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February 2017: SO MUCH SPORTS

The title says it all. I was inundated with sports coverage in February. I’m not complaining.

Basketball. Wrestling. A little swimming. And a just a touch of other stuff. I stayed busy last month. There were many late nights in high school gyms.

Here’s a selection of my photos from February 2017.

I’ll start off with the non-sports stuff.

First is a photo when school bus drivers were preparing to strike. I was sent to an elementary school to get photos of bus drivers at the end of the school day.

School bus driver Ronnie Guidry talks to students as the get on his bus Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, after school at Spring Creek Elementary School in Rockford. Guidry has been a bus driver with the Rockford School District for five years. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

I had a fun assignment to photograph Jim Dorsey at his apartment in Freeport. Ham radio is Jim’s life. All hours of the day, he’s on the radio. I hung out with him for an hour or so as he talked to other ham radio operators in the region.

Ham radio operator Jim Dorsey talks on his radio to an operator in Loves Park on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, at his home in Freeport. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2017

Ham radio operator Jim Dorsey talks on his radio to an operator in Loves Park on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, at his home in Freeport. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2017

Ham radio operator Jim Dorsey looks through logs of his weekly radio net Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, at his home in Freeport. A net is a scheduled gathering of ham radio operators on a particular frequency. Dorsey has been running the Friday Night Fun Net since 2008. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2017

Ok. That’s it for the non-sports stuff. Sure, I shot a little bit more, but a lot of it is for projects that don’t publish till the end of March. So stay tuned!

Now for the bombardment of sports photos.

I’ll start with swimming. I covered a handful of swim meets, but the images I’ve selected are from practices. First was a story on a school with three autistic swimmers and one legally blind swimmer. The picture I chose isn’t super unique. I just loved the light in the pool.

Hononegah swimmer Jalen Stimes takes a breath while swimming laps Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, during a practice at NorthPointe Wellness in Roscoe. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

Next is a from a diving practice. In a dark aquatic center, focus and timing can mean everything. Waiting for the subject to face a certain way or enter a small patch of light makes all the difference.

Belvidere co-op’s Jacob Hedberg practices a back one and-a-half in the pike position Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, at Boylan High School in Rockford. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

I also tried to look for different angles and fresh perspectives.

Belvidere co-op diving coach Garry Cacciapaglia watches as Jacob Hedberg practices Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, at Boylan High School in Rockford. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

Ok. Onto the next sport — wrestling.

I didn’t cover a whole lot this year until we got into tournament season.

Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Aaron Dvorak (left) tosses Dakota’s Clint Oakes in the 152-pound championship bout Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, during the Class 1A wrestling regional at Winnebago High School. Dvorak went on to win the match, and Le-Win went on to win the team regional title. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM & THE JOURNAL-STANDARD ©2017

Dakota’s Andrew Wenger (left) moves to the edge of the mat as he tries to break free from Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Rahveon Valentine in the 170-pound championship bout Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, during the Class 1A wrestling regional at Winnebago High School. Wenger went on to with the match. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM & THE JOURNAL-STANDARD ©2017

I wasn’t able to follow our local wrestlers to the state individual tournament, however, I did get to go down for the team championship meet.

Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Aaron Dvorak works behind Wilmington’s Nick Pretto in the 152-pound weight class Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, during the Class 1A team wrestling championship at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Pretto went on to win the match. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM & THE JOURNAL-STANDARD STAFF] ©2017

Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Elijah Rowe tries to avoid getting pinned by Wilmington’s James Cox in the 182-pound bout Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, during the Class 1A team wrestling championship at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Cox pinned Rowe at the end of the second period. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM & THE JOURNAL-STANDARD STAFF] ©2017

Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Rahveon Valentine celebrates after pinning Wilmington’s Caleb Gougis in the 170-pound bout Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, during the Class 1A team wrestling championship at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM & THE JOURNAL-STANDARD STAFF] ©2017

And now for basketball. I don’t know what’s in the water this year, but some of the games I covered were the most exciting games I’ve ever seen.

