Category Archives: Sports


Youth movement

Photo: Senior Aislinn Lodwig led the Lady Knights at Sycamore on Tuesday, placing 20th overall with a time of 20:53.
Photo by Mary Paulson

Lady Knights open season at Sycamore
SYCAMORE—It was a subdued start to the 2014 season, but that was the plan.

With only four girls toeing the line at Afton Forest Preserve in DeKalb for head coach Doug Ecker’s varsity lineup, the Lady Knights cross country team didn’t factor into the team scoring for the annual Sycamore Invitational, Tuesday. But the four that ran took full advantage of the opportunity.

“It was a good start to the season,” Ecker said. “Even though this was an invitational, we tried to downplay it and just find a starting point to begin the season.”

Senior Aislinn Lodwig led the way with a 20th overall performance, with a time of 20 minutes, 53 seconds.

“Lodwig had her best race to start off the season. Aislinn has really embraced the leadership role as a senior, with the departure of the senior captains, and it has had a positive impact not only on her teammates but her as well,” Ecker said.

Ecker was also pleased with sophomore Sarah Daley’s performance, thinking she can make an impact for the varsity squad as the season progresses. Daley’s time of 22:12 was good enough for 41st overall.
Senior Jessica Kucera was 54th in 22:32.6, while junior Carly Bartholomew finished 77th with a time of 23:47.2.

The youth movement occurred over the 2.4 mile JV race, where freshman Andrea Wells was second overall with a time of 16:50.1 to lead Kaneland to a third-place team finish. Sophomore Becca Ritchman was seventh overall with a time of 17:39.4, while Grace Dodis also cracked the top 10 with her 10th-place finish in 17:58.8. It was the first race for both Wells and Ritchman, according to Ecker.

“Dodis ran very well and is much improved over last year,” Ecker said. “It was nice to see senior Grace Drake (24th, 18:45.8), in only her second year out for cross country, pick up a medal in the JV race.”

The girls cross country team heads to the Oregon Invitational Saturday at 9:30 a.m.


Week 1 Preview: Brooks Prep (0-0) at Kaneland (0-0)

Friday, Aug. 29, 7:15 p.m.

KANELAND—Knights football hopes recent history repeats itself against Brooks Prep in Friday’s season opener.

The KHS gridiron contingent has won every meeting between the two programs since starting the rivalry back in 2011. This encounter was originally scheduled for Gately Stadium before necessitating a move due to Chicago’s Gately Stadium’s unavailability, meaning Kaneland has six home games in 2014 at Peterson Field.

Kaneland, behind two Jesse Balluff touchdowns, bested the Eagles by a final of 27-7 in the 2013 season opener, a change of pace from the 2012 opener in Chicago that saw KHS scurry for an 18-point comeback in a 25-24 win.

Friday marks the debut under center for junior quarterback Jake Marczuk, who takes over for three-year starter Drew David.

Brooks, led by coach Jason Richardson, finished 9-3 in Class 5A, and sees one other suburban school in 2014, Carol Stream’s Glenbard North in week three.


Golfers get on better course

Sophomore Paige Guyton putts on the third green at Hughes Creek.

KANELAND—There’s nothing like getting off to a potential win streak in dual competition. And for KHS golf, there’s nothing like taking it to a Northern Illinois Big XII Conference rival.

Such was the case Tuesday out at Hughes Creek in Elburn, as the Knights handled the DeKalb Barbs by a slim 157-158 margin.

Kaneland sits on its dual slate with a 1-2 record, as it hopes to achieve the level of success it has seen in recent years.

Doing their best to ward off elite scores like Jacob Cook’s 38 and Connor Hoyle’s 39, the Knights countered with exemplary scores from Jake Hed (37), Jesse Denton (39) and Jeremy Faletto (40).

KHS also had crucial efforts from Brett Glennon with a 41, Jakob Sanders at 45 and Jacob Sheehan at 47.

Kaneland heads to the Geneva Invite on Thursday, Aug. 28, and treks to West Aurora on Friday, Aug. 29.

Photos by Mary Paulson


Here we go

Annual Knights Under the Lights officially kicks off 2014-15 sports season
KANELAND—Thursday’s Knights Under the Lights event had a different type of illumination.

Due to storms, the event was moved to the East Gym of Kaneland High School instead of the usual venue of Peterson Field.

The event still featured introductions of the 2014-15 KHS fall sports teams as they prepare to take on their rivals near and far. Fans and visitors were treated to scrimmages by the KHS volleyball squads as well.

The Brian Bemis test-drive fundraiser, hosted by the Kaneland Sports Boosters, was postponed to Friday, Sept. 26, at 4 p.m.

Sports Recap: Kaneland Youth Football League

Saturday, Aug. 23

Kaneland White: 20
@ Burlington Blue: 0
Kaneland Black: 0
@ Kaneland Silver: 14
Kaneland Orange: PPD
@ Yorkville Black:
Yorkville Black: 7
@ Kaneland Black: 21
Kaneland White: 19
@ Burlington Blue: 6
Yorkville Black: 6
@ Kaneland Black: 26
Kaneland White: 0
@ Burlington Blue: 30
Kaneland Black: 33
@ Yorkville Black: 12
Kaneland White: 33
Burlington Blue: 6

Don’t see your results in the Elburn Herald? Have your coach email them to or fax them to (630) 365-2251.

Sports Recap: Men’s Golf

Aug. 22-23 @ Hughes Creek Men’s Club and Class Championships—Kaneland High School golf team alumni Luke Kreiter and Connor Williams were tied after regulation play, and went to a sudden death play off on the first hole with Kreiter coming out on top. Thirty-three players were in the field.

Club Champion Luke Kreiter shot 145
A Flight Champion Neal Kuhn shot 157
B Flight Champion Jason Walstrom shot 168
C Flight Champion Dan Morrison shot 185
D Flight Champion Roy Toms shot 181

Don’t see your results in the Elburn Herald? Have your coach email them to or fax them to (630) 365-2251.


2014 Football Preview: Helmet to helmet

Photo: Senior Connor Fedderly will return as receiver and be a leader in the squad. Photos by Patti Wilk

Knights look to replace previous talented class on gridiron
KANELAND—Knight names that had heavy contributions the past three seasons for a squad that advanced to a 5A semifinal and two second-round appearances are many.

Names like David, Balluff, Pruett, Bishop, Carlson, Dyer, Nauert, Koehring, Komel, Diddell and Snyder provided big moments against noteworthy rivals.

New names must be added to the cast in order for this season to be a similar success in Maple Park.

That’s a challenge that is just fine with head coach Tom Fedderly, now in his eighth year.

“It’s the same thing, I’ve been here 23 years, and been through the routine. When Camaliere and Serpa left, people didn’t know what (kind of) year we would have, and who knows. We’re getting them ready,” Fedderly said.

A key for the Knights, coming off a 9-2 season after an opening round win over Hampshire and second-round loss to Joliet Catholic last November, is to copy the intangibles imprinted by the departed crew—the same group that helped launch a 35-game regular season win streak dating back to 2009, stopped by Sycamore in October 2013.

“They’ve gone through the system. We just want these guys to be themselves and play hard. If they do that, things are going to work out,” Fedderly said.

Taking snaps under center for the famed spread offense is junior athlete Jake Marczuk, a new varsity addition.

“He’s a really good athlete and can run, and he’s about the same size of Drew and Joe, so we’ll see how he does,” Fedderly said.

Isaac Swithers, who took a portion of the carries after Balluff went down with a knee injury vs. Sterling, figures to carry the load in 2014.

Catching passes will be Connor Fedderly, Tyler Paulson, Kevin Fuchs and Mitch Groen.

