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Prep sports: School year gave us a wild ride

Every school year keeps us on our toes here in the SVM sports department.

So many of our local schools have had so much success in recent years, and it’s always fun to see what teams from which school make a deep postseason run.

But I’ve got to admit, this past school year has been one of the most successful – and therefore busiest – that I can recall in a long time.

In total, area teams or individual athletes finished the season at the state meet/tournament in 16 of 21 sports, and there were nine state titles won by SVM individuals or teams.

The Sterling volleyball team started things off with its first-ever state championship, while the Rock Falls cross country team capped off a strong season with a runner-up finish at the 1A state meet. In all, nine local runners earned top-25 finishes at state, and Dixon also placed fifth as a team.

The fall also saw four golfers finish up on the final day of the season, three individuals and one doubles team qualify for the state tennis tournament, and a swimmer and a diver finish at the state meet.

The winter season brought another state team in the Eastland girls basketball squad, which finished second in Class 1A. The Amboy girls and Bureau Valley boys added sectional titles, while the Dixon, Newman, Rock Falls, and Polo boys, as well as the Rock Falls and Sterling girls, also added regional crowns.

There were also three state champions in wrestling, as well as four third-place finishers, two fourth placers, a fifth placer and a sixth placer.

Four boys swimmers qualified for state in seven events, and bowling even saw a pair of state qualifiers; Oregon’s Austin Strite won regional and sectional titles, and the Sterling girls bowlers captured a regional crown.

The spring season was the perfect capper to the year. Five gold medals at state track & field, to go with seven runners-up and four third placers; the Sauk Valley welcomed home 42 track & field medalists in all.

Three doubles teams and a lone individual qualified for the boys state tennis meet, and the Oregon girls soccer team won a regional title and played for a sectional crown in just its third year of existence. The Dixon girls soccer team also went undefeated through the Big Northern Conference slate for the fifth straight season.

And DHS wasn’t done yet; the Dukes’ baseball team finished fourth in its first-ever trip to the state tournament this past weekend. It was the highlight of a spring ball season that saw Newman softball also win a sectional, and four other regional titles – two each in baseball & softball.

Needless to say, we’ve had our hands more than full here at SVM, but it’s worth it to see so many of our local high school athletes make memories that will last a lifetime.

So now we’ll put the finishing touches on the 2018-19 sports year in the coming weeks; look for our all-area baseball & softball teams, as well as our male & female athletes of the year, as well as our annual SVM All-Star Basketball Classic doubleheader on June 20 at Sauk Valley Community College.

Then we’ll catch our breath … but only briefly, because the football preseason will be here before we know it – and with it, the start of another exciting year of high school sports.

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