Durand’s Lily Moore (21) and Pecatonica’s Logan Mund (24) reach for a rebound Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, during the Class 1A regional championship at Pecatonica High School. Pecatonica went on to win 46-29 to secure the program’s first ever regional title. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM &THE JOURNAL-STANDARD STAFF] ©2017

Pecatonica’s Logan Mund (24) and Laura Schulze (20) celebrate Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, after beating Durand 46-29 in the Class 1A regional championship at Pecatonica High School. Pecatonica secured the program’s first ever regional title. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM & THE JOURNAL-STANDARD STAFF] ©2017

Pecatonica head coach John Guth celebrates Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, after his team won the Class 1A regional championship against Durand at Pecatonica High School. Pecatonica won 46-29, securing the program’s first ever regional title. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM & THE JOURNAL-STANDARD STAFF] ©2017

Winnebago’s Kenzell Jones (22) takes a shot while being fouled by Lutheran’s Xavier Stafford (2) and guarded by Sam Stewart (20) on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, during a game at Winnebago High School. Lutheran went on to win 46-41. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

Out of all of the exciting games I covered, the Class 3A regional championship was the most exciting game I’ve ever seen. In the final eight seconds of regulation play, you thought the game was over three separate times.

Stillman Valley’s Macy Weaver (30) and Alexa Ballard (13) fight for a rebound with Lutheran’s Hannah Malcomson (1) on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, during the Class 3A regional championship at Lutheran High School in Rockford. Stillman Valley went on to win 76-74 in overtime. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

Ordinarily I wouldn’t care about a free throw shot. However, look at the scoreboard. Stillman Valley was down by one and Alexa Ballard fired off a buzzer beater 3-pointer. She missed. However, she was fouled while taking the shot. So with no time left on the clock and down by one, she got three free throws. She sunk the first one to tie the game and missed the next two, sending the game into overtime.

Stillman Valley’s Alexa Ballard (13) shoots the second of three free throws after time expired in regulation play Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, during the Class 3A regional championship at Lutheran High School in Rockford. Ballard hit the first free throw for the tie, sending the game into overtime where Stillman Valley went on to win 76-74. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

Stillman Valley players including Grace Timm (22) and Alexa Ballard (13) react after beating Lutheran 76-74 in overtime Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, in the Class 3A regional championship at Lutheran High School in Rockford. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

Stillman Valley’s Mady Sasse (10), Alexa Ballard (13) and Grace Timm (22) look at their regional championship plaque Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, after defeating Lutheran 76-74 in overtime in the Class 3A regional championship at Lutheran High School in Rockford. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

Another great game was Class 4A Sectional championship between East and Boylan. It was a close game through the third quarter.

Boylan’s Ashley Reyes (10) and East’s Victoria Malone (5) reach for a rebound Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, during the Class 4A Sectional championship at Hampshire High School. Boylan went on to win, 62-56. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

East head coach L.A. Malone reacts after a foul is called on one of his players Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, during the Class 4A Sectional championship at Hampshire High School. Boylan went on to win, 62-56. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

Boylan’s Sarah Welsh (31) and East’s Mardaeja Cross (13) fight for a rebound Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, during the Class 4A Sectional championship at Hampshire High School. Boylan went on to win, 62-56. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

Boylan players celebrate with their plaque Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, after defeating East 62-56 in the Class 4A Sectional championship at Hampshire High School. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

And of course, nothing like a trip down to Redbird Area in Normal to cover one of our local girls’ teams fighting for the state championship. But it really wasn’t much of a fight. Byron won with ease.

Byron girls hold up their championship trophy Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, after defeating Bloomington Central 55-32 in the Class 2A girls basketball state championship at Redbird Arena in Normal. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF] ©2017

To see more current stuff as I shoot it, be sure to follow me on Instagram.

Basketball: That's a wrap!
Images from January 2017
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