“We’ve got a group of receivers that are pretty good and pretty quick after Connor and Tyler,” Fedderly said. “Connor is a leader, and has been with us for three years and knows the role of a senior leader now.”

Many a game has been won in the trenches, but with a talented group mostly departed, new personnel will get a chance at a starting gig for the Knights.

Danny Hammermeister, Zach Thielk and Jake Gomes help anchor the O-line, with some two-way play forecasted with a rotation. Linebackers include Hammermeister, with Swithers playing secondary along with Kyle Diehl.

With Matt Rodriguez gone, it’s up to Drew Franklin to boom kicks into the stratosphere and at least give Kaneland a leg up on defense and field goals.

“He’s a soccer kid, and he’s kicking well. He has a real strong leg and should be pretty good,” Fedderly said.

With a slightly modified schedule compared to years past, which includes three non-conference games and two crossover games sandwiching the Northern Illinois Big XII East division slate, it’s paramount that the Knights are as solid a unit as possible.

“Turnovers are probably the biggest thing and penalties offensively are so hard to overcome, so that’s what we’re stressing, and hopefully it takes care of itself,” Fedderly said.

Projected to be solid as a conference can be, the new five-team East looks to be tight, with DeKalb, Sycamore and Yorkville all returning from playoff years.

“It’s going to be business as usual with a number of teams having good years, and anyone can beat you,” Fedderly said.

Kaneland kicks off at home against Chicago’s Brooks Prep on Friday, Aug. 29. The season opener last year was postponed 24 hours due to rain.


2014 Tennis Preview: Bedrock of success on court

Photo: Senior No. 1 singles player Sammie Schrepferman works through drills at last Thursday’s practice at KHS. Photos by Patti Wilk

Lady Knights tennis brings back leaders, battle for conference supremacy
KANELAND—How does a tennis team try and duplicate a 26th-place team finish at State?

Luckily for seventh-year coach Tim Larsen, he can correspond with those very same athletes on how to do that once again for their senior season.

With No. 1 singles Sammie Schrepferman and No. 1 doubles tandem Madi Jurcenko and Jelly Emmanouil all set to return for another crack at State, Larsen and company are pumped to improve on a 12-4 record (21-7 the last two years).

Additional seniors making a return to the court include Colleen Landers and Stephanie Karolewicz, who saw major time along with classmates Mallory Dugan and Anna Wendling.

The returnees, along with a new influx of varsity entries, will have to play up to their usual level in order to repeat as Northern Illinois Big XII champs.

“We have them all, everyone who went to State is back, and there is tons of experience coming back. The middle of my lineup is the same. We had two seniors we lost from the lineup. The junior class is filled with talent. It’s going to be a good year and everyone knows it,” Larsen said.

In his experience, Larsen can tell you that nothing about a good year is automatic.

“The challenge is to make sure there is no letup,” Larsen said. “Some of the strategy of how you play your match, you can’t play flat. The other team might see an opening and get hungrier and play harder,” Larsen said.

Schrepferman comes back for year four, battle-tested and experienced.

“That’s the toughest spot you can play, at No. 1 singles. She sees everybody’s best. There’s not a whole lot that can be thrown at her,” Larsen said. “She plays with a chip on her shoulder.”

Larsen expects a No. 2 slot to be filled with a JV entry from last year.

Jurcenko and Emmanouil come back ready to rock the conference.

“They are a pretty good machine at this point,” Larsen said. “They went to camps again; they really have seen everything. They’ve beaten teams and got beaten by really good teams. When we talk at the fence, any strategy they’ve already thought through.”

Landers/Karolewicz are No. 2 doubles.

“It’s overwhelming; Dugan played No. 3, it’s her spot to lose, but there are probably five juniors playing well enough. It’s going to take a good week to know,” Larsen said. “It might change as we go.”

Heather Albrecht, Katelyn Blaszynski, Emily Lutter are juniors in the mix.

Other returning seniors include Julia Golbeck, Madi Michaels and Jessica Poust.

With the rest of the conference awaiting the Kaneland threat, KHS won’t overlook its rivals.

“Yorkville and Sycamore are schools we have our eye on,” Larsen said. “We know each other and get along pretty well. There’s no coaching tension there. They know what to look for from us. They’ll be right on our heels.”

The season begins on Thursday, Aug. 28, vs. Glenbard North in Maple Park.


2014 Girls Cross Country Preview: Trail mix

Photo: The girls cross country team started its practice schedule the morning of Aug. 13 at the high school. The last three years have seen the Lady Knights continue their upward trajectory, placing eighth in 2011, sixth in 2012 and fifth last year. Photos by Patti Wilk

Girls XC returns key cogs in victory machine
KANELAND—In recent years, Kaneland High School girls cross country has found itself in the postseason picture, be it individual or State.

Junior Victoria Clinton captured the 2A State race as an individual two years ago, while the collective effort of the Lady Knights group allowed a fifth-place finish at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill., for the State gathering in 2013.

While the troops lose steady seniors like Sydney Strang and Erika Carlson, the Lady Knights return a gaggle of their top rotation in 2014.

Junior Brianna Bower, a 37th-place finisher at State, is joined by senior Aislinn Lodwig and Clinton to make a threat, along with sophomore Abby Shaw who came on strong in her inaugural campaign a year ago.

Seniors Jessica Kucera and Murphy Garcia also return, along with sophomore Sarah Daley and junior Carly Bartholomew to be in the running for a competing spot.

“Brianna Bower isn’t out there right now; she’s recovering from a stress fracture, but we’re expecting her back,” 28th-year coach Doug Ecker said. “That happens here more than we’d like, but we’ll be okay, and we return four of the top seven.”

Ecker has more than enough to have Kaneland in the thick of things all season, with a very tough XC area ahead.

“Victoria is healthy, and she’s finished triathlon season. Aislinn is very consistent and gives us what we need, and Abby took that spot at the end nicely and was helped by Erika Carlson’s leadership last year,” Ecker said.

Personnel looking to make an additional impact include sophomore Becca Richtman, senior Grace Drake and freshman Andrea Wells.

“Andrea could be in there and looks solid,” Ecker said “You like to see them run well, and we run stronger depending on how good we are at the four-through-seven slots.”

Ecker’s pack mentality for the crew is one born out of necessity.

“That’s the way it has to be with us in a Class 2A or 1A setting. In 3A, the teams just have sheer numbers,” Ecker said.

The Lady Knights have a landscape that needs talent and results at just the right time, and the black-and-white clad roster look to build up all season.

“We are in the toughest sectional in the State, and sometimes we run okay at regionals, and all we needed in the postseason to go was a fifth place. That’s what we do. Later on in the season, you want to show improvement. Last year, we took second in the conference, and it’s been third or fourth before that. We try to compete with Yorkville, but we don’t have the talent they do. It’s work and effort,” Ecker said.

Tuesday, Sept. 2, sees the season kick off at Sycamore, while the Eddington Invitational is at Kaneland High School this season, on Saturday, Sept. 20.


2014 Boys Soccer Preview: Soccer hopes for more of the same

Photo: Freshman John McCaffrey works on a ball-handling drill. Photos by Patti Wilk

Parillo’s roster has talent pool to be in postseason picture
KANELAND—Four straight regional final appearances would be satisfactory for any area soccer program.

For Kaneland High School, it’s also resulted in a sectional championship appearance in 2012.

But last year saw an overtime heartbreaker at the hands of Burlington Central in the regional final, off the cleats of a semifinal rout of Sycamore.

Coach Scott Parillo and the Knights hope that their usually positive trajectory in recent regular seasons, which included 10-6-4 in 2013 and a 26-10-6 mark through the last two seasons, keeps rolling along.

“Yes, it was still a success; we reached the Regional Championship for the fourth year in a row. That is always one of our goals for a season,” Parillo said.

A key to duplicating familiar levels of success will be to plug in capable players into holes created by graduation. That’s no small task with personnel like Anthony Parillo, Tyler Siebert and Arsim Azemi.

“There are holes to fill that would be expected after graduating 16 players last year and 12 the previous year,” Parillo said. “The coaching staff believes we have players that can and will fill those holes. We are not asking these players to replace those who have left, but instead be the best players that they can be.”

With positions still to solidify, seniors on the team include Jason Carlquist, returning captain Ivan Bohorquez, Billy Koziol, Eli Alvarado, Omar Aguilar, Jack Wolf, Michael Meisinger, Edson Del Real, Peter Jefferson and Jake Bilotta. Juniors include Andrew Mathys, Jon Turyna, Mark Dhom, Cameron Pieczynski, Sam Wolf, Felipe Speragy, Andy Tovar, Drew Franklin and Alex Mendoza. Sophomores are Trevor Jahns and Angel Escontrias, while Matthew Gombar rounds out the crew as a lone freshman.

Kaneland’s recent success will have to be duplicated with a pitch full of new starters, but the goal, attitude and preparation remain the same.

“The players are already talking about keeping the tradition going and making their mark on Kaneland soccer. We have asked them ‘What do you want your legacy to be when you leave Kaneland?” Parillo said.

The Northern Illinois Big XII, which saw KHS finish 6-2-2 in 10 matches, proves to have KHS in the mix, provided things point up.

“We expect Yorkville and DeKalb to be very good teams. They have excellent coaches, and they will be tough to beat,” Parillo said.

The Jacobs Tournament provides the first competition for Kaneland, beginning on Friday, Aug. 29, and going through Saturday.

Tuesday, Sept. 9, marks the first NIB-12 clash, at home vs. DeKalb.


2014 Golf Preview: Chipping away at challenges

Photo: Senior Jesse Denton tees off at the 10th hole during Monday’s Plainfield North Invitational. Photo by Mary Paulson

Kaneland Knight golf roster looks different at the top
KANELAND—In the most recent handful of Kaneland High School golf seasons, the caliber of play has yielded individual and team success.

Dual records, including nine dual wins a year ago, coupled with high-caliber athletes like Hayley Guyton, Brody Kuhar, Matt Yonkovich and Stephen Cannell, have made for a fun ride.

With the loss of personnel like fifth-place State finisher Yonkovich and teammate Brody Kuhar, the road back to considerable success could provide a challenge. However it’s something that Mark Meyer, now in his 10th season as head golf coach, has seen before.

“After 10 years, I feel like we’re good,” Meyer said. “It’s remained the same game here, and we’ve played a good game. I feel and think that golf is getting more popular.”

With Yonkovich and Kuhar responsible for so much good fortune on the Knight greens at Hughes Creek in Elburn and beyond, Meyer knows what must happen.

“Matt and Brody leaving has us with big shoes to fill,” Meyer said. “They were our top two players for three years. Last year, I think there was only one meet that we didn’t take their scores.”

Senior Jesse Denton and sophomore Jake Hed return to the varsity ranks and attempt to do damage to visiting lineups in the fall of 2014. Jeremy Faletto also returns, along with seniors Jacob Sheehan and Jacob Sanders. Sophomore Brett Glennon is also expected to see fairway time.

“We look for consistency and low scores. We have a lot of good seniors going for us, and it should be good,” Meyer said.

With the conference a breeding ground for rising teams and talent in the rough, Meyer thinks the KHS contingent can stand up to the rest, but the NIB12 is certainly not without its competitive teams.

“It kind of looks like DeKalb and Yorkville,” Meyer said. “Yorkville was good last season, but Morris also could step up.”

Additionally, Kaneland is projected to have a lineup of girl golfers able to compete at some select tournaments in 2014.

“We’re going to field a team, and it’ll be nice to have this year. We’re going to have Tori Guyton, a senior (medalist at NIB-12 tourament), her sister Paige, who’s a sophomore and comes over from soccer in the spring, Dominique Lee, a senior, and they’re joined by Julia Van Gemert.”

The first girls golf meet will be at the L-P Invite on Friday, Sept. 5, while the boys already teed off on Monday at the Plainfield North Invite and at Geneva on Tuesday. Tuesday, Aug. 26, represents the first NIB12 boys tussle against DeKalb at Hughes Creek.


2014 Boys Cross Country Preview: Boys XC always in the running

The 2014 Kaneland boys cross country team kicked off their season the morning of Aug. 13 at the Great Western Trail just north of Virgil. The team has qualified for state five out of the last six years, placing eighth in 2008, fifth in 2009, 15th in 2011, 13th in 2012 and 22nd in 2013. Photo by Patti Wilk

Harriers in no hurry to let up in 2014

KANELAND—They know the courses, they know the challenges, they know the drill.

It’s on the Kaneland High School boys cross country team members themselves to make sure every potential rival in the area knows them.

With the Chad Clarey-coached roster well-versed on how to approach and attack each season, 2014 remains no different, especially with such key losses to the varsity group that put together a 13th-place finish in 2012 and a 22nd-place finish last year down in Peoria, Ill.

“We learned a great deal in the past two years with qualifying for the State Finals,” Clarey said. “Actually, we’ve qualified five of the last six years out of arguably the toughest Sectional in Class 2A. We learned a lot about leadership in that 2012 season, and what works well for this program. That team wound up with the fastest team time in school history. Our 2013 team needed a stellar performance to make it out of our deep Sectional once again. They put everything they had into that race and wound up with a 34-second pack split, and qualified as the fourth team out. Our performance at State was not what we expected, and while we feel we had another top 15 team, sometimes things just snowball, and we just didn’t have our best races.”

The losses of such star personnel like Nathaniel Kucera, Kyle Carter, Ryan Bower and Luis Acosta are just part of the gig every season.

“That experience made a big difference for the team’s success,” Clarey said. “For the seniors, that sour note from the ending at the cross country finals became sweet motivation for their track campaign, which ended with a state trophy. Sometimes you need to fail at something to realize how hard you need to work to stay on top. We cannot replace the experience that those runners brought to the team. Not yet.”

A new rotation will have the hope of season-wide progression, but it may take some time. Hoping to solidify the Knight ranks on the Elburn Woods course in 2014 are athletes like Andrew Lesak (who’s still on the road back to 100 percent health from track), Sean Spaetzel, Brandon Park, James Walker and Mitch Reger. Kaneland also benefits from a transfer from Texas, Jared Murri.

“(Murri’s) been right up with the pack through the first week’s worth of work, and we look forward to seeing him in a checkerboard jersey. (Lesak, Spaetzel, Park) figure to be in the top 7 mix through much of the season,” Clarey said.

Members of Kaneland cross country looking to get a real shot at varsity time in 2014 include Will Kuipers, Alex Gale, Aaron French and Kyle Osborne.

Clarey is intrigued by the potential gains made by Walker and Reger, given the chance to shine on the courses.

“Walker was injured for much of last fall and never really got the chance to show what he could do. He’s a tremendous leader on the team this year, and he’s worked so hard this summer for his final season. Mitch is in that same boat. He’s not a real vocal leader, but he absolutely knows what he wants to get out of his running, and he works as hard as any senior we have,” Clarey said.

Dealing with a slightly modified conference in 2014 yields the same goals and wishes, i.e., keep up with Yorkville.

“The Yorkville Foxes continue to crank out big numbers in their program, and will look to repeat as conference champions,” Clarey said. “I doubt there is a team in our league this year that can break up what they have. If we can pull together, stay healthy, get some good experiences and confidence, then I think we could have a shot at finishing in the top 3. We see Dekalb, Sycamore, Sterling and Geneseo as prominent teams vying for that same distinction.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 2, the season begins with a trip to Sycamore. The Eddington Invitational is at Kaneland High School on Saturday, Sept. 20.


2014 Volleyball Preview: Kaneland volleyball rolls on despite reset button

Seniors Brittany Grider and Elle Dunn (right) work on a blocking drill at last Friday’s practice. Junior Makenzie McMullan (below) taps the ball over the net in other practice action Friday. Photos by Patti Wilk

Violett returns to head coaching spot with consistent talent pool
KANELAND—It’s a similar story in some aspects to begin the 2014-15 season for Kaneland volleyball.

After an exciting postseason, the Lady Knights have to begin battle on the court with a new head coach once again.

Luckily for KHS, it’s one who’s had the exact position before.

Cyndi Violett, originally head coach from 1997-2001 and an assistant under both Todd Weimer and Kerri McCastland, takes over the head spot again after McCastland’s acceptance of a position within DeKalb High School’s administration.
The transition, due to Violett’s familiarity with the school, program and players, looks to be as seamless as it can get.

“There’s not really much of a learning curve for me. I’m just excited to be back,” Violett said. “I worked under Todd and Kerri and learned a lot from them, but I’m definitely excited.”

A seamless change is beneficial for both parties involved: coach and roster.

“The biggest challenge was not to change too much. We’re going to keep going so there’s not much change for the girls,” Violett said.

KHS comes off an interesting year, which saw one senior, Jenny Lubic, on a squad that took Sycamore to three games only to lose the Sandwich Regional as a No. 1 seed. The Lady Knights ended at 16-16 after a 23-13 mark in 2012 and a sectional appearance.

“We play a lot of bigger schools during the season, so that contributes to some losses, but we’re competing with them. We’re going to still have some of that, and we’re changing some tournaments up,” Violett said. “It’s great competition.”

Taking the mantle this year are seniors like future Ball State player Ellie Dunn and future Greenvile College athlete Riley Hannula, both captains in 2013. Other seniors include Anna Senese, Brittany Grider at DS and Rachel Kintz at right side hitter.

“It’s a good core group of seniors,” Violett said. “I’ll lean on them and others a lot.”

Junior Kathy Nguyen brings quickness and court sense at the libero position again, in the footsteps of Kylie Siebert.

Setters picking up the slack for Lubic include sophomore Hannah Nauert and junior Holly Fedderly.

“They are great and hardworking this offseason, you’re going to be wowed by them,” Violett said.

Looking to do damage in the refurbished Northern Illinois Big XII East division, Kaneland sees the usual suspects for conference supremacy.

“Sycamore and DeKalb will be our tough matches. A lot of our girls play club with DeKalb kids. That’s going to be some good volleyball there,” Violett said.

KHS begins the 2014-15 journey on Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the usual Wheaton North Tournament stop, with the first NIB-12 match on Tuesday, Sept. 16, vs. DeKalb.

Join Kaneland Sports Boosters at Knights Under the Lights tonight

by Joel Redman, Kaneland Knights Sports Boosters – President

Please come and join the Kaneland Knights Sports Boosters on Thursday, August 21st, from 4:00-9:00 for the annual Knights Under the Lights at Peterson Field, Kaneland High School.

Come out and welcome the Kaneland Knights fall sports teams and coaching staffs. There will be football scrimmages, concessions, and music by the 2014-15 Kaneland High School Marching Band.

We will also be participating once again with Brian Bemis Auto Group, in holding the Knights Under the Lights Test Drive Fundraiser. Any 18 and older with a valid driver’s license can test drive one of several automobiles, and raise $20 for the Kaneland Knights Sports Boosters.

This money goes directly back to all of our sports programs with purchases of necessary equipment. We’re looking forward to seeing all of you for an evening of seeing old friends and welcoming our new athletes.

Waubonsee offers fall high school baseball

SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College will host a fall baseball league for high school players who are not participating in any fall high school sports. This IHSA-approved league is the area’s longest running and most economical fall league. Over 2,100 players have participated throughout the past 29 years with hundreds going on to compete at the collegiate level.

The league is scheduled to run from Wednesday, Aug. 28, through the end of September. Games will be played on every Tuesday and Thursday during the month of September beginning at 4 p.m. each day. All games will be played on Waubonsee Community College’s baseball diamond in Sugar Grove and all players signed up are guaranteed playing time. Each of the eight game days will provide players the opportunity to use Waubonsee’s outdoor hitting facility that features two astro-turfed batting cages and multiple hitting stations.

Individuals interested in playing should attend an organizational meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 26, at 4:30 p.m. on the Sugar Grove campus. The meeting will take place in the college’s Auditorium, located behind Erickson Hall, Waubonsee’s gymnasium. A $60 fee is due at the time of the meeting.

For information, contact Waubonsee Athletic Manager Dave Randall at (630) 466-2527.


Close to the finish line

Exclusive group of area drivers stake claim at Speedway

SYCAMORE—Friday and Saturday nights during the summer months bring a lot of action to Sycamore Speedway.

That atmosphere draws familiar and enthusiastic crowds, but only a handful of racers from the Elburn area.

Racers that include husband and wife Frank and Rebecca Stubitsch of Virgil and Anthony Hansford of Virgil have a real passion for hitting the Speedway grounds, with an added benefit of it being as close as you can get.

As a demolition derby and spectator class competitor, Hansford, of Virgil, takes Ford Crown Victorias to smash and Chevy Caprices to excel.

“I just turned 28 last week and I’ve been racing since 2005. I’ve been going to the Speedway forever,” Hansford said.

Hansford enjoys the close proximity, with a locally renowned track providing benefits other tracks cannot.

“I love the fact that it’s close to home,” Hansford said. “I used to drive up from Yorkville and that was still better than travelling out of state for six to 10 races each year.”

Hansford looks toward a future where it’s likely just one night of competition, rather than two, making the Speedway outpost a great option to burn rubber.

“The cost gets up there for fixing your vehicles and then you have to get them up to the truck, so I like that it’s close,” Hansford said.

Drivers from the immediate area and beyond give a sense of camaraderie, no matter their place of origin.

“A lot of my friends are from St. Charles and Sycamore, and they come up and see me race. The other drivers I compete with are like my family. We have our bumps and bruises but we’re a family,” Hansford said.

Hansford looks to get more involved with working on cars for C3 Racing out of Dwight, Ill.

The Stubitsch clan has been able to excel in this activity with success, and it was something that could have a level of participation for both.

“It’s something we started doing five years ago when we moved to Virgil from Elgin, Ill.,” Rebecca said.

In powder puff and spectator classes, Rebecca loves the benefits of racing so close.

“It’s three miles down the road, and it’s great. It takes you a little while to get used to racing on the weekends, but we love it. We checked it out when one of Frank’s friends did it and we tried it; it just snowballed from there,” Rebecca said.

In some of her races, the benefits to her cars are minimal, but the intangibles to the driver are many.

“It’s made me more able to try new things, where I wasn’t willing to before,” Rebecca said. “I want to try the 25-lap races more, because you actually have to try and go somewhere for a time.”

Frank has fixed cars like Chevy Malibus and driven Ford Crown Victorias during his weekend warrior time, and he has noticed changes, as well.

“It’s really nice to go out there as a couple, and I notice I’m calmer, actually, and there are some aggressive drivers out there,” Frank said.

An electrician, Frank finds that racing on the weekends is somewhat of another full-time job, but something he and his wife continue to enjoy—a thread going through most local drivers.

“You need to fix what’s wrong with your cars and haul both of them up to the track. But you pick up stuff and you learn to read the track,” Frank said.

“We’re pretty happy there,” Rebecca said.

Amanda Malawski

Malawski excels on international track

Time in UK more precious than medals

SUGAR GROVE—Team USA’s youngest athlete, Amanda Malawski, brought home two medals from the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation’s (IWAS) World Junior Games, held in England from Aug. 2-8.

The 13-year-old Sugar Grove resident won a silver medal in the 4x100m relay, with a time of 1:10.45, with her teammates, Jessica Heims, Lauren Gates and Aubrey Headon.

She took home a bronze medal in the long jump, with a distance of 2.28 meters.

Amanda also set personal records in the 400m dash, with a time of 1:27, and in the javelin. She improved her time in the 200m dash from 38.75 at the National Junior Games in July to 36.73 and in the 400m from 1:28.53 to 1:27.72—times that will make her a contender for the 2016 US Paralympic team.

The 2014 IWAS World Junior Games were held at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury, England, and hosted teams from 32 countries. To participate, athletes must first qualify at the regional level, then qualify at the national level.

Amanda qualified at the Great Lakes Regional Games in Lake Forest, Ill., this year, then competed against more than 200 regional champions at the National Junior Games in Ames, Iowa, to earn her spot on Team USA.

“It’s a huge accomplishment, absolutely huge,” said Cindy Housner, the executive director of the Great Lakes Adaptive Sport Association (GLASA). “Amanda is an extremely talented and gifted athlete, and she’s worked really hard. She is competing against others in the same ability level and age group, and she rises to the top.”

In the games, Amanda competes in a class known as T36, for athletes whose disability affects only one side of their body. Amanda, who was born with cerebral palsy, is affected on her right side. Her twin, Alex, is affected on his left side.

Both Amanda and Alex train at the GLASA facility in Lake Forest on a weekly basis, working with specialized coaches. GLASA offers recreational and competitive activities for athletes with physical and visual disabilities throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

Housner praised Amanda as a particularly hard-working athlete.

“One thing that stands out in my mind is that Amanda is a good athlete, but what makes her really outstanding is her work ethic,” Housner said. “If you came out on a Saturday practice and watched her, she is just tireless. She goes on and on. Not many athletes are doing both track and field. She is just working hard and has a really positive attitude. She’s always looking for feedback, so she’s very coachable.”

The IWAS World Junior Games are a proving ground for the Paralympics, and though Amanda was the youngest member of Team U.S.A., she is already being scouted for the U.S. Paralympic team.

“We’ve talked to the Paralympics coach, and it’s amazing thinking that the Paralympic team is looking at our daughter,” said Lori Malawski, Amanda’s mother. “Never when you have a child with special needs do you think something like this is in their future.”

Amanda hopes to qualify for the IWAS World Junior Games again next year, in Amsterdam, and then be chosen to represent the US in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janerio.

To qualify for the Paralympics, she will need to compete at several events sanctioned by the International Paralympic Committee over the next year. The committee will select 40 men and 40 women to compete in the 2016 games; a number of spots are reserved for injured military veterans.

“If she does get selected, the next big event will be next August in Toronto, and then the one after that is in Qatar,” Matt Malawski, Amanda’s father, said. “The end of next year is when they start selecting athletes to represent the US in Rio.”

Despite Amanda’s achievements, few of her classmates at Harter Middle School realize just how fast she is.

“When I was on the track team for my school, I was considered slow,” she said. “Because I’m affected on one side of my body, I’m slower than able-bodied people because they’re not affected. It was kind of discouraging on my track team because I was always the last.”

That’s partly why competing in GLASA and the IWAS World Junior Games is so important to her, she said.

“There’s not a lot of programs for kids with disabilities,” Amanda said. “We are practicing, but we have to travel far. It’s worth it because we can talk to people with the same disabilities, and it’s a lot of fun.”

She qualified for the World Junior Games last year, but she was too young to participate.

“You have to be 14 the year of the games, so I was underage,” Amanda said. “They sent an email saying that I made the team, and then a week and a half later, I got another email saying that I was too young to participate. It was a little disappointing, but it kind of wasn’t, because it meant that I am faster than people who are 16 or 17.”

Going to the 2014 World Junior Games was a great experience for her.

“I was the youngest on the team, so it was kind of a good experience being with other people who have been competing for awhile and are older than me,” she said. “I just started competing internationally, and I liked competing against people with tons of experience.”

It was also a valuable lesson, she said.

“It taught me not to let my disability get in the way of things. If I did, I wouldn’t be where I am and able to compete,” Amanda said. “The people I made friends with (at the games) don’t let their disability stop them. They are normal when they compete, and that’s how I like it.”

Those interactions were more precious than the medals to her parents.

“It was an amazing week. Yes, she worked really hard, but the interaction with the teammates is what will stay with her forever. It made it all worth it,” Lori said.

Amanda Malawski Photo submitted by Jennifer Drews/GLASA to


Diamond business

Photo: Sarah Elliott, a sixth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School, makes the catch at first during Wasco Diamonds 12U tryouts Aug. 7. Photo by Patti Wilk

Wasco softball outfit’s success tells story

WASCO—Early August at the Anderson Park fields off of Brown Road, north of Elburn, is tryout time for the Wasco Diamonds teams spanning six age groups.

It’s business as usual for the travel softball program, but their business is getting the most out of players, growing their skills and accumulating banners.

Since beginning as an outlet for area softball players in the mid-1990s, the Wasco Diamonds keep winning and keep getting exposure in local and national tournament exhibitions.

A program that has averaged six national tournament qualifications a season, taken two first places at the USSSA World Series, and sends handfuls of eligible college players to college programs every year has found a formula for success, namely coaches, staff and players performing at a high level.

With former Kaneland varsity players like Delani (Northern Illinois University) and Rilee Vest (Cornell College) and Lexi Roach (Youngstown State University), and current Lady Knights personnel like Morgan Sikon and Angie Morrow, the Diamonds have seen their share of local KHS talent.

The Diamonds are also the choice for athletes from schools like Burlington Central and Elgin.

Steve Cihlar, former coach with the Diamonds program and recently retired from Diamond dealings, feels it’s no mystery why the Wasco softball institution belongs to more than just the Route 64 area.

“The training is second to none,” Cihlar said. “We had the best training staff and coaches. Girls try to get college scholarships and be seen, but you’ve got to be able to play the game here.”

Cihlar, of St. Charles, has coached at the 16U and 18U levels and put two daughters through the Diamonds way of doing things, and always feels a sense of pride when players get signed to the next level, even when not directly coaching the player.

“I am proud of that, and that’s part of what building up the program is,” Cihlar said.

Playing anywhere from local fields to tournaments featuring 40 teams in other states under the USSSSA or ASA banner, Cihlar is just one of many Diamonds personnel who has seen the growth of the program.

“The most amazing thing to me about the Wasco Diamonds is seeing the growth firsthand. I remember going to some of these college exposure tournaments five or 10 years ago and now teams see the name and want to play us. That’s due to the people involved being incredibly dedicated,” Cihlar said.

Incoming Kaneland senior Angie Morrow has donned a Diamonds uniform through her pre-teen years, two high schools and a couple of May no-hitters, and knows the Diamonds program was instrumental in her skill elevation and signing with University of Wisconsin softball.

“It’s about the coaches and the players. We all try to play at a high level. We want to be good enough to keep playing these teams from California that never have to go inside,” Morrow said.

Morrow, who plans to once again suit up for the Wasco Diamonds at 18U competition, has seen her share of every result, but can point to one particular memory.

“When I was in 11U, we won the first World Series for the Diamonds in Missouri. To win a World Series was amazing,” Morrow said.

