All posts by Mike Slodki

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

Girls track sees progress

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—With a middle of the pack finish at Saturday’s annual Jill Holmes Invitational, Kaneland High School saw some nice individual finishes with room to improve this month.

KHS finished with 45 points, good for eighth place in windy conditions and sunny skies.

West Aurora, with 168.5 points, took its first ever Holmes Invite title.

Lockport and Geneva, both not present this year, combines to win the last six championships.

The Lady Blackhawks’ win marks the first for a DuPage Valley Conference outfit since Wheaton-Warrenville South in 2002.

West Aurora was followed by Oswego East (107), Burlington Central (80) and DeKalb (52.5), rounding out the top four.

The Lady Knights finished ahead of Dundee-Crown (28) in the 14-team field.

Capturing fourth place for Kaneland in the 4×800 meter relay run was the unit of Lisa Roberson, Jess Stouffer, Ashley Castellanos and Andie Strang, who finished with a time of 10 minutes, 20.09 seconds; 1.67 seconds ahead of West Aurora.

KHS representative Gabby Aguirre found herself contributing thanks to a fourth-place finish in the high jump. Aguirre jumped four feet, eight inches.

Lady Knight Sara Wallace continued her quest for a repeat trip to State with a second place finish in the pole vault at 9-03, three inches off the first-place finisher, Burlington Central’s Autumn Conn.

KHS stocked the triple jump with assets Brooke Patterson and Castellanos, both of whom finished well on Saturday. Patterson, a first-year girls track member, took third at 34-10, while Castellanos was sixth at 33-03.

Junior weapon Strang also took home a third place in the 800m run with a time of 2:35.13. Dundee-Crown’s Jade Franz was first with a time of 2:32.02 and West Aurora’s Alexis Anthony was second, defeating Strang by .59 seconds.

In the 3200m run, Abby Dodis managed a fourth-place finish thanks to a time of 12:16.12.

In the 100m hurdles, Hillary Luse took seventh in the finals (17.08) after finishing eighth in prelims.

“I saw (Oswego East’s Shontica Anderson) way ahead of me,” Luse said about the prelims. “Another girl was neck and neck with me toward the end and I just needed a little more energy to push through and thought, ‘no one’s passing me’ and that drove me until the end.”

Kaneland also competed at Batavia on Tuesday, finishing third with 15.5 points compated to Batavia’s 91 and Rochelle’s 74.5.

The lone first place was garnered by Patterson, who jumped 34 feet in the triple jump.

Teammate Nicole Ketza had a second place effort in the shot put with 30 1/2 feet.

Next up for the Lady Knights track squad is the annual Jenni’s ABC Meet at Kaneland on Saturday, April 17, followed by a home matchup with Glenbard South on Tuesday, April 20.

Callaghan HR caps comeback at Geneva

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Looks like Kaneland’s plan on the drawing board worked to perfection in order to stop a losing streak to Geneva.

Use a Tyler Callaghan two-run homer in the top of the seventh in order to come back from a 6-1 deficit, and put out a rally in the last of the inning, thanks to a gutsy mound performance by Steve Colombe.

All in a day’s work in an 8-6 win at Geneva on Tuesday to improve to 7-6 (1-2 Western Sun Conference). The Knights also swept host Marengo in a Saturday doubleheader, 5-4 and 12-3. The three-game win streak started after dropping a 12-11 result vs. Geneva on Thursday in Maple Park.

In the seventh inning of a 6-6 tie on Tuesday, Jake Tickle hit a one-out single. After the second out, catcher Callaghan blasted a pitch to left-center field to give KHS an 8-6 lead.

Things got dicey in the bottom of the seventh as the first two runners for Geneva reached base and slugger Michael Monaghan came up to bat. But Colombe (1-2) forced a flyout to right field and then coaxed a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

Callaghan knew he had to come through in order to give Kaneland the upper hand going into the bottom of the inning.

“They like to go out there and attack with curveballs,” Callaghan said. “We’ve faced these pitchers before and I just got a good pitch to hit.”

Colombe struck out three and gave up five earned runs on nine hits for his first win of the season.

Jake Fielder went 3-for-4 with an RBI while Callaghan went 3-for-4 with three runs scored.

Down 5-0 in the third, KHS got its first run when Bobby Thorson’s groundout to first scored Ty Hamer who had lead off with a single.

Hamer hit a two-run shot in the fourth to make 6-3. Down 6-4 in the sixth, Callaghan reached on an error, and Colombe’s grounder moved him to third after a misplayed ball. Hamer walked and Fielder drove home Callaghan on a single. Joe Camaliere followed with a sac fly RBI to tie the score and set the stage for late-inning heroics.

Against the host Indians, Drew French (1-0) earned the win in game 1 with 1.2 innings of relief and three K’s. Hamer picked up the save getting the final strikeout.

Down 4-1 after four innings of the first game, Kaneland scored one in the fifth and sixth while putting up two in the seventh.

Fielder went 2-for-4 with a run, while Kyle Davidson went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI.

In game two, Tickle improved to 3-0 and allowed only one run on three hits.

Dave Dudzinski went 4-for-4 with three RBI.

Down 1-0 in the second, Kaneland began a streak of five straight innings in the scoring column, including six in the third and two in the fourth.

In last week’s loss to the Vikings, Davidson went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and run scored while Thorson went 2-for-3 with a double.

The Knights went out to a 4-0 lead after two before Geneva scored five in the third. The Knights led 6-5 in the fourth leading to the Vikings scoring three in the bottom frame to go ahead 8-6. With a three-spot in the fifth, the Knights led 9-8 before the two squads exchanged two-run innings in the sixth. The Vikings tagged Dudzinski for two runs in the bottom of the seventh for the win.

Awaiting KHS is a road trip to Glenbard South on Thursday, April 15.

Photo: Shortstop Kyle Davidson does his part for a fifth-inning double play in Monday’s 8-6 win at Geneva. Photo by Mike Slodki

Dudzinski weighing options after Holy Cross shakeup

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Senior Dave Dudzinski’s next step after Kaneland might not be set in stone after all.

After signing a letter of intent with Holy Cross in Massachusetts back in November, Dudzinski was set to join coach Sean Kearney in 2010-11 for Patriot League play.

However, Kearney was fired after a 9-22 season for the Crusaders, putting Dudzinski from “let’s go” to “wait and see”.

“Right now, I’m still waiting for them to hire a coach,” Dudzinski said. “At this point, I’m still technically signed.”

Dudzinski will wait until Holy Cross brings a new coach aboard to make a final decision on the fall.

If Dudzinski decides to leave Holy Cross, they would need to release him from his national letter of intent in order to play for another program. If Holy Cross refused, he would have to sit out a year.

Dudzinski originally chose Holy Cross over Loyola of Chicago and Austin Peay.

The appeal of a future Holy Cross head coach is simple for the senior.

“Basically, I’m looking for someone to push me harder than I push myself and someone who believes in the same style of basketball that I’m willing to play,” Dudzinski said.

Dudzinski averaged over 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Knights in 2009-10.

file photo

Knights’ Serpa commits to C. Michigan for 2011

by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Mid-American Conference football is about to get more of a Kaneland presence.

Kaneland High School junior WR/LB Blake Serpa, who had carries and catches galore for the Knights the last two seasons, made a verbal commitment to the Central Michigan University Chippewas on Friday.

Serpa joins 2007 Kaneland High School graduate Boone Thorgeson, who suits up for Northern Illinois University football at safety, in MAC football.

The 6-foot-2 Serpa, resting up some nagging injuries in boys track, is excited to have the major decision on his post-Kaneland future tucked away.

“It came down to the coaching staff,” Serpa said. “They’re a good group of guys. They said they could try me out on both ends, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Serpa visited CMU in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. last week.

“It’s nice to get it out of the way and concentrate on having fun,” Serpa said. “We’ll have to see how I fit into the program once I get there.”

KHS head coach Tom Fedderly thinks the Chippewas get a talented asset for their program.

“He’s a big kid and he’s getting bigger,” Fedderly said. “He’s a good athlete for his size and after watching some tapes, they saw something they liked.”

Serpa also visited fellow MAC school Western Michigan.

“He seems like he’s happy with the decision and he’s got it behind him now and meeting the coach (Dan Enos) went well,” Fedderly said.

The 12-2 Chippewas won the MAC Championship in 2009 and also nabbed a GMAC Bowl win on Jan. 6.

Kaneland, helped by Serpa’s five touchdowns, finished 6-4 in the 2009 football season, ousted with a 40-13 loss to Sycamore on Oct. 31, 2009.

