Red Devils spring season heating up

Track teams well into indoor contests, while water polo teams are starting matches

With the Red Devil boys and girls track teams competing indoors and other teams facing their first opponents this month, it's time for our annual look at the spring sports season at Hinsdale Central.

Spring is the busiest season at Central, with 13 teams competing. Four are highlighted in this, the first of a four-part series.

Next week: girls badminton, boys gymnastics and boys volleyball.

Boys track

First meet: Feb. 9 indoor, April 4 outdoor

Last year: fourth at state

Head coach: Jim Westphal

Seasons as head coach: 6

No. team members: 145 at all levels

Strengths: Historically we've been a little stronger in the relays and some of the middle distance events, especially the last couple of years. I think this year we've got a nice balance between our short sprinters and our field events.

Challenges: As always, we go up against high-quality competition almost on a weekly basis. That's always a challenge to try to maintain that high-level competitiveness as a team. For us, just staying healthy and making sure key guys in certain event areas are healthy when it counts.

Who to watch: Michael Prieto in high jump and Mark Ortiz in shot and disc. Aidan Bandukwala, middle distance/distance, should be fun to watch. And Evan Bots, he's a sprinter.

Outlook: We lost some high-end talent to graduation last year. I think as long as we stay healthy and we can put key guys in those key events for big meets, we'll fare well. It's still kind of a work in progress in how we think things will end up by mid- or end of May. I'm hopeful we'll be competitive and our kids will compete at a high level.

Girls track

First meet: Feb. 10 indoor, April 6 outdoor

Last year: ninth at state

Head coach: Pat Richards

Seasons as head coach: 37

No. team members: 108 at all levels

Strengths: We are returning our girls from our 4x100 meter relay that was a top medal winner in the state. I think we've got some depth in the sprints. We've got some kids that are stepping up and helping our distance team. Our jumping group - long and triple jumpers - is pretty good. They're solid. They're probably one of our more talented groups this year. We've got a lot of good point scorers back from that group.

Challenges: We lost three really good seniors - two distance runners and one hurdler - so we've got some big shoes to fill. We lost some good kids but we've got some good kids coming back. As always, the West Suburban Silver girls track and field conference overall - one through seven - it's probably the strongest conference in the state. There's so much depth there. There are so many good teams. That's probably our biggest challenge, being able to compete with so many great schools and track programs. Otherwise, still trying to find our identity of what we're going to do with these kids.

Who to watch: Sophomore Lily Hodneland has converted over to being a distance runner. I think she's going to do some really good things. I've got two solid hurdlers as well, senior Keira Leech and senior Leena Abu-Ghazalah. The sprinters coming back on the relay are seniors Zari Dorris, Christina Tresslar, Ana Hodneland and Maya Redd, who is a state qualifier in the long jump. Senior Mallory Moser, she's a long and triple jumper. Senior Pola Dygon, she's a distance runner.

Outlook: We want to get through our indoor season and stay healthy. I'm excited for what outdoor season brings for us. We're excited to run the indoor championship and make that step forward from what we did last year. I'm excited for the girls coming back. They've got great attitudes. They've done everything I ask them to do. I'm excited to see what they can do.

Furthermore: This is my last year with these kids. I told these senior kids I'd see them out. I'm going to really miss it and I'm going to miss these younger kids. I wish I could stick around for them. It's time for me to fly.

Boys water polo

First meet: March 8 vs. Curie

Last year: 13-16-1, lost in sectional quarterfinals

Head coach: Christy Brodell

Seasons as head coach: 10

No. team members: 12

Strengths: I think the group is extremely eager. They're very coachable and they want to learn and they want to win and they want the most experiences possible. Some of the older kids have asked me, "Can we just scrimmage for half the practice every day?" They want to learn the most they can.

Challenges: The team is really young. We play some of the best teams in the state. We play some of these really experienced teams - Naperville Central, Naperville North, York, LT. Our varsity team this year is a lot of kids that moved up from JV last year, and they don't have those experiences to know game play.

Who to watch: Yaseen Halabi will be fun. He's a senior. He is one of our strongest players and most experienced. Jack Driscoll will also be fun to watch. He's a sophomore and he has worked really hard in the off-season. Sohan Whittier is a sophomore goalie, and he'll be really fun to watch. He's worked really hard in the off-season, also.

Outlook: I think we're going to be really strong. Our team is going to be young, but they're really eager and they're motivated. I think we will definitely have a year of learning, but we'll

be competitive.

Girls water polo

First meet: March 4 vs. Glenbrook North (V lost 6-8)

Last year: 14-13-1, lost in sectional quarterfinals

Head coach: Chris Ortiz

Seasons as head coach: 11

No. team members: 13

Strengths: Many of our girls have committed to playing club, so there's a good amount of experience on the team even though we had four graduating seniors. We can plug those spots with girls who have been playing in the off-season.

Challenges: Since we are a little younger, it's going to be nice to see how the girls gel together. Our sectional is one of the harder ones in the state when you're looking at Naperville North and Naperville Central being at the top. Metea Valley is going to be a tough team as well. With that youth comes a lot of experience, so I'm looking forward to see how the girls step up in their new starting roles.

Who to watch: We have Christy Boggs returning after scoring 47 goals last year, and that's always a plus. We're excited for freshman Chloe Van Houtte who is coming in, who is a very versatile player and will be able to play almost any position we want. Our goalie, junior Allie Tonjes, this is her second full year starting. Having that one full season as a starter at the varsity level is huge for any goalie. She's going to be able to build upon that. I'm also looking forward to seeing one of our wing players, Anna Deppe. She's a great defender. Her land-handed shot off the wing is a big asset.

Outlook: I think we're going to be very competitive. Our girls have been playing together much of the off-season, so hopefully we're going to pick up right where they left off with the club season.

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean