Category Archives: Spring Sports

Kaneland softball gets in more outdoor swings

DEKALB—It was only one contest, but the more outdoor diamond time the Lady Knights get, the better.

On Monday, the lone contest of a Spring Break week, the Lady Knights met their former conference mates Batavia out at the DeKalb Park District fields and won 4-0.

The Lady Knights improve to 3-0 on the young season.

Burlington Central transfer Angie Morrow dealt a one-hitter against the Bulldog lineup, with outfielder Lanie Callaghan smacking two hits.

“Hayley Contorno also played well offensively, laying down two key bunts that led to runs,” KHS coach Brian Willis said.

A scheduled meeting against Northern Illinois Big XII West division foe Ottawa was cancelled on Thursday, while a Saturday doubleheader against Oswego was postponed to Wednesday, April 9.

Kaneland begins a Volunteer State stay in Clarksville, Tenn., for a tournament beginning on Friday, April 4.

Lady Knights try to wow at Wesleyan

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—Illinois Prep Top Times meet action, held at the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University, boasts the best the indoor track season has to offer.

You can include Kaneland girls track in that offering after performing admirably in the qualification-only setting.

“It is a meet that the kids always enjoy. As they always do, all the girls competed well,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

The Class AA 60m Dash featured finalist Lauren Zick, who finished sixth in the finals with a time of 7.93 second after a 7.87 effort in the prelims. The senior also managed a fifth place in the 200m Dash with a time of 26.16, .22 ahead of Mt. Vernon’s Charde Golliday.

Distance matters had Sydney Strang of KHS finish fifth with a time of 2:25.94 in the 800m Run, while younger classmate Brianna Bower took an eighth place in the 3200m Run thanks to an 11:47.46.

The 4x200m Relay squad of Olivia Galor, Nicole Sreenan, Zick and Carly Elliott ran a 1:46.76 for third place, and the Galor/Zick/Sreenan/Strang foursome took second with a time of 4:08.51 in the 4x400m Relay.

The field events saw Lady Knight Maddie Keifer manage a tie for 16th in the High Jump at four feet, eight inches. Teammate and State qualifier Christina Delach vaulted to a 9-06 in the Pole Vault for fifth in the standings.

Zick was at it again in the Long Jump, leaping to a 17-5.75 effort for third place.

An encouraging development, especially early on, is the performance of the lower-class tier.

“The freshman and sophomores continue to improve and gain confidence as they show that they can compete against very good competition,” Ecker said.

Outdoor track happenings begin in earnest out in Maple Park on Tuesday, April 8, with Burlington Central and Oregon invading at 4:30 p.m.

Lexi Roach

Joy Division: Knight athletes know what they’ve signed up for at D-I peak

KANELAND—High school athletes’ talent can bring them amazing things: wins, titles and even the chance to keep playing the sport they love.

With powerhouses like senior Joe Komel, future Central Michigan University Chippewa, it also brings certainty.

“I think every kid wants to ideally compete at that next level,” Komel said.

That’s echoed by speedster classmate Kyle Carter.

“I just knew I wanted to go to the next level and I knew I didn’t want to stop,” Carter said.

Last month, 13 Kaneland High School athletes participated in National Signing Day, with several athletes signing letters of intent with Division I schools.

For a speedster like Brandon Bishop, who signed as a preferred walk-on at the University of Iowa, he’s aware of the unique task and slot that awaits him on the gridiron.

“I just look at it as I get to do a sport that I love to play. I don’t look at it as a job,” Bishop said.

One of six Knight football players that signed to play with various levels of college programs, Bishop doesn’t know how big of a role he’ll have as part of the Hawkeye program, but will take what comes.

“Any level of college football is big time,” Bishop said. “I was originally with a D-II school, but once you experience a Big 10 program, you dream about that stuff. It’s a big-time mentality there.”

Bishop was also present at a Hawkeyes practice when the squad was practicing for the Outback Bowl in Tampa, that resulted in a 21-14 loss on New Year’s Day to LSU.

“It’s an eye-opener, and I was fortunate to see it,” Bishop said. “They have great facilities in the Big 10.”

Bishop, who wishes to major in social work and possibly be a position coach, is no stranger to the work as a gridiron and track standout.

“It just matters that I compete. I believe in myself to play at that level,” Bishop said.

Bishop joined fellow Knight football gladiators Justin Diddell (Indiana State), Gary Koehring (St. Cloud State), Komel (Central Michigan), Dylan Nauert (St. Cloud State) and Tyler Slamans (Western Illinois) in the Class of 2018 football group.

Komel joins a Mid-American Conference outfit that also boasts former Knight offensive threat Blake Serpa.

“Blake is good friends with my older brother, Sam, and he was able to help me meet with officials from the football program. I had been looking at MAC and Missouri schools,” Komel said.

Komel, part of the solid offensive line that yielded three consecutive Northern Illinois Big XII championships, feels the success at KHS helped buoy him and his chances at the top collegiate level.

“When CMU talked with me, they told me that I came from a program that knows how to win, and that’s what a lot of those schools are looking for,” Komel said. “Kaneland prepared me for that and they know how to win.”

The spring season action in the higher collegiate ranks look to highlight Sydney Strang (Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne) and Carter (Southern Illinois), who are joined by Nathaniel Kucera, who recently committed to Stanford track.

Kucera’s options opened up after receiving a packet from universities following the June Midwest Distance Festival at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill.

“Things really opened up for me after that,” Kucera said. “I would have competed at any level after high school, Division III, whatever, but I jumped at the chance.”

Kucera, who’s a verbal commitment to the Pac-12 Conference school, visited the Palo Alto, Ca., institution in the fall.

“It was a surreal moment whenever you get out there. They are such high-caliber athletes, but I was able to talk to everyone on the team. There’s no big egos there,” Kucera said.

The senior looks to be taking a different path than his fellow classmates, all the way to the west coast.

“The first time I got there, it was mindblowing and not something I pictured. It’s a really beautiful city,” Kucera said.

Carter, who’s excelled at cross country and track for his four years as a State qualifier, always had a continuation of his gifts in mind.

“I was getting contacted by D1 schools. I think going to State multiple times and being the best in the NIB-12 prepared me,” Carter said.

Strang, headed to Division 1-AA territory, echoes her distance counterpart.

“I’m glad to move on,” Strang said. “Running is such a part of me. I have so much passion for it. My teammates and (coach Doug) Ecker helped me through it all and help keep that. I just want to continue getting better and keep my love for it.”

Commonplace among the Knight athletes that get picked is a flexibility that comes with the wide-eyed enthusiasm.

“I’ll be able to go anywhere, and wherever they need me next year,” Carter said. “I just want to compete with the best.”

Kaneland’s presence of Division I athletes, which includes the trio of Lanie Callaghan (Valparaiso), Lexi Roach (Youngstown State) and Lauren Zick (St. John’s) that committed to D-I softball outfits in late 2013, not only have the athletic talent, but also seem to know what to expect.

For those that have seen the group in action, that comes as no surprise.

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Downright dominant

Photo: Senior Dalvell Triplett placed third in the Long Jump and first in the Triple Jump for the Knights as they rolled to a conference victory Saturday in Sterling, Ill. Photo by Marshall Farthing

Kaneland boys track talent on NIB-12 indoor display
KANELAND—When a boys track outfit like Kaneland gets used to a certain level of output, it’s not a bad thing, especially where Saturday’s Northern Illinois Big XII indoor conference meet is concerned.

Much like last year, the Kaneland boys took it to the rest of the rival conference field at the Westwood Sports Center.

With 130 team points, the Knights ran away with the meet, as 130 team points came their way. The total eclipses the 107 output from a year ago.

Dixon, Sycamore, Geneseo and DeKalb rounded out the top five, with 68, 59, 58 and 51, respectively. Yorkville (41), LaSalle-Peru (27), Sterling (24) and Rochelle (9) rounded out the scoring portion of the team sweepstakes.

Brandon Bishop got things started for the Knight side, with a fourth-place finish overall in the 60m Dash, on account of a 7.35-second effort.

Kyle Carter bested the competition in the 400m dash with a time of 52.09.

The 800m run field saw a double shot of Kaneland accomplishments, with Nathaniel Kucera taking a first (2:01.42) and teammate Austin Kintz working his way toward a fourth, thanks to a 2:08.87.

KHS leapt over obstacles in the 60m hurdles event, as seniors Dylan Nauert (8.68) and Brock Robertson (8.79) finished second and third, respectively.

In the 4x200m relay, it was the Knights taking the mantle with a time of 1:35.35, and the 4x400m did more of the same, with a first-place nod of 3:33.16. The 4x800m relay followed suit at 8:07.72 for first, a whopping 11.77 seconds faster than Dixon.

On the indoor field side of things, KHS acclimated well in the pole vault area. Senior duo Dylan Kuipers (13-9) and Dan Evers (13-3) swept the top two spots.

The Long Jump had Knight Ben Barnes grab first with a 21-1.25, and teammate Dalvell Triplett take third at 20-10. The Triple Jump saw Triplett and Barnes reverse the Knight order, with Triplett’s first (43-11.5) and Barnes’ fourth (40-2).

The indoor aspect of the Kaneland track attack yielded some pleasant surprises as the team gears up for the outdoor season, whenever the elements subside.

“(There were) lots of surprises,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “Biggest was Danny Evers going 13-3 and just missing 13-9, and Dalvell Triplett in both jumps, but his Triple Jump of 43-11 was a personal best.”

Finally, Nate Dyer took care of the Shot Put conference threat with a first-place effort of 55-5.

