Category Archives: Featured

Sterling softball too golden for Kaneland

Photo: Hayley Contorno slides safely into second on a hit by Sarah Grams in the second inning of Kaneland’s sectional playoff game against Sterling, hosted by Belvidere North, on May 30. Photo by John DiDonna

KHS softball (31-7) sees season end
in sectional semi

by Mike Slodki
BELVIDERE, Ill.—Kaneland softball’s season had more ups than downs in 2012.

Unfortunately, the Sterling Lady Warriors brand of diamond play made KHS land with a thud.

A Lady Knight lineup that saw the spectrum of convincing victories and dramatic comebacks in a regional championship—its first since 2005—fell victim to the pitching of Stephanie Kester and an opponent that plated nine runs in a 9-1 sectional semifinal result at Belvidere North High School on May 30.

Sterling lost to Marengo in the sectional final on Monday by a 2-1 clip.

Kaneland’s season ended at 31-7.

“They earned everything they got this year,” KHS coach Brian Willis said. “Certainly it’s encouraging that we’ll be getting people back, but it’s hard to comprehend right now and it’s disappointing to go out this way.”

Kester defeated Delani Vest in the pitching matchup in what would be Vest’s final varsity game.

But Vest contributed early with her bat after allowing a run in the top of the first inning.

After a double, Allyson O’Herron sacrificed her over to third base. Third baseman Paige Kuefler drove Vest home with a single but was thrown out at second.

Sterling scored twice in the second for a 3-1 deficit, and Kaneland would find itself with two runners on base for the last time in the game.

With one out, Hayley Contorno and Sarah Grams laced back-to-back singles, but Sam Hansen lined out and Vest popped out to end the threat.

Kaneland would get just two more hits the remainder of the game, and Sterling would put up two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and three more in the seventh to ice the win.

While Sterling’s fielding kept the Lady Knights mostly in check, Willis would liked to have seen enough hitting for the defense to be irrelevant.

“We bunted the ball too hard, it was right to their third baseman, and I would put it more on us than I would on them.”

With the conclusion of Kaneland’s softball year, the program says goodbye to seniors Vest, Hansen, McKinzie Mangers, Alexis Villarreal and Sarah Kitz.

Summer Bluegrass Festival to support Farmer-Veteran Coalition

Photo: Heritage Prairie Farm will hold a Red, White and Bluegrass Fundraiser Festival on Saturday, June 9, 3 to 10 p.m. to raise awareness to the Farmer Veteran Coalition and to raise funds to conduct a Veterans To Farmers Workshop. Courtesy Photo

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Building a green economy and assisting veterans as they find new careers and a way to heal … a tall order, but that’s what the Farmer-Veteran Coalition (FVC) aims to do. Heritage Prairie Farm, a sustainable produce farm east of Elburn, is holding a “Red, White Bluegrass Fundraiser Festival” on Saturday, June 9, to benefit the organization.

The festival will feature kids activities and games, a variety of local foods, local beer and wine offerings, and bluegrass music.

“Our Saturdays on the farm are usually dedicated to weddings. We wanted to kick off summer and dedicate that Saturday to families and to the community,” said Daryn Pobanz, director of events at the farm. “It’s an opportunity to come out to the farm on a Saturday.”

Along with the bounce room, mechanical bull and dunk tank, families will have the chance to take part in an old-fashioned sack race and see the donkey, goat and peacock who live on the farm.

Concessions will be available. Families can also purchase tickets to the barbecue buffet prepared by Chef Jeremy Lycan.

The musical headliner is Bubbly Creek Bluegrass, along with Cpt. Captain and Fox Valley Grass.

The Red, White Bluegrass Festival will raise awareness, as well as funds, that Heritage Prairie Farm needs to conduct a Veterans to Farmers Workshop. The workshop will be tailored to Illinois vets who are interested in careers in sustainable agriculture.

“The end plan (for Heritage Prairie Farm) is to host a conference in the late summer and early fall where vets can get connected to agencies for training and jobs,” Pobanz said.

The conference will let returning veterans know of the options for careers in sustainable agriculture. It connects them with educational and training resources, and provides internships and support for the type of farming or food career that fits their interest, location and unique skills and abilities.

Festival tickets are $20 (no charge for children ages 12 and under). Barbecue buffet tickets are $25 ($10 for children ages 12 and under). Tickets are available online at or by calling (630) 443-5989.

For more information on FVC, visit

Farmer-Veteran Coalition seeks to serve veterans who fall into the following categories:
• Vets with or without previous farming experience
• Vets who are pursuing education in agriculture at a 2- or 4-year institution
• Vets looking for work in agriculture and to gain experience before starting a farm of their own
• Disabled vets seeking internships to obtain training and a peaceful environment to heal from war experiences
• Vets who grew up on family farms and came home with war-related injuries

Elburn native cuts singer-songwriter album in Nashville

Photo: Charles Cain playing with the NIU Jazz Band. Courtesy Photo

by Keith Beebe
ELBURN—The Elburn-to-Nashville pipeline might not be thought of as a road to potential success and stardom, but it’s a path that suits Charles Cain just fine.

Cain, a former Elburn resident, 2009 Kaneland High School graduate and multi-instrumentalist, recently released his album “Civil Ghost,” an effort that took Cain a year to fund and two weeks to record. And in early May, he rang in his 21st birthday by playing a debut show in Nashville—the songwriting capital of the world, and the city where Cain currently resides.

Cain’s music is described as “rich, soulful indie music.” As for how he was bitten by the music bug, Cain’s mother Lora said it was probably due to the abundance of music that was played in their home during his childhood.

“We always had music on in the house, from the time he was little,” she said.

Charles Cain with his first drum set in 1998. Courtesy Photo

“My parents would play it loud, I remember that,” Charles said. “I’m told I would sing and dance to George Thorogood when I was 2, but mostly I remember my dad’s favorite: Van Morrison. He was always playing that. My older brother, Jonathan, studied piano, too, so music was all around. Always. In one form or another.”

Lora said the musical gene in Charlie’s family largely stems from his grandmother, Darlene Stoffa.

“She’s Elburn’s Betty White. She played piano while we kids all sang,” Lora said. “I learned to play piano, and I would play, and both our sons play piano. That’s Jonathan’s primary instrument, but he is also an aviator, so he is pursuing his career in business, often helping his little brother with music and finance decisions.”

As a young musician, Charles was involved in band and drumline. Following high school graduation, he attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts and studied jazz percussion. Charles said his attraction to percussion as a major was instinctive.

“(As a child) I told my mom I wanted drums for Christmas, and that Christmas she found a set of used drums at a used instrument store,” he said. “It’s my favorite Christmas memory. Drum set came very naturally to me even when I was really young.”

In terms of ensemble work, Charles cut his teeth in the group Bugs as Trees, which also featured keyboardist Alec Watson. Watson’s playing can be heard on several tracks on “Civil Ghost.”

“Alec is a world-class keyboard player. He studies at the Dave Brubeck Institute in California,” Lora said. “Alec literally travels the world performing. He wanted to play keyboards on Charles’ album, so we flew Alec to Nashville.”

Lora said songwriting is the next step in Charles’ career.

“Publishing is a great field for him. He’s a phenomenal musician and that’s his passion, but money is easier to attain in songwriting,” she said. “He is hoping to keep his music performance a passion and not the way to pay the mortgage.”

“(Songwriting) was always in me, but I didn’t share it until I was ready, which was in my mid-teens,” Charles said. “I’m always writing. It never ends. It’s in my head at all times. I never really sleep.”

“Civil Ghost” is available on iTunes, and can be heard on Spotify and

Throwing his hat into the ring

Photo: Mark Maxwell is a local inventor who created low-impact headgear for mechanics, kids and whoever else would be in jeopardy of a head injury. Photo by Lynn Meredith

Elburn man launches line of low-impact headgear
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—During his many years of working underneath heavy equipment and being conscious of trying not to hit his head, Mark Maxwell began to conceive of headgear that would not only protect workers’ heads should they knock up against steel, but also protect their heads and necks from the inevitable grease and grime that come with the job.

The result is a line of headgear, launched by Maxwell, that is shock-absorbent and prevents minor injuries.

The good news is that it’s not just for construction workers and mechanics. The headgear is so adaptable that it can be used as newborn caps, Little League baseball caps and protection for the elderly, law enforcement, military and skate and snow boarders—anyone who may be prone to minor head injuries from bumping their head or getting hit by an errant object. It can lessen the incidence of scrapes, bruises and even concussions that occur in household, work or recreational situations.

“It’s been in my mind for probably 20 years. Then I was sitting in a hotel in Norwalk, Conn., watching the TV show Modern Marvels. They were showing guys working on an assembly line of Corvettes, and one guy hit his head,” Maxwell said. “I thought to myself, ‘You know what, I’m doing this.’”

Maxwell resolved to call Invention Resource International (IRI), a company that helps inventors bring their product to market, much like an agent would. He gave the firm his information, and less than a week later they called back interested in working with him on the product line.

The next step was global patent research and building a prototype. The patent was approved in January, and the prototype, well, Maxwell handled that by going to Hobby Lobby.

“I found some fish-eye buttons to simulate the inside. They simulated the single-celled bubbles that are the buffer-zone that protects the head,” Maxwell said.

The headgear fits like a baseball cap with a Velcro-band closure. It has an inner lining beneath the dome shape of the cap that will absorb impacts and cushion and protect the wearer’s head. The lining is similar to protective bubble-wrap used in packaging, but tougher, more durable and more permanent. It’s light-weight and malleable to the shape of the cap and the wearer’s head, and it’s fire-retardant.

“Welders, military, law enforcement, department of transportation and municipal workers don’t have to wear hard hats. I’ve seen guys wrap carpeting around the cap and cut off the bill, so they could get in places. They used to take bubble wrap and put it under their caps,” Maxwell said.

The Low Impact Headgear also has a bandanna style that is easier to wear in tight places. Maxwell estimates the cost of the headgear to be approximately $20-30.

