By Bob Balgemann

NIC-10 baseball season gets closer, with Hononegah on the horizon

After having played five non-conference baseball games during the early part of the 2022 season, Harlem’s Huskies found bad weather catching up with them.

Games the end of last week at home against McHenry and at suburban Prospect were cancelled. The McHenry game was moved to April 8 with the varsity on the road and the junior varsity and freshman teams being at home. No makeup has been scheduled with the Knights.

After opening with a 10-6 win over Stillman Valley, Harlem next took on Hampshire and the two battled to a 7-7 tie in a darkness shortened game.

This was one of those unusual contests in which 11 runs scored in the very first inning.

The visiting Whip-Purs started by putting five in the board in the top of the first. Then the Huskies roared back to score six times in their half of the inning. In doing so seven consecutive batters reached base before the first out was made. At that point they had pulled into a 5-5 tie.

Israel Delgado got the rally going when he led off with a double. Trevor Halverson pinch-ran for him and scored on a single by the No. 2 hitter, Hayden Henderson. Walks began to benefit Harlem’s offensive thrust with the first one being issued to Javier Garcia. Clean-up Kadin Bergstrom followed with an RBI single, scoring Henderson and making it a 5-2 game.

Cooper Gillette was hit by a pitch to load the bases. The first of two consecutive free passes then went to Maddox Devlieger, forcing in Garcia with Harlem’s third run. Owen Hunt collected the second walk (and accompanying RBI) to bring in Austin Pinkston, who had run for Gillette, and the Whip-Purs lead had shrunk to one run, 5-4.

Timmy Wessels launched a sacrifice fly to center, scoring the tying run while making the first out of the inning. Then the second out came on Ethan Seipts’ infield grounder, but that was sufficient to score Devlieger and give Harlem its first lead of the evening.

Hampshire came right back with two runs in the top of the second and regained the advantage, 7-6. It stayed there until the bottom of the fourth when the Huskies were able to tally once, and create the final tie score.

There were two out when the tying run scored.

It all began when Seipts led off by being hit with a pitch. Pinkston sacrificed his teammate to second, where he remained while the next batter struck out. The Whip-Purs then helped Harlem by making a critical error on Garcia’s infield grounder, which would have been the third out and ended the game. But the boot allowed Seipts to score the tying run. Bergstrom kept the inning alive when he was hit by a pitch, but an ensuing infield out ended the inning and the game.

Sophomore Elijah Skidmore was the starting pitcher for Harlem with relief help from Henderson and Pinkston.

A tournament 

Before bad weather set in, Harlem’s varsity traveled to Jacksonville, IL. for a tournament.

The Huskies dropped their first outing, 12-7 to Plainfield East. They made a game of it by pulling into a 7-7 tie with four runs in the fifth inning and three in the sixth. But East came back with a singleton in its half of the sixth, and a decisive four spot in the seventh.

Harlem was limited to one base hit, a single by Brandon Winters, but managed some offense by capitalizing on 11 walks. Two free passes each were issued to Henderson, Pinkston, Hunt, Winters and Garrett Hockison, with Garcia getting one. Henderson and Winters scored two runs apiece; RBIs were recorded by Henderson, Garcia and Bergstom.

Hononegah is scheduled to kick off the NIC-10 season with home and away games. They will play at Harlem on April 11 and at Hononegah on April 13, with both games starting at 4:30 p.m.

NIC-10 track meet propels Harlem teams into outdoor season

The annual NIC-10 track meet featured most of the conference teams with two different winners in boys and girls competitions.

Belvidere North took the boys side, totaling 138 points to outdistance Rockford East, which scored 108 points. Hononegah was third; Harlem came in fourth in the nine-team field. In girls competition, Rockford Guilford rang up 168 points to rule as this year’s champion. Hononegah was a close second, at 152 points, with Harlem in third, scoring 79 points. Eight teams were in this meet.

The Huskies, now under head coach Jared Richardson, had entries in most of the 15 events and everyone ended up somewhere in the Top 20 in his particular competition.

One of the top finishes of the day went to senior Aktanay Kwazdran with a second place in the 800-meter run, clocked at 2:09.44. Teammates Dylan Malmgren, a sophomore, was 10th in this race, with a time of 2:15.54, while freshman Dominic Carlson took 18th, at 2:26.14.

That distance run was a snapshot of Harlem entries that day, featuring veteran performers along with newcomers from the freshman and sophomore classes.