Kaneland’s next challenge is the well-regarded Illinois Top Times meet hosted by Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill., on Saturday, March 29.

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An early jump

Photo: Sophomore Brianna Bower placed third in the 3200m run Saturday in Sterling, Ill., with a time of 12:00.28. Photo by Marshall Farthing

KHS girls track takes NIB-12 bragging rights in Sterling, Ill.
KANELAND—There’s only so much you can do to improve on a second place indoor conference meet finish from 2013.

That’s going straight to the top in 2014.

Kaneland girls track made an impact in Sterling, Ill., at the Westwood Sports Center at the Northern Illinois Big XII indoor conference meet on Saturday, and won the day with 108 team points. Yorkville took a close second with 102.

Sycamore was third with 76 points, followed by rival DeKalb with 56. Geneseo had 47 to round out the top five and lead the West division field. LaSalle-Peru had 23 team points, followed by Dixon with 21. Morris (18), Sterling (8) and Streator (6) rounded out the scoring teams.

Success came early and often for Lady Knights track, beginning in the 60m dash, thanks to Lauren Zick’s first-place 7.84-second time in her final indoor conference challenge. Teammate Nicole Sreenan finished third with an 8.01 time in her first conference gathering.

The Lady Knights (above) completed the meet sweep with the boys team Saturday in Sterling, Ill. Both teams won the titles at the NIB-12 Indoor Meet.  Photo courtesy of Keith Snyder
The Lady Knights (above) completed the meet sweep with the boys team Saturday in Sterling, Ill. Both teams won the titles at the NIB-12 Indoor Meet.
Photo courtesy of Keith Snyder

Zick got into the act again in 200m dash competition with a first-place 26.07, while Sreenan took third at 26.63. Sreenan’s classmate Carly Elliot won fourth at 27.83.

In the 400m Dash, Sreenan continued her torrid pace with a first-place effort of 1:00.05, while Lady Knight Allie Heinzer took third at 1:04.11.

In long-distance matters, Brianna Bower took third on 3200m turf with 12:00.28 effort.

The 4x200m relay was taken by KHS with a time of 1:50.91, besting Sycamore by 1.05., while Kaneland finished third in the 4x400m relay at 4:21.86, and fourth in the 4x800m at 10:29.69.

The field arena yielded more accolades for the Lady Knight troop, beginning with the Pole Vault crew of Christina Delach (10′ 0″) and Lexee Guerra (7′ 6″), who took the top two spots.

In Shot Put action, KHS competitor Elle Tattoni’s 34-9.25 was good for fourth.

The Lady Knights now travel to the Illinois Wesleyan’s Shirk Center Saturday for the Top Times 2A Meet Saturday morning before opeing up their outdoor season April 8 at home against Burlington Central and Oregon.

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Knights qualify 23 to Top Times meet

Kaneland High School will be well-represented at this Saturday’s Illinois Top Times track meet at Illinois Wesleyan’s Shirt Center in Bloomington, Ill.

The meet kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, and will reportedly be broadcast at www.usportstv.net.

For more information on the meet, visit www.illinoistoptimes.com. For the meet program with seeds, click here.

Below is a list of the KHS qualifiers, plus where they rank in their events heading into the meet.

Boys Qualifiers Girls Qualifiers
• Long JumpBen Barnes 4th

Dalvell Triplett 7th

• Pole Vault

Dylan Kuipers 4th

Dan Evers 7th

• Shot Put

Nate Dyer 1st

Shane Jorgensen 11th

• Triple Jump

Dalvell Triplett 5th

• 3200m Run

Ryan Bower 18th

• 60m Hurdles

Dylan Nauert 13th

Brock Robertson 17th

• 4x800m Relay

Lesak, Acosta,

Carter, Kucera 2nd

• 4x200m Relay

Robertson, Bishop,

Cruz, Swithers 5th

• 4x400m Relay

Robertson, Acosta,

Carter, Kucera 2nd

• Long JumpLauren Zick 5th

• High Jump

Maddie Keifer 13th

• Pole Vault

Christina Delach 4th

• 3200m Run

Brianna Bower 6th

• 60m Dash

Lauren Zick 6th

Nicole Sreenan 10th

• 200m Dash

Lauren Zick 3rd

• 800m Run

Sydney Strang 11th

• 4x200m Relay

Galor, Sreenan,

Zick, Elliott 9th

• 4x400m Relay

Galor, Sreenan,

Richtman, Strang 6th

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2014 Boys Track & Field Preview: Sprint toward success

Photo: Relay, distance and sprint runners resort to running laps through school halls due to poor weather so far this season. Photo by Patti Wilk

Sixth-place finishers from a year ago, Knight boys track takes charge
KANELAND—It looks to be more of the same for Kaneland High School boys track in 2014.
That’s the last thing area rivals need or want.

Despite the loss of state qualifying anchors like Brandon Cottier, Conor Johnson, Marshall Farthing and Tanner Andrews, ninth-year coach Eric Baron and company have their sights trained on exemplary, yet attainable, goals in 2014.

The Knights crew took the Northern Illinois Big XII by storm, taking both indoor and outdoor conference titles on their way to a sixth-place State finish for Class 2A.

“We should contend for the championship of every invite we compete in,” Baron said.

Among the important cogs returning for the Kaneland victory machine are Kyle Carter, future Southern Illinois Saluki, and Nathaniel Kucera, future Stanford Cardinal. Carter and Kucera, along with graduate Johnson and Luis Acosta, won the 4x800m relay event at State a year ago with a 7:50.26 time. Kucera also managed ninth in the 400m dash at 50.76 on the Eastern Illinois University track. Carter, Kucera and Acosta shore up the middle distance area, while ninth-place shot put State-goer Nate Dyer returns in the field category with outstanding prospects, and is joined in the throws by Shane Jorgensen.

Other returning field personnel primed for a big year include Ben Barnes for jumps, and Dylan Kuipers (11th in State) and Dan Evers in the pole vault.

Hurdles features State warrior Dylan Nauert, along with Brock Robertson. Brandon Bishop (returning medalist) and Isaac Swithers take care of the sprint category. Ryan Bower returns to take care of the distance matters, as well.

Newcomers to the varsity ranks expecting to contribute are sprinter Brandon Cruz, mid-distance athletes Austin Kintz, Drew Franklin, Sean Spaetzel and Andrew Franklin.

The mix between upper-and-lower classmen usually provides positive output on the track, the earlier the better.

“Getting individuals off to a good start is important. Our older athletes help make sure they understand training is structured to make our athletes peak in May,” Baron said.

With talent coalescing around experienced coaching and a tradition that speaks for itself, the Knights look to ward off challenges throughout the season, including the Kane County Meet on May 9 at Millennium Field in Streamwood, Ill., and the NIB-12 meet in Maple Park.

Baron knows if the conference meet is a reflection of the talent, KHS will be right up there.

“It will be an outstanding meet with a high level of competition. Expect teams from Yorkville, Dixon, DeKalb, Sycamore, Sterling, Geneseo and Ottawa to contend with us for the title,” Baron said.

KHS gets set for the first outdoor challenge of the year hosted by East Moline United on Saturday, April 12, with conference action beginning on Tuesday, April 15, against Sycamore.

The Peterson Prep, hosted by the Knights, is on Saturday, April 26.

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2014 Softball Preview: A slugger’s chance

Photo: Junior All-State catcher Paige Kuefler drives a ball off the tee during a recent practice indoors.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland softball lineup primed and ready for ’14 season
KANELAND—With a regional rally at Rosary that fell just short last May, it would be easy to be discouraged.

But Kaneland softball brings back a wealth of talent in all aspects of the game.

“It’s impossible to put that feeling in the past, because they’re going to know it when the time comes,” fifth-year head coach Brian Willis said. “It left a bad taste in our mouths. Rosary played well; we didn’t. That’s sports.”

KHS finished 24-4, but still has much to prove after last season’s end. Even with the loss of six seniors from the 2013 squad, the Lady Knights sport two Division I signees in top-of-the-order hitter Lexi Roach (Youngstown State) and middle-order presence Lanie Callaghan, both All-State.

More help is always available for the squad that has lost just 11 games in the last two seasons on the way to back-to-back Northern Illinois Big XII titles.

Seniors include infielders Roach, Allie Miller and Hayley Contorno, and outfielders Callaghan and Caroline Heimerdinger. Juniors are Burlington Central transfer Angie Morrow in the pitchers’ circle, All-State slugger Paige Kuefler at catcher, infielder/pitcher Shannon Herra and pitcher/infielder Anissa Becker. Sophomores include infielder Meg Cohrs, back after an exposure to varsity play a year ago, and catcher Mary Clausen. Two freshmen join the ranks in outfielders Morgan Weber and Rachel Goress.

Becker, off of a commitment to Wisconsin, could serve as the steady presence in the pitchers’ circle.

“If you believe all the hoopla, she’s going to get the ball, but we have to see them pitch live,” Willis said. “Anissa Becker was great last year when Ellissa Eckert wasn’t throwing. We can’t throw Angie every game. We have some good competition with three pitchers.”

Kuefler provides the backstop help, with Contorno supplying the glove at first. Miller mans second base, and shortstop is up for grabs in a position battle. Cohrs gets a chance to take the mantle at third base after driving in a handful of runs a year ago.

“She had a lot more good games than bad games last year. She was a freshman last year, and hopefully she’ll stay away from the sophomore slump,” Willis said.

Manning everyday outfield looks to be Roach, Callaghan and Heimerdinger supplying upper-class experience.

The Lady Knights are looking forward to warmer weather and a spring break trip to Clarksville, Tenn.

“We’ll be playing in the gold division against some upper-echelon competition, and I have confidence in the girls,” Willis said. “We have six before we go to Tennessee, and I don’t expect to play any of them.”

With the tumultuous elements having put a wrinkle in the season opening, and a potentially tough trip in Tennessee ahead, the 2014 beginning could prove interesting.

“I don’t anticipate a big dropoff,” Willis said. “I don’t believe our older girls will lose that edge, even if the younger girls lose that confidence. They’re not going to settle.”

The Northern Illinois Big XII setting is ripe for the taking once again if the KHS lineup plays to its capabilities.

“Our record speaks for itself. The last couple of years, we were picked by coaches and the media to finish in the middle of the pack. That goes back to our pitching, I don’t think we got credit for the staff that we had and what the coaching staff does with these girls. The other teams want to take that conference championship away, and we’re going to give our best effort,” Willis said.

The season was scheduled to begin on Tuesday at home against Marengo, weather permitting. Conference action begins on Tuesday, April 15, in Ogle County against Rochelle.

Kaneland softball will be brandishing cans during the season for its “Change for Cancer” promotion for donation to Delnor’s Cancer Center, while partnering with Rochelle for its traditional cancer awareness game on May 8.

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2014 Girls Track & Field Preview: Making their mark

Photo: Freshman Nicole Sreenan looks to make an impact on the varsity level this season for Doug Ecker’s Lady Knights. Photo Submitted by Jocelyn Ocon

Lady Knights have rivals bracing for impact
KANELAND—Kaneland High School girls track always seems to have personnel that gets hot at the right time.

The postseason honors and red-hot streaks come sectional time are only possible thanks to hard work put in by young and old alike on the team.

KHS is hoping it’s no different in 2014.

“Overall, the team has been healthy, except for the normal illness from time to time,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

A year ago, Kaneland was chock-full of state finalists with PRs. Of those returning, Lauren Zick, future St. John’s University softball player, finished 11th in long jump. Aislinn Lodwig, Jessica Kucera and Sydney Strang were part of the ninth-place 4x800m relay. Brianna Bower broke a 26-year-old school record in the 3200m run, good for seventh. Victoria Clinton returns off a Florida triathlon and a 1600m qualifying berth from a year ago, as well.

The Lady Knights that have been to the elite grouping have a work ethic, but keep working. It also provides a dynamic with coaching.

“In track, for coaches who coach more than one event, it allows you to give a workout to one group to do on their own, at least in part while you can work with another group. In track and field, if they do not learn to be at least partly self-reliant they will not be successful,” Ecker said.

The veteran set is not only highlighted by Zick in the long jump, but fellow state-goer Christina Delach in the pole vault and Elle Tattoni in the throws.

“We have some freshmen along with several upperclassmen who may make an impact down the road, as we have a chance to develop them,” Ecker said.

On the track side, middle distance and distance personnel who know success are Strang, Bower, Kucera, Lodwig. They’re joined by freshman Becca Richtman. Sprints and hurdles include Zick, 4x400m State-qualifying member Allie Heinzer, Olivia Galor. Also invading the distance ranks is Kyla Goodine, who saw flashes of brilliance in regular season action. The Lady Knights are also joined by junior rookie Taylor Eaves, Nicole Sreenan and Carly Elliot for distance.

The Northern Illinois Big XII is no different in 2014, in terms of capable teams fighting for supremacy.

“Yorkville may be the team to beat. Geneseo is the three-time defending conference champions. It will come down to who has the most depth and can stay healthy,” Ecker said.

The outdoor season begins on Tuesday, April 8, at home against Burlington Central and Oregon. Kaneland’s Jill Holmes Invitational is Saturday, April 12, with Jenni’s ABC on Saturday, April 19. The Kane County Meet is hosted by Kaneland on Friday, May 2, with Dixon the host for the NIB-12 meet on Friday, May 9.

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2014 Girls Soccer Preview: Cornering competition

Lady Knights eye regional nod, another winning campaign
KANELAND—Eventually, Kaneland High School girls soccer would like to rid themselves of a couple nagging points.

Those would be being eliminated by Rosary in the playoffs, as has been done three of the last five years, and getting stopped short of a regional title, as has happened four of the last five years to the Royals and Crystal Lake Central.

Still, the journey ahead doesn’t seem to faze the KHS group, coming off an 11-5-3 (7-1-2 Northern Illinois Big XII) season from a year ago.

That could be the returning talent’s effect, softening the blow of seven seniors gone.

“We’ve got 22 on varsity this year, that gives us some nice depth,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “They’re pretty talented. They’re gelling quickly and they can maybe get over that hump.”

Parillo, in his 10th year of coaching the girls, would like to see the recent postseason troubles cease once they’re able to get on a regular routine.

“We’ve had three days outside, and not on our field. We’re trying to get acclimated to the weather. Most of the other schools are dealing with it, too,” Parillo said.

Kaneland was able to find scoring output from a wide array of girls a year ago, with a handful returning, namely Madi Jurcenko, Brittany Olson and Kiandra Powell.

“Brittany Olson had 15 goals, Kiandra Powell, once we finally found a good spot for her, she tore it up at the end there,” Parillo said. “We have a chance to have some scorers.”

Taking over for current Purdue Boilermaker Jordan Ginther between the posts is sophomore Emily Chapman.

At defense resides talent like Taylor Opperman, who moved back after a year in Michigan, Taylor Zitkus, Nicole Koczka, Taylor Emigh and Colleen Landers, with Heather Ortiz able to fill in, when not up front.

Ortiz is joined by older sister Michelle (forward/mid) and younger sister Lauren (midfield) on the pitch.

“The three Taylors, the two Emilys and the three Ortiz sisters, that won’t get confusing,” Parillo added.

Jurcenko, Michelle Ortiz, Courtney Diddell, Jess Coia, Delaney Stryczek and Holly Collingbourne aim to fill in the midfield ranks.

Olson takes care of the forward ranks, along with several of the midfielders donning Lady Knight colors.

Other seniors include Mary Piazza and Stephanie Zwick, and juniors include Emily Grams.
Sophomores include Ashley Crotteau and returnee Gabby Cano, while Paige Guyton adds a freshman spark.

Parillo would like the girls to get on a regular routine, made more complicated with the epic winter.

“We get this game in Tuesday on turf and then we have to sit, and there’s the spring break. The Rosary game we want to win; they’re our nemesis,” Parillo said.

The NIB-12 landscape is for the taking, if goals come Kaneland’s way.

“We should be there,” Parillo said. “DeKalb is always strong, Sycamore is always good, and Yorkville’s getting better every year, as it should.”

On Tuesday, Kaneland went to Rockford Auburn, and the first home matchup was scheduled for Thursday, March 20, against IMSA. Conference tilts begin on Tuesday, April 15, in Morris.

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2014 Baseball Preview: Big hopes in Big XII

Photo: Junior catcher Danny Hammermeister and senior catcher Sean Dunphy practice indoors with the baseball team. Photo by Patti Wilk

Diamond crew looks to turn page, rebound from a year ago
KANELAND—Knights baseball in 2014 represents, in essence, a new beginning.

One year after getting bumped in its own Class 3A regional final by Wheaton’s St. Francis to finish just 13-18, KHS said goodbye to 15 seniors and the last remnants of the 2011 State champs.

This year, a somewhat new gaggle of varsity players take the field and look to remedy the first losing campaign for Kaneland baseball since 2006.

Bright spots can be located in the fact that the 2013 roster had current contributors around for the first regional game win in two years that occurred over Sandwich High School, and the talent familiar with the winning tradition of the last decade.

“It kind of feels that way every year, we bring in a bunch of guys,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “This class is a junior-dominated baseball class. We have seven seniors, and those guys have experience, but not all are position players. We have a young squad and brought up two sophomores.”

At the head of the positive contribution could be returning all Northern Illinois Big XII standout Tyler Carlson, getting a late jump on things due to basketball. The senior will switch to first base in 2014, putting the pieces in place for other returnees.

“He’s going to move over to first, and he was an all-conference third baseman for us. We see that we can move him around where we need him the most. We lost Joe Komel but, we have guys like Curtis Thorson, who’s going to be great in the outfield and guys like Nate Hopkins who can pitch and play the outfield, and Nick Stahl who we’re going to be leaning on a lot this year,” Aversa said.”

The pitching staff taking the Maple Park mound will be on the young side, as well, but with room to grow.

“We feel confident in what we’re doing with these guys and what we’ve seen so far,” Aversa said.

Hopkins, Anthony Holubecki, Thorson and Stahl look to make up the four-man starting rotation, with a by-committee angle to the late-inning outs until someone emerges.

Juniors Nick Stratman and Colton Fellows could see time on the bump for the Knights during 2014, as well.

“We’re going to feel our way through spring break and see who’s our short-inning relief guy,” Aversa said.

Joining Carlson around the infield are personnel like Joe Panico, Austin Wheatley, Jake Bilotta and Jake Bachio. Sophomore Joe Laudont and senior Sean Dunphy don the “tools of ignorance” behind home plate.

Outfielders include Thorson, Lucas Wolski, Connor Fedderly, Hopkins and Holubecki.

For diamonds in the rough, the head coach feels two of the capable arms could surprise.

“We had two guys we weren’t sure about in the summer in Stratman and Fellows. Both have kind of really opened our eyes off the mound. We’re pleasantly surprised,” Aversa said.

Other Knights looking to make a contribution include seniors River Dunne, Nick Henne and Kevin Kassinger, and juniors Jordan Bock, Kevin Fuchs, Dan Hammermeister and Steve Limbrunner.

The Northern Illinois Big XII landscape will provide a just testing ground for the Kaneland ranks in 2014.

“Sycamore’s always great with a great coach, and Yorkville—they’re the two top teams and everyone’s going to be chasing them,” Aversa said.

The schedule features a spring break trip the first week of April while the area thaws, to the Cincinnati area and schools like Moeller High School—defending state champs and alma mater of Ken Griffey, Jr.

“We’re going to be tested and see what good baseball looks like, and hopefully by the time we get back from our spring break trip, we’ll be going into conference playing at such a high level that teams are going to be ‘holy cow’,” Aversa said.

The season begins on Tuesday, March 25, at Plainfield North, with conference battles beginning on Monday, April 14, against visiting Rochelle. Monday, May 19, has the usual Fifth Third Bank Ballpark matchup in Geneva against Batavia.

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Girls make strides in Hononegah

Photo: The Lady Knights track and field team secured fifth place in the 34-team Hononegah Classic Saturday. Photo by Ben Draper

ROCKTON, ILL.—A fifth-place finish is quite respectable, especially when it’s out of 34 teams.

The Lady Knights travelled north to Hononegah High School’s domed fieldhouse and came home with a lot of hardware.

In the team standings, Kaneland only trailed West Aurora (87), St. Charles East (76), Lakes (64.5) and Cary-Grove (52). Kaneland’s 50 points put them five ahead of Downers Grove South.

The KHS quartet of Nicole Sreenan, Lauren Zick, Becca Richtman and Allie Heinzer earned first place in the 4x400m relay, crusing to a 4 minutes, 14.94 time. That’s the fifth-fastest time in Class 2A so far this season in that event.

The 4x200m relay of Olivia Galor, Zick, Carly Elliott and Sreenan was edged at the line, placing second with a 1:52.22. Zick also placed second in the 200m dash with a 26.87.

In the 55m dash, it was Zick again, this time placing third with a 7.51, while Sreenan was sixth in 7.67.

Christina Delach was fourth in the pole vault with a leap of 9’ 6”.

Brianna Bower earned a fifth place in the 3200m with an 11:46.58 eight-lap tour of the track.

Allie Heinzer was sixth in the 400m dash (1:04.11) and the 4x800m relay of Sydney Strang, Richtman, Jessica Kucera and Aislinn Lodwig was also sixth with a 10:35.35.

The Lady Knights head to the Plainfield South Invitational Friday night at 5 p.m.

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Knights 3rd at Batavia

Photo: Senior Dalvell Triplett was second in the Long Jump and third in the Triple Jump at Batavia Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk

BATAVIA—Coach Eric Baron’s crew went just east to find some stout competition.

But the Knights held their own against 3A powerhouse Lake Park’s 128 points and Batavia’s 108 with 83 of their own at the Coach DiDomenico Indoor Invitational in Batavia. Burlington Central was fourth with 64 points, while West Aurora (42) and Bartlett (3) rounded out the field.

Dylan Kuipers achieved the lone Knight individual win with a 14-foot pole vault, while the 4x400m Relay team of Brock Robertson, Dylan Nauert, Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera won with a time of 3 minutes, 31.72 seconds.

In the shot put, Nate Dyer was second with a 53’4” effort, while Shane Jorgensen was fifth with a 48’ 6.5” throw.

Dalvell Triplett placed second in the long jump with a jump of 21’ 8.5” and followed that up with a 42’ 3.25” triple jump, which was good for third.

Dan Evers also contributed field event points with his 12’ leap in the pole vault, which was good for fourth place.

Kaneland faired well in the other relays, with the 4x200m comprised of Brandon Bishop, Brock Robertson, Dylan Nauert and Issac Swithers placed third with a 1:36.24, while the 4x800m of Andrew Lesak, Luis Acosta, Austin Kintz and Sean Spatzel was fourth in 8:46.34.

In the 55m Hurdles, Nauert was second in 8.15 seconds, while Roberson was sixt in 8.35.

In the sprints, Spaetzel ran a 55.76 in the 400m Dash, placing fifth.

In the distance events, Nathanial Kucera ran a 2:00.86 to place second in the 800m, while Kyle Carter was third in the 1600m with a 4:37.83.

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Tracksters roll to win

Photo: Senior Issac Swithers runs the opening leg of the 4x160m Relay at Sycamore on Feb. 26. The relay won, and Swithers went on to place second in the 55m and 200m dashes. Photos by Ben Draper

SYCAMORE—The Kaneland boys track team started the 2014 season with a team win at a four-team meet at Sycamore Feb. 26.

Individually, the Knights won eight of the 15 events—and had won another before a controversial interference call led to the disqualification of the 4x800m Relay—to amass 92.5 points. Host Sycamore was second with 75.83 points, while Grayslake North (35.67) and Yorkville (21) rounded out the field.

Senior Dylan Kuipers won the pole vault with a leap of 14’ 0” to help Kaneland win the four-team meet.
Senior Dylan Kuipers won the pole vault with a leap of 14’ 0” to help Kaneland win the four-team meet.
Event winners included Nathanial Kucera in the 400m (54.37) and 3200m (10:36.68), Kyle Carter in the 800m (2:08.20), Dylan Nauert in the 55m Hurdles (8.34), the 4x160m (1:19.48) and 4x400m (3:40.80) relays, Dylan Kuipers in the Pole Vault (14 feet), and Nate Dyer in the Shot Put (52’ 3”).

The Knights had even more contributions in the scoring department. Issac Swithers placed second in both the 55m (7.15) and 200m (25.40) dashes, and Gary Koehring (27.40) placed fifth in the 200m, as well. In the 800m Run, Zack Wielgos (2:12.8) placed second while Jimmy Walker (2:20.70) was fourth. In the 1600m, Ryan Bower (4:52.89) was second, with Adam Lesak (5:06.28) just behind in third. Brandon Park was second in the 3200m with a time of 11:24.48,

Senior Brock Robertson  placed second in the 55m Hurdles. Teammate Dylan Nauert won the event.
Senior Brock Robertson placed second in the 55m Hurdles. Teammate Dylan Nauert won the event.
while Brock Robertson was second in the 55m Hurdles with a time of 8.49. In the field events, Dan Evers was second in the pole vault with an 11’ vault, and was also second in the triple jump with a 36’ 4.5” leap. In the shot put, Shane Jorgensen placed third with a 49’ 5.5” throw.

Up next for the Knights is the Coach DiDimenico Invitiational at Batavia Friday at 4:30 p.m.

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Kucera to run track and field at Stanford

Kaneland High School senior Nathaniel Kucera announced Feb. 12 that he would continue his track & field career at Division 1 Stanford University of the Pac-12. The stand-out 800m runner had a breakout 2013 season, highlighted by his anchoring the school-record breaking 4x800m relay that won the Class 2A state title. He was also on the state runner-up 4x400m relay and placed ninth in the 400m dash. In June, he used a massive surge in the final 200m to win the 800m at Midwest Distance Festival in Lisle, Ill. with a blistering time of 1 minute, 51.33 seconds. File Photo

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Body of work

Boys track assistant coach accepts award
KANELAND—For two decades, Rob Bieritz has been a part of the fabric of Kaneland track.

Two weeks ago, he was awarded some hardware for his work.

Bieritz, a Batavia resident and a Class of 2001 graduate of Kaneland High School, was one of several honorees by the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association as a recipient of the Dave Pasquini Assistant Coach Award. The award can only be awarded to a coach once in their lifetime, and is for extraordinary effort as an assitant coach for either track and field or cross country.

Bieritz, along with Glenbard South’s Ryan Crissey, Evanston’s George Woodridge, Chicago’s Jones rep Ben Mahon, Neuqua Valley’s Michael Rossi and Sterling’s Tom Depasquale, were honored at a social in Downers Grove, Ill., on Jan. 10.

KHS boys track coach Eric Baron informed the track staff of the honor through email; fitting because Baron is also a winner of the award, along with Randy Olesen.

The award is named after former Glenbrook South High School coach Dave Pasquini, who died of cancer.

“You look at what coach Baron has done and what Randy has done, and all the way back to Ralph Drendel, and it’s as much them surrounding me,” Bieritz said.

Starting assistant track work in 2006 under Baron, Bieritz was influenced as a coach, but first an athlete, under the Kaneland success factory.

“You can’t put a description as to what the coaches taught me, but you try to resemble what they’ve done as much as you can,” Bieritz said.

Bieritz has been able to interact with current coaches as a Knight athlete and a KHS mentor in the lanes.

“Every coach I’ve had, guys like Tom Fedderly and Chad Clarey and others, you learn from them and take what you want,” Bieritz said.

The former 300m Intermediate Hurdles state qualifier has noticed differences in his coaching approach and now has eight years of track nuances to look back with.

It’s all the better for the perennial Class 2A medal threat.

“You try not to coach in general, you have to coach toward each different kid. What you try could affect a kid differently, and you have every style of kid. They’re all different,” Bieritz said.

The award, for assistant coach achievement, was given out before the annual ITCCCA track clinic held at Oak Park-River Forest High School. It could be fitting that an award that went to Bieritz comes shortly before a clinic, signifying that an assistant coach’s work is never done.

“You have to be able to bust your butt at this, so the kids can bust theirs and see the rewards,” Bieritz said. “When the kids see what the rewards are, that’s what it’s all about.”

School board approves hiring of two interim athletic directors

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board agreed to hire two interim athletic directors for the the school year on Monday.

The two directors are Rudy Keller and Ralph Drendel.

Board member Tony Valente was the only member to vote no.

