PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Normal Community had plenty to smile about this weekend.
The Iron won the Big 12 tournament championship with a straight-sets win over Champaign Centennial Saturday. A shortened Illinois High School Association season with no state tournament was still very special for the team.
“We definitely made the best of the six weeks we had,” said Normal Community senior Mallory Oloffson. “We worked every day and worked as hard as we could. We knew it was out last season and we couldn’t waste any time.”
Normal Community shared the conference regular season title with Normal West and Champaign Central before winning the conference tournament in Peoria.
“I’m very thankful we had a season but it shows you how thankful you should be to have a regular season,” said Normal Community senior Emma Buckner. “Don’t complain about practice because now we have to wear a mask.”
Players at Normal West feel the same way. The Wildcats took third in the tournament after beating host Notre Dame. They share the idea this was a special season, even if it was only six weeks long. played in the spring and played without a postseason.
“A lot of us stepped up and wanted to make the most of the season,” said West junior Averie Hernandez. “I felt like it was fun in that way. We didn’t need to win championships or go to state.”
The season started with practice in August and ends with satisfaction on both sides of Normal. Even if the season was hardly normal.
”When it’s a short season in the middle of a pandemic, we got used to (odd) stuff,” said West head coach Kelsey Mueller. “If you don’t have the right girls, it can be really long but I felt like this season flew by.”
Both teams were hoping to meet each other in the Big 12 title match. Instead, they’ll have to wait until the fall to play each other again.
“To get a season and just be able to play is a gift,” Normal Community coach Christine Konopasek. “’m grateful to spend the last six weeks with them. I wish it wasn’t done.”