Let me be the first to wish you a Happy New Year.
OK, maybe not the first but best wishes nevertheless.
Before I give you some predictions for the high school sports scene, here are a few professional prognostications for 2012.
In February, I say Green Bay repeats as Super Bowl champions, outlasting New England and star quarterback Tom Brady 48-45 in a memorable and defenseless Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
After a pressure-packed, 7-game series victory over Vancouver in the conference finals, the Chicago Blackhawks face off against the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals.
As much as I hate to do it, I'm picking the Miami Heat to take on Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals.
Meanwhile, the Albert Pujols-led Los Angeles Angels will play against the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.
In collegiate sports, Alabama edges LSU 16-13 to win the BCS National Championship, while Baylor wins both the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournament titles.
Yes, Northwestern and former Batavia High School standout Nick Fruendt will go "dancing" for the first time as a NCAA Basketball Tournament qualifier.
Prior to making my fearless predictions for our local prep teams/athletes, let's review how some of my 2011 picks fared:
The good: I said that Geneva's girls basketball team would beat St. Charles North for the second straight year in the Class 4A regional finals (the Vikings won 52-31).
I correctly picked Montini to win the 3A girls state basketball title while also predicting that Kaneland and Aurora Central Catholic would meet in the 3A boys basketball regional tourney (ACC won 63-53).
I also said that St. Charles North's softball team would play for the 4A state championship (the North Stars lost 9-8 to Moline last June), and picked St. Charles East's girls volleyball team to face York in the 4A sectional championship (the Saints won in 3 games and went on to finish third in the state).
So-so: I picked half of the Elite Eight field in the Class 4A girls basketball state tournament, including state champion Bolingbrook.
I said that St. Charles North would take on South Elgin in the 4A boys basketball regional finals at St. Charles East (South Elgin edged Bartlett in one of the wildest endings I've ever seen).
The bad: I was only able to pick 2 of the Elite Eight teams that comprised the Class 4A super-sectional round (Simeon and Warren).
I said that St. Charles North's boys golf team would make its first state tournament appearance with a top-3 sectional showing (the North Stars placed 9th at sectionals).
My prediction of a top-4 finish by St. Charles North's basketball team at the St. Charles East/Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament fizzled out when the North Stars went 1-3 and lost to the host Saints in the fifth-place game.
Here are my picks to click for 2012:
• Geneva's girls basketball team will capture its fourth consecutive Class 4A regional title -- this time beating St. Charles East on the way to a sectional semifinal matchup with Bartlett.
• Class 4A girls basketball Elite Eight: Bartlett vs. Rockton Hononegah; Whitney Young vs. Bolingbrook; Edwardsville vs. Lincoln-Way East; Fremd vs. New Trier. State champion -- Bolingbrook.
• Class 3A girls basketball state champion -- Springfield.
• Aurora Central Catholic will earn its second straight 3A girls basketball regional crown.
• The state individual wrestling tournament's Grand March will include Marmion's Johnny Jimenez, Eddie Greco, George Fisher, Angelo Silvestro, and Alex Fritz (2A); St. Charles East's Isaiah Vela, Nick Ruffino, and St. Charles North's Tim Noverini (3A).
• In February, St. Charles East senior Katherine Sulaitis will record a top-25 individual finish during the girls state bowling tournament in Rockford.
• Later that month, St. Charles North's boys swim team will crack the top 3 at the state meet, fueled by seniors Chris Dieter, Joey Chokran and junior Kyle Gannon.
• In March, St. Charles North and Elgin will square off on the North Stars' home floor in the Class 4A boys basketball regional finals two days after the North Stars' double-overtime postseason win over St. Charles East.
• Class 4A boys basketball Elite Eight: Plainfield East vs. Proviso East; Warren vs. Elgin; Edwardsville vs. Bloom; New Trier vs. Simeon. State champion -- Simeon.
• Class 3A boys basketball state championship: Peoria Central vs. Springfield Lanphier.
• Aurora Central Catholic and Marmion will play in the 3A regional title game at Sandwich, while Kaneland reaches the regional finals at Rochelle.
• In late March, St. Charles East baseball coach Len Asquini will guide the Saints to a 5-3 season-opening victory over Palatine in his return at the helm he held for 8 years through 2003.
• In May, West Aurora sophomore Emma Spagnola will capture the long jump state title at the Class 3A girls track meet, while St. Charles East junior Brittany Williams recorded a top-4 Class 4A finish (400 dash).
• Meanwhile, top-3 boys state track finishes will be turned in by Marmion's Pete Stefanski (2A high jump), St. Charles East's Jake Mazanke (800 in 3A), and St. Charles North's Oshay Hodges (3A high jump).
• Batavia's Josh Cogan will record a top-6 finish in the boys state tennis tournament.
• Led by junior slugger Katie Ryan, Batavia's softball team wins its first regional championship since 1988.
• In June, St. Charles North's girls soccer team will capture its ninth straight regional title.
• Upstate Eight River champion Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North will all earn regional baseball titles, with coach Matt Hahn's Vikings claiming their first sectional crown.
• In late August, Batavia's football team will visit Class 8A power Glenbard North in what ends up being one of the best games of the regular season (Bulldogs win 28-27 on Anthony Thielk's late TD run).
• In early September, St. Charles East defeats cross-town rival St. Charles North in its UEC River Division opener on the way to a 5-4 state playoff-qualifying regular season finish.
• In October, St. Charles North's Ariana Furrie and St. Charles East's Paige Jordan record top-15 individual showings at the Class AA girls golf tournament, while Marmion's Liam Creamer cracks the top 10 in the Class 2A boys golf tourney.
• Playoff football qualifiers will include Aurora Christian, Aurora Central Catholic, Batavia, Geneva, Kaneland and St. Charles East.
• Junior quarterback Drew David will lead Kaneland to a berth in the Class 5A state championship game after the Knights' come-from-behind semifinal triumph over longtime nemesis Montini.
• St. Charles North's boys soccer squad will win its eighth straight regional title and reach the Class 3A state semifinals.
• In November, sophomore Victoria Clinton will lead Kaneland to a third-place finish in the Class 2A girls state cross country meet, while Torree Scull, Sarah Hill and Jess Evans pace St. Charles East to its second consecutive top-3 team finish in the 3A meet.
• Senior setter Erienne Barry will guide St. Charles East's girls volleyball team to its seventh straight Class 4A regional title.
• Led by tournament MVP Kendall Stephens, St. Charles East's basketball team will reach the finals of its own Thanksgiving tournament.
• St. Charles North sophomore Meagan Popp will win the 200 IM at the girls state swimming meet in late November.
• A post-Christmas blizzard will cut area holiday basketball tournaments in half.
• A year from now, I'll be scratching my head wondering where some of my predictions went wrong.
You can reach Craig Brueske at firstname.lastname@example.org
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