“You can go without this position for half a year,” Valente said.

The original plan had been to hire a trio of retirees, including Ross Truemper, Keller and Drendel.

Truemper and Keller worked at West Aurora High School as co-interim principal for two years and have experience in athletics and activities.

Drendel is a former Kaneland High School assistant athletic director, coach, teacher and student.

“It just turned out that Ross had some conflicts in his schedule that made it difficult for him to support us,” said Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler after the meeting. “It just didn’t work out.”

According to a memorandum, Keller will receive $500 per day not to exceed 70 days. That totals up to $35,000. Drendel will receive $250 per day not to exceed 100 days. That totals up to $25,000.

“(That’s) something you can live without for six months,” Valente said. “That’s the issue in my eyes—exorbitant spending.”

Schuler spoke favorably of Keller and Drendel.

“Nothing has changed,” Schuler said. “We’re still providing the same level of support we anticipated. It’s more than just an athletics activities position. It really has a key operational focus for the entire building.”

Signing November 13

Raising their game

Kaneland High School softball players Lauren Zick (left to right), Lexi Roach and Lanie Callaghan signed their college intent papers on Nov. 13 at the KHS library, surrounded by teammates, family and coaches. Zick signed with St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y.; Roach signed with Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio; and Callaghan signed with Valaparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

Three Lady Knights sign letters with D-I softball programs

by Mike Slodki

KANELAND—Lady Knights athletes are not only continuing their respective games beyond Kaneland, they’re doing so in a big way.

The latest was the Nov. 13 letter of intent signing of softball star Lanie Callaghan to suit up for the Valparaiso Crusaders softball program in the 2014-15 school year.

The Crusaders, part of the Horizon League of Division I fame, can welcome a middle-of-the-order outfielder who has a 2012 regional championship under her belt.

The feeling is mutual on Callaghan’s part.

“The coaches are amazing,” she said of Valparaiso’s program. “We had to follow guidelines of when we could talk. But coach (Jordan) Stevens really made an effort. I fell in love with the program.”

Callaghan, one of seven signees to the “Valpo” program, will join Lexi Roach, who chose the Youngstown State University team, and Lauren Zick, who is headed to St. John’s University in New York, as Lady Knights to recently sign letters with D-1 softball programs.

Callaghan, who battled illness and injury to begin her varsity career as a freshman, has been a slugging force on the Lady Knights team, coached by Brian Willis, and she’s provided a deft glove presence, as well.

The Elburn resident feels fortunate to have another year to improve her skills and to drive in runs for the Lady Knights program, which fell in a dramatic regional final in May.

“We were disappointed with how the last season ended against Rosary. The players will be ready to step up. I think I’ve matured as a player and speak up more. We’re going to miss the seniors that left, and the juniors from last year are going to have big shoes to fill,” Callaghan said.

The Crusaders program, located in Valparaiso, Ind., has gathered 77 victories in coach Stevens’ three years, and has Chicagoland-area flavor familiar to Kaneland fans, with players from locales including Huntley and Lisle, Ill.

What’s appealing to Callaghan is not only the proximity to the Chicago metro area, but also to family elsewhere, specifically older brother Tyler, who just completed his junior football season for the Division II St. Joseph’s Pumas of Indiana.

“I consider myself very close with him,” Lanie said. “It’ll be close enough for family, and I can visit them if I’m home sick.”

Lanie, who has also brandished a right-handed bat for the Kane County XPlosion team, coached by Rick Neubauer, plans to major in nursing.

“They’ll always need nurses, and after talking with some of the professors, I could tell they were really dedicated,” Lanie said.

The Crusaders softball team will begin their 2014 spring season as part of the Hampton Inn Invitation in Blues Creek, N.C., on February 7, 2014.

Roach, who has done a great service to Kaneland softball with top-of-the-order talent, heads to Youngstown, Ohio, to try and take care of business within the Penguins lineup in 2014.

“I’m a slap hitter, and I have to move the runners around,” Roach said. “I just have to focus on what I can do this year and next year.”

Roach, who had visited Manhattan College in New York, went through the college search with the feeling that people she came across had her best interests at heart.
“My travel team (Wasco Diamonds) was able to send video of me playing to Youngstown State. The assistant coach handled most of the recruiting and asked how I was feeling; the college had me speak with professors. I want to be a wedding planner, which is kind of rare. They had me talk to an event planner,” Roach said. “I’d like to travel abroad to Spain or Italy once I’m in school. It seemed other schools were putting softball first, but Youngstown knew I won’t be playing softball forever and that school comes first.”

Roach is thankful the pressure is off when it comes to one of the most important decisions she’ll make in her young life.

“There would be travel showcases, and we’d play in tournaments and I’d be thinking, ‘Oh my God, I have to be perfect,” Roach said. “Now I think all I have to do is stay focused.”

The Horizon League outfit, located in a city hit by economic woes, still looks to feel home to the Kaneland senior.

“It’s been hit hard by the economy,” Roach said. ‘But the campus is beautiful, and they’ve re-done the campus and have new athletic facilities.”

Zick, who has mastered the business of state qualifying for Lady Knights track, will bring her talent to Big East Conference staple St. Johns, which has isolated charm even in a big city.

“It’s actually in Queens, and the campus is gated and away from the city. It’s almost like Sugar Grove like that,” Zick said.

Zick, who plays off the beaten path in the travel softball circuit for the New Lenox Lightning, had a seemingly built-in connection to the school.

“The assistant coach, who handled most of the recruiting, is from the Chicago area and knew the Lightning coaching staff, so he was sent video and then I was able to come for a visit,” Zick said.

The top-of-the-order asset is ready for the new experience.

“My first time on the subway in New York was an experience,” Zick said. “The team is a different kind of team. They have some girls from California, so it’ll be a new experience, too.”

Having spoken with professors and wishing to major in biology or chemistry enroute to the radiology field, Zick looks forward to the D-1 challenge.

“I’m glad that part of it is over, and that this is more of the direction I’m going to go,” she said.

Three softball signings at KHS


Three Kaneland High School softball standouts signed with three separate universities on Nov. 13 in the KHS library in front of their teammates, families and coaches. Lauren Zick signed with St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., Lexi Roach signed with Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, and Lanie Callaghan signed with Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind.

Kaneland announces interim athletics, activities director

Maple Park—Kaneland School District 302 recently announced a finalized plan for filling the position of interim athletics and activities director for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year.

The position will be filled by a team of three retired educators, who will each contribute to the program in unique ways.

Ross Truemper and Rudy Keller come to Kaneland with numerous years of administrative experience and expertise, including experience in athletics, activities and high school principalships. As retired administrators, they are well known in the area for the strong administrative support they have been able to offer school districts on an interim basis. Most recently, they worked together for two years as West Aurora High School’s interim principal.

Ralph Drendel returns to Kaneland High School as a third member of the team. As a former Kaneland High School assistant athletic director, coach, teacher and student, Ralph brings with him a passion for Kaneland and a commitment to supporting athletics and activities programming.

The team approach to filling the interim position was crafted with the goal of both supporting needs for the remainder of the current school year, as well as identifying processes and setting up systems that will promote success when the permanent position is filled.

Kaneland High School will begin gathering feedback and input from community, staff and students in January 2014 regarding the search for a permanent athletics and activities director.

zick1

Lightning quick

Photo: Kaneland Knights fans know Lauren Zick: Track Athlete. But the senior has verbally committed to play softball for St. John’s University, located in Queens, N.Y. Speedy on the track as well as the basepaths, Zick plays softball for the New Lenox Lightning, and runs for the KHS track and field team in the spring. Courtesy of Mike Gombar

Kaneland’s Zick excels on diamond
KANELAND—Lauren Zick’s athletic career at Kaneland certainly has taken a unique path.

Zick verbally committed to play softball for St. John’s University last summer, yet the senior has never stepped into the batter’s box wearing a Knights’ uniform. Instead of circling the bases for Kaneland’s softball team in the spring, she circles the track for the Knights girls track and field squad as a sprinter and long jumper.

So, the question begs asking: You’re getting a full ride to St. John’s for softball, but you run track?

Well, Zick is quite a talented track athlete, too, having qualified for the state meet each of the past three years.

“She was running times that were state-qualifying times in high school as an eighth-grader,” said Keith Snyder, the Knights’ sprints and relays coach. “We (the Kaneland track and field coaches) held out hope she’d choose track, and luckily she did.”

Zick was being recruited to run track collegiately, but she’s had to inform recruiters that she’s agreed to attend St. John’s on a softball scholarship.

“I’ve had various schools show interest in me,” she said. “I’ve gotten letters and stuff. I’ve had to tell a few colleges that have given me calls that I’m committed to softball.”

In addition to loving track, Zick explains that the sport helps her hone her softball skills; specifically, improving her speed as a leadoff hitter, as well as her strength.

“Overall, I thought track would help me with softball with my speed and my start (out of the batter’s box),” she said. “My starts for a leadoff hitter weren’t as explosive. I’ve gained a lot of muscle and physical strength through track; we have a pretty rigorous lifting schedule and lift three to four times a week.”

However, it’s not as if she hasn’t considered suiting up and playing softball for the Knights.

“There’s always been the temptation,” she said. “Coaches talk to me every year, asking if I’d come out.”

