All posts by Mike Slodki

Mike Slodki is a sports reporter for the Elburn Herald. You can reach him at

Kaneland soccer edges rival Marengo in opener

Photo: Kushstrim Ismaili battles for possession of the ball in the second half of the 2-1 opening win over Marengo. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—While Tuesday’s weather started off less than ideal, the end landscape of the evening was more suitable.

Just the way Kaneland soccer preferred it.

Hosting their rivals from Route 23, Marengo, the Knights got the 2011-12 season off on the right cleat.

With a 2-1 win over the Indians, the Knights begin 1-0.

The result was made a little more remarkable considering the Knights played a man down for all but five minutes of the second half.

The KHS goals came in the first half, with Jordan Escobedo finding the net 14 minutes, 49 seconds into season action thanks to a feed from Kushstrim Ismaili. The match’s difference was scored by Alex Gil with 9:46 left on an unassisted attempt.

Marengo nabbed its goal on a penalty kick.

The JV crew continued its tear from last year with a 6-0 win over Marengo.

The varsity unit tests its mettle in the Jacobs Invite beginning on Friday, Aug. 27.

Kaneland boys’ soccer named its five captains prior to the opening competition against Marengo on Tuesday:
• Anthony Parillo
• Pedro Perez
• Alex Gil
• Jordan Escobedo
• Thanasi Pesmajoglou

Volleyball beats NIB-12 crossover foe

Fabrizius, Dudzinski, Banbury key in KO of Geneseo
KANELAND—Volleyball began 2011-12 in grand fashion.

The Lady Knights didn’t let the two-hour trip diminish their court skills as they beat the host Lady Leafs of Geneseo in a Northern Illinois Big XII conference crossover clash by an 18-25, 25-19, 25-20 result.

Grace Fabrizius paced the team with 12 kills, followed by Katy Dudzinski’s 11. Lauren Banbury had six kills to add to the winning effort.

Dudzinski also added four blocks on the evening.

In sophomore action, the Lady Knights had a come-from-behind win over Geneseo by a final of 20-25, 25-23, 25-22.

The freshman “A” squad swept its contest in a 25-10-25-17 encounter, while the “B” team did the same in a 25-9, 25-15 affair.

On the horizon for the quick-starting Lady Knights: the second night of the Wheaton North tournament on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Battle of the Bands highlight 2011 Elburn Days

by Mike Slodki
You may think that the only musical entertainment takes place on the Main Stage at Elburn Days this year.

In that case, you’d be happily wrong, as there remains more tunes to come.

The Battle of the Bands show brings an opportunity to showcase area music that skews younger.

Open to all area high school bands, Battle of the Bands will have a professional stage setup with full lighting and concert-ready sound.

Elburn Days has made it clear that it is not a competition, but merely a chance to showcase band talent.

Applications are available at the Elburn Lions website,

Battle of the Bands takes place on Saturday, Aug. 20, on the Community Stage from 7 to 10 p.m.

Community stage brings plenty of variety

by Mike Slodki
It’s said variety is the spice of life.

If that’s the case, it should be plenty spicy when it comes to the Elburn Days Community Stage for the 82nd annual Elburn Days event.

The Community Stage provides an alternative to the Main Stage, which features Chicagoland musical acts and festival staples.

On Friday, Aug. 19, the community area gets a visit from Ronald McDonald at 7:30 p.m.

Under the lights, A Factor Dance Company then performs from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The hoopla continues on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 1 p.m., when an all-ages hula hoop contest hits the stage, with winners receiving a gift certificate to Alice’s Ice Cream in downtown Elburn.

At 1:45 p.m., the “Elburn Idol” finalist competition gets underway with winners chosen.

Empower Dance Company holds its mini dancer solo showcase at 2:30 p.m., and more dancing follows at 3:15 p.m. with the Pretty In Pink Dance Exhibition. M&M Dance’s Miss Maggie is also holding a free dance class for preschoolers at the stage, as well.

The “Elburn Idol” Youth division winner sings on the Main Stage at 4 p.m., opening for band Chasing The Day.

M&M Dance Studio performs at 4:15 p.m.

The stars collide from 7 to 10 p.m. as area bands from Kaneland, Geneva and St. Charles High Schools show off their musical prowess for the Battle of the Bands showcase.

Meanwhile, at 7:30 p.m., the 2011 ‘Elburn Idol” Teen division winner opens for Hi Infidelity in the Main Stage.

The Community Stage’s final tour of duty is Sunday, and begins with Dakota and Steph’s Hip Hop Class, open to ages 8 and older, from 1 to 2 p.m.

At 2:15 p.m., the third annual Ice Cream Eating Contest, sponsored by Colonial Ice Cream, begins. Four age divisions are set, and prizes include first, second and third place. All participants receive a certificate.

At 3 p.m., the “Elburn Idol” Teen runner-up sings on the Main Stage for He Said She Said.

A dance tripleheader follows, with The Beth Fowler Dance Studio beginning at 3:15 p.m., M & M Dance Studio at 4:15 p.m. and ZUMBA, with Maria rocking the stage at 5:15 p.m.

The fun brought by the Community stage ends for another year with the “Elburn Idol” adult division winner opening for 7th Heaven on the Main Stage.

the Knights ahead: Kaneland looks to reach similar heights from a year ago

Photo: Knights football works on getting back to the playoff promised land at the high school. A year ago the Knights had their best season since 1998. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland Knights football achieved such great heights a year ago.

The best season mark since 1998, an undefeated regular season, and an epic third-round playoff win over Vernon Hills—made possible by player Joe Camiliere, Taylor Andrews and Tyler Callaghan—made it a season to remember, until it was stopped on a cold night in November against powerhouse Montini Catholic.

Fifth-year coach Tom Fedderly isn’t interested in preparing for last year.

“It was a special year, but last year is last year. Every year is different. I’m going to try to take the guys that we have, and our system is flexible enough where we can do things differently depending on the pieces that we have,” he said.

The Knights’ spread attack on offense was successful in large part due to new Elmhurst Bluejay Camiliere’s penchant for taking care of the ball.

With the starting derby yet to be completely decided, senior Ryan Fuchs and sophomore Drew David could see time under center, and have been told the formula for field success.

“They both know they need to take care of the ball and manage the offense. As it looks right now, I’m pretty satisfied with what we’ve got there,” Fedderly said.

With Andrews and Callaghan gone to graduation, and former receiving threat Daniel Helm now playing for Glenwood High School in Chatham, Ill., the fourth and fifth option on some days last year now move up as big targets in the form of all Northern Illinois Big XII option Quinn Buschbacher and Sean Carter.

Buschbacher also displayed a knack for the return game in 2010.

“It’ll be good for our quarterback to have weapons like those out there, and they have experience,” Fedderly said.

When the time comes to gain yards via ground attack, the Knights rely on sophomore Jesse Balluff, with Buschbacher and Carter viable options to seek carries, as well.

With Helm not a Knight this season, Kaneland gets a move-in option in the form of Ohio transfer Matt Price.

“He’s six-foot-three, about 195 (pounds), and he’s going to get in the mix, too. He looks like a good player,” Fedderly said.

The offernsive line, carrying infinite importance for protection of the spread offense, looks to curb the loss of tackle Jimmy Boyle to graduation.

Four returnees are suited up for the two-way line in Nick Sharp, Ryan Noel, Ben Kovalick and Alex Snyder.

For the linebacking corps, it looks to be an all new crew with the depth chart still in flux.

In the secondary, Jacob Razo returns and looks to primarily play defense, as will returnee Kory Harner. Joey Cozzi returns for his senior campaign.

Kicker Matt Rodriguez returns to boot the ball through the posts when needed.

Fedderly and staff will continue to work up through the season opener, with new foe Brooks Prep of Chicago on Friday, Aug. 26.

“We just started hitting and we’re still looking to see who our football players are, but we have young kids that I think are going to come along,” Fedderly said.

NIB-12 for Kaneland golf’s taking

Photo: Adam Grams of the Kaneland golf squad is looked to for any chance at season and conference success in 2011. File photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—How does a golf squad repeat good fortune of a year ago, despite the loss of two intregral pieces?

KHS coach Mark Meyer, in his sixth season, has some ideas.

“We have good leaders and they know how to do things right,” Meyer said.

With the loss of Josh Schuberg and current Illinois State University Lady Redbird Hayley Guyton to graduation, Krueger and Grams, both seniors, bring their valuable experience on the links into positions of leadership.

A 9-2 dual meet mark and a first-place showing for a Northern Illinois Big XII East Division crown is fresh in their minds.

“The guys coming back like Troy and Adam and others aren’t the most vocal guys, but they know how to lead by example,” Meyer said. “Last year, we elevated our game as a team and shot great at the end. The team is feeling pretty confident and has been working hard in practice.”

The conference should get set for elevated play from a pair of Knight sophomores, Brody Kuhar and Matt Yonkovich.

Coach Meyer looks to turn home course Hughes Creek into an advantage, something that hasn’t always been the case.

“Sometimes we’ve played better away, but I don’t think that’ll be the case this year. It’s a grownup course, and the more you play it, the more you can get comfortable,” he said.

Captains for the roster are Grams, Krueger and fellow senior Anthony Sperando. Other returning seniors are Zach Douglas and Mitch Gemini.

Juniors are Sean Glennon, Luke Kreiter, Stephen McCracken, Dan Miller and Connor Williams, with Kuhar and Yonkovich as the sophs.

The Knights got started with a home matchup against Jacobs on Wednesday and travel to the Geneva Invite on Thursday. Wednesday, Aug. 24, marks the first NIB-12 matchup as the visiting Rochelle Hubs enter Hughes Creek.

“Ultimately, our season boils down to the big tournaments, that can lead to performing well at conference and even State,” Meyer said.

Soccer wishes to carry momentum from ‘10 season’s end

Photo: Jordan Escobedo looks to see his share of scoring chances in 2011. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—While an 11-11-2 record from a year ago might not seem super impressive, the way Kaneland boys soccer went about arriving to that final mark was noteworthy.

Nine overtimes in the playoffs were a byproduct of a regional title—the first for boys soccer since 2004, and the first for a head-to-head sport in Maple Park since 2005.

It was Sterling that ousted the Knights last October in the sectional semifinal, but KHS coach Scott Parillo saw the end of the last season as a possible indicator of what could be in 2011.

“We finally started clicking at the end of the season, which is how you want to do it,” he said. “It was a very young squad last year. Once the playoffs began, I had 22 players on the roster and 11 couldn’t drive.”

Those that know what it’s like to go far return in high numbers for the Knights.

“Hopefully, we won’t start as slow and we’ll be very competitive,” Parillo said.

The depth chart was still in a state of flux with athletes still vying for starting slots, but the returnees who have minutes under their belts will need to provide leadership.

Names like Jordan Escobedo, who brought a dose of athleticism at midfield, as well as a knack for finding the net, return for Kaneland for a senior season.

Escobedo is accompanied by sophomore Anthony Parillo and junior Alex Gil at forward.

Tyler Siebert also provides a spark at midfield and forward for his sophomore season.

The goalkeeper derby has yet to be settled, with three possible entries ready for the opener.

At last count, Kaneland was employing six sophomores on the varsity level, seven juniors and seven seniors.

The road to postseason begins on Tuesday, Aug. 23, against familiar rival Marengo, while conference action begins on Tuesday, Sept. 13, in DeKalb.

“Everything has to go right. Our passing has to be right there. Our defensive intensity has to be right there. I’ve stressed as soon as we lose the ball, we’re on defense. We’re all on offense once we have the ball, and we’ve picked up the intensity in practice,” Parillo said.

Tennis wants to recapture last season

Photo: Madi Limbrick is set for a big year, her third on varsity tennis. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Fourth-year Lady Knights tennis coach Tim Larsen finds himself in a unique spot.

For the first time, Kaneland comes off a season a year ago in which it had a state presence. Kaneland also finished 8-6-1 in dual tussles, and finished second in the Northern Illinois Big XII East division.

Everyone was a true wild card when slotted into the depth charts, and it might even be more of a shootout for the singles and doubles spots, according to Larsen.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm, and a lot of concern about where to put these girls,” Larsen said. “We have a lot of talent and a lot of new girls, including very talented freshmen.”

But girls that achieved success a year ago, like seniors Amelia Napiorkowski and Madi Limbrick, bring a track record.

Napiorkowski’s success during the regular season was on the singles front, but went to State as a doubles tandem with Class of 2011 member Lindsay Jurcenko.

“(Lindsay) played with a lot of heart, and the other girls saw her play hard and took a cue from it,” Larsen said.

Napiorkowski is projected for a No. 1 doubles slot with Lindsay’s younger sister, Madi, a freshman.

“Madi is playing really well, and I think the time Amelia spent playing with Lindsay was fantastic for her and for us as a team. Amelia has really shown up to practice as a leader on the court,” Larsen said.

Limbrick, projected for double, brings experience and improvement in both singles and doubles matches.

“We’ve been scrambling to find any experience at all the last two season, and Madi brings a lot and she’s seen an awful lot. I’m looking forward to watching her play,” Larsen said.

In singles action, freshman Samantha Schrepferman and Angelica Emmanouil could make an impact.

Larsen knows its a long season ahead, but feels whatever combination goes out there, they’ll carry fighting spirit.

“Last year, whenever our girls would be down a set, it’s as if they played harder, and it’s about finding another gear when you think you might lose the match,” Larsen said.

The tennis campaign volleys on Tuesday, Aug. 23, in West Chicago against Wheaton Academy. NIB-12 play begins the following Tuesday against Sycamore.

Volleyball plans to build on 2010 with returning core

Photo: Katy Dudzinski brings experience, size and force to the Lady Knights volleyball squad looking to elevate a 19-win total from 2010. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Could this be a lucky seventh for KHS volleyball coach Todd Weimer?

After a 2010 season that featured a record of 19-14, wins over Geneva (first time since 1991) and Sycamore (road win for the first time since 1999) for the first time in a long time, Weimer’s raring to get his girls on the court once again.

“There were a ton of firsts for us last year,” Weimer said. “I’m feeling great. We’re pumped up every morning. I love investing even more into the program, and we’re very excited.”

The Lady Knights flourished last year, but will have to deal with the sting of a regional opener loss to Hampshire, and the graduation of four seniors led by NIU freshman Jessica Lubic.

“Team chemistry is extremely strong and the personalities are great and attitude has been awesome,” Weimer said. “Last year was great and we think this will be a fun season.”

Seniors returning to the Lady Knights include libero Kylie Siebert.

“This is Kylie’s third year on varsity, and it goes through her on our side. She’s the first contact or the first pass, and she’s the best at it,” Weimer said.

Six-foot-two Katy Dudzinski, committed to Wichita State University, also lends skills up front as RS.

“Kylie, Katy and Malory Groen have kind of set the tone for the expectations,” Weimer said.

Additional seniors include OH Kourtni Bingley, MH Groen and OH Grace Fabrizius.

Juniors are marked by OH Lyndi Scholl, MH Keri Groen, S Ashley Prost, DS Rachael Clinton and MH Lauren Banbury.

Sophomores ready to make an impact on varsity are OH Maddie King and S Jenny Lubic.

The season’s first serve is set in Geneseo in a NIB-12 crossover on Monday, Aug. 22, while the first East Division match takes place on Tuesday, Sept. 13, against Morris.

“The setting is great, the defense is great, the passing is consistent. With this whole team, there are very few weaknesses,” Weimer said.

Girls XC looks to better health for success

Photo: Abby Dodis looks to provide a spark with her talent for Kaneland girls cross-country. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s been ideal running weather in mid-August.

Good enough for KHS coach Doug Ecker and the Lady Knights cross-country team to take advantage of.

“So far we’ve been pretty healthy,” Ecker said. “They’ve worked real hard and done a lot of strengthening. Hopefully we’ll stay away from the injuries and sickness that has plagued some of these girls the last three years.”

With the exception of junior all-conference selection Ashley Castellanos’ stress fracture and junior Abby Dodis’ hip injury, the squad can make up for key departures.

“Abby is looking good so far, and Ashley is a competitor. When the time comes, they’ll be ready to race,” Ecker said.

Former State-qualifier Andie Strang and Kris Bowen depart for the university settings, and last-year’s 51st-best runner in Class 2A, Jen Howland, graduated early.

“Three of our top six runners were out at the end of the year, and we still managed to finish fourth in conference and sixth in Sectionals. When they’re healthy, they’re a pretty formidable group,” Ecker said.

Key returnees include Sydney Strang, a sophomore, who is hot off a productive track campaign in the spring, and recovered from injuries.

The Lady Knights will also be looking toward Maggie Brundige for exceptional times, as well.

Ecker also noted select freshmen who have looked like Lady Knight contributors.

“Victoria Clinton and Aislinn Ludwig have worked hard and are looking good right now,” Ecker said.

Clinton comes off of an exceptional middle school career and also the triathlon circuit.

The lone senior on the squad is returnee Carolina Tovar.

“Even though it seems like we lost a lot, we’ll be fine as far as experience goes,” Ecker said.

The 2011 campaign kicks off on Tuesday, Aug. 30, against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy at Elburn Woods, while the first Northern Illinois Big XII taste happens a week later against the Yorkville Lady Foxes and East Aurora.

“Yorkville is the cream of the crop, Dixon is very talented and Geneseo is very good—all very good programs, and I think without the health issues we’ve faced we’ll do well,” Ecker said.

Boys XC curbing loss of 3 key parts

Photo: Knights boys cross-country braves the August environment, and key losses from a year ago. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—On a mid-August day with creeping humidity, the Knights boys cross-country pack attacks practice in a business-like manner—like it’s part of the day’s task.

Don’t let the demeanor or method fuel you, as the passion runs deep for Kaneland’s crew.

They’ll need it to nullify the graduation of State-goer Trevor Holm (Western Illinois University), Grant Alef (University of Minnesota) and Tommy Whittaker.

“They see this almost as a part-time job, but the passion is there. A lot of these kids, this is their favorite sport,” 17th-year head coach Chad Clarey said. “For some, it’s track, but for a lot of them, they really enjoy cross-country.”

“A lot of them see the tradition we’ve had in the past, and they aspire to write their own chapter,” Clarey adds.

On the senior side, Clayton Brundige, sectional entry Nate Rehkopf and newcomer Miki Marin provide a fourth-year spark.

“Senior leadership is very important. We’ve graduated great seniors in the past, but they’ve left their mark,” Clarey said.

Other seniors include Austin Paulson, Kelvin Peterson and John Michek, who Clarey finds have been leading by example with their work put in.

Juniors are varsity returnees and top-7 placements John Meisenger and Conor Johnson, allowing with Nick Messina, Ryan Paulson, Gus Stott, Brad Kigyos, Nicholas Albano, Chris Wido, Brandon Huber, Joey Pollastrini, Brayden Miller and Joe Kuipers.

“John and Conor are two names that will be relied upon heavily to make up that top five,” Clarey said.

Spearheading the sophomore movement with a chance at varsity time are Luis Acosta, Ryan Bower, Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera. Additonal sophomores include Garrett Patterson, Dylan Kuipers and Phil Cutsinger.

Freshman on the Knights’ radar include Adam Lesak, Brandon Park, James Walker and Zachary Justus.

Clarey is eager to see improvement meet consistency, especially in a tight Northern Illinois Big XII.

“Yorkville is the clear-cut favorite, and we’d like to be in the top three. I think we have the capabilities of doing that,” Clarey said.

The season’s starting gun fires on Tuesday, Aug. 30, against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy.

New day for 5K at Elburn Days 2011

Elburn Days 5K
Saturday, Aug. 20, 8 a.m.
Check-in 7 a.m. at Lion’s Park
Online registration $18
Pre-registration (check by 8/15) $20
Day of race $25
For more info, e-mail:
file photo

New course layout just one of the changes to August staple
by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—It’s fitting that the new course for the 2011 version of the Elburn Days 5K Run and 1-mile Fun Run/Walk begins and ends at Lions Park.

The hub of most everything Elburn Days will be the start and finish point for this year’s version of the competition. It’s just one of the modifications put forth by Lions Club Chairman of the 5K Mark Eddington.

“We did some homework and we’re making modifications that a lot of the area races have already done,” Eddington said on Wednesday. “We’ve wanted to do some of these things for a couple of years and are finally pulling the trigger.”

The first change was the course itself.

“We had done it at the fire department, and while designing a new course, you can’t do Route 47 and across the train tracks. Then you look at the four different quadrants of the town and we looked at Lions Park in the southwest quadrant. You can get more people to participate around there,” Eddington said.

The other changes set to impact the race in 2011 include the program of chip timing, which electronically records start and stop times for individual racers by a timing company.

“It takes the human error out of recording times, and makes the race more sophisticated,” Eddington said.

In addition to trophies, the Lions Club also has cash prizes in store for the first-, second- and third-place finishers in the men’s and women’s groups.

“We have cash prizes of $100, $50 and $25 and it should make things more interesting,” Eddington said.

Online registration is also newly available for the 2011 gathering.

No stranger to long-distance running himself, Eddington offers helpful advice to fleet-footed participants.

“It’s going to be significantly flatter, so those that hate hills will probably enjoy it more. I’d make sure to stay well hydrated, as well,” he said.

Elburn’s international pastime

The Elburn Express 12U and Dubai Falcons, gather after their meeting on the diamond on June 26. The baseball lineup from the Middle East was on a tour of the Midwest before trying to qualify for the Little League World Series in Poland. Courtesy Photo

Express gives Dubai team local flavor
by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—It’s funny how a game like baseball can bring towns together.

But how about teams seperated by oceans and continents?

Such was the case for the Elburn Express 12U and a lineup from the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on June 26.

After the Express competed in a tournament in West Chicago on June 24 and 25, that also featured Dubai, the seeds were planted for a meeting between the Express and Dubai Falcons.

“The game is still new to them, but they were on a tour of the U.S. before playing in Poland to try and qualify for the Little League World Series (in Williamsport, Pa.),” Express coach Scott Glennon said. “They were the team that everyone was rooting for at the tournament. We discussed with their coaches about having them play us at the diamond in the middle of the cornfield and show them hospitality.”

The exhibition was set at McNair Field, and a unique experience took place for not only a team from a burgeoning financial and oil hub, but also for pre-teens familiar with the sport.

“My son, Brett, was wondering about Dubai, and we looked up a little bit about it on the Internet. It was a nice experience for our kids, and it showed them a little bit about life outside the Midwest,” Glennon said. “Dubai has a lot of ex-pats, and one of the parents of the kids had actually lived in Naperville.”

The Falcons were on a three-week tour, including two weeks stateside, and were also treated to a cookout.

“We felt a responsbility. They were 8,000 miles from home. They saw what competition is like here, and we tried to help them however we could,” Glennon said.

As is the case with most Middle Eastern kingdoms, soccer rules the day in the sporting world, but the local national pastime was able to wedge into children from the UAE for a summer weekend.

“We received an invite to eventually go over there, and they really enjoyed themselves. The coaches and parents and kids couldn’t have been nicer,” Glennon said.

A July bump

Todd Weimer of Kaneland High School volleyball oversees drills on Thursday during Team “K” Volleyball Camp at Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove. The camp was for girls in grades 9-12. Photo by Mike Slodki

Mike and Joe, 28 Days, Bonepony headline Corn Boil stage

by Mike Slodki
You braved inches upon inches of snow, and rivers of rain. But at last, the 2011 version of the Sugar Grove Corn Boil is here, and with the event, comes trademark tunes throughout the weekend.

From Friday, July 29, to Sunday, July 31, the WSPY Sound Stage will be hopping with many genres of music, but all of them foot-stomping.

It begins the evening on Friday, when the Corn Boil welcomes the country stylings of Brushfire.

Brushfire is a five-member outfit with a stress on harmonies and has played shows with Lady Antebellum and Gretchen Wilson. Brushfire, which has hit many locations within Illinois, has also played in Tennessee and Florida, is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The band 28 Days takes the stage at 9:30 p.m. on Friday. The band is accessible on Twitter and Facebook, and will have come to Sugar Grove after other festivals like Liberty Days in Morris. In its current incarnation since 2009, the three-person group is also experienced in the wedding circuit. Corn Boil-goers are liable to hear anything from Earth, Wind and Fire to Bon Jovi.

Saturday brings the first full day of Corn Boil action, as well as a full slate of music.

The island rhythms fly beginning at 4 p.m. with the Waubonsee Steel Drum Brand. The Steel Drum performers are no stranger to the setting, with Waubonsee Community College in its backyard.

At 6 p.m., the Duke Band follows up with its take on classic rock tunes.

At 8:30 p.m., Mike and Joe, a Chicago fixture, hits Sugar Grove for a three-hour set. The group will have hit everywhere from Geneva’s Swedish Days and Chicago’s Rock Around the Block this summer before jamming at the Corn Boil. Familiar with many Midwest locations, Mike and Joe is made up of Mike Notaro, Joe Valentino, Cory Flynn and Aaron Streich. Available for listening on five CDs, the band is able to dish out hits from Dave Matthews Band to the Strokes, but their last release, “This Dream,” is their first all-original studio release.

Power folk meets southern-tinged rock when Bonepony closes out the musical portion of the 2011 Corn Boil on Sunday, July 31. While hot off the heels of performances in Kentucky, the band is comprised of Scott Johnson, Nick Nguyen and Kenny Wright. The band has released six albums in its 16-year career. More information about the Corn Boil is available on the web at

June, July help KHS boys’ long-range game

Photo: Trever Heinle, shown here in Northern Illinois Big XII action, was one of the Knights going through the rigors of summer hoops. File Photo

Knights’ Johnson reveals busy hoops-filled summer
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In coach Brian Johnson’s case, school wasn’t really out for summer after all.

Summer league action for the Knights basketball league completed last week, and Johnson was glad to get some floor time for the Knights while they could.

The Knights used the time to play in an organized summer league at Geneva High School, while also hooping it up in shootouts at Morris and Crystal Lake South.

Johnson is quite the proponent of using the summer as a time to hone skills and increasing the chances of success come winter. Kaneland’s summer league time last year was a predecessor to the Knights’ first conference title since 1982.

“We tried to get a lot of games in this year,” Johnson said. “A lot of kids haven’t played with each other on the varsity level. With losing Daniel (Helm, relocated to Glenwood High School, in Chatham, Ill.), and key seniors, I thought it was real important they play a lot of games.”

The Knights saw their share of the Chicago area in some unfamiliar settings.

“Joliet West was a real good tournament. Morris was a very nice tournament, and we finished at Crystal Lake South, which was a good tournament. We had some success, but we also had some rough patches,” Johnson said.

The rough patches that Johnson refers to usually ended with ice on a body part.

“We went through a lot of injuries. The Heinle brothers (Trever and Tyler) were injured. Trever broke his thumb at Morris, and Ty dislocated his elbow at Crystal Lake South. Our new transfer from West Aurora, Marcel Neil, hurt his back. Dan Miller had a concussion, and he’s another key player. It was hard on the boys at times,” Johnson said.

The weekly summer routine provided an outlet for working around any hard times.

“From 7 to 9 a.m. we crossfit, and then from 9 to 11 we held camp and tried to implement new things defensively. Geneva summer league would be on Wednesdays, we’d play three games on Monday. Depending where we were at for the weekend, we’d play five or six games. Some of the kids would go to baseball summer league and play doubleheaders on top of that. It would be a busy week for a lot of the boys,” Johnson said.

While the exact impact of the 2011 summer league won’t be known until the late days of winter 2012, Johnson touts the institution.

“I think if you look back on the past year, I think what we did in the summer was huge. This was the first year that a lot of the sports came together for the summer, and we were on the same page. We got stronger, and you saw what the kids were able to do,” Johnson said.

Getting with the program—KHS Summer Camps

beginning Monday at:

• Kaneland HS
Football Fundamentals
Tennis Fundamentals
Soccer Fundamentals
• Harter MS
Volleyball Setting Camp
Volleyball Fundamentals

KHS football schedule has one new wrinkle

Photo: Quinn Buschbacher, shown here in Class 5A playoff action at Vernon Hills, is one of the returning Knights ready for year two of Northern Illinois Big XII East Division action. File Photo

Knights football opens with 2 home games, faces Chicago’s Brooks
KANELAND—With the Illinois High School Association’s official release of the 2011 football schedules, Kaneland High School now has an official idea of who it will clash with, en route to building upon its 12-1 season of a year ago.

The usual Northern Illinois Big XII East Division foes will travel to Maple Park in the form of Rochelle and Yorkville, while the Knights hit DeKalb, Sycamore and Morris in the road caravan.

In terms of NIB-12 conference opponents, the Knights once again face the Dixon Dukes and LaSalle-Peru Cavaliers, this time on the road.

Knight football deals with the Huntley Red Raiders for the third year in a row in a home battle, after taking the fight to the Fox Valley Conference school last year.

The Red Raiders had a good time of it in 2009, edging KHS, 17-14.

The one significant change is the end of the Kaneland-Burlington Central opening night duel, and the beginning of a meeting between the Knights and fellow Class 5A school Brooks College Prep of Chicago (250 E. 111th St., Chicago).

The Eagles, coached by James Brown, look to rebound from a 3-6 season. Kaneland and Rock Island, whom the Eagles play on Sept. 9, are the non-city opponents this year for Brooks. The Eagles, located in the Chicago Public League’s Illini Conference Heartland Division, last qualified for the playoffs in 2009.

The State semifinalist Knights, under fifth-year coach Tom Fedderly, begin their version of Friday Night Lights against Brooks on Friday, Aug. 26. Huntley comes into town on Sept. 2. Kaneland travels to Dixon for a crossover affair on Sept. 9, and goes south to LaSalle-Peru for the second crossover tussle on Sept. 16.

The conference season begins in earnest on Sept. 23, when KHS hosts Rochelle, and the Knights travel to DeKalb’s new facility off of Dresser Road on Sept. 30. The Knights host the Foxes of Yorkville on Oct. 7 for their fourth and final home game, before finishing in Sycamore on Oct. 14, and Morris on Oct. 21.

Northern Illinois Big XII Schools—Week 1 opponents
Friday, Aug. 26
• DeKalb vs. Ottawa • Kaneland vs. Brooks
• Morris vs. Minooka • Yorkville vs. Streator
• Sycamore vs. North Lawndale Charter
• Dixon at E. Moline U. • Geneseo vs. E. Peoria
• LP vs. Rock Island Alleman • Sterling vs. Moline
Saturday, Aug. 27
• Rochelle at Corliss

Heimerdinger looks back on State honor, Lady Knight soccer

Photo: Emily Heimerdinger fights for possession of the ball during 2011 soccer action. Heimerdinger, continuing her studies at the University of Dayton in the fall, rewrote the Kaneland soccer record book in her pitch time. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—How did graduated senior Emily Heimerdinger take the news of an All-State honor?

“Coach (Scott) Parillo told me in the classroom after keeping the news from me all day. I was crying, I was so happy,” Heimerdinger said.

It could almost be seen as an appreciation of Heimerdinger’s penchant for goals, all 96 of them. But the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association chose to bestow an All-State honor for Heimerdinger, the forward who has scored more times in Kaneland girls soccer history than anyone.

Heimerdinger had also earned Section 7 All-Sectional nods all four years in a KHS kit, joining former Lady Knights Kaiti Roy and Megan Gil in exclusive company.

Despite the Lady Knights losing to Rosary in the regional final in May—the third consecutive year KHS dropped a regional title chance—the Class of 2011 member liked the way the team came together after a slow start.

“It was kind of frustrating for the season to end like it did, but everyone was tight and had fun. We all knew what we needed to do to get better throughout the season,” Heimerdinger said.

Heimerdinger, who also nabbed all-Northern Illinois Big XII conference MVP honors and was part of the final Western Sun Conference lineup, was a rarity this season as a Class 2A State rep. 50 of the 61 players were from Class 3A.

Heimerdinger was also honored by the IHSSCA in conjunction with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club with special mention placement on the All-State All-Academic team, on June 9.

While a star at forward all season long, Heimerdinger showed her knack for putting team first, stepping in at midfield while the Kaneland lineup was in flux in early-season action.

“I remember thinking of all the positions and which girls were in the lineup in my head, and I thought that I could probably fill in at midfield. I tried to do whatever I could do to pump up the team,” Heimerdinger said.

Heimerdinger, who put up 33 goals and 19 assists in 2011, is particularly fond of one goal from her IHSSCA Section 7 All-Sectional campaign.

“The goals run pretty close together, but my junior year I scored against Rosary and it was the first time we had ever won against them, and it was 1-0 (March 24, 2010),” Heimerdinger said.

For Heimerdinger, soccer now gets put on the backburner. She’s attending the University of Dayton in the fall and plans to study geology.

But she’ll have four years of soccer to look back on, as will fans who saw the best four-year stretch in KHS history.

“I think I improved a lot from freshman year. I was able to be more confident and be a team leader, and help the rest of the team,” Heimerdinger said.

KHS girls basketball having fun all summer long

Photo: Lexee Guerra, shown here going for a layup in Rosemont, Ill., is one Lady Knight seeing quality minutes during summer league play. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Summer has been no time for play if you’re Kaneland High School girls basketball.

Coach Ernie Colombe and crew have been keeping busy with shootouts in Genoa-Kingston, Sterling, Morris, Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., and have one scheduled in Ottawa, Ill., this week.

The Lady Knights are also involved in a summer league housed by DeKalb High School, and last Thursday, participated in an exhibition contest against Plano at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., resulting in a win.

“We’ve played tough competition, and we’ve seen improvement. We’ve got the girls lifting and around 30-plus girls are with us right now. You want to see that kind of commitment,” Colombe said.

Colombe can speak from first-hand coaching experience on the benefits of summer league action. The team won eight of nine in a stretch last year, with the 30-game slate going a long way to an improved record in 2010-11.

“Kelly Evers is making her way back from injury; she’s our lone senior. The junior class is full of real competitiors,” Colombe said.

Stats and game scores generally aren’t kept for summer league action, but the summer-wide progress and trip to Rosemont are part of a larger picture.

“We definitely sold it to the girls as a unique opportunity, and they got to be on the floor when the Sky had their shootaround before their game,” Colombe said. “We hope the (sixth-season WNBA franchise Chicago) Sky keep doing something like this.”

The Lady Knights also dealt with a different environment.

“Like the boys when they would go to the United Center, the girls were faced with having their shooting be different. You normally have a wall by the basket, but at the Allstate Arena, you shoot toward seating.”

