Fremd battles to finish third

 
By Marty Maciaszek
mmaciaszek@dailyherald.com
Posted5/13/2012 12:01 AM
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Fremd senior Ji Young Seo found the cure for a lingering illness she had to battle through at this weekend's state badminton tournament in Charleston.

A sixth-place state medal in doubles with junior Kelly Owens to help Fremd claim a third-place trophy didn't hurt Saturday at Eastern Illinois University.

"It feels great, especially in my last year, to get a trophy at state," said Seo, who overcame a 102-degree fever during the weekend. "It kind of drove me more to play better. Obviously, there are no excuses even if you're not in the best shape at that time."

Seo and Owens typified Fremd's effort to claim its fourth top-three trophy in six years with 12.5 points -- just 1 point behind co-champions Stevenson and Naperville North. The second-seeded doubles team had to battle back from a stunning first-round loss Friday and won six straight matches before falling to Prospect's Shea Gallus and Noreen Caporusso 21-16, 13-21, 21-17 in the fifth-place match.

Fremd senior Annie Huang played above her 13-16 seed to finish sixth in singles with a 21-18, 21-16 loss to Palatine senior Maggie Van Grondelle, who became only the second four-time medalist in state history. And sophomore Angela Wu in singles and the doubles team of senior Mayu Sugikawa and junior Rina Seo each went 4-2 to help pad the point total.

"They took the long road, but they got it done and got a trophy and that was our goal," said Fremd coach Bob Hanson, whose program won titles in 2007 and 2009 and was third in 2010.

"It was very exciting," Owens said. "We've been working toward a state trophy the whole season. It's really rewarding to reach our goal."

Huang played a part of three of the trophy celebrations and received an added bonus with her first medal. She lost in Saturday's quarterfinals to eventual champion Ellen Lin of Naperville North 16-21, 22-20, 21-17 but came back to win her next two consolation-bracket matches.

"They followed her lead this weekend," Hanson said of his team captain.

"I was really nervous," Huang said. "After I lost to Ellen, I really needed to win everything in the consolation bracket, not just for myself but for the team. That's really nerve-racking.

"I told myself to go out and do my best and have fun and put aside all the nervousness."

The uphill battle was even greater for Owens and Seo after their Friday loss. But they hung in all the way to the end Saturday -- even when Hanson wasn't sure if Seo would be able to play because of her illness -- to help the Vikings finish a point ahead of Hinsdale South and Wheaton Warrenville South.

"It was incredible and amazing for her to play through that," Owens said.

"At first it hit us pretty badly," Seo said of the first-round loss. "The coaches came up and said, 'Just pull through, now.' We wanted to make sure we didn't feel like that again the rest of the tourney and that definitely drove us to keep going."

Gallus and Caporusso did the same after losing to Madeline Vaccaro and Neha Chandran of Bradley-Bourbonnais in the quarterfinals. All four Saturday matches for the Prospect duo went three games.

"To go 6-1 says a lot," said Prospect coach Jean Rezny. "They had a great tournament and a great two years. They played some of their best badminton this weekend."

Van Grondelle overcame a back injury suffered in the sectional to join York's Linda French (1979-82) as the only four-time state medalists. Buffalo Grove's Kelsey Henrikson and Jenny Krewer beat Fremd's Sugikawa and Rina Seo in the fifth-round consolation match but were eliminated in the next round by Stevenson's Emily Cai and Yein Lee.

Lin beat Stevenson's Wan Wan Liu for the singles title and Hinsdale South's Brittany DeClouette and Emma Adcock won the doubles crown.

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