Even though she doesn’t play for her high school team, Zick logs plenty of innings throughout the year as a leadoff hitter and center fielder with the New Lenox Lightning travel team. The Lightning’s summer schedule includes around 80 games. She’s currently in the final stretch of the club’s fall schedule, which is between 30 to 40 games. In fact, Zick and her teammates are heading to Orlando, Fla., for a fall showcase tournament that’s being held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

These types of tournaments are usually attended by many college coaches and scouts, Zick noted. Zick, who next summer will be part of the Lightning’s U18 Gold team, got the exposure to college coaches she needed by playing for the Lightning. The Lightning, she added, places 100 percent of their players who graduate from the program with college teams.

“I knew that since I didn’t play high school softball, I needed the exposure,” she said.

Zick’s coach with the Lightning contacted St. John’s because he knew they were looking for a girl in Zick’s graduating class (2014) to replace the team’s current center fielder—a senior who’ll be graduating next spring.

“It was beautiful,” Zick said of the campus at St. John’s, located in Queens, N.Y. “It’s completely different than Illinois. It’s a pretty area and I like how close it is to big city; it’s fun and there’s a lot to do.”

The coaching staff at St. John’s wants Zick to continue working on her skills as a slap hitter, which is an important part of the Red Storm’s game. Zick is a natural right-handed hitter who was converted to a left-handed slap hitter.

“I think the hardest challenge for me (making the switch) was seeing the ball from different angle,” she said. “You use the left eye for visualization from right side (as a right-handed hitter), and you use your right eye for visualization as a left-handed hitter. I still work on the visualization of it all.”

She talks to Red Strom coaches regularly as she prepares herself to join the team for their 2014 fall season.
“They’re checking in on me, asking what my stats are and what I’m working on,” Zick said. “They have a pretty quick lineup; all their outfielders are slappers. They basically told me as a freshman that I should expect to make an impact. There’s always going to be competition and your spot obviously is not guaranteed.

“It’s definitely going to be a lot of work. I can’t wait; I’m so excited to improve myself and play at the caliber level that I’m going to play at.”

But before you know it, it’ll be track season again. Snyder says the sky’s the limit for Zick in regard to what she could accomplish next spring.

“I would say that with her and the team, we have some pretty high hopes,” he said. “She has the potential to be all-state (in) anywhere up to four events. She has that kind of ability. The long jump and 200 (meter dash) are her favorite events. We’re going to look at the 100 and 400, or the 4×100 or 4×200. Whatever looks like the best chance to help out and get state medals.”

“I definitely want to be able to do well enough (in track),” Zick said, “so when I look back in the future, I can be proud of what I do while I did have the time competing in track.”

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Former Knight champs boost CSBL Joliet squad in postseason

Photo: Former KHS baseball player Brian Dixon (left) helped the Joliet Dirtbags baseball team beat the Crestwood Pantheers 14-4 in seven innings on Thursday in Midlothian, Ill. The Dirtbags qualified to compete in the NABF Major Regional tournament, set to begin Thursday, Aug. 1. The team features a pair of former Knights, with pitcher Kyle Davidson also on the team. Courtesy Photo

Davidson on mound, Dixon with glove help Dirtbags to 14-4 rout
MIDLOTHIAN—The Joliet Dirtbags baseball team had some nice moments before its end in the Chicago Suburban Baseball League’s postseason tournament, and two former Knights were the reason why.

Former Knight and current Millikin Big Blue Kyle Davidson pitched a strong six innings and teammate and fellow former Knight Brian Dixon played strong on the infield to propel the team to a 14-4 win over the Crestwood Panthers in seven innings last week.

The league tournament journey came to an end for the Dirtbags by a final of 9-2 on Friday at Madison Meadows in Lombard, Ill. By virtue of their finish, the Dirtbags, with five members of the Millikin team, are set to compete in the NABF Major Regional beginning on Thursday, Aug. 1.

The finals of the CSBL tourney had Lombard beat Beecher on Saturday, 8-0.

The Dirtbags, now 18-19, were faced with a total elimination on Thursday after a 13-3 rout suffered at Homewood-Flossmoor High School to the Beecher Mustangs.

However, the team turned around its fortunes against Crestwood in its big win.

Davidson was able to hold off a rally from the mound after giving up a two-run homer for a 4-3 disadvantage and fanned six members of the Crestwood lineup, giving up four runs on five hits.

“If we lost, we go home, and the same with them,” Davidson said. “We had to come out and play our best game.”

Dixon, who was moved from his usual No. 8 or No. 9 hole, to second in the order by Dirtbags skipper Kevin Campbell, smacked an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score at 4-4.

After a bases loaded walk broke the tie, Dixon (1-for-5, RBI) came home on a two-run single, effectively icing the game at 7-4.

“I was not expecting to bat (second),” Dixon said. “I like it; it’s different and it’s nice to get a different feel, and I took a different approach to it.”

In a do-or-die situation like the one presented on Thursday, Dixon preferred the smart approach to the hacking attack.

“Now is the time to be smart, definitely,” Dixon said. “That’s the way I’m looking at it. If it’s the right pitch and right count, I’m taking it.”

Dixon, at second base, was able to stab a liner off the Panthers lineup with runners on base in the top of the fifth that protected the lead.

Joliet scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth for an 11-4 lead, and scored three more to end it via the mercy rule, the last of which coming on a passed ball.

“Looking at their stats, I knew their top four guys were probably their best, so I tried to pound them, and cruise with the other guys,” Davidson said.

The Dirtbags’ next obstacle, the NABF Major Regional, is hosted by Beecher.

Summer close-out

Boylan Catholic ends Knight baseball’s summer season
KANELAND—After the events of Monday in Maple Park, it seems like the lineup from Boylan Catholic of Rockford was a little better than the No. 13 seed.

Boylan traveled to No. 4 KHS on Monday to compete at the Phil Lawler Classic, which traditionally marks the end of IHSBCA summer competition, and solved the hosts in a 7-3 outing.

The Knights finished the summer with an 18-14-2 record, an acceptable turnaround from a 2013 regular season that ended under .500.

The two schools were part of the St. Charles East Regional, with Boylan scheduled to play Batavia on Tuesday.

Boylan took advantage of select fielding miscues throughout the game. Both teams had to wait 62 minutes to start after a downpour hit the area five minutes before the first pitch.

“They kept just scratching a run across and fighting, fighting, fighting,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We didn’t make the plays we needed to and didn’t get the hits we needed to.”

Boylan managed a run in the first and a run in the second off of starter Nate Hopkins for a 2-0 lead. The visitors plated two more in the fourth and two more in the fifth to go up 6-0 before Kaneland finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth.

Despite Hopkins being on the short end of the loss, Aversa and company value his skills and need him for the future.

“Nate is definitely one of those kids we’ll lean on, and I think our pitching will be one of our strengths,” Aversa said.

After Danny Hammermeister walked with one out, Curtis Thorson drove him in with a single two batters later.

The bottom of the sixth saw KHS convert on the longball thanks to catcher Joe Laudont’s homer to left that closed the deficit to 6-2.

Boylan managed another run in the top of the seventh for a five-run lead. Down five runs with three outs remaining, Connor Fedderly scored on a fielder’s choice play gone awry off the bat of Laudont to get within 7-3. After a walk loaded the bases, however, the visitors coaxed a strikeout and groundout to the pitcher to end the threat and the game.

Dixon

What a ‘dirtbag’

Former Knight Dixon finds role with Joliet Dirtbags men’s team
KANELAND—For countless players of high school baseball, playing for your school is all you can hope for, much less be on a field celebrating a State championship.

Kaneland High School graduate Brian Dixon checked both of those things off his list in 2011.
Now, after suiting up for the Millikin University Big Blue the last two seasons, the former Knight also finds himself in the amateur men’s baseball circuit.

Dixon currently plays for the Joliet Dirtbags, a team that is part of the Chicago Suburban Baseball League. The league features teams from the Chicagoland area, including from Lombard and Oswego, Ill. Home games for the Dirtbags take place at Joliet Catholic High School during the summer.

Featuring players in college or one year out of college, the CSBL has seen a select few make it to Major League Baseball, like most recent examples Ian Krol (Naperville, Ill.) of the Washington Nationals and George Kontos (Lincolnwood, Ill.) of the San Francisco Giants.

Dixon, an Art/Graphics Design major at Millikin, just wanted to be in the best baseball shape he could be.

“I got to know Coach (Kevin) Campbell at Millikin, and when he mentioned there was a spot on the team, I took it,” Dixon said.

Dixon, who patrols second for the fourth-year Dirtbags, has seen a marked improvement in his game in his first year for the CSBL.

“I’ve really improved on hitting and getting on base since Kaneland,” Dixon said. “I’ve gotten stronger and had more confidence.”

Going as far as Waukegan, Ill., for league games, Dixon has become accustomed to the amateur travel setting, helped by his play for Millikin, and the five-strong Millikin connection in Joliet that includes fellow State champ Kyle Davidson.

“There’s a lot of guys from St. Francis in Joliet, and there’s some guys with Millikin, including coach Campbell. It was easy to step into that group right away, and now we’re all familiar with each other,” Dixon said.”

Campbell feels Dixon is a player the 10-8 Dirtbags are fortunate to have.

Dixon is hitting .273 with an on base percentage of .418.

“Guys like him are good to build around, and I’ve seen them in action. You can stick them in the eight or nine-hole and they hold their own against teams with Division I talent,” Campbell said.

For now, Dixon doesn’t seem to mind what pedigree the other teams like the Oswego Cats bring to the diamond. When he’s not working at the Kane County Forest Preserve or hanging with friends, he’s happy to play like a Dirtbag.

“It’s a team with good players, and it’s definitely competitive,” Dixon said.

O-Herron_FilePhoto

O’Herron recognized as one of Illinois’ elite

Lady Knight shortstop earns 2nd-team ICA, 3 others get 3rd team
KANELAND—Winona State University in Minnesota already knew it was gaining a talented ballplayer on its softball team for the 2013-14 season.

The honor bestowed upon Kaneland High School Class of 2013 athlete Allyson O’Herron on June 21 from the Illinois Coaches Association confirms it.

O’Herron was named to the second team of the ICA Class 3A All-State team.

Also a standout perimeter shooter in the winter, O’Herron impressed the association by hitting .506 during the latest season, which ended in the regional title game to Rosary.

O’Herron was joined by third-teamers catcher Paige Kuefler and outfielders Lexi Roach and Lanie Callaghan.

“It was always a goal to get something like this,” O’Herron said. “With three more getting this, it proves what talent we had. They’re returning next year and they’ll get even better.”

O’Herron already had the athletic goods joining the KHS ranks at the turn of the decade, but feels improvement came along the way.

“I think my maturity and knowledge of the game improved, and as I gained confidence I took on more of a leadership role,” O’Herron said.

O’Herron’s role in 2014 remains fluid, but looks to contribute in any way.

“They might have me play at second or third. There’s nothing like hitting second in the order, especially with a quick leadoff hitter,” O’Herron said.

Winona State finished 37-14, with a 17-5 mark in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

file photo

Tyler Carlson - File photo

Taking summer stock

Photo: Tyler Carlson contributed a couple RBI, but it wasn’t enough as the Knights fell short in their Summer League comeback bid against Sycamore 7-6 on Monday. File Photo

Sycamore bests Kaneland in summer league action
SYCAMORE—It’s never a nice feeling to lose to a close and storied rival like Sycamore, but you can try to find some encouraging developments within.

A back-and-forth tilt on a sunny and breezy Monday in Sycamore off of Airport Road went Sycamore’s way in a 7-6 comeback win during the end of June.

Kaneland, at 7-6, has two more summer league contests before the tournament and IHSCBA postseason circuit begins in one week.

KHS had Colton Fellows, Nick Stahl and Kevin Kassinger get time on the mound, with Fellows working the first half of the action.

“Colton is one of those guys that’ll be right there in the mix, and we expect big things of him,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “He had a strong sophomore season, and we’re feeling him out and seeing what he can do and what pitches he throws well.”

Fellows failed to get much run support early, and the Knights found themselves down 2-0 after single runs in the first and second innings.

The top of the fourth inning saw KHS load the bases on two errors and a single, and Jacob Bachio’s double play managed to bring home the first run. Jake Bilotta’s single brought home Joe Panico to tie the score at 2-2.

Kaneland took a lead with a two-spot in the top of the fifth, thanks to an RBI single by Ty Carlson and an RBI double by Danny Hammemeister.

Sycamore’s double in the bottom of the fifth tied the score at 4-4, and the team managed three more runs to take a 7-4 lead.

That left three outs for KHS to try and rally some runs, beginning with a single, infield error and walk. Carlson reached on an infield single to drive home a run, followed by a Joe Laudont sac fly. However, a double-play stifled the remaining rally and ended the game.

“I told the guys that they’re going to get opportunities, but they’re opportunities to fail or opportunities to succeed. Some guys grasped the opportunities and some need to buckle down,” Aversa said.

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KNIGHT NUMBERS

3.27

The KHS baseball squad, with a 3.27 GPA for the season, earned an IHSA Team Academic Award. This award recognizes teams that maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher throughout their respective season.

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Photos: Flying through the air

Pole vaulters from around the district gathered the first three weeks of June for the annual Kaneland Pole Vault Camp. The camp began with two weeks of “free” vaulting, followed by the official camp, which was held last week. Thirty athletes took to the skies every evening, and some even participated in a meet held at Yorkville Saturday. Dan Evers takes a shot on a practice vault. Coach Drendel gives instruction in the background while vaulters wait their turn. Mitch Groen about to land after a practice vault. Dylan Kuipers prepares for a practice vault.

Kucera — File Photo

Late surge leads to Kucera win

Trio of KHS track athletes compete in elite meet; Kucera wins the 800-meter

KANELAND—Kaneland High School track state champion Nathaniel Kucera continued his dominating year by setting a school record in the 800m run on Saturday.

Kucera was one of three Kaneland High School track stars invited to the second annual Midwest Distance Festival on Saturday, held at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill.

The Midwest Distance Festival, is an event geared to give student-athletes an opportunity to run against elite athletes from the region. Athletes must qualify for entry in the meet by achieving qualifying times during track meets this year.

Junior state champions Kyle Carter and Kucera both competed in the 800 meter run, and long-distance runner Victoria Clinton competed in the two-mile run.

One fourth of the Class 2A championship 4X800m relay squad, Kucera put on a burst in the final 200 meters of the run, weaving inside one runner and outside of another as he moved from fifth to the front. He crossed the line with a winning time of 1:51.33, .36 ahead of the second-place runner, Brad Johnson of Brookfield East, Wisc. Carter finished in 11th place, with a time of 1:55.31.

“Nathaniel and Kyle are both very confident. They knew the only expectation was to have fun and learn from the experience. Kucera had a huge break out. That broke the school record set by Ron Ackerman in 1975,” KHS track coach Eric Baron said.”Did I expect it? I’d say not yet, but the both of them are the best two middle runners I have ever coached or seen at this level.”

The video is available at dyestatil.com, or at the bottom of this article.

Just one of the eight boys and girls races held on the campus of Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., the 800m field had 17 athletes, including Oswego East’s Chase Skenadore.

An accomplished runner having just completed her sophomore campaign, multiple State qualifier Clinton finished fifth in the two-mile run with a time of 11:29.84.

Fellow Northern Illinois Big XII standout Michelle Dobbs of Rochelle won the girls 800m run with a time of 2:10.96.

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Video via dyestatil.com[/colored_box]

limbrunner

2013 Spring Athletic Banquet Awards

The Kaneland High School Athletics Department on Thursday, June 6, announced the award winners for varsity high school athletics.

Below are those winners.

Knight Award

for three-sport athletes:
Ashley Castellanos—Cross Country,
Basketball, Track and Field;
Sarah Grams—Tennis, Basketball, Softball;
Brooke Harner—Tennis, Basketball, Soccer;
Dan Miller—Golf, Basketball, Baseball
Female Athlete of the Year: Sarah Grams
Male Athlete of the Year: Matt Limbrunner
Female Birkette Award: Sarah Grams
Male Birkette Award: Dan Miller

2013 Spring NIBXII
All Conference

Girls Track:
Brianna Bower, Ashley Castellanos, Victoria Clinton, Christina Delach, Allie Heinzer, Jessica Kucera, Amanda Lesak, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang, Lauren Zick, Abby Dodis, Kyla Goodine, Kaltrina Ismaili, Rachel Steinmiller, Elle Tattoni
Boys Track:
Dylan Kuipers, Kory Harner, Tanner Andrews, Nate Dyer, Brandon Cottier, Brandon Bishop, Ben Barnes, Isaac Swithers, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, Kyle Carter, Luis Acosta, Dylan Nauert
Girls Soccer:
Jordan Ginther, Delaney Stryczek, Madi Jurcenko, Courtney Diddell, Sage Schlehofer
Softball:
Hayley Contorno, Allyson O’Herron, Lanie Callaghan, Lexi Roach, Paige Kuefler
Baseball:
Matt Limbrunner, Dan Miller, Tyler Carlson

2013 Boys
Track and Field Awards

MVP—Track: Dylan Nauert
MVP—Field: Tanner Andrews
Drendel Award: Jay Markuson
Captains:
Conor Johnson, Kory Harner, Brad Kigyos, Brandon Cottier, Marshall Farthing, John Meisenger
Ron Probst Award: Ben Barnes
All Conference:
Dylan Kuipers, Kory Harner, Tanner Andrews, Nate Dyer, Brandon Cottier, Brandon Bishop, Ben Barnes, Isaac Swithers, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, Kyle Carter, Luis Acosta, Dylan Nauert
State Qualifiers:
Conor Johnson and Kyle Carter—
4x800m, 4x400m Relays;
Luis Acosta—4x800m Relay;
Nathaniel Kucera—4x800m,
4x400m relays, 400m Dash;
Brandon Bishop and Brandon Cottier—
4x100m Relay, 200m Dash;
Ben Barnes—4x100m Relay;
Dylan Nauert—4x100m Relay, 4x400m Relay,
110m Hurdles, 300m Hurdles;
Tanner Andrews—Triple Jump;
Marshall Farthing—High Jump;
Nate Dyer—Shot Put;
Dylan Kuipers and Kory Harner—Pole Vault

2013 Girls
Track and Field Awards

MVP: Ashley Castellanos, Lauren Zick
Most Improved:
Murphy Garcia, Kyla Goodine
Captains:
Maggie Brundige, Ashley Castellanos,
Abby Dodis
State Qualifiers:
Brianna Bower—3200m Run;
Victoria Clinton—1600m Run;
Ashley Castellanos—Triple Jump,
4x400m Relay;
Amanda Lesak—4x800m Relay,
4x400m Relay;
Sydney Strang—4x800m Relay;
Lauren Zick—4x400m Relay, Long Jump;
Christina Delach—Pole Vault;
Allie Heinzer—4x400m Relay;
Jessica Kucera—4x800m Relay;
Aislinn Lodwig—4x800m Relay