Colombe has the girls shooting it out all over the area, and thinks KHS has just scratched the surface.

“Evers and Ashley Prost are making their way back from injuries. We haven’t had a regular lineup since we started. Evers will be a force. Lexee Guerra has an improved shot. Emma Bradford could have a breakout year. Marina Schaefer, Ali Liss, Brooke Harner, Prost, Morgan Newhouse and Sarah Grams all play defense and play both ends, which is what we want,” Colombe said.

Area can help Illinois Hoops Hall of Fame launch

by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—Westminster Christian High School basketball coach Bruce Firchau is equipped with a brochure about the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum that reads, “For over a century, the game of basketball has played a significant role in the lives of thousands of Illinois residents. From small gyms in rural towns to large arenas in metropolitan areas, basketball has created decades of unforgettable memories and traditions in the state.”

For what Firchau is helping to get off the ground, that describes this state-wide passion project to a ‘T’.

Firchau has not only been an area hoops coach for years, including a stop at Oswego High School, but is also an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association representative and on the board of directors as chairman of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum.

“We are trying to spread the word throughout the state as really making this something memorable,” Firchau said. “The entire state can get involved and there’s plenty of memories from the Kaneland area, as well.”

The Hall of Fame Museum is slated to open in 2013 and housed in the David S. Palmer Arena in downtown Danville, Ill., roughly two hours south of Chicago.

“We chose Danville as a location because it was near Interstate 74, and it’s centrally located,” Firchau said. “Danville is very eager to have it.”

Blueprints and renderings are completed, but the true attraction of the museum will lay in the material within.

The museum will combine video, exhibits, interactive presentations, photographs and memorabilia.

Attractions will highlight players, coaches, officials, teams and media members who have made their mark with the game.

The museum will operate solely on contrbutions from private and corporate benefactors and individuals.

“This museum is going to be all-encompassing,” Firchau said. “Pro, college and high schools will be covered.”

“We have talked to Loyola about memorabilia concerning their NCAA Championship, Wheaton College about its Division II championship and North Park about its Division III championship. Sports information directors from places like NIU, DePaul and (University of Illinois) are all eager and have helped out,” Firchau said.

The museum will also deal with issues of the time, like segregation and the introduction of girls basketball to the Prairie State landscape.

Firchau also mentioned an ambitious exhibit of a school-wide roll call, from schools A to Z, operational to defunct.

This is just one of the many ways Kaneland residents can pitch in to get the future basketball mecca off the ground.

“If someone were to have a letter jacket from the old Elburn or Maple Park high schools, that would help,” Firchau said. “This has been a strong area for basketball. The girls basketball championship came here in 1982. There were coaches like Ron Johnson, George Birkett, and Bob Pederson in the past that gave so much back to the community. If someone wanted to contribute an old uniform or had old films, that’s the type of thing we’re looking for.”

The Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum can be contacted at: 100 W. Main Street, Ste. 146. Danville, IL 61832, and called at (217) 442-DUNK. E-mail contact is, and can be clicked at

Oh, Kaneland!

Photo: Joe Camiliere shows what it’s all about after Saturday’s 11-3 State Championship-clinching win as he and teammate Bobby Thorson receive their Class 3A medals. The two seniors supplied offense and defense during the weekend, and Thorson picked up the win over Waterloo on Friday. A photo gallery can be found at the bottom of this page. Photo by Mike Slodki

KHS baseball wins 1st State championship with 11-3 win vs. Oak Forest
by Mike Slodki
JOLIET—In high school baseball postseason, only one team can follow through on its aim to run the table and win its last game.

For 2011, that team was your Class 3A State Champion Kaneland Knights.

With an 8-2 win over the Waterloo Bulldogs on Friday afternoon at Silver Cross Field in Joliet, Ill., the Knights earned the right to play Oak Forest and slayed the Bengals in an 11-3 result.

For KHS, this marks the first State Championship in a head-to-head sport since coach Joe Thorgesen’s second Class 3A Championship in a row back in 1998.

Kaneland (26-10) finished the season with a 13-game winning streak, on the heels of a slump that saw it lose six of seven contests to Yorkville, Sycamore, Oswego East and Morris. The Knights’ last loss of the season occured back on May 10 against the Redskins.

“We opened with Plainfield North and had a couple cancellations, faced Cary-Grove, faced Warren, and I told our guys we were going to take some lumps,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We started 2-4, and it was going to prepare us for the end of the season.”

Winning pitcher Drew Peters helped keep the Bengals in check, combining with the defense to stop Oak Forest (27-8-1) on two occasions when they had two runners on base.

On the offensive end, the Knights got a two-out double from centerfielder Joe Camiliere, and he was driven home by third baseman Bobby Thorson for the first run of the contest on an RBI single.

It remained that way until the top of the fourth inning, when with two runners on and two outs, Oak Forest reaped the benefits of a ball to the outfield just out of the reach of Jake Razo for a 2-1 lead.

Powering through that pivotal moment, Kaneland got Camiliere on with a single, and the Elmhurst College-bound baserunner stole second. With two outs, a balk moved Camiliere to third, and DH Drew French walked to put runners at the corners. Razo’s single to left tied the game, and it was followed by second baseman Brian Dixon’s go-ahead single. As French beat the throw home, Dixon took second base.

The floodgates opened in a six-run fifth inning, which increased the lead to 9-2. RBIs in the inning were laced by Thorson, Sam Komel (2 RBI), Razo, Dixon and catcher Tyler Heinle.

“We did a good job at the plate today,” Camiliere said. “We got a run early, and that’s always big. Once we get in the rhythm of a game, that’s when the bats get going.”

The bottom of the sixth inning saw Razo come through again with a two-run double, which closed out the scoring for the season.

Kyle Davidson came on in relief for the last three innings, and allowed three straight singles with one out leading to a run.

However, Davidson induced Bengal shortstop Bobby Sheppard into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play. Davidson and catcher Heinle began the pileup on the field, and the celebration was on.

“We were happy to be here. We were a little worried on how we’d stack up against these teams with 30 wins,” Aversa said.

Camiliere believed all facets of the game played at peak level.

“We played our best game of the year today. Defensively, we gave up some hits, but the plays we needed to make, we made them. That double play was awesome at the end,” Camiliere said.

In the State semifinal against a Waterloo (32-4) team that featured Cubs ninth-round pick Garrett Schlecht, the Knights surrendered single runs in the second and third innings, but Thorson held firm the rest of the afternoon in a complete-game outing.

“My hands were dry today, and I was able to throw more breaking stuff,” Thorson said. “It wasn’t as hot, and I felt great out there.”

The fourth inning yielded huge returns with four runs. Thorson led off with a triple. After one out was recorded, French walked and Razo’s single made it a 2-1 game. Dixon tied the game with another single.

Heinle dropped a suicide squeeze but Waterloo made a bad throw to first to give KHS a 3-2 lead.

“I love bunting,” Heinle said. “It comes easy to me, and I got excited when the sign came for the suicide squeeze.”

Corey Landers smacked a grounder that went off a shortstop mitt to bring the fourth run of the inning home.

Four more runs came home in the sixth, thanks to RBI singles from Landers and Thorson, and a two-run single from Komel.

The KHS unit was also coached by Jim Smedley, Ernie Colombe, Dan Hallahan, Kevin Boltz and Norm Welker.

Team captains were departing seniors Davidson, French, Landers, Camiliere, Komel, Thorson and Dixon.

2011 Class 3A
Final Four
June 10-11, 2011

• Semifinals
Oak Forest 3
Nazareth Academy 1

Kaneland 8
Waterloo 2

• Third place
Nazareth Academy 1
Waterloo 6

• Championship
Oak Forest 3
Kaneland 11

Wish to relive the Knights’ quest?

Both State Final games are available for viewing at

DVD copies will also be available online for purchase at

KHS vs. Waterloo

• Score-by-innings
Knights 000 404 0 8 11 1
Bulldogs 011 000 0 2 4 4

Starting Lineup—Knights
1. Davidson SS 6. French 3B
2. Landers LF 7. Razo RF
3. Camiliere CF 8. Dixon 2B
4. Thorson P 9. Ty. Heinle C
5. Komel 1B
Starting Lineup—Bulldogs
1. Aycock CF 6. Steppig LF
2. B. Dillenberger SS 7. Wittenauer 2B
3. Schlecht 1B 8. Snodgrass DH
4. Wetzler C 9. Schaab 3B
5. Hopkins RF 10. Crutchfield P

• Bottom of 2nd
Hopkins walked. Steppig grounded out
to 3b, SAC. Hopkins advanced to second. Wittenauer singled up the middle, RBI. Hopkins scored. Wittenauer stole second. Snodgrass flied out to cf. Schaab walked. Wittenauer out at third c to 3b, caught stealing. Kaneland 0, Waterloo 1.
• Bottom of 3rd
Aycock walked. B.Dillenberger reached on a fielder’s choice; Aycock out at second ss to 2b. B.Dillenberger stole second. Schlecht grounded out to 2b. B.Dillenberger advanced to third. Wetzler singled to left center, RBI. B.Dillenberger scored. Klein pinch ran for Wetzler. Hopkins grounded out to 2b. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Kaneland 0, Waterloo 2.
• Top of 4th
Thorson tripled to right center. Barry pinch ran for Thorson. Komel struck out. French walked. Razo singled to shortstop, RBI. French advanced to second; Barry scored. Dixon singled through the right side, RBI; Razo advanced to third; French scored. Ty.Heinle singled, bunt, RBI; Dixon advanced to second, advanced to third on a throwing error by p; Razo scored. B.Dillenberger to p. Wittenauer to ss. Snodgrass to 2b. Crutchfield. Davidson struck out looking. Landers reached on an error by ss. Ty.Heinle advanced to third. Dixon scored, unearned. Camiliere grounded out to ss. Kaneland 4, Waterloo 2.
• Top of 6th
Dixon grounded out to 2b. Ty.Heinle flied out to cf. Davidson doubled to right center. Landers singled up the middle, RBI; Davidson scored. Camiliere walked. Landers advanced to second. Thorson singled to right center, RBI; Camiliere advanced to third; Landers scored. Barry pinch ran for Thorson. Barry stole second. Komel singled to left center, 2 RBI; Barry scored. Camiliere scored. Komel advanced to second on a wild pitch. French flied out to rf.
Kaneland 8, Waterloo 2.

KHS vs. Oak Forest

• Score-by-innings
Bengals 000 200 1 3 10 2
Knights 100 262 0 11 13 0

Starting Lineup—Bengals
1. Zubek C 6. Jester 2B
2. Richard RF 7. Linares P
3. Barry LF 8. Hine DH
4. Sheppard SS 9. Sleeman 3B
5. Murray CF
Starting Lineup—Knights
1. Davidson SS 6. French DH
2. Landers LF 7. Razo RF
3. Camiliere CF 8. Dixon 2B
4. Thorson 3B 9. Ty. Heinle C
5. Komel 1B 10. Peters P

• Bottom of 1st
Davidson struck out looking. Landers grounded out to ss. Camiliere doubled down the rf line. Thorson singled up the middle, RBI; Camiliere scored. Komel struck out.
Oak Forest 0, Kaneland 1.
• Top of 4th
Sheppard singled to right center. Murray popped up to p. Jester hit by pitch. Sheppard advanced to second. Linares grounded out to p. Jester advanced to second; Sheppard advanced to third. Hine singled to right field, 2 RBI; Jester scored; Sheppard scored. Sleeman singled; Hine advanced to third. Zubek grounded out to p.
Oak Forest 2, Kaneland 1.
• Bottom of 4th
Camiliere singled to first base. Thorson struck out. Camiliere stole second. Komel struck out. Camiliere advanced to third on a balk. French walked. Razo singled, RBI. French advanced to second; Camiliere scored. Dixon singled down the lf line, advanced to second on the throw, RBI; Razo advanced to second, advanced to third on the throw; French scored. Ty.Heinle grounded out to ss.
Oak Forest 2, Kaneland 3.
• Bottom of 5th
Davidson struck out looking. Landers singled to center field. Camiliere singled to pitcher; Landers advanced to second. Thorson doubled down the rf line, RBI. Camiliere advanced to third. Landers scored. Komel singled, advanced to second on a throwing error by lf, 2 RBI; Thorson scored; Camiliere scored. Johnson to p for Linares. French flied out to rf. Razo doubled down the lf line, RBI; Komel scored. Dixon singled to right field, advanced to second on the throw, RBI. Razo scored. Ty.Heinle singled down the lf line, advanced to second on the throw, RBI; Dixon scored. Tattoni pinch ran for Ty.Heine. Davidson walked. Barry pinch ran for Davidson. Zale to p for Johnson. Barry advanced to second on a wild
pitch; Tattoni advanced to third on a wild pitch. Landers walked. Camiliere grounded out to 2b.
Oak Forest 2, Kaneland 9.
• Bottom of 6th
Thorson walked. Fergus pinch ran for Thorson. Komel flied out to rf. French walked; Fergus advanced to second. Fergus advanced to third on an error by c. Razo walked; French advanced to second. Dixon doubled to left center, 2 RBI. Razo advanced to third; French scored; Fergus scored. Jester to p. Blake to 2b for Zale. Ty.Heinle struck out looking. Davidson struck out.
Oak Forest 2, Kaneland 11.
•Top of 7th
Sleeman struck out. Zubek singled up the middle. Richard singled to center field. Zubek advanced to second. Barry singled to right center, RBI; Richard advanced to second; Zubek scored. Sheppard grounded into double play ss to 2b to 1b; Barry out on the play.
Oak Forest 3, Kaneland 11.

Photo gallery:

Best Week Ever for State-bound Kaneland baseball

Knights add Sectional, Supersectional title to historic campaign
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It figures the 16th year of the Kaneland varsity baseball program would wind up being the sweetest.

With a successful throw to second base resulting in a “caught stealing” in the scorebook, the Kaneland Knights (24-10) defeated Peoria Notre Dame (PND) (27-7) 8-3 on Monday evening at Augustana College’s Swanson Stadium near Rock Island, Ill., clinching a supersectional championship.

The win, the Knights’ 11th in a row, wrote Kaneland’s ticket to the IHSA Class 3A State Tournament in Joliet, Ill., at Silver Cross Field beginning this Friday, June 10.

Before the recent acquiring of playoff hardware, Knights baseball had not made it out of a regional.

Preceding the unchartered territory for the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference crew, the Knights clinched the Rochelle Sectional championship with a 6-3 win over Aurora’s Marmion Academy on Saturday morning, and earned a spot against the Cadets with a comeback 7-4 win over Woodstock’s Marian Central Catholic on June 1.

Drew Peters improved to 4-1 with six innings pitched, allowing three runs on five hits. KHS handed the Irish pitcher Vince Cicciarelli his first loss (10-1).

Bobby Thorson went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI, while Drew French went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

Drew Peters fires toward the plate in Monday’s 8-3 supersectional win at Augustana College’s Swanson Stadium. Peters earned his second win in five days, exiting in the seventh inning before Kyle Davidson closed out Peoria Notre Dame. Courtesy Photo

PND squeezed a run home on a bloop hit to right field, but Kyle Davidson started matters in the bottom of the first getting plunked, and on a sacrifice attempt by Cory Landers, the second baseman’s error put two men on. Joe Camiliere walked. Thorson grounded into a fielder’s choice to get the tying run in. A grounder to short by Sam Komel was mishandled, allowing the go-ahead run in.

The third inning began with a walk to Landers. With one out, Thorson was hit by a pitch. Komel’s single brought home Landers for a 3-1 lead, and Komel advanced to second on an error. French’s two-run double made in 5-1. Three more runs came home in the fourth inning as nine men batted for an 8-1 lead, before PND scored two in the fifth, but it would get no closer.

Rightfielder Jacob Razo also made a catch and doubled off a runner in the first inning, for the second time in these playoffs, setting the tone and highlighting a theme.

“Anybody here can make a great play at any time in the field, and at the plate we were relaxed and just got on base” Landers said.

Against Marmion under a blazing sun, Thorson improved to 6-3 in five innings of work, while Peters earned the save with two innings of one-hit ball. Camiliere went 2-for-3 with an RBI, with the big blow being Thorson’s two-run homer in the top of the fifth after Camiliere singled, breaking a 3-3 tie.

“I just got out in front of it,” Thorson said. “We just showed mental toughness today, it was killer out there on the mound, and I only threw two breaking pitches. I gave all I had for five innings and Drew got in there.”

Thorson also doubled home the first KHS run in the very first frame.

Against the Hurricanes, Peters earned the win in relief and Thorson not only earned the save, but also cracked the winning HR.

IHSA Class 3A State

Friday, June 10, 10 a.m.
Oak Forest Bengals vs.
Nazareth Academy (LaGrange Park) Roadrunners
Friday, June 10, Noon
Kaneland Knights vs.
Waterloo Bulldogs

State Final
Saturday, June 11, 11 a.m.
Oak Forest/Nazareth Ac. winner vs.
Kaneland/Waterloo winner

2011 Kaneland Knights baseball
Quinn Buschbacher Jr.
Brian Dixon Sr.
Tom Fox Jr.
Trevor Storck Jr.
Tyler Heinle Jr.
Corey Landers Sr.
Bobby Thorson Sr.
Joe Camiliere Sr.
Drew Peters Jr.
Drew French Sr.
Dalton Allen Jr.
Jordan Jones Jr.
Mike Tattoni Jr.
Trever Heinle Jr.
Ryan Fuchs Jr.
Kyle Davidson Sr.
Sam Komel Sr.
Shane Fergus Jr.
Ray Barry Jr.
Bryan VanBogaert Jr.
Jake Razo Jr.

More thoughts from Coach Aversa

School may be out, but for Kaneland baseball and sixth-year head coach Brian Aversa, there remains important work to be done.

Aversa and the Knights couldn’t be happier.

“I think it has sunk in,” Aversa said. “I’ll be looking at stats and throw up a high-five for someone and just say ‘we are going to State!, I was just so excited and got about three hours sleep Monday night before researching again.”

Aversa, who started his coaching career in Macon, Ill., for Meridian High School in 2003, is enjoying the week leading up to the road to Joliet.

“We tried to scout the other games as best we could. We gave the team (Tuesday) off to relax, because it was way too hot. We’ll get back to practicing Wednesday and Thursday, and then it’s on to Joliet,” Aversa said.

Aversa, who has now amassed 107 wins as Kaneland coach since an 18-13 start in 2007, will have both parents in tow for Friday’s semifinal game against Waterloo.

In terms of what might give KHS a leg up, or an arm up, on Waterloo, Oak Forest or Nazareth Academy, Aversa points to his playoff pitching rotation of Kyle Davidson, Drew Peters and Bobby Thorson.

“Kyle just gets up and starts chucking, we’ve got a good thing going with him, and he shut Peoria down in the end. Drew is a lefty and throwing real well in the postseason. Bobby is a power pitcher and has real good location,”Aversa said.

Win or lose, the Kaneland skipper knows it is up to the team to forge the final result.

“I told the team the best part of this is they get to write the ending to their own story here.”

Regional rampage: KHS baseball earns title plaque in Sycamore

Photo: Kaneland baseball strikes the regional championship pose after edging the host Sycamore
Spartans 2-1 on Saturday. The Knights were slated to experience Sectional baseball in Rochelle on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
SYCAMORE—Bobby Thorson may have never pitched a bigger game in his life.

Jacob Razo may have not had a bigger hit in a his life.

By virtue of the first regional championship won by Kaneland baseball on Saturday against the top-seeded host Sycamore Spartans, 2-1, more life is in store for the Knights.

With the win over the Spartans, the No. 2 regional seed Knights improved to 21-10. Kaneland also achieved a Thursday win over the third-seeded Illinois Math & Science Academy Titans, 17-0 in five innings.

A pitcher’s duel between Thorson (5-3) and Sycamore’s Jake Turner was brewing and had the teams in a scoreless skirmish through three innings.

After two strikeouts in the top of the fourth, first baseman Sam Komel singled and third baseman Drew French was hit by a pitch.

Next up was rightfielder Jacob Razo, who had an exemplary defensive play in the first inning resulting in a double play.

Razo laced a pitch that struck third base and out of the reach of the fielder, scoring two runs.

Razo, responsible for the eventual game-winning hit, was psyched after the play.

“We’re on such a high right now,” Razo said. “Turner’s a great pitcher and I just turned on it. We just played within ourselves today.”

Kyle Davidson had his arm ready for the bullpen, but Thorson powered through. While a dropped third strike brought a Sycamore run home with two outs in the sixth, Thorson pitched the seventh, and allowed only a two-out single before his fifth strikeout ended the game.

“We didn’t get a regional championship last year, and that’s what we were looking for,” Thorson said. “I thought my fastball was really good and today my curve was good.”

Against the Titans, a five-inning perfect game was thrown by Drew Peters, who’s 10 K’s was a suitable way to get the playoffs underway.

“Our goal has been regionals from the beginning. Everyone was pumped coming into today and the first pitch felt good,” Peters said.

The losing pitcher was IMSA’s Neel Patel.

“We didn’t expect that, that was one hell of a performance,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We put him in a situation and he was ready. He threw strikes and didn’t walk guys.”

Ten runs were put on the board in the second, along with five in the third and two in the fourth.

Komel went 3-for-3 with a triple and four driven in. French went 2-for-4 with two triples and three RBI.

Kaneland’s first-ever sectional game in Rochelle was scheduled for Wednesday against the Marian Central Catholic Hurricanes, winners of the Belvidere Regional as a result of a 6-3 win over the hosts on Saturday. The Knights won 7-4 over the Hurricanes.

Taylor-made: Senior is Class 2A 110m hurdle champ

Photo: Senior Taylor Andrews (left), here running the 4x400m Relay in Friday’s prelims, set a state record in the 110m High Hurdles Friday, only to break it again Saturday during the IHSA State Track and Field Finals. Andrews won the event in 14.27 seconds, .10 seconds ahead of second place. Photo by Marshall Farthing

CHARLESTON—West Point wants the best and brightest.

It’s a good thing, because Knights senior Taylor Andrews showed he not only has those traits, but it also among the fastest.

Andrews set the Illinois boys track 2A State record with a 110 meter hurdles time of 14.27 seconds, .10 seconds ahead of Peoria Richwood’s Clayton Glasper.

Andrews also won his preliminary heat with 14.34 seconds worth of speed, also a record.

Andrews runs on the heels of 2010 State champs Nick Sinon in the high jump and the 4x400m relay.

A year ago, coach Eric Baron’s crew finished second in Class 2A. In 2011, it finished tied for 16th with 18 points, deadlocked with Mahomet-Seymour and Springfield’s Lanphier High School.

Cahokia (62 points), Glenwood (44) and Glenbard South (40) rounded out the top three.

Other finalists at Eastern Illinois University for the Knights was the 4x100m relay team of Jessee Balluff, Brandon Cottier, Andrews and Tommy Whittaker, as they finished sixth at 42.59 seconds.

The foursome won its preliminary heat at 43:03 seconds.

Additionally, Whittaker found himself sixth in the state in the 400m dash event, after racing in 50.21 seconds, capping his senior campaign. Whittaker finished third in his preliminary heat with a time of 50.13.

Fellow senior standout Trevor Holm finished 10th in the finals in the 1600m run, at 4:24.51. Holm was sixth in the preliminaries at 4:23.22.

Fellow state qualifiers included personnel like Kory Harner, whose pole vault effort was 13 feet.

The 4x800m relay team of Mickey Marin, Luis Acosta, Clayton Brundige and Holm was fifth in its heat at 8:18.84.

Whittaker ran a 11.18 in the 100m dash prelims. Curtis Secrest, Sean Carter, Brandon Bishop and Cottier ran a 1:31.46 in the 4x200m relay prelims.

Knight Dylan Nauert, who qualified at Sectionals by .01 seconds, finished the 300m hurdles in 40.67 seconds.

Cottier, Secrest, Andrews and Whittaker finished the 4x400m prelims at 3:23.36.

Kaneland boys track now says goodbye to Andrews, Doug Bade, Holm, Trevor Schramer, Secrest, Matt Spitzzeri and Whittaker due to graduation.

Softball reaches end of 2011 season with loss to Sycamore

Photo: Rilee Vest (catcher) prepares for a play at the plate during Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Sycamore. Photo by Mary Herra

KANELAND—With the rivalry between Kaneland and Sycamore softball, the battle is bound to shift one way when the stakes are higher at a certain point.

For 2011, the edge went to the Lady Spartans.

A slim 2-1 win in the Class 3A Kaneland Regional semifinal ended the Lady Knights’ campaign.

Sycamore went on to defeat Burlington Central in the regional final on Saturday, and was slated to play Geneseo on Thursday, June 2, in the Rochelle Sectional.

Sycamore also bested Kaneland in last year’s Sycamore Regional title game on May 29, 2010.

Kaneland finishes its season at 14-18.

The Lady Knights went up 1-0 in the top of the third inning, thanks to an RBI from Lanie Callaghan, but in the bottom of the fourth, Meranda Brashears’ two-run single put Sycamore ahead to stay.

Sycamore’s Abby Foulk was the winning pitcher, and Kaneland junior Delani Vest was on the losing end, going six innings.

Kaneland softball says goodbye to seniors Andrea Potts and Rilee Vest, two players who put the aluminum to the ball with frequency.

Potts is set to play at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, while Vest continues at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Rosary puts an end to Kaneland soccer season

Photo: Emily Heimerdinger had a banner day for her last win under Kaneland soccer’s tenure. In the win over IMSA last week, the senior placed four goals in net. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
AURORA—In the case of Kaneland soccer in regional finals, bad things come in threes.

For the third season in a row, Kaneland girls soccer fell victim to a loss in the title match. This time after a 2-1 loss in double overtime against regional host Rosary.

Against the Royals, Katie Taylor’s goal off a Sophie Blank pass with 19:21 remaining in the first half was the lone score for Kaneland, as was Sam Duarte’s effort for Rosary.