“This product is extra protection—like for cops when they go into a bar to break up a fight. They could get hit over the head with a bottle. You spend $25 on a hat or a bandanna, and you don’t have to pay (as much) workers’ compensation and loss of employment. What’s $25?” he said.

His immediate task is to find manufacturing. Maxwell has two stipulations: that the manufacturer follow his patent and that the product be made in the United States.

“I’m a construction guy and a proud American. I want it made in the USA,” Maxwell said.

Regional Rally

Photo: Sam Hansen leaps into the arms of fellow Class 3A IMSA Regional-winning teammates on Saturday after Kaneland’s 9-5 win over Yorkville. Photo by Patti Wilk

Furious 6th inning leads to comeback over YHS for Regional

by Mike Slodki
AURORA—There’s a saying that if you give someone an inch, they’ll take a mile.

In the case of Lady Knights softball, give them the sixth inning, they’ll score six runs.

Kaneland softball (31-6) scored nine runs in its final two at-bats during Saturday’s Class 3A Regional Championship at Illinois Math and Science Academy against the second-seeded Yorkville Lady Foxes for a 9-5 win and its first regional plaque in seven years.

“We’ve been doing this all year,” coach Brian Willis said. “They never quit. I didn’t have to say anything. They know what they’re capable of.”

Kaneland got into the final with a 10-0, six-inning triumph over fourth seed Rosary on May 23.
Delani Vest earned the win in both games.

“Since freshman year I’ve wanted to win a regional championship. It feels awesome to finally get one, and we really had to push through this one,” Vest said.

Yorkville went up 1-0 in the third inning, and it remained that way until the bottom of the fifth.

With one out, Allyson O’Herron singled, as did Paige Kuefler. Lanie Callaghan laced another single for an RBI to tie the game. With two outs, Lexi Roach redeemed her third-inning at-bat that left two runners stranded with a triple to give Kaneland a 3-1 lead.

“That was the biggest hit, no question,” O’Herron said. “That got us going.”

After Yorkville put up four runs on Vest in the top of the sixth, Kaneland’s lineup came alive with six runs after 11 girls came to the plate.

With the score 5-4 after a Vest RBI, McKinzie Mangers lifted a flyball out of the right-fielders reach that plated two more for the 6-5 lead. Sarah Grams and Roach came up with two more run-scoring hits.

In the seventh, Sam Hansen caught a liner at second base, triggering a celebration.

“We are confident. This shows that we could do it, and we have to ride the wave,” O’Herron said.

The sectional wave was scheduled for Wednesday at Belvidere North against Sterling. Sterling won the game 9-1, ending the KHS season. See the June 7 edition of the Elburn Herald for game coverage.

Kaneland’s 11: Boys track performs at high level

Two Kaneland HS relay teams earned all-state honors last weekend.
Photos by Marshall Farthing

Knights’ 2A trip to
EIU sees five All-State
efforts, three records

by Mike Slodki
CHARLESTON, Ill.—When you send as many Class 2A State finalists for boys track as Kaneland High School did, you’ll push some entries to the finals by sheer force and numbers.

Or in the case of this past weekend, by speed.

With five finalists, the Knights program achieved All-State medal honors in those events.

A year ago, Taylor Andrews won the 110m high hurdles in Class 2A, while Nick Sinon claimed the high jump in the 2010 try that featured the Knights taking second in the entire state.

This season, with 19 points, Kaneland finished an exceptional 11th.

Cahokia High School was crowned champ with 67 points, while former KHS conference rival Glenbard South took second with 56. The other local school to finish near Kaneland was Burlington Central with 22 points for 10th.

“Our program gained a great deal of experience this past weekend as we look towards next year,” KHS coach Eric Baron.

For KHS, the top finish was the 4×200 meter really unit of Dylan Pennington, Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier and Sean Carter, who took third with a time of 1:29.89 in the finals, a school record. Glenbard South’s team won the race with just .31 faster of a time.

Other exceptional relay action featured the 4x100m relay foursome of Bishop, Cottier, Dylan Nauert and Carter, which finished sixth in the finals at 42.70 seconds, marking another school record.

Individually, Nauert added a sixth-place finish to his mantle with a 39.34 second time on the 300m low hurdles event.

In the 200m dash event, Carter took seventh in the finals at 22.80 seconds.

Finally, the 4x800m school relay group of Conor Johnson, Nate Kucera, Clayton Brundige and Kyle Carter finished ninth overall with a clip of 8:02.68. A 7:59.87 time in prelims was good for a school record, as well.

Other State qualifiers that were in crowded fields included Kory Harner, who vaulted 13 feet in the pole vault.

Nate Dyer ended his season with a 50 feet, 1.5 inch toss in the shot put prelims.

Cottier’s effort in the 100m dash prelims was a 11.46 time.

With the season ended, the Knights say goodbye to Brundige, Sean Carter, Mitch Dienst, Andrew Essex, Miki Marin, Marcel Neil, Kelvin Peterson, Nate Rehkopf and Brandon Stahl.

No repeat trip for Kaneland baseball

Photo: Ray Barry dives safely back to first base in the first inning of Kaneland’s home playoff game against DeKalb on May 23. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Sometimes too much of a good thing turns out to harm you in the end.

Kaneland baseball had to get past DeKalb in the Class 3A Kaneland Regional semifinal on May 25 in order to embark on its repeat road to Joliet, Ill., and another State plaque.

But three instances of bases-loaded situations for the Knights yielded only one run total, and the DeKalb Barbs made the most of its late-inning at-bats.

The end result was a 9-3 loss that ended the KHS campaign at 24-11.

The Knights finished last year as Class 3A champions at 26-10 after winning its final 13 contests of the year.

DeKalb went on to lose on Saturday during the regional final to Marmion Academy, 4-1, and finished 18-16-1.

This marked the second time in three seasons the Knights have exited in the regional semi, having lost to Hampshire at home in 2010.

“Things came back to haunt us,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We had situations early in the game. If we took advantage of the bases-loaded situation, it would have been a completely different game.”

For Kaneland, John Hopkins earned the loss, going 4.2 innings while giving up five runs on four hits.

Ray Barry went 1-for-3 with two runs, a double and RBI, while Tom Fox went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

DeKalb took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but Kaneland got one back.

Barry singled and stole second and third. After Jake Razo walked and stole second, Tom Fox drove Barry home with an RBI to make it 2-1. Trever Heinle walked, but Quinn Buschbacher grounded into a 5-1-3 double play to end the threat.

Kaneland had another bases loaded opportunity in the second, but Tyler Heinle lined into a double play.

Kaneland would tie the game in the third, beginning with a Razo walk. After he moved to second on a balk, Fox drove him in with an RBI double. With one out, Buschbacher walked, but Hopkins grounded out to the pitcher and Jordan Jones struck out.

The Knights took their last lead of the year when Barry hit a one-out double, and Tyler Heinle drove him in with a single. After Razo sacrificed him over, Fox popped out to short.

DeKalb went on the offensive with three runs in the top of the fifth to take a 5-3 advantage. In the bottom of the fifth, Kaneland saw what would be its last, best opportunity.

Buschbacher drew a one-out walk, and new pitcher Drew Peters singled. With two outs, Joe Pollastrini singled for a bases loaded situation, but Barry flied out to right.

In the top of the sixth, DeKalb poured it on with four more runs to cinch the win.

“DeKalb’s a good club, they came out and proved it today. We’re good, too. We just didn’t play up to our caliber,” Aversa said.

The Knights say goodbye to Buschbacher, Trevor Storck, Fox, Tyler Heinle, Peters, Jones, Mike Tattoni, Trever Heinle, Barry, Bryan VanBogaert and Razo due to graduation.

A job well done

Photo: Maple Park firefighter Art Maercker (center) at his retirement party at Sorrentos on April 21. He is flanked by Fire Chief Kevin Petersen (right) and Assistant Chief Rod Johnson. Maercker served 50 years in the fire department from March 1, 1962 to March 1, 2012. He also served as Fire Chief from May 1979 to May 1996. Courtesy Photo

50-year veteran of Maple Park Fire Department retires
By Lynn Meredith
MAPLE PARK—In March 1962, 22-year old Art Maercker joined the volunteer fire department in his hometown because it interested him and because he wanted to do one thing “halfway right,” as he put it. That interest sustained until he retired in March 2012, after 50 years of service.

The Maple Park Fire Department honored Art with an open house at his favorite restaurant, Sorrento’s, on April 21. He was presented with a plaque, certificates from the state and the state fire marshal and some shirts and a jacket that displayed his retirement status. But underneath the celebration was the support of lifelong friends and comrades, not only in the Maple Park department but surrounding departments that worked closely with Maercker over the years, as well.

“Art and I have been friends forever. I’ve known him since we went to school together in Maple Park. We were both in the Maple Park Fire Department together, and then I moved to Elburn,” said retired Elburn Fire Chief Marty Strausberger. “We worked fires together and many mutual aide calls.”

The Maple Park department was all-volunteer until 2005, when Fire Chief Kevin Peterson became full-time and others began to be paid for on-call. When there was a structure fire like a barn or a house or even the George B. Smith factory that burned twice in Maple Park, an alarm rang, and men from the nearby businesses and farms would gather at the firehouse. The departments would call in a certain number of tankers and pumps from fire departments in neighboring towns to help fight the blaze.

“It was a lot of hard work, and it was a lot of hard play,” Maercker said. “I was there in the fun times. We didn’t have all the paperwork that Kevin has now. There’s just so many memories. We just had fun and a lot of work.”

The fire department changed over the years. The equipment became bigger and bigger and more powerful, Maercker said. Instead of an alarm to alert firefights, there are now pagers. One thing that has not changed is the comraderie among the firefighters.

“I have never been around a group who are so close knit,” Donna Maercker, Art’s wife, said. “They’re like a big family. When they get together, it’s like a family reunion. And everybody likes everybody.”

One time when a bar in Maple Park caught fire, and the MPFD left the truck running and were trying to fight the blaze from the front, they looked up and saw Strausberger and the Elburn guys coming down the street to help out.

“You back each other up. You don’t run a fire by yourself. You don’t care who it is that’s there, if it’s Elburn or Kaneville or who it is,” Maercker said.

