Category Archives: Spring Sports

Brian Willis named new Lady Knights softball skipper

by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—A big question concerning the future of Lady Knights softball was answered on Monday.

In an official press release from Kaneland High School, Brian Willis was introduced as the head varsity softball coach after an internal and external interview process involving other candidates.

Willis, in his ninth year at KHS, has coached various levels of boys’ soccer and boys’ basketball. He is currently the advisor of Partners in International Education Club, Model UN and assistant student council advisor.

Willis was involved in varsity softball in May once former varsity coach Dennis Hansen was suspended.

“I stepped in and helped last year and I enjoyed it. A lot of girls encouraged me to go after the job. It’s an opportunity to turn the page and have a fun and positive year,” Willis said.

Willis has been involved in various levels of community softball since 1985.

“I have a passion for softball. Work hard and good things will happen,” Willis said.

Crosby named Minors’ Pitcher of the Year

COMSTOCK PARK, MI—The Detroit Tigers announced Sept. 23 that left-handed pitcher Casey Crosby has been named the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Crosby went 10-4 with a 2.41 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 104.2 innings pitched with the Whitecaps this season. He also put together an amazing second half, going 5-2 with a 0.78 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 46 innings pitched and was named to the Midwest League Postseason All-Star team.

This is the fourth straight season that a Whitecap has been named the Tigers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Jon Kibler won the award last season. Duane Below took home the award in 2007 and Burke Badenhop was honored in 2006.

Crosby named to postseason All-Star Team

COMSTOCK PARK, MICH.—The Midwest League announced its 2009 Postseason All-Star Team on Tuesday, and two Whitecaps, left-handed Pitcher Casey Crosby, a Kaneland High School graduate, and designated hitter Billy Nowlin, have been named to the squad.

Crosby has been stellar in his first full season of professional baseball. He’s 10-4 with a league-leading 2.41 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 104.2 innings with the Whitecaps this season. He was also named the MWL mid-season All-Star team this year.

Nowlin is batting .313 with 12 home runs and 73 RBI in 102 games with West Michigan this season. He is tied for the team lead in home runs and leads the team in RBI. He also sits second in the league in batting average.

Dee Gordon of the Great Lakes Loons took home Prospect of the Year honors and split the MVP Award with his teammate, Kyle Russell. Doug Dascenzo of Fort Wayne and Marty Pevey of Peoria were named Managers of the Year.

The Whitecaps return home Friday, August 28, to take on the Fort Wayne TinCaps at 7 p.m.

Siebert joining SIU-Edwardsville softball

EDWARDSVILLE—Laurie Siebert of Sugar Grove and Ali Downing of Ottumwa, Iowa, will join the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville softball team next season, according to coach Sandy Montgomery.

Coming off an impressive 40-10 season in 2009, Montgomery added a pair of transfer student-athletes.

“Both Laurie and Ali have the ability to step in right away for us at important positions,” Montgomery said.

Siebert, who has been with Mississippi State since the 2007 season, will have two years of eligibility. An infielder, Siebert appeared in 20 games last season at Mississippi State. She was named a two-time Southeastern Conference Academic All-American.

A two-time All-State pick at Kaneland High School, Siebert twice was the state runner-up in the IHSA Home Run Derby.

“Laurie was an outstanding hitter in high school and has a few years of experience in the SEC facing some of the top pitchers in the country,” said Montgomery.

Siebert was a four-time All-Conference pick. She also played club softball with the Aurora Raiders, helping them to two USSSA state championships.

Downing, who spent two seasons at Indian Hills Community College, was a third team All-American last season as well as a first team All-Midwest Region performer. Honored both seasons as an All-American for academics, she was the Newcomer of the Year for Indian Hills as a freshman.

A four-time All-State selection at Ottumwa High School, she helped lead Ottumwa to a seventh-place state finish as a sophomore and a third-place finish as a senior.

Named to Iowa’s Senior All-Star team as a senior, she also was honored as a Wendy’s High School Heisman nominee.

Crosby named MWL Pitcher of the Week

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich.—The Midwest League announced on July 27 that West Michigan Whitecaps’ pitcher Casey Crosby has been named Pitcher of the Week.

Crosby, a 2009 Midwest League All-Star, is 8-3 with a 2.92 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 86.1 innings of work with the Whitecaps this season. On Monday, Crosby tossed five hitless innings against the Kane County Cougars.

Crosby is the first Whitecap since Mike Hernandez in 2006 to win the award twice in a season. Ben Guez, Bryan Pounds, Luke Putkonen, Billy Nowlin and Ronnie Bourquin have each taken home the honor earlier in the season.

Knights baseball a summer job

KHS summer roster getting cuts in league
MAPLE PARK—Infielder Jake Fiedler makes his way to base on a walk, then takes a quick opportunity to steal second out from under the nose of Aurora Christian on Tuesday.

The returning Knight baseball asset’s jersey and pants are already covered with dirt, and he pauses to dust himself off as best he can.

Yep, this is Kaneland baseball.

The Brian Aversa-led crew is getting some needed batting and pitching time as the Knights are cleat-deep into the summer league.

Tuesday featured Kaneland taking on visiting Aurora Christian under overcast-turned-to-drizzly skies and came away with a 12-0 win.

Hurler Kyle Davidson was the winning pitcher, and Jake Tickle showed power with a home run.

Aversa, even with the convincing win, feels a game like Tuesday only tells a small part of the story for these summer warriors, who are currently 14-9.

“We’ve seen great play overall from guys like Tickel and (catcher) Tyler Callaghan and guys like Aaron Hayman,” Aversa said.

While the wins are nice, Aversa stresses that they aren’t looking at the win column as the be-all, end-all in this break before student open the books again.

“We want to get guys some playing time and see what they’re able to do out there,” Aversa said.

With 10 games left in the season, the Knights are still full of pleasant developments.

“Overall, our defense has improved at a surprising pace. We look a lot better on defense,” Aversa said.

Monday, July 20, sees the start of the IHSA summer league playoffs against teams in the area.

Meanwhile, the regular season continues with a matchup against West Aurora on Thursday, July 9, at 5 p.m.

The Knights then travel to a tournament at Northern Illinois University set for Saturday, July 11.

Monday, July 13, is a clash with host St. Charles North, while the regular season ends on Thursday, July 16, vs. Batavia.

PHOTO: Knight Kyle Davidson was all over the diamond during Tuesday’s 12-0 handling of visiting Aurora Christian. Davidson, shown here batting, was the winning pitcher in the game for Kaneland. Photo by Mike Slodki

A-Ram invades Kane Co.

Aramis Ramirez helped fuel a Midwest League record crowd as the Cubs third-baseman joined the Class A Peoria Chiefs on a minor league rehab assignment. 14,872 fans packed Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva to see Peoria beat the Kane County Cougars in a 7-1 affair on Friday.
Courtesy Photo

Knight Sinon hits North Carolina for Nationals

by Mike Slodki
In some cases, participating in a national showcase with elite high school track stars would be cause for extreme intimidation.

Not for Nick Sinon.

“It was awesome. It was cool seeing all the best high school athletes and competing against them,” Sinon said on Tuesday.

Sinon, who finished third in the IHSA Class 2A meet in May as a junior, qualified for the Nike Outdoor Nationals meet from June 18-20 at North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro and attended with his mother.

“Some of the best people in the country were there, and it really felt like a big meet,” Sinon said. “I felt like I adjusted well after I practiced.”

Sinon, who’s second in KHS history for the high jump event, finished tied for ninth in his preliminary flight with an effort of six feet, 4.75 inches. He ended up 15th overall.

The national gathering serves to only help Sinon as he gets ready to contribute to the Kaneland High School cross-country cause in the fall.

“It was a huge hurdle for my career; I feel like I can go into a meet and be more comfortable. You see how you compare against the other high school athletes in the U.S.”

Photo: Kaneland Knight Nick Sinon, an all-State high jumper for the 2009 Kaneland boys track squad, competed at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. from June 18-20. Photo by Ben Draper

Crosby fans opponents, grabs MWL honors

COMSTOCK PARK, MI—Casey Crosby was dominant as the West Michigan Whitecaps’ starting pitcher as the Whitecaps trounced the Great Lakes Loons, 8-0, on Sunday afternoon at Fifth Third Ballpark. The Loons were shut out for just the second time this year, and both occasions were in this four-game series. The ‘Caps took three of the four games.

Crosby was at his best on Sunday. The left-hander threw five innings of no-hit, shutout baseball against one of the best hitting teams in the Midwest League. Crosby walked one batter and struck out six. He improved his record to 6-2.

West Michigan pounded out 13 hits for its eight runs. Gustavo Nunez and Billy Nowlin led the attack with three hits apiece. Bryan Pounds had two doubles. Seven of the starting nine ‘Caps had at least one hit.

The Whitecaps broke the game open in the fourth with four runs against Loons’ starter Jon Michael Redding. Eight ‘Caps came to the plate, and the offense was helped by poor Loons defense.

Redding lasted four innings, giving up eight hits, two earned runs, no walks and three strikeouts. The loss makes his overall record 9-3.

The Midwest League announced Monday that Whitecaps’ pitcher Casey Crosby has been named Pitcher of the Week.

Crosby, a 2009 Midwest League All-Star, is 6-2 with a 3.39 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 63.2 innings of work with the Whitecaps this season. On Sunday, Crosby tossed five hitless innings against the Great Lakes Loons.

Crosby is the Whitecaps first Pitcher of the Week this year. Billy Nowlin and Ronnie Bourquin were named Player of the Week earlier in the season.

Cougars claim first-half crown

GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars, officially at the halfway point of the 2009 regular season, will be heading to the Midwest League playoffs this September as the Western Division’s first half champion. Sunday’s 6-0 blanking of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Elfstrom Stadium punctuated the Cougars’ strong first half play as the team went 41-29 through the season’s first 70 games.

Kane County is postseason-bound for the 11th time in 19 years and the fifth time in seven seasons as an A’s affiliate. The Cougars’ first round opponent will be the Western Division second half wild card champion, and that news will likely not be solidified until late August or early September as the season’s second half winds down.

Team statistics reflect how strong of a first half the Cougars, led by manager Steve Scarsone, put together. Kane County slugged the most home runs in the league (57) while allowing the second-fewest long balls (34). Cougars pitchers also yielded 526 hits, the fewest in the league. Three Cougars are on pace for 10 or more wins in 2009, including Pedro Figueroa (7-2, 3.69), Chicago native Kenny Smalley (6-3, 2.26) and Shawn Haviland (5-3, 3.66), who pitched six strong innings in yesterday’s division-clinching victory on Father’s Day. Pitchers such as Figueroa, Smalley and Haviland have been routinely setting the table for closer Mickey Storey, who has nine saves and a 0.52 ERA while allowing only one earned run to cross home plate this season.

Offensively, the Cougars boast an impressive core of five players with 30+ RBIs, three players with 16 or more stolen bases, and a well-balanced lineup that includes four position players that started in the Midwest League All-Star Game in Clinton, Iowa. Outfielder Grant Desme, despite not being selected to the Western Division All-Star squad, leads the Cougars in home runs with 11 and in stolen bases with 24. Other notable offensive stars for the Cougars include first baseman Steve Kleen (team-high 46 RBI), third baseman Jason Christian (2nd best in RBI with 41), and shortstop Dusty Coleman (30 extra-base hits).

The Cougars commence the season’s second half June 25, opening a four-game set against the Quad Cities River Bandits in Davenport, Iowa. Fans can see the Cougars at home again beginning on June 30 when the club hosts the Peoria Chiefs, a Cubs affiliate for a four-game homestand that includes two patriotic fireworks shows on July 2 and 3.

Cougars host Cancer Survivors Day

GENEVA–More than 2,000 survivors and families attended the Kane County Cougars’ Cancer Survivors Day, presented by Cancer Treatment Centers of America, on Sunday afternoon. As part of Sunday’s 7-1 Cougars win over the Peoria Chiefs, survivors as well as family members and friends enjoyed a day at Elfstrom Stadium to commemorate all those who have courageously fought all types of cancer.

Fittingly enough, early morning rain showers led to clear skies before yesterday’s game as countless fans entered the stadium gates wearing purple—the universal color of all types of cancer. Various cancer treatment, prevention and counseling groups were present at the ballpark before the first pitch to take part in a pre-game victory lap parade around the field, led by Ozzie T. Cougar.