“We have about six or seven guys coming back who are three-year starters, so next year could be pretty special,” Serpa said.

file photo

Lady Knights track sees early progress

by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Kaneland girls track’s first outdoor competition of the 2010 season saw some warm-for-April temperatures and some decent individual scores, but a third place finish as a team.

Kaneland, with 51 total points, finished behind Burlington Central’s 96 and Oregon’s 55.

Four first-place finishes came down the Lady Knights’ way thanks to personnel Sara Wallace in the 300 meter low hurdles with a time of 54.33 seconds.

Wallace also took second in the pole vault.

“On a day like today, I just have to keep my mind clear,” Wallace said. “Try not to think about it and drink a lot of water, and keep stretching throughout the whole meet, even if you don’t have a lot to do.”

Nicole Ketza won the discus with an effort of 87 feet, 10 inches. First-year track entry Brooke Patterson finished first in the triple jump (33-6) and the long jump (16-5).

Other second-place finishers were Arianna Espino in the 200m dash, Andie Strang in the 800m run, Hillary Luse in the 100m high hurdles, Keara Palpant in the shot put and Ashley Castellanos in the triple jump.

Coach Doug Ecker was realistic on the team’s fortunes on Tuesday, in the larger scale of the season.

“This first outdoor meet gives them a chance to compete,” Ecker said. “You don’t want anyone to get hurt. It was nice to see Andie come back from her stress fracture and Lisa do well, and we’re starting to get our distance runners back, and our jumpers did real well today.”

Waiting in the wings for KHS is the annual Jill Holmes Invite on Saturday, April 10, at 10 a.m. and a meet at Batavia on Tuesday, April 13.

Top photo: Kaneland’s Brooke Patterson, a gymnast by trade, works toward a first-place finish in the triple jump during Tuesday’s clash with BC and Oregon.
Photo by Ben Draper

Softball consumes Sandwich in rout; loses to GS

by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Kaneland softball’s season opener 15 days ago featured an ending that was quite thrilling.

On Monday against the Interstate Eight Conference representative Sandwich Lady Indians, the game was once again thrilling, but only for the KHS offense in an 8-0 win.

In Glen Ellyn on Tuesday, KHS (2-1, 0-1 Western Sun Conference) suffered its first setback with a 5-1 Western Sun conference loss.

Delani Vest (2-1), adjusting well to the mound relocation and to the Sandwich lineup, pitched five innings of no-hit ball for the Lady Knights and struck out eight, and Alexis Villarreal sealed the deal with two relief innings.

“Some of my pitches are slower, but they’ve become more effective,” Vest said. “It’s turning a negative into a postive.”

Vest also scored twice and had an RBI single. Centerfielder Jordan Hester had an RBI triple, and Villarreal also scored twice.

KHS first threatened in the bottom of the second with runners at first and third but failed to convert.

Finally, in the third inning, Villarreal walked and stole second. Vest walked, and both runners executed a double steal.

Second baseman Brittany Davis hit an RBI single and took second on the throw, and Taylor Velazquez reached an an error by the shortstop, allowing Davis to come home.

In the fourth inning, the Lady Knights put up another three spot in the fourth inning. With runners at first and third, Vest hit a two-run double, and Davis hit a fielder’s choice that left her safe and allowed Vest to score.

Hester drove home the seventh run in the fifth inning with a triple and came home on a wild pitch.

Coach Brian Willis can make some conjectures about his team, though it’s still early in the season.

“For this early in the year, I’m pleased with our execution,” Willis said. “It’s a long season, and what mistakes we’re making now, hopefully we’ll learn from them.”

Against the Raiders, Vest pitched four innings in the loss. Davis had two hits while Hester had a double.

Freshmen action during the week had Kaneland beating Sandwich 12-1 on Monday thanks to Elissa Eckert’s seven strikeout outing and a triple by Sarah Grams.

The Lady Knights host Geneva on Thursday, April 8, at 4:30 p.m. and travel to Marengo for a doubleheader on Saturday, April 10.

Photo: Pitcher Delani Vest dishes from her repertoire in a Saturday contest against Oswego that was postponed by rain. KHS-Oswego is set to be made up on Monday, April 19. The sophomore fanned eight vs. Sandwich. Photo by Ben Draper

Soccer defeats Rosary

AURORA—Kaneland High School girls soccer can get used to this.

Using an Emily Heimerdinger goal on a Thalia Garcia assist with 15 minutes remaining in regulation, the Lady Knights came away with a 1-0 triumph over nearby rival Rosary last Wednesday.

Kaneland, following a season-opening win against IMSA, now improves to 2-0.

Freshman goalkeeper Jordan Ginter has yet to allow a goal in her two matches.

In JV action, Rosary defeated KHS by a 6-0 final.

Kaneland has an extended break before picking up the non-conference action on Wednesday, April 7, against visiting Indian Creek.

KHS baseball drops 3 of first 4

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—A quarter is nice to have every once in a while, but not when it’s referring to victories in a season.

So far in the early outset, Kaneland has been plagued by big opposing offenses and not being able to drive runners home at critical points.

The initial stage of the season has led to a 1-3 record after losing at Plainfield North on March 24 in a 6-0 no-hitter, 14-3 in five innings on Thursday at Burlington Central, a 7-6 last at-bat win vs. Marmion Academy on Saturday and a 4-3 loss at Harlem on Monday.

Against host Plainfield North, the Knights surrendered one run in the first, one in the third and four in the fourth. PN’s Ben Gorgan struck out 12 batters in five innings.

Facing the Rockets, Jake Fiedler went 2-for-3 with a run, while teammate Tyler Callaghan went 1-for-2 with a double and run scored. Ty Hamer got the loss on the mound after giving up eight runs on four hits. BC scored three in the bottom of the first, but Kaneland put up one in the second and one in the third before the Rockets put up an 11-spot in the bottom of the fourth. The Knights also scored one run in the fifth.

Jake Tickle earned the win in relief against the visiting Cadets, while Callaghan went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI.

Marmion put runs on the board first with three in the top of the second, while Kaneland came back with two in the bottom of the frame. The Knights tied the score in the bottom of the fourth with a run and scored three in the sixth for a 6-3 advantage. With Marmion tying the score with three in the top of the seventh, KHS pulled it out with one in the last of the seventh. Both teams committed three errors apiece.

Near Rockford in Machesney Park, Kaneland used its spring break to tackle the NIC-10’s Harlem Huskies. Gray of the Huskies hit a three-run homer in the first inning to put the Knights behind early. Fiedler doubled and scored on a wild pitch, but after a Joe Camaliere walk and a Bobby Thorson single, the Knights couldn’t push any more home. Harlem then came back with a run in the fourth inning to go up 4-1.

In the seventh, Kyle Davidson singled. With one out, Thorson doubled home Davidson and went to third on an error to make it 4-2. Callaghan hit an RBI single to close within one. Hamer singled to put two runners on, but the Knights could get no further.

“We left a lot of runners on base in the second and third,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We had the bases loaded in the sixth, and couldn’t score. We can’t do that.”

Despite the result and the three of four losses, Aversa is still expecting things to turn in Kaneland’s favor.

“We’re facing some good competition right now. These teams are making us work. We’ll turn it around,” he said.

Lower-class action featured the sophomores losing to Plainfield North 5-3 and beating Burlington Central 7-3, thanks to a 14 K performance by Drew Peters.

The Knights take on Owensboro High School on Thursday, April 1, as part of their three-day Kentucky road trip.

Photos: Reliever Sam Komel launches a ball in the fifth inning during Monday’s 4-3 setback at Harlem High School in Machesney Park, Ill.. Photo by Mike Slodki

Lady Knights stage comeback

Frosh 3B hits game-winning single
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Maybe this is a truly new beginning for Kaneland softball.

Decked out in black-on-black uniforms and facing the team that ousted them in the 2009 regionals, the Kaneland Lady Knights and first-year coach Brian Willis used a single by freshman Taylor Velasquez to drive home two runs in the sixth inning. The lead held for a dramatic 3-2 win on opening day.

“I don’t even know what to say at this point,” Willis said. “I’m so proud of the girls the way they came back. They easily could have laid down after the big bomb we gave up (two-run HR in third). They kept fighting and scratching, and I think that’s what we’re going to be about.”

Sophomore Delani Vest fanned seven batters for the win.

In the top of the third, Lady Rocket Emily Bell hit a two-run shot to left field for a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the frame, leftfielder Sam Hansen hit a single for the first hit of the afternoon for KHS. Vest reached on an error, and shortstop Allyson O’Herron drove her home with a hit-and-run single.

In the bottom of the sixth, second baseman Brittany Davis walked and went to third after McKinzie Mangers’ bunt was mishandled.

