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Kevin Hieronymus

Hartmann having fun on the mats

Girls just want to have fun ... and wrestle.

Princeton’s Shaylynn Hartmann, 11, was one of 100 girls from around the state competing in the very first IKWF Illinois Girls State Tournament in Yorkville, ranging from kindergarten to seniors in high school. She placed third in the middle school 75- to 77-pound division.

The Logan Junior High School sixth-grader said it was a fun experience because it was her very first year wrestling.

Shaylynn comes by wrestling naturally. Her father, Skee, is a coach for the Tiger Town Tanglers and was a three-year varsity grappler for Princeton High School, graduating in 1996. He was a state qualifier his junior year.

When asked what kind of things she’s heard about her dad’s wrestling days, she’s quick to say, “He doesn’t listen to his coaches ... He was good, though.”

It is nice to have her dad as a coach because “he shows me my stance and stuff, how to shoot and throw, do most of the moves you would use in a match.”

She needed all the advice she could get wrestling for the Tiger Town Tanglers against boys who have about six years of experience on her. While she’s taken her lumps on the mats, she know it will pay off.

“They’ve been wrestling for six years; it’s hard. If I don’t wrestle at all, it’s not going to make me better,” said Shaylynn, who practices twice a week with the Tanglers.

“Tiger Town has been good for her. Coach AC welcomed her with open arms,” Skee said. “Yes, she does have some natural ability, which helps, but it wasn’t easy for her. At one point of the year, she was 0-8 or 0-9 or something like that.

“Like any other sport, you’re not a great softball player at 5 years old. You’ve got to work with it.”

Skee described “a lot harder than it is cooler,” having his daughter get into the sport he loves so much.

“I’m a very emotional person, and I’m very loud, too. The more emotional I get, the louder I get,” he said.

Shaylynn found out how emotional her dad can be when she won her first match this season, a double-overtime, sudden death thriller in Chillicothe over a girl she would later face at state.

“He got so emotional he couldn’t stop crying,” she said.

“It’s matches like that that cause me a heart attack,” he said, also noting a championship match at L-P in which she lost by one point.

Hartmann finished with a 3-2 record wrestling girls this season, in addition to the matches with the boys wrestling with the Tanglers throughout the year. They plan to compete in some of the girls-only tournaments next year. There were four events statewide leading up to state, Hartmann said, but none nearby.

Shaylynn is quite the active 11-year-old, participating in soccer, band, choir, along with wrestling. Basically, she says, “All the sports I can pretty much think of.”

That’s my kinda kid.

Mouth of the South: My old pal Brent Kopp, former Princeton elementary teacher, has his NCAA dancing shoes on. He’s the PA voice of the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles, who won the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament and are making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Area sports followers will remember Kopp for getting a little excited on the radio here. The Eagles will play No. 2 seed Georgetown in the South Regional.

Parting shots: Congrats to Princeton native Kelly Schaill for winning her first IESA State volleyball championship down in Edwardsville. She was quite the volleyball and basketball player at PHS ... I’d also like to offer my condolences to the families of Paul Scoma (a former PHS Tiger track dad) and Al Anderson (a Tiger basketball grandpa) for their recent losses.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com.

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