Nearly two dozen Panther winter sports athletes earned All-Southwestern Conference honors for the recently completed season.
SWC coaches convened at the end of their regular season schedules to select the top players in boys and girls basketball, boys and girls bowling and wrestling. The league’s announcement of the elite squads for the 2016-17 campaign came last week with O’Fallon Township High School athletes well-represented for their exceptional efforts on the court, lanes and mats.
As might have been expected given their state-qualifying runs at the end of the season, the Panther bowling teams earned bragging rights by placing 10 bowlers on the All-SWC squad.
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The OTHS boys, who made another run at the state championship this winter, secured five roster spots. Leading the balloting was the senior tandem of Andrew Orf and Matthew Toohey — both first team all-conference selections. Mark Hoerner and Eli Rosenberg earned slots on the second team, and Josh Bradshaw was a third team selection.
The Lady Panther keglers equaled their male counterparts in numbers, collecting five All-SWC roster spots. Two of the OTHS freshmen phenoms were first-team bowlers, Natalie Heltne and Mary Orf. Hayleigh Williams and Lauren Tomaszewski were named to the conference second team, and Madison Thornton completed the list of O’Fallon girls with a spot on the SWC third team.
Eight of the O’Fallon All-SWC bowlers picked up additional accolades in the voting by being named All-Area. Those chosen as the “best of the best” were Andrew Orf, Matthew Toohey, Mark Hoerner, Eli Rosenberg, Natalie Heltne, Mary Orf, Hayleigh Williams and Lauren Tomaszewski.
“As the voting indicates, this was a very special year for our teams,” said Mike Imes, OTHS boys coach. “The number of bowlers that were recognized speaks to the consistency and exceptional effort of our kids throughout the 2016-17 season.”
The O’Fallon High wrestling program also had its share of superior athletes, placing nine grapplers among the best in the rugged Southwestern Conference wars.
The Panther matmen finished the season with a 19-1 dual meet record and a 6-1 mark in SWC action.
Topping the charts for the Panthers were senior standouts Alec Ziegler (120 pounds), Mason Hewitt (182 pounds), Brian Ahle (220 pounds) and junior Jack Bond (160 pounds). The four top guns in the Panther program garnered first-team all-conference slots. Sophomore Alex Fulton (126 pounds), senior Kobey Bosworth (195 pounds) and freshman Mason Baker (285 pounds) collected second-team honors. First year freshman wrestler Nasim Chelbi (113 pounds) and senior veteran Jalen Jones (138 pounds) boosted the O’Fallon total to nine honorees with third-team All-SWC roster spots.
Securing roster spots in the highly competitive SWC basketball league is always a difficult proposition, and the 2016-17 campaign was no different. However, four Panther cagers made the cut.
Senior Marta Durk, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark during her final high school season, was the top OTHS vote-getter. Durk’s aggressive play and superior skill set earned her first-team honors. She was joined on the squad by Caitlyn Kayser, a second-team designee, and Divine Lane, O’Fallon’s post player, was named to the SWC third team.
The O’Fallon boys basketball program managed one representative on the league’s elite team. Jalen Hodge, a junior, was selected as an All-SWC second team honoree.