Tag Archives: Featured

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Photos: Elementary students honor Veterans Day

A ceremony to honor veterans took place at 8:50 a.m. Monday by the flagpole on the campus of Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School in Elburn. The school’s students and staff, the Elburn Legion, the Fox Valley Concert Band, and Boy Scout Pack 107 participated in the event.

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Boy Scout Pack 107 (above) helps local veterans unfold the flag.

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Wiley Overly (above) from Elburn American Legion, kicks off the ceremony. Wiley served in the Army during the Vietnam era and the National Guard.

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Collin Miller (above), a John Stewart third-grader, takes the podium to say a word to veterans for their job well done.

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John Anderson (above), an Army veteran from the Vietnam era who resides in Batavia, salutes during the ceremony at John Stewart, where his granddaughter attends school.

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Students and staff (above) raise flags to salute veterans.

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Knights valiant

Injuries, JCA juggernaut create perfect storm for 2nd-round elimination
JOLIET, ILL.—Even before the Class 5A playoffs began, Kaneland football knew what it could be getting into.

After a convincing win over first-round opponent Hampshire last week, Kaneland would have to deal with Montini Catholic and Sycamore in potential quarterfinal and semifinal matchups.

It was noted football factory Joliet Catholic on the immediate horizon at Joliet Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. With the penchant for big running plays and injuries coming together at an inopportune point for the Knights, Kaneland saw its season end in a 45-8 defeat.

It marked the second straight year that the Knights were tossed in the second round, having lost to host Lincoln-Way West by a 31-15 margin on Nov. 3, 2012.

The previous two seasons saw home semifinal losses to Montini to end those particular seasons.

Kaneland finishes the 2013 campaign at a still-exemplary 9-2, the first year since 2009 that the Knights didn’t finish with a double-digit win total. The loss to the Hilltoppers marked the lowest point total for the Knights since a 42-7 loss to former conference rival Geneva on Oct. 17, 2008.

For the Knights, early-season injuries to running back Jesse Balluff and lineman Zach Thielk converged with the round one back injury to wideout Brandon Bishop, and in-game injuries to quarterback Drew David and lineman Sam Bower to make matters difficult for the visitors.

“David tried to slide as he got hit and hurt his ribs,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said.

David was 6-for-13 for 69 yards before being knocked out of the game. Classmate Tyler Carlson stepped in and went 10-for-18 for 95 yards.

Isaac Swithers ran for 34 yards on seven carries, and John Pruett had 55 yards receiving on five catches.

JCA had 392 yards rushing on the night, paced by Nick Borgra’s and Nick Ivlow’s 140 yards apiece.

KHS began with the ball, saw some openings and moved down the field, thanks to runs by Swithers and David and a pass to Pruett, but the drive stalled after 11 plays and 52 yards following an incomplete pass to Swithers. On the Hilltoppers’ second play from scrimmage, a counter by Ivlow resulted in a 67-yard touchdown scamper with 6:52 to go in the frame, despite Dylan Nauert almost chasing him down.

An additional drive for either team in the quarter stalled, but Joliet Catholic took control in the second quarter. Kaneland had a chance to tie matters with a pass that went through the hands of Pruett in the end zone on a second-and-10 from the 21 of JCA. Two plays later, Matt Rodriguez was wide left on a 38-yard field goal attempt.

Ivlow immediately turned around and rocketed to an 80-yard TD run on the next play with 4:58 remaining in the half for a 14-0 lead. A three-and-out for the Knights gave way to another Hilltopper possession, and Ivlow managed his third touchdown two plays later from 24 yards out, giving the hosts a 21-0 lead with 2:22 before halftime.

Ivlow would cap his astronomical first half on the next drive with a 15-yard touchdown run with 1:06 to go for his fourth touchdown and a 28-0 lead.

The floodgates would open for the Hilltoppers on a 42-yard touchdown run by Borgra with 6:17 left in the third for a 35-0 lead, followed by a 23-yard field goal by Brian Bravo with 4:00 to go for a 38-0 lead, and the running clock kicked in with a 51-yard scoring scamper by Borgra with 29 seconds to go in the third for a 45-0 lead.

Kaneland finally got on the scoreboard with an orchestrated drive that ended on a three-yard run and a two-point catch by Nate Dyer with 6:44 for the final 37-point deficit.

Dyer and company brought their skills the best they could not only throughout the season-ender, but the entire year as well, despite not being at total strength.

“It has been a rough year with injuries,” Dyer said. “Especially on the turf, that’s kind of a nightmare at times for us. Our juniors worked so hard in practice. Everybody is going to talk like all the other schools, saying ‘Our seniors are gone.’ Those kids worked just as hard. I expect them to come back firing.”

“We lost to some good teams this year, but the only thing I can say is just how grateful I am coaching these kids,” Fedderly said. “It was just a tremendous run that we had; unfortunately, when it rained, it poured with the injuries with Bishop, David and Bower. Hats off to (Joliet Catholic), they did a nice job.”

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Lady Knights display Peoria power

Collective effort yields fifth place in Class 2A final
PEORIA, ILL—There may have been no individual state champ for the Lady Knights cross country squad in 2013, but the team-wide effort was still something to behold.

Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill. was the site for the Class 2A State final race, and saw the Kaneland roster’s fortunes and talent produce a fifth-place team finish.

Kaneland was led by team assets sophomore Brianna Bower, junior Aislinn Lodwig and senior Victoria Clinton, who paced the attack to a 246-point finish. The Lady Knights were given tiebreaker advantage over Chatham Glenwood.

The Lady Knights looked up at only four other teams in the Class 2A setting, with Northern Illinois Big XII rival Yorkville’s 104 points nabbing the trophy, followed by Glenbard South at 130, Vernon Hills at 181 and Marengo at 231.

Yorkville’s program has now nabbed three titles in a row.

For Kaneland, the finish marks a one-place improvement from last year’s sixth-place and 180-point output. It marked a third-straight top-10 finish, with the team finishing eighth in 2011, and marked the highest team finish in 24 years. The Lady Knights’ pack time was 1:47 last year, compared to just 54 seconds in 2013.

The overall individual champion in the competition was Riverside-Brookfield senior Mailin Struck at 16:35, beating Peoria Notre Dame’s Maryjeanne Gilbert by 29 seconds.

For Kaneland, Bower finished in 37th place with a time of 18:33, Lodwig, only healthy in the last five weeks of the year, was in 54th at 18:59, while Clinton, last year’s individual champion, took 76th overall at 19:12. Rounding out the top 5 for the Kaneland outfit were necessary components Abby Shaw and Erika Carlson, with the freshman Shaw finishing in 19:20 for 88th, and Carlson capping her senior season in 94th place with a time of 19:26.

Also taking the course for KHS were seniors Sydney Strang in 126th (19:58) and Anna Piazza in 148th (20:16).

Coach Doug Ecker couldn’t have been more pleased.

“The mark of this team was their ability to overcome injuries and setbacks, having eight or nine runners step up in various races to cover for injured or sick teammates,” Ecker said. “They truly got the most out of their season. I enjoyed every minute of coaching them.”

KHS girls cross country says goodbye to seniors Carlson, Riley Coyle, Christina Delach, Kayla Hedgren, Piazza and Strang.


Photos by Mary Paulson

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Knight boys show tough State of mind

Photo: Senior Nathaniel Kucera crosses the finish line at Saturday’s State meet as Kaneland’s third finisher in 15:54. Photo by Mary Paulson

Tough field meets solid resolve for 22nd place finish
PEORIA, ILL.—Without fail, every time you head down to Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill., you’re dealing with the best Class 2A boys cross country has to offer.

It was the same in 2013 for the Kaneland roster, which finished 22nd overall as a team on Saturday, thanks to a 493-point output, beating next competitor East Peoria by 42 points. The Knights also yielded a :47 pack. Kaneland finished 15th overall in 2012.

“We are very proud of our boys nonetheless,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “Hundreds of teams did not have this opportunity.”

Overall, Yorkville took the Class 2A crown, thanks to a point total of 119, 15 points better than Lansing, Ill., outfit Illiana Christian. Vernon Hills finished third at 136 points.

Kaneland had a charge led by team juggernauts like Nathaniel Kucera, Andrew Lesak and Sean Spaetzel. Kucera finished 67th to lead the team with a time of 15:54, while Lesak finished 114th overall at 16:17, and Spaetzel crossed the line to end his sophomore campaign in 140th place with a time of 16:31.

“Nathaniel Kucera improved 36 places from his 2012 performance at State,” Clarey said. “He was a runner who brought a lot of humor to our season. Andrew Lesak’s first run at State was a success with a 16:16 time. He will be a leader next fall, and with good reason. He is a very unflappable, balanced and dependable runner. Sean Spaetzel pushed up to finish as our third man today. He was 20 seconds faster than on the course a year ago.”

Shoring up the KHS line were Ryan Bower at 141st with a time of 16:31, and Kyle Carter in 164th at 16:41, doing his best to fight off a stress fracture from the season’s early goings.

“No matter how hard you fight, you have days like this,” Clarey said.

Brandon Park (176th) and Luis Acosta (188th) brought up the back of the State-goers from KHS, with times of 16:50, and 17:00, respectively.

“Sometimes a team struggles, and today it happened to ours. The experiences we had will become positive reference points going forward, as the seniors prepare for an outstanding track season where all seven of them can and will once again be impact runners at the State level,” Clarey said.

Kaneland said goodbye to seniors Acosta, Bower, Dylan Kuipers, Phil Cutsinger, Carter, Kucera and Brock Robertsen.


Photos by Mary Paulson

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Kylie Siebert named to CCIW all-conference team

ROCK ISLAND, ILL.—Augustana sophomore Kylie Siebert, a Sugar Grove native and Kaneland graduate, was recently named to the all-conference volleyball team in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin. Siebert, a 5-foot-5 libero, was the lone representative for the Vikings.

She led the team this year in digs with 567 in 107 games played for an average of 5.30 per game. Her average of 5.30 digs per game is the fourth highest single season mark in school history. She also had 28 service aces and 109 setting assists as she helped the Vikings record a 16-15 overall record and a 3-4 mark in the CCIW. It was the second-consecutive winning record for Augustana, which went 20-11 a year ago.

