Category Archives: Fall Sports

Lady Knight tennis handles itself in Stately fashion

No. 1 singles, doubles talents end up in consolation brackets
KANELAND—No matter if you’re seeded or an underdog, the IHSA State tennis competition, housed at District 214 outlets in the northwest suburbs, stands to provide a wallop of a competitive weekend.

It was as advertised for the Kaneland crew on Thursday and Friday.

No. 1 singles competitor Samantha Schrepferman, in her second go-around in State, went five matches, going 3-2.

No. 1 doubles team of Jelly Emmanouil and Madi Jurcenko, who secured all-State honors a year ago, went 4-2 before a consolation ouster.

Garnering four points each, the two entries helped Kaneland manage a 26th-place tie with eight points at the State tournament.

“Other than Geneva and Oswego East, we finished in a higher place than all of our opponents from throughout our area, so we feel pretty good about the end of the season,” KHS coach Tim Larsen said. “Of course we feel like we could have won a couple more matches, but I think at the end of the day, 26th place feels pretty good.”

Overall, it was Hinsdale Central and Lake Forest with 39 points each at the top of the tennis heap, with Naperville Central’s Tiffany Chen taking the singles title, and Kendall Kirsch and Alexxis Kiven of Stevenson were crowned the doubles queens.

Schrepferman began her tour with a matchup against Edwardsville’s Emily Lombardi out at Hoffman Estates and won a 6-0, 6-1 match. Schrepferman then took on Glenbard West’s Carolyn Maltby in the second round, only to lose a three-set tussle in 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 fashion. Moving to the consolation bracket’s second round, Schrepferman beat Tori Lindsay of O’Fallon in 6-4, 6-3 fashion. Schrepferman then beat Champaign Centennial’s Lauren Neitzel by a score of 6-2, 6-4. In her final task, the junior was upended by Rock Island’s Nicole Tyulpa, 6-2, 6-0.

Emmanouil and Jurcenko began the end of their junior year campaign at Buffalo Grove High School against the Lyons Township team of Samantha Sherman and Megan Hickey in which the Lady Knights were felled in a 7-5, 6-7, 6-2 affair.

Moving to the consolation bracket, the Kaneland duo rattled off four straight wins in a row, all in two sets each. First, the Lady Knights solved Rachel Kaiser and Sara Stremming of Mattoon, 6-0, 6-0. Next, they beat Audrey Angelos and Anna Rossa of Oak Park-River Forest, 6-1, 6-1. The third-round consolation match featured Kaneland’s team taking Peyton Cole and Natalie Odin of Glenwood, 6-1, 6-3. In the fourth-round, Emmanouil and Jurcenko took care of Kelly Ruane and Maggie Ruane of Providence Catholic, 6-4, 6-3 before having their quest ended by the team of Jennifer Gates and Gabriella Gregorio of Bartlett, 6-3, 6-4, in the consolation’s fifth round.

With the conclusion of the 2013 season arrived, the Lady Knights say goodbye to three seniors: Abby Meyer, Kaylee Shoaff and Stephanie Zwick.

“Next year, those three return, and we have three more juniors from our starting lineup returning, as well,” Larsen said. “There are yet a couple more juniors and some talented sophomores that will carry the team on from here. We’re feeling really good about what the team looks like next year. So it’s the part of the year when we say goodbye to our seniors and enjoy the successes we had this season. Come summer, it’ll be time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work.”


Saturday’s IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show returns to Comcast SportsNet

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football Playoff Pairing Show will return to Comcast SportsNet Chicago again in 2013. Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, will produce the show in HD when it airs live from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26.

The show, which will reveal the brackets and first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes, can also be viewed via live interactive stream on the internet at and

“The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show’ continues to be one of the most highly-anticipated events in the state of Illinois and we couldn’t be prouder to showcase two-straight hours of live, interactive coverage to our on-air and online viewers on Saturday night,” said Phil Bedella, VP/GM of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Marian Central Catholic (Woodstock) alum and CSN anchor Jen Lada will host the show and be joined by a panel of experts on-set, including long-time IHSA TV announcer Dave Bernhard and Kankakee Daily Journal sportswriter and Illinois high school football bracketologist Steve Soucie. IHSA TV veteran and Rockford WTVO reporter Matt Rodewald will manage the interactive desk, chatting with fans via social media and taking their questions to the air. CSN prep football expert “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran will also join the show in-studio for the first time. Fans who want to interact with the show are encouraged to use the hashtag #IHSA.

The program will once again feature coach and media guests from around the state, while CSN camera crews will be roaming the Land of Lincoln catching live reactions from school parties.

In addition, for the first-time ever, fans will get to choose one of the coaches who will be interviewed on the show via voting online at and Twitter. Each of the coaches below can be voted for via poll on the Comcast SportsNet Chicago website ( or by accessing @IHSAState on Twitter and “retweeting” and “favoriting” the tweet for their favorite team’s coach.

1A Matt Leng, Fisher High School
2A Mike McElroy, Elverado-Trico Coop (Elkville)
3A Tim Nolen, Robinson High School
4A Anthony Faltin, Walter Payton College Prep (Chicago)
5A Darin Driscoll, Limestone High School (Bartonville)
6A Rick Little, Quincy High School
7A Joe Wardynski, Wheaton North High School
8A Craig Buzea, Homewood-Flossmoor High School

“This is one of the most exciting nights of the year,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “It is a great opportunity for teams and communities to come together and celebrate their accomplishments from the regular-season. This show has become an IHSA tradition, and we are proud to partner with Comcast SportsNet Chicago, who does so much to enhance the experience for viewers across the state and country.”

The pairings show will be distributed to Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s entire viewing territory. Viewers are urged to visit to find the exact channel locations in their area or the IHSA’s channel finder by market.


Friday Preview: Kaneland (7-1) @ Morris (3-5)

With playoff placing on the line, Kaneland travels to Grundy County to face the Morris Redskins on Friday, Oct. 24.

Morris, under fourth-year coach Alan Thorson, beat visiting Rochelle by a final of 31-28, but will fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 2000 with a 3-5 record. The Redskins were runners-up in last year’s Class 5A State Championship game and had been to a title game four times in the last 10 years.

Since becoming conference mates in the NIB-12 in 2010, Kaneland has won every meeting, but not without drama. After handling the visiting Redskins 47-7 in 2010, the Knights escaped Morris with a tight 31-28 win in 2011, and won on a last-second catch in Maple Park by Zach Martinelli in 2012 by a 33-30 margin.


First setback

Photo: Senior John Pruett makes an athletic grab in Kaneland’s 31-21 loss to Sycamore Friday. Pruett had five receptions for 91 yards—a game high. Photos by Patti Wilk

Sycamore hands Kaneland its first regular season loss since 2009
SYCAMORE—It’s comforting that Friday’s post-game feeling took some getting used to for Kaneland High School football and its fans, but it didn’t make Friday’s 31-21 loss any better in the end.

In front of a boisterous Spartan crowd, the Sycamore hosts (8-0, 4-0 NIB-12), ranked No. 1 in the IHSA Class 5A playoff outlook, took advantage of an early-fourth quarter turnover and clutch third- and fourth-down conversions in the fourth frame to subdue the Knights, ranked No. 3 in the playoff outlook going into the game.

For the Knights (7-1, 3-1 NIB-12), it signaled the stoppage of a 35-game regular season win streak, and the first-ever loss suffered in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play since the 2010 inception. The last regular season loss Kaneland suffered was to Geneva on Oct. 16, 2009, in the dying days of the Western Sun Conference, 27-24 in overtime.

Kaneland has still won 49 of its last 54 overall contests.

Sycamore, which effectively clinched the NIB-12 East division, travels to Yorkville for Week 9, and tries to clinch an undefeated campaign against the playoff-hunting Foxes.

“Our guys didn’t let up, but those guys made plays and slung the ball, and they executed,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said.

John Pruett had 91 yards receiving for the Knights, while Drew David had 248 yards passing and 69 yards on the ground.

Kaneland drew first blood with ball-control on the first drive of the game, converting on a five-yard touchdown run by Isaac Swithers with 7:37 to go in the first quarter for a 7-0 edge.

Sycamore got on the scoreboard exactly four minutes into the second quarter on a 30-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-3, but KHS used six plays to score again on a nine-yard floater from Drew David to running back Nate Dyer by the edge of the end zone. The touchdown made it 14-3 with 5:28 to go in the half.

