Category Archives: Sports


Knights nine close out summer session

KANELAND—It was time well-spent, if you’re Kaneland High School baseball.

The summer session for baseball teams usually involved getting the capable athletes to play in tandem with one another, and hope for better things in nine months time.

Kaneland (20-10-3) was able to see how it was able to play together and how much hope it could have after its performance in the IHSBCA St. Charles East Regional on Monday against Cary-Grove High School and on Tuesday against Batavia.

The Knights fell in a 5-4 squeaker to No. 7 Batavia on Tuesday, after vanquishing the No. 15 seed Trojans by a 4-1 clip on Monday.

KHS coach Brian Aversa felt the Knight lineup acclimated well once school was out.

“Guys were really settling in,” Aversa said. “A lot of these guys are seniors now and they owned it. They know that win or lose, it’s on them.”

Batavia was set for a Wednesday semifinal matchup against St. Charles East/Geneva at regional host St. Charles East. The game was not completed in time for press.

The Bulldogs lineup got to Knights starter Steven Limbrunner early on Tuesday, connecting for five runs in the first three innings of action thanks to a single, three doubles and a triple. Matt O’Sullivan shut the door on Batavia’s lineup in the final four innings.

KHS came back in the third inning as Joe Panico was hit by a pitch and Austin Wheatley singled. Two batters later, a Nick Stratman grounder went under the third baseman’s legs allowing Panico to score. Two batters later, Matt Rosko’s two-run double made it 5-3.

Kaneland would cut it to 5-4 in the fifth after a Stratman RBI groundout scored Wheatley, but that play would close out the scoring for the afternoon.

“Batavia’s a good team,” Aversa said. “It was nice for our guys to battle. There were things we couldn’t control, but I wouldn’t feel bad.”

Kaneland also did battle beginning on July 7 at the Wood Bat Tournament hosted by St. Charles East.

As the fourth seed in Pool A, the July 7 meetings had KHS lose to St. Charles East 3-2 and St. Charles North 5-1. July 8 saw Kaneland best regional final foe St. Francis 7-4 to conclude the Wood Bat festivities.

Additionally, Kaneland had two members of the lineup, catcher Joe Laudont and infielder Danny Hammermeister, get a slot on the 2014 Wayne DeMaar All-Division team that also included players from St. Charles North, Geneva, West Chicago, St. Charles East, Batavia, Larkin and St. Francis.

Before the Wood Bat action, KHS also went on a tour of early-season staple Cincinnati and took second in the Cincinnati Fourth of July Baseball Tournament that went four days. The Knights rattled off four straight wins before losing to the Cincinnati Mustangs 7-3 in the championship.


Tickle earns athletic honors at Coe College

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA—Jake Tickle of Elburn earned an athletic letter for outstanding participation on the Coe College baseball team during the 2013-14 academic year. Tickle, a 2010 graduate of Kaneland High School, is the son of Elizabeth Tickle.

Tickle is a first-year letter winner in baseball. The baseball team is under the direction of 18th-year head coach Steve Cook. The Kohawks qualified for their seventh-straight Iowa Conference Tournament this season.

Kohawk athletics can be followed at Located near the heart of Cedar Rapids, Coe is a selective, private, nationally recognized liberal arts college providing superior quality educational experiences for students since 1851. Coe College has a reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe is dedicated to preparing students for fulfilling careers and graduate study.

Bringing the heat

IMG_2856Two Kaneland volleyball players, Jessie Weber (back row, second from right) and Maddie Keifer (back row, third from right) were part of the Kane County Juniors club team that placed third at the Volleyball Festival International Championships in Phoenix June 26-29. Photo submitted by Bob Webber to

Kane County Juniors finish third in 15-year-old bracket in Phoenix

PHOENIX—Summer is a time for local athletes to showcase themselves in a realm outside the Maple Park fields and courts.

Lady Knight volleyball talents Jessie Weber and Maddie Keifer did so in Phoenix last month as part of the annual Volleyball Festival International Championships June 26-29.

Housed at the Phoenix Convention Center, the festival featured teams from the 12-through-18 age range on the club circuit, and had a majority of teams from Arizona, California and Washington, and teams like Weber and Keifer’s Kane County Juniors 15 Gold squad to complete the 73-team age bracket.

The extravaganza also featured teams from British Columbia and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Gold crew, with head coach KC Johnsen, went 8-2 during the four-day trial and finished in third place.

In the Saturday championship bracket, the Gold side beat Epic 15-Shawn in a 25-20, 25-20 match before beating Legacy 15 Elite in a 25-22, 25-23 affair. The Juniors took a 25-17, 25-21 rematch with Epic 15-Shawn before losing to eventual winner AZ Sky 15 Gold, 23-25, 25-21, 15-3, which stopped the eight-match win streak, and second-place club El Paso Stars 15 Blue, 25-12, 25-13, in the double elimination chance.

Assistant coach Cindy Weber, Jessie’s mother, felt it was a successful tournament gathering.

“For lack of a better term, the other teams were gunning for us,” Weber said. “We didn’t have their height, but we were a quick team out there.”

With teams from all over, the Kane County crew was no stranger to unique settings like Phoenix and a Navy Pier tournament last month, Weber said.

“We were able to get our kills and blocks in, and it was really a fun experience. The Kane County Juniors have been to Arizona, and we were very excited to go again this time,” Weber said.

The 15 Gold contingent improved to 59-13 with the Phoenix performance.


Kranz takes valuable pole position

2007 Kaneland graduate Sam Kranz (right), at the KHS pole vault summer camp June 27, is now a coach at Murray State University in Murray, Ky. Kranz gets a low-five from current Kaneland High School pole vault coach Andy Drendel (below, far right) after clearing 17 feet. Photos by Patti Wilk

Knight track alum important aspect of Murray State program
MURRAY, KY.—Sam Kranz, a member of Kaneland’s Class of 2007, has seen his track fortunes take him many places in the continental United States.

Most recently, he was in Los Angeles on the grounds of the U.S. Olympic Training Center at the Emerging Elite clinic for coaches of all levels, picking the brains of invited coaches and Olympic athletes.

That’s just another tool in Kranz’s coaching arsenal, which brings him back to Murray State University in Murray, Ky., where he was a women’s track graduate assistant, concentrating in pole vault.

A State qualifier in IHSA boys track for the Kaneland pole vault factory, Kranz, who lives in Murray, came over from his alma mater Northern Iowa after spending a year as a graduate assistant.

“It was kind of strange being a mentor to kids at that level after recently competing, but the kids understand after awhile once you put on the polo,” Kranz said.
On head coach Jenny Severns’ staff, Kranz is using his skills and acumen in an Ohio Valley Conference that is ripe for the taking.

“The OVC is in a real interesting spot, with your pole vault and high jump in kind of a weak spot conference-wise, but the triple jumps are up there with the best in the nation,” Kranz said.

Kranz knows what success and training can yield, and hopes the Racers program can improve on its 60-point, seventh-place team finish at the OVC meet.

“We had a girl earn a personal record by 2-and-a-half feet this year and another by over a foot, but there’s enough to look back on to see what we could have done differently,” Kranz said.

Kranz is also aiming to up his game in recruiting.

“Recruiting is such a big part of this,” Kranz said. “We’re not at the point where we can point to a lot of success at Murray for something like pole vault. That’s what I want to be able to point out to girls that we talk to in a couple of years.”

The Racer coaching staff member can draw on top-notch influences that he gathered as an athlete and give back from anywhere from a Kaneland pole vault camp to a conference meet in Edwardsville, Ill.

“I draw on anyone from Dan Steele, who was at Northern Iowa, to my dad, who founded his own company and is president,” Kranz said. “I can talk with them about anything and they are really good mentors and there are some similarities that overlap. They influence how I do this. I’ll continue to work hard and help develop the program.”

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Summer basics

Orosco’s offseason spent making imprint on grapplers
KANELAND—With his hiring in late-May, new Kaneland Knights wrestling coach Joe Orosco could be spotted last week in the Wisconsin Dells area.

It was anything but a breezy four days.

Orosco helmed the Knights through the Malacek Team Wrestling Camp—through clinics and duals—and feels good in the offseason before the 2014-15 campaign.

“There isn’t going to be a big learning curve,” Orosco said. “It’s just about getting to know the kids, and I’ve seen and worked with 10 or 12 of these kids already through various levels and clubs.”

With the Monty Jahns era coming to an end after seven seasons, the good news is Orosco, an Aurora police officer, doesn’t have to deal with a complete reteaching of what it means to have success on the mat. The last two seasons have seen an uptick in dual and conference success and a steady stream of qualifiers for the Champaign mats. Orosco, a former East Aurora mat warrior, is taking the summer to build a steady foundation.

“It’s a lot easier to go at it with this group,” Orosco said. “It’s less about teaching the sport than it is building up the basics.”

Orosco has worked as an assistant with Martinez Fox Valley Elite Wrestling Club, Knights Wrestling Club and East Aurora wrestling, as well as being head coach for Waldo Middle School in Aurora.

The Knights coach got acclimated pretty quickly in the Badger state setting.

“My voice is hoarse from yelling so much on the sidelines. You’re working a lot, especially with your kids in there,” Orosco said.

Orosco has four months until the ramp-up to the season starts in earnest, but his experience and his learning process stand to serve him admirably.

“Steve Kenyon of East Aurora and Joe Martinez of the Martinez Wrestling Club are who I looked up to the most,” Orosco said. “They really helped me in a lot of ways.”

Familiar with a twist

IHSA releases 2014 football schedule
KANELAND—In a conference landscape that’s shifting, so, too, did the 2014 slate for Kaneland Knights football.

Looking to qualify for the IHSA playoffs for the seventh consecutive year but losing a talented 2013 class, the Knights face a nine-game list of opponent that finished a combined 54-40 last year. That includes six playoff qualifiers: Chicago’s Brooks, Rich Central, Northern Illinois Big XII East division mates DeKalb, Yorkville and Sycamore, and new West division foe Rochelle.

With the schedule released last Thursday, Kaneland, who was ousted in the second-round of the Class 5A playoffs by Joliet Catholic in November 2013, is slated to travel to playoff qualifier Brooks Prep of Chicago on Friday, Aug. 29, at 7:15 p.m. The fourth season of the opening-week rivalry between the Knights and Eagles has no listed site yet, but had taken place at Chicago’s Gately Stadium in 2012.

On Friday, Sept. 5, Kaneland has its home opener against Chicago’s Marshall High School, with the game at 7 p.m., the lone contest not scheduled for 7:15 p.m. this season.

On Friday, Sept. 12, the Knights host the Rich Central Olympians of Olympia Fields, Ill. The school finished 9-2 and is a representative of the Southland Conference.

The NIB-12 East Division, with one less team, sees action with Kaneland traveling to Campbell Field on Friday, Sept. 19, to face playoff qualifier Yorkville. DeKalb comes to Peterson Field on Friday, Sept. 26, having qualified for postseason play a year ago, as well. Friday, Oct. 3, has Kaneland trecking to the site of the end of its 35-game win streak, Sycamore, to face the Spartans (12-1 in 2013). The East division section of the schedule features Morris coming to Maple Park on Friday, Oct. 10, as Morris tries to rebound from a lowly 3-6 season.

The last two regular season challenges feature Kaneland going to LaSalle-Peru on Friday, Oct. 17, for the first time since 2011, and hosting Rochelle on Friday, Oct. 24. KHS has won seven straight against the Hubs.

Rochelle joins the West division as part of the NIB-12 landscape that now has 10 teams.

Dixon joined the Big Northern Conference West division, along with Byron, Mendota, Oregon, Rock Falls, Rockford Lutheran, Stillman Valley and Winnebago.

Streator left for the Interstate Eight Conference Large division along with Coal City, Manteno, Peotone, Plano and Sandwich.

The first day of football practice is set for Monday, Aug. 11.


Recent Kaneland grad finds success on a different track

ELBURN—Elburn resident Michael Geringer is finding a whole new way to get around—really well.

Geringer, a recent member of the Kaneland High School Class of 2014, is finding he can burn rubber on the go-kart circuit.

The 17-year-old talent, who turned pro in September, won his first national race as part of the US Pro Kart Series. Geringer, as part of Praga North America, took the field at Michiana Raceway Park in North Liberty, Ind., back on June 24.

Geringer, showing his skills in the Leopard 125 Pro class, and previously taking to tracks as an amateur, still keeps his capacity for awe.

“I was a little surprised at how well I did,” Geringer said. “It was a 40-car field, and at regionals the week before, I did good, but I expected a top-five.”

Having competed in national races in North Carolina, and sticking closer to home as part of regionals racing like the Route 66 Spring Series, Geringer is out on an island on the track, relying only on his kart and training.

“I try not to think about it too much, you just try to get up there. I won a Route 66 Regional championship last year, and I’m glad to be with the new team. They help out a lot,” Geringer said.

Elburn resident Michael Geringer won the 125 Pro category at Michiana Raceway Park in North Liberty, Ind. Photo submitted by Pranga North America to
Elburn resident Michael Geringer won the 125 Pro category at Michiana Raceway Park in North Liberty, Ind.
Photo submitted by Pranga North America to

Having raced and gotten into the circuit with the help of his father, Michael, Geringer’s accomplishments speak for themselves, but he’s also aware that goes for the rest of the field.

“The last race had the top karts separated by .05 seconds, and everybody there brings the best,” Geringer said.

Geringer has his eyes on bigger tracks as the year progresses.

“There’s three more regionals near here, and two more nationals, and I really want to go to Supernationals (USA Supernationals XVIII in late-Nov.) which are at the Rio in Las Vegas,” Geringer said.

Geringer is attending Waubonsee Community College in the fall with eyes on transferring to a four-year institution for mechanical engineering.

Michael Geringer, 17, is a recent Kaneland High School graduate, and will attend Waubonsee Community College in the fall. The Elburn native is sponsored by Pranga North America. Photos submitted by Pranga North America to
Michael Geringer, 17, is a recent Kaneland High School graduate, and will attend Waubonsee Community College in the fall. The Elburn native is sponsored by Pranga North America.
Photos submitted by Pranga North America to

Skills session

Girls hoops conclude harried June, find rhythm
KANELAND—While most everyone this month had to dodge damaging winds and difficult amounts of rainfall, the Lady Knights dodged opposing defenders and difficult opposition as the summer league action came to a close this week.

With the planned Kaneland participation in the Ottawa Shootout on Monday cancelled due to the onslaught of a harsh weather system, the KHS June campaign for coach Ernie Colombe and the crew instead finished up their busy June with an above-average record of 22-10. The conclusion of summer also included a trip to the Naperville, Ill., Neuqua Valley Shootout on June 25.

“We feel like we have a much better idea of what we need each player to work on individually before we get started next year, and also what we need to tweak in terms of the playbook,” Colombe said. “The summer has shown us that this team has a lot of potential.”

With returnees from all the levels making their way to the girls side in a busy month that saw trips to Morris and Ottawa as part of the Illinois Valley League, the rotation of sharpshooters were able to win 17 of its final 26 contests.

With talent like Camri Conley taking over the point guard position after splitting the duties a year ago, the roster was able to get used to playing with each other despite some injuries.

“Overall we were very happy with our play this summer,” Colombe said. “We were missing some key pieces throughout the summer. Vanessa Gould was out with a stress fracture in her foot, and Kristin Siebert was out with a bad back. Both players should be key parts to our team next winter.”

Colombe said he feels good about the month’s turn of events and what it could mean the ensuing winter.

“Based on the summer, we feel like we will have a mix of players in terms of class and will have one of our best offensive teams. We have a lot of work to do on the defensive end but we are confident we will be much better once we begin practicing on a daily basis,” Colombe said. “We should be a fun team to watch next year if everyone is healthy.”

In other hoops action, Kaneland’s boys squad lost four of five games at the Glenbard East Shootout this past Friday, including a loss to Sycamore. On June 24, Kaneland boys lost two of three at the Waubonsie Valley shootout.

Kaneville Skeeters Ellie Peck hits a line drive to center field during a game against the Sugar Grove Tigers Monday at the Kaneville West Softball Field. 
Photo by Mary Paulson

Photos: youth baseball and softball

Photos from various community sporting events


Drills in DeKalb

Photo: Junior Tyler Paulson makes a long catch and runs in for a Kaneland touchdown. Photo by Mary Paulson

Knights’ get reps in 7-on-7 setting at NIU
KANELAND—Preseason football practices look to be here before you know it.

The Kaneland Knights could think of no better setting to get drills and work in before that time than the campus of Northern Illinois University this past Saturday.

KHS, along with 23 other teams from around the state, participated in 7-on-7 exhibitions, as they did last year, with coach Tom Fedderly enjoying and taking notes of the setting.

“I was really happy with how it went,” Fedderly said. “It’s a big challenge just getting out there and getting started, and we’re pretty excited.”

Kaneland was in a pool with opponents Waubonsie Valley, Rockridge, Rich Central, DeKalb and Watertown High School of Wisconsin.

“We had 26 guys there for our side and playing offense and defense. It was cool for them to play on the turf, and then after two games we got to play at the new indoor facility, which was cool,” Fedderly said.

As with other sports, a crucial element for a team that has had two consecutive second-round exits but just one regular season loss since 2009 is getting familiar on the field once again.

“I really liked what they did and what I saw out there. The 26 guys stepped up. There’s a number of these guys that are balancing football and baseball, and as we hit July those go away and we really get into football,” Fedderly said.

Familiar faces laced the KHS roster, according to Fedderly, with standouts expected to show the same field presence like Isaac Swithers, Kevin Fuchs and Mitch Groen.

“Connor (Fedderly) caught a lot of balls and had a good day out there,” Fedderly said.

For KHS football, other 7-on-7 challenges lie in the form of an Aurora Christian setting on Tuesday, July 8, and Saturday, July 12, at Willowbrook in Villa Park, Ill.

Multi-tiered effort highlights summer league win over Batavia

KANELAND—Humid conditions in Maple Park didn’t make things easy for the Batavia Bulldogs baseball lineup.

Neither did the steady inning management of Knights pitcher Steven Limbrunner and the bats of Nick Stratman and Danny Hammermeister, as the KHS brethren walloped Batavia 8-0 in summer league play on Monday.

“To get these guys a look that they deserve and that we need on our end, it’s to see what they can do for us and for the future,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “That’s why we play the bottom of the seventh today. We’ve got guys we haven’t seen yet and starting to gel with these guys that have the experience under their belts.”

Now 5-1-1 in area action since the circuit started in mid-June, the Knights were beneficiaries of a steady mound performance by Limbrunner, who didn’t allow a run in six innings of work.

“Steve looked great today,”Aversa said. “Keeping Batavia at no runs, that’s nice and he had a nice pitch count.”

The party started early for KHS as Austin Wheatley singled and three batters later, centerfielder Stratman jacked a ball over the fence for a 2-0 lead.

“It was good; it was a fastball down the middle and I just barely felt it come off the bat,” Stratman said.

The bottom of the third inning effectively put the game out of reach with the Knights clogging bases on singles from Joe Panico and Joe Laudont and a Stratman walk. Hammermeister hit a towering ball just several feet from leaving the yard, but all three runners came home for a 5-0 edge.

The good fortune of the summer is carrying a bit of the disposition of the 2014 postseason homestretch, which saw the second regional plaque in school history.

“It feels like momentum is carrying over, and we’re starting to get along with all the new kids and everything,” Stratman said.

Kaneland was set to host Class 4A State semifinalist South Elgin on Thursday, June 26, at 3 p.m.

Good weekend

The Kaneland 9U Travel Baseball team finished second at the 2014 Oswego Cobra Summer Classic Tournament, held June 20-22. The team includes coaches Bryan Miller (back row, from left), John Robinson, Jeff Violett, Jim Van Horn and Jim Wituk, and players Elliott Kovacs (middle row, from left), Collin Miller, Johnny Spallasso, Parker Violett, Patrick Collins, Lane Robinson (front row, from left), Alex Panico, Luke Wituk, Jake Gagne and Troyer Carlson. Santino Grano was not pictured. Tryouts for the 2015 season begin in July.

Photo submitted by Jim Wituk to

Kaneland Youth Soccer fall registration through July 7

ELBURN—The Kaneland Youth Soccer Organization (KYSO) is taking registrations for its fall recreational soccer season through July 7 at For registration related questions, contact Mo Gannon at (630) 463-9001, ext. 707, or by email at

The fall recreational season includes eight games running from Sept. 6 through Oct. 18. All games and practices are held at the KYSO fields next to Kaneland High School in Maple Park. Games are played on Saturdays between 9 a.m. and noon. Each team typically practices one evening per week.

Registration is open to boys and girls ages 3 through 17 and special needs players through the TOPSoccer program.

Three- and 4-year-olds play in the Little Knights program. This introduction to soccer program includes eight, one hour skills and games sessions on Saturday mornings. Little Knights is $50 and includes a soccer jersey.

The recreational program for ages 5 through 17 is $110 through July 7. Recreational soccer includes a full uniform including jersey, shorts, socks, volunteer coaches supported by college level players, trainers and certified referees. After July 7, the normal registration rate of $145 is in place. Discounts are available for multiple player families.

KYSO also provides a TOPSoccer program for players with special needs. TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a national soccer program created to train young people with disabilities in a caring coaching environment. The program is generally carried out by volunteers at the local level, with financial support from US Youth Soccer and local youth soccer organization such as KYSO. TOPSoccer is offered free to registered players.

KYSO features small sided games, balanced teams and college level trainers to support player development and provide coach support.

Player assessments for all age groups will be conducted in early August and teams formed immediately after assessments. Practices begin the week of Aug. 18.

KYSO provides Big Rock, Elburn, Hinckley, Kaneville, Maple Park, Sugar Grove, and Virgil youth with recreational soccer opportunities. KYSO has approximately 50 recreational soccer teams for boys and girls ages 4 through 17. KYSO recreational program teaches soccer through the use of smaller teams and fields, maximizing participation by all. The program also allows young players to learn and enjoy soccer in a positive and fun environment, usually in their own community with the same children with whom they go to school.

For the player who is primarily interested in fun, fitness and friendship; KYSO provides a healthy activity through its recreational and small sided games program. This program emphasizes fun and de-emphasizes winning at all costs. Every child is guaranteed playing time (three quarters minimum) and the game is taught in a fun and enjoyable atmosphere.

Registration for 2014 fall fastpitch youth softball starts July 1

WASCO—Wasco Girls Fastpitch Softball League (WGFSL) registration for the 2014 fall ball season starts July 1. WGFSL is a recreational softball league open to all area girls from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Games are played on Saturdays and Sundays at fields in northwest St. Charles.

Practices start in early August with games starting Aug. 23 and conclude with the Susan G. Komen tournaments mid-October.

WGFSL also offers fall ball training camps., but space is limited.

Players may download a registration form, or register online after July 1 at There are no “out-of-district” fees. WGFSL is celebrating its 26th year.

Summer time blues

Kaneland’s Monday meeting with MV ends in loss
GENEVA—In a stuffy setting at Geneva High School, the Knights’ summer league basketball team experienced their second Monday of the Geneva Summer League.

The result didn’t do much to improve the atmosphere.

Playing catchup for the majority of the running-clock tempo, the Knights took on Metea Valley of the Upstate Eight Conference and fell 46-31.

Kaneland fell to 2-3 in the early going of the summer session.

A physical game that saw junior Dylan Vaca contribute 16 points, the Knights and Mustangs each offered different styles of play, with the Mustangs more fast-break inclined.

“It’s a work in progress,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We’re more in a ‘let them play’ mode and have them try to learn our offense. Defensively, we’re not very sharp. This is summer ball and I like to look at it as giving our kids a chance to play.”

A three by Brett Hansen brought an early deficit closer to 12-9, but Metea Valley used quick passes and its speed advantage to go up 18-9. Down 20-12, Vaca’s foul shot trip closed the deficit to 20-14 before the Mustangs cemented the seven-point halftime margin.

The Knights were able to cut it to five at 25-20, and Vaca was later able to bring it to within 32-24, Metea Valley was running on too many cylinders for the Knights attack.

It was an opportunity to see what Kaneland was able to do in the midst of camp action and to see what players like Vaca, David and inside presence Jacob Gomes could bring to the floor.

“You expect up and down during the summer. This is going to be Dylan’s third year. He had big games during the season until he got hurt. He needs to be a big contributor this year, and I think he will be,” Johnson said.

After facing St. Charles East and Naperville Central on Wednesday in Viking territory, the Knights hit Geneva once again to meet both Streamwood and Waubonsie Valley on Monday, June 23, beginning at 5 p.m.