Taking over from Cihlar on the 18U front will be Steve’s co-coach and Angie’s father, Bill.

The elder Morrow has seen the Wasco crew become a definition of an area travel softball squad, with an eye on the future.

“We get kids from St. Charles North, St. Charles East, Batavia, Kaneland, Burlington, and even DeKalb and Jacobs. I mean, we get girls playing from all of Fox Valley. The philosophy of the Wasco Diamonds over the last five or so years has changed where we focus more on helping the kids get to college. Academically, we require a higher standard. If you’re good academically, it becomes easier for colleges to assist them financially with scholarships,” Morrow said. “This program is dedicated to helping these kids, and we go to the best tournaments in the country for recruiting. We have built a national name.”

Morrow, who has experience coaching baseball and softball, is one of many who have seen the influence of the Wasco Diamonds, and like others currently involved, continues to help it grow from just outside the chalk lines.

“Travel softball now has had a light put on it. It’s gone from an infield game with dink and dunk hits, but now there’s more power than ever before. There’s nothing like being around this and around the kids. There’s nothing better than having a kid you coached and now in college and see you and say ‘Hi.’”

Information on the Wasco Diamonds can be found at


Harris hits hole-in-one

ELBURN—Geneva resident Mary Claire Harris hit a hole in one at Hughes Creek Golf Course on Sunday, Aug. 3.

Harris used a No. 4 Hybrid ball on the 105-yard hole No. 3—a par 3 hole.

Bruce Harris was the witness.

Hughes Creek Golf Club is located on Hughes Road, in Elburn and is a public course. For more infomarion call (630) 365-9200 or visit

Aurora Raiders Softball hosts tryouts Aug. 9, 10

Tryouts for the Aurora Raiders Girls Fastpitch Softball team are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 9 and 10, at the West Aurora High School Varsity Softball Field, 1201 W New York St, Aurora.

On Saturday, the tryout will focus on:
• 11U/12U: All positions and hitting: 9-11 a.m.
• 16U: All positions and hitting: 2-4 p.m.
• 18U: All positions and hitting: 4-6 p.m.

On Sunday, the tryout will focus on:
• 11U/12U: All positions and hitting: 9-11 a.m.
• 16U: All positions and hitting: 2-4 p.m.
• 18U: All positions and hitting: 4-6 p.m.

Players only need to attend one tryout date; please arrive 15 minutes prior to tryout time for on-site registration and warm-ups.

The mission of the Aurora Raiders Girls Fastpitch Softball team is to create a fun environment for athletes to develop fundamental softball skills, engage in competitive sport, learn life-lessons on and off the field, and build long-lasting friendships.

The team consists of players from the Fox Valley area, including Elburn, Sugar Grove, Montgomery, Oswego, Aurora and more.

To learn more about the Aurora Raiders and online registration, visit

Robert Ybarra of Montgomery can be seen patrolling the sidelines as Illinois High School Association football officials every Friday night.

Courtesy Photos

Upon further review: Experienced local IHSA officials take time to get it right

KANELAND—It could be that the best officiating crew in any high school sport is the one you barely notice.

That’s ironic, considering the countless officials that make up the Illinois High School Association landscape go through painstaking time and material to keep up with their particular sport.

Some of those officials can claim themselves part of the area, even though their trade takes them all over northern Illinois, and even to State finals.

IHSA football has seen the likes of Montgomery representative Robert Ybarra and former Elburn resident Ed Reier for a combined six decades of action.

Those gentleman that patrol the sidelines and keep 22 capable athletes in order on Friday nights go through offseason prep that rivals the intensity of teams like the Knights’ playbook study.

Ybarra, who has been tabbed to officiate two IHSA State football championship games, not only keeps up on the rules, but also passes on what he has learned in approved seminars and clinics.

“I was in Peoria last week and running a clinic and going to be in Forreston, Ill., on Aug. 9 to train and educate other officials. These IHSA-approved clinics give them the opportunity to learn,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra is sometimes asked to give nine different presentations at summer officiating clinics, dealing with aspects of football like the passing game, kicking game or penalties.

“When you’re asked to present to 100 people, you have to be an expert on these aspects of the game,” Ybarra said.

Being an expert goes a long way for the 23-year gridiron vet Ybarra, who earned spots in previous title games through a power rating system handed down by IHSA assessors.

“You get rated each game, and get points, and you attend rules clinics every summer which gets you points, as well,” Ybarra said.

There’s no magic to what Ybarra has been able to do leading into each season.

“You have to stay on top of the rules and communicate with your crew and the coaches and be prepared. You have to know the rules and have your philosophy and definition of penalties. There could be a game where it’s a 30-8 game, and talent and players enter into it the most, but another completely different crew could have their take on a rule and it’d end up being a different score,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra would like to see what other opportunities lay out there and work his way up one day.

“You need to join the Midwest Football Officiating Alliance, which puts you in with Division III games, and I’d like to work my way up to the Big Ten,” Ybarra said.

To appreciate Ybarra’s journey as a weekend warrior in black-and-white, just look at an early age.

“I would run around with my older brothers and I just wasn’t fast enough,” Ybarra said, “So, during football games they asked if I wanted to blow the whistle and that’s how it all began. There was an ad in the paper for an IHSA football clinic and I thought ‘why couldn’t I do that?’”

Reier, of Arlington Heights, Ill., but a recent decade-long resident of Elburn, has a little more experience and an eye for how the game has changed.

“The players are faster and stronger, and we have to keep up with them more,” Reier said. “We have to respond to that. As I age, it gets tougher.”

Reier, working for a landscaping company in Skokie, Ill., keeps going as an official like he has every year since the early 1980s.

“The thing is, these kids don’t age. We get older, and a different set of kids come in. But there are things I’ve improved at, like response time,” Reier said.

Reier’s expertise has brought him all over the northern half of the state.

“I’ve been all over. Recently, I’ve done games in Rockford, been out by Lincoln-Way, done games at Kaneland and gone all the way to Lake Forest,” Reier said.

Much like training camp that begins in under two weeks, Reier is preparing to get busy.

“We meet next week for an IHSA clinic to go over and review the rules again. There’s a lot that goes on. More and more teams are running the spread offense, and in the pre-game meeting, coaches will ask how we’ll rule a certain play,” Reier said.

Reier and his whistle-wearing brothers have goals that are similar to the kids wearing helmets: do their best every week.

“Our goal as a group is do our best week to week for the IHSA,” Reier said. “There’s nothing like a full stadium on a Friday night.”

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson has been at it for 40 years as part of the IHSA track and cross-country scene, at the front lines of the usual Kaneland staples like the Peterson Prep and Jill Holmes Invite.

“In the beginning, you didn’t have to belong to the IHSA officials group, but about 23 years ago, that became a prerequisite,” Anderson said.

Track is a sport that has more constant edges than others, but Anderson notices changes nonetheless.

“I think the safety procedures taken have really come into effect,” Anderson said. “I remember landing pits being sand or sawdust, and now they are cushioned.”

Anderson also thinks technology has impacted today’s track as much as any other sport.

“Before, it was just ear and the eye once they crossed the finish line, and now you have stop watches, chips and automatic time stop. It’s been positive,” Anderson said.

Also like other sports, Anderson and the other officials at huge meets need to keep up on the rules of the road, so to speak.

“The rulebook has definitely gotten thicker, but you have to keep up with it. The technology and the rules and structure of the meets have made things quicker, as well. That’s good for everyone, especially the fans,” Anderson said. “We go to a clinic once a year and get tested once a year.”

An official can see the best side of kids and the not-so-good side after wins and losses, but Anderson can vouch for the latest crop of kids in his field.

“The last two or three years, the kids have been great,” Anderson said. “Both the boys and girls side has been polite and respectful. It’s a constant sport and their demeanor is great when I speak to them.”

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson has been involved with Illinois High School Association track and field for 40 years, and can be found at Kaneland staples including the Peterson Prep and Jill Holmes Invite.                       File Photos
Elburn Village President Dave Anderson has been involved with Illinois High School Association track and field for 40 years, and can be found at Kaneland staples including the Peterson Prep and Jill Holmes Invite. File Photos
The 2016 International Crown Launch luncheon took place Friday at Hotel Arista in Naperville, Ill. The actual event will take place in 2016 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. LPGA golfer Anna Nordqvist was at the luncheon to share her experiences about being in the LPGA. 

Photo by Tiffany Kufler

Luncheon creates excitement for 2016 International Crown

NAPERVILLE—Hotel Arista in Naperville, Ill., hosted a luncheon on Friday, Aug. 1, to launch the summer 2016 International Crown Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) event, scheduled to take place at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove.

LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan spoke about the dynamics of this completely new event.

“We will have four players on each team from the best eight countries in the world,” Whan said. “You can’t have one good golfer. You have to build golfing teams to win the crown. We will announce the countries in December, but the players could change on the way to Rich Harvest Farms in 2016.”

The International Crown will present a global showcase of women’s golf and will occur on every even year. For the second edition of the International Crown at Rich Harvest Farms in 2016, Calamos and Rolex will contribute to the event as ambassador sponsors.

The inaugural International Crown debuted this year at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md., the week of July 22-27. According to Whan, the new event is structured in a different format that promotes team effort as the four players on each team rely on each other for advice and support, as there are no coaches or captains.

“There is a nervousness and excitement that comes with playing for a team while the country is watching,” Whan said.

According to Whan, they expected to sell the eight TV rights for the eight countries that were represented in the 2014 International Crown, but they ended up selling 166 rights.

“It was so far beyond our expectations,” Whan said. “It’s very rare to bring a new legacy to a sport. In 2016, we want to give Chicago the Olympics it didn’t get.”

The LPGA would like to inspire younger girls, when they’re watching the International Crown on TV, to be on the team someday, according to Whan.

Anna Nordqvist, a professional women’s golfer, was present at the luncheon on Friday and spoke about her experience as a player on Team Sweden at the first edition of the International Crown in Maryland.

“It was a cool experience,” Nordqvist said. “There was no leader on the team. You listen to what everyone had to say, and everyone feels like a part of the team. We got really close to each other and everyone feels important.”

Rich Harvest Farms is a private, members-only club consistently ranked on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses. The 18-hold course has been described as a 1,820-acre showcase of nature and agriculture. It hosted the LPGA’s Solheim Cup event in 2009.

The International Crown, made by Tiffany & Co., weighs 20 pounds, and is nearly 2 feet tall. It took 140 hours of labor for the sterling silver, and 25 hours in a woodshop to create.   Photo by Tiffany Kufler
The International Crown, made by Tiffany & Co., weighs 20 pounds, and is nearly 2 feet tall. It took 140 hours of labor for the sterling silver, and 25 hours in a woodshop to create.
Photo by Tiffany Kufler

Derks, Palmer win 2014 Corn Boil 5K

228 runners test themselves on the streets of Sugar Grove

SUGAR GROVE—Andy Derks made it two-for-two at the 2014 Corn Boil 5K.

After winning the event in 2013 with a time of 16 minutes, 12.1 seconds, the Sugar Grove resident won the event again this year with a time of 16:15.9.

“I moved to Sugar Grove last year, and thought it would be fun to do a race in my new hometown,” said Derks, who is also the cross country coach at Plainfield North High School. “I plan all summer to do it, but I just like to use it as a hard workout and part of my marathon training.”

Derks plans on competing in the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Yorkville resident Lena Palmer was the overall female winner. A former all-state runner with the Lady Foxes in cross country and track, the current Aurora University runner was surprised she was the female winner.

“I was pretty shocked that I won because the year that I did run it (2011), there was a lot of competition,” Palmer said. “The race didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, but it was still a pretty good race.“

Overall, 228 runners completed the race, ranging from 4-year-old Tess Muth of Yorkville (219th place; 47:33.6) to 74-year-olds Tyger Johnson of Dakota, Ill., (30th place; 23:04.7) and Phyllis Wells of Aurora (207th place, 43:25.5). The event has averaged over 257 runners per year since 2002, with the fewest running in 2002 (123) and the most in 2009 (355). The 2014 race had the fewest runners since 2010’s 224.

“We were down a little,” said Karen Pritchard, Superintendent of Recreation for the Sugar Grove Park District. “This year we didn’t have our Park District running club in the event.”

The running club brought in approximately 30 more registrations for the event.

“Maybe people thought it was going to rain,” Pritchard said. “I really thought we would have bigger numbers this year.”

Even with the slight dip in numbers, enthusiasm for the event hasn’t diminished in the eyes of Derks.

“I hope to continue to run the Corn Boil 5K every year,” Derks said. “I love the laid back atmosphere. I love the fact that I can roll out of bed and go sign up 30 minutes before the race.”

New look for NIB-12

Streamlined look
triggers after
year of preparation

KANELAND—Beginning with the upcoming 2014-15 school year, Kaneland’s home of the Northern Illinois Big XII will have officially outlasted its previous stop of the Western Sun Conference.

In year five, the conference is putting some remodeling into effect, after a year of planning.

Due to factors like decreasing enrollment, the conference’s West Division lost both Dixon to the Big Northern Conference and Streator to the Interstate Eight Conference.

“Dixon and Streator thought they had to do what they had to do, and you respect that,” said Kaneland athletic director Peter Goff. “I’ve been to one AD meeting, and there is no serious talk about adding anybody else. Maybe there will be some talk later.”

The move, after a meeting of conference principals in March 2013, left an imbalance of the East and West divisions. Rochelle moving to the West provides balance for the ensuing school years. The conference athletic directors had previously met earlier that month.

The East now consists of DeKalb, Kaneland, Morris, Sycamore and Yorkville, while the West is comprised of Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Rochelle and Sterling.

“When I was in the NCIC with Sterling, we lost Rochelle,” Goff said. “People leave and you make adjustments. We got them back here. I think it’s a very solid conference, both East and West.”

While affecting the football scene fiercely, with schools like Kaneland beginning the 2014 football campaign with three non-conference games and ending with two crossover games, the moves affect other sports to varying degrees.

Second-year volleyball coach Kerri McCastland won’t see her crew’s routine changed much, as Dixon and Streator were not scheduled as two of the West crossover matches anyway. Regular conference tussles still take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Last year, we had Rochelle, and we had L-P. That was great to face a State qualifier. This year, we have Sterling and Ottawa. This will be great to go to a different way. Sterling comes here, and it’ll be a great awareness for them to check us out. But, it doesn’t matter to me,” McCastland said.

“In this case, it’ll be better for how much land we have to try to cover for a conference match. I think it probably frees up your ability to play other schools for non-conference. You get a different flavor somewhere else,” McCastland said.

On the other side of the NIB-12 wall, outgoing conference president Greg King, of Sterling, has had time to sit with the decision and is comfortable.

“The only challenge will be looking for other teams who would like to join,” King said. “This is an excellent conference.”

King, who vacated the rotating president’s chair to Ottawa’s Mike Cooper, likes the stability of 10 teams, but would like the conference to expand eventually.

“This is a great football conference, more playoff teams in the East, but it’d be tough looking for wins, and right now, that’s the challenge,” King said.

Sports like boys cross country will have a different look, even though the sport competes in a unified meet come October’s conference championship.