As game time approached, Cougars players and staff stepped onto the field for a pre-game autograph session wearing special purple jerseys to pay tribute to those in attendance, and fans responded with a standing ovation to signify the poignant moment.

Shortly after, the Cougars welcomed Dr. Edgar Staren, Chief Medical Officer from CTCA and cancer survivor himself, as well as David Blain on the field to each throw a ceremonial first pitch. Blain, representing all cancer survivors, was diagnosed with prostate cancer on his birthday in 2006.The purple-clad Cougars certainly got a boost from wearing the new jerseys as the team stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning before settling for the 7-1 victory. Cancer survivors and their families were then invited down onto the field immediately following the game to run the bases and put the finishing touches on the afternoon.

The Cougars have also planned a Breast Cancer Awareness Day for the August 30 game, as well as a Prostate Cancer Awareness Day on Fathers Day, June 21.

‘Tis the Season

The Kaneland High School freshman softball team completed a successful 2009 season. The team was coached by Kristyn “Stoney” Crawford. The team ended up being the conference champions with one loss and a record of 13-1. The members include: Grace Fabrizius, Ashley Cottier, Kyle Prost, Sarah McGinnis, Alexis Villarreal, Brittney Miller, Christina Janes, Malory Groen, Alexis Taylor, Megan Scott, Diana Nuno and Sarah Kitz. Courtesy Photo

Sports briefs

Learn hoops with Lyndsie Long
This special camp just for middle school girls will focus primarily on offensive skills including shooting, screening, driving and dribbling. Key aspects of defense like rebounding and shuffling will also be taught. The last day of camp will be loaded with fun, games and prizes while reviewing concepts learned.
Session 1
Grades Entering 6th-8th
Monday-Friday, Aug. 3-7
10 a.m. to noon
$50 (includes camp t-shirt)
Kaneland John Shields Elementary
School gym
Instructor: Lyndsie Long

KHS boys hoops camp rescheduled
Due to scheduling issues, the 9-12 grade KHS Boys Basketball camp is being rescheduled. The new dates for the camp are Monday through Thursday, June 15-18, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Kaneland High School east gymnasium, and Monday through Thursday, June 22-25, from 8 to 10 a.m. in the high school east gymnasium. If you have scheduled a session in this camp and need to now withdraw due to a conflict, please contact Leigh Jaffke at (630) 365-5100, ext. 224, or at

KHS rivals still playing
Although the last bell has rung for area schools, two Lady Knight rivals still have work to do.

The Class 3A Softball State Tournament will feature Burlington Central and Western Sun Conference rival Glenbard South.

Burlington Central, who defeated Kaneland in a 1-0, nine-inning affair on May 30, is set to face Oak Forest on Friday at 9:30 a.m., while Glenbard South faces Chatham’s Glenwood High School at noon in the other semifinal.

Crosby named to Midwest League All-Star game

Former Knight, now 4-0, to suit up on June 23
COMSTOCK PARK, MI—The Midwest League announced today that six Whitecaps players were selected to the league’s annual All-Star Game on Tuesday, June 23 in Clinton, Iowa.

First baseman Ronnie Bourquin, second baseman Brandon Douglas along with pitchers Casey Crosby, Jared Gayhart, Mauricio Robles and Tyler Stohr were among those selected to play in the game. Bourquin was selected to start at first base.

Bourquin is batting .317 with two home runs and 29 RBI this season and has currently put together a nine-game hitting streak. Douglas is tied for fifth in the Midwest League with a .335 batting average. He has also tallied 17 RBI and seven stolen bases.

The Whitecaps boast the most pitchers on the Eastern All-Star Squad. Crosby is having a stellar season after missing most of last season with an injury. He is 4-0 with a 2.83 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 47.2 innings of work. Robles is leading the league with 70 strikeouts. He is 4-3 with a 3.91 ERA.

Gayhart and Stohr have been anchoring the Whitecaps bullpen this season. Gayhart is 2-2 with a 1.83 ERA. Earlier this season he fired 16.2 consecutive scoreless innings. Stohr leads the team with seven saves and has put together a 2-1 record with a 2.13 ERA.

Both the Whitecaps and the Great Lakes Loons lead the Eastern All-Star team with six representatives each.

Individual and group tickets are on sale and can be purchased at the West Michigan Glass Block Ticket Office at Fifth Third Ballpark, by calling the Whitecaps front office at (616) 784-4131 or by visiting

Kaneland Board accepts coach’s resignation

by Susan O’Neill

The Kaneland School Board on Thursday voted to accept the resignation of Kaneland High School coach and teacher Dennis Hansen. The vote was 5-1 in favor of both approving the separation agreement and of accepting Hansen’s resignation.

The dissenting vote was School Board member Deborah Grant, who said her vote was “in light of recent e-mails that the district has received and in lieu of additional information that may come forth.”

Hansen had been suspended from his coaching duties on May 7 and from his teaching responsibilities on May 11. The suspensions and a subsequent investigation were based on allegations made by parents, current students and graduates regarding inappropriate behavior toward students.

The six- to eight-week investigation conducted by Kane County Sheriff’s Police Resource Officer Paul Warren and school officials on behalf of the district uncovered allegations in both the teaching and coaching realm and involved about a dozen current students and recent graduates during the past couple of years, as well as several graduates who had been students in 2001.

According to school officials, the district was not made aware of the 2001 behaviors until the recent investigation, and no information was brought forth from the years in between the two timeframes. Attorney Maureen Lemon, representing the district, said the initial allegations were brought to the resource officer.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jeff Schuler said that none of the behavior rose to the level of requiring notification to the Department of Children and Family Services, and no laws were broken. Lemon said the investigation also looked into his previous employment in Coal City schools and found no connection with the investigation at Kaneland.

Hansen has been with the district for 12 years as a physical education and driver’s education teacher, and more recently as a coach of the varsity girl’s softball and boy’s basketball teams.

The separation agreement specifies salary and health benefits payments to Hansen, per the teacher’s contract, through Aug. 31, 2009, and includes an agreement that neither party shall litigate against the other. It also spells out the wording for any references given to future prospective employers in writing. The reference only identifies his dates of employment and that he resigned.

Although the employment reference wording is factual and neutral, School District Superintendent Charlie McCormick explained that, for those in the education industry, that wording would be considered a red flag.

McCormick said the district decided to accept the agreement offered by Hansen in lieu of further investigation and potential termination of his employment for three reasons. First, any additional action could be appealed and overturned; second, it would involve uncomfortable situations for the students, who would be subjected to cross-examination; and three, Hansen’s resignation was the ultimate outcome the board wanted.

The investigation also brought to light a whole range of policies, procedures, climate and culture that will need to be addressed with teachers, students and parents, McCormick said.

“The current technology has outstripped our ethics,” he said.

For example, coaches typically have their students’ phone numbers listed in their cell phones and will use them to text students to notify them of a game cancellation.

Sugar Grove resident and KHS graduate Jennifer Amery, who is the parent of an 8-year-old, said she was not happy with the way the situation was handled. She said that Kaneland could just be passing on its problem to another school.

“How about a big red check on his resume?” she asked.

See the June 11 edition of the Elburn Herald for additional reporting.

Logan’s Run

Markuson, Sinon earn All-State honors for KHS boys track
by Mike Slodki
This past weekend, Kaneland High School junior Logan Markuson lept right over hurdles and into the IHSA State record books.

Markuson, who had competed at the State level last year, was crowned Class 2A champion in the 300m intermediate hurdles event with a time of 38.57 seconds.

For KHS, it marks the first track State champ for the school since 2004 girls track entry Janine Zylinski, who threw a 42 foot, two inches effort in the shot put.

The last boys track State champion occurred 10 years ago, when Kurt Long pole vaulted at 14-9. The last race champ for the Knights was 1977’s Mark Claypool, running a 47.18 in the 440-yard dash.

“It’s weird. I finished the race and it was like ‘what do I do now?’” Marksuon said. “It hasn’t completely sunk in yet.”

Logan Markuson in the Polve Vault during Friday's prelims.
Logan Markuson in the Polve Vault during Friday's prelims.

Kaneland as a team finished 13th overall in the 2A ranks (20 points).

Hillcrest took the title at 93 points. Cahokia finished a distant second at 47 points, and Springfield Lanphier finished third at 44 points. Western Sun Converence rival Sycamore finished 12th at 22 points, while Glenbard South finished 15th at 18 points.

Markuson’s memorable day also included a seventh-place finish in the pole vault at 13-6. Streator junior Logan Pflibsen won the event at 15-6. Knight Josh Bloome also earned a noteworthy finish at 10th overall (13-3).

Junior Nick Sinon earned All-State honors by placing third in the high jump. Photo by Ben Draper
Junior Nick Sinon earned All-State honors by placing third in the high jump. Photo by Ben Draper

Sectional champion Nick Sinon was up to his old tricks in the high jump, earning an all-State finish with a third-place, 6-7 launch.

“It was amazing,” Sinon said. “Going into this year, I didn’t think I’d do as well, but it all worked out.”

Sinon added,” I think I can go higher next year.”

In the 3200m run, Paul Davies’ 10:00.48 run was good for 13th place in Illinois.

Markuson’s 110m high hurdles dreams were stopped with a false start in the finals.

“I knew there were a couple colleges out there, and they looked at how you recover from things like that,” Markuson said.

“After Logan false started in the 110, I said to him, ‘Champions are measured by how they overcome adversity.’ Logan demonstrated what a champion is in so many ways this season, and the 300 Race at State showed everyone that Logan is a champion,” KHS coach Eric Baron said.

His State-winning effort in the 300m was .20 better than second-place Wana Wauna of Oak Forest.

Markuson’s point total as a junior is six points shy of Claypool’s total.

Markuson and Sinon’s All-State honors are the first since Phil Christensen’s discus honors in 2008.

In the 4x800m relay, Kaneland’s Derek Bus, Hayden Johnson, Sean Paulick and Edgar Valle ran the track in 8:14.01.

110m hurdles entry Taylor Andrews ran his event in 15.35, .12 behind Harlan’s Brandan Presley for the final qualifying spot.

In the 4×400 meter relay, Knight foursome Johnson, Markuson, Tommy Whittaker and Valle finished in 3:27.22 in the preliminaries.

Photo: Kaneland’s Logan Markuson became the first Kaneland boys track and field athlete to win an individual state championship since Kurt Long won the pole vault in 1999, when Markuson won the 300m intermediate hurdles Saturday. He is also the first state champion in the hurdles for the Knights, and placed seventh in the pole vault as well.

Photos by Ben Draper

Baseball sees season end at Rockets home

by Mike Slodki
Monday’s Class 3A regional championship showed Kaneland and Burlington Central’s affinity for the long ball.

It was the Rockets who had slightly more of it.

Three costly homers by BC sent Kaneland baseball home for the season in a 6-5 defeat. The loss in windswept conditions ends the memorable season for the Knights at 23-13.

In a season that was accented by the loss of beloved teammate Jeff Malewig in December, the 2009 season is one that won’t soon be forgotten.

“The way we started with all the emotion, we started with these guys and won 23 games, a school record,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “This team is pretty special.”

For the Knights, it’s the third straight season of being ousted in the regional championship.

In 2007, eventual 2A State champ Neuqua Valley beat Kaneland, 4-1. 2008 had Sycamore oust Kaneland 6-5 in Dixon.

In the bottom of the first inning, Knight Jay Levita hit a home run to right centerfield for a 1-0 edge.

In the top of the third inning, Tanner Scott of the Rockets blasted a two-run shot for a 2-1 lead.

The bottom of the third had Jeff Smith reach on a bunt and Jake Fiedler hit a double to put two runners on. Smith scored on a passed ball to tie the game, and Fiedler came home on a fielder’s choice put in play by Joe Gura to take a 3-2 lead.

BC battled back in the fourth when Bill Rodriguez hit a homer to tie the score. Things got bad for KHS when Austin Jarvis hit a homer off Steve Colombe in the top of the fifth to take a 6-3 lead.

The bottom of the fifth saw life from the Knights when Levita hit a two-run shot to close within 6-5.

Ty Hamer shut the Rockets down in the top of the seventh. With one out, Gura drew a walk, but catcher Mike Pritchard grounded into a double play to end the game.

BC’s Nick Hahn earned the win.

On May 27, Kaneland ousted Western Sun Conference rival Rochelle 10-0 in five innings.