Cummins’ victory lane continues through summer

ELBURN—For the city of Buffalo, NY, it’ll be nice to have a bonafide winner in its midst. The football thing hasn’t worked out.

Enter Kaneland Harter Middle School athlete Mabel Cummins, soon to enter eighth grade.

Already one of the elite bowling talents in her age group, the busy Cummins heads to the United States Bowling Congress Youth Open Championships on Saturday-Sunday, July 12-13, followed by the USBC Junior Gold Championships Friday, July 18, in Buffalo, NY.

All she did was win the Girl’s U-12 division at the 2014 Illinois Pepsi Youth Bowling Championships in Bloomington, Ill., to qualify for the Gold gathering, which comes with paid entry and travel stipend.

Working five to six games a day, five to six days a week with accomplished professionals and the support of her family, Cummins is learning to deal with the pressure, and is able to plow through, like when she averaged a 201 score through 12 games in Bloomington and at a recent pro-am gathering in Tampa, Fla.

“They made cuts at State, and I made out of the top of all of those,” Cummins said. “I was number one. It’s a lot more games we’re bowling and a different format, which I like. I did want to win, I admit that. I told myself ‘you’re going to go out there and do the best you can.'”

She’s even had a little fun in the past year of competition.

“When we go to tournaments, we go to fun places. We’re going to go see Niagara Falls,” Cummins said. “We go to different attractions like Busch Gardens in Florida. That was pretty cool.”

‘We typically go to museums or amusement parks,” father Ray said. “Things that she’s never seen. That’s the biggest attraction to team USA.”

The Team USA Junior Developmental squad, which represents the United States at international competitions, is a consistent, strike-fueled repertoire away, short of their being an Olympic opportunity.

“That’s her next goal,” Ray said. “That team travels around the world on behalf of America like an Olympic team would. They get to see things like the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower.”

With a year of hefty competition behind her, Cummins’ game feels different, and better to boot.

“I feel my physical game has improved, and I have a lot more speed. My mental game has also improved,” Cummins said.

The Buffalo gathering includes 2,000 bowlers across seven bowling centers, and Cummins aims to stand out.

“I’ve never bowled at Junior Gold before. It’s my first time. I’d like to get used to the lane and figure out the bowling pattern.”

“Kids show up used to where they bowl, and are overwhelmed. These are PBA-caliber conditions, and they fall hard,” Ray said.

Whether its Buffalo or at the July BPAA Women’s All-Stars Pro-Am in Rockford, Ill., Cummins has had more time this past year to have more confidence in her game.

That’s good news for her, bad news for the unfortunate pins in her wake.

“I’ve already qualified for Junior Gold, and I made most of my spares at the PEPSI,” Cummins said. “If you tell yourself, ‘don’t do this’ somewhere around there, you’ll do it because you’re focusing so hard,” Cummins said.


A quick example

Kaneland grad Heckert utilizes experience to coach, run marathons
PLAINFIELD, Ill.—As a multi-sport athlete at Kaneland High School nearly a full decade ago, Kristen Heckert used her immense talent to cross many a State-qualifying finish line.

Now as a math teacher and coach at Plainfield South High School, she’s been responsible for honing young athletes’ talent, while finding time to reach finish lines as a member of New Balance Chicago racing.

Having finished her college athletics career at University of Illinois-Chicago, Heckert soon made her way to a teaching post at KHS before landing at Plainfield South before the 2012-13 school year.

Heckert was the girls cross country coach this past season and assistant track coach, and plans to step into an assistant XC role to better concentrate on marathons when the New Balance banners fly.

There’s important overlap with the two.

“I try to talk about my running a little bit,” Heckert said. “I stepped down to an assistant for more time to train. My running is really important to me and I want to see what I can do with it. I didn’t want it to conflict with coaching. They should have a coach that is with them 100 percent, and nothing is more important than that,” Heckert said.

If anything, Heckert gets a built-in support staff in addition to her New Balance racing outfit, which most recently saw a 36:03 effort at United Run For The Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo, tops in the 10K women’s division.

“They know that I am competing and know what my end goal is, but it’s not about me, it’s about the girls. They are so supportive, and the coaching staff and boys program is so supportive. It helps, because you let them know they always have to stretch and run. These kids are doing it all the time and combined with school. It just gives you an extra push,” Heckert said.

Now a three-time veteran of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon held in October, Heckert finished in 20th in the womens’ division with a 2:47.56 in 2012 and 2:44.12 in 2013. From the former Lady Knight’s perspective, there’s nothing not to like about the experience.

“There’s not outside pressure ever,” Heckert said. “There’s so many people. The pressue comes from ourselves. It’s kind of ‘go out there and see what you can do.” The racing team is so supportive and everyone wants the best for you. It’s a wonderful experience. To get that support from people who don’t even know you and are out at six in the morning, it’s wonderful and it’s a great accomplishment for anyone who does it.”

Having also competed in the Chicago Half-Marathon in September with a time of 1:19.18 and the DeKalb Corn Classic 10K last summer in 36:11, Heckert has plenty of great performances to draw from and still tries to match memorable runner highs.

“That first marathon was so perfect, it felt good. I thought they were all going to be that way, but the last two were so painful and hurt so much. I’ve been so lucky when it comes to injuries. You always wake up sore, but I haven’t had anything where I need to take time off, so I’m very thankful for that,” Heckert said.

With her 2012 Bank of America time in Chicago and top Illinois finisher, Heckert was able to be invited to a marathon in Osaka, Japan, but declined the task because it coincided with Plainfield South cross country regionals.

She was once again the top Illinois finisher in 2013, and Osaka won’t be a problem with an assistant coach job.

“If Osaka is offered to me this year, I’ll definitely take it,” Heckert said.

Heckert has more aspirations, only in the form of U.S. Olympic Trials in Los Angeles in 20 months, where she’ll need a 2:43.

“I would love to run in the Olympic Trials (March 2016), that’s the end-all, be-all goal. I have a lot of opportunities with coaching and teammates. I would love to do that with running, and be running with the top Americans ever,” Heckert said.

With her brothers and sisters in cross-trainers, the journey will be noteworthy and fast.

“We always do the Palos race, the Soldier Field 10-miler—those will wipe me out—and the Zoo race is sponsored by New Balance,” Heckert said. “We do the Human Race in Oak Brook, which has the money go to great causes. I don’t like racing a lot, and I’ve raced a lot this year. I love training.”


Sectional shutdown

Baseball’s quest ends in semifinal against rival Sycamore
ROCHELLE, Ill.—Kaneland’s baseball season came to an end on June 4, not with a bang or a whimper.

Rather, it was the inability to connect aluminum to ball.

In a pitchers’ duel, Kaneland was denied a single hit off Sycamore pitcher Colan Treml, while suffering a Brett Weaver home run in the bottom of the fifth in a 1-0 elimation loss.

The Class 3A Rochelle Sectional semifinal loss ends the Kaneland season at 18-16, while Sycamore (26-12) was set to participate in Monday’s Rock Island Super-Sectional at Augustana College after beating Rockford’s Boylan Catholic on Saturday morning.

Treml’s nine-strikeout day was matched by Kaneland sophomore standout Anthony Holubecki, winner of the regional semifinal against Aurora Central Catholic just eight days prior.

Holubecki (6-3) went 5.1 innings in the loss. The defeat at the hands of Northern Illinois Big XII rival Sycamore knotted up the season series at two games apiece between the two programs.

“It’s tough to take; it’s just one swing,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “(Anthony) pitched a great game, and you can’t ask much more than two hits from your pitcher.”

The recent run by Kaneland helped to offset a little of the late-season blues that saw KHS drop six of its previous eight contests before the playoff run.

The only baserunners Kaneland was afforded in Ogle County were Curtis Thorson reaching on the first at-bat of the game, thanks to a shortstop error, an error that allowed Joe Panico to reach base in the second inning on a play that was originally ruled a hit, and Thorson reaching again on a shortstop miscue in the third inning. Treml then proceeded to retire the final 14 batters of the game.

“We knew Treml likes to throw first-pitch fastballs and obviously his slider and curveball were nasty. We were behind in the count. Obviously, we don’t like being in that position, so we were going to be aggressive with the first pitch,” Aversa said.

With the loss, occurring after the school’s second-ever regional plaque, the Knights say goodbye to seniors Tyler Carlson, Sean Dunphy, Nick Henne, Nate Hopkins, Kevin Kassinger, Nick Stahl, Thorson and Lucas Wolski.