“We lose three all-conference spots; Dixon filled three of them. You have to finish in the top 18. We lose a lot of quality people from those two schools. I’ve liked my dealings with them,” Clarey said.

Clarey said he feels that despite the loss of perennial contender Dixon from the ranks, there will be an air of normalcy during most of the season.

“I would never guess how the other sports are affected. We only see the other side once out at the conference meet. Dixon was a perennial tough opponent, and Streator was a program in flux. It’s definitely a hit to the talent, but there are still good programs here,” Clarey said.

In the 10-team enrollment picture, DeKalb sits as the largest school at 1,638 students, while Geneseo replaces Dixon as the smallest school at 832.


13U Palatine Champs

The Wasco 13U All Star Team recently won the Palatine Community Classic. The team was 5-1 at the tournament and outscored its opponents 59-7. Jed Kuefler also won the home run derby at the tournament. The team includes John Tabor (back row, from left), Max Ledone, Vince Miszkiewicz, Joey Lupa, Ryan Dziatkowiec, Dalton Hollis (front row, from left), Ryan Vanderway, Jed Kuefler, Ryan Stangle and Cole Winslow. Athletes not pictured include Ben Chandler, Nick Aiello and Tanay Abichandani. The team is coached by Jeff Hollis, Rich Ledone, Frank Aiello and Bill Chandler.

Photo submitted by Dawn Kuefler to

KC Xplosion tryouts begin Aug. 4

MAPLE PARK—The Kane County Xplosion softball will begin hosting tryouts Aug. 4 through Aug. 9.

On Monday, Aug. 4, all age groups can try out at Frontier Park in Naperville, Ill. Check-in begins at 5 p.m. with tryouts starting at 5:30 p.m.

On Tuesday, Aug. 5, 10U, 12U and 14U try outs will take place at Batavia High School, while 16U and 18U will take place at Kaneland High School. Both locations will have a 5 p.m. check-in and tryouts begin at 5:30 p.m.

On Thursday, Aug. 7, 10U, 12U, and 14U tryouts will take place at Kaneland High School, while 16U and 18U will take place at Batavia High School. Both locations will have a 5 p.m. check-in and tryouts begin at 5:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Aug. 9, 16U and 18U tryouts will have an 8:30 a.m. check-in with tryouts starting at 9 a.m. at Batavia High School. The 10U, 12U, and 14U check-in will begin at noon, with the tryouts starting at 12:30 p.m., also at Batavia High School.

For more information, visit, or email


Turning up the heat

Hottest time of year the best time to teach v-ball fundamentals to area athletes

MAPLE PARK—Nearly 100 athletes were able to enjoy snow cones from a machine in the Kaneland High School East Gym on Tuesday.

That was only after perspiring in the morning hours going through the paces of volleyball camps for aspects like setting, basics and fundamentals of the court game.

Athletes from kindergarten through eighth grade were put through the paces by second-year head coach Kerri McCastland and assistant Cyndi Violett, Breanne Kahl and Kelsey Flanagan.

“Fundamentals is where we pick one specific one, and then break it down. We add it into what it looks like in game play, so it’s progression,” McCastland said.

Examining the specific fundamental and using it in a controlled setting for the prospective athletes is nothing new for McCastland, herself an experienced coach and official. However, this is the first camp she’s able to run after being appointed coach last summer with the departure of eight-season coach Todd Weimer.

“It’s fun,” McCastland said. “Even though I’ve been a head coach for a really long time, I can say it’s not my first kids camp. But this is the first time I can come in and teach my own thing. It’s fun to see the kids excited about learning.”

The camps were organized and made full use of the gym space with the amount of girls.

“Each court space had their own age group, and my girls broke down the fundamentals to smaller groups. It was a full staff effort,” McCastland said.

McCastland was encouraged by not just the effort of the girls, but the commitment of the staff during a hot July week.

“That’s kudos, and that all goes back to the staff. I offered it as optional for them and they all chose to come on their own. I think that’s a great tell-tale,” McCastland said.

Also coming through the late July exercise is a chance for Kaneland volleyball to show kids how the program is run.

“It’s an added benefit,” McCastland said. “Any time you can bring awareness to your high school program is a good thing. We’ll figure out in the fall how to take it a step further.”

Photos by Patti Wilk


Dudzinski bides time before next step

Europe a possibility for former Knight roundball talent
KANELAND—After another workout bordering six hours, KHS Class of 2010 member Dave Dudzinski has a philosophy surrounding his plan of attack.

“I want to make this my career,” he said.

Home for two-and-a-half weeks, the 6-foot-9 frontcourt presence has spent this summer doing what he spent eight years total at Kaneland and the Patriot League’s Holy Cross College: honing his court game.

Fresh off an All-Patriot League senior year which saw him average a steady 15.2 points per game, Dudzinski has been working out regularly at KHS with future Aurora University Spartan Tyler Carlson with the purpose of solidifying his skills and waiting for that call.

Now signed with Boston-based Pro Partner Sports Management, an agency that houses many American college players who have gone to play in Europe, Dudzinski feels that could be the next step.

“They’ve been good to me and I trust them,” Dudzinski said. “They mostly deal with guys from America that have gone to Europe. They’ve had talks with teams in Switzerland, Belgium, France and Romania. Spain and Italy are the most talented leagues; that’d be like graduating college and going right to management.”

Dudzinski would love to hit the NBA peak, but is also realistic coming from the small Division I Holy Cross.

“My skillset is not NBA-ready, but I have to keep training. I want to be physical enough for Europe and to be a ‘stretch 4,’” Dudzinski said. “I’m looking at this as my job.”

Last month also gave Dudzinski a glimpse at what the job at the highest level of play would entail, as he was one of six college players invited to a pre-draft workout with the Boston Celtics at their practice facility in Waltham, Mass.

“It was extremely tough, but it was cool to see guys like (Miami Heat player) Shabazz Napier and (Michigan State player) Keith Appling leading up to the draft. Just to be there was cool,” Dudzinski said. “You get a feel for how they do it in the NBA.”

Dudzinski’s trajectory, dating back to his time bumping bodies in the Western Sun Conference paint, has seen constant improvement, always with an eye on what’s ahead.

“I think I’m a lot more comfortable playing in front of bigger crowds now,” Dudzinski said. “I’m a smarter player, and I became more of a vocal leader at Holy Cross. I think all of that gives me a better shot.”

Season passes for 2014-15 Kaneland sports now available

MAPLE PARK—Kaneland High School athletics fans can purchase season passes, ranging from one sports season to an all-encompassing pass that covers all football, volleyball, wrestling and girls and boys basketball games. The passes are good for the 2014-15 school year.

Normal entry fees are $4 for adults and $2 for elementary and middle school students.

The passes do not include tournaments or state-level competitions.

The types of passes available are as follows:

Adult Single Season Pass
(one sport):

• football (five events) $16
• volleyball (nine events) $32
• wrestling (five events) $16
• girls basketball (eight events) $28
• boys basketball (seven events) $24

Adult Fall Sports Pass
• football and volleyball (14 events) $35

Adult Winter Sports Pass
• wrestling, girls basketball, boys basketball (20 events) $60.

Adult All Sports Pass
• football, volleyball, wrestling, girls basketball and boys basketball (34 events) $90

All Sports Family Pass
• All five sports (34 events) for two adults and all children in the immediate family $125

Elementary/Middle School Student
Single Season Pass (one sport)

• football* $8
• volleyball $16
• wrestling $8
• girls basketball $14
• boys basketball $12
* Elementary and middle school students must be accompanied by an adult at home football games

To receive any of the listed passes, visit and look for the “Purchased Passes” link to download the form. Checks should be made out to “Kaneland High School” and should be turned in with the form to the Kaneland High School athletic office.