The Spartans got momentum back when reserve quarterback Nick Feuerbach, in for usual starter Devin Mottet, scampered for a 30-yard touchdown run and cut it to 14-10 with 3:15 to go in the half. The Knights’ ensuing drive came up barren after a 25-yard field goal attempt by Matt Rodriguez missed before halftime.

Sycamore punched through to begin the third quarter scoring thanks to a Dion Hooker run from the 11-yard line, giving the home squad a 17-14 lead with 9:03 left in the third.

Kaneland’s next drive featured a clutch 3rd-and-31 pass to John Pruett for a first down, and it was followed by a 28-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Brandon Bishop to give the Knights a 21-17 lead with 5:21 left in the frame.

The fourth quarter turned out to be decidedly in the Spartans’ favor on both sides of the ball. A David pass was tipped and intercepted by Jack Dargis at the Kaneland 44 and returned 14 yards to the Knight 30. Three plays later, Riley Hurley took it in from the 1-yard line for a 24-21 Sycamore edge just 48 seconds into the fourth.

Kaneland’s next drive ended in a punt, and Sycamore went on the offensive. A seven-play ended with a fourth-and-two desperation pass to Colan Treml for a 20-yard touchdown and a 31-21 lead with 5:11 to play.

Kaneland’s next drives came up empty after 14 plays with a short 35-yard field goal try and an interception, sending the longest win streak in the Chicagoland area up in smoke.

“We were playing for a conference championship, and that’s all we were worried about. All the other stuff I could care less about,” Fedderly said.

Photos by Patti Wilk

photo 1

Coaching back to Normal

Former KHS standout Drendel having a ball at Normal West
KANELAND—You’ll have to excuse area volleyball fans if there is some positive sentiment for another team besides Kaneland High School.

That’s because the incoming Normal West Wildcats program comes into the usual late October Spikefest competition with a bit of Kaneland presence itself.

The visitors are coached by Class of 2005 Lady Knight Kelsey Drendel, who continues to add to the Drendel line of coaching capability, along with her coaching legend father Ralph and brother Andy, who currently helps staff cross country and track and field at Kaneland.

Kelsey, a former volleyball standout at Kaneland and a former Division I asset for Northern Illinois, is in her second year of coaching NW. She also coached Kaneland sophomores from 2008-10 under former varsity head coach Todd Weimer.

“When I was applying everywhere for jobs, my parents told me to apply in Unit 5 (Normal West’s district), because they went to ISU and I have some family in the Bloomington-Normal area,” Kelsey said. “I was super pumped when I got the video interview and was convinced I bombed it, but they called me back for a second interview. This is my third year teaching here, and I’m loving it.”

For Kelsey, the Bloomington-Normal landscape gives her some comfort, being not too dissimilar to the Elburn and Tri-Cities area.

“I do think it’s similar to Kaneland and kind of like the St. Charles area. It reminds me of a suburb but without the traffic, long travel times, and everything is way cheaper,” Kelsey said.

Her family tree so heavily involved in coaching also seemed to give her a leg up on the sideline.

“Growing up with my parents both highly involved in their schools definitely made an impact on my decision to coach. I knew I wanted to be a head coach when I was in high school. Seeing my Dad coach at track meets and basketball games was always so cool and I knew I wanted to follow in those footsteps,” Kelsey said.

Kelsey’s also loving the fortunes of her Wildcat lineup, who before Tuesday were 18-2-1 and undefeated in conference at 7-0, on the cusp of a conference title.

“I didn’t like know in August things would be going as well as they are, but I knew we had a lot of potential,” Kelsey said. “The girls have done an awesome job of taking on the challenge of long practices, conditioning, tough rivalry matches. It’s kind of been an uphill ride the entire season.”

In her first season, NW went 22-13-1 and made it to the Class 4A Normal Sectional Championship before bowing out.

As a young coach, Kelsey still has the presence of mind to accumulate coaching influences throughout her playing and assistant coaching days.

“I have been influenced by every coach I’ve had. I kind of made it a point to remember things I liked or didn’t like all through college so I could apply it when I started coaching. Kris Weiss was a big influence on me especially for learning how to build a team atmosphere. My club coach Joe Brudzinski was a huge influence on me and always pushed us to the limit,” Kelsey said.

“I really owe a lot to Ron Sweet,” Kelsey added. “He gave me the opportunity to continue playing volleyball after my freshmen year at Western Illinois when I had no confidence at all. He also showed me that we can work hard on the court but also have a lot of fun. He opened up the door for me to start coaching at Club Fusion in Rockford, Ill. Not only have I been influenced by the coaches I’ve played under, but also the coaches I have coached with or against,” Kelsey said.

Kelsey and company head to Maple Park for Spikefest, which provides an ample tune-up for what’s ahead next week in the postseason, and add to what’s been a rewarding experience.

“We try and take every opportunity we can to get better whether it’s practice or a match,” Kelsey said. “My team and I have had a lot of fun this year and there are some personality traits that they have picked up from me and vice versa. I’m super-dorky and they have become a little more nerdy every day, which is awesome. They do a great job of focusing and working hard but while also having fun because of that. It’s been a really fun year for sure.”


Welcome to the club

Yonkovich snatches All-State honor with fifth in Class 2A battle
KANELAND—Weibring Golf Club on the grounds of Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. might seem far away from the Kaneland High School area, but it provided an astounding athletic accomplishment for the golf arena.

With a 150 score, individual qualifier and Kaneland senior Matt Yonkovich earned an All-State honor and a fifth-place showing in the Class 2A tournament, which occurred on Friday and Saturday.

Tied with Triad’s Austin Buente, Yonkovich was just eight strokes away from first-place champ Danny Gorman of Rockford’s Boylan Catholic.

“I really (had) a good second day and I finished strong,” Yonkovich said. “It was better than the first day by far.”

Boylan Catholic, with a 622 score, also took the team title by one stroke over Dunlap.

Yonkovich split his weekend competition with an uptick toward the latter stages of play. The senior was in a tie for 23rd after Friday when he shot a 78, making 39 on both the front and back nines.

“I knew the way I was playing I could get back to State, and once I got there and got with the other guys, it was about being focused on every shot,” Yonkovich said.

The senior’s focus worked with a prolific Saturday, when he shot a 72 and jumped 18 places in the standings. Yonkovich shot a 35 on the front nine and a 37 on the back nine to conclude his journey, with one standout memory.

“There was a 210-yard shot that was a par three with a 35-mile an hour wind and I used a 4-iron and got it onto the green; and that ended up being my favorite shot,” Yonkovich said.

With Yonkovich and Brody Kuhar leaving the senior slot after this season, Kaneland golf will continue to see better days, according to the All-Stater.

“With guys like me and Brody and Stephen qualifying for State last year as a team, guys that are returning like Jesse Denton and Jake Hed have seen the energy in practice, and I think they can qualify again next year,” Yonkovich said.

Stringing up for State

Singles entry Schrepferman, doubles tandem Jurcenko/Emmanouil write tickets
AURORA—More of the same has turned out to be a good thing for Kaneland tennis.

Kaneland, based on its second-place team showing at the West Aurora Sectional this past Saturday, will have a State tournament prescence for the fourth straight year.

No. 1 singles player Sammie Schrepferman finished second in the singles category, while Madi Jurcenko and Jelly Emmanouil took fourth in the doubles category.

The State gathering takes place Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 24-26, with the finals housed at Buffalo Grove High School.

Kaneland tied for second with 16 team points with Waubonsie Valley. Oswego East, with 21 points, took the sectional. West Aurora and Rosary rounded out the top five teams with 14 points apiece.

“I thought our doubles team would at least make the championship, and you have to give credit to Oswego East,” KHS coach Tim Larsen said.

Schrepferman’s second-place showing, and second State qualifying berth, featured a win over Carley Frauenhoff of West Aurora, 6-0, 6-0, a win over Lindsey Schlichting of Yorkville, 6-0, 6-4, a triumph over Sajela Harlow of Oswego East, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), and a championship setback to West Aurora’s Emily Stefancic, 6-2, 6-4.

Schrepferman noted the win over the Yorkville entry got the weekend going for her.