Siebert led the CCIW in digs this past fall with 125 in 21 league matches for a 5.95 average. She was also named to the all-tournament team at the Viking Classic.

A year ago, as a freshman, she was named “Freshman of the Year” for the Vikings when she played in 107 games and had a team-high 475 digs (4.44 average) with 39 service aces and 79 setting assists. So far in her career, she has played in 214 games with 1,042 digs, which is 11th on the Augustana all-time list. She has 188 setting assists and 67 service aces.

Kylie, a business and accounting major, is the daughter of Dawn and Trent Siebert of Sugar Grove.

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Photos: Apples Applenty


Contestants brought their ready-to-eat apple dishes this past Sunday to the 5th annual Apples Applenty Cooking Contest at Kuipers Family Farm’s Orchard Shop. Many recipes contained the use of Kuipers apples. Judges Marge, of Somonauk, Ill., and Karen Backey, of Lake Montezuma, Ariz., based the scoring on showmanship, taste and the creative use of apples.

Dave Anderson, Village President

Officials celebrate Anderson bridge groundbreaking

ELBURN—Decades in the planning, construction is set to begin on the Anderson Road bridge as public officials put shovels in the ground on Monday.

The shovels symbolized breaking ground on the project that will provide an overpass to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Officials from all levels of government, from village to federal, gathered at the construction site near the intersection of Anderson Road and Prairie Valley Street in Elburn for Monday’s ceremony.

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said reaching this point in the project is the result of hard work, cooperation, collaboration and compromise, along with a heavy dose of federal, county and state funding.

The project will extend Anderson Road, which currently ends at Prairie Valley Street, to Keslinger Road to the south, as well as build the bridge, which will provide an alternate to crossing the railroad tracks on Route 47 through Elburn.

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson, Lauzen, Kane County Board member/Transportation Committee Chair Drew Frasz and Kane County engineer Carl Shoedel were among those who spoke at the event.

State Rep. Kay Hatcher, ShoDeen Inc. president Dave Patzelt, Kaneland School District Superintendent Jeff Schuler and Elburn trustee Bill Grabarek were among those in attendance.

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson said he could remember when there were no bridges over what was then the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. There was just a rickety old bridge over Harley Road, he said.

The progress that the Anderson Road bridge exemplifies is the result of the foresight and cooperation of governmental partners, Anderson said.

Kane County Engineer Carl Shoedel earned a round of applause when he said that, while happy to see this progress, he will be even more excited when the road and the bridge is open to traffic, and the project is completed on time and under budget.

Martam Construction, Inc., together with Herlihy Mid-Continent Company, was awarded its $14.4 million bid on the project, approximately 25 percent less than the engineer’s original project estimate of $19.8 million.

Breaking ground this fall will give it time to freeze and thaw throughout the winter, leaving it ready for construction to begin by spring, Frasz said. He anticipates the project to be completed by late 2014 or early spring 2015.

Frasz said that there was a time in the past year when completion of the project was in question. Patzelt owned the property necessary for the right-of-way for the bridge, and annexation of this land for ShoDeen’s Elburn Station development was a prerequisite to the construction of the bridge.

But Frasz said that in the end, Patzelt and the village were able to come to an agreement on the development. He credited village trustees, and Grabarek in particular, for their careful consideration of the details of the project.

Anderson extolled the positive outcomes that will take place as a result of the bridge, including increased connectivity and accessibility to the Metra station, the industrial park and the downtown area, as well as the safety and welfare of the people within the community.

Anderson said that when the bridge is finished, a bike and pedestrian pathway will provide access to county forest preserves Elburn Woods and Johnson’s Mound.

He reflected that the project had involved generations of elected officials.

“It was all of us,” Anderson said, mentioning the Kane County Board, the Transportation Committee with Frasz’s leadership and Jan Carlson before him, former Elburn Village President Jim Willey, as well as former Speaker of the U.S. House Dennis Hastert, who brought the federal dollars home to Kane County.

“This was started before us,” Anderson said. “We were fortunate enough to be a part of it.”

The build-out of the Elburn Station development will begin once the bridge has been completed.

“The bridge will provide for the efficient movement of traffic, and will be a catalyst for positive development of the entire region,” Anderson said.

Twenty years from now, we’ll be astounded how much activity and how much traffic this bridge will have,” he added.


Photos by Patti Wilk

Jaumaureo Phillips & Gary Koehring

Team defense

35 points by offense overshadowed by defensive gem in first round
KANELAND—Drew David and the Knights offense was clicking, but it was the other side of the ball that stole the show.

The Knights opened the 2013 playoffs in dominating fashion, picking apart the visiting Hampshire Whip-Purs 35-0.

Defensive coordinator Keith Snyder was very happy with how his unit played.

“I was really happy with how the kids responded,” Snyder said. “We’ve been trying to get back to being a little more simple and letting the kids play football after the Sycamore game, and the last two weeks they’ve done a heck of a job doing it.”

On Friