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Top 6 Lyons Township winter sports highlights

Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:51 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Dan Santaromita file photo)
The Lyons Township girls gymnastics team poses for photos with the state championship trophy after the Lions won a second straight title this winter. Cat Mossing (from left), Olivia McGann, Mackenzie Stotz, Kelly Ryser, Michelle Cozza, Katie Carling, Kelsy Kurfirst and Jackie Fuller propelled LT to the title.
Caption
(Sandy Bressner file photo)
Lyons Township's Wes Credit competes in the 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries during the IHSA state meet Feb. 28. Credit finished 12th overall in the event and became LT's first state medalist since 2011.

As the snow continues to melt, spring sports are starting to take center stage. Griffin Furlong's participation in the 3-Point Showdown at the state basketball finals on Thursday wrapped up LT's winter sports. Before spring kicks into full gear, here's a last look back at the successes of the winter sports at Lyons Township this past season, in no particular order.

1. Girls gymnastics racks up medals and repeats

As defending state champion there were very high expectations for the LT girls gymnastics team. The Lions met those expectations and in many ways surpassed them.

LT repeated as state champion comfortably with a team score of 151.275 and won 11 individual medals to go with it.

Katie Carling was second in the all-around and medaled in three other events. Michelle Cozza tied for first on the uneven bars and was second on vault. The senior pair each finished their careers with five individual medals.

Junior Kelsy Kurfirst defended her state title on floor exercise, was third in the all-around and earned two more event medals to bring her career total to nine. Junior Olivia McGann earned her first individual state medal by tying for third on bars.

Jackie Fuller, Mackenzie Stotz, Kelly Ryser and Cat Mossing also earned championship medals with the team.

"I just remember coming here and watching my sister compete and thinking how much I wanted to be on that podium one day, so it was kind of surreal to me," Carling said.

2. Wrestling wins regional as host

After a relatively down year for LT wrestling, the Lions brought in a lot of youth and far surpassed expectations this season.

The strong season culminated in a regional title in La Grange. At the regional, Zach Villarreal, A.J. Villarreal and Ezra Avery each won titles at their weight class. In all, eight Lions advanced to the sectional, including four freshmen. Six of those eight wrestlers are expected back so the future appears to be bright.

Freshman Johnny Mologousis was the only Lion to get to state. He went 0-2 at 145 pounds, losing both his matches in tight decisions.

"We haven't won [a regional] since my freshman year, so it's huge," A.J. Villarreal said. "As a team, I didn't think we could win something like this. As the year progressed I saw [the potential] so I'm more than satisfied."

3. Niego's buzzer-beater lifts LT to playoff victory

In what was arguably the best single play of the season for any LT winter sport, junior guard Harrison Niego saved the Lions' season by making a layup at the buzzer in the regional semifinal against Hoffman Estates.

Hoffman Estates' Jorden Thornton made a free throw with 5.6 seconds left to give the Hawks the lead before Niego drove the floor for the game-winning layup to give LT the 71-70 victory.

In a tight game, Niego made the final decisive play by dribbling past one defender with a crossover and maneuvering around another at the basket. The Lions lost in the regional final to York, which beat LT for the fourth time this season.

"I was definitely expecting the ball. He made the free throw, I got the inbound and I just took it to the hoop," Niego said. "I knew I wanted to be aggressive and either draw a foul or get a basket."

4. Girls basketball earns first playoff win in four years

One of the LT girls basketball team's goals at the beginning of the season was simply to win a playoff game.

The Lions had failed to do so the previous three years and the senior class hadn't seen LT win a playoff game since they arrived on campus. When LT was drawn with rival Hinsdale Central in the first round of the playoffs, the recipe for something extra was in place.

LT came out 57-44 winners to win the season series 2-1 over their rivals and end the playoff drought. The Lions lost the next game to eventual state champion Whitney Young.

"As far as wins go my favorite was definitely beating Hinsdale Central in the first game of playoffs this year," senior Kayla Morrissey said. "It was awesome because we hadn't won a playoff game [as a senior group]."

5. Credit takes home medal from state swimming

Sophomore Wes Credit knew he had a chance to make it to state in the 100-yard breaststroke, but he didn't think he would qualify for Saturday's finals.

The LT swimmer placed 11th in the preliminaries to advance to Saturday's consolation race and earned a state medal after finishing 12th. He became the first LT swimmer to medal since 2011.

"It was very unexpected," Credit said. "After my swim [in the preliminaries] I was happy with my time. I was shocked that I made it in the finals. I thought I had no chance to make it."

6. Boys bowlers win sectional

After winning regional and sectional titles, the LT boys bowling team entered state with high expectations. Unfortunately for them the state meet didn't go as planned and the Lions took 21st.

Still, the team racked up plenty of impressive accomplishments along the way. Robert Kicmal was the top bowler at the Hinsdale South regional. Mike Kicmal was second at the St. Patrick sectional and tied for 12th at state.

It was the first sectional title and second state appearance in the young program's history.

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