Maercker served as chief from May 1979 to May 1996. He stayed on for the reason he joined in the first place: it still interested him. Well, that and the fact it was still fun.

“When Kevin took over as chief, all I did was drive tanker. But I’d give them grief, and they’d give me grief,” he said. “Now I still stop down and harass them, retired or not.”

Maercker told Peterson he didn’t want a party for his retirement, but Peterson ignored that instruction just like he ignored Maercker when he said he wanted to retire on a few occasions.

“He tried to retire a couple of times, but I wouldn’t accept it,” Peterson said. “The retirement open house was so low-key because that’s just the way he is. We tried to get him to get up and say something (at the party), but he just said ‘Thank you’ and walked off.”

Strausberger agreed that Maercker is quiet, but does what he needs to do.

“He doesn’t say much. We’ve been friends for years. He’s pretty quiet, but he gets the job done,” Strausberger said.

Donna encouraged having a party for him.

“When somebody puts in 50 years, you got to do something for a job well done,” she said.

4th sectional title in a row for KHS boys track

Photo: Kory Harner can call himself a 2012 State qualifier in the pole vault after his Thursday performance at the Rochelle Sectional. File Photo

Kaneland sends 11 events to hallowed EIU turf this weekend

by Mike Slodki
ROCHELLE, Ill.—Labeling the Kaneland boys track output from Thursday’s Class 3A Rochelle Sectional as “exceptional” would be right on the money.

For the remaining field at this weekend’s Class 3A State gathering in Charleston, Ill., the showing could be described as “ominous.”

Kaneland’s total of 115 points gave a nice cushion over second-place Burlington Central’s 84, Dixon’s 83, Sterling’s 64 and Rochelle’s 60.

The point total for Kaneland beats last year’s sectional best of 90 points.

Trying to nab a State trophy for the second time in three years, Brandon Cottier, who will hope to make his presence felt in the 100 and 200 meter dash, is among those who is not just “happy to be there”.

“Once I get to State, I try to better myself. We don’t settle, and we go in to win,” Cottier said.

Sophomore Dylan Nauert highlighted the eleven separate events to make it down to State, with a 40.18 time in the 300m low hurdles, taking the Sectional title.

In a nice piece of symmetry, both Cottier and Sean Carter finished 1-2 in the prelims for the 200m dash, with a flip of places in the finals.

Carter earned the sectional crown with a time of 22.67 seconds, and Cottier finished in 23.14.

In the 100m dash, Cottier took fourth with a time of 11.03 seconds, after finishing fourth in the prelims at 11.13.

“If we run our best race, we’ll definitely place at State. The sectional is a different feel because you are doing your best to get to State. Once you get to State, there’s nothing after that,” Cottier said.

In the 400m dash, Nate Kucera’s fourth place time of 50.65 seconds earned him a qualifying nod.

Relay action went the way of the Knights in the form of races like the 4x800m relay, which ran in 8:05.20, good for fourth.

Additionally, the 4x100m relay squad took home the sectional mantle with a time of 43.30.

It went nice with another first-place race in the 4x200m relay, which ran in 1:29.80, 1.75 seconds better than Boylan Catholic.

Field events were highlighted by Nate Dyer and Kory Harner.

Dyer, after a double conference championship in both the shot put and discus, also punched his ticket to Eastern Illinois University with a fine showing.

The sophomore threw 155 feet, nine inches and finished third in finals, after finishing second in the prelims with a 155-09 effort. In the shot, Dyer finished third with a tally of 50-11. Dyer also finished third in the prelims (50-11).

Harner made it in the pole vault with a second-place effort of 13-03.

“Every year, we just want to qualify someone in pole vault. It’s been 30 straight years,” Harner said. “When you get to sectionals, you really feel the pressure of wanting to go down (to State).”

Kaneland has bragging rights to several State champ honors the last two years, with Taylor Andrews’ 110m hurdles in 2011, Nick Sinon in the 2010 high jump, and the 4x400m relay in 2010.

Girls track sees 2 finalists at 2A State meet

Photo: Sydney Strang was part of Lady Knight relay action during the Class 2A State meet in Charleston, Ill. Courtesy Photo

KANELAND—While it wasn’t on the scale of the final finish in 2011, the Lady Knights track outfit still came out of the weekend at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. with elite totals in terms of the rest of the state.

When the dust settled from the Friday and Saturday meet, the top finishers brandishing Kaneland duds were Sydney Strang and Jen Howland.

Strang, the lone Lady Knight to make it from prelims to finals on the weekend, qualified for the final 800 meter run group with a time of two minutes, 19.29 seconds and finished 11th in the state with a finals time of 2:20.12.

Kelsey Cramsey of Effingham won the event with a time of 2:12.54. Rochelle’s Michelle Dobbs took third with a time of 2:14.33.

Other Lady Knight final competition included Howland competing in the 3200m run and finishing 11th at 11:36 in an event won by Kristen Busch of Freeburg at 10:54.74.

Additional KHS competition in the prelims included the 4x800m relay foursome of Amanda Lesak, Jessica Kucera, Maggie Brundige and Strang finishing tenth in its heat at 10:07.04.
Lauren Zick, after earning a finals berth last year, finished sixth in her prelim heat of the 400m dash at 59.36 seconds, and the 4x400m unit of Lesak, Zick, Strang and Kaltrina Ismaili finished its prelim run in 4:05.53, less than two seconds from qualifying for the finals.

Teamwise, Springfield Southeast won the trophy with 63 points, followed by Walther Lutheran’s 46. Chicago’s Lindblom (38), Freeport (29), Freeburg (27) and Marengo (27) rounded out the top six.

Kaneland says goodbye to seniors Ashley Cottier, Caroline Eichelberger, Kelly Evers, Howland, Christina Janes, Nicole Ketza, Carolina Tovar and Shannon Wallace.

Non-conference foes fall on KHS baseball victory tour

Photo: Bryan VanBogaert fires toward the dish against Batavia on Friday’s Senior Night at Fifth Third Ballpark in Geneva. The Knights won 2-1. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Whether you are Marmion Academy, St. Francis of Wheaton, DeKalb or IMSA, you can’t be looking forward to what lies ahead next week.

Kaneland baseball rolled through the last week of non-conference competition, ending on Saturday with a 7-2 solving of host West Aurora.

Previously, the Knights also took care of Batavia, 2-1 at Fifth Third Ballpark in Geneva, and also traveled north to Cary-Grove High School to hand the Trojans an 8-2 shellacking.

Despite a Monday setback to host St. Charles East, The Knights finish 24-10 with the regular season and conference crown already collected.

Kaneland was 20-10 when the 2011 regular season concluded on the way to a State title.

More currently, the Knights are winners of nine of their last 10.

Jordan Jones took the ball for a complete-game win over the Blackhawks.

Jones went seven innings, allowing just two runs on four hits.

Mike Tattoni went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI to go along with three base swipes.

Ray Barry went 2-for-3 with two swipes.

The Knights put up three runs in both the second and third innings for the cushion.

In the win against former Suburban Prairie Conference North Division and Western Sun Conference rival Batavia, Kaneland’s two-run output in the bottom of the second inning was enough to ward off Batavia’s run in the third.

Trevor Storck improved to 7-0 on the mound, while Bryan VanBogaert earned the save with two innings of work.

Kaneland jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first three innings thanks to personnel like Tyler Heinle (3-for-3, three runs, two RBI), Jake Razo (2-for-4, double, two RBI) and Tom Fox (1-for-3, three RBI, double).

In the 5-4 loss to the Saints, Matt Limbrunner saw the loss come his way after giving up five runs on five hits. Barry went 2-for-2 with double and Quinn Buschbacher went 2-for-3 with a double

Kaneland was set to play on Wednesday as the top seed of its own regional on Wednesday against fourth-seed DeKalb, which beat IMSA on Monday evening.

The regional title matchup is scheduled for Saturday, May 26, at 11 a.m. with either Kaneland or DeKalb facing the winner of the second-and-third seed matchup of Marmion Academy vs. St. Francis.

SG preschool owner records, releases children’s album

Photo: Amy Peters plays a game with the kids at Brightest Stars Preschool in Sugar Grove which is owned by her and her husband, Bill. Besides owning and working the preschool, Amy has just had her first CD of songs produced.
Photo by John DiDonna

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Brightest Stars Preschool owner Amy Peters, an accomplished vocalist and instrumentalist, decided some time ago that she wanted to mix her favorite hobby—music—with her business life. As a result, Peters finished recording her CD “Come and Swim with Me” last December, and made it available for purchase at the preschool and

“When I am singing with groups of children, I make the songs as interactional as I can. It’s fine to have concert-style songs, but little ones really want to get into the songs and be a part of them,” she said.

According to Peters’ website,, “Come and Swim with Me” is “full of fun and exciting new music for children ages 2 to 10, and will have your child singing, interacting and learning.”

Peters said she is especially fond of the album’s title track, but enjoys the other tunes on the recording.

“Each song has special meaning to me, but another that stands out is called ‘Sammy the Zebra.’ My son Devin, who was 9 years old at the time, asked if he could help me write a song. His idea was about a zebra named Sammy who is sad,” Peters said. “Wondering how to fit a sad song into my mix, I asked Devin why the zebra was sad, and he said that Sammy loses his stripes every time it rains, and since Sammy lives in the rainforest, he was sad a lot. Well, who knew that ‘Sammy the Zebra’ would be many, many children’s favorite song?”

Peters said the album took about a year to record, mix and master.

“Wanting to make sure that my CD had a professional sound, I met up with Patrick Dugan from Musical Expressions in Naperville, who is a professional musician, and he became my one-man band,” she said. “Patrick did all the music tracks and recording along with the mixing of all my songs. He made sure each song had its own special sound.”

Amy Peter's first CD is called "Come And Swim With Me." These songs mix learning with catchy tunes that are easy to sing along with. Photo Courtesy of Bill Peters

Album No. 2 should be on the way shortly. In the meantime, Peters is having a blast hearing what people are saying about “Come and Swim with Me.”

“This has been so much fun for me to hear what other people have said about my CD. I love hearing what are the favorites, whether it’s ‘Chocolate Chip Cookies,’ ‘Come and Swim With Me,’ ‘Any Other Car Like That’ or ‘Mommy, I Want Salami,’” she said. “But one of the biggest compliments came from a guy in his 20s who said he loved that my songs were so ‘adult friendly.’ Another friend said she has ‘I Like Me’ set on her phone alarm clock, and she wakes up every day with me singing to her. Many other family and friends have purchased my CD to give as birthday gifts and baby gifts.”

Peters has taught for 22 years, and has been singing “for as long as she can remember.” She said teaching and singing are her two passions, and she further developed a love for music after she learned to play the guitar.

“I realized that I had my own melodies. I started writing music for my classes. My first song, called ‘Come and Swim with Me,’ got the songwriting started … and it hasn’t stopped since,” she said.

Peters said that when she can’t find a song to use while teaching, she’ll simply write the song herself. In fact, she challenged herself last year to pen a new song each week and, in her own words, “rose to the task” and had a blast sharing her songs with Brightest Stars Preschool students.

Peters began her career teaching in a developmental preschool. She developed a love of working with preschool-aged children and made the decision to operate a preschool out of her own house. In 2008, Peters and her husband, Bill, decided to purchase a building and open a preschool in Sugar Grove.

“I have a great support system that allows me to keep doing what I love—teaching and singing. My husband Bill has believed in me from the beginning of wanting to grow a preschool center and a music venture,” Amy said. “He is always there to help when I need my sound system set up for singing events, or for taking the kids to their activities when I have a show. And, of course, I would have never had my love of music without the influence of my number one fan: my mom. Thanks, mom.”

Regional heartbreak for soccer

Photo: Taylor Opperman moves the ball during the Class 2A regional semifinal loss at Burlington Central on May 16. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
BURLINGTON—Kaneland High School’s current senior crop is the only group in school history to only know regional final action.

After the Class 2A regional semifinal at Burlington Central on May 16, those Lady Knights won’t even know that feeling again.

A hard-luck match against Crystal Lake Central (9-7) ended in a 1-0 loss.

Burlington Central then defeated Crystal Lake Central on Saturday evening in three overtimes for the regional plaque.

Kaneland’s loss dropped the season record to 12-6-1 (7-2-1 NIB-12).

Goalkeeper Jordan Ginther made key stops throughout the game, but Crystal Lake Central’s offense was on the move most of the match. Coupled with Kaneland’s choppy offense, it made for tough going capped by Maddie Edwards’ goal with seven minutes, 45 seconds left. Edwards launched a shot that landed in the right corner of the goal.

“She nailed it,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “Most goalies don’t even attempt at nailing that thing. If you’re going to lose, lose on a shot like that.”

“We were just hoping we could get things going,” Parillo said. “We just didn’t seem to be able to get anything going today. That’s a bummer.”

The Lady Knights had given up just 14 goals in the 2012 campaign.

Kaneland finished the season 7-3 in its last 10 matches, and was hoping to get through CLC for a date with BC, which had vanquished them on May 12.

Kaneland had lost the regional championship to CLC in 2009.

The Lady Knights went to a regional title match in 2010 and 2011, only to drop to Rosary.

KHS says goodbye in 2012 to Taylor White, Katie Taylor, Melissa Bohorquez and Abby Bend due to graduation.

Waubonsee Interpreting Program recognized

Photo: As Waubonsee Community College Assistant Professor of Interpreter Training/Sign Language Cassie Moore (standing) works one-on-one with a student, other members of the class continue practicing their signing and interpreting skills. The interpreting lab at the Aurora Campus includes video cameras that capture students’ performances for later review and feedback. Courtesy Photo

SUGAR GROVE—When it was established in 1976, Waubonsee Community College’s Interpreter Training Program (ITP) was the first of its kind in the state. A pioneer in the field of interpreting for the deaf, the program produced hundreds of alumni, many of whom have gone on to great professional accomplishments.

For its continuing quality and contributions to the community, Waubonsee is proud to honor ITP as part of its “Placing Learning First: Faculty and Program Recognition.”

The ITP has its roots in the Waubonsee Hearing Impaired Program, which served deaf and hearing-impaired students from community college districts across the state. With so many interpreters and teachers needed for that program, it made sense for the college to train people for the profession. An Associate in Applied Science (AAS) Degree and Certificate of Achievement in the discipline were both approved by the Illinois Community College Board in 1976.

Thirty-six years later, the program has expanded to include a 72-semester-hour AAS degree, a 33-semester-hour Certificate of Achievement and a 24-semester-hour Sign Language Certificate of Achievement. Students in the degree program must complete two semesters worth of sign language courses before moving on to the interpreter training courses, and completion of the sign language certificate is required for entry into the interpreter training certificate program.

This rigor continues once students enter the program, with a cumulative 3.0 grade point average required to stay in the program. Plus, they must finish all interpreter training courses with a “C” or better within a three-year timeframe to complete a degree or certificate.

Over the years, Waubonsee has awarded 276 degrees in the field, along with 283 certificates. Many of these students have gone on to tremendous professional accomplishments; in fact, Waubonsee alumni have served as presidents of both the National and Illinois Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf.

As a member of the deaf community herself, Assistant Professor of Interpreter Training/Sign Language Katie Thomas often sees graduates in professional settings.

“I often get my former students as my interpreters, so I want to be able to understand the interpreted lecture/conversations well,” Thomas said. “Also, I have an obligation to the deaf community who will be using the same interpreters that I teach. Overall, I am proud of how Waubonsee teaches students professionalism, dignity and good public relations with deaf people outside the college.”

Waubonsee students get the chance to work with members of the deaf community in both controlled classroom and actual interpreting settings. Given the interpreting program’s strong history and reputation in the community, faculty are able to bring in deaf consumers to role play with students and offer honest feedback about their interpreting skills and performance. The capstone class of both the interpreting degree and certificate is ITP 290—”The Interpreter as Practitioner,” a practicum course that allows students to apply and refine their skills in a workplace environment and also provide volunteer interpreting services at community events.

In addition to the feedback they receive from deaf consumers and professional colleagues, Waubonsee students are also able to receive specific feedback from teachers and even themselves, thanks to the CommuniCoach system. In this system, which was developed by Waubonsee communications faculty, students are videotaped during their signing performances so that instructors can pinpoint exactly where and how they can improve.

While the interpreting program offers state-of-the-art instructional methods, a variety of networking opportunities and a great pay-off, it does require a certain amount of sacrifice on the part of the students. For example, the ITP courses must be completed as a full-time day program, so students must schedule accordingly. This is something that is not lost on the ITP instructors.

“I know how much our students sacrifice to be here, and (I) see how hard they work,” said Professor of Interpreter Training/Sign Language Dr. Lynn Clark. “It inspires me to give my all.”

Clark has been giving her all to Waubonsee’s ITP since she became a full-time instructor in 1980. She will retire at the end of the academic year with 32 years of teaching memories.

Clark holds a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in counseling from Michigan State University. She earned her doctorate in psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 1989. She holds national certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and is licensed at the general-master level by the State of Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission.

Also holding national certification from the RID and licensed at the advanced level by the State of Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission is Assistant Professor of Interpreter Training/Sign Language Cassie Moore. Moore also holds a national education K-12 certification from RID. She joined Waubonsee as a part-time interpreter in 1989, taught part-time from 1990 to 2008, and spent eight years as a part-time counselor at the college, as well, before being hired as a full-time instructor four years ago. Moore earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communicative disorders from Northern Illinois University.

Thomas also spent time as a part-time interpreter at the college before becoming an instructor in 1995. Holding a bachelor’s degree in special education from Northern Illinois University, Thomas has been working to develop interpreting standards for the Illinois court system. She also holds national certification from RID, is licensed at the master level by the State of Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission, and is a member of the American Sign Language Teachers Association.

Leading the nation

Photo: Students in Waubonsee Community College’s automotive recycling course remove a car part in the Sugar Grove Campus automotive shop, which was recently designated a GreenLink Shop by the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair. Waubonsee is the first school in the nation to earn this distinction. Courtesy Photo

Waubonsee becomes first school to have automotive program named GreenLink Shop
Sugar Grove—Waubonsee Community College’s automotive technology facility has been named a GreenLink Shop by the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR). Waubonsee is one of just four shops in the state and the first school in the nation to earn this designation.

GreenLink Shops must achieve a standard of excellence in environmental, health and safety operations. This includes everything from displaying safety posters to practicing appropriate fluid management, which involves draining automotive parts; controlling leaks and spills; and properly recycling, reusing or disposing of fluids. And while the designation requires just one person in the shop to complete the CCAR’s Safety and Pollution Prevention (S/P2) online learning program, Waubonsee requires all students and faculty members to finish it.

A leader in environmental responsibility, Waubonsee was also the first school to offer a certificate in automotive recycling, with classes debuting last summer. Developed in cooperation with the Auto and Truck Recyclers of Illinois, that coursework focuses on the environmental regulations for disposal of common substances, as well as proper procedure when dismantling cars and repurposing parts.

Two auto recycling courses are being offered this summer. The first begins May 19. For more information, visit www.waubonsee .edu/automotive.

Welcome Home

Photo: Scott Hofmann of Kaneville construction and consulting company Team Hofmann discusses rebuilding Tina O’Donnell’s house with her neighbors Chrissy Graziano and Pam Sorenson.

Neighbors, friends help pave the way back home for Elburn woman
by Susan O’Neill

Elburn—Several women wearing large yellow rubber gloves sat in front of storage bins full of cleaning solution, methodically wiping down kitchen and other utensils. They joked as they cleaned.

“Those are from your mother’s wedding,” Tina O’Donnell’s long-time friend Janet Rohan said.

Tina’s neighbors Pam Sorenson and Chrissy Graziano were among the volunteers.

A handful of men and teenaged boys carrying pieces of furniture from a small truck to the front yard for cleaning were Pam’s and Chrissy’s husbands, Steve Sorenson and Tom Graziano. The two men worked alongside their sons Brad and Nick, as well as Tina’s nephew Jay Haas.

Since Jan. 1 of this year, when Tina’s husband Bob died in the fire that destroyed their home in Blackberry Creek, these friends have been her stalwart companions. The two couples have been there for Tina from the beginning, providing emotional as well as physical support.

Together with other friends and Tina’s family, they are helping Tina slowly put her life back together.

Since the fire, Tina has been staying with her mom in Geneva. Due to water, fire and smoke damage, the house was uninhabitable. Tina’s insurance denied the claim, so her sister-in-law Judi O’Donnell held a fundraiser in February, and another one in March, to raise the money needed to redo the house.

Family, friends and local business owners donated items to sell at the fundraisers. Thanks to her Facebook page, Tina also received many cash and check donations, some from people in other parts of the country.

For the first several months, Pam said it was too painful for Tina to come back to the house. Then, sometime around Easter, they got a dumpster and started the demolition.

“We had to gut the downstairs and rip out drywall,” she said. “We threw out appliances because of the smoke damage. It’s been a long process.”

Kaneville residents Kathy and Scott Hofmann read about Tina’s situation in a Feb. 17 article in the Elburn Herald. In the article, Judi said they were looking for local contractors Neighbor who could donate their time to help clean up the house and rebuild.

Kathy and Scott own a small company called Team Hofmann, through which they do carpentry, construction and consulting work. Kathy worked for a general contractor for 20 years before she and Scott started their own business, so they have a lot of housing experience and know a lot of trades people in the area.

The Hofmanns contacted Tina’s sister-in-law to ask how they could help. They met with Tina at the house in early spring, and talked about what could be done with the house.

“She needs the house different,” Kathy said.

Kathy and Scott are working with Tina on plans to change the stairway and to knock out some walls to change the way the house looks inside. Their thought is that some differences in the house will help her not to focus on the tragedy, and to be able to better move forward with her life.

“I tell her, ‘There’s light at the end of the tunnel,’” Kathy said.

Scott and Kathy have gathered a number of people to help with the various tasks to be done. CornerStone ReStoration Service has helped with cleaning the dry wall upstairs, and has taught the volunteers how to do some of the work themselves.

Prior to this past Mother’s Day weekend, Pam said people have put in 400 man hours, spent four full weekends and a couple of week-nights, and have filled four dumpsters. She said Kathy is keeping track of things for them.

“Tina’s got so many volunteers; they just need some direction,” Kathy said.

Confident Aire HVAC business owner Tom Wangler has offered to donate his time to clean the duct work. Kaneville firefighter and commercial electrician Paul Ross, Kaneville resident and plumber John Behm, OTS (On the Spot) Drywall’s Brian Rissman and Midwest Windows’ Ken Gilke have all offered their assistance.

“It’s just all coming together,” Kathy said. “Half my neighborhood wants to help, as well as the people from my church (St. Peters in Aurora).”

Chrissy said that she feels it’s only natural for people to want to help.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” she said. “We pray for her to get home and get her life back to normal.”

Tina smiled as she looked around at the gathering of family and friends, old and new.

“They’re making it so welcoming for me to come back here,” she said. “If it weren’t for them, I’d just run away.”

Lady Knights end regular season in good shape

Photo: Brooke Harner rockets the ball during recent action against Rochelle. Harner and her fellow No. 2 Lady Knights were scheduled against No. 3 Crystal Lake Central at the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional on Wednesday. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Despite dropping a potential preview for the upcoming regional title match to Burlington Central on Saturday, the Lady Knights have quietly meshed a roster of young and experienced, injured and healthy, and are about to dive foot first into playoff action.

Monday had the Lady Knights emerge victorious over host Streator, 4-0. Saturday’s 3-0 loss in Burlington was preceded by a 5-0 win over Sterling on May 9.

Kanleland finishes the regular season with a 12-5-1 (7-2-1 NIB-12) record. A year ago, KHS finished the regular season 11-8-3 (6-3-1 NIB-12).

“It took us a couple of games to start to play together with so many new players,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “I think we started believing in ourselves after those first four games—we were 1-3. We got a couple of wins and confidence grew.”

A year ago, Kaneland beat IMSA in the semifinal at Rosary High School before losing to the hosts in the championship. Kaneland has advanced to the regional title every year since 2009, only to lose.

Against Sterling, the Lady Knights’ first goal was scored by Brittany Olson approximately 18 minutes into the contest.

The four second-half goals were reached by Jessica Coia on two occasions, Olson and Courtney Diddell, all within a 29 minute stretch.

Against the Lady Bulldogs, Kaneland had first-half scores from Olson and Coia, while Madi Jurcenko and Olson were responsible for the second-half goals.

The frosh-soph team ended its season with a 10-5-1 record after a 1-0 win over BC.

The winner of the Kaneland vs. Crystal Lake Central matchup from Wednesday was slated to meet up with the Lady Rockets on Saturday, May 19, at 7 p.m. in Burlington.

Parillo feels good about where the team has been in 2012.

“We have had a solid year for being so young. We gave up a total of 13 goals in 18 games and six goals after the first four games. The defense started to play well, as well as the midfield. It has been a very enjoyable season so far.”

KHS boys one point short of NIB-12 bragging rights

Photo: Kaneland’s Nate Dyer is about to throw the discus a conference-best 148 feet, nine inches, at the NIB-12 Conference track meet on Friday at DeKalb High School. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland boys track had many competitors contributing to a winning effort during Friday’s second-ever Northern Illinois Big XII meet out at DeKalb’s Dresser Road digs.

Too bad Dixon had more of a winning effort, just one point more.
It’s fuel that will go toward motivation for a winning night at the Rochelle Sectional on Thursday, May 17.

Kaneland’s 97 points were second only to Dixon’s 98.

Sterling (78), Sycamore (75) and Rochelle (50) rounded out the top five with Yorkville, Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, DeKalb and Ottawa completing the top 10.

Kaneland’s frosh-soph outfit took fourth.

The Knights’ relay personnel are as fast as ever, judging by the work in Barb-land.

Kyle Carter, Nate Kucera, Clayton Brundige and Conor Johnson took care of the 4x800m relay field with a time of eight minutes, 8.94 seconds, while 4x100m relay speedsters Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier, Dylan Nauert and Sean Carter won their race at 43.24 seconds.

In the 4x200m relay event, Dylan Pennington, Bishop, Cottier and Sean Carter won with a time of 1:29.88.

Hurdling went Nauert’s way when he ran a 40.20 second race, while Sean Carter finished second in the 200m dash with a time of 22.59, just .01 behind Dixon’s Scott Good.

Cottier, Nauert, Kucera and Sean Carter ran the 4x400m relay with a first-place time of 3:25.53.

Sophomore Nate Dyer continued his impressive campaign with a 148 foot, nine inch, first-place discus throw.

Tanner Andrews also served the KHS cause well with a 41-08.5 triple jump for second place.

The Knights hope to continue the momentum of great scores in Rochelle, with the team being served by athletes who have already been to Charleston.

But KHS coach Eric Baron’s coachin style will not change regardless of the previous May travels one has had.

“We have physically prepared our team to the best of our ability. This week is all about mental preparation. We will be ready to perform at our best on Thursday. Our focus is on getting as many athletes into the state meet as possible and getting personal best. Titles and points will come with a large number of personal best and qualifiers,” he said.

Sugar Grove garage sales

SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove community garage sales are Friday and Saturday, June 1-2.

Here’s how to participate:
• Hold a garage sale at your home on June 1 and 2 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
• $20 registration fee to cover the expense of advertising and marketing materials.
• Complete the registration. Return it by May 18, along with the $20 registration fee payable to: Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce & Industry PO Box 765 Sugar Grove, IL 60554
• If you want maps and/or copies of the address listing, please pick up at the chamber office on Wednesday, May 30, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., located at the Sugar Grove Community Building, 141 Main St., Sugar Grove.

Why participate?
• The chamber creates opportunities that add value to the community and residents
• Your sale will be identified on an address listing distributed to potential shoppers
• The Sugar Grove Community Garage Sales will be advertised in newspapers and on radio.

For more information, call Shari Baum at (630) 466-7895 or email

Bob Jass Chevrolet ready to play ball with Elburn Baseball & Softball

ELBURN—Bob Jass Chevrolet is partnering with the Elburn Baseball & Softball in Elburn.

Bob Jass Chevrolet has joined forces with the national Chevrolet Youth Baseball program to provide new equipment, instructional clinics, a monetary donation and an opportunity to raise an additional $10,000 through a Chevrolet sweepstakes. The program kicked off March 1 and will run through July 15.

“Youth baseball provides positive and productive life lessons for young people across America, and the Chevrolet Youth Baseball program is an extension of Chevrolet’s commitment to baseball, community and families,” said Ryan Easter, general manager for Bob Jass Chevrolet. “There is nothing more American than Chevrolet, and baseball and Bob Jass Chevrolet wants to combine America’s favorite brand and favorite pastime together for our families in Elburn to enjoy.”

The Chevrolet Youth Baseball program is beginning its seventh year, and has helped raise more than $13 million to aid local teams, affecting more than 2.7 million young in communities where Chevrolet’s customers live, work and play. This year, about 1,699 Chevrolet dealers are participating.

Bob Jass Chevrolet will present the Elburn Baseball & Softball with 10 new equipment kits, complete with equipment bags, baseball buckets, whiffle balls, hitting net, batting tees and Chevrolet Youth Baseball T-shirts.

In addition, Bob Jass Chevrolet will present a check representing a one-time monetary donation to Elburn Baseball & Softball.

The team also will have an opportunity to raise additional funds through a Chevrolet Youth Baseball Fundraiser. Sponsored leagues across the country will each receive 2,000 fundraiser entry tickets to distribute for a suggested donation, and each league will keep 100 percent of the proceeds it raises. At the end of the fundraiser, five winners—one from each region—will win the Chevrolet Equinox or Chevrolet Cruse vehicle of their choice. Each participating market will award a secondary prize of a television and Blu-Ray player.

