Sunday, February 25, 2024

Athletes of the Week: Eastin has big day at regionals, Armstrong can’t miss

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The votes are in. With our new process, powered by Copper Creek Contractors, Hunter Eastin of the Unity wrestling team and Josie Armstrong of the Tri-County girls’ basketball team are this week’s winners. Here they are, in their own words, with their biggest supporters — their teammates:

Josie Armstrong | Tri-County girls’ basketball➜ Why she’s Athlete of the Week: Armstrong’s week got off to a familiar start, leading the Titans to a 44-36 win over Cumberland on Jan. 29 with 15 points. Her performance three days later was what put her in the spotlight. Armstrong scored 34 points, more than half of Tri-County’s offensive production, in a 66-42 win over Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond on Feb. 1. The pair of wins moved the Titans to the cusp of a 20-win season, which happened on Feb. 5 when Tri-County defeated Heritage to finish the regular season with a 20-9 record that included a 9-2 mark in Lincoln Prairie Conference play.

➜ From Armstrong: “This time is different with the votes, and I wasn’t too sure if I was going to win (Athlete of the Week) because there were girls from bigger schools and bigger areas, so I was I was pretty surprised by the amount of people who voted for me. … I looked after the first quarter (last Thursday), and I had 15 points. I guess I just had a good night. My shots were falling. I didn’t play any different or try to score as many points as possible. … Most of the games where we do really well is when everyone scores. Some games, we only have three girls score, and other games, we’ll have five or more. When everyone scores is when we do the best.”

➜ A TV show I could watch over and over is … “That ‘70s Show.”

➜ My favorite music genre is … country, and my favorite artist is Alan Jackson.

➜ If I could have any superpower, it would be … to fly. Why not? I could go wherever I want without any restrictions or traffic.

➜ Something that’s on my bucket list is … I want to travel somewhere out of the country.

➜ My biggest pet peeve is … laziness.

➜ My favorite basketball memory is … winning the conference championship my sophomore year. Going into it, we thought it was going to be a really tough game, and I’m pretty sure we ended up winning it by quite a few. It was just a nice win.

➜ My favorite sports team is … Illinois men’s basketball.

➜ Before a game … I like to shoot around before the JV game or during halftime of the JV game by myself. After that, I just sit and talk with my varsity teammates and chill out. Nothing special.

➜ After a game … if there’s a McDonald’s around, I like to get ice cream.

➜ In five years … I’d eventually like to move on to a four-year university where I’m playing basketball. I’d also like to be remembered as more than just a basketball player, but a good teammate and person.

➜ Athlete of the Week finalists: Addi Erwin, Arthur Christian basketball; Maia High, Monticello basketball; Carleigh Parks, Champaign Central basketball.

Hunter Eastin | Unity wrestling➜ Why he’s Athlete of the Week: Eastin had himself a day at the Class 1A Unity Regional on Feb. 3. After a first-round bye, the Rockets’ No. 2 seed in the 190-pound weight class pinned Riverton’s Elias Banks in the quarterfinals for his 100th career win. In the semifinals, Eastin pinned Heyworth’s Jarrod Fulcher. That set up a championship match with the bracket’s top seed, St. Thomas More powerhouse Brody Cuppernell. Eastin locked in and came away with a 6-2 win, one of six Unity wrestlers to win an individual title, to help the Rockets to a team championship.

➜ From Eastin: “I was surprised (to win Athlete of the Week) because last time I looked at the vote, Talin Baker was winning, and I was like, ‘OK, I’m fine with that. Another wrestler. I know him personally.’ I just didn’t expect it. … (Last Saturday) was really eventful. I got my 100th win in my first match, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah. There we go. Starting the day off right.’ Second match, I pinned the kid. Third match against Brody, he already beat me at conference like 10-2, so I knew it was going to be a tough match. I was preparing myself for that match the entire day. It was really exciting during the match with all our wrestlers matside. … I was like, ‘This is my year. Let’s go.’”

➜ A movie/TV show I could watch over and over is … “Jujutsu Kaisen,” which has been the top-grossing anime series recently.

➜ My favorite music genre is … anything and everything. I’ll listen to country, rock, anything.

➜ If I could have any superpower, it would be … electrokinesis, the ability to control and manipulate electricity. Infinite power. I could charge my phone instantly.

➜ Something that’s on my bucket list is … wrestling in college and climbing a mountain. I would say skydiving, but I’m terrified of falling from that high. I’d go bungee jumping, which feels a lot less safe than skydiving.

➜ My biggest pet peeve is … people talking too loudly, just constantly screaming. I know a couple people like that, especially on the team.

➜ My favorite wrestling memory is … placing second on the 16U national team.

➜ My favorite sports team is … Michigan football, so this season was fun, but I’m also a Bears fan and a Broncos fan. It’s been rough.

➜ Before a match … I just put my headgear on, block out all outside noises. Tune everything out, wait for my match to come up and tell myself positive thoughts. No “What ifs,” no being negative. Just wrestle and make things happen.

➜ After a match … the go-to spot is my bed. I go right to sleep. I’m always tired.

➜ In five years … I want to be a college wrestler, probably getting my degree in something computer-related.

➜ Athlete of the Week finalists: Talin Baker, Champaign Central wrestling; Cameron Carson, Judah Christian basketball; Gavin Schunke, Milford basketball.

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