With less than five minutes to play in the second overtime, Taylor Gibson’s header found the net, ending Kaneland’s season.

Before the Rosary heartbreaker, happier times were had against the Lady Titans on May 18.

While it was the senior Heimerdinger’s name in the goal column, the output was made possible by an offensive groove put together by consistent ball movement.

Heimerdinger’s first goal came on winning a battle for the ball near the goalie box and punching it in on a mini-breakaway with 22 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first half for a 1-0 lead on the Lady Titans.

“I’m just happy that we won. I think everyone’s happy just to be here, and this is what we’ve been playing for,” Heimerdinger said.

Heimderdinger then got on the board once again with 4:47 to go in the first half, and scored just 41 seconds later.

The Lady Knight scoring asset tallied her 96th career goal in the second half with 12:59 remaining.

“Once again, she’s doing her stellar part in being a scorer,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said.

Parillo was plain in noting that the regional opener win was a step on the way to a hopefully larger prize.

“I thought we played OK. I think we should have possessed more, and we weren’t staying out wide. But I’m happy, and hopefully third time’s the charm. We’re way different than we were in the start of the season.”

For the Lady Knights, the end of the season means saying farewell to seniors Heimerdinger, Blank, Sam Wantuch, Amy Fabrizius, Anna Henrichs and Shelby Fredericksen.

Boys track win 3rd straight sectional

by Mike Slodki
ROCHELLE—Call ‘em champs.

With 90 team points, Kaneland pulled off the sectional three-peat. Sterling was second, tied with Burlington Central at 78 points.

Knights boys track began the State bus with the 4×800 meter relay unit as it placed fourth with a time of 8 minutes, 8.72 seconds.

Kaneland managed an event title in the 4x100m relay with a time of 42.76.

Taylor Andrews looks to finish his KHS tenure on a skyrocketing trajectory with a 14.35 championship in the 110m high hurdles, edging rival Tre Llanes of Burlington Central by .43 seconds.

With a 1:31.11 in the 4x200m relay, Kaneland finished fourth and qualified for Charleston, Ill.

“It’s been a focus from the beginning,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “The program is at a point where we believe we can be successful year in and year out.”

400m dash qualifying glory went to Tommy Whittaker, whose 50.15 time was good for third in the finals.

Freshman Knight Dylan Nauert is going to EIU after qualifying in the 300m hurdles by .01 seconds (40.43, third place).

“I just ran scared,” Nauert said. “I just tried my best and wanted to qualify. I needed to be quicker and work on my steps, and I hopefully make it to Saturday.”

Standout Trevor Holm goes in the 1600m run after finishing third with a time of 4:26.19, and is involed in the 4x800m relay.

“For relays, I go into it not wanting to let my team down,” Holm said. “My mind’s a little different than an individual event for that one.”

KHS finished first in the 4x400m relay with a time of 3:20.96.

Knight Kory Harner, with a pole vault of 13 feet, 3 inches, met the qualifying mark in that event.

photo courtesy of

Swing away

Photo: Rilee Vest and Andrea Potts enjoy the occasion on Thursday after recognition for their continuing softball careers in college. Photo by Mike Slodki

Bad news: Rilee Vest and Andrea Potts of Lady Knights softball will no longer be suiting up for Northern Illinois Big XII Conference action after the season concludes.

Good news: The two sluggers are bringing their bats to college programs where their skills will be appreciated.

Potts, who has supplied offense at the first base position for the Lady Knights, has made a verbal commitment to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

The Lady Cougars are 28-30 in 2011 and play in the Division II Ohio Valley Conference.

Potts is excited for the next stage of her softball life.

“I think my hitting is the strongest part of my game, and the mental part of my game and having more confidence has been more consistent,” Potts said.

The Cougars program is also home for former Lady Knight softball standout, senior infielder Laurie Siebert.

SIUE has been coached by Sandy Montgomery since 1989, and had a streak of 14 straight 30-win seasons from 1996-2009. SIUE won the National Championship in 2007.

Vest, who has manned the catching post for coach Brian Willis’ crew, heads to Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, after a verbal commitment.

“The coach really wanted me for the team and that made an impression on me,” Vest said.

Cornell, part of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, gets a slugger who feels like her best softball days could be ahead.

“I was recruited as a catcher, and that’s the part of my game I’ve really worked hard to improve,” Vest said.

Boys track stakes claim to NIB-12 title

OTTAWA—The venue name of Friday’s Northern Illinois Big XII Conference meet was appropriate—King Field.

Because that’s the level of performance put forth by Kaneland boys track.

With 122 points, Kaneland was far and away the winner of the meet, followed by host Ottawa (80) and Sterling (80). Yorkville and Dixon, both with 65 team points, rounded out the top five.

For field events, senior Matt Spitzzeri finished second in the triple jump with an effort of 41 feet, nine inches.

On the track side, the KHS group of Taylor Andrews, Jesse Balluf, Brandon Cottier and Tommy Whittaker won the 4x100m relay in 44.23 seconds.

Senior standout Trevor Holm was conference champ in the 3200m run with a time of 9:49.42.

Andrews added to his belt notches with a 14.45 second effort in the 110m hurdles, winning the race.

Whittaker’s time of 11.07 in the 100m dash was good enough for the NIB-12 win. Teammate Mickey Marin won the 800m run with a time of 2:03.66.

In the 4x200m relay, Kaneland’s crew of Balluf, Sean Carter, Cottier and Curtis Secrest took second with a time of 1:33.80.

Andrews also blazed by the field in the 300m low hurdles with a time of 39.90 seconds, beating Dixon’s Ricky Laskowski by .32.

The 4x400m relay saw KHS runners Andrews, Cottier, Secrest and Whittaker finish second at 3:28.22.

The Knights’ next challenge is on Thursday, May 19, at 4 p.m. for the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional.

Four-midable outing for Lady Knights track at Sectional

Photo: Brooke Patterson manages to clear the bar during Thursday’s Class 2A Track Sectional in Ottawa, Ill. Patterson helped the Lady Knights qualify for State in four events for this weekend at Eastern Illinois University. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
OTTAWA—KHS girls track followers will have four reasons to visit Charleston, Ill., this May.

With an eighth-place showing at this past Thursday’s Class 2A Sectional at Ottawa Townahip High School, Kaneland girls track saw a State Qualifiying effort in four separate events on Thursday, and will be sending six girls to the IHSA State Final on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.

Senior Brooke Patterson qualified in the pole vault with a third-place finish.

“Brooke has gotten better technique-wise at the pole vault,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “She’s been a lot more consistent.”

The 4×800 meter relay unit of senior Kris Bowen, senior Andie Strang, freshman Sydney Strang and Zick finished fourth, good enough for State qualification.

Meanwhile, the elder Strang returns to the State gathering once again after a fourth-place nod in the 1600m run.

Freshman Lauren Zick qualified in the 400 meter dash with a third-place finish.

In the finals, Zick finished in 59.96 seconds, one of four girls to qualify for State.

“I’m excited that it’s going to be tough competition,” Zick said. “I know it’s going to be really hard to do well. If I’m going to do well, I’ll know I’ll have to work really hard at these practices this week.”

Sycamore’s Lake Kwaza won the event at 57.87 seconds, while Ottawa’s Alex Ortiz finished second in 58.62.

Strang’s 5:21.33 time in the 1600m run made her fourth out of seven qualifiers, with Yorkville junior Ali Hester’s 5:13.97 taking the cake.

Patterson continues the long line of noteworthy KHS pole vaulters that includes Sara Wallace, Jordan Pinkston and Michelle Hannemann, among others, after being one of six qualifiers.

The senior vaulted 10 feet, six inches.

“This year I have more experience and I’m not as nervous. My goal is to get top-five,” Patterson said.

Rochelle’s Taylor Jenkins vaulted 11 feet.

Finally, in the lone relay qualifier, Kaneland’s gang of four ran the track in 9:51.49, just .22 seconds behind third-place Yorkville. Seven qualifers in the event are headed to Charleston.

“There was a lot more knowledge and experience going into the meet,” Bowen said. “I knew what to expect. Last year, we were disappointed in not making finals. This year, we wanted to get back there and improve.”

The younger Strang is ready to contribute on the State scale.

“The other girls really helped me a lot and led by example,” Strang said. “I think I’m the same runner as before, just improved a little health-wise.”

Teamwise, Rochelle was tops with 69.5 points, followed by Burlington Central’s 65 points. Sycamore finished third with 59, as did Marengo, and Hampshire rounded out the top five with 58. Yorkville (50) and Sterling (46) edged Kaneland.

One year ago, Kaneland qualified for State in the long jump, pole vault, triple jump, 4x800m relay and 800m run.