“This last week has been awesome for all of us,” Aversa said. “It’s been a fun ride. These kids could have easily packed it in after Senior Night, but they hung in there and dusted themselves off.”

Photo by Patti Wilk


Familiar faces

Photo: Sophomore Jenna Harvell plays in a home game against the visiting Huskers Monday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Girls take to court in summer session
KANELAND—If this is what’s in store for the ensuing school year, then the girls basketball program from Kaneland has quite a bit to look forward to.

Already 6-1 through competition in the summer’s Illinois Valley League, the Lady Knights have been to work in a big way.

“It’s a good time for these girls to step up,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “We lost a good group, and they are getting used to different roles now.”

The summer slate, besides the camps, looks a bit different now that snow days made it difficult to rejoin the summer circuit at Glenbard South.

“We are part of the Illinois Valley League this summer and it’s nice. We host games along with Ottawa and Morris,” Colombe said. “It’s good competition, and it’s with teams you don’t really see a whole lot of.”

The opposing teams are sure to get a whole lot of Kaneland.

“We did lose good girls, and we’re off to a good start. They are putting in time and getting comfortable,” Colombe said.

Suiting up in these steady tempuratures are returning upperclassmen like Aly Van Bogaert, Taylor Eaves, Rachel Miller, Emily Grams, Camri Conley, injury-free Vanessa Gould and Bailey Crimmins.

Now joining the upperclass ranks in the summer are Nicole Koczka, Kiandra Powell and Meg Cohrs.

Lower-class assets are Kylie Modaff, varsity returnee Morgan Weber, Kristen Siebert, Jenna Harvell and Jessie Weber.

“They are getting to know each other’s strengths and have a chance to step up in new roles. Camri Conley split time as point guard with Caroline Heimerdinger in the winter, and she’s taking over as point right now,” Colombe said.

The month of June turns out to be pretty busy, with consecutive Mondays at Morris and then at Ottawa. Shootouts take place at Morris, East Aurora, Neuqua Valley and Ottawa.

No downtime

Johnson’s roundball outfit takes to court for busy month
KANELAND—Kaneland’s 2013-14 boys basketball team had itself quite the ride, that featured a buzzer-beating regional final win over Marmion Academy and a sectional semifinal appearance against Rockford Lutheran.

Whatever ride the Knights hope to have in 2014-15 begins now.

An 18-10 final record was a nice turn of events, but with departed sharpshooters like Drew David, Tyler Carlson, John Pruett and more away from the Maple Park base of operations, it’s time for KHS to look from within again.

“You’re basically getting the guys to get used to playing with one another,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “They know what we need to do.”

With David, Carlson and Pruett vacating the roster, its up to returnees like Ryan David, Dylan Vaca, Jacob Gomes, Connor Fedderly and Steven Limbrunner.

“Ryan and Dylan saw a lot of time as sophomores, and Jacob is six-foot-five and we’re glad he’s back and staying healthy. Connor is probably the best shooter on the team right now, and Steven and guys like Owen Korpela came in and worked hard every day in practice,” Johnson said.

Dealing with camps for various levels and the weekly Geneva League in the evening, routine seems to be paramount for the Knight roundball crew.

“We’re just getting them playing together, Drew is helping out with the camp and it’s nice to have another set of eyes. He was a leader on the court for four years. I’m looking for a lot of things this summer,” Johnson said.

Besides the Geneva League, the Kaneland basketball summer brigade takes a bit of a different tour, replacing the usual Morris shootout with a shootout excursion to Glenbard East.

“Morris always fell on the last day of Geneva’s league, and we just felt it was right to complete the whole league. We’re also going to Glenbard East’s shootout, which has great teams, and we’ll see St. Joseph’s, which has a legendary coach,” Johnson said.

Kaneland’s tour also sees the West Aurora Shootout on Friday, June 20, and the Waubonsie Valley Shootout on Tuesday, June 24.

The Geneva League features 20 Chicagoland area teams, with Kaneland in the Blue Division along with Geneva, Bartlett, Metea Valley, Mooseheart, Naperville Central, St. Charles East, Streamwood, Waubonsie Valley and West Chicago.


KHS wrestlers hope to raise funds for camp, volunteer 500 hours of community service

Photo: Members of the Kaneland High School wrestling team have volunteered nearly 500 hours of community service throughout the Kaneland area this spring. Here, the Knights spread mulch for a Sugar Grove resident. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—The Kaneland High School wrestling team will be at both the Sugar Grove and Elburn Jewel-Osco stores this Saturday in an effort to raise funds for members of the team to attend the Malecek Team Camp in Wisconsin during the week of June 23. The team is making a final push to raise the funds needed to send 24 wrestlers to the camp. The team is seeking monetary donations during its time at the Jewel-Osco locations, and will be telling their stories of the community service they have provided this spring throughout the Kaneland area.

In its third year, the team’s spring fundraiser has seen the Knights volunteer over 1,400 hours of community service—ranging from helping seniors with spring cleaning to volunteering at the Northern Illinois Food Bank—and the team is close to its goal of 500 hours this spring alone.

If you are unable to meet the wrestlers at one of the Jewel-Osco locations on Saturday, you can send monetary donations of any amount to Kaneland Knights High School Wrestlers (an Illinois not for profit), 104 Maple Street, Sugar Grove, IL 60505. All funds are used to assist the wrestlers directly.

Photo by Marshall Farthing

Excellence in action

Boys track captures 2nd place in Class 2A State meet; boasts Barnes, Dyer as champs

CHARLESTON, Ill.—It was a group of athletes that rose to the occasion all season long.

One could probably say that about any incarnation of Kaneland boys track, but KHS resembled that remark with a vengeance in 2014.

With 84 team points and 12 finalists, the Knights were just six points behind Cahokia for the Class 2A State Title at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston, Ill., on Saturday. Cahokia won its fourth-straight title by outlasting KHS in the 4×400 m relay.

It marks their highest finish since a second-place, 53-point finish in 2010. KHS finished 16th in 2011, 11th in 2012 and sixth a year ago.

Kaneland also emerged from the Burlington Central Sectional as meet champs with 183 team points.

Burlington Central (38), Carbondale (34) and Chicago’s Dunbar (33) rounded out the top five. Conference rival Sycamore (26), Galesburg (25), Dixon (23), Dunlap (22) and Glenbard South (22) filled in the top 10.

The Knights were also able to boast two individual first-time State champs, with Ben Barnes leaping to the long jump crown with a finals effort of 23 feet, 5 inches. Teammate Nate Dyer heaved his way to the shot put honor at 58-05.25 in the finals.

“They both kept pushing themselves,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “They both had personal bests on a day when it meant the most. Ben had nothing to lose after his first five jumps and brought more speed into his jump than ever before. Nate had been very consistent in the shot all season. That consistent effort put him in the lead and he then could go even harder with out fear of scratches. It paid off with a huge PR. They both put themselves in a position where they had done what we needed for our team first and then pushed themselves to achieve more.”

More All-State honors came down the pike for KHS, with Dylan Kuipers taking fourth with a 14-09 in the pole vault. Alex Snyder captured fifth in the shot put in 54-5.5, while Dyer came back for a seventh in the discus at 152-04.

Barnes made it to the finals with a 22-2.75 jump on Friday, which was third overall in his heat and trumped Cahokia’s Jamari Ward by 6.5 inches in the final. The junior finished second at the sectional with a 21-09.

The junior was still in awe of the weekend’s events.

“It hasn’t really sunk in, I don’t know if it ever will,” Barnes said.

Barnes went in with something to prove against the 2A field.

“Jamari was the top jumper in the nation and was expected to win,” Barnes said. “I had something to prove and had a third in the prelims. Once he got hurt after his first jump, Baron and I knew I had an opportunity.”

By definition one of the best long jumpers in Illinois already, Barnes went for the prize once the field sorted itself out.

“I knew coming in that I had been doing really well and had made it to State, and I decided to give it everything I had on my last jump and got a PR,” Barnes said.

Barnes will get a chance to defend his 2A crown next year, after attending track camps in Arkansas and at Stanford.

Dyer made it to the shot finals with a 56-09, better by 1-4.5 feet over heat rival Trevor Fox of Dunlap. The senior won sectionals with a 56-02 in the final.

The 4x800m relay finished second at 7:49.33 thanks to the efforts of Austin Kintz, Luis Acosta, Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera.