In addition to its commitment to youth baseball, Chevrolet also is the official vehicle of Major League Baseball. It has expanded its support of MLB to youth baseball players in communities across the country through the Chevy Youth Baseball program. Since its beginning in 2006, Chevy Youth Baseball has benefitted more than 1 million youth baseball players and their families.

“It’s not just all about the kids, either,” said Easter. “We feel fortunate to be able to connect with the parents of all the team members. Each year we have all the teams come to our dealership for cookies and team photos. The morning is crazy with children running around, and parents visiting with our staff and each other. We look forward to the craziness every year. It’s what being part of a community is all about.”

In addition to this year’s regular activities, Bob Jass Chevrolet invited guests from Elburn Youth Baseball to attend a Cubs baseball game held on Sunday at Wrigley Field. At this event, an additional $500 was presented to Tim May, coordinator for Elburn Youth Baseball, to be used by Elburn’s youth baseball program.

Reducing the stigma

Photo: Board member Rosalie Link (left to right), Development Manager Miranda Barfuss, Alderman Dawn Vogelsberg, Board President Jim Di Ciaula, former Board President Diane Gibson and Executive Director Jim Otepka. Courtesy Photo

TriCity Family Services promotes mental health awareness
by Susan O’Neill
GENEVA—May is the month designated for Mental Health Awareness, but TriCity Family Services (TCFS) works all year long to raise awareness and the importance of mental health.

“None of us is really immune from dealing with mental health crises in our lives,” TCFS Executive Director Jim Otepka said.

According to a National Institute of Mental Health statistic, one-in-four American adults 18 and over lives with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition. They can go on to live full and productive lives; however, many people never seek or receive help due to stigma, lack of information, cost or lack of health care coverage.

Otepka said that TCFS has an important role to play in raising the awareness and reducing the stigma of mental illness. The agency offers community-centered educational programs, and agency staff conduct presentations for civic groups and organizations of all types, from mothers’ groups and Parent Teacher Organizations to church ministerial groups, as well as round tables for schools’ student services personnel.

Typical topics for the round tables include bullying, school avoidance and refusal, as well as risk factors for suicide and suicide prevention.

“Schools are 40 percent of our referrals,” Otepka said.

Counselors at TCFS offer help to students with attention disorders, depression, anxiety, incidents of self-mutilation, and for victims of bullying.

TCFS is a private, not-for-profit agency that provides mental health services to people and organizations in central Kane County, particularly those individuals and families who are uninsured or underinsured. The service area includes the cities of Geneva, Batavia and St. Charles, as well as Campton, Virgil, Blackberry and Kaneville townships. The agency offers sliding scale fees, and scholarships are available for group programs.

Approximately 90 percent of all counseling clients pay less than the full fee, nearly two-thirds of all child and adolescent clients it serves use Medicaid, and more than half of all counseling clients have reported incomes of $30,000 or less.

When TCFS was founded in 1967, teens were at the core of its services. Through the 2012 Teens Won’t Wait Project, the agency is currently working to better meet the needs of teens in the community through obtaining additional funding.

Group programs for teens include a Wilderness Challenge Program, an eight-day therapeutic adventure that provides a positive peer group experience for at-risk teens; a Young Women’s Retreat, a weekend of building self-esteem and peer support; Mindful Emotions, an eight-week class that helps teen girls strengthen their communication skills and develop healthy coping strategies; and Smart Choices, an anger management class for teens to learn new ways to handle anger that includes working with their families to help change the family dynamics.

The agency offers prevention and early intervention programs, as well as counseling, workshops and other services to promote good mental health and effective family functioning.

“Our area of specialization is working with families,” Otepka said.

He explained that gaining an understanding of the problem within the context of the family allows family members to be part of the treatment.

In addition to divorce support workshops for children, anger management for children and adults, groups for single moms and for grandparents raising grandchildren, TCFS also offers family enrichment groups, designed to build stronger ties between parents and their children and among siblings.

Offered in schools and school settings, the family enrichment groups include families sharing a meal, a discussion with the adults about parenting while the children participate in art or other forms of therapy, ending with an activity that includes both parents and children.

Simply setting aside the time to interact as a family has significant benefits, said Denis Ferguson, director of the Behavioral Health Program.

Ferguson said TCFS staff includes six full and part-time therapists for adults and six for family services.

“We also see a fair amount of couples,” he said. “That’s a key area for us.”

Ferguson explained that the philosophy TCFS staff ascribe to is that the body and the mind are interconnected, and their approach is holistic. They participate in outreach activities, such as a Children’s Wellness Fair in St. Charles and offer classes on mental health issues as part of the Batavia High School health curriculum.

The agency has recently initiated a pilot program with the Visiting Nurses Association Health Care in Aurora, in its pediatric clinics. Staff consult with doctors regarding children with physical complaints, but without a medical reason. In the first three months of the program, they have received 40 referrals for issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorders (ADHD), bi-polar disorders, anxiety and depression.

Their goal is to determine if they can help people improve their general health with behavioral health programs.

“There is no health without mental health,” Ferguson said.

Feels like the 1st place for boys track

Photo: Nate Rehkopf, decked out in retro Knights track uniforms, took his heat of the 3200m run during Friday’s Kane County Invite out at West Aurora High School. Photo by Mike Slodki

Knight boys tie Geneva for first at prestigious KC meet
by Mike Slodki
AURORA—Team numbers don’t matter to Kaneland boys track. Neither do past accolades.

All that matters is that Kaneland put up an impressive 74 points in an 18-team Kane County Invite on Friday at West Aurora High School.

Coming off of a Peterson Prep first place and a second-place honor in Crystal Lake, the Knights’ total matched Geneva for first place at the historic Kane County grouping.

A year ago, Kaneland finished fourth with 57 points out at Millennium Field in Streamwood, Ill.

West Aurora finished third with 65 points at its home field, followed by Batavia and St. Charles North tying for fourth with 56 points.

Burlington Central took sixth with a total of 52.

South Elgin’s 41 was seventh best, while Aurora outfits Marmion Academy and Aurora Central Catholic tied for eighth with 37 points. St. Charles East rounded out the top 10 with 32 points.

KHS coach Eric Baron was eager to see what the KC happenings springboard to.

“We’ve had PRs for a lot of kids, like Nate Rehkopf in the 3200m prelims and Eric Dillon in the high jump,” Baron said. “This is the first of a line of big meets, and this is the granddaddy of them all. It’s been here for 92 years.”

Runners like Rehkopf still wanted to make an impact, even without a finals trip.

“The other teams might have bigger numbers but we have great depth, which I think puts us at an advantage,” Rehkopf said.

Kaneland can boast several area titleholders after the 2012 version of the Kane County excursion. Nate Dyer continued his astounding season with a shot put title after a finals throw of 50 feet. Fellow sophomore Dylan Nauert captured the 300 meter low hurdles title after a finals try of 40.19 seconds.

KHS also had several second-place finishers under its employ, beginning with Dyer in the discus with an effort of 151-01. Shane Jorgensen earned a second-place spotlight with a 48-10.5 in the shot put.

Third-place nods included Miki Marin in the 800m run with a tab of 1:58.40, Sean Carter in the 200m dash finals with a time of 22.46, and the 200m relay team of Dylan Pennington, Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier and Carter at 1:30.40.

The Knight fourth-place finishers included Eric Dillon in the high jump at 6-03 and Kory Harner in the pole vault at 12-09. Marshall Farthing took fifth in the long jump at 6-01, while Nauert found double-duty success with a fifth in the 110m high hurdles at 15.99.

Laying ahead for the Knight crew is the second-ever Northern Illinois Big XII meet in DeKalb on Friday, May 11.

Knight baseball riding 1st-place wave

Photo: Quinn Buschbacher beats the ball to first in the sixth inning of Kaneland’s 1-0 home win over Morris on Tuesday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Aversa’s troops in NIB-12 drivers seat

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland has had Sycamore’s number on the baseball field as of late, including last year’s regional title win.

On Thursday and Friday, Kaneland’s number of 10 was good enough for a win in both contests.

Meanwhile on Monday, the Knights even won without the benefit of a hit against Morris at KHS.

Against Morris, the Knights were the beneficiary of nine walks, and the lone run in the first inning scored on a balk, allowing Ray Barry to score.

John Hopkins earned the win with a complete-game shutout, in which he fanned seven.

It took just six innings for KHS to vanquish the Spartans in Maple Park by a final of 10-0 on Friday, and the Knights needed a run-filled top of the seventh inning to put away host Sycamore on May 3.

The Knights sit at 18-8 with an exemplary 11-2 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII play, good for first place. They have a one-game edge over the Yorkville Foxes with two conference games remaining

Matt Limbrunner earned the win in the Thursday rout and improved to 2-0 with a five-hit shutout. The tall right-hander struck out six in the victory.

Tom Fox went 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Quinn Buschbacher had an RBI triple and two runs scored.

On May 3, Bryan VanBogaert earned the win in a relief effort, going 2.1 innings and allowing just one run and one hit.

Limbrunner retired the final batter to earn a save.

Up 3-1 after three innings, Kaneland surrendered two runs to Sycamore in the fourth and a run in the fifth to trail 4-3. Kaneland proceeded to score seven runs in the top of the seventh for a 10-4 lead. Sycamore’s four-run seventh failed to complete the comeback for the final 10-8 margin.

Jake Razo went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Fox went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

“We are looking for consistency now,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “The bats are there, they just have to show up everyday.

The Knights look to continue the win streak in more NIB-12 conference action in Morris, on Thursday, May 10.

Softball, with 24 wins, continues season steamroll

Photo: Kaneland catcher McKinzie Mangers gets ready to throw to third base in the seventh inning of their 10-1 home win against Sycamore on Thursday. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Like bills received in the mail, Kaneland softball comes at you whether you like it or not.

Sometimes its a late rally, other times a convincing route, but the Lady Knights softball roster is leaving an imprint on whomever it goes up against.

After a 10-1 rout of the visiting Lady Spartans on Thursday, and a 7-4 comeback win over visiting DeKalb on May 2, the Lady Knights are 24-5, nearly doubling last year’s win total, and caps it with an 8-0 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII play. Kaneland holds a three-game edge over DeKalb for the conference crown.

Eight runs in the final three innings of play buoyed Kaneland against Sycamore, with Sarah Grams going 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBI in the win. Righty Alexis Villarreal earned the win in five innings, allowing just a run on five hits to go with seven strikeouts. Ellissa Eckert pitched two perfect innings to secure the win.

The win over DeKalb took on a more dramatic and compelling nature, after DeKalb smashed two early homers to take a 4-3 lead after three innings. Down to its next-to-last chance, Kaneland went nuts in a four-run sixth.

KHS coach Brian Willis was happy with the end result, particularly after a rough start.

“It would have been disappointing, no question about it, especially with all the opportunities we would have left out there,” Willis said. “We had some baserunning and defensive gaffes early, but this team is resilient. They don’t quit.”

With the bases juiced and one out, Delani Vest’s grounder to shortstop was thrown away, allowing two runs to score. Allyson O’Herron and Paige Kuefler followed with RBI singles to put the game away.

Kuefler continues to plug away in the middle of the order, carrying an offensive load at times as an underclassman.

“I feel I have improved, but I’ve been in some slumps,” Kuefler said. “I try my best to work out of the slumps. On a game like today it was hard for me to wait to get up to the plate because I was so into it and I wanted to come back.”

Kaneland prepared to host Yorkville on Thursday, May 10, as the Northern Illinois Big XII slate soldiers on.

Lady Knights’ trip to NIB-12 meet yields 5th

Photo: Maggie Brundige (left) and Lauren Zick (right) are counted on to make an impact at the Sterling Sectional this Friday, May 11. File photo

KANELAND—Lady Knights track used the important meet at Streator High School to have a Northern Illinois Big XII pow-wow, and found they have a final output good for the middle of the pack.

Friday had less-frigid conditions than the previously held Kane County Invite in St. Charles, and with 53 points, the Lady Knights found itself with a fifth-place finish out at the home of the Bulldogs.

In last year’s inaugural NIB-12 clash, Kaneland finished third overall.

Geneseo, with 114 points, took the meet, followed by fellow West Division school Dixon with 94 points. Yorkville was third with a 70-point total, and DeKalb was fourth with 66 points.

After KHS was Sycamore in sixth place at 52, followed by Sterling (47), LaSalle-Peru (24) and Ottawa (17).

Kaneland’s lone conference champ is thrower Elle Tattoni, who boasted a shot put effort of 34 feet, seven inches, which was two inches better than Yorkville’s Mackenzie Lee.

Lauren Zick, continuing her path away from previously hobbling injuries, took a second place in the 400 meter dash race, finishing in 59.59 seconds, 2.18 second behind DeKalb’s Jaylaan Slaughter.

KHS gathered four third-place honors at Streator, beginning with Jen Howland’s 11:45.38 time in the 3200m run.

Teammate Amanda Lesak’s 50.42 second effort was third in the 300m hurdles race, while the Lady Knight’s 4x400m relay squad ran a 4:11.05 for third.

Rounding out the third-place collection was Nicole Ketza’s output in the discus throw at 103-04.

Junior Gabby Aguirre’s five-foot leap was good for fourth place.

Ahead for the Lady Knighs is the Class 2A Sectional in Sterling on Friday, May 11, at 4 p.m.

The fellow teams joining Kaneland from the area and NIB-12 in the 16-team gathering are Burlington Central, Dixon, Hampshire, Rochelle, Sterling and Sycamore.

KHS soccer solves 3, puzzled by Sycamore

Photo: Brittany Olson tries to get the upper foot in a battle for the ball during Thursday’s 2-0 setback at the hands of Sycamore. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Lady Knights soccer’s late-season homestretch is busy, to say the least.

It matters little how healthy you are heading into the regionals next week.

The Lady Knights continue to soldier on, defeating host Hinckley-Big Rock 5-0 on May 2, but succumbing to host Sycamore on Thursday in a 2-0 match.

The Lady Knights’ loss to conference rival Sycamore was their first since early April’s tournament at West Aurora.

Kaneland righted its soccer ship with a 7-0 rout of Morris on Monday after rainy conditions gave way to sunnier skies, and on Tuesday’s Senior Night, defeated Yorkville by the same 7-0 margin.

Kaneland’s record sits at 10-4-1 (5-2-1 NIB-12) on the year, so far, beating last year’s pace of 7-7-1 through 15 matches.

Facing the Lady Royals along Route 30, Kaneland was treated to goals from Brittany Olson just 61 seconds into the contest, followed by a Courtney Diddell goal 26 minutes later.

The second half saw goals from Diddell with 32:59 left, Madi Jurcenko with 27 minutes to go, and Heather Ortiz with 7:36 remaining.

Assists were gathered by Jurcenko, Jessica Coia and Didell.

Against Sycamore, the Lady Knights fell victim to a goal with 19:43 left in the first half when a shot went out of reach of an outstretched Jordan Ginther, and the Lady Spartans cinched it with a penalty kick with 21 minutes to go.

“On a streak that we’ve had, you think that every match is going to 5-0 or 6-0. It’s always good to get smacked upside the head a little bit and brought down to earth. Hopefully, this did that,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said.

The loss certainly seemed to do the trick for KHS, judging by the two ensuing matches.

Against Morris, Coia supplied a hat trick, while Jurcenko and Olson scored two goals each.

A five-goal first half propelled KHS to another handy win. Taylor White got things going with a goal four minutes in, followed by Coia and Olson finding the net. Olson supplied a hat trick, while White had two goals and an assist. Katie Taylor had a goal and two assists. Coia had a goal and assist, while Jurcenko supplied two assists.

Kaneland faces host Streator on Monday, May 14.

Local country band plays Nashville

Photo: Back Country Roads, a local country music band with members from throughout the Kaneland area, recently performed in Nashville as part of a country music contest. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
Nashville—Back Country Roads, a local band in the Kaneland area that describes its music as “the big sounds of Nashville (brought) home to the Midwest,” recently brought their sound to Nashville. The band was invited to play at the Wildhorse Saloon, a three-level, 66,000 square-foot live music and dance venue.

Singer Mary Noren and guitar player Brian Miller had gone to “the Music City” several weeks earlier and dropped off electronic press kits at a few places there. The Wildhorse Saloon contacted them the following day to invite the band to participate in a “Battle for the Saddle” competition on April 25.

Each band played five songs for a panel of three judges, among whom was Michael Knox, Jason Aldean’s producer. Although the band performed well, they did not win the contest, bass player Dave Miller said.

“The experience, however, was well worth the trip,” Dave said. “It was an awesome experience to be on a stage playing to 800 to 1,000 people.”

Kaneville resident and one of the newest members of the band, keyboard player Dan Alfrey described the experience as a “whirl-wind trip,” one day down, one day to play, and the third day, back home.
“It was humbling, playing in such a large place in a town that is known for its music,” he said.

Approximately 30 to 40 people from the area traveled to Nashville to hear them play. Maple Park resident Kim Goodenough, a friend of vocalist Kyle Miller’s parents, drove them back and forth in her family’s 40-foot motor home.

“The kids are exceptional,” Goodenough said. “They play so well together. They were the only band that had people out on the floor dancing.”

Back Country Roads, also known as BCR, originated in 2009. Kyle and Noren, students together at Northern Illinois University, began singing Karaoke in some of the bars in DeKalb. Their friend Brian Miller soon joined them on acoustic guitar. The band’s first gig was for the Maple Park Fire District Women’s Auxiliary at the Maple Park Pub.

They played a few shows as an acoustic trio, but decided they wanted a bigger sound. They added Jarred Klotz on drums and Dave Miller, Kyle’s great-uncle, on bass guitar.

Soon, they were playing at various festivals and events throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including the Maple Park Fun Fest, Kaneville Fest, as well as Country Thunder USA in Twin Lakes, Wis. They added Hanna Mathey on fiddle and Dan Alfrey on keyboards. John Von Arx joined the group later on lead guitar.

The band plays mainly newer country music, such as Lady Antebellum, Sugarland, Zach Brown Band and Jason Aldean, as well as some of the older favorites, such as Alabama and Johnny Cash, Dave said. They have a loyal following and have opened for bands such as Phil Vassar, David Lee Murphy and Darryl Worley.

More recently, they have begun writing their own music, and have their first single, called “Wake Up This Day.” They are hoping to get the song played on local stations.

“We want to be a band that other people cover,” Dave said.

BCR will perform at Country Thunder USA this summer for their third consecutive year and will open for Neal McCoy at DeKalb’s Corn Fest. They will also play at Elburn Days and the Maple Park Fun Fest.

For more information and a schedule for Back Country Roads, visit, ‘Back Country Roads’ page on Facebook or download their free Droid/iPhone app ‘Back Country Roads.’

Pound 4 Pound offers fitness, fun

Photo: Dan DeKing (left) trains Luke Cowart at Pound for Pound Fitness in Elburn. Dan and co-owner Ryan Darby opened the business on April 1 and had their Grand Opening on April 28 and 29. Photo by John DiDonna

by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—Danny DeKing, co-owner of Pound 4 Pound Fitness in Elburn, has been a fitness proponent from an early age. He participated in a variety of sports in high school, including football, basketball and boxing. When he joined the United States Navy, he was a command fitness leader, responsible for the fitness of the units.

After six years of service in Kuwait and state-side, DeKing came home and trained with Don Beebe’s House of Speed for five years, and worked for a few other fitness companies before starting his own business.

He is a House of Speed-certified trainer, and is working on his certification through the National Association of Sports Medicine, which includes the study of biomechanics, kinesthesiology, nutrition and other areas of fitness.

DeKing’s partner, Ryan Darby, was a roller hockey player and a speed skater in school, but he really became a fitness advocate when he was trying to quit smoking. Darby said he began exercising as an outlet for stress during that time. First, he started riding his bike, then lifting weights, and pretty soon he had a gym membership.

“The rest is history,” he said. “It was the exercise that made me quit.”

Both DeKing and Darby want to bring their enthusiasm for fitness to others in the community.

“It made me feel so good, I want to teach other people,” Darby said. “You can’t just change for a few months; it’s a whole lifestyle change.”

He is working on his certification and wants to become a personal trainer, as well.

The gym offers a variety of equipment, including various presses and a multi-station Universal Cybex machine. DeKing said his focus in fitness training is on functional movement and athletic performance. He uses some of the many available machines in the programs he sets up for people, but he also likes to use equipment such as speed ladders, heavy ropes, kettle bells, tires and medicine balls to help them get in the best shape possible.

“You want full range of motion,” DeKing explained. “The body moves in 360 degrees.”

Pound 4 Pound offers monthly memberships, and a variety of workouts are available, including boot camps that focus on the fundamentals, the basics of boxing for adults and teens, TRX (a low-impact body weight workout using suspension straps) and circuit training.

Personalized training sessions that include nutrition advice and specific exercises to reach an individual’s fitness goals are also available.

DeKing and Darby said they want people to enjoy their workouts and have fun.

“A variety of training methods will keep you interested, energized, motivated and hungry for more,” Darby said.

Calder Cup chase ends for Sweatt

Photo: Bill Sweatt, shown here in earlier season action against Abbotsford, excelled locally in 2011-12 for the Chicago Wolves, who saw their season end on Friday to San Antonio in the Calder Cup Playoffs’ first round. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

First year with Chicago’s Wolves ends in first-round defeat
by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—If it’s not navigating the puck or avoiding checks into the boards, it’s packing boxes.

The activity never stops for the Elburn native Bill Sweatt, moving back to Colorado Springs for the offseason, after his 2011-12 season with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves that ended in the fifth game of the first round Calder Cup series against the San Antonio Rampage on Friday.

“We were down 2-0 in the series, and won games three and four, and took it to double-overtime in game five before we lost,” Sweatt said. “It was great to play in Chicago, and I was able to show teammates the area a little bit. I enjoyed every second of it.”

A left-wing, Sweatt was the Blackhawks’ next draft pick after Patrick Kane in 2007, and was involved in a trade with former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before the 2010-11 season, Bill and brother Lee signed with the Vancouver Canucks organization and starred for the AHL affiliate Manitoba Moose.

With the Winnipeg Jets returning to the National Hockey League, Vancouver switched its top affiliate to the Wolves, giving Sweatt a chance to play at home, of sorts.

“Hockey is big here, like it was when I was growing up. The Blackhawks have new ownership and won the Cup, and youth hockey seems bigger here. It’s more intense,” Sweatt said.

Sweatt scored 16 goals and supplied 18 assists on Wolves duty, with a goal and assist in the five-game playoff series that ended with a 3-2 loss.

Sweatt has played internationally as well as in Winnipeg, Manitoba last year, and even got called up for the parent club for two games in 2011-12.

The former Colorado College star has an idea of a common thread in any playing environment.

“Everywhere is different. We had really good fans here, and it was sold out most games (at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.). Internationally, though, instead of booing something they don’t like, they’ll whistle,” Sweatt said.

Sweatt feels good about being with the Vancouver organization, which saw an abrupt end to its Stanley Cup dreams with a first-round loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

“They had someone present at a lot of the games, mostly before the trade deadline. It motivates you a little more when you see someone from the office there,” Sweatt said.

Sweatt played under the coaching eye of Craig MacTavish, a player on four Stanley Cup teams, and a former coach of the Edmonton Oilers.

“He wasn’t a screamer; he only really got on us when we had a five- or six-game losing streak,” Sweatt said. “He was on an even keel and would really work with us individually.”

Sweatt and the Wolves will try to rebound next year for their first Calder Cup since 2008.

“I think we never changed our style of play, even after being down 2-0. We were able to push it to game five, and San Antonio is a good team. We were still a good team at the end,” Sweatt said.

In the meantime, it’s time for some “R and R” before Sweatt’s nuptials in August. Then it’s back to the grind for Sweatt, who has a year left on his original deal with the Canucks.

If that means suiting up for a squad by where he once called home en route to skating on NHL ice, so be it.

“It was great to get there (into the NHL). My end goal is to stay there, not just for two games,” Sweatt said.

8th-place finish at Kane County Invite for girls track

Photo: Kaneland girls Lauren Zick and Sydney Strang try to catch a DeKalb runner in the 800 meter during their meet at DeKalb on April 25. Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—With the regular season in its final weeks, the Kaneland High School girls track squad finds itself homestretching across finish lines.

Despite ending up on the wrong side of a dual on April 25 at DeKalb High School, the Lady Knights finished eighth in a stacked and frigid Kane County Invite out at St. Charles North High School on Friday evening.

In the 91-58 loss to the Lady Barbs, KHS saw several first-place honors, taking the reins in six events.

Nicole Ketza excelled in the field, taking the discus throw with a mark of 91 feet, two inches, while teammate Gabby Aguirre won the high jump event with an effort of 4-06.

Pole vaulter Christine Delach did her part for Kaneland, winning the pole vault at nine feet even.

Long-distance asset Sydney Strang continued her strong sophomore campaign with a two minute, 21.2 second 800 meter run for first place.

Amanda Lesak staked her claim to the 300m low hurdles by conquering it in 49.4 seconds, and Kaltrina Ismaili won the 200m run in 27.7 seconds.

The 2012 edition of the Kane County gathering saw West Aurora (142), St. Charles East (83) and Batavia (58) take the top three. St. Charles North, Burlington Central and Geneva took fourth through sixth, respectively, while Rosary finished just ahead of KHS. The Lady Knight’s 34-point total edged Hampshire’s 32 for eighth place overall.

Noteworthy finishes for the Lady Knights included a runner-up in the 4x800m relay with a time of 10:08.06. Adding to the long-distance favorables was Jen Howland, finishing third in the 3200m run in adverse and windy conditions. The senior ran a 11:56.10 course.

Finalist Ashley Castellanos was part of the elite 100m dash group and took fourth with a time of 13.23 seconds. Castellanos finished fifth in the prelims with a 13.28 second effort.

Strang ran the 1600m run in 5:27.80, good for third.

“Sydney is more consistent this year, and I’m very happy with how Jessica Kucera and Maggie have run,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

The 4x400m relay foursome took fourth place with a time of 4:17.76. Freshman Elle Tattoni continued to shore up Kaneland’s throwing ranks with a fourth in the shot put (34-05.75).

Distance-runner Abby Dodis dealt with the windy conditions as best she could.

““I haven’t run in any colder conditions this year,” Dodis said. “We have more girls in distance this year, and it’s fun to run against tougher competition.”

Ahead for Kaneland is the NIB-12 get-together on Friday, May 4, at Streator.

Knight boys lay down exceptional efforts

Photo: Brandon Bishop begins a relay in the rain during the Boys and Girls visit to DeKalb on April 25. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Your Kaneland High School boys track outfit is getting hot at the right time.

On April 25, the Knight boys took care of DeKalb’s team in convincing fashion in a 110-36 dual.

They followed that with a second-place finish at their usual Crystal Lake Central Invite on Friday, dealing with other schools with a distinct numbers advantage.

Against the host Barbs, the Knights saw another stellar afternoon from Nate Dyer, who grabbed two firsts.

The sophomore threw a 48 foot, 7-and- a-half inch shot put, and also took the discus with a 140-10 throw.

Teammate Eric Dillon won the high jump with a 6-foot launch, while teammate Marshall Farthing won the triple jump with a 38-7.5 try. Dan Evers nabbed a first in the pole vault with an 11-06 vaulting, as well.

In relay activity, the Knights saw firsts in the 3200 meter relay with a time of 8:45.5 and a 400m relay run of 44 seconds.

Dylan Nauert continued a positive trajectory by taking the 110m high hurdles in 16.3 seconds, while Sean Carter won the 100m dash in 11.3 seconds.

Nauert continues to impress coach Eric Baron.

“Dylan is a very strong hurdler,” Baron said. “His technique is getting better all the time, but his strength carries him through right now.”

Knight Luis Acosta brought home the 800m run title with a 2:05.7 try, and Brandon Stahl won the 400m run with a 55.4 clip.

Carter also bested the field in the 200m run at 22.4 seconds, while the 1600m relay unit finished first with a time of 3:36.8.

In the 10-team Crystal Lake Central Invite held on Friday, the Knights also received enough good effort and fortune to take second up north.

With Belvidere North’s team taking first at 114 points, Kaneland’s second-place, 99-point total was good enough to outlast Harlem (93), the hosts (81) and Burlington Central (74).

Dyer’s 50-07.75 was good for second in the shot put, while Dillon reached fourth place in the high jump at 5-09.

Ben Barnes took third in the long jump at 19-05.

Kaneland’s 3200m relay team took second, with Nate Kucera, Conor Johnson, Clayton Brundige and Kyle Carter running a 8:21.18 track, and the crew of Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier, Nauert and Sean Carter were crowned champs of the 400m relay with a time of 43.84 seconds.

Nauert took the invite mantle in the 110m hurdles with a time of 15.96.

Ahead for the boys is the Kane County Invite, held at West Aurora High School on Friday, May 3, at 4:30 p.m.

KHS soccer cleats Hubs

Photo: Kaneland’s Heather Ortiz fights in a crowd in the first period of Kaneland’s 7-0 win over Rochelle on Thursday. Kaneland soccer is now 6-0-1 in the last seven matches. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—When you put up a seven-spot in soccer, you know something’s gone right.

With six goals in the first half, the Lady Knights picked up a conference win and upped their record to 7-3-1 after a 7-0 solving of the visiting Rochelle Hubs.

Courtney Diddell, Brittany Olson, Taylor White and Katie Taylor all scored for the rising Lady Knights, with Madi Jurcenko putting a cap on the evening with a goal just 21 seconds in to the second half.

The Lady Knights continue with NIB-12 play with a trip to see the rival Sycamore Lady Spartans on Thursday, May 3.

It serves to help KHS get ready for a three-team regional set to begin in two weeks, with Burlington Central and Kaneland the top two seeds.

“That will be interesting to see how that game (on May 12) plays out,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “I don’t know if either team wants to show too much in case we play each other in the championship game.”