“I’ve played against Lindsay and trained with her, and it was a really hard match,” Schrepferman said. “My nerves are definitely gone this year; I understand what to do.”

“With the doubles, it’s going to be the same gameplan of staying aggressive,” Larsen said. “Hitting the ball hard and seeing what they’re doing strategy-wise. It’s a confidence factor in playing however they want to play.”

On the doubles side, 2012 qualifers Jurcenko and Emmanouil’s tour featured 6-1, 6-2 wins over Poskute and Lee of IMSA, and a 6-0, 6-1 win over Gow and Peabody of Yorkville, before losing to Blackmon and Hwang of Oswego East in 6-3, 6-7, 5-7 fashion and 6-2, 7-5 to Park and Ling of IMSA.

Despite the finish, the duo knew more action was on the horizon this coming week and a berth at State took away whatever sting existed.

“We know everything happens for a reason,” Emmanouil said. “This is a wake-up call. We need to be practicing harder and strategizing even more.”

It stands to be a familiar, exciting go-around for the KHS group.

“Last year at State, it was, ‘Well, we made it, let’s see how well we can do,’” Jurcenko said. “This year, we have an idea and we can actually do pretty well.”

Thursday will see the KHS state-qualifying trio kick off their opening-round action. Schrepferman will play Emily Lombardi of Edwardsville High School at Hoffman Estates High School, while Jurcenko/Emmanouil will battle the Lyons Twp. pair of Samantha Sherman and Medhan Hickey at Buffalo Grove High School.


Setting a second-place course in Morris

Photo: Senior Sydney Strang leads most of the field at Saturday’s NIB-12 championship. Photo by Ben Draper

Girls cross country takes to Redskin school grounds for NIB-12 outing
MORRIS—The Northern Illinois Big XII conference cross country field can boast some high-caliber talent.

After Saturday’s conference meet at Morris High School, the Kaneland girls can boast up there with the best of them, but that wouldn’t be their style.

Bracing for impact for the first meet signifying the 2013 homestretch, Kaneland’s 66-point total was shy of only Yorkville’s 52-point total on Saturday, with DeKalb (105), Dixon (112) and Geneseo (125) rounding out the conference elite.

“You’ve probably got the first 10 or 15 girls here really good at handling this course. Dixon and us and Yorkville may not have been as strong at this met as last year, but still, it’s a very good conference,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

While Yorkville’s Skyler Bollinger won the school-housed course with a time of 17:23.2, and her and DeKalb rival Kelsey Schrader (17:31.6) were the top two striders, Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton took fifth with a time of 17:56.3, and classmate Brianna Bower finished seventh with a time of 18:09.8. Both were able to secure All-NIB-12 nods.

Other top KHS finishers on Saturday included senior Sydney Strang in 17th with a time of 19:00.6, and senior classmate Erika Carlson in 18th at 19:02.9.

“We’ve been trying to speed up on hills because of our home course,” Strang said. “But we definitely tried to just keep momentum and just look for our teammates. We always try to run together if we can.”

The fifth-best finisher for the Lady Knights was junior Aislinn Lodwig at 19:07.2 for 19th place.

Now awaiting Kaneland cross country: the IHSA Class 2A regional housed by Burlington Central on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m. The nine-team regional features NIB-12 rival Sycamore.

Soccer ends regular season with hunger for more

KANELAND—It was a struggle at times, but Senior Night yielded a win, and a drive to keep going.

An Ignacio Toscano goal in the second half broke open a tie and the margin held for Kaneland on the way to a 2-1 victory on Thursday in the season finale.

For Kaneland, it now goes into the Class 2A Sycamore Regional opener, set for Wednesday, with a final record of 9-5-4 and a 6-2-2 record in Northern Illinois Big XII play. The Knights are aiming for a higher plane than the 2012 Sectional title match run.

Against the rival Spartans on a chilly Thursday afternoon, Kaneland struck first just seven minutes, 23 seconds into the contest on a goal from Arsim Azemi off a feed from Adhurim Azemi.

Sycamore battled back and scored off of a corner kick with 21:47 to go in the first half, deadlocking the match at one goal apiece.

KHS struggled with passes and finishing possessions, which made scoring opportunities scarce.

Kaneland made good on a scoring try with 23:15 left on the rocket from the top of the box from Toscano off a feed from teammate Anthony Parillo.

“We’ve played (Sycamore) before, and we honestly came out here expecting to win. We needed to step it up and take it more serious, and it was a close game,” Toscano said.

Ivan Bohorquez’ header attempt two minutes later was close but couldn’t find its way in.

The senior-dominated lineup did enough for the regular season-ending win.

“It’s a one-and-done; there’s no tomorrow now,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “We’ll have our regular lineup starting on Wednesday. The seniors got more playing time; I told the other guys the seniors are going to get the majority tonight.”

Kaneland, as the No. 2 seed in the Sycamore Regional, was scheduled to face No. 3 Sycamore again on Wednesday. The winner would face either No. 1 Burlington Central or No. 4 Sandwich in the Friday, Oct. 25, regional final.


Taking on the field

Photo: Junior Brandon Park was the Knights sixth man on Saturday at the NIB-12 championships, placing 26th with a time of 16:16.8. Kaneland placed third in the meet. Photo by Ben Draper

Third-place Knight boys cross take on field at Morris for NIB-12
MORRIS—Kaneland boys cross country personnel has never needed prodding when it’s time to get serious.

That was helpful when dealing with the talented stock at the Northern Illinois Big XII meet at Morris on Saturday.

With 36 points, the Yorkville High School outfit took the conference mantle, followed by Dixon’s 48-point total, but Kaneland made a decent third-place showing with 78 points. In fourth place was Sterling with 92, and Sycamore in fifth at 111.

Yorkville’s twin tandem of juniors Jake and Luke Hoffert took the top two spots in the race with times of 14:40.1 and 14:45.2, respectively.

The Knights’s top finishers were all-conference reps Kyle Carter, senior, with a time of 15:35.8, and classmate Nathaniel Kucera in 10th place at 15:39.3. Junior Adam Lesak was 16th at 15:52.9, and senior Luis Acosta placed 21st. Both Lesak and Acosta earned all conference as well.

“Starting off, the course is right into the wind. Usually running into the wind slows you down, but we had the beginning energy to push us through that. You just have to move your legs at the end, and it carries you through,” Lesak said.

Senior Ryan Bower finished in 23rd at 16:05.5 to close out the KHS scoring.

On tap for the boys is the Class 2A Burlington Central Regional on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m., with the exemplary teams making it to the Belvidere Sectional.

Volleyball continues conference swing

Homestretch features key win over Sycamore, loss at Rochelle
KANELAND—With time running out on the 2013 campaign, Kaneland High School volleyball felt it was a good time to start running over competition.

On Thursday, Kaneland went three games before beating rival and potential regional title opponent Sycamore in Maple Park, 25-22, 23-25, 26-24.

On Tuesday in Rochelle, the Lady Knights fell to the Lady Hubs 23-25, 25-15, 24-26.

Kaneland’s record sits at 11-15, and 4-5 in Northern Illinois Big XII play.

Facing the Spartans, Ellie Dunn had 18 kills and nine service points. Teammate Riley Hannula added to the winning effort with eight kills and seven points. Vanessa Gould added six kills and five points, and lone senior Jenny Lubic supplied 27 assists, three blocks and a kill.

Against the Lady Hubs, who will also be in the upcoming Sandwich Regional, the Lady Knights lost a close third set to fall to under .500 in conference play. Dunn led KHS with 10 kills, 12 digs, three aces and five blocks.

Ahead for the Lady Knights: a conference home finale matchup against Yorkville on Thursday, Oct. 24, before Spikefest hits the gym on Saturday, Oct. 26.


Far from Dunn

Junior volleyball standout verbally commits to Ball State program
KANELAND—While the football landscape in the Mid-American Conference has been coined “MACtion” as of late, the volleyball scene in that collegiate group looks to be getting some of its own, thanks to a standout at Kaneland.

Last week, Lady Knight junior Ellie Dunn verbally committed to the Ball State Cardinal women’s program for the next step on her volleyball journey.

The outside hitter and captain for the Lady Knights joins the Muncie, Ind. based Division I program, housed in the same conference as Northern Illinois University.

“I’m so excited, and I could not be happier about it,” Dunn said. “I went up there a few weeks ago to visit campus, and I loved it. I loved the coaches and some of the girls I got to meet and talk to, and it couldn’t be a more perfect fit right now.”

Dunn’s grandparents also live less than an hour from Ball State’s campus, creating a sense of home away from home.

“It’s awesome; if my parents want to come visit, they can visit their parents, too,” Dunn said.

Ball State volleyball, currently headed by fourth-year coach Steve Shondell, currently has two Illinois players on its roster in the form of senior Kylee Baker of Plainfield North and senior Jacqui Seidel of St. Charles East.

Ball State is 19-4, and 7-1 in the MAC, with eight regular season matches remaining before the 2013 MAC tournament.

Filling her role to the best of her ability for the 11-14 Lady Knights, Dunn, who gets her fill of Cardinals volleyball online, couldn’t be happier that one aspect of her post-high school plan is packed away.

“I’ve been looking probably since the very end of last club season, and it’s been stressful, I guess. Just trying to find where I want to go and who wants me, too, but I’m so happy,” Dunn said.

Knowing she has parts of one high school season and another full season to follow, the talent is not done shoring up her game yet.

“I’ve tried pushing myself this year. Going from right side to outside, I feel a lot more is expected of me. I want to keep pushing myself further,” Dunn said.

Dunn and the Lady Knights begin postseason play on Tuesday, Oct. 29, as the No. 1 seed of the Class 3A Sandwich Regional. The next regular season challenge is against Yorkville on Thursday, Oct. 24.

Ball State visits DeKalb to face NIU on Friday, Nov, 15.

Friday Preview: Kaneland (7-0) @ Sycamore (7-0)

7:30 p.m. at Engh Field, Sycamore
The NIB-12 East title is on the line, as the two top teams clash at Sycamore’s Engh Field Friday at 7:30 p.m.

While Sycamore returned a number of key starters from their deep playoff run in 2012, where they lost to eventual State Champion Montini in the semifinals, not having star running Dion Hooker (leg) available the last few weeks is a huge blow to the Spartans. However, backup Riley Hurley rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns last week, and Sycamore QB Deven Mottet is a threat through the air and with his feet.

Sycamore’s route to being undefeated had them defeating Lincoln-Way West 34-21 in week one, and includes a 42-33 win at Rochelle last Friday without Hooker. Lincoln-Way West was the team that defeated the Knights in the first round of the playoffs last year, and the Knights defeated Rochelle earlier this season 49-20.

Sycamore has scored 274 points this season, and given up just 121. The Knights have scored more (287) and given up less than half the points (60) through seven games.

The last time the Spartans defeated the Knights was in the 2009 playoffs. After a 21-14 regular season win that year, Sycamore turned it around on the Knights, defeating them in the first round of the IHSA playoffs 40-13. Kaneland’s last regular-season loss to the Spartans dates back to head coach Tom Fedderly’s first year, when Sycamore won 37-7. The Knights were 4-5 that year.


Steady as she goes

Lubic provides senior leadership during year of transition
KANELAND—Jenny Lubic knew going into the 2013 volleyball season that changes aplenty were in store for the Knights.

Kaneland had graduated several seniors from the 2012 squad who helped them chalk up 23 victories and capture its first regional championship since 1991. Lubic also was aware she would be the lone senior on this year’s squad.

Furthermore, the Knights’ setter and her teammates would have to get acclimated to a new coach, Kerri McCastland, and learn the nuances of her offensive and defensive systems.

Lubic realized the young Knights would be looking to her for leadership, and that McCastland—although a veteran coach with successful stints at Plainfield North and Plainfield South high schools—would need to develop camaraderie with Lubic as McCastland put her system into place.

“I knew that I had to take on a role of being a leader and that people we’re going to look to me for advice,” Lubic said. “I was excited for it.”

188 Lubic’s relationship with McCastland, as well as her leadership qualities, are such that McCastland wishes the season could go on quite a while longer. McCastland said it can take a long time to build trust and a relationship between the setter and her coach, yet they’ve managed to do all this within the time frame of the regular season, which is just over 30 days old.

“We came to respect each other right out of the gate,” said McCastland, who replaced eight-year coach Todd Weimer. “It’s sad because in another 30 days it could all be over.

“Hopefully we’ll win the state tournament,” she added with a laugh.

Lubic said she and the team, with a core that’s made up of sophomores, have embraced McCastland’s coaching style and upbeat approach.

“Coach has a lot of new energy and is positive,” Lubic said. “We’ve become better teammates to each other. I also think we work hard and all have that attitude now to work hard and get things done.

“It was definitely an adjustment, but a good adjustment. I really like how she coaches. I think she’s helped me become a better player just in short amount of time she’s been our coach.”

The setter has been compared to a quarterback in football, and Lubic concurs with that comparison.

“I talk to my hitters and communicating with them is huge,” she said, “and also communicating with my defense so we’re woven together. You have to have a good defense to set up the offense.”

McCastland said she’s pleased with how Lubic has gone about her on-court responsibilities.

“Being the only senior, to be able to keep everyone in the system, set balls and instill trust is something that doesn’t go unnoticed,” McCastland said. “Whether she’s setting up a kid like (junior) Ellie Dunn, who’s a Division I talent, or a freshman or a sophomore, no matter who you’re setting it’s the same set and same system, and she leads with intention of wanting to win. I think the girls appreciate that.

Jenny Lubic (9) is the lone senior on the KHS volleyball team this season. File Photo
Jenny Lubic (9) is the lone senior on the KHS volleyball team this season.
File Photo

“Her composure and her ability to lead is true gift that she brings to the team. She wants to win, she’s a competitor and I’m a big fan of that.”

Lubic, a three-year varsity player, was voted captain by all of of her teammates and also was endorsed by the coaching staff to fill this role. She’s taken the younger players under her wing.

“I help them figure out difference between the levels of play (between frosh-soph and varsity) and how the game is played at a different speed,” Lubic said. “Other than that, I’m trying to bring us all together and help them out whenever they need help on the court.

“They’ve adjusted really fast. I think especially with the hard workouts we had in summer it helped them catch on really fast.”

McCastland agrees with Lubic’s assessment.

“They’ve really learned a lot of things in a very short period of time,” she said. “I think candidly that they’ve done an amazing job of learning and being able to execute under expectation. They’ve sort of been learning under fire. I watch a lot of it play out in the matches. The educator in me wanted them to learn and process it. If it happened in a match, great, practice great, but the fact is that it’s happening.”

The Knights have been hovering around the .500 mark recently, yet they did earn the top seed at the upcoming Class 3A Sandwich regional.

“I think that a lot of nerves and tension has gone away (since the beginning of the season),” Lubic said. “We’re starting to play as a team and learning from each other. We have more confidence. There’s a lot of new and great energy, and we haven’t taken a step back.”

Lubic hopes the club can repeat at regional champs. That would complement her favorite memory as a Knight: winning last year’s regional.

“That was awesome,” she said.


The fox is silent

Big third quarter dooms Yorkville as KHS (7-0) steamrolls
KANELAND—It’s been a one-sided battle for a while, but with only a 13-0 halftime lead on senior night, the Knights made all the necessary adjustments.

Despite the sluggish first half during Friday night’s contest at Peterson Field against visiting Yorkville, the Knights turned it on with an explosive third quarter enroute to a 41-0 thumping of the Foxes.

The Foxes have not defeated Kaneland since 2002 when they won 34-13. That was also Yorkville’s last winning season—they went 6-4, getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Geneseo’s Darnall high school. Since the 2003 season, Kaneland has outscored the Foxes 405-59.

The win vaults KHS to 7-0, and 3-0 in the Northern Illinois Big XII East Division. Kaneland remains undefeated in conference play, dating back to the formation of the NIB-12, and has now tallied 34 consecutive regular season wins.

The Knight defense was stellar, holding the visitors to just 56 total yards of offense: 45 passing and 11 rushing. In fact, Kaneland gave away more yards to the Foxes via penalties—10 penalties for 75 yards.

Senior Dylan Nauert had a nice first half, which included a 42-yard touchdown. Nauert led all rushers with 52 yards and two touchdowns, the second coming in a 21-point third quarter frenzy.