A runner-up finish also went to the Huskies’ 4-by-800-meter relay team, consisting of Kwazdran, Malmgren, sophomore Tyler Wehde and freshman Owen Recoy. Their time was 8:53.16.

In the field events, junior KeShawn Harrington-McKinney was second in the shot put, tossing the 12-pound ball 49 feet even. Right behind him, in third place, was senior Riley Lundgren, at 45 feet, 9 inches. Junior Tony Garza was 16th with a throw of 35 feet even.

Top five finishes went to two Harlem participants, plus two of its relay teams.

Kwazdran had a busy day as he also ran in the 1,600-meter distance run, taking fifth with a time of 4:56.43. Senior Ethan Taylor, an integral part of Harlem’s 9-2 varsity football team last fall, was fifth in the triple jump, with a total effort of 37 feet, 3 inches.

The 4-by-200-meter relay team was fourth in a time of 1:40.75. Members were senior Tyrone Tyus, Taylor, junior Marko Skakavac and junior Kaden Davis. The 4-by-400-meter relay team took fifth, timed at 3:58.88. Its members were Wehde, freshman Nick Tyrcha, freshman Brady Jacobson and Davies.

Top 20 finishes were achieved by Tyus, seventh in the 60-meter dash, with a time of 7.41 seconds. Taylor was 10th in the 60, at 7.45 seconds; Jacobson was 20th, in 7.88 seconds. Taylor also took sixth in the 200-meter dash, in 24.60 seconds, with senior Austin Durnil in 16th, at 26.15 seconds. In addition, Durnil ran in the 400, where he took sixth in 57.41 seconds, followed by Wehde, in ninth (57.77 seconds) and Tyrcha, 11th (58.32 seconds).

In other track events, Malmgren was 12th in the 1,600-meter run, timed at 5:10.75; Recoy was 15th, at 5:11.85. Freshman Leo Ramos came in 11th in the 3,200-meter run (11:58.36); junior Eli Hernandez was 12th (12.09:86).

The field event competition saw senior Devan Ortiz tie for eighth in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 2 inches, with teammate Davies, another of the Huskies competing in both track and field events, going 4-feet, 10 inches, which was good for a tie for 10th. Tyus was 15th in the long jump, with a distance of 17 feet, 5 1/4 inches. Freshman Henry Clark and Jacobson finished just outside the Top 20 in the long jump, in 22nd and 23rd respectively.

Girls results

A mainstay on the Lady Huskies’ indoor and outdoor track teams for the past four years, Hannah Bilodeau is back for her senior season and she concluded her last indoor campaign by winning the conference 400-meter dash event with a time of 1:02.45. This is one of several school records she set over that time, clocked at 59.50 seconds in 2019, her freshman year.

Also, in the just concluded 2022 conference indoor meet, she was third in the 60-meter dash, timed at 8.08 seconds. And she was a member of Harlem’s second-place 4-by-400-meter relay team along with her sister, freshman and varsity newcomer Hailey Bilodeau, senior Aaliyah Haun and freshman Celia Riportella. Their time was 4:27.60.

Other top finishers for the Lady Huskies, led by new head coach Nathaniel Dodson, were senior Emma Rich, and freshman Adyson Andrews, who placed 3-4 in the shot put. Their throws were 33 feet, 4 inches, and 31 feet, 10 inches, respectively. Senior Keyara Bailey tied for third in the high jump, clearing 4 feet, 10 inches; senior Ella Shaw was fourth in the 3,200-meter distance run, clocked at 13:14.89, and she also ran the 1,600, taking seventh in 6:08.27. Fourth place went to junior Gabby Xayasouk in the 60-meter high hurdles, with a time of 10.56 seconds.

Senior Kenya Gibson and Bailey tied for fifth in the triple jump, with identical distances of 32 feet, 7 inches.

Sixth-place efforts were turned in by Hailey Bilodeau in the 800-meter run, timed at 2:32.20; sophomore Hannah Ranstead in the 200-meter low hurdles, clocked at 33.18 seconds; and sophomore Whitney Schlaht in the pole vault, reaching a height of 6 feet, 6 inches.

Sophomore Lauren Johnson wound up seventh in the 3,200; seniors Elizabeth Nelson and Emily Jackson tied for seventh in the high jump; Haun was seventh in the 400-meter dash; and Ranstead, seventh in the 60-meter hurdles.

In her second field event, Schlaht finished eighth in the long jump, with a distance of 14 feet, 7 inches.

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