into the postseason.

This is the second in a three-part series. Boys and girls bowling and wrestling were previewed Nov. 25. The final installment Dec. 9 will feature the boys and girls basketball teams.

Girls gymnastics

First meet: Nov. 24 @ Hornet Invite (V placed 2nd)

Last year: season abbreviated due to COVID-19, placed 2nd at conference

Head coach: Kim Estoque

Seasons as head coach: 17 (31st year coaching)

No. varsity team members: 8 (17 with JV1)

Strengths: We have good depth. That is probably our biggest thing. We have quite a few people we can put in at any time.

Challenges: The biggest thing, I think, is trying to stay healthy. That's always one of the biggest things in gymnastics. We have one person that came back from last year who was out all last year because of her back. She came back to do two events this year.

Who to watch: Kelly Klobach, she's a senior. She won everything at the Hinsdale South Invite. Audrey Austin, she's a junior. She's an all-arounder as well. We have Charlotte French, she's a junior, everything but beam. Annette Sommers, she's a senior, she does vault and beam.

Outlook: I think we're going to do pretty well. Being our first meet, we had a lot of misses, but I think we're really going to improve on that. We have a shot at making state if we can stay healthy. Most of the teams that we saw at the Hinsdale South Invite are in our sectional.

Furthermore: I think the best thing is it's pretty much back to normal. We're back to invites. We're back to not having to clean after every event and not wondering, "Do we practice? Can we practice?"


First meet: Sept. 16 @ Lincoln-Way (V tied 3-3)

Last year: season limited due to COVID-19

Head coach: Jim Swoyer

Seasons as head coach: 5

No. varsity team members: 18

Strengths: Our skill set and learning how to play to take advantage of that skill set. We are a young team. We graduated, I believe, 13 seniors last year.

Challenges: One of them we'll be playing (Tuesday) night with Glenbrook North (nonconference). Within our league, Waubonsie, Wheaton West, Maine and Glenbard are probably the top four we'll have the most challenges with.

Who to watch: Jackson Haag, senior, is solid on both the offensive side an the defensive side. He's a defenseman, but he's able to create a lot of offense. Certainly Zach Devine and Alexander Hadesman and Pete Cook are the top forwards. Other returning seniors are captain Brux Dugan and Sam Romberger, Sam Cutinelli, Adam Haggard, Adam Pelinkovic and Casey Ryndak. It's nice for the them to have a senior year with a more normal season.

Outlook: I think we're going to be very competitive. We still need to learn how to play and, as we do that, I think the team is going to continue to develop. We have a lot of young players like freshman Jack Crabb, and we have some sophomores. We have a very good, very strong sophomore and junior class, and not that we're looking past this year, but I would say the next two years are going to be really good. Right now on our list, we're looking at over half a dozen eighth-graders that play hockey that we're very excited about coming into the program.

Furthermore: Last year we did the best we could to provide the best hockey experience for the kids in our program given the situation.

Boys swimming

First meet: Dec. 3 Triangular @ home

Last year: season abbreviated due to COVID-19, second at conference

Head coach: Bob Barber

Seasons as head coach: 8

No. varsity team members: 20

Strengths: They are extremely talented with a great mixture of age groups.

Challenges: Having such a disrupted year last year. Half of my team - sophomores and freshmen - don't even know what to expect for a traditional season. We don't even know the strengths of our competitors. Nor do they know our strengths. It's kind of like starting from scratch again. Usually you rely on your upperclassmen to lead. I have juniors looking at me, saying, "What's around the corner? What's coming up next?" When they experienced it the first time, they were freshmen.

Who to watch: My freshmen and sophomores outnumber my juniors and seniors. We are a young team and we are still trying to figure out who is going to steal the spotlight. We are kind of balanced between all the different strokes. We do rely heavily on our sprint freestyle. To lead that pack is Andrew Gilbert, coming off a great summer and fall season. Another strong performer over the past year is Nate Harris. He's pretty much a jack of all trades. He swam IM, breaststroke as a freshman (and) can incorporate sprint and distance freestyle. I'm looking for some senior leadership out of our distance freestyler, Braxton Bokos, who's familiar with competing at the highest level. Out of our diving program, our MVP last year was Connor Furlong. We hope to carry that into another season and hopefully help represent us at state in diving.

Outlook: Nobody understands anybody's strengths throughout the state. We just don't have the previous year to compare to. However, if I compare our team to previous Hinsdale Central teams, we match up very well, which puts us as competitive in the conference and sectional level and still yet-to-be-determined at the state level.

Furthermore: This is the largest team we've ever taken on. We started the year off with 83 registered athletes, which is 10 divers and about 20 to 25 athletes per coach. I'm very grateful for this facility (the new Don Watson Aquatics Center) to accommodate that, as we are also sharing it with Hinsdale South (while work is being done on their pool). I look forward to it growing over the years.

Author Bio

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean