BLOOMINGTON – With both Illinois Wesleyan University ’s Men’s and Women’s basketball teams getting into NCAA Div. III playoffs last year, Men’s head coach Ron Rose and Women’s head coach Mia Smith don’t foresee this season ending in either team staying home when NCAA bids come out this year. What’s more, they would like their individual teams to get further than they did at the end of last year.

But first, both must play tough non-conference and Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin schedules to prove to opponents they will get back to compete for championships.

Both teams exited early in the NCAA tournament – the Men exiting after a round one loss to Wooster , the Women leaving after a second round loss to Trine. Women’s team head coach Mia Smith said her team was hampered by injuries as the season wound down last year, to forwards Raven Hughes and Sydney Shanks, both of whom watched the team’s post-season march from the bench.

Hughes, Shanks “Were Helping Coach” Team: But for the Women’s team, a curious thing got noticed by Smith about how Hughes and Shanks, now healthy and ready to take on opponents this year, contributed from the bench during the team’s tournament run. “They were helping me coach at the end of the season because they could pick up on things having been in the system, and watching from the bench at games, they picked up on a lot of things and for them to do that is very mature.”

Smith described Hughes, a sophomore and a University High grad, and Shanks, a junior and a Central Catholic grad, as “basketball-oriented kids who have basketball-oriented minds. What did surprise me is how they stayed in the game for their teammates.” She explained injured players on the bench have a tendency to show discouragement about the fact they are not on the hardwood because an injury has benched them. Smith said that didn’t occur with either Hughes or Shanks. “Their vision from the sideline was really good,” Smith said of the pair’s contributions.

A torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament on her left knee sidelined Hughes for the Conference playoffs and NCAAs. She received clearance from doctors to begin working with the team again at the beginning of this season. “It was difficult to be on the bench but at least I had Sydnee with me,” Hughes said. From the bench, Hughes said she learned that, even when a player gets hurt, “the team knows to keep going and that we shouldn’t give up.”

Shanks said being at NCAAs her sophomore season, although she didn’t get on the court due to a broken hand, was “amazing” and she loved cheering on her teammates as they made their way through the bracket. She added she “can’t wait to get back to NCAAs again next year.”

Downs Tri-Valley grad Maddie Merritt will be experiencing her final season on the court for IWU this year. She is one of four seniors expected to lead IWU back toward CCIW Tournament and an NCAA tourney bid. The team’s other seniors are guards Emily Farris and Nina Anderson, and forward Ashley Schneider.

Sophomore guard Kendall Sosa called what she had last season at IWU “a great experience for my freshman year.” Now a sophomore, she added she learned plenty from last year’s senior teammates which included El Paso Gridley High School alum Rebekah Ehresman. “That prepared me a lot for this year, I think, so that means we will have a lot of experience for this year.”

Last year’s seniors taught Sosa a number of things including “how to stay composed and the speed of the game,” she said, adding, “this level has a little more speed and having to learn about shot selection” from that group has prepared her for this season.

Rose Coaching A “Hungry” Men’s Team: Rose’s men’s team is again relying on senior depth to help get them through, and one of those seniors will be his son, Brady. “Brady had a great junior year,” his coach said, explaining his son “had a great junior year, having been named all-conference. He comes back with a world of experience.” The senior Rose said the 6 foot-3, 185 pound guard spent the summer doing workouts to improve. He said the same could be said of Jack Martin, the 6 foot-4, 180 pound guard and University High alum.

“Jack is bigger and stronger, was on the Junior Varsity team last year and learned a lot,” Rose added. “He has learned the system and really shown improvement this first week.”

The younger Rose, a guard, may be a senior but he’s going to be playing in his fifth season for his father because of a broken foot injury he sustained in his sophomore season. He was allowed to redshirt which gave him an extra season this year.

“It seems like a long time ago that I showed up on campus,” the younger Rose said. “Just looking back on the four seasons I had – three I played and this last one I’m getting a chance to. I’ve played with a lot of great players, a lot of great friends, a lot of great coaches. It’s brought us a lot of different experiences every single year. It has brought me a lot of different learning experiences I’ve been able to take some lessons from.”

Personally, Rose said, the ultimate goal of winning a national championship is front and center on his mind. That means going for a repeat of getting the CCIW championship since IWU won it last year. He called being at IWU collecting “some of the best memories of my life.”

Sophomore guard and University High alum Jack Martin was on IWU’s junior varsity team last year and admitted the up tempo pace of the game from high school to college didn’t intimidate him. “I just want to practice hard and do the best I can this season,” he explained.

“We’ve got some great senior leadership,” Coach Rose reminded. In addition to the younger Rose, that group includes guards Colin Bennett and Jason Gregoire, and forward Danny Baker. “We’ve got some great senior leadership,” explained the coach, who is entering his 13th season at the helm of the program. Of his players as this season dawns, Rose said, “This is a hungry group. We shared the CCIW title last year, made it to the NCAA, but we’re certainly not satisfied. We have the team that has the potential to have a special season.”

EPG Alum Ehresman Now A Grad Assistant: Sometimes, students find the career path they wanted gets changed simply by changing majors. That’s what happened to Rebekah Ehresman, the star basketball player at El Paso Gridley High School and an IWU graduate. She got her undergraduate degree in Accounting but is now a graduate student at Illinois State University in Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity, as well as serving as a graduate assistant coach for Smith’s IWU Women’s team.

As part of her job, Ehresman helps with logistics for the women’s team as well as recruiting, scouting, and helping at practices. “I’m very passionate about sports and basketball in general, and this school,” she said. She started out as a Business major and switched to Accounting, but even as she was getting her degree, the yearning to stay close to sports in some way never left Ehresman’s thoughts.

For me, accounting was sitting and looking at a computer, and not a whole lot of interaction,” Ehresman said. “I should have known that going into it. I switched my major late, in my junior year. So now, I’m changing career paths a little bit.”

Circle Your Calendars: IWU Men will play two exhibition games – at University of Illinois at Chicago on Thursday, Nov. 1 and at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana on Nov. 2, both starting at 7p.m. They open the regular season at Shirk Center on Sunday, Nov. 11 against University of Chicago at 4p.m. Their CCIW season starts at home against Carthage College on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7p.m. IWU Women open with two road exhibitions, at Eastern Illinois on Nov. 1 at 6p.m. and at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Monday, Nov. 5 at 7p.m. Their regular season opens also opens Nov. 11 at Shirk Center against UC starting at 2p.m. Their first CCIW contest is on Dec. 1 against Carthage College begins at 5p.m.

By Steve Robinson | October 28, 2018 - 10:56 pm
Posted in Category: NCHS, The Normalite

NORMAL – St. Charles North head coach Rob Pomazak stated something most Ironmen fans who have been coming to games in the last few years know probably very well. “Those guys don’t know what it’s like to lose, fellas.” He made those comments to his team in postgame comments to his team after they finished their Illinois High School Association Class 7A first round game against Normal Community High School Saturday at Ironmen Field.

A scoreless first half for the Ironmen was the beginning of what would be just the second loss of the season for first season head coach Jason Drengwitz’s troops, dropping a 44-29 decision to the North Stars, and eliminating them from the playoffs.

Two touchdown passes – from 35 and 18 yards – from junior quarterback Kyler Brown to senior wide receiver Alec Kritta, one in the first quarter and one in the second quarter, and a 37 yard field goal in the second quarter by senior kicker Luke Barresi put the North Stars in front, 16-0 going into halftime before NCHS (8-2) found ways to put points on the board in the second half.

St. Charles North (7-3) punted away their 3rd quarter opening possession and put the ball at NCHS’ 10 yard line. Seven plays later, Ironmen senior quarterback Daylen Boddie dashed 60 yards for his team’s first score of the contest followed by a 2-point conversion pass to senior tight end Max Lowery, cutting the North Stars’ lead in half, 16-8, with 8:13 left in the quarter.

But hope of NCHS catching the North Stars early faded on the guests’ next possession when their sophomore running back Nicholas DeMarco scored on a 78 yard touchdown run on their first play after the ensuing kickoff. That extended St. Charles North’s lead, 23-8 with 7:51 left in the third quarter.

Junior running back Jake Hileman chewed up yardage, too, during a 66 yard touchdown run which topped off a 5 play, 92 yard march for NCHS’ next score, cutting the North Stars’ lead, 23-15 with 5:50 left in the quarter.

But a 28 yard touchdown run by senior running back Tyler Nubin with 1:13 left in the quarter doubled the score on NCHS for the North Stars, 30-15, following Barresi’s extra point try.

Brown connected with Nubin on a 30 yard scoring pass at 10:05 in the fourth quarter, followed by Barresi’s extra point, increasing the North Star’s advantage, 37-15. But a Boddie keeper play from 25 yards out kept NCHS within range following senior kicker Camron Hinman’s extra point, 37-22, with 9:03 left.

A 22 yard touchdown by DeMarco with 4:30 remaining, followed by Barresi’s extra point, doubled the score on NCHS, 44-22. What would be NCHS’ last touchdown of the season came from Boddie to Lowery in a 5 yard pass with 1:23 remaining followed by Hinman’s extra point. The Ironmen successfully followed that up with an onside kick which they recovered but were unable to capitalize on after four incomplete passes.

Pomazak said his team had lost two games to Batavia and Wheaton Warrenville South, both on last plays of the game, “so I would categorize us as one of the top 10 teams in the State and knew we had just as good a chance to win. What we saw on film was just a chance to get the ball vertical and our running back, Nick DeMarco did a great job of finding gaps and taking out big chunks and Tyler Brown was able to find open receivers.

“Defensively, we kept a really good offense in check for the majority of the game,” Pomazak added. “We really wanted to focus on Boddie. He’s a great player and a fine young man.”

For NCHS’ Drengwitz, “Number one, offensively, we didn’t do enough to put us into a position to compete a little bit better, and our defense played lights out,” he admitted. “In the second half, we made enough plays to get us back in the game and get an opportunity to win, but when the crucial moments came, both on offense and defense, they made the crucial plays and we didn’t.

“But to our kids’ credit, we came back in the second half and made it a ball game and gave ourselves some opportunities,” the first season head coach added. “But when their kids’ backs were against the wall, St. Charles made plays and they executed well down the stretch.”

By Steve Robinson | October 27, 2018 - 10:59 pm
Posted in Category: Normal West HS, The Normalite

NORMAL – Anybody trying to catch hold of Davion McQuirter Friday night had a tough time. Just ask any of the defensive line or secondary of Peoria Notre Dame when they visited Wildcat Field for the opening round of Illinois High School Association Class 6A playoffs at Wildcat Field. McQuirter tallied up 253 yards on 22 carries, already earning 200 by halftime, as he and the Wildcats eliminated the Irish from the playoffs with a 34-21 victory in damp conditions.

As a result, the 4th seed Wildcats will take on 5th seed Palos Heights (8-2) this weekend, winners over 12th seed Springfield by a score of 51-36.

The 5 foot-9, 180 pound running back got his evening started at 7:47 in the first quarter, scoring from 80 yards out to successfully end the evening’s first possession for Normal West (9-1), followed by senior kicker Parker Theobald’s extra point, giving the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.

The ensuing possession for Peoria Notre Dame (6-4) ended in a punt which bounced then dropped to a stop at West’s 1 yard line. Two plays later, McQuirter scrambled past Irish defenders for his next score from 3 yards out at 3:29 in the quarter, and West owned a 13-0 lead despite a failed 2-Point conversion attempt, and carried that lead into the second quarter. An 85 yard pass from senior quarterback Carson Camp to sophomore wide receiver Corey Walker made McQuirter’s score possible.

PND cut West’s lead, 13-7 on a 7 yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Georgio Grivetti, capping the visiting team’s longest march of the night going 80 yards in 15 plays, followed by senior kicker Sidney Maroon’s extra point.

PND’s ensuing kickoff gave West the ball at their own 32, but it didn’t stay there long thanks to McQuirter who raced 68 yards down the near sideline for the Wildcats’ next score followed by Theobald’s extra point, putting West up, 20-7 at 9:20 in the second quarter holding that lead going into halftime.

West received the ball to start the third quarter and added to their lead, 27-7, on a 14 yard touchdown run by Camp, followed by another Theobald extra point.

PND responded with a touchdown to conclude the ensuing drive, pulling within 13, 27-14, featuring senior running back Blaine Stanton’s 5 yard score, topping a 9 play, 71 yard drive, followed by another Maroon extra point.

West held the ball going into the fourth quarter and scored on a McQuirter 2 yard dash with 10:08 left in the contest, followed by Theobald’s extra point, increasing the Wildcats’ lead, 34-14.

Senior running back Logan Cover’s 5 yard touchdown run followed by Maroon’s extra point, turned out to be the last points for the season for PND.

West first season head coach Nate Fincham said his team had to adjust to what they were seeing in PND’s play, “In the first half, we were scoring a little bit too fast and our defense was getting gassed. I changed things so that we would get a few yards at a time so that our defense wasn’t going back out after the offense had been on the field for two or three plays.”

“We went to the mentality of having first downs and that gave us some extended drives,” Fincham added. “That helped our defense.” The win was the second this season for the Wildcats over the Irish. The two sides opened the season Aug. 24 here, with West winning, 44-13.

“We had a slow start to it, but we came on toward the end,” was the assessment from PND head coach Pat Armstrong. “West had three or four broken plays where our guys weren’t in the right spot and West scored three touchdowns early. You can’t have that happen and win football games. “I’m proud of the boys and their effort. They had their backs against the wall, they were tired the last half of the season and they did a great job. I’m 100 percent happy with the boys’ effort and what they did.”

By Steve Robinson | October 25, 2018 - 10:10 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – Members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board were informed the district its most recent audit which was conducted by the firm of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP produced positive results. In a brief rundown of the audit, Adam Pulley, a Principal with the firm, explained auditors examined district financial reports, material relating to the district program addressing the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the district’s nutrition program.

Auditors found no problems when examining the three programs, Pulley told Board members, and thus, were able to write what auditors refer to as “clean” opinions on those programs.

“The district has made vast improvements over the year,” Pulley said. “That’s a testament to the culture of the district.” Pulley added there weren’t many changes in terms of how the district spent money from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2018. Board members unanimously approved accepting the results of the audit report.

Events Planned For Students Looking Into Careers: Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent, announced a pair of upcoming events will be held for high school students looking into researching certain career paths. Both will be held at the Astroth Center on Heartland Community College’s campus from 12 noon-3p.m. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, an event giving students a chance to research careers in agribusiness and manufacturing will be held during those same hours. An event giving students a chance to research careers in health sciences will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Natural Gas Contract Extension Approved: Board members unanimously approved an extension of the contract with Vanguard Energy through December 2020, paying for natural gas for its buildings at a price of .335 cents per therm. Unit 5 has had a contract with Vanguard Energy since June 2014.

“Principal Appreciation Day” Recognized: Each October, National Principals Month recognizes the essential role that principals play in making a school great. As part of that celebration, The State of Illinois has endorsed Friday, October 26, 2018 as Principal Appreciation Day. This recognition was first approved by the Governor of Illinois in 1990 and is annually celebrated.

To begin a list of “good news” reports to Board members, Dr. Mark Daniel spoke about those district staffers who oversee each of the district’s elementary, junior high, and high schools.

The principals (and their schools) are: Benjamin Elementary, Marlys Bennington; Oakdale Elementary, Liz Holtz; Brigham Elementary, Julia Knepler; Parkside Elementary, Ryan Weichman; Carlock Elementary, Laura Delgado; Pepper Ridge Elementary, Tina Fogal; Cedar Ridge Elementary, Karrah Jensen; Prairieland Elementary, Scott Peters; Fairview Elementary, Jim Cooper; Sugar Creek Elementary, Kristina Peifer; Eugene Field Center – Jane Collins; Towanda Elementary, Scott Vogel; Fox Creek Elementary, Leslie Davenport; Chiddix Junior High School, Jim Allen; Glenn Elementary, Cari Oester; George L. Evans Junior High School, Chris McGraw; Grove Elementary, Sarah Edwards; Kingsley Junior High School, Stacie France; Colene Hoose Elementary, Adam Zbrozek; Parkside Junior High School, Darrin Cooper; Hudson Elementary, Scott Myers; Normal Community High School, Trevor Chapman; Northpoint Elementary,, Matt Harr; and Normal Community West High School, David Johnson.

District “Good News”: Board members were introduced to district teachers who were recognized at the Illinois State Board of Education’s annual “Those Who Excel” dinner held Oct. 20 at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Carol A. Reitan Conference Center. A total of 214 statewide recipients of 2018-19 Those Who Excel awards were recognized. “Those Who Excel” celebrates outstanding classroom teachers, educational leaders, and support personnel and their invaluable contributions to schools and communities State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith recognized Illinois’ top educators at the 44th annual event. The Unit 5 honorees, and the categories they were recognized in, were: Classroom Teacher – Ben Luginbuhl – Award of Excellence; Administrator – Darrin Cooper – Award of Merit; Educational Service Personnel (non-certificated) – Jennifer Barlow – Award of Excellence; Early educator – Claire Rybarczyk – Award of Excellence; Student Support Personnel (certificated) –Brooke Bollmann– Award of Excellence;
Community Volunteer – Jan Meadows – Award of Excellence; and Team – Benjamin Business Bears – Award of Excellence. Honorees also included the 10 Teacher of the Year finalists, including Normal Community High School Music Teacher Ben Luginbuhl.

George L. Evans Junior High School’s “Good News”: Christopher McGraw, principal of George L. Evans Junior High School, addressed Board members to update them that the school’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team had been recognized for recently earning the Midwest PBIS Network’s “Platinum” recognition. The Midwest PBIS Network recognized over 500 Illinois schools for their PBIS implementation during the 2017-18 school year. Schools were recognized at four levels, based on their implementation and outcome data: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum Levels. Of those 500 state-wide schools, Evans was one of only three middle schools, outside of the Chicago-land area, to earn “Platinum” – the highest possible recognition.

“Good News” Regarding Energy Use At Normal West: Joe Adelman, district operations manager, and Marty Hickman, district budget manager, reported to Board members the district has partnered with companies such as Alpha Controls & Services, Corn Belt Electric, and Ameren Illinois in an effort to achieve energy efficiency at Normal Community West High School.

Adelman and Hickman placed a spotlight on three district employees for their work on behalf of the district when working closely with the energy providers. Those employees are: Angie Codron, associate principal at Normal West, who served as lead administrator representing the school in meetings concerning the matter; Lowell Correll, head day custodian at Normal West, whose job was to intake information concerning the new system being implemented; and Tommy Hoerr, the district’s assistant business manager, whose responsibilities included applying for grants and rebate incentives the district was awarded totaling $200,000 from the district’s utility providers to help offset costs.

The project is going into its eighth month of showing energy savings for the school, Adelman and Hickman explained in a memo to Daniel and Board members.

He’s Now Dr. Epperson: Ray Epperson, assistant district superintendent, announced he had recently received his doctorate from Northern Illinois University in Educational Leadership. His dissertation topic was “The Connection Between Principal Leadership Behavior and School Climate.”

Academic Growth And Achievement Report Presented: Epperson, joined by Moe Backe, director of elementary education, and Dan Lamboley, director of secondary education, presented an annual growth and achievement report to Board members. Among the findings presented for results which concluded at the end of the 2016-17 school year were that Unit 5 had a graduation rate of 91.35 percent.

Also part of that report was an update on freshmen who are proceeding through their education, or on track toward graduation as scheduled. At the end of the last school year, 459 of the 529 freshmen students at NCHS (or 87 percent), and 397 of the 440 freshmen students at Normal Community West High School (or 90 percent) were on track to graduate.

This same group of educators also promised to bring Board members an extensive report concerning improvements needed for the district’s Student Information System at the Board’s only meeting in November, slated for Nov. 14, a result of the Thanksgiving holiday.

District Starting Enrollment Numbers Down Slightly: Unit 5 has seen a minor drop in student population at the start of this year over last year, according to the district’s executive director of human resources and student services. Dr. James Harden reported to Board members the district is starting with 13,202 students in its classrooms as opposed to 13,315 students who started the school year at this time last year, a decrease of 113 students.

Unit 5 Music Parents Spaghetti Dinner Dates Set: Board members heard from Donna Garrett, one of the organizers of the Unit 5 Music Parents Spaghetti Dinners which will take place twice in November. She invited Board members and the public to attend one of the two dinners slated to take place in November. On Monday, Nov. 5, the dinner will be held at Normal Community West, with serving taking place from 5p.m.-7:30p.m., and performances continuing until 9p.m., and again on Monday, November 12 at Normal Community High School between those same hours.

By Steve Robinson | October 23, 2018 - 10:11 pm

NORMAL – University High’s top seeded Volleyball team swept Central Catholic in two games of the Class 3A Regional the Saints hosted Tuesday, earning a shot at the event’s championship. The Pioneers advanced to Thursday’s championship match by beating 7th seed BCC with scores of 26-24 and 25-18. The Pioneers will take on Manteno Thursday night. Manteno swept Fairbury Prairie Central by scores of 30-28 and 25-14.

U-High Takes Game One, 26-24: In game one, the top seed Pioneers and 7th seed Saints matched each other point for point until U-High pulled away thanks to a pair of kills – one by Alyanna Crabtree and one by Jess McDowell – to pull in front, 18-14, prompting BCC head coach Teresa Ulrich to call a timeout. Following the timeout, a Pioneers driving the ball into the net followed by a kill by senior middle hitter Morgan Koch cut the Pioneers’ lead to two, 19-17.

Saints sophomore outside hitter Abby Cox delivered two serves which proved problematic for U-High, the first was shot into the net while the second fell short of it, allowing BCC to tie the game at 20-20, prompting Pioneers head coach Michael Bolhuis to call timeout. The game would tie two more times, at 22-all and 24-all before U-High would overcome serves by Saints senior outside hitter Mallory Bergbower to take the first contest.

Pioneers Overcome Saints’ Streaks In Game Two, 25-18: University High struggled through the first part of the second game, leading briefly, 2-1 before BCC tied the game at 2-all, and with Cox serving, went on a four-point unanswered streak, taking a 6-2 lead until a Pioneers kill cut that lead, 6-3. U-High crept into an 8-all tie before a kill by junior setter Isobel Schaefbauer helped give them a one-point lead, 9-8, which they stretched into a 10-8 lead forcing BCC head coach Teresa Ulrich to take a timeout.

From there, the score would be tied once more at 10-all, but with junior outside hitter Alayna Crabtree and junior defensive specialist Skyler Jenkins serving, the Pioneers were able to advance to an 18-11 advantage. A kill each from Saints junior defensive specialist Ellie Nelson and U-High’s Tongate pushed U-High into a 22-15 lead. Crabtree, with her team up, 24-18, delivered U-High’s last serve which BCC returned but failed to keep in bounds leading to the final score, giving the Pioneers a sweep and a shot at the Regional crown provided they won against Manteno.

The victory advances U-High’s record going into the Regional Championship at 27-7. BCC’s season ends with a 21-15 record. Crabtree registered 6 kills while McDowell had 5 for U-High. McDowell also served three aces. Their teammate, senior setter Macy Tongate had 12 assists and three blocks. Junior defensive specialist Logan Murray had 4 digs.

While BCC had no aces, Cox scored 10 service points. Bergbower had 9 kills, followed by 7 from senior middle hitter Morgan Koch. Junior setter Kate Moorman-Wolfe lent 22 assists and had one block. Bergbower also had a block. Senior middle blocker Lauren O’Donnell had 9 digs followed by junior defensive specialist Sydney Adams’ 8.

“We knew BCC would try sending the ball to senior middle hitter Morgan Koch when they could and we didn’t do a very good job of slowing her down at all,” U-High’s Bolhuis said. “It was neck-and-neck, and kind of a high tension match all the way through,” Bolhuis said, giving credit to the seniors on his team with using their experience to get their team through the match and overcoming moments when they trailed.

BCC’s Ulrich said she reminded her team “U-High’s going to walk in here without any doubt they will walk out of here with a victory and I told our girls we have to do the same thing. In order to stay in this game, we’re going to have to be aggressive and fast at the net and if that means our middle hitters need to block, then that’s it.”

Ulrich said her team executed that plan well in game one, but she admitted, “Unfortunately, in game two, our nerves got the better of us because as soon as U-High started to come back, we started to retreat.”