With two runners on, pinch runner Alexis Villarreal stole second. 3B Velasquez hit a single to right-center allowing Davis to come home and Villarreal to slide under the tag.

“That at-bat was a little nerve-wracking at first,” Velasquez said. “But I knew the pitcher was getting a little tired and hit it to right field, and the girls were so supportive.”

In lower-level action, the sophomores lost in the bottom of the eight against BC, 8-7, despite two homers by Katy Dudzinski and 10 K’s on the mound from her.

The freshmen won over BC 18-12 thanks to 14 K’s from Ellissa Eckert and a 3-for-5 day for Kara Leyden.

The varsity roster plays visiting Oswego in a doubleheader on Saturday, April 3.

Photo: LF Sam Hansen maneuvers in the batters box during the Lady Knights’ dramatic 3-2 win over visiting Burlington Central. Hansen walked and eventually scored the first Lady Knight run in the third inning. Photo by Mike Slodki

Lady Knights kick off with 4-0 win

by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Ideal conditions met the Kaneland High School girls soccer team on Tuesday afternoon, as did an ideal result.

Using four first-half goals and enough defense to do the trick, the Lady Knights came away with a 4-0 win over IMSA to begin the season 1-0.

Captain Shelby Koester found the net 5 minutes, 48 seconds into the contest off an assist by Emily Heimerdinger.

Koester struck again with 27:29 left in the first half after putting in a blocked shot attempt that rebounded her way.

Midfielder Thalia Garcia rocketed a ball in the net 2:07 later, and midfielder Taylor White put in a shot thanks to a Katie Taylor assist with 10:42 to go in the half.

“We stepped it up,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “We started out a little sluggish, but once we got the first goal it seemed we got another one every few minutes. We had other people besides Emily (Heimerdinger) score goals, so that’s huge.”

Earning her first shutout, freshman Jordan Ginther appreciated the opportunity.

“I was pretty nervous,” Ginther said. “It was my first game in high school, but the girls are great.”

The Lady Knights take on host Rosary on Thursday, March 25, at 4:30 p.m.

Baseball fills void with new talent

Photo: Catcher Austin Conard prepares to block Brian Evers at homeplate during last week’s baseball practice. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Kaneland High School baseball seems to raise the bar every year, and this season hopes to be no different.

Finishing a school record 23-13 a year ago, the Knights nonetheless finished with a 6-5 regional championship heartbreaker at the hands of Burlington Central.

“That regional game is kind of motivating us and pushing us this year,” fourth-year coach Brian Aversa said. “We’re going to try and top 23 wins this year.”

Gone from the ranks are players like Mike Pritchard, Joe Gura, Jeff Smith and Jay Levita.

“Guys like that are hard to replace, they were something special,” Aversa said.

With arms like Smith gone, it’s up to personnel like senior Steve Colombe to get more mound time.

Pritchard yields way to backstop Aaron Hayman, a senior.

“Aaron learned a lot from Mike and is ready for the rigors of the backstop in general,” Aversa said.

The outfield is projected to have junior Corey Landers in leftfield, and Joe Camaliere returns for his junior year in centerfield, with rightfield an open derby.

Third base will depend on the opposing pitcher, with juniors Drew French and Bobby Thorson hoping for a look, along with fellow junior infielder Sam Komel.

Kyle Davidson and Jake Tickle highlight the shortstop ranks, while Jake Fiedler mans second base.

Dave Dudzinski, Thorson and Komel will guard first base.

‘We have some pretty nice competitions going around that’ll come down to the last couple practices,” Aversa said.

Hayman and Tyler Callaghan, a junior, will see time at the catcher’s spot.

In the pitching rotation, senior Ty Hamer ( a University of Illinois signee), Thorson and Colombe hurl the ball.

“We’ll ride those guys, and they can give us a lot of innings. There’s not an ace, it’s our top three,” Aversa said. “Ty and those guys bring a presence on the mound, and it’s going to be hard getting a hit off them, and it helps the defense.”

Komel and junior Austin Conard also look to be employed in pressure situations.

Other Knights shoring up the varsity ranks are P/1B John Kintz, OF/C Josh Kuefler, P/OF Trevor Wolf, INF Brian Dixon and OF Brian Evers.

The regular season was scheduled to begin on Wednesday at Plainfield North with Western Sun Conference play beginning on Tuesday, April 5, vs. Geneva. The regular season ends at DeKalb on Thursday, May 20.

Boys track looks to top themselves

Photo: Preparation continues for members of the Kaneland boys track squad that finished 13th in Class 2A a year ago. Photo by Mike Slodki
by Mike Slodki
Maple Park—Can the Kaneland High School boys track roster top last year’s exceptional finish?

Seven separate events saw Kaneland representation at the Class 2A State meet in Charleston, and the team finished 13th overall.

Senior Logan Markuson was crowned State champ in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles.

Graduate Josh Bloome and Markuson both medalled in the pole vault, and senior Nick Sinon took third in the high jump.

It sounds daunting on paper, but with a roster eclipsing the 70-person mark and with a glut of talent familiar with success, it’s possible for huge things to happen for KHS boys track.

“I would say we’re pretty excited,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “We started with a lot of ambition and excitement about what we think we can accomplish. Winning the indoor invite this week was a first step.”

Markuson, now quickly climbing up the record books for Knights track, is appreciated by Baron for what he brings.

“He’s just a great person,” Baron said. “ It’s about more than just athletic ability. He hasn’t missed one day of school ever. Every meet, he’ll go out and do what you ask him to do.”

Markuson will look to make a mark in the hurdles, pole vault and 4×400 relay once again.

Sinon returns to the ranks after some offseason experience and has already cleared 6-8 in the indoor long jump.

“He’s looking at big things this year and is a real student of the sport,” Baron said. “We’ll be strong in all of our jumps, and this is going to be a big year for him.”

Helping the KHS cause was a Western Sun Conference indoor championship last week.

Also back on the sprint side is Taylor Andrews, who qualified in the 110m high hurdles and benefited from racing alongside Markuson.

Much will have to be done to absolve the loss of Lucas Ross, Colin Zagel and Brendan McCarthy.

“We’re looking for Tommy Whittaker to have a nice year and Serpa ran well for us, and then there’s some young guys like Curtis Secrest and Andrew Essex, who are working super hard,” Baron said.

On the relay side, Whittaker, Edgar Valle and Markuson return from the 4x400m.

Valle, who Baron marked as an unsung contributor to track during his tenure, also qualified for the 4x800m relay, along with Derek Bus, Sean Paulick and graduated Hayden Johnson.

“Bus qualified for State last year and has come out this year so far and made a statement,” Baron said.

“(Edgar) doesn’t get a lot of limelight, but he’s been a relay guy for us every meet,” Baron said.

The freshmen class comes in with personnel like Brandon Cottier, Alex Gil and Chad Swieca, who are primed for action.

“Cottier looks like a special athlete, and we’re figuring out what his best event is,” Baron said.

On the field side of things, it’s open season.

“Alex Mollohan and Brett Ketza are throwing for us and they look ready to step up,” Baron said.

Baron added Ben Kovalick to the throwing list.

For vault, Markuson and Jemmar Parrenas take the reins. Parrenas has gone over 12 feet in indoor competition.

For now, Baron mentions only a couple of nagging injury issues to Blake Serpa and Whittaker.

“A big thing right now is taking it easy on people when we can,” Baron said.

Seniors looking to contribute are Justin Choate, Brock Dyer, Dominic Furco, Kevin Hodge, Carlos Hufshlag, Joe Levita, Lukas Liebich, Justin Phillips, Matt Swift and Kyle Wagner.

Juniors looking to get in the mix are Cody McGinnis and Matt Spitzzeri.

Baron cited Matt Reusche on the senior side and juniors Matt Cowans and Trevor Holm as athletes that are capable of big things.

Sophomores are Chase Borneman, Clayton Brundige, Tom Chidester, Joe Cozzi, Mitch Dienst, Evan Dukes, Andrew Essex, Frankie Furco, Jake Ginther, Thomas King, Jimmy Lagness, Mickey Marin, John Michek, Thanasi Pesmajoglou, Kelvin Peterson, Nate Rehkopf, Brandon Stahl, Devin Swearingen and Nicholas Wieglos.

Freshmen are Trevor Anderson, Tanner Andrews, David Barnhart, Ryan Euting, Marshall Farthing, Dan Goress, Kory Harner, Billy Hart, Brandon Huber, Conor Johnson, Brad Kigyos, Jay Markuson, John Meisenger, Jimmy Merletti, Nick Messina, Liam Mulloy, Ben Nelson, Ryan Paulson, Dylan Pennington, Nick Sharp, Ben Sommers, Gus Stott, Chad Swieca, Zach Theis, Chris Wido and George WIlson.

