Winter Varsity Sports Recap

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Taft’s competitive Poms team became city champions. Captains being Isabella Aviles and Nina Romek, who helped pave the road to a chance for state, but were stopped due to only six competitors to move on to state. Their highlight is how they changed to a new state series called IDTA (Illinois Drill Team Association). Poms coach Jaquelyn Alunan said, “We won first place in the Pom category and our score qualified us to state. However, due to the six-limit competition that IHSA has we were over the limit of competition and not able to proceed to state for IDTA.”

Team captains: Junior Jared Bandi and Senior Karlin Chavez. “Throughout the year we’ve continued to grow and become better, and I have high hopes we’ll reach state soon. A lot of guys have stood out and stepped up, but I don’t like to pick just one person. After all, we’re a team, so I like to make sure everyone’s on the same page,” said Matthew Lesch.

Taft’s Wrestling managed to become City Champions for the second year in a row, 2nd place for Regionals, and had three people go to State. All while still having 26 dual wins. Captains were Brendon Gallo and Piotr Krupa, with the MVP going to Gallo. Gallo had the most total wins in school history, being one of the two this year to hit over 50 total wins. “Our goal is to make Taft known as a wrestling school. We have a long way to go, but we are on our way,” said Coach Brad Engel as he tries to make this goal come true.

Taft’s Girls Basketball managed to make it all the way to Regionals before being knocked out in a very close game. The captains were Madison Anderson, Caitlin Nicholson, Melanie Englehardt. MVP was Krystyna Ellew for being a top tier leader. Coach Kirk Vidas says, “I enjoyed working with the girls this year as their dedication made me smile, but we wish we could’ve played one more game.”

As the seasons on goes, the team has made it to sectionals, with a swimmer being in the opportunity to go to state, the seasons continues on in hopes for two more weeks. Captains were Edin Haskovic and Connor Swenson. MVPs consist of Edin Haskovic and Nicholas Bedoya. “To be put in our swimming pool and having to go compete against teams that are in 8 lane 25 yard pools and being able to come out as the top 5 teams in the city it’s pretty amazing. To have my guys overcome that type of obstacles in their season every year, and every year we continue to get better. I wish people came and saw the efforts these guys do every year because they are consistent, they are one of the more consistently really well respected and winning teams in the building,” said Coach Jason Polensky.

After experiencing failures throughout the season, the team hit a perfect routine with zero deductions and placed higher than ever before at a Suburban Sectional event. Beating out some amazing teams and they placed 2 spots away from state. “Competitive Cheerleading is not for everyone. It a takes a certain type of athlete to do this sport. Skill and talent are not enough. It takes patience, perseverance, selflessness and above all sacrifice. A team that can work together, value and respect each other will succeed. The bonds you make in a sport like Competitive Cheer can’t be found anywhere else. One heart, one soul, one team, one goal,” said Coach Ryan Cooper. Captains include Maya Bryant, Angelica Popek, Jasmine Flores, and Kimberly Parise. MVP’s of the team are senior Kimberly Parise and junior Isabella Miranda.

The team had a perfect season, only losing to two schools, making it to regionals, having one advancing bowler [Cristian Pagan] move to sectionals and made a new team high score of about 925. Captains were Cristian Pagan and Giuseppe Carmada. MVP was Jose Salgado; being a first year bowler and getting eight strikes in a row during city playoffs. “Bowling is very spirited. People just don’t think it is. If you go into a bowling alley when there is a boys conference game going on you will hear so much yelling it’s so much fun,” says senior captain Cristian Pagan.

Even with the many injuries that the bowlers have acquired throughout their season, that wasn’t enough to stop the team to all meet their highlight moment at regionals. “I’d say regionals [was the best] because everyone showed up to help out the team when we needed them and that the first time the whole year that everyone showed up,” says senior captain Aracely Martinez, “ [bowling] is not as boring as everyone thinks it is, as soon as you go to the tournaments, there’s a lot of screaming parents and a lot of cheering going on.”