Kaneland had a double shot in the 110m high hurdles with Brock Robertson finishing sixth at 15.15, followed by Dylan Nauert in seventh at 15.16.

The 4x200m relay had a third-place day with Barnes, Brandon Bishop, Isaac Swithers and Nauert finishing in 1:29.00.

Kucera secured a sixth in the 400m dash by sprinting to a 50.00. Nauert (38.22) and Robertson (39.27) took third and fourth in the 300m intermediate hurdles.

KHS had Robertson, Bishop, Carter and Kucera take second in the 4x400m with a time of 3:18.46, just .80 off the Cahokia pace, and 1.46 ahead of the Burlington Central foursome.

Other finalists included Dan Evers with a ninth in the pole vault at 13-03. The 4x100m relay of Bishop, Brandon Cruz, Nauert and Swithers found themselves disqualified in the finals.

KHS also had a preliminary presence with State qualifier Dalvell Triplett, who jumped a 41-03.5 in the triple jump prelims.

After a successful weekend, the ability to reach for great heights is coming as less and less of a surprise.

“I believe our Kaneland track program is self-sustaining,” Baron said. “I believe we reload each season. We will lose a tremendous class of seniors. We return a great team that will build on the experience that they gained this season. We have built a program that has freshman and sophomores train side by side with seniors. We will pull a talented eighth-grade group into our program. We may not score 84 points, but I guarantee we will have a team that won’t give up.”

Sweet revenge leads to Sectional

KHS no-hits ACC, outlasts St. Francis for first Regional crown since ‘11
PLANO—Do you remember what happened the last time Kaneland High School baseball captured a regional?

It led to a pileup on the Silver Cross Field mound in Joliet, Ill.

First things first, however, as the Knights braved the top-seeded St. Francis Saints of Wheaton in the Class 3A Plano Regional final on Saturday morning and won 4-1 in nine innings.

It marks the second regional title in school history and first since the State championship run three years ago. St. Francis beat Kaneland, 3-2 in the Kaneland Regional final of a year ago.

KHS got to exact playoff hurt on St. Francis after beating Aurora Central Catholic by a 12-0 margin in five innings on Friday evening, after losing to the Chargers in the penultimate regular season finale.

KHS also closed out its regular season with a 2-1 win on May 28 in Maple Park over Wheaton Warrenville South.

After losing six out of its previous eight, Kaneland has won three in a row and sits at 18-15 going into the Class 3A Rochelle Sectional.

“It feels really good after last year, losing on our own field. It’s great for our guys to battle, battle, battle and come back, and have heroes you wouldn’t expect. Hats off to Nick Stahl for doing a job today,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said.

Stahl, a late-inning asset for the Knights this year, pitched 2.1 innings of relief and earned the win after relieving starter Curtis Thorson and Nate Hopkins, but also slammed a two-run homer to centerfield to cinch the game in the top of the ninth.

It was his second varsity at-bat of the year.

“He is a P.O. (pitcher only) to the extreme. They do not waste time in the cages. They know their role. I told him there was a chance he might be coming up and he should be ready. I told him to make sure you swing at something that’s your pitch,” Aversa said.

After tying the game in the top of the sixth inning on a single by Tyler Carlson that resulted in two St. Francis errors and allowed Thorson to score all the way from first, the Knights were able to hold St. Francis scoreless in the sixth, seventh and eighth frames.

In the ninth, Nick Stratman was hit by a pitch with one out. Two batters later, Joe Panico laced an RBI double to left center to give KHS the lead for good.

“It wasn’t just on me, it was a whole team win,” Panico said. “The kid left me a fastball. Confidence grew throughout the game. We treated it like any other game and came out on top.”

Stahl, who gave up just one hit and fanned two, allowed two baserunners but left them stranded in the ninth.

The talk of the game wasn’t his pitching performance, however.

“I was thinking straight fastball because he was down in the count. I’m a P.O. so I don’t really hit that much. I don’t really know what happened,” Stahl said.

In the win over the No. 3 seed Chargers, the No. 2 seed Knights scored four in the first, one in the second, five in the third and two in the fourth to trigger the mercy rule scenario.

“We’ve really been working on our approach at the plate,” Aversa said. “Seeing the ball and seeing the zone, we were just patient today.”

Catcher Joe Laudont went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, while Carlson went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI.

Hurler Anthony Holubecki (5-2) earned the win while Nick Henne pitched the fifth for the abbreviated no-hitter.

“That’s not a pushover team,” Holubecki said. “The guys did a great job at the plate. Joe called a great game, and I was pretty decent at working ahead.”

Against WWS, Jacob Bachio’s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth cinched the win for reliever Colton Fellows.

Kaneland was set to face Hampshire Regional champ Sycamore, whom the Knights beat two out of three times this season, in Rochelle. The winner of the sectional semifinal would face either Rochelle or Boylan Catholic on Saturday, June 7.

Editor note: Kaneland lost to Sycamore Wednesday 1-0. Anthony Holubecki pitched 5.1 innings and had nine strikeouts, but was outdueled by Sycamore’s Colan Treml who pitched a seven-inning no hitter, striking out 10 Knights. Kaneland finished the season 18-16 overall, 9-6 in NIB-12 play.


Lady Knights have bummer in Burlington

After close regional semi win vs. G-K, KHS falls in last inning to hosts
BURLINGTON, Ill.—For the Lady Knights, a 20-12 final record coupled with a hard-fought win over Genoa-Kingston on May 28 would have the markings of a pretty successful 2014.

The Kaneland lineup was hoping for more.

Class 3A regional host Burlington Central, the top seed in the grouping, escaped the field with a 6-5 win after a wild ride on the basepaths led to the winning run scoring after a single from second. A throw trying to nab the baserunner went out of play allowing the final run to come home.

Before that wild action, Kaneland used heads-up baserunning on May 28, thanks to a Morgan Weber steal of home in the 1-0 win.

Morrow pitched both games of the regional.

In the win over the No. 3 seed Cogs, Morrow, headed to the University of Wisconsin, fanned 10 batters.

“We came together as a team and we’re all in right now. The fastball was working, and he was giving me that corner, so I was working it. I knew I had to get outs after the run, either groundouts or strikeouts,” Morrow said.

The run came home in the bottom of the third, set up by a Weber single and Lanie Callaghan reaching on a fielder’s choice. With runners moved to second and third two batters later, a throw-out attempt of Callaghan at second was botched, allowing Weber to sneak home for the game’s only run.

“When something like that happens, you have to take the next base that opens up. I think our team’s coming together, and I think we’re playing a good game of softball,” Weber said.

After the win, KHS coach Brian Willis was glad for the clutch performances.

“I don’t know how many 0-2 counts Angie had, a bunch,” Willis said. “0-2, 1-2, that gives her a big advantage. With the run, we try to practice every situation. If the ball gets away like that, we’ve got to be on our toes.”

Against BC, the Rockets went up 4-0 after one inning and KHS cut it to 5-2 in the third. Closer at 5-3 in the seventh, Paige Kuefler’s two-run single tied the score and set the stage for the last frame.

With the loss, the Lady Knights bid goodbye to seniors Allie Miller, Lexi Roach, Hayley Contorno, Callaghan and Caroline Heimerdinger.

Photos by Marshall Farthing


A worthy weekend

Photos: Freshman Nicole Sreenan (right) earned All-State accolades in four events at the IHSA State Meet: 100m dash (eighth, 12.50), 400m dash (third, 56.34), 4x100m relay (sixth, 49.03) and 4x200m relay (eighth, 1:45.25). Freshman Carly Elliott (1899) hands off to sophomore Allie Heinzer (below, left) during the 4x100m relay final at the IHSA State Meet Saturday. The quartet of Elliott, Heinzer, Nicole Sreenan and Lauren Zick placed sixth.
Photos by Ben Draper

Kaneland girls track’s trek to EIU ends with 11th place in team standings
KANELAND—Chalk up the recent trip to Charleston, Ill., as a productive one for Kaneland girls track.

With 21 team points at the Class 2A State meet held at O’Brien Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University, the Lady Knights took 11th overall in the state out of all qualified 2A programs.

The Lady Knights beat out Northern Illinois Big XII crossover rival Dixon by two points to hold onto 11th, while KHS was just three points behind Fenwick of Oak Park, Ill., for 10th.

“It was by far the most talented team we have ever had as far as speed was concerned,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We also had very good depth at the other events as well, as shown by the fact we had individuals or relay teams qualify in 11 events for state and then be able to place in six of those at State.”

Cahokia (61), Normal University (54), Chicago’s Noble Street Charter/Johnson (38), Springfield (36) and Chicago’s Brooks (33) filled out the top five slots.

IMG_2796 Kaneland even saw All-State finishes from three of their relays. The 4x100m relay squad of Carly Elliott, Allie Heinzer, Nicole Sreenan and Lauren Zick finished sixth overall with a time of 49.03 after running 49.13 in Friday’s prelims. The 4x200m relay of Olivia Galor, Becca Richtman, Heinzer and Elliott ran a 1:45.25 for eighth place. Finally, the 4x400m group of Galor, Sreenan, Sydney Strang and Heinzer took seventh at 4:01.60 for all-State honors.

Sreenan was also All-State in both the 100m (eighth) and 400m (third) dashes. Sreenan finished her 2014 season with a 56.34 in the 400m final gathering, .69 off the pace of Cahokia’s Mariya Hudson. Her 12.50 effort in the 100m earned her the final All-State spot in that event.

Other finalists from Saturday’s action representing Kaneland were Christina Delach, finishing seventh in pole vault with 10 feet, 9 inches, which earned the senior all-State honors.

Maddie Keifer finished 15th in high jump with a 5-footer.

In the 3,200m run finals, Brianna Bower finished 13th with a time of 11:26.53.

KHS also had plenty of other State entries compete on Friday, with Elle Tattoni throwing a 35-08 in the shot put and a 108-02 in discus.

The 4x800m relay of Richtman, Aislinn Lodwig, Jessica Kucera and Strang ran a 10:01.18.

Capping a productive girls track season saw highlights on the point scale, but also in the personnel themselves.

“The indoor NIB-12 invitational championship and the second sectional team championship were the team highlights,”Ecker said. “(It was a) responsible and hard-working group of girls with excellent leadership from the seniors.”


Fantastic Friday for KHS boys track

Photo: Sophomore Austin Kintz was a surprising State qualifier for the Knights in the 1600m run, with a big run of 4:30.06. Photo by Marshall Farthing

Success comes Knights way at BC boys track sectional
BURLINGTON, Ill.—It’s come to be expected that the Kaneland boys track program will outdo themselves every so often.

There was no departure from the norm on Friday afternoon on the grounds of Burlington Central High School. That’s where the KHS outfit laid waste to the rest of the field and piled on 183 team points for the sectional crown.

Burlington Central’s 75.5 was a distant second, followed by Sycamore’s 72, Dixon’s 67 and Winnebago’s 43.

The six-through-10 schools were Rochelle (32), Sterling (25), Rockford Christian (21), Genoa-Kingston (122) and Freeport (9).

The Knights were able to qualify for this Friday’s IHSA Class 2A State finals in Charleston, Ill. in 13 of 18 events due to the outstanding output in Burlington.

“This week is all about normal practice, fine tuning some little things such as handoffs, starts and just getting in the right state of mind,” KHS coach Eric Baron said.

The first-places began with the 4×800-meter relay foursome that aced the Rockets track in 7:55.32. The 4x200m relay also took a first with a time of 1:29.54. The 4x400m relay joined them with a mark of 3:21.57.

Senior Alex Snyder will throw shot put at the State meet this weekend after a 53-10.75 effort at Friday’s Sectional. 					       Photo by Marshall Farthing
Senior Alex Snyder will throw shot put at the State meet this weekend after a 53-10.75 effort at Friday’s Sectional. Photo by Marshall Farthing

On the field side, it was KHS mainstay Dylan Kuipers earning a first in the pole vault with an effort of 14 feet, six inches.

Nate Dyer was able to claim both throwing events for himself, winning the shot put with a 56-02, and the discus at 164-08, a foot farther than Winnebago entry Chris Smith.

Kyle Carter rounded out the first-places with a 49.89 in the 400m dash.

Second-place honors were also good enough to punch a ticket to O’Brien Field this weekend, beginning with the 4x100m relay squad running in 42.76.

Ben Barnes was able to capture second in the long jump at 21-09, and teammate Dan Evers nabbed a second behind Kuipers in the pole vault with a 13-09.

In the shot put, Alex Snyder managed a 53-10.75, and Dalvell Triplett wrote a ticket to State with a 43-11.5 in the triple jump.

“The triple jump was also a big surprise,” Baron said. “Dalvell hit over qualifying on his first jump and Ben Barnes has 2-05 PR on his long jump. It really got the ball rolling.”

Rounding out the runners-up were personnel like Dylan Nauert in the 110m high hurdles at 14.75 and 300m low hurdles in 38.74, Nathaniel Kucera in the 400m dash at 49.93, and Austin Kintz in the 1,600m run at 4:30.06.

“Kintz was the biggest surprise,” Baron said. “He executed his race plan perfectly, and it was so rewarding for him and us coaches.”

Brock Robertson’s two fourth places in the 110m hurdles (15.22) and 300m hurdles (39.66) were enough to join the State caravan, as well.

The Class 2A preliminaries take place on Friday, May 30, and conclude on Saturday, May 31, on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.


Knights heights

Four-decade tradition of PV State presence still going strong
KANELAND—When you hit your 30s, you think you’ve seen most everything.

With Kaneland High School’s boys track squad on its way to the State finals in Charleston, Ill., this coming Friday, the program hopes there’s still amazing things on the pole vault side it hasn’t seen.

Beginning with a sixth-place finish from athlete Paul Johnson back in 1972, the pole vaulters have graced Kaneland with consistency and noteworthy heights. KHS hopes to continue that tradition with the duo of Dylan Kuipers and Dan Evers qualifying for the State finals. Kuipers’ 14 feet, 6 inch effort coupled with Evers’ 13-09 cinched the 32nd-straight season KHS has a State ticket in pole vault.

With three State champs and 27 all-State athletes, the Knights have found no shortage of elite personnel ready and willing to vault at Eastern Illinois University.

Boys pole vault coach Andy Drendel starts with the basics.

“No Kaneland vaulter has ever been hurt or put in a bad spot from vaulting. I take pride in teaching them how to be safe, and I don’t allow bad habits to form early on in their vault career. Having the right poles provided by our booster club has made my job easier. It allows me to focus on the vaulters’ technique so they can reach their full potential,” Drendel said.

Kuipers and Evers had a talent base and room to learn throughout their time at KHS.

“Dan Evers and Dylan Kuipers both were 5 feet tall and made 9’6 as freshmen, which is pretty average. They are now 15’3.5 and 13’9 vaulters and ranked top 10 in the state. They learned the proper form early on as freshmen, hit a growth spurt and physically matured. Since they already had a great technical base they developed as freshmen, they both developed very quickly when they grew into men,” Drendel said.

Evers, who is qualifying for the first time, is glad to go down there and not be the only Knight rep.

“I only got a 9-6 as a freshman, so to get State qualifying height is awesome,” Evers said. “As seniors, you’re determined to go down to State, so it’s great that we get to do this.”

Kuipers, who plans to join the vaunted North Central College track program next year after two EIU trips, feels the pole vaulters have always been on a different vibe.

“We have our own bond,” Kuipers said. “We’re with the team, but when it’s time for our event, it’s go time. It’s just us vaulters.”

With his first place at the Burlington Central Sectional, Kuipers’ approach made a difference.

“I didn’t put as much pressure on myself this second year,” Kuipers said. “I made the heights that I needed to, and that was a good start.”

Sam Kranz, member of the Class of 2007 and former University of Northern Iowa track athlete, was the last All-Stater, having reached a fourth place his senior year.

“I had a really good pole vault coach in Randy Oleson, and I expected to do well once I went down to State,” Kranz said. “My senior year, there was a lot of pressure on myself after having qualified three years. Dylan and Dan have their expectations going into it.”

Kranz still feels pride about the roster of vaulters he’s a part of.

“You go on the track website that they do an awesome job with and see the Top 50 list, and it’s really cool to see that,” Kranz said.

Class of 2013 member Kory Harner, who qualified three years in a row and attends Hope College in Holland, Mich., is mindful that determination and daring plays a sizable role.
“One year, I didn’t plant my first eight times. You just have to keep going, even if you have a bad practice or a bad meet,” Harner said.

The willingness to work stuck with Harner as part of the seemingly endless list of successful vaulters.

“Nobody gets by on sheer talent, it’s so completely different from anything. You see the tradition, you do the same drills and you build on it,” Harner said.

With a roster of vaulters tasting State since the Nixon administration, and consecutively since the 1980s, the event can only look forward.

“I love our KPV summer camp,” Drendel said. “In the past few years, I’ve had more kids from Geneva, St. Charles and Batavia come to my camp than Kaneland kids. I’ve asked those kids how they heard about my camp.”

“They said, ‘Everyone knows Kaneland has great vaulters.'”


Softball steadying

Photo: A Kaneland coach talks with a KHS baserunner at a recent game. The Lady Knights faced off against Genoa-Kingston Wednesday as part of the
Burlington Central Regional. Results were not available as of press time.
Courtesy photo submitted by Linda Kelley to

KANELAND—KHS softball was able to get itself into a groove at the late juncture of the regular season, and just in time.

Navigating its way through numerous cancellations and postponements two weeks ago, the Lady Knights were able to see action against Morris on May 21, winning 6-0 and facing off against host Rosary in a doubleheader to put a final note on the regular season, sweeping both morning contests on Saturday before beating West Aurora 1-0 in the afternoon.

KHS sits at 19-11 and finishes the Northern Illinois Big XII conference season at 7-3.

Angie Morrow won the game over the Morris Redskins, who dropped to 18-9, and allowed just two hits on the afternoon.

Courtney Davis excelled in the pitchers’ circle for the Game 1 win over the Royals, while Shannon Herra took the Game 2 win.

In the win over the Blackhawks, Morrow earned his second win in four days.

Up next for Kaneland was the Wednesday, May 28, meeting as part of the Burlington Central Regional as the No. 2 seed against No. 3 Genoa-Kingston. The Lady Knights-Cogs matchup was for the right to face BC, Hampshire or Sycamore in the Saturday, May 31, championship at 10 a.m. Results weren’t available at press time.

A year ago, Kaneland’s six-run rally against Rosary fell short in the final inning in the Rosary Regional title game.

Struck down

Prolific season stopped in tracks by Rosary in regional final
AURORA—Just one of these years, Kaneland High School girls soccer would like for the bloom to go off Rosary.

After another successful regular season, as well as a Class 3A Rosary Regional semifinal win a week ago against Rochelle, Kaneland found itself in a battle for plaque supremacy on Saturday against the host Royals, only to lose in penalty kick fashion in a 3-1 affair.

For Kaneland, the 2014 season, marked and highlighted by depth, scoring and varied options to carry out the attacks, ends at 14-4-2, and 7-1-2 in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play.

Rosary spelled the end of Kaneland’s season in regional finals back in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Crystal Lake Central also eliminated KHS in regional final play back in 2009, making four times in the last six seasons for a regional final exit.

“The season ended much earlier than we expected it to,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “The seniors’ record was 50-24-9; they only knew winning. I think that will be one of the biggest contributions to the returning players. The younger players should expect to win. I know they will also want the returning players to win that regional that has eluded us for so many years. The seniors were the first to ever win conference—that is a huge accomplishment.”

Rosary improved to 10-11-2 on the season, which also included two regular season losses to KHS.

The Royals and Lady Knights battled through 80 minutes of scoreless ball in Aurora and overtime totaling 20 minutes before the penalty kick setup was triggered. Madi Jurcenko converted on the lone penalty kick try for KHS.


Ironing it out

Photo: Junior Jacob Bachio makes a play on an ACC runner at second base. Kaneland lost the final regular season matchup with ACC, 6-0, and play the Chargers again today at 4:30 p.m. in Plano. Photo by Mary Paulson

KHS diamond boys fall in regular season finale to upcoming playoff foe
KANELAND—If adjustments have to be made, there’s no more ideal time than just before the playoffs.

For KHS baseball, the adjustments in the current layoff will have to do enough before today.

With just one game on the slate this past week, the Knights lost to the Aurora Central Catholic Chargers lineup in Maple Park by a final of 6-0, in what Kaneland hopes is not a precursor to their regional meeting.

KHS finishes the regular season with a mark of 15-15 and 9-6 in Northern Illinois Big XII play. Kaneland is currently in a funk that has seen it drop six out of its last seven contests.

Kevin Kassinger was tagged with the loss in the Friday encounter, going four innings while giving up four runs on six hits.

ACC scored two runs in the first, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the sixth to seal the result.

On the Knights side, Nate Hopkins went 1-for-2 with a walk, while Kevin Fuchs went 1-for-3 in the losing cause.

All that remains is the postseason, which first takes the form of the 3A Plano Regional.

KHS is set to play on Thursday, May 29, at 4:30 p.m. against No. 3 ACC as the second seed. The winner faces either No. 1 St. Francis of Wheaton or No. 4 Sandwich. Sandwich had defeated No. 5 Plano 2-1, while ACC defeated IMSA 17-0 in Monday games.

The regional final would take place on Saturday, May 31, at 10 a.m.
A year ago, St. Francis got the better of Kaneland in the Kaneland Regional final by 3-2 clip, in the Knights’ first regional final opportunity since the State championship run of 2011.


Hole(s)-in-one at Hughes

A couple hole-in-ones were shot at Hughes Creek Golf Club in Elburn this past week. On May 21, Deb Peterson (right) of St. Charles shot a hole-in-one on the 140-yard hole No. 17, a par 3. Peterson’s shot was witnessed by Ken Peterson. On Sunday, Elburn’s Joel Speckman (below) shot a hole-in-one on the 152-yard hole No. 3, a par 3. Speckman used a Callaway Razr X 7 iron with a Callaway golf ball. Speckman’s wife, Sue, was the witness.
Photos submitted to


Raiding Rosary Regional

KHS soccer gets off on right foot vs. Rochelle
AURORA—Never let it be said that Kaneland soccer fails to make the most of its opportunities when it counts.

As a threat of storms and hail permeated the area, No. 1 Kaneland not only got the Class 2A Rosary Regional semifinal completely in against No. 4 Rochelle, the match even shaved 10 minutes off due to Kaneland’s goal margin in the 7-0 result. Kaneland defeated IMSA in the Rochelle Regional semi a year ago, 8-0.

A portion of state-wide action had action postponed or stopped due to threatening weather, with action resuming on Wednesday.

After Kaneland’s lone win of the week, the Lady Knights improved to 14-3-2 in 2014.

As was the case for many of the 14 wins this season, the KHS crew poured on the offense. The goal barrage came from a wide array of options, including three corner kicks.

“We’re really good at them,” Madi Jurcenko said. “It happens where someone is always there where I kick it. Today, we were able to finish them.”

“It’s huge; that’s probably 17 goals off corner kicks this year,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “It’s something the girls take pride in—good for us, good for the girls. One of our goals was to win conference, we did that. The other was to win a regional championship. Hopefully, we will.”
The scoring barrage began in the first half with a goal from Courtney Diddell just two minutes, 42 seconds into the match. Madi Jurcenko had a goal trickle through with 27:46 to go for the two-goal edge. Rochelle would miss a penalty kick try with 6:33 to go in the half, and Brittany Olson would make the Lady Hubs pay with a sliding attempt for a goal with 2:19 remaining for a 3-0 edge going into halftime.

Olson wasted no time tallying the team’s fourth goal less than a minute into the second half to make it 4-0.

With 32:40 to go, Delaney Stryczek executed a header that found its way between the posts to go up 5-0.

“Madi does our crosses for us,” Stryczek said. “She always gets it back-post, and I stay more toward the back post. She hits it perfectly, right where it needs to be, and I just headed it right in the back of the net.”

The penultimate goal came off the cleat of Holly Collingbourne off of several rebounds with 27:13 remaining.

Kiandra Powell’s rocket with just over 20 minutes remaining cemented the final margin and punched the regional final ticket.

KHS advances to the Rosary Regional final against either No. 2 Rosary or No. 3 IMSA for a Saturday, May 24, meeting at 11 a.m.


Sophomore Gabby Cano (top, right) heads the ball in the first half of Kaneland’s 7-0 win over Rochelle Tuesday. Senior Brittany Olson (above, left), maneuvers around three Rochelle defenders enroute to Kaneland’s third goal of the first half. Kaneland defeated Rochelle 7-0 in the Regional opener Tuesday.
Photos by Patti Wilk