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SATURDAY SENTINEL: Recognizing Pierard, and more on SHS recognizing Callahan

SENECA — You know, I thought I'd worked just about every local kid's name into my recap of the Seneca Wrestling Regional, which ran on Feb. 5.

It turns out that I inadvertently missed one — and it was one of the qualifiers for the following weekend's Plano Sectional. Coal City 138-pounder Dylan Pierard's 138-pound finish didn't get a mention, as it should have.

What is ironic is that Pierard impressed me to the point that I asked Coal City coach Mark Masters about him during our interview. I wasn't there for the entire regional, but I caught Pierard's final two bouts. He and another local, Seneca's Gary Wantroba, met in a win-or-go-home bout for the right to wrestle for third place. Pierard was trailing before he turned the tables and pinned Wantroba in 4:37. Pierard then won by fall again in the third-place match.

"He finished strong. He did well," Masters said of Pierard. "We spend the whole year trying to get some kids to buy in to the way we do things. He's one who is buying in and really coming around."

Pierard went on to win by fall twice at Plano, but he lost a 10-9 decision to Jonovan Huggins of Chicago Hope with a guaranteed berth at state on the line in wrestlebacks. Five of Pierard's teammates (Cody Minnick, Corey Jurzak, Casey Brown, Jake Czaja and Ryan Naples) did advance to state, however.

Another story I covered involving Seneca was about the school's retirement of the No. 33 basketball jersey that belonged to 2006 grad Garrett Callahan. The ceremony was held last Saturday night prior to a 47-28 win by the Fighting Irish over Rockford Christian.

During my interview with Seneca Athletic Director Steve Haines a few days prior, I asked him about the fact that Callahan also played baseball, football and golf for the Irish. While Haines stressed that this was a basketball-specific honor, he said that Callahan's performance in those other sports only bolstered his case. Haines went on to say that a student-athlete may be so honored for accomplishments beyond what they do in a specific sport for the Irish.

"Say we had someone who played high school golf here and was an average golfer," Haines said, "and somehow — maybe they got connected with a great teacher or coach — went they on to play on the PGA Tour. We might look to honor them — if their contributions to our school away from the course when they were here would merit it. It's not just about what is done in high school. We look to celebrate career successes."

Haines said that those factors helped contribute to the decision to retire Callahan's jersey. After graduating from Seneca, Callahan played for four years at South Dakota State University, and he founded the Illinois Ambush, a local AAU program.

Callahan is the fourth SHS student-athlete to have his or her jersey retired. It’s a club that also includes Mark Aubry (boys basketball/football), Paul Bauer (football) and Cindy Kaufmann (girls basketball).

“Cindy Kaufmann is arguably the best girls basketball player to come out of Seneca High School. She went on to play Divison I basketball at (Illinois State University) and have a great career,” Haines said. “The other two, Paul Bauer and Mark Aubry, were done immediately after their (senior) seasons. That we waited this long for Garrett should say a little about the flexibility in the process. With Garrett, this was something we had wanted to do for some time.”

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