Smith gave up just one hit in his complete game effort. Dave Dudzinski’s second-inning homer, Joe Camaliere’s fourth-inning shot and Pritchard’s fifth-inning blast were plenty for the Knights to coast.

The Knights now say goodbye to a cache of seniors: John Rotella, Joe Spitzzeri, Curtis Lubic, Mike and Troy Pritchard, Levita, Ryan Stout, Gura and Smith.

Photo: Tyler Callaghan slides home safely to end the Knights’ 10-0, five-inning win against Rochelle on May 27. Photo by Mike Slodki

Kaneland loses heartbreaker to BC girls

by Mike Slodki
Lady Knights softball only had to score one run to take the regional title from host Burlington Central during Saturday’s championship.

It was not to be, as BC eliminated Kaneland from the regional for the third straight year in a 1-0, nine-inning affair.

Burlington Central improved to 22-5 in winning the 3A regional, while pitcher Mackenzie Scott improved to 17-2. Scott struck out an astounding 20 batters on the day.

Kaneland counterpart Delani Vest stepped onto the big stage as a freshman, giving up just three hits and striking out four, but fell to 17-6 for the season.

“Delani pitched a heck of a game,” interim coach Ken Neahring said. “She did an excellent job and kept them off balance. She didn’t strike out as many, but she didn’t take a back seat.”

Kaneland’s overall record is 27-9.

The end came with two outs in the ninth inning and Samantha Gruner on second after a single and sacrifice. Lindsay Lange’s grounder to Sara Rose at third base was routinely fielded, but a throw went over first base. The errant throw allowed Gruner to score the only run.

Kaneland’s lone hit was a Brianna Hurst single in the top of the sixth inning. BC had retired nine straight KHS hitters before the end of the contest.

BC was set to face Sycamore at the Rochelle Sectional on Wednesday.

Leading into Saturday’s clash was Kaneland’s regional win over Hampshire, a 6-1 result on May 27.

Vest struck out nine hitters and allowed no earned runs.

Jordan Herra hit a home run and also smacked a double in a three-RBI effort.

Kaneland scored one run in each of the first four innings before scoring two in the bottom of the fifth.

Lady Knight softball says goodbye to seniors Erin Heyob, Mallory Huml, Hurst, Rose and Mangers.

“The seniors were really good for us. We wish them the best of luck; they’ve been great all year,” Neahring said.

Lady Knight freshman Delani Vest delivers in the fifth inning of Saturday’s 1-0 regional championship loss to Burlington Central. Photo by Mike Slodki

Knights get win No. 22, pound DeKalb

Now that the regular season is done, the stage can set itself for the regionals and beyond.

Looks like the Kaneland baseball team, at 22-12, wants the production to go on for quite awhile.

The Knights, who ended the Western Sun Conference slate with a 13-8 mark, lost their regular season finale to DuPage Valley Conference stalwart Wheaton-Warrenville South on Memorial Day, 9-6.

They closed out the conference side of the schedule with a split against DeKalb, a 14-3, five-inning shellacking at Northern Illinois University and a 5-4 loss to the Barbs on May 20.

Joe Gura went 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Mike Pritchard went 2-for-4.

The game was tied at 4-4 until WWS scored one in the third and two more in the fourth to go up 7-4. Gura’s homerun in the seventh was too little, too late. Troy Pritchard fell to 5-3 with the loss.

At the home of the Huskies, Pritchard earned the win, giving up two runs on three hits.

Gura slammed a homerun in the third. Jake Fiedler went 2-for-3. The Knights erupted for five runs in the first, five in the second and four in the third.

Kaneland scored two runs in the third to tie the score at three before DHS came back with a run in the bottom of the inning and never gave up the lead.

Kaneland was set to visit the Class 2A Burlington Central Regional and face off against Rochelle on Wednesday. The Hubs upset Hampshire 5-4 on Monday.

KHS girls track secures 9th-place finish at State

Lady Knights girls track put an exclamation point on its 2009 story this past weekend in Charleston.

Buoyed by stellar performances in the preliminaries and finals, Kaneland came away with a ninth place finish (26.5 points) in the Class 2A State track meet at Eastern Illinois University.

Rock Island turned out to be the champs with 49.5 points, followed by Springfield Southeast at 48 and Cahokia at 39.

Incidentally, five of the six Western Sun Conference schools were bunched together in the standings. Sycamore and Rochelle tied for seventh at 27, while Yorkville finished just behind Kaneland in tenth at 25 points. Glenbard South was tied with Kankakee with 24 points for 11th place.

Lindsay Gierke claimed her spot as one of the most exceptional track athletes in school history with her showing on Friday. The senior finished second in the 100 meter hurdles at 14.67 seconds, second only to Cahokia’s Laquitsha Bejoile (14.48). Gierke made the finals by tying for first in the preliminaries with a 15.02 effort in her heat.

Gierke also finished fourth in the 100m dash at 12.28 seconds, after finishing second in her prelim heat at 12.35.

Gierke also finished third overall in the 300m hurdles event at 45.14 seconds. Cahokia’s Bejoile took that event as well at 44.92. The Lady Knight senior finished second in her prelim heat at 46.13.

Sophomore Andie Strang was up to her old tricks at her second trip down to State. Not only did she finish 10th in the 800m run (2:22.95) but was also part of the ninth-place 4x800m relay squad that finished in 9:47.58. Strang joined Kris Bowen, Kelly Evers and Lisa Roberson for the honors.

Lady Knight Jordan Pinkston took home a fifth-place tie overall in the pole vault at 10 feet, three inches. In the prelims, Pinkston went 10 feet, and teammate Sara Wallace finished with nine feet.

Photo: Lady Knight senior Lindsay Gierke goes for the finish during Friday’s Class 2A girls track State gathering in Charleston. Gierke came away with a second overall in the 100m hurdles, a fourth in the 100m dash (pictured) and a third in the 300m intermediate hurdles. Photo by Ben Draper

Boys track crowned Sectional champs, send vanload to State

by Mike Slodki
Before the season, boys track coach Eric Baron had a good feeling about his team’s chances this season.

The Freeport Sectional this past Friday made Baron seem downright clairvoyant.

The Knights captured a sectional title with 88 points, a two-point edge over Sycamore, and sent seven separate events to the State final this Friday at Eastern Illinois University.

A year ago, Kaneland sent five events to the big meet.

Freeport finished third at its own home with 60 points, while Burlington Central finished fourth (58 points).

The Knights send junior Logan Markuson to Charleston in several events, the first being pole vault, where he finished third at 14 feet, 9 inches. Teammate Josh Bloome also made sure more Kaneland members will join in the fun, finishing fifth at 13-9.

Nick Sinon continued on his tear, adding Sectional champ to his Western Sun Conference honors with a 6-3 effort in the high jump.

The Knight foursome of Derek Bus, Sean Paulick, Hayden Johnson and Edgar Valle is going down in the 4×800 relay, thanks to a sectional title time of 8 minutes, 6.27 seconds.

Knight distance runner Paul Davies made the grade with a third-place showing in the 3200 meter run (9:49.21).

Markuson (14.88) and Taylor Andrews (15.32) were up to business as usual in the 110 meter high hurdles and join the State crowd in that event. Markuson also took a sectional title in the 300m intermediate hurdles with a 38.87 second tally.

“We’re just building concentration and getting ready,” said Markuson, who qualified in 2008 for the pole vault. “It won’t be too out of the ordinary, but a little more intensity than usual.”

In Markuson’s opinion, the sectional success was contagious.

“I think the 4X800 really started things off for us, That was huge and that set the tone. Everyone was really stoked after that.”

Finally, the Knights’ 4x400m relay squad of of Johnson, Markuson, Tommy Whittaker and Valle won first at 3:24.72.

Photo: Kaneland’s Nick Sinon takes to the skies during Friday’s Freeport Sectional. Sinon joins the Knights contingent going to Charleston for the Class 2A boys track State event. Photo by Ben Draper

Kaneland’s ‘09 kicks ended by Crystal Lake Central

by Mike Slodki
A productive Kaneland soccer season launched the girls into their first ever regional championship match on Friday night.

Unfortunately, at the home of the Burlington Central Rockets, that’s where the launch ended.

Dealing with top-seeded Crystal Lake Central, the Lady Knights dropped a 3-0 result in a physical contest.

The loss, coming after a high-intensity 1-0 win over Hampshire last Tuesday, ended the Lady Knights’ 2009 campaign at an above-average 11-9-3.

That’s the best winning percentage in team history, eclipsing a 2005 squad that went 11-10-1.

That team, also coached by Scott Parillo, defeated Hinckley-Big Rock in a class A opening round matchup before losing to Wauconda in Hampshire.

The Tigers drew first blood with a shot over goalkeeper Sophie Blank’s head in just 6 minutes, 40 seconds into the match for a 1-0 lead.

The two teams stalemated until a header found its way in just 1:31 before halftime to make it a 2-0 margin.

Crystal Lake Central’s final score came with 36:52 left in the contest.

Parillo lauded the girls’ season despite the less-than-ideal end result.

“We really did well,” Parillo said. “We had freshmen and sophomores starting at different points. We’re young and this is going to leave a bad taste in their mouths. Crystal Lake Central did everything they needed to do to win, but this is the first time to a final for us and it was a good experience.”

Kaneland says goodbye to five seniors: Savanna Castillo, Brittany Chase, Bridget Crosby, Danni Garcia and Sarah Goodrich.

“We had pretty good leadership. Three were captains and it’s a shame to lose them, they were all good kids,” Parillo said.

Lady Knights finish 2nd in WSC, look toward playoffs

Softball comes into its regional action with a formidable 25-8 record, but it doesn’t include a share of the conference title.

Kaneland (10-4 Western Sun Conference) earned a 1-0 win over Batavia on Thursday before losing a 5-1 rain makeup showdown with host Glenbard South that officially decided the WSC. The Lady Knights ended the regular season with a 6-1 win vs. Rosary on Saturday.

Against Batavia, a Sara Rose homer in the top of the first was all KHS needed in a 1-0 win. The knock was one of the two hits the Lady Knights had. Delani Vest (16-5) got the win with six strikeouts in her name.

Against the host Raiders, Vest gave up four earned runs and fanned five.

Rose and Jessica Lubic came through with doubles and Rilee Vest went 3-for-3. Kaneland’s one run came in the top of the sixth which made it 4-1.

Kaneland took care of the Royals, thanks to a solid performance by Delani Vest in the pitchers’ circle and the plate. Vest hit a homer and went 2-for-3, striking out seven. KHS put up six runs in the sixth.

Kaneland freshmen continue their productive season with a 3-2 win over Glenbard South. The sophomores defeated Rosary 12-2 for a win this week.

Interim coach Ken Neahring and Kaneland softball were set to do battle with third-seeded Hampshire out at the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional on Wednesday. (2) Kaneland needed to get past the 12-16 Whip-purs in order to face (1) Burlington Central on Saturday, May 30, at noon for the regional title.

Leveling the playing field

by Lynn Meredith
To put Kaneland on a more equal playing field, the district is considering becoming part of a new conference.

At an informational meeting open to the public where two community members, one student, and 20 coaches attended, the School Board heard a presentation on the reasons for switching from the Western Sun Conference to a newly formed conference with schools as far away as Dixon.

“With the new conference proposal we will still be able to compete against schools of our size and IHSA classification on our area,” Superintendent Charlie McCormick said.

The schools in the farther-reaching districts have enrollments closer in size to Kaneland’s, so presumably Kaneland could win more games than it has been able to do with Geneva, Batavia and Glenbard South, in its current conference.

“It’s in our best interests for what we have. It’s good that every school’s the same size,” head girls cross country coach Doug Ecker said. “The conference will give good competition and Kaneland kids can all compete.”

Board member Cheryl Krauspe had questions about the cost of the switch.

“Here’s the question that I continue to ask—how much is it going to cost? It will cost more to drive to Geneseo than it does to Geneva, and you know transportation is the one area where the state reimbursements are not coming in,” Krauspe said.

Financial implications will be discussed further at the regular board meeting Tuesday, May 26.

Enrollment comparison

Division #1 (new) Ottawa 1,602, LaSalle-Peru 1,280, Streator 1,030, Sterling 1,033, Dixon 969, Geneseo 914

Division #2 (new) DeKalb 1,710, Yorkville 1,295, Sycamore 1,162, Rochelle 1,116, Morris 1,075, Kaneland 1,040

WSC Geneva 1,978, Batavia 1,858, DeKalb 1,710, Glenbard South 1,421, Yorkville 1,295, Sycamore 1,162, Rochelle 1,116, Kaneland 1,040

Travel comparison from Kaneland

Proposed conference (miles) DeKalb 14, Sycamore 16.4, Yorkville 18.6, Rochelle 32.9, Morris 38.8, Ottawa 51.2, Dixon 55, Streator 67.1, Sterling 68.5, LaSalle-Peru 71.4, Geneseo 112

WSC (miles) Geneva 11.3, Batavia 12.2, DeKalb 14, Sycamore 16.4, Yorkville 18.6, Glenbard South 27.5, Rochelle 32.9

Kaneland boys anticipate sectional

by Mike Slodki
Kaneland saw plenty of top finishers as it prepares for the important Freeport Sectional this Friday, May 22.

The 1-2 combo of Taylor Andrews and Logan Markuson finished in the top two spots in the 110 meter hurdles event. Andrews ran in 14.69 seconds while Markuson took second at 14.84.

The two Knights were at it again in the 300m hurdles event, as Markuson won with a 39.41 final effort, with Andrews taking third at 41.03.

“Taylor and Logan both feed off each other in the 110’s,” Kaneland coach Eric Baron said. “They have used each other as a gauge to see how well each one is running. It will be interesting to see how they run when they both have a good clean race. Taylor has a built-in role model, and Logan has one as well in Taylor. They are both great kids, and coach Robbie Bieritz has done an amazing job with all of our hurdlers.”

“A lot of it is Logan,” Andrews said on Saturday morning. “In the hurdles we push each other to succeed and get better.”

Kaneland’s 4x800m relay foursome of Hayden Johnson, Sean Paulick, Derek Bus and Edgar Valle finished second with a time of 8:19.12.

Nick Sinon became conference champ with a six-foot result in the high jump.

“Nick had a great week last week, and he handled the presure of being the top ranked high jumper in conference, and that will bode well for the sectional,” Baron said.

Markuson took home the WSC crown in the pole vault (13-9), while teammate Josh Bloome was third at 12-9.

On the frosh/soph side of things, Tommy Whittaker continued his road back from injuries with a second place, 53.81 second final effort in the 400m dash.

Whittaker also took part in the f/s 4x400m relay that finished third at 3:52.40. Whittaker, Andrews, Curtis Secrest and Jake Ginther made up the contingent.

The Knights’ 4×800 relay featuring Trevor Holm, Nick Dunetman, Clayton Brundige and Jake Ginther managed a second in the frosh/soph race by running 8:54.09.

Knight Josh Bloome represents Kaneland pole vaulting on Tuesday. Coach Eric Baron’s crew looks to make a dent in the Freeport Sectional on Friday, May 22. Photo by Ben Draper

Lady Knights softball putting the hurt on

by Mike Slodki
Kaneland softball is on a tear and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time.

The Lady Knights now sit at 23-7, with an 9-3 record in the Western Sun Conference.

This past week saw KHS sweep non-conference Minooka on Saturday in Maple Park by slim 2-1 and 1-0 margins.

Those close victories were balanced by a power-fueled 11-1, six-inning rout of host Sycamore on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Lady Knights got past Rochelle by a 2-1 (eight innings) margin.

In game one against the Indians, Delaney Vest earned the win and scattered just two hits. The freshman also had a double at the plate and struck out seven on the mound.

Andrea Potts went 2-for-3 with a double, and the Lady Knights broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh with a Jessica Lubic double that scored Chassidy Mangers.

In game two, Mallory Huml shut down Minooka with a two-hit shutout that was accented by three strikeouts.

Potts went 3-for-3 with a double, and Brittany Davis’ double in the bottom of the sixth scored Mangers with the deciding run.

Vest (17-4) had a five-strikeout effort against the Spartans but showed prowess at the plate with a two-run homer hit in the second inning, which gave the Lady Knights a 3-0 edge. The Lady Knights struck gold in the first when Davis drew a bases-loaded walk.

Mangers came home on a fielding error to make it 4-0 before a Sycamore homer in the bottom of the fourth made it 4-1.

Jordan Herra’s two-run shot in the fifth made it 6-1.

In the sixth inning, Lady Knight Lubic hit a homer before Potts singled and Herra slammed her second round-tripper of the afternoon.

“It felt great,” Herra said. “The first one I knew I had it, but the second one I was thinking I needed to get down the line as fast as I can. (The win) was a big boost of confidence, and we’re ready for regionals.”

Sycamore’s failure to score in the bottom of the sixth shut the contest down after six innings.

“We’ve been starting to hit better, and we have other people in the lineup starting to get on base,” interim coach Ken Neahring said.

The sophomore Lady Knights dropped a 5-1 meeting with Sycamore and the freshmen took care of the Spartans 14-6 in five innings.

Against the Lady Hubs, Rochelle got on the board in the top of the first, but Kaneland put one up in the bottom of the fourth and sent everyone home in the bottom of the eighth on a Rilee Vest base hit.

Rilee Vest went 4-for-4 with two RBI, while Potts went 3-for-4 with a double.

Kaneland attempts to handle host Batavia on Thursday, May 21, and has a makeup game in Glen Ellyn against Glenbard South on Friday, May 22.

Knights earn win against Barbs

Kaneland baseball continues to plug away in the season’s homestretch, and in the process eclipsed last season’s win total.

A 3-2 victory on Tuesday over the rival DeKalb Barbs raised Kaneland’s record to 21-10 with a 12-7 tally in the Western Sun Conference.

Righty Steve Colombe improved to 6-2 on the season and went 6.2 innings while Ty Hamer earned save No. 5 by coaxing the final out.

Mike Pritchard’s triple in the fourth inning scored Jay Levita and gave Kaneland a 1-0 edge.

Jake Fielder hit a single in the bottom of the fifth to score Joe Camaliere, and Jeff Smith came home on an error.

The Knights got some face time at Elfstrom Stadium on Monday against rival Batavia, but lost 4-2 on a late comeback by the Bulldogs.

KHS prepares to suit up against DeKalb in a contest scheduled for Northern Illinois University on Thursday, May 21, at 4 p.m.

It all leads to an IHSA Class 3A Regional showdown at Burlington Central High School against either Hampshire or Rochelle. Besides the top-seeded Knights, who would play on Wednesday, May 27, at 4:30 p.m., (2) Sycamore and (3) Burlington Central make up the rest of the regional.

KHS rockets over Hampshire in 1-0 thriller

Free kick by Gebauer propels soccer to regional title chance
by Mike Slodki
Lady Knights soccer had the odds against it in the regional semifinal match on Tuesday.

Going up against a Class A juggernaut in Hampshire that moved to 2A in the new three-class system and was a State-goer the past three seasons, the Lady Knights’ chances against the Whip-purs may have seemed slight.

What happened was that Kaneland made good on its best chance, a free kick by Colleen Gebauer with 4:17 remaining in regulation, and took a 1-0 win into Friday’s 2A Burlington Central Regional against (1) Crystal Lake Central.

Kaneland improved to 11-8-3 and tied the most wins in team history.

“I just asked for my 10 yards and waited for our people to get set up,” Gebauer said. “I just aimed for the corners and hoped for the best.”

With still more work to do, Sophie Blank held strong in goal and made a sliding save with 3:28 remaining. Emily Heimerdinger had a chance just a minute prior to the goal with a shot that hit the post.

“We just needed to be aggressive and keep our focus,” defender Megan Gil said. “The last five minutes were going to be the most crucial of the whole game. Celebrate the goal and settle down.”

With a 9-1 win at Western Sun Conference rival Yorkville in the morning, the Lady Knights assured themselves of their first winning season since 2005 (11-10-1) and the second in team history.

Kaneland also ends its conference portion of the season at 2-5.

Against the Lady Foxes, KHS went out to a 5-1 lead after the first 40 minutes of action, and added four more in the second half.

Emily Heimerdinger scored three goals, and Bridget Crosby added two herself. The other goals were had by Thalia Garcia, Andi Bruce, Paige Rogers and Sarah Goodrich.

The freshmen closed their season out with an 8-1 loss to Plainfield North on Thursday, as Hayley Garcia found the net.

PHOTO: Megan Gil tries to get the ball out of Kaneland’s zone in the second half of the varsity home loss to Batavia on May 12. The Lady Knights improved to 11-8-3 with an upset win over Hampshire at Tuesday’s regional. Photo by John DiDonna

Girls track sending large group to State competition

by Mike Slodki
For those who were looking for a bigger Kaneland High School presence at the upcoming IHSA Class 2A State finals, they’ll get their wish.

Include the seven Lady Knight athletes in that group.

Based on its showing on Saturday morning at the 2A Sterling Sectional, KHS, which finished third with 71 points, sends seven entries to Eastern Illinois University beginning on Thursday, May 21.

Senior Lindsay Gierke enters her final postseason listed in three State events, thanks to a 15.09 second effort in the 100 meter high hurdles, a 12.48 time in the 100m dash and a 48.69 second tally in the 300m low hurdles.

“It felt a little different and the endurance was a bit harder, but I still gave it my all,” Gierke said.

Gierke has qualified for State all four seasons in Kaneland colors.

“I’m just going to go out there and run and not think about anybody else,” Gierke said.

Teammate Andie Strang qualified for the ultimate season’s end for the second consecutive year as the sophomore ran a 2:24.62 in the 800m run and was part of the 4x800m relay along with Kris Bowen, Kelly Evers and Lisa Roberson, which ran 10:04.44.

“We were worried about a lot of teams in the sectional, but it’s all the mental part now. We’re just trying to get faster and we know what we need to do,” Strang said on the relay.

“It was coming down to State and we knew how hard we worked and how much we wanted it, so we just left everything out on the track,” Roberson said.

Kaneland also sends a double-barreled attack to Charleston, thanks to a 10 foot effort from Jordan Pinkston and a 9-0 try from Sara Wallace.

“My coach (Barney Callaghan) looked at me and said my try was bigger than 10 feet and I was so excited,” Pinkston said. “Then Sara made it and it was even more exciting. I think we know what to expect down there.”

“I was more nervous than most meets,” Wallace said. “I felt prepared and it was a good season. Turning over was my biggest problem, and it makes a big difference, and I just have to keep it up.”

Gierke narrowly missed the 200m dash threshold by finishing third in 26.25 seconds.

Sycamore and Yorkville, with 88 and 79 points, respectively, finished ahead of Kaneland in the sectional.

Freeport, at 64 points, finished fourth and Rochelle took fifth with 57 points.

Gierke’s Hitlist: State events for Lindsay Gierke through the years.
100m dash
300m low hurdles
200m dash
100m dash
300m low hurdles
200m dash
100m high hurdles
100m dash
300m low hurdles
200m dash
100m high hurdles
100m dash
300m low hurdles

19-7 Lady Knights cross plate often

Kaneland softball made certain that opponents like DeKalb, Oswego East and Yorkville remembered who they were up against.

The Lady Knights were firing on all cylinders this past week with a 7-0 trouncing of Oswego East on Monday and a 10-1 handling of visiting Yorkville.

KHS improved to 19-7 and 7-3 in the Western Sun Conference.

Mallory Huml earned the win in the non-conference affair. The Lady Knights put up three runs in the top of the third, one in the fifth and three in the sixth.

Jessica Lubic went nuts at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a homer and a double. Jordan Herra had a triple.

Against the Lady Foxes, Kaneland put up a four-spot in the fourth and a six-run outburst in the sixth inning.

Delani Vest earned the win with a four-hit effort. The hurler fanned six batters. Andrea Potts went 2-for-4 with a homer.

At the home of the Lady Barbs, the Lady Knights went back to Maple Park with an 8-3 victory, thanks to Potts’ grand slam. The blast was the second bases-loaded round-tripper of the season.

In lower-class action, the freshmen took care of Oswego East 12-0, thanks to an outstanding effort from Sarah McGinnis. McGinnis went 3-for-3 at the plate, and struck out six on the mound.

The sophomore’s lost to Yorkville by a 7-2 final, while the freshmen used a four-run seventh to win 4-1. Alexis Villarreal earned the win.

The softball roster heads to Sycamore on Thursday, May 14, and Glenbard South on Friday, May 15.