The outdoor season for Kaneland boys track begins on Saturday, April 10, at East Moline United with conference action against visiting Batavia and Rochelle on Tuesday, April 13.

The Kane County Meet is on Friday, May 7, at West Aurora, with the final Western Sun Conference meet on Friday, May 14, at Geneva.

5 captains, new goalie for soccer

Photo: Midfielder Sophie Blank participates in pre-season drills for Lady Knights soccer. Photo by Mike Slodki
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—What happens when most of the Lady Knights soccer squad that scored a sizable upset over Hampshire in regional action returns?

You’ll have optimism and talent on a squad that tied its mark for most wins in club history.

“We got the lead against Hampshire and held on to it,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “You go back a few months and we lose a 3-0 lead at West Aurora. So that win was a ‘get over the hump’ moment for us.”

Leading the charge are the five captains. Midfielder Colleen Gebauer, defenseman Megan Gil, forward Emily Heimerdinger, midfielder Haley Johnson and midfielder Shelby Koester bring talent, experience and a solid core familiar with big late-season victories.

“They bring knowledge of the game and played big schools and small schools. Megan is a four-year varsity player, Emily’s a scoring machine, and Shelby, Colleen and Haley are all three-year varsity players. They’ve all been in pressure-filled games,” Parillo said.

Returnee Sophie Blank, pivotal to the regional semifinal win, moves out of goal to midfield, her more natural position.

In goal is freshman Jordan Ginther, who has already managed a shutout this year.

One might ask why there’s a wealth of experience in the field and a freshman in goal.

“You’ve got to watch her play. Her club team is nationally ranked. She will blow people’s minds,” Parillo said.

Joining Gil on the defense is teammate Natalie Swieca, back for a third year.

Savannah Webb returns as well on defense, for a unit looking to recover from graduation losses.

Amy Fabrizius is set for forward, midfield and maybe a bit of defense.

“We have enough players that can play multiple positions; we should be OK,” Parillo.

Katie Taylor shores up the forward ranks along with Andi Bruce and Abby Bend. Melissa Bohorquez can play forward and midfield, as can Sam Wantuch.

Also back for more is midfielder Thalia Garcia, who has already found the net this season. Anna Heinrichs plays defense and midfield, while Valerie Tockstein and Taylor White help out the midfield and forward ranks.

Soccer plays its usual West Aurora Tournament stop beginning on Thursday, April 8, and hosts the Burlington Central Tournament beginning on Friday, May 7. The regular season ends on Tuesday, May 11, at Batavia.

Willis joins many new softball faces

Photo: Sophomore pitcher Delani Vest will be counted on for a repeat performance. File Photo
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Despite finishing 27-9 in 2009, the Kaneland High School girls softball squad faces quite a number of challenges.

There’s recovering from the heartbreaking extra-inning regional championship loss to Burlington Central, the third straight year of getting eliminated by the Rockets.

There’s the acclimation of seven new faces to the varsity ranks, with just six upperclassmen on the team.

There’s also the item of new and eager head coach Brian Willis, who also served time as an assistant after former coach Dennis Hansen was suspended.

Willis says not much has changed in his coaching style from being a lower-level coach in various Kaneland sports.

“Right now, it’s all excitement and anticipation,” Willis said. “We’re trying to get the girls ready. I look at this as no different than the last eight years, except I talk to reporters now.”

Willis is ready for the season-ending loss to be put in the rearview mirror.

“From that regional championship loss, there’s only two girls starting (Wednesday) that started that game. In a sense, that anxiety is there for girls like Delani (Vest) because she was the pitcher, but we have several freshmen and sophomores that weren’t around,” Willis said.

Notably, Vest returns after posting a 17-6 record as a freshman inside the pitcher’s circle, which itself is being moved back.

“That’s going to make a difference, and we’ll get to see how Delani will react to that. With her leadership and competitiveness, she knows what it takes to get back to that championship game,” Willis said.

The jury is still out on Delani’s sister and battery mate Rilee, who is battling nagging injuries.

Junior catcher Andrea Dimmig-Potts returns as someone who saw her share of playing time and was capable of doing damage with one giant swing.

Seniors on the squad are outfielder Jordan Hester, and infielders Brittany Davis and Kristen Stralka.

“We’re moving forward. These returning girls are excited to get a fair shot, and they feel like it’s their time,” Willis said.

Joining Vest as fellow hurlers look to be sophomore Alexis Villarreal and sophomore Katy Dudzinski, who saw spot starts in the varsity ranks a year ago, and sophomore Brittney Miller.

“It’s a new coaching staff (Willis, Christine Bouffard and Joe Spittzeri), and we evaluated everyone equally at the start. Delani put herself in the top spot, and some of these other girls aren’t too far behind,” Willis said.

Sophomore McKinzie Mangers will serve as catcher in case the other two possibilities are beset by injuries.

“We’ll be tested early behind the plate,” Willis said.

The infield will look younger on the left side and senior-laden on the right. Allyson O’Herron, a freshman, looks to contribute at shortstop.

“(O’Herron) is very solid defensively and will make some freshman mistakes, but she’s also solid with the bat,” Willis said.

Fellow freshman Taylor Velazquez will get a look at third base.

Davis will be looked at around second base to serve as a cornerstone of the infield. Spots remain in a fight for outfield.

In terms of players who will see more sizable time this season and could surprise onlookers is Davis.

“She’s going to get out there every day and put up solid numbers and be a good player,” Willis said.

On the new arrivals, Willis pointed to O’Herron having a productive career at short for the next four years.

Other Lady Knights looking to contribute to the squad are sophomore infielder Sarah Kitz, sophomore outfielder Samantha Hansen and junior infielder Beth Smith.

“If we finish in the middle of the conference and continue to get better every week and regionals come around and we’re ready to roll, that’ll make me happy,” Willis said.

The regular season kicked off yesterday against BC, and WSC play begins on Tuesday, April 6, at Glenbard South. The regular season finale is Saturday, May 22, at Rosary.

Ecker steps in for girls track

Photo: Girls track coach Doug Ecker gives pointers on the triple jump at Friday’s practice. Photo by Mike Slodki
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—After a ninth-place finish in State a year ago, how do you repeat such a fine performance?

Wait and see.

A large part of the stellar finish at 2A State for the Kaneland Lady Knights girls track squad was due in part to Lindsay Gierke, gone off to the University of Northern Iowa. One of the most celebrated girls track athletes in KHS history, Gierke managed a second place in the 100m hurdles, fourth in the 100m dash, third in the 300m hurdles and was a four-year State qualifier.

“We’ve had some great athletes in the past and we’ll miss her points, but a lot of great athletes from last year are gone now, and it’s part of high school,” said KHS coach Doug Ecker.

Also gone from the group is pole vaulter Jordan Pinkston, who finished fifth at State and is competing at Southern Illinois University.

The good news is that 2009-10 allows new faces to step up and take the mantle of postseason success, and not all State qualifiers have left for the college ranks just yet.

One new face is right at the top, as girls cross-country coach Ecker moves up to take the head position, switching places with Pat Sheetz, who moves aside after four decades as head coach.

“There’s really no change,” Ecker said. “Sheetz and I have worked for 23 years; everything’s pretty much the same.”

Ecker has had head track experience in the college ranks and high-school boys track.

Junior Andie Strang looks to go back to Charleston, Ill. for a third go-around after finishing 10th in the 800m run and was part of the 4x800m relay, along with returning teammates Kris Bowen, Kelly Evers and Lisa Roberson. Strang is on the road back from a stress fracture suffered during girls basketball season.

“We’ll see how it is when outdoor season comes. If it’s healed it’s healed, and if it’s not its not. Hopefully she’s back at full strength and we’ll have to see what happens.”

Sara Wallace, a senior, also qualified for State in pole vault and looks to shore up that event.

Ecker stressed a lot of new faces, with accompanying talent to go with them on the roster numbering 50-strong.

“We don’t have any superstars, but we have kids with potential,” Ecker said.

Trying to break into the Lady Knight ranks in the jumping categories is junior Brooke Patterson, fresh off being familiar in the gymnastics realm and the younger sister of graduated trackster Kelli Patterson.

The junior has excelled in the indoor triple jump with a 32 feet mark.

Freshman Ashley Castellanos has done well in the triple and long jump in the initial stages of the season.

“Every team lost superstars, so you’ll have above average girls trying to take spots in the area,” Ecker said, who also said sprinters and vaulters could be crowded headed into the outdoor season.

The 4x800m relay looks to improve on their first go-around to state, but could see an influx of challengers. Ecker mentioned Castellanos and junior Jessica Stouffer having run well, joining a pool of seven or eight additional runners.

Hurdles will see freshmen and sophomores jockey one of Gierke’s specialty events.

Sprinters could put up some decent speed, thanks to representatives like sophomore Jordyn Lawrence.

“We have more depth at sprinters than we’ve had in a while; we just have to remain healthy,” Ecker said.

Senior Hillary Luse will have a chance at pole vault. The shot put and discus has younger lady tracksters looking to make a name for themselves before the outdoor season takes off.

Any Lady Knight that could take fellow athletes by surprise? Ecker mentioned junior Ariana Espino, who is looking for a relay spot, and fellow junior Sydney Billotta.

“They’re healthy and doing better leading up to the season, and both ran cross-country,” Ecker said.

In this, the final campaign for the Western Sun Conference, Ecker mentions Geneva and Batavia rising up despite losing personnel, along with Rochelle.

Freshmen joining the Kaneland girls track roster for 2010 are Gabby Aguirre, Jenna Bicos, Maggie Brundige, Angalia Carbonara, Brianne Claypool, Laken Delahanty, Abby Dodis, Brooke Harner, Lisa Jennings, Amanda Lesak, Sydney Luse, Emily Maki, Kelly McCarthy, Emma Moon, Grace Mozdren, Alyssa Nolte, Katie Ogboukiri and Jessica Woodward.

Sophomores are Tesa Alderman, Ashley Diddell, Kelsey Gould, Nicole Ketza, Savanah Miles, April Smith, Grace Snyder, Meggen Southern, Carolina Tovar and Shannon Wallace.

Juniors are Athina Ajazi, Elizabeth Hylland, Lordan Krawczyk, Keara Palpant, Alyson Rehr, Nicole Rymarz, Briana Stark and Cara Zagel.

Seniors are Elicia DiBella, Tara Groen, Mel Mazuc, Megan Mendoza and Lexie Pniewski.

For the girls, the outdoor season kicks off on Tuesday, April 6, against Burlington Central and Oregon.

The Kane County Meet is at Batavia on Friday, April 30, followed by the final Western Sun Conference meet on Friday, May 7, at Glenbard South.

KHS boys track sets team mark at Byron

Kaneland boys track had itself a productive indoor meet in Byron on Saturday.

The outing produced 101 points, a Kaneland team indoor record at that particular meet.

The Knights were just five points behind Hononegah for first place in the 15-team event.

Rockford Jefferson (79), Freeport (46) and Burlington Central (37) rounded out the top five.

Kaneland’s Nick Sinon had himself a stellar afternoon, finishing first in both the triple jump with a mark of 41 feet, zero inches, and the high jump with a 6’8” tally.

Teammate Jemmar Parrenas finished second in the pole vault with a result of 12 feet even, half a foot behind Freeport’s Elliot Hollis.

Wading through preliminaries and semifinals, Logan Markuson and Taylor Andrews finished 1-2 in the 55 meter hurdles.

Markuson ran 7.75 seconds in the final, followed by Andrews’ 7.86.

On the distance side of things, Knight Matt Reusche finished third in the 3200 meter run with a a time of 10:21.10.

Kaneland’s relay foursome of Sean Paulick, Dominic Furco, Clayton Brundige and Jake Ginther took fifth in the 4×800 race with a time of 8:53.26.

In the 400m dash, Markuson and Andrews once again excelled, with Markuson winning the event at 52.56 and Andrews following in fifth at 55.66.

KHS representatives Derek Bus (2:02.10) and Edgar Valle (2:02.66) finished first and third, respectively, in the 800m run.

The Knights also did well in the 1600m run, with Trevor Holm taking third at 4:40.44 and teammate Joe Levita finishing fifth at 4:42.24.

Brandon Cottier of Kaneland took sixth in the 200m dash with a time of 25:02, and the Knight contingent of Bus, Tommy Whittaker, Valle and Markuson won the 4×400 relay.

KHS Varsity Boys Track All-time Top Point Leaders
• 4) Logan Markuson—499.25
• 37) Nick Sinon—242
• 152) Taylor Andrews—114.75
• 172) Edgar Valle—104
• 277) Matt Reusche—59.5

Knights beat bulldogs

Photo: Ryley Bailey (10) tries weaving around Batavia’s defense in the first quarter of the Knights’ 51-45 win on Friday, the first win in three years in that rivalry.
Photo by Ben Draper

KHS boys hoops finishes regular season 16-9
by Mike Slodki
BATAVIA—Three years of frustration went a long way to being dealt with on Friday.

Playing four quarters of exceptional ball on Friday night under the bright lights and tradition of Batavia High School, the Knights never trailed and ended the regular season on a high note with a 51-45 win over the Bulldogs.

The final Western Sun Conference game in both schools’ history marked Kaneland’s first win over Batavia since a 59-58 thriller over the Bulldogs in Maple Park in February 2007.

Some noteworthy markers of frustration for KHS in the recent rivalry was a 42-40 loss at Kaneland on Jan. 8 that came down to a final three-point try.

On Feb. 27, 2009, Mike Pritchard’s difficult shot was ruled a two-pointer instead of a game-tying three in a 54-53 loss.

Players like Steve Colombe think that this win could not have come at a better juncture in the season.

“It’s definitely a great accomplishment to beat Batavia,” Colombe said. “Coach Johnson preached resilience today, and we needed the execution down the stretch.”

Also provided was a little relief that the same situation from last year’s regular season finale didn’t happen this season.

“Yeah, at least it didn’t come down to that tonight and we put it away early,” Colombe said.
Kaneland finished the regular season at 16-9 (7-7 WSC).

Batavia finished 17-8 in regular season play.

Coach Brian Johnson stressed the team find an edge to not relinquish the lead to a historically tenacious Bulldogs squad.

“It’s such a great program with a great coach, and I hope Kaneland can get there at some point,” Johnson said. “We talked before the game about having resilience and being able to handle the ups and downs.”

Dave Dudzinski, guarded by two-to-three defenders the entire game, finished with a game-high 26 points.

Jesse Coffey led the Bulldogs with 11.

Both teams did fairly well on the foul shot end, with KHS going 15-for-23 and Batavia making 15-of-22.

Traditionally a prolific perimeter team, Batavia only converted two three-pointers.

Two shots by Ryley Bailey, a basket by Colombe and a jumper by Dudzinski gave the Knights a quick 8-0 lead 4 minutes, 24 seconds into the contest.

While Batavia came back with five points before the end of the frame, Dudzinski managed an emphatic rejection to keep the score 8-5.

In the second, with KHS scoring already scoring five unanswered, Dudzinski was manhandled by two Batavia defenders and still managed to sink a shot and convert a three-point play to go up 16-7 with 5:05 to go.

Dudzinski later hit a basket to stop a two-minute scoring drought and go up 18-11. After Coffey and Ricky Clopton hit shots to close within 18-17 with 18.5 to go in the half, Tyler Callaghan’s putback with 8.2 ticks remaining gave KHS a 20-17 halftime lead going into the locker room.

The third quarter featured the Knights going on a 13-5 run. A baseline jumper by Colombe, another three-point play by Dudzinski and two free throws by the Holy Cross-signee gave Kaneland a 27-19 lead with 3:48 remaining.

After Bailey made a shot, Dudzinski hit two more free throws and another lay-in for the biggest lead of the night at 33-21 with 1:30 remaining in the quarter. BHS made one foul shot 15 seconds later and made it 33-22 at the end of the third.

After Chaon Denlinger, Dudzinski hit one free throw and Donovan Williams converted at the top of the key to give Kaneland a 38-24 lead with 6:26 remaining.

Kaneland would then muscle its way to the foul line and make 7-of-11 opportunities, and with Williams’ next jumper, saw its lead increase to 50-34 with 1:58 to go, the biggest lead of the night.

Even with Batavia scoring the last eight points of the night, Kaneland proved victorious.

Batavia, the 12th seed in the Neuqua Valley Sectional, defeated (21) Glenbard West on Monday out at Waubonsie Valley by a 67-60 score. The Bulldogs were set to take on (5) Oswego East on Wednesday, while the Knights, hosts of their Class 3A regional, were set to play (3) Hampshire, after the Whip-purs’ 54-48 comeback win on Monday over (6) Rochelle.

Meanwhile, the (4) Sycamore Spartans outlasted the fifth-seed Burlington Central Rockets by a final of 66-61 on Monday and will face top-seeded DeKalb on Thursday.

Kaneland swimmer Alef makes great showing at State

Last week, Kaneland High School junior Grant Alef mentioned he hoped to see his name and picture adorn the school’s wall of State finalists.

This past weekend at Evanston High School, the lone representative of Kaneland put his hope into action.

Becoming the first KHS swimmer to ever medal in swimming events, Alef made it to the consolation final in both the 500-yard freestyle event in which he finished ninth overall and the 100-yard backstroke consolation final and finished eighth.

Alef finished at 4 minutes, 40.78 seconds in the freestyle after swimming 4:39.81 on Friday. He put in a Saturday effort of :52.73 in the backstroke after swimming :52.65 on Friday.

In 1980, Kaneland’s Jim Watson won the State Diving title.

Photo: Maple Park’s own Grant Alef shows off the hardware from this weekend’s IHSA State swimming and diving meet at Evanston High School. Courtesy photo

Wrestlers Boyle, Davidson nab one win each at State meet

The Kaneland High School wrestling program can be pleased that they not only sent two wrestlers to the Class 2A State meet at Assembly Hall in Champaign, but also had those grapplers get a win on the Illini mat.

With Kyle Davidson competing at 145 points after finishing third at Sterling High School’s sectional, and Knight Jimmy Boyle also having finished third at the sectional, the Knight duo had opening round matches this Friday and Saturday.

Both Davidson and Boyle both achieved opening round wins before losing quarterfinal matches.

Davidson, who finished the 2009-10 season with a 37-11 record, defeated Rich Central’s Ishmael Rempson in a 7-2 matchup before losing to Triad’s Josh Ballard in a 13-1 major decision. Ballard ended up finishing fourth place overall in the bracket.

For Boyle, who finishes with a sizable 41-win total, got the best of Riverside-Brookfield’s John Schraidt by pinfall in 3 minutes, 33 seconds. Boyle then was defeated by Sprinfgield’s Dave Casper in a 1:48 fall.

In 2009, Kaneland’s Jay Levita was the lone Knight rep down at State, and lost to Springfield’s Dane Atwood, 9-3.

With the season at a conclusion, the grapplers say goodbye to graduating seniors Dennis Brettman, Ben Gust, Joe Levita, Alex Mollohan, Deven Scholl and JT Webb.

Go LONG—KHS grad sets Elmhurst record

by Mike Slodki
NAPERVILLE—The journey to the top is over.

Kaneland High School 2006 graduate Lyndsie Long of Sugar Grove made Elmhurst College women’s basketball history on Tuesday night at Merner Fieldhouse in Naperville, scoring a team-high 18 points in a 79-67 win at North Central College and becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer.

“I always had a goal to be the all-time leading scorer at Kaneland, too, and it didn’t happen,” Long said. “This started freshman year, and I kept it in the back of my head, and now I finally did it.”

Fans with sign
Several well-wishers of Lyndsie Long had a finished product to their countdown in the Merner Fieldhouse bleachers at NCC on Tuesday. Photo by Mike Slodki

A senior, Long was 11 points away coming into the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) contest.

Long has amassed 1,788 points, eclipsing Karen Kinsella’s mark of 1,780.

The record-breaking basket came two minutes into the second half on an offensive putback, only after a couple of missed foul shots and field goal attempts that left her tied with the record going into the halftime break.

“I was like, ‘this can’t be happening’,” Long said. “I was trying not to be nervous, and of course you’re going to be because you know it’s right there in your hands. I was stuck on 10 for awhile, and I wanted to get it so I didn’t have to worry about it.”

Elmhurst, with the win, improved to 16-8 (9-4 CCIW) and secured a berth in the postseason tournament.

Long, now averaging 24.1 points per game, drove through more noteworthy roadblocks on her way to college basketball history in the games leading up to Tuesday.

In a 75-68 win over North Park University on Saturday, Long scored 30 points and hit four three-pointers to become Elmhurst’s all-time leader in trifectas with 160.

Record-breaking shot
Lyndsie Long’s offensive putback early in the second half on Tuesday at North Central College leads to a place at the top of the Elmhurst College record books. Courtesy of Steve Woltmann

On Feb. 10 in an 85-84 heartbreaker loss to visiting Carthage College, Long set a single-game scoring mark for the Elmhurst Bluejays with 45 points, breaking a record that stood for 24 years, and set a CCIW record that stood since 1994.

Long, who provided a major component of Kaneland girls basketball squads along with Jessica Lund, Kelsey Flanagan, Sarah Coppert and Kaiti Roy, sits at second place in the Lady Knights’ scoring list behind current Waubonsee women’s basketball coach and Aurora University standout Dana Wagner.

Elmhurst ends its regular season hosting Wheaton College on Saturday, Feb. 20.

Knights sink Sycamore on Williams basket, 48-46

by Mike Slodki
SYCAMORE—Donovan Williams had plenty to say about the finish between Kaneland and Sycamore on Friday night off of Route 23.

He let his shot do the talking.

Putting up only six points, the senior had the two most important points of the game, sinking a 12-foot jumper with five seconds left to break a tie-game and propel the Knights to a 48-46 win.

“We had a set play and I was supposed to come off that screen,” Williams said. “It was supposed to be an alley-oop but they left me open and I just took the shot.”

Williams handled most of the point duties due to Ryley Bailey being shelved due to leg injury.

“Ryley usually handles point guard, but I feel comfortable bringing it up whenever I can,” Williams said.

The season-series sweep gives KHS a 14-8 record with a 6-6 record in the final Western Sun Conference season. Three regular season games are left.

Center Dave Dudzinski led the Knights with 13 points, as did Steve Colombe. Sycamore’s Sam Ford had a game-high 21.

In the fourth, Chaon Denlinger nailed a shot 13 seconds into the fourth to close within 40-37. Sycamore missed on five straight shot attempts until Taylor Andrews of Kaneland put back a Dudzinski miss and was fouled.

The ensuing foul shot tied the game at 40 with 4:28 to go.

“Taylor didn’t play the whole game until then,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “Taylor seems to find holes a lot and he got the ball, went up strong and makes a huge free throw to tie the game. That definitely gave us momentum.”

Dudzinski converted an offensive board with 3:33 to go to put Kaneland ahead 42-40, and Kory Harner’s three-pointer with 2:48 left gave KHS a 45-40 lead. Sycamore cut it to three with 1:59 to go and Ford’s two free throws with 54.0 seconds left cut it to one point.

Dudzinski made the first of two foul attempts with 43.5 ticks left to make it 46-44 until Ford tied it with a jumper with 25.9 to set up the final possession that led to Williams’ winning shot.

After calling timeout with 4.3 seconds left, Sycamore’s passes were too errant to make anything happen, and the clock ran out.

The Knights take on Geneva at the United Center in Chicago for the first time since Dec. 31, 2008, on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 2 p.m.

Lady Knights eliminated by Rochelle in 3A opener

by Mike Slodki
There will be no repeating playoff opener success for Kaneland girls basketball in 2010.

Last year, the Lady Knights beat IMSA in an opening round duel in Maple Park before being eliminated by Hampshire.

This past Monday saw Kaneland be eliminated by the 3A regional host Lady Hubs of Rochelle by a 63-35 final.

The Lady Knights also lost at Sycamore on Friday, 62-52 and to Marengo 49-46 on Saturday, closing out regular season action.

Rochelle, the third-seeded outfit, was set to face (2) DeKalb on Wednesday, while (5) Sycamore, which upset (4) Burlington Central on Monday, was scheduled to meet the top-seeded Hampshire Lady Whip-purs in the other semifinal.

Rochelle improved to 18-10 (7-7 Western Sun Conference), and Kaneland finished its slate at 5-23 (0-14 WSC). Kaneland finished 8-18 a year ago.

Eleven different Lady Knights found the scoring column, led by Kelly Evers’ seven points.

Seventeen seconds into the game, Nicki Ott drained a shot for the first basket of the game until Rochelle senior Olivia Caron hit two quick three-pointers. Departing senior Mallory Carlson hit a shot with 4:33 to go in the frame to close within 9-4, but Rochelle scored seven in a row to close the quarter out.

The Lady Hubs then continued their 19-0 run into the second quarter until a Tesa Alderman basket with 2:43 to go in the half made it 28-6 and continued a 7-0 run by KHS.

Kaneland recovered somewhat from their 10-minute scoring drought and trailed 31-13 at the break.

Rochelle led by as much as 36 points with three minutes to go in the third. Evers’ basket with 53.8 seconds to go marked the final points of the season.

“We just didn’t play well, no excuses,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “We had nothing to lose; they played well, we didn’t.”

Against the host Lady Spartans, the Lady Knights fell behind early in their last ever WSC game 17-6 after one quarter.

Kaneland righted its ship somewhat and outscored Sycamore in the second quarter by one point, going to halftime trailing 29-19.

The Lady Knights were behind 46-37 at the end of three before Sycamore outscored KHS 16-15 in the fourth.

Kaneland had three girls in double figures, led by Carlson with 13 points, followed by Kylie Siebert with 11 and Emily Heimerdinger with 10.

The Lady Knights were 15-for-25 from the foul line.

On Saturday against the visiting Lady Indians, Kaneland was led by Nicki Ott’s 14 points (4-for-4 FT) and Heimerdinger’s 10.

KHS was 19-for-62 from the field.

The two squads were deadlocked at 13 after one, with Marengo taking a 23-22 lead at the break.

KHS snuck ahead 34-32 at the end of the third quarter before Marengo’s Taylor Berman (19 points) hit three three-pointers and went 4-for-6 from the charity stripe in the fourth to key a 17-12 fourth quarter.

Other girls competition had Batavia beating the Kaneland freshmen “A” squad 33-31 on Wednesday, Feb. 10. The sophomores lost to Marengo 50-29 on Saturday, but beat Sycamore on Thursday, 32-21.

Long makes Elmhurst women’s history

Updated Feb. 17, 2010 @ 8:10 a.m.

Lyndsie Long broke the Elmhurst College record last night at North Central College in Naperville, Ill. Read about it here.

by Mike Slodki
For four seasons now, Kaneland High School 2006 graduate Lyndsie Long has been knocking down jumpers at Elmhurst College.

Very soon, she could be knocking down history.

The senior majoring in physical education has four more regular season games remaining to break the all-time scoring record for the Bluejays (14-7, 7-3 Conference). Long, of Sugar Grove, has 1,695 career points and is 86 points away from breaking it.

Elmhurst also plays in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) postseason tournament later this month.

In a loss on Saturday at Illinois Wesleyan, Long put up 26 points. In a loss to Milliikin on Feb. 2, Long scored 29, and against Augustana, she scored 24. On Jan. 23, Long matched her career-high of 33 in a win over Wheaton.

Averaging 23.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest, Long needs to average 21.5 points per game for the remainder of the season, something that she hopes will happen.

“I knew this record breaking was a possibility, but I wasn’t concerned about it because I just want my team to succeed and win games,” Long said. “My brother will text me with his calculations of how many more points I need and what I need to average each game for the rest of the season to break the record, so it’s always in the back of my mind. I just need to maintain my scoring average and it will all work itself out.”

The leading scorer in the CCIW, Long is the type of player whose gifts lend themselves to the scoring crown at Elmhurst.

“Lyndsie is a very smart player,” Elmhurst coach Tethnie Werner said. “Over her career, I can see how she has matured on the mental aspect of the game. Teams come in with the game plan to bump her on every screen, double her off the dribble and at the post area. Early on she would get frustrated and that would allow her game toget off but not anymore,” Elmhurst coach Tethnie Werner said.

With Long on a torrid pace for the second-place Bluejays, the No. 2 place holder on the Kaneland girls basketball list, doesn’t find her overall game changing that much, showing the key to record-breaking might be staying the player she currently is.

“I wouldn’t say I’m playing ‘differently’, but I’m coming to realize that this is my senior year and I only have a month or so left of basketball,” Long said. “This is helping me to push not only me but my teammates to be the best we can be. I don’t play any differently knowing that I’m close to breaking the school record. When it comes time for gametime my only focus is helping my team win that game.” 

A three-time all-CCIW selection, Long has also been named named CCIW Women’s Basketball Player of the Week on three occasions this season, and if the scoring honor comes her way, it will have happened to a special player.

“Her goal is to win the game no matter who scores. Lyndsie’s game has grown so much since her freshmen year,” Werner said. Lyndsie is a great person and worked extremely hard to put herself in this position.”

In the meantime, Long and the Bluejays prepare for a clash against the North Park University Vikings in Elmhurst on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 5 p.m., marking the first of three regular season games remaining.

“This team is a group of girls that love each other on and off the court,” Long said. “However, basketball is a long season so every team will hit road bumps along the way.  We are a team that can get past those road bumps quickly, which is another reason why we have been successful.”

KHS boys stops Sycamore, topped by Yorkville

The Kaneland boys basketball team had a difficult first quarter before righting the ship in their last meeting with the Yorkville Foxes, but the most recent meeting on Friday had the host Foxes handing the Knights a 46-35 loss.

On Saturday, Kaneland was the beneficiary of a 27-point performance from center Dave Dudzinski in a 47-42 beating of visiting Sycamore.

After the weekend split, KHS is at 13-8 (5-6 Western Sun Conference).

Dudzinski led the Knights with 10 points against Yorkville, helped by 6-for-6 foul shooting. On the whole, Kaneland was just 12-for-22 from the charity stripe.

Kaneland led 13-9 after one, but fell behind 21-17 at the half.

Yorkville widened the gap in the third and found itself ahead 36-25 before maintaining the lead until the final buzzer.

Against the Spartans, Kaneland led 16-6 after one, while Sycamore closed within 28-20 at the halftime buzzer. While Sycamore managed to close the margin further at 37-31 after three, Dudzinski and the Knights held firm with the final five-point margin.

The Knights visit Sycamore on Friday, Feb. 13.

Photo: Knight cager Taylor Andrews tries making the best of a shot opportunity during Friday’s 46-35 loss at Yorkville. Photo by Ben Draper

Bowling finishes 12th in sectional

Kaneland High School bowling saw its season come to an end on Saturday morning.

Finishing 12th out of 18 teams at the Sycamore Sectional out at Four Seasons Sports, and ahead of previous opponents Huntley and Geneva, the Lady Knights’ team total of 4,611 pins knocked down was not enough to advance to Saturday’s State gathering as a team or with high-enough individual scores.

The Lady Barbs of DeKalb, with a score of 5,796, took the Sectional, with Jacobs also advancing to state with 5,741.

Sycamore (5,676) and Rochelle (5,419) finished third and fourth, respectively.

Sycamore senior Chelsea Royalty, with a series of 1,308, was crowned sectional champ, followed by Rochelle’s Cody Koch at 1,259.

The Lady Knights say goodbye to seniors Amy Kuryliw, Molly Lambert, Tierra Lee and Jessie McHenry in varsity, and Eva Bartel and Sabrina Gabrielle on JV.

Wrestlers boast two regional champs, five move on

Fortunately for Knights wrestling, offseason plans aren’t starting just yet.

Thanks to a fourth-place finish at Saturday’s regional at Belvidere High School, five Knight grapplers are scheduled to compete at this weekend’s sectional out at the home of the Sterling Golden Warriors.

Esai Ponce (103 pounds), Devon Scholl (125), Kyle Davidson (145), Ben Kovalick (215) and Jimmy Boyle (285) will all see sectional action, with Dan Goress (112) and Dennis Brettman (130) as alternates due to fourth-place finishes.

Sycamore, with 205.5 points on the day, was crowned regional champ, while Burlington Central finished second with 160.5 points. Marengo finished third at 126.5, while the Knights had 120.5 to their credit.

The Knights finished ahead of DeKalb and Rockford East (114 points each).

Belvidere North, Belvidere and Hampshire rounded out the last three spots.

In the 103-pound class, Ponce (33-7) took Brady Weinrich of Burlington Central through a 9-0 major decision for a third-place finish.

Scholl was named regional champ after a 2-0 decision over DeKalb’s Jake Jones. The senior is now 32-6. Scholl finished fourth at last year’s regional.

Davidson (32-9) defeated Burlington Central’s Omar Awad in the third-place encounter by a 18-2 technical fall.

Kovalick (28-15) got past Rockford East’s Matdy Vongsouvanh with an 8-6 decision.

Boyle, a junior, improved to 37-3 with a first-place showing that culminated with a 3-2 win over Sycamore’s Zack Fraedrich in the final.

Kaneland tries to get all five wrestlers into the State gathering at the Sterling Sectional beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12, and continuing on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 10 a.m.

Photo: Devon Scholl

Lady Knights drop 2 in WSC homestretch

With the regular season entering its homestretch, the Lady Knights basketball team fell to Western Sun Conference rivals Sycamore on Saturday and Yorkville on Friday.

With the 43-39 loss to visiting Sycamore and a 44-32 setback to host Yorkville, the Kaneland hoops crew finds itself sitting at 5-20 with an 0-13 record in the final season of WSC play.

The Lady Knights have two more chances to improve on their win total before Monday’s regional opener in Rochelle against the host Hubs.

The encounter with Sycamore saw Emily Heimerdinger lead the way with 12 points, while Mallory Carlson had 11.

With the score tied at 12 after the first quarter, KHS had its offense suffer and went eight minutes without scoring in between the second and third frames. Sycamore went out to a 35-19 lead and led 32-21 after three. Kaneland rallied to cut the fourth quarter deficit to four on two occasions but could get no closer.

Carlson had 11 points vs. Yorkville, but Kaneland’s night would be complicated by a 9-for-39 night from the field.

Friday, Feb. 12, sees the Lady Knights go to Sycamore, while Saturday, Feb. 13 has KHS face off with the visiting Marengo Lady Indians in a make-up game that was rescheduled due to snowy conditions.

Photo: Lady Knight Emily Heimerdinger (12) weaves through traffic during Friday’s 44-32 loss to Yorkville . Photo by Ben Draper

Kaneland wrestlers handle Hampshire, Marengo

Maple Park–Finishing their last regular season meet on Saturday, Kaneland is going at a pretty good clip to make something happen at Saturday’s packed regional.

Traveling north to Marengo, Kaneland took care of the host Indians by a 42-27 dual score, and wiped Hampshire out with a 48-21 result.

Kaneland’s dual mark is now 17-9 after the two wins.

Against Marengo, Esai Ponce (103 pounds), Devon Scholl (130), Kyle Davidson (145) and Jimmy Boyle (285) all had pinfall victories.

In Kaneland’s win over the Whip-purs, Ponce, Tyler Esposito (119), Scholl, Joe Levita (135), Mark Southern (145) and Chris Sabal (152) all managed pinfall wins.

Now, the Knight grapplers head off to the IHSA Class 2A individual regional in Belvidere on Saturday, Feb. 6. The regional also includes Belvidere, Belvidere North, Burlington Central, DeKalb, Hampshire, Marengo, Rockford East and Sycamore.

The sectional takes place at Sterling on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Lady Knights defeated by WSC rival Rochelle

Unfortunately for the Kaneland High School girls basketball squad, the results of the first quarter of Friday night’s contest against visiting Rochelle failed to be duplicated.

After going out to an 8-7 lead on the Lady Hubs in Maple Park, the Lady Knights fell victim to a flurry of points in the second quarter and eventually lost 61-44.

The Lady Knights now sit at 5-18 (0-9 Western Sun Conference) with four regular season contests remaining.

Emily Heimerdinger led the way for KHS with 13 points, three rebounds, three steals and three assists.

Kaneland was 16-for-29 from the foul line, while Rochelle was 11-for-21.

After KHS led 8-7 after one, Rochelle came back and turned a deficit into a 22-17 lead. The Lady Hubs then tacked on eight straight points to go into the locker room up 30-17.

Kaneland closed the chasm to 44-32 at the end of three before Rochelle outscored the hosts 17-12 in the final eight minutes.

Kaneland has now lost six contests in a row; the last win coming on Jan. 9 at Burlington Central.

Sophomore action had the Rochelle troops beat Kaneland 41-27 on Friday. The freshmen “A” group beat Yorkville on Saturday by a final of 46-16.

The freshmen “B” team came away with a 50-11 win over the Lady Foxes.

The Lady Knights have a varsity contest on Friday, Feb. 5, at Yorkville, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Photo: Lady Knight Tesa Alderman attempts a foul shot during Friday evening’s 61-44 loss to the visiting Rochelle Lady Hubs. Alderman had six points. Photo by Ben Draper

Bowlers end regular season, gear up for sectionals

Kaneland bowling fell just 28 points short of matching Illinois Math & Science Academy during a battle at St. Paul’s School in Aurora on Thursday afternoon.

With the 2,220-2,192 loss to the Titans, and a 2,625-2,298 loss to visiting Lisle on Monday afternoon, the Lady Knights fall to 3-10 overall in dual competition with a 1-6 mark in Western Sun Conference play.

Leading the way for KHS was an impressive performance from Jessie McHenry, who bowled a 521 series. Holly Thomas bowled a 447 series, followed by Tierra Lee’s 437.

McHenry’s games of 183, 170 and 168 were team-highs.

The JV team came out on the short end of a 1,730-1,689 result.

Sabrina Gabrielle paced the Lady Knights with a 432 series.

Aganst the visiting Lady Lions, Thomas bowled a 482 series and was buoyed by a high game of 169.

McHenry bowled a 426 series, while Kuryliw bowled a 375 series.

Left for Kaneland bowling is a trip to Four Seasons in Sycamore for the 18-team sectional on Saturday, Feb. 6. Fellow WSC schools DeKalb, Geneva, Rochelle and Sycamore are also in the sectional, along with previous opponent Huntley.

Photo by Susan O’Neill

Lady Knights hang tough but lose to Barbs

by Mike Slodki
DEKALB—Kaneland girls basketball not only had to deal with the host DeKalb Lady Barbs and a vocal crowd, but also with the loss of guard Andie Strang before Friday’s contest.

Strang could be out for an undetermined length of time due to a stress fracture, according to Colombe.

That said, they hung in there and kept it competitive until the end in a 41-32 loss to DHS.

Kaneland dropped to 5-16 (0-10 Western Sun Conference). DeKalb improved to 15-7.

Emily Heimerdinger led the Lady Knights with 9 points. Kaneland was 14-for-28 from the field (50 percent).

“We did a much better job playing defense,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “I saw improvement across the board.”

“We’ve been struggling offensively and we need to see how we’re going to step up.”

After taking a brief 2-0 lead 23 seconds into the game thanks to Heimerdinger, the Lady Barbs poured it on and got three straight jumpers from Taylor White, including two three-pointers to make it 9-3 with 2:46 to go. Another trey by DeKalb with five seconds left made it 14-5 after one quarter.

Kaneland didn’t let the game get out of hand in the second frame and even cut it to 23-18 with :34 seconds left in the half thanks to Trinae Coachman’s putback and a Mallory Carlson shot. DeKalb came back with a three with 16 seconds remaining to make it 26-18 at halftime.

Kaneland held DeKalb to two field goals in the third quarter. Kelly Evers nailed a basket with 1:33 to go to cut it to 32-24.

The closest Kaneland came to slimming the margin in the fourth quarter was 39-30 with 2:12 remaining on a Carlson bucket.

The Lady Knights try to right the ship against Rochelle at KHS on Friday, Jan. 29.

KHS wrestling defends home mat at Flott Invite

Four weight classes won by Knights in invite win
At the annual Flott Wrestling Invite on Saturday, the Knight grapplers saw plenty of first-place accolades come their way in an invite win.

285-pounder Jimmy Boyle, 145-pound entry Kyle Davidson, 112-pounder Dan Goress and 103-pound representative Esai Ponce all came away with top nods against the varied area competition.

Additional noteworthy mornings were had by Devon Scholl finishing second at 125 and Dennis Brettman taking third in the 130 range.

Boyle’s path to glory started with a one minute, 38 second fall over Marian Central Catholic’s Scott Taylor, and then a 5-0 victory over Tim Vincent of Burlington Central. That led to a championship pinfall over Ottawa’s Robby Marotta with just two seconds left in regulation time.

Boyle’s record stands at 28-2.

For Davidson (27-5), his day started with a technical-fall win over Marian Central Catholic’s Tim Skelton in 4:00. Davidson then pinned Burlington Central’s Omar Awad at 4:12, and then took the final match by 12-4 decision over Larkin’s Brett Barry.

In the 112-pound win for Goress (29-5), it started with a 13-2 decision over Rochelle’s Eduardo Macareno, and then continued with a 8-2 win over Prairie Central’s Ben Traub, and ended with a tech fall win at the buzzer over Bo Pradel of Oswego.

Ponce (24-6) took a 6-4 win over Addison Trail’s Luis DeLacruz and won the group with a 12-6 major decision over Elgin’s Nathan Andresen.

Scholl (25-5) beat MCC’s Tyler Hickey in 3:54 andd BC’s Johnny Major in a major decison before succumbing to Addison Trail’s Johnny Delmedico 8-3. Brettman (17-11) beat Adam Polak of St. Joe’s in a 12-4 major decision and lost to Josh Smith of PC, 7-3. In the third-place duel.

Brettman beat Larkin’s Tim Einhorn 4-2.

Other action during the past week had Geneva beat Kaneland 31-30 on Thursday and Batavia get past the Knights on Jan. 13 by a final of 32-30.

KHS now gears up for the Western Sun Conference meet at Yorkville High School on Saturday, Jan. 23.

Top photo: Kyle Davidson (145) is on his way to a technical-fall victory over Marian Central Catholic’s Tim Skelton in 4:00 on Saturday. Photo by Ben Draper