2013 Varsity Girls
Soccer Awards

Captains:
Jordan Ginther, Anne Marie Giese,
Brooke Harner
Most Improved Player: Emily Grams
Rookie of the Year:
Sage Schlehofer, Kiandra Powell
Coach’s Award:
Courtney Diddell, Heather Ortiz,
Delaney Stryczek
Lady Knights Award:
Michelle Ortiz, Brittany Olson,
Madison Jurcenko
Most Valuable Player: Jordan Ginther
All Conference:
Sage Schlehofer, Jordan Ginther, Delaney Stryczek, Madison Jurcenko, Courtney Diddell
All Conference-Honorable Mention:
Kiandra Powell

2013 Softball Awards
Defensive Player of the Year:
Hayley Contorno
Offensive Player of the Year:
Allyson O’Herron, Lexi Roach
Lady Knight Award: Lexi Roach
Captains: Allyson O’Herron, Lanie Callaghan
NiB-12 All Conference:
Paige Kuefler, Hayley Contorno, Allyson
O’Herron, Lexi Roach, Lanie Callaghan
All Conference Honorable Mention:
Sarah Grams, Ellissa Eckert
Conference MVP: Allyson O’Herron

2013 Boys Baseball Award
Mr. Kaneland Baseball: Dan Miller
MVP Offensive: Matt Limbrunner
MVP Defensive: Joe Pollastrini, Dan Miller
Most Improved Player: Tyler Bellock
NIBXII All Conference:
Matt Limbrunner, Dan Miller, Tyler Carlson
All Conference Honorable Mention:
Joshua Cohrs, Tyler Bellock

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Hometown Hall of Famer

The Kaneland School District last week inducted Kerry Rink, pictured here from her days as a Kaneland High School cross country runner, into its Hall of Fame in the Personal Athletic Achievement category. Rink was a three-sport athlete at Kaneland, standing out in cross country, track and basketball. Courtesy Photo

Former KHS athlete inducted into District Hall of Fame
by Mike Sandrolini
ELBURN—Kerry Rink received a phone call out of the blue a couple of months ago from Dr. Jeff Schuler, superintendent of Kaneland Community School District 302.

Needless to say, she was pleasantly surprised to hear from him.

Schuler gave Rink, one of the most successful athletes in Kaneland High School history, the word that she had been selected for induction into the Kaneland School District Hall of Fame.

“That was kind of nice,” said Rink, who starred in track and field, basketball and cross country during her four years at Kaneland from 1984-88. “I was just honored that I was going to be inducted.”

Rink was officially inducted last week during Kaneland’s Senior Athletes’ Night. Members of her family, including her mother, Gerry, and her father, Richard—her varsity high school basketball coach—attended the ceremony.

“I think it’s a great honor,” said Richard, who coached the Knights during the 1980s, first as an assistant and then as head coach. “They finally got her in there, and she deserves to be in there. It’s good that they did it (induct Kerry) in front of the seniors to see what can be done by their athletes.”

Legendary career
Although she excelled in each of the three aforementioned sports, what Kerry accomplished on the track is legendary around the area. She was the Class A 800m state champion three consecutive years, and capped her stellar career by setting the state 800m record in a preliminary heat at a meet in 1988.

She then broke that record during the finals en route to the championship.

Her state record in the 800 stood for 19 years.

In addition, Kerry ran on the Knights’ 4x400m and 4x800m relay teams, the latter of which also set a state record and won a Class A title. The Knights captured the overall Class A team crown in both 1987 and 1988.

In cross country, she was a three-time all-state runner and placed third overall at the 1987 state meet, which at that time was not divided into classes.

Kerry’s track and field prowess landed her a scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where she achieved All-American status her freshman year.

She unfortunately ended up tearing the medial meniscus ligament in her right knee during her sophomore year while running for the UK cross country team. Kerry ran track the following spring, but the injury didn’t allow her to compete in either cross country or track her junior and senior years.

However, Kerry did graduate from UK with honors, and then went on to earn her master’s degree in occupational therapy from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“I’m proud of the way she handled things on the court and off,” said Richard, who is an assistant boys basketball coach at Hinckley-Big Rock and was a sixth-grade teacher at Kaneland Middle School until his retirement in 1999. “I’m proud of the way she handled herself and came back and got her master’s degree after all the adversity.”

Homecoming
Kerry had been living and working in Los Angeles for the past seven years, but recently moved back to the area to be closer to her family. She now works in occupational therapy in DeKalb.

Rarely did a day go by in the Rink family when either Kerry or one of her five siblings—four brothers and a sister—wasn’t taking part in a practice, game or meet.

Kerry’s oldest brother, Patrick, wrestled and played football at Kaneland.

Her sister, Amy, was the starting point guard on Kaneland’s 1982 Class A state champion basketball team. Kerry’s two older brothers, Mike and Danny, each played football and basketball and ran track, as did her younger brother, Greg.

Gerry and Richard Rink had three of their children going to high school at the same time.

“I wish the microwave (oven) had been invented a few years earlier,” Richard said with a laugh. “There was someone in sports all the time. My wife and I used to parcel out watching games. She’d go to one event and I’d go to another. It was somewhat chaotic sometimes, but it worked out.”

Richard, of course, didn’t have to attend Kerry’s basketball games because he was her coach. Coaching one’s daughter or son isn’t unusual, yet Richard was always wary that he didn’t treat Kerry differently from the rest of her teammates.

“It was fun coaching her,” he said, “but it was kind of hard when you coach your own kid. You maybe have to be harder on your kid than you would on the other kids; otherwise it looks like favoritism. But I thought she was a very good player, and she did quite well for herself.”

That she did. Kerry was an all-state player in 1988 and tied a school record for most points scored in a quarter (17). She shares that record with Beth Creamean, a former two-sport star (basketball and softball) at DePaul University.

“It was hard sometimes because I didn’t know whether to call him Dad or coach,” Kerry said, “But I’m honored to have him as a coach. It was a good experience overall. We had a good team.

“He was a great coach and still is. I learned quite a lot from him. He helped me with my shooting and defense, and think I was the basketball player I was because of him.”

Influences
Kerry lists her parents and siblings as being among her biggest influences, both on and off the field and court.

“I went to school, went to practice, studied and went to bed (during high school),” said Kerry, a straight A student at Kaneland. “I was very serious and very driven. They were always good about telling me, ‘It’s OK if you get a B (in a class).’ They tried to help take the pressure off me a little bit, but I put a lot of pressure on myself from within (to succeed).

“My parents had a big influence on me, and my siblings did, too. I come from a very sports-minded family. My sister was an influence, as well, because she was a really good point guard.”

Kerry also mentions Lea Ann Machais, her sister’s teammate on the 1982 championship team; Pat Sheetz, the head track and field coach during her varsity career at Kaneland; Doug Ecker and Tom Todd, who also coached her in track and cross country; and Mr. Davis, her favorite high school teacher, as inspirations.

“My teammates inspired me, too,” she said. “There were a lot of different personalities and talents (on those teams).”

nib12

Trophy case closed

Kaneland emerges with NIB-12 All-Sports Trophy
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—You’d be hard pressed to argue with the facts.

The facts say Kaneland High School athletics had an exemplary year in athletics for the 2012-13 calendar.

As a result, the Knights and Lady Knights were able to secure the Northern Illinois Big XII All-Sports Trophy for the season.

Kaneland’s 78.5 total was the same as West Division counterpart Geneseo.

In the 2011-12 year, KHS was second overall with 78.5, compared to DeKalb’s 79.

In the conference setup’s first season in 2010-11, the Knights finished second in the East with 68, compared to DeKalb’s 70 and Sterling’s 75.5 in the West.

Kaneland’s conference crowns came in football, golf, volleyball, boys basketball, softball, boys track and girls track.

In the rest of the East setup, Yorkville came in second at 72, followed by DeKalb at 66.5, Sycamore at 64, Morris at 48 and Rochelle at 38.

The West set-up had Geneseo, followed by Sterling at 72.5 and Ottawa at 64.5. LaSalle-Peru (63), Dixon (51) and Streator (35.5).

Dixon and Streator are vacating their NIB-12 spots at the end of the 2013-14 athletic season. Rochelle will then move to the West to create balanced, five-team divisions within the conference.

Dixon and Streator were the only institutions with no team conference titles in 2012-13.

Boys track going the Midwest Distance

Two Kaneland runners compete at Benedictine
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Not content with the productive goings-on at Eastern Illinois University two weekends ago, Kaneland High School track members Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera, junior State medalists, have more work to do.

On Saturday, June 8, the two members of the Class 2A 4x800m relay champion foursome travel to Lisle, Ill., to compete at the 2013 Midwest Distance Festival, hosted by Benedictine University.

The second annual festival switches locations from the Joliet, Ill.-based Memorial Stadium.

The track tandem set a school record in Charleston, Ill. at the Class 2A State gathering along with junior teammates Luis Acosta and Conor Johnson with a time of 7:50.26.

Carter and Kucera are one of 16 athletes competing in the 800m run, which had a qualifying time of one minute, 56 seconds. Carter’s leg of the State run was 1:54.46, while Kucera’s entry was 1:54.40, fifth and ninth in the entire field, respectively.

Carter is not approaching the event any differently now that he is, by definition, one of the best in Illinois at what he does.

“I still get nervous before these things,” he said. “You never know what could happen. I just have to go in and see and run my own race.”

The two Class of 2014 members helped spur on a sixth-place team finish for boys track with 24 team points.

Slated to witness the race are the two runner’s families and KHS coach Eric Baron.

Lady Knight Victoria Clinton will also compete in the girls 2-mile run.

The festival consists of five events for the boys and three for the girls, along with a co-ed 5,000m run. The top three runners will be medaled after each event.

Benedictine University is located at 5700 College Rd. in Lisle, Ill.