Drew David hooked up with Brandon Bishop twice for touchdown passes, once in the second quarter for 34 yards and another in the third quarter for 37 yards. Bishop ended the game with 83 yards to lead the game. Connor Fedderly also got on the score sheet, hauling in a 20 yard pass from David in the third.

The senior QB David was 13 for 21 for 198 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions on the night.

Piling on the defensive stats with KHS interceptions were Isaac Swithers, Grant Wooten and Cole Carlson. Carlson’s interception was returned for a touchdown to make it 40-0 and start the running clock with 9:46 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. A Matt Rodriguez PAT made it 41 to finish the KHS scoring.

Photos by Ben Draper


Return of the Matt

Consistent Knight talent emerges as individual qualifier at Monday golf sectional
FREEPORT, Ill.—While there may not be quite the team accolades that the 2012 season brought, Kaneland golf still has plenty to be proud of.

After a productive Aurora Central Catholic Regional that saw the Knight golfer emerge as a third-place tiebreaker recipient, Kaneland suited up at Park Hills Golf Course in Freeport, Ill., on Monday for the Class AA Freeport Sectional.

Looking to book a repeat team trip back to the State tournament this coming week-end, Kaneland finished with a score of 335, good for sixth place. The Knights ended up just four team strokes from the qualifying mark, and saw their team season end.

The silver-and-black lining to the competition was the securing of a State slot for experienced senior Matt Yonkovich, who was an individual qualifier with a 78, tied for fifth-best. Also tied with Yonkovich were athletes Hunter Simonini of Marengo, Andrew Tichler of Rock Falls and Zack Spear of Wheaton Academy.

A year ago, Yonkovich as a junior finished 42nd in the entire state with an 83 effort. The second round was cancelled due to inclement weather.

The senior looks to bring his competitive streak, according to KHS coach Mark Meyer.

“Matt always puts pressure on himself to succeed, no matter if it is a team or individual competition,” Meyer said. “He expects the best from himself in every match. Sometimes these expectations are unrealistic, and he could benefit from tempering his emotions during the round.”

Sectional medalist honors for the afternoon went to Dixon senior Ryan Dixon with a 71.

The top three teams in the meet that head down to Normal, Ill., are Boylan Catholic with a 310 score, Burlington Central with a 317 and Sterling with a 331.

After Yonkovich’s effort, Knight teammates’ eventful outing ended with an 85 from fellow senior Stephen Cannell, an 86 from both junior Jeremy Faletto and senior Brody Kuhar, a 90 from junior Jesse Denton and a 92 from freshman Jake Hed.

With only two returnees from last year’s State trek in the form of Yonkovich and Kuhar, inexperience in a pivotal setting may have taken hold.

“Our performance yesterday may have had to do with the lack of experience in the state tournament from four of our players. We started pressing after a slow, slow start, and sometimes that compounds errors,” Meyer said.

The Normal, Ill.-based Class AA State tournament swings away on Friday-Saturday, Oct. 18-19, at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State University.


Lady Knights the standard for NIB-12 tennis

DIXON, Ill.—Kaneland High School, for a couple of years now, has acclimated itself as a top-tier team on the conference tennis circuit.

After the events of this past Friday and Saturday at Dixon High School, the Lady Knights don’t look to be leaving that tier any time soon.

Head coach Tim Larsen and company, with 35 tournament points, captured the East division and the Northern Illinois Big XII crown, after finishing second in 2012.

Yorkville (28), Morris (24), Sycamore (20) and West leader LaSalle-Peru (18) rounded out the top five overall schools.

Kaneland boasted two conference champs on the doubles end in the form of No. 1 team Madi Jurcenko and Jelly Emmanouil, along with No. 2 tandem Colleen Landers and Stephanie Karolewicz. KHS also took home second place honors in the No. 1 singles with Sammie Schrepferman and No. 3 doubles unit Mallory Dugan and Kaylee Shoaff.

Jurcenko/Emmanouil beat the Davy/Lines team from Morris for the top prize in a 7-5, 7-5 bout. Kaneland’s team earned a finals berth after beating Cavanaugh/Bradish of Ottawa, 6-2, 6-0.

The Landers/Karolewicz crew bested Yorkville’s challenge of Peabody/Gow in a 6-4, 6-1 affair.

“These two played their best tennis of the season and were in control of every match they played. Great serves, great groundstrokes, great net play, and great reactions to their opponents’ strategies. (I’m) very happy for them and proud of their efforts this weekend,” Larsen said.

Schrepferman beat her Geneseo opponent 6-2, 6-2 before losing to heralded foe Angelina Ye of Sycamore in the finals, 6-1, 6-0.

“Sammie played a great match. She took a lot of points from Ye and forced Ye into hitting the ball long a lot, but Ye was at the top of her game and Sammie couldn’t hold her off. (I’m) still very proud of Sammie for how well she played,” Larsen said.

Dugan/Shoaff beat Ottawa’s team of Paves and Weitzel in three sets before losing to Yorkville’s Gorey and Megazzini in 6-3, 6-1 fashion.

Tuesday’s regular season finale against IMSA was rained out.

Kaneland now deals with the sectional field at West Aurora High School on Saturday, Oct. 19, with Yorkville the only other NIB-12 to join the group.
courtesy photo


Kaneland soccer finding more net

Three late-season contests provide skill showcase
KANELAND—Knight soccer might be finding a little groove, and not a moment too soon.

With the postseason challenge coming next week in the form of rival Sycamore on Oct. 23, the Knights met three opponents in the form of visiting Rochelle, host Plainfield East and host Yorkville.

After the 4-0 win over the Hubs, and a 3-3 tie against Southwest Prairie Conference foe PE, coupled with the 1-0 victory against the Foxes, the Knights are now 8-5-4 and 5-2-2 in Northern Illinois Big XII action. Kaneland has also won seven of its last nine outings.

Last Thursday’s clash with the Hubs had Kaneland post two goals each in the first and second halves of play. Just 20 seconds into the game, Tyler Siebert scored on an assist from Igancio Toscano, and the Knights followed it up with a Toscano goal with 4:34 left off a Kyle Romas assist. In the second half, goals by Toscano with 9:05 left off a Siebert assist and a goal from Arsim Azemi off an assist from Adhurim Azemi sealed the match’s fate with 3:12 to go.

Against the Bengals, Siebert scored with 10:41 to go off an Ivan Bohorquez assist for the first half goal, but KHS found itself down 2-1 at the break. Playing a man down in the second half, the Knights found a goal at the cleat of Arsim Azemi off an Anthony Parillo assist with 36:46 go go and another successful Azemi-Parillo combo with 4:41 to go for a 3-2 lead before PE tied the game in the last minute.

Facing off against rival Yorkville on Tuesday under the Campbell Field lights, Siebert’s goal in just the fourth minute of the game proved to be the difference, as KHS locked down defensively to pitch a shutout. Parillo provided the assist.

The regular season finale takes place against visiting Sycamore on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 4:30 p.m.

Photos from Tuesday, Oct. 15 @ Yorkville by Ben Draper

Stopping by Byron

Early Oct. stop provides Knights look at themselves, field
BYRON, Ill.—Byron Forest Preserve in Byron, Ill., holds a unique October challenge for the Knight boys cross country roster.

The setup and field might be out of the ordinary, but provides opportunity to take stock of what a team has in a critical juncture of the season, just before conference.

Kaneland took care of business with the staggered field and managed five of the top six runners en route to a 16-point afternoon and first place finish. Bureau Valley was second at 76 points and Rock Falls was third at 77.

The race was structured so teams’ runners thought to be tenth fastest would start the race, followed by a 20-second interval before the ninth-fastest runners would go, on through the fastest.

“The best part about the race format is it celebrates the depth if your team, and it is something that we point our fingers toward all the summer running they do,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said “Not all programs work like that in the summer, and those who do are often more prepared when the gun goes off.”

Dylan Kuipers won the 2.87-mile setup at 17 minutes, 29 seconds, followed by two-three-four runners Jimmy Walker (17:54), Mitch Reger (17:55) and Kyle Carter (17:57). Teammate Brock Robertsen, at 18:07, was sixth.

“(It’s a) challenging course, unique format, and sometimes poses as a feel good meet for some of the seniors that we get into the varsity line up who sometimes do not have the chance to shine at other invitationals,” Clarey said.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the KHS crew heads to Grundy County to face off against host Morris and the rest of the capable Northern Illinois Big XII field, with races beginning at 9 a.m.


Tough road: Kaneland drops battle with Morris

KANELAND—Finding a groove can be tough in a long volleyball season.

The Lady Knights just hope that comfort finds them before the playoff road begins.

Last Thursday, KHS trekked to the competitive setting of Morris where it lost in three games by a count of 17-25, 28-26, 16-25.

On Saturday, Kaneland went to the Bettendorf Invite in the Quad Cities area where it went 1-2. Tuesday saw the Lady Knights host DeKalb where KHS fell 17-25, 15-25.

Kaneland’s mark is now 10-14, and 3-4 in Northern Illinois Big XII play.

In Iowa, KHS fell to Muscatine 13-21, 14-21, then defeated Moline 20-22, 21-12, 15-13 before falling to host and eventual runner-up Bettendorf 14-21, 15-21.

In Tuesday’s loss against the Barbs, Ball State-bound Ellie Dunn provided four kills, three service points, six digs and a block, while senior Jenny Lubic have five service points, six digs, three blocks and 14 kills.

“The flu and injuries took over tonight and all week,” KHS coach Kerri McCastland said. “This weekend, we’ll need to rest and take care. Morris played a relentless match of volleyball and took advantage.”

Kaneland hosts Sycamore on Thursday, Oct. 17, in a NIB-12 skirmish.

Last Friday, the Lady Knights also got wind of the postseason journey that awaits them. McCastland’s crew heads to the Class 3A Sandwich Regional as the No. 1 seed, and faces either No. 4 Plano or No. 5 Rochelle on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 6 p.m.

Wild in Whiteside Co.

Girls XC takes seventh at Sterling Invite
STERLING, Ill.—In a Saturday meet hosted by Northern Illinois Big XII outlet Sterling, Kaneland High School girls cross country had to deal with the talented field from the northern half of the state.

After a sixth-place varsity outing, KHS could consider itself part of that talented field that others had to deal with.

Kaneland’s 234-point total was sixth-best of 25 outlets at the meet. The top three featured Minooka (74), Schaumburg (78) and Hoffman Estates (94). The Lady Knights total was behind Iowa City High School’s 221.

While Riverside-Brookfield’s Mailin Struck won the course in 17 minutes, 2 seconds, Kaneland’s pack was paced by sophomore Brianna Bower, who took 12th overall with a time of 18:40. Senior teammate Sydney Strang continued her way back to health had a 27th place outing with a time of 19:06, while junior Aislinn Lodwig was 62nd overall with a time of 20:13. Rounding out the top five for KHS was senior Erika Carlson at 63rd with a time of 20:16, and freshman Abby Shaw at 70th with a 20:24.

KHS saw personal bests from Bower, Strang and Carlson.

The freshman/sophomore end had Kaneland taking ninth with a 283-point total, highlighted by sophomore Noelle Espino’s 20:23 for ninth place.

“The girls continue to work hard in practice and show improvement on a weekly basis,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “Aislinn Lodwig continues to improve after only three weeks of practice and racing.”

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the girls head down, along with the boys, for the Northern Illinois Big XII conference race in Grundy County, hosted by Morris High School. It marks the final race featuring 12 teams in the conference setting, with Dixon and Streator leaving at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Junior Jelly Emmanoui

The road (back) to state

Junior Jelly Emmanoui (right). Photos by Patti Wilk
KANELAND—With conference meets and sectional tournaments on the horizon, it’s getting to be crunch time for Kaneland High School girls tennis.

Madi Jurenko, one-half of the Knights’ undefeated standout junior doubles team along with her partner, Jelly Emmanouil, has already fielded inquiries from friends at Kaneland wanting to know how the pair—which achieved all-state status last fall—will fare if they make a return trip downstate.

“We’re definitely getting a lot of questions,” Jurenko said. “ ‘Oh, are you going to win state?’”

Knights coach Tim Larsen said the sky’s the limit as far as Jurenko and Emmanouli’s potential, but even though they own a 23-0 record as of Wednesday, crowning them state champions is a bit premature.

“It wouldn’t be wise to set a goal as state champions,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent around the state, but it’s safe to say they could be competitive with anybody they play (against).”

Jurenko and Emmanouli boosted their record past the 20-victory plateau last weekend by going 3-0 at the Geneva Invitational. The duo also was undefeated last season prior to the conference and sectional meets, suffering its first loss in the sectional semifinals. Jurenko and Emmanouli went on to win the third-place sectional match, and then posted a 4-2 record at state.

Not bad for a team that hadn’t played together at all before last year.

Junior Madi Jurcenko
Junior Madi Jurcenko

As a freshman in 2011, Jurenko teamed up with senior Amelia Napiorkowski, and they ended up advancing to the state tourney. Following Napiorkowski’s graduation, however, Jurenko and Emmanouli teamed up. It took some getting used to for Emmanouli to adjust to doubles play because Jurenko explained that her new partner had never really played much doubles.

But one would have assumed they had been playing together for quite a while by season’s end.

“We complement each other, and we move well on the court,” Jurenko said. “We talk to each other, and we’re good friends. I’m really good at the baseline hitting groundstrokes. Jelly has a really good wingspan and is good at hitting volleys. And she’s taller than me, so it works pretty well.”

“There’s a bond with doubles players that’s really not like anything else you see in sports,” Larsen said. “The first year, neither one of them knew what to expect, but they had a lot of respect for each; both knew that the other one was a good tennis player. It took a while to catch on with a rhythm as a team, as far as constructing a point; that didn’t happen right away. But at this point, they’ve been on court so long together that you see them reacting to the ball together. It’s something special at this point. They’re two very, very special players.”

Larsen said Jurenko and Emmanouli also are master strategists during a match—an intangible that will particularly benefit them should they return to state.

“Their biggest strength is their ability to adjust their strategy as the match progresses,” Larsen said. “These girls can hit every shot that they need. They have the ability to be smart on the tennis court, not emotional. We’re going to go out and try to win points for the next three weeks, and hopefully it works out well. That’s the goal.”

Girls tennis isn’t divided into classes like nearly every other IHSA sport. Everyone is on equal footing at the state tournament, regardless of the size of a particular school. Jurenko and Emmanouli could be thrown into the mix against teams from perennial state powers such as Hinsdale Central, Lake Forest, Deerfield and New Trier, each of which easily doubles Kaneland’s enrollment.

“It’s intimidating to know these schools have state winners and have good programs,” Jurenko said. “We don’t sell ourselves short, but we know it’s going to be a tough match. We just go into it with an open mind. We definitely want to do even better (at state) than last year. We’re going to have to work really hard, but we want to try and accomplish more at state this year and win more matches.”

Junior Samantha "Sammie" Schrepferman
Junior Samantha “Sammie” Schrepferman

The same dynamics will hold true for Sammie Schrepferman, the Knights’ No. 1 singles player who also is seeking a return trip to state. Schrepferman is putting together quite a season herself, with an overall record that stands at 21-2 prior to the start of this week.

“At this point of season I’m playing better than I did last year,” she said. “I’m able to control my emotions. I’m more focused on my play, instead of opponents dictating play to me.”

The only two blemishes on Schrepferman’s record are losses to Geneva’s Kirby Einek, who defeated her 6-4, 6-1 on Saturday, and to Angela Ye of Sycamore.

“They’re very consistent and aggressive players,” Larsen said. “When she plays against somebody that she knows is a very, very good tennis player, Sammie steps up and plays a great match. It’s fun tennis to watch. Sammie doesn’t like to lose, and I don’t either, but I’m proud of how she plays in those matches.

“Sammie hits the ball well and is serving the ball very hard, which is such a good weapon for her,” Larsen added. “The big issue for Sammie is measuring up her opponent, how much pace you need to generate, where you need to place the ball. It’s like she struggles with herself and she gets frustrated, but she always ends up landing on her feet. There are a ton of things she can do to win a point (with her shots). She figures it out, but the struggle is figuring it out.”

Schrepferman lost both of her state matches in 2012, and of course wants to return to state to better her showing of a year ago.

“Last year it was more nerves for me than anything,” she said. “I expect to be more calm if I make it to state and just go play. I should not go in expecting things, just fight for every point. Everyone (at state) is there for a reason because they won their spots (at sectionals).”

Senior Brody Kuhar watches his ball in flight at Tuesday’s golf regional at Phillips Park in Aurora.

To the last man

Golfers’ Regional total enough to advance to sectional
KANELAND—Just enough was good enough for Kaneland High School golf on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, a Class 2A field featuring the Knights shot on the greens at Phillips Park Golf Course in Aurora for the Aurora Central Catholic Regional. The Knights, by virtue of fifth entry Jeremy Faletto’s score, emerged as a tiebreaker recipient with a 310 over Elgin’s St. Edward, earning a sectional berth.

Kaneland now advances to Freeport Sectional play on Monday with advancing teams from the Grayslake Central and Belvidere North Sectionals.

Kaneland’s play was just behind first place Burlington Central’s 295 and Aurora Central Catholic’s 298. It’s the second sectional berth in a row for the Knight squad.

“It was by the skin of our teeth, no doubt about it,” KHS coach Mark Meyer said. “We talked about nerves going into the day and to just play through that. Everyone in the regional is going through it.”

St. Edward and Wheaton Academy (311) rounded out the top five of the 10-team field. Senior Matt Weber of Burlington Central emerged as the medalist with a 66 outing.

For Kaneland, the troops were paced by senior Matt Yonkovich with a 67 and fellow senior Brody Kuhar with a 78. Junior Faletto’s 81 was third-best for the Knights, followed by senior Stephen Cannell’s 84 and junior Jesse Denton’s 84. Freshman entry Jake Hed shot an 87 for the Knight cause.

“This experience is new for a lot of them,” Meyer said. “We have two returnees from last year’s team, and it’s our top two guys, but this will feel new.”

Last week saw the Knights travel to Senica Oak Ridge Golf Course to take on its Northern Illinois Big XII bretheren on Oct. 2. The Knights placed fourth in the meet with 321 points. Yorkville took the team title with 308, with DeKalb second (312) and Ottawa third (319). Yorkville’s Fred Washburn was the individual medalist with a 70 on the par 72 course. Kaneland was led by Yonkovich, who placed third with a 72. Adding up the season points with the tournament points, Kaneland placed third overall this season in the NIB-12 East Division with 17 points. Yorkville was the NIB-12 champ with 23, with DeKalb right behind at 20. All three teams were deadlocked at 8 points each heading into the tournament.

The sectional on Monday, Oct. 14, takes place at Park Hills Golf Course in Freeport, Ill.

No twist

KHS girls cross country wins Pretzel Invite
FREEPORT, Ill.—The Kaneland girls cross country team is getting healthy at the right time.

After their early schedule saw ups and downs with injuries, the group put together a solid effort at Freeport High School’s Pretzel Invitational on Saturday, winning the 11-team meet with 50 points, six ahead of runner-up Boylan’s 56.

Head coach Doug Ecker was pleased with his team after their performance. It was the third year in a row the Lady Knights have been victorious at the land of the Pretzel.

“The girls continue to show improvement both individually and as a team as the season progresses,” he said.

Defending 2A State Champion Victoria Clinton led the way for KHS, posting a second-place finish with a time of 17 minutes, 52 seconds. Freeport’s Ellie Willging was first in 17:47.

Brianna Bower was next for the Lady Knights, posting a fifth-place finish in a time of 18:08.

“Bower continued her string of top 10 finishes,” Ecker said. “(It was) a 30-second improvement over last year.”

Newcomer Abby Shaw contributed as the No. 3 Saturday, placing 13th with a time of 19:41.

Erika Carlson continued to improve as well, besting her 2012 time by 60 seconds, placing 14th in 19:41 this year. Sydney Strang cracked the top five once again, by placing 16th with a time of 19:54.

Rounding out the Lady Knights were Anna Piazza (23rd, 20:28), Aislinn Lodwig (29th, 20:36) and Jessica Kucera (35th, 21:46).

Up next for the Lady Knights is another trip to Sterling on Saturday for the Sterling Invitational. Racing begins at 9 a.m.

Oct. 11 sports recap

Freshman Volleyball
vs. Geneva—On Oct. 2, the Lady Knight freshman split their matches against Geneva. The A team won 25-23, 25-7, while the B team lost 21-25, 25-15, 18-25. No individual stats were available.

Sophomore Volleyball
vs. Geneva—On Oct. 2, the Lady Knights dispatched the Vikings 22-25, 26-24, 25-22. No individual stats were available.

Freshman Soccer
at DeKalb—On Oct. 3, coach Javier Martinez’s Knights defeated the Barbs 2-0 to move to 3-5-1, 2-1 in Northern Illinois Big XII play. Brandon Mires and Nick Turyna each supplied the goals, while Javier Correa and Jared Matthys had the assists. Laszlo Reed had nine saves for KHS.

Sophomore Soccer
vs. DeKalb—On Oct. 3, the Knights continued their shutout streak, winning 6-0 over the Barbs. Andy Tovar had two goals, while Felipe Speraggi, Eli Alvorado, Sam Wolf and Cameron Pieczyski each had one goal. Speraggi and Wolf also supplied two assits, while Luis Ramirez had one assist.
at Morris—Tuesday was more of the same for the Knights, who beat Morris 8-0. Speraggi provided four goals, while Pieczyski, Tovar and Alvarado each had one. Tovar had two assists, while Wolf, Alvarado and Omar Aguilar each had one assist. The Knights are now 9-0-2, 7-0 in NIB-12 play.

Girls JV Cross Country
at Freeport Invitational—Saturday saw the Lady Knights JV runners place a close third with 65 points. Dixon won with 47, and Boylan had 57. Host Freeport had 87 points and Stocktan rounded out the top five with 123.
Running for the Lady Knights were Noelle Espino (4th, 20:36), Katie Huber (6th, 21:18), Sarah Daley (15th, 22:32), Carly Bartholomew (17th, 22:37), Haley Penkala (27th, 23:20), Murphy Garcia (33rd, 23:38), Christina Delach (34th, 23:42), Samantha Sommerville (37th, 24:06), Grace Drake (40th, 24:13), Lilah Klingensmith (43rd, 24:23) and Kayla Hedgren (47th, 24:54).

Boys Fr/So Cross Country
at Freeport Invitational—The Knights dominated the fr/so division at the Pretzel Invitational Saturday, led by individual champion Sean Spaetzel’s 16:23. Kaneland won with 29 points, well ahead of runner-up Dixon’s 73. Rockford Auburn (97), Boylan (98) and Freeport (107) rounded out the top five. The Knights placed six runners in the top 12.
In addition to Spaetzel, the Knights included Noah Duffey (6th, 17:18), Ryan Weber (7th, 17:35), Will Kuipers (10th, 18:06), Alex Gale (11th, 18:08), Aaron French (12th, 18:09), Andrew Kantola (26th, 18:45), Anthony Messina (30th, 19:06) and Danny Walker (43rd, 19:51).

JV Tennis
at Mendota—On Monday, the Lady Knights won 4-1 at Mendota.
No. 1 singles entry Emily Lutter won 8-0, while Kayla Corirossi won 8-6 at No. 2 singles.
In doubles, the No. 2 duo of Heather Albrecht and Ally McPhee won 8-4, while Lauren Karolewicz and Marley Schultz at No. 3 doubles won 8-4.
at Mendota—Tuesday saw the Lady Knights lost a close match with Ottawa, 3-2. Kaneland managed only singles wins, with Brittany Zablocki winning 9-7 at No. 1 singles, and No. 2 singles Corirossi winning 8-4.
The JV tennis team is now 10-4, 5-0 in NIB-12 play.

Freshman Football
vs. DeKalb—Monday saw the Knights defeat the visiting Barbs 21-12 at Peterson Field. No individual stats were available.

Boys XC battles health, competition

FREEPORT, Ill.—Being shorthanded may be a problem for other squads, but not the Knights boys cross country team.

Competing Saturday at the Freeport Pretzel Invitational without their top two runners this season in Nathaniel Kucera and Ryan Bower, the Knights still placed second in the 10-team field.

Winnebago ran tough, placing their scoring five all in the top 13 of the race to run away with the team title with 45 points. Kaneland was next with 78, followed by Rock Falls’ 108, Boylan’s 111 and Jefferson’s 123.

For coach Chad Clarey, it’s all about the packs for his group, and for a second week in a row, the Knights were running together throughout the field.

“Our team continues to do a nice job of packing up, finishing in groups,” Clarey said. “Our top three raced within 10 seconds of each other, and our fifth through seventh also split seven seconds between one another.”

Kyle Carter, who has been progressing since he began running again a little over two weeks ago, led KHS with a 10th place finish with a time of 16 minutes, 2 seconds. Carter was the top Knight a year ago.

“He is battling and taking small victories on this road to full strength,” Clarey said of Carter.

Luis Acosta had a break through race, finishing 11th, and just five seconds behind Carter. Andrew Lesak was the third Knight to finish, placing 15th in 16:12.

Brandon Park ran aggressive, placing 20th overall with a time of 16:46.

Then another KHS pack of Brock Robertson (25th, 17:03), Phil Cutsinger (27th, 17:06) and Mitch Reger (28th, 17:10) finished in a cluster.

Clarey was pleased with Robertson, a senior in his first year on the cross country team, performed.

“(He) finished as our No. 5 today, and he really pushed himself hard through the first 1.5 miles to establish that position,” Clarey said. “He has shown strong improvement these past four weeks.”

Dylan Kuipers (42nd, 17:42), Jimmy Walker (48th, 18:08), Phil Rawers (86th, 21:23) and Connor Pennington (88th, 21:40) also competed for the Knights.

With conference looming, the Knight harriers headed to the Byron Invitational Wednesday (results not available before press time) before the head west to their annual stop at the Sterling Invitational Saturday.

“We will hopefully be back at full strength and depth at conference (Oct. 19 at Morris),” Clarey said. “In the meantime, we work to get healthy, freshen up, and keep pushing that pack further toward the front of the field.”

Clarey is optimistic about his team as they head into the home stretch of the season.

“It’s tough to be patient, but we feel good about where we are headed with such a tight-knit pack,” he said.

Kaneland soccer stung by Barbs in conference battle

KANELAND—Fortunes have been as even as it gets for the Kaneland High School soccer squad this season.

In conference matches like last Thursday’s home matchup against the visiting DeKalb Barbs, the end result refused to break its way.

A heartbreaking 2-1 loss to DeKalb was followed by a Tuesday trek to Morris, where the Knights came back from a 2-1 first-half deficit to win 3-2.

The Knights find themselves with a 6-5-3 record, and a 3-2-2 tally in Northern Illinois Big XII conference action. Just four regular season matches remain.

“I don’t think you can ever be truly satisfied, because there is always room for improvement,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “We need to possess the ball better and finish our chances. That is where we haven’t been consistent. We look much better in practice as of late and hope we will continue to improve in all areas. It would be nice to make it back to the regional championship game for the fourth year in a row.”

Against the Barbs, the Knights found a goal just 7:36 into the contest thanks to a Tyler Siebert goal off the assist from Arsim Azemi. The Barbs shut the Knights out the rest of the way, and Kaneland surrendered two goals.

Against the Redskins, Arsim Azemi scored off an Angel Escontrias assist, but the Knights got to halftime trailing 2-1. Escontrias had a big second half, scoring twice while the defense held Morris scoreless sealing the KHS win.

Kaneland learned of its Class 2A postseason assignment last Friday, as it’s housed in the Sycamore Regional. The No. 2 seed Knights play the No. 3 Sycamore Spartans on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m., with the winner facing off against the Tuesday victor between No. 1 Burlington Central and No. 4 Sandwich on Friday, Oct. 25, for the regional plaque.


Kaneland (6-0) vs. Yorkville (4-2)

at Kaneland High School’s Peterson Field at 7:30 p.m.
On Friday, Oct. 11, the Knights host Yorkville High School in a Week 7 NIB-12 battle. The Foxes traveled to Rochelle on Friday, only to lose in a 30-14 clash. Yorkville fell to 4-2 with a 1-1 NIB-12 mark, on the heels of upsetting the Morris Redskins in Week 6 for the first victory over the Grundy County program in 51 years. YHS has lost two of its last three after emerging with a 3-0 start.

The Foxes are coached by area legend Karl Hoinkes, who began with Yorkville in 2011 after having been a longtime coach at Oswego High School.

On Oct. 5, 2012, Kaneland slammed Yorkville at Campbell Field by a final of 55-0, and have solved the Foxes by a combined score of 134-20 the last three encounters.

Nate Dyer had 62 yards in Kaneland’s 35-12 triumph at DeKalb Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk

By the numbers

KHS increases regular season win streak to 34 with NIB-12 win at DeKalb
DEKALB—Kaneland and DeKalb have had quite the football battles the last two years.

In 2011, Kaneland found itself visiting the new Dresser Road turf for the first time and down 31-14 before staging a monster second-half comeback in a 49-38 win.

Last year, the Knights put up 66 points on the visiting Barbs.

On Friday, the process was a little more elementary: withstand big plays, ball-control-tinged running, and key passes, leading to a 35-12 win at DeKalb High School.

The win marked the 34th consecutive win for Kaneland football in the regular season. Kaneland improved to a playoff-qualified 6-0 and 2-0 in the Northern Illinois Big XII East division, and has never lost a conference game in the group that began in the 2010 season.

DeKalb fell to 3-3, with an 0-2 mark in conference play. Kaneland has never lost to DeKalb in eight straight conference meetings.

“We’ve got a lot a lot of respect for their coach (former Belvidere coach Matt Weckler), and we’ve played him the last two years in the first round,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “We have a lot of respect for that offense. They spread themselves out and get into space. If you make one mistake they can make a big play, as we saw. We’re really happy to hold these guys to 12 points.”

For the Knights, Drew David threw three touchdown passes on a night where he was 16-for-26 for 330 yards.

DeKalb running back Dre Brown had 130 yards rushing, a game-high.

After an opening DeKalb drive came up empty, Kaneland used Isaac Swithers (71 yards) and Nate Dyer (62 yards) to move the ball from their own 14-yard line. David mixed in a pass to Brandon Bishop (five catches, 65 yards) before rolling out and throwing a deep ball to tight end Tyler Slamans for a 31-yard touchdown. Slamans’ first-ever varsity TD gave KHS a 7-0 lead with 3:33 to go in the frame. After the Barbs punted another drive away, David found wideout Connor Fedderly for a 27-yard completion, and a bomb in stride to John Pruett (85 yards receiving) for a 58-yard scoring strike and a 14-0 lead with 1:06 left in the first quarter.

DeKalb gathered some momentum back when the second play of the next drive yielded a 77-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jack Sauter up the middle to make it 14-6 with 25 ticks left in the quarter.

The lone scoring drive in the second quarter ended with a six-yard run up the middle by Swithers to make it 21-6 with 6:41 to go in the half. The next two scoring opportunities for Kaneland ended with a blocked field goal and an interception.

Asked to carry more of a load along with Dyer, with an accent on speed for the ground game, Swithers is feeling more comfortable.

“Jesse went down so I just stepped in at running back, and I played last year, but I have to fill his shoes,” Swithers said. “I’m a lot faster on the turf, it’s a nice place to play.”

In the third quarter, the Barbs forced Kaneland to punt and converted on an 89-yard touchdown scamper by Brown to close within 21-12 with 8:50 remaining in the third. After Brown fumbled the ball away to Kaneland two drives later, the Knights used a couple of runs by Swithers, a pass to Dylan Nauert, a run by David and a two-yard touchdown run by Dyer to make it 28-12 with 2:14 to go in the third.

The lone score in the fourth quarter came on a David conversion from the eight-yard line with 9:39 remaining for the final 23-point margin.

Girls golfers fair well in conference, Regionals

ROCHELLE, Ill.—Kaneland girls golf individual entry Tori Guyton was the medalist at the Oct. 1 NIB-12 tournament at Fairways Golf Course in Rochelle, Ill., with an 85 afternoon. Teammate Julia VanGemert shot a 94 to place seventh. The girls were set to compete as individuals at the Sycamore Golf Club on Wednesday as part of the girls golf Burlington Central Regional. Both Guyton and VanGemert advanced to the Rockford Guilford Sectional, which will take place Monday at Ingersoll Golf Course in Rockford, Ill. Guyton placed second in the regional, shooting an 83 as the top-advancing individual not on an advancing team, while VanGemert’s 99 was enough to move on to the Sectional as well.