When Marty Miller first saw his Waubonsie Valley girls bowling team assembled to start the season, he was sure he had a winner.
Check that: a bunch of winners.
"I never highlight any of the girls because it's a complete team effort," said Miller, whose Warriors won the state title last week in his fourth season at Waubonsie.
Each produced highlights over the course of the season, which collectively provided confidence and momentum needed to win at Rockford. According to Miller:
Senior Charley Barbari won two individual tourney titles with a 299 in the last, also at state site Cherry Bowl.
Senior Marianna Guerrieri, a Valparaiso recruit, shot her first 700 series this year.
Senior Breanne Cura earned Naperville Community Television-17 "Play of the Week" after 18 straight strikes in her first 700 series; though she wasn't in the state rotation, Miller said Lindenwood University of Belleville offered her a scholarship on the spot.
Senior Taylor Westwood didn't bowl at state, but as a four-year junior varsity player showed the guts and determination required of a champion.
Junior Julia Bond didn't win a tournament this year -- but shot two 300s and had her first 800 series.
Junior Sara Barsotti didn't move into the top five until January then closed 52 straight frames and 59 out of 60 at the Plainfield North sectional.
Junior Rachael Felton won her first tournament with her first 700 series.
Miller knows athletes when he sees them. His son, Matt, played basketball at the international level.
"They're athletes," Marty Miller said. "They've just chosen bowling."
It was so good for Miller in Rockford that the individual champion, Oswego East's Giselle Poss, has taken lessons from him since she was 13.
"I won all the way around," he said.
Daily Herald sports writer Kevin Schmit has done an excellent job detailing the conference realignments in the DuPage Valley, Upstate Eight and, for a while there, Metro Suburban conferences.
On a smaller scale, another local conference may see tweaks.
A meeting Tuesday of Suburban Christian Conference athletic directors continued a discussion of potential changes to the SCC Blue and Gold divisions starting with the 2014-15 school year.
The idea initially was to form permanent divisions for football only, based on geography. Larger schools such as Montini and St. Francis would anchor one division, Marmion and Marian Central the other.
Other sports would either align by enrollment or remain the same -- which is to say slight shifts within each sport, boys and girls alike, based on divisional finishes.
There is consideration of incorporating geographic design into all sports, not just football, and continuing discussion regarding alignment based on enrollment, Montini athletic director Bob Landi said Tuesday.
A vote on the issue was planned for Tuesday's SCC athletic directors' meeting, but Landi said instead the directors will continue to consult their principals and coaches. Further discussion will take place at another ADs meeting March 6 at Montini.
In the Interstate Eight Conference, Lisle athletic director Dan Dillard said last week that effective in 2014-15 Dwight is leaving the 12-team association for membership into the Sangamon Valley Conference.
There has been talk of Streator leaving the Northern Illinois Big 12 West to join the I8 in 2014-15. A Tuesday meeting of Interstate Eight athletic directors at Coal City did not produce an invitation, according to J.T. Pedelty of The Times in Streator.
Wednesday night Hinsdale Central senior Fiona McKenna was headed to Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge. She's a forward for the Chicago Mission's Under-19 girls hockey team, which was hosting Team Illinois.
If she's not practicing hockey she's probably heading a soccer ball as a defender on the Eclipse Select U18 club that plays in the Elite Clubs National League. She said over the years her teams have finished third, fourth and 10th nationally, with four Illinois championships.
She'll bring both pursuits as well as an ACT score above 30 to one of the biggest academic grinders around -- Princeton. Fiona's parents, Steve and Dawn, emphasized that "education was the most important thing." Hockey and soccer -- or soccer and hockey -- must be Nos. 2-3.
"Yeah, I get tired, but whenever I've had a day off I'll get bored," she said. "Being sore or tired, I'm used to it."
From Dec. 29-Jan. 5 McKenna was playing at the International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Championship for the U.S. Women's National U18 Team, as was Naperville Central's Taylor Willard and Downers Grove South's Cara Piazza. They took the silver after a 2-1 last-second loss to Canada in Heinola, Finland.
She didn't get to talk to them much, but her parents and brothers Jack, Will and Andrew were there to watch her play.
"It was the best experience I've ever had," Fiona said. "It was two weeks I'll never forget, being able to represent your country and do the sport I love."
Though she's in soccer basically year-round and in hockey from August to May, she wouldn't have it any other way. She thanked her hockey coach, Tony Cachey, and soccer coach Mike Nesci for their cooperation.
"Without them I would have had to choose a sport a long time ago and I probably wouldn't have had as much fun as I've had," she said.
The Illinois high school wrestling community justifiably takes great pride in the Grand March that precedes the championship matches of the state finals. Some believe the Grand March to be the most impressive single spectacle in all of Illinois high school sports.
They're not local men, but local readers may still find interest in who will serve as Marshalls for the Grand March, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday before the finals at Assembly Hall in Champaign.
The 2013 Grand Marshalls are: Dave Gannaway, state qualifier at Normal University High, U-High coach, IHSA administrator; Tim Haak, Harvard coach; Mike Polz, state qualifier at Riverside-Brookfield, coach at Providence and Sandburg; and Don Schultz, state qualifiers at Reavis, coach at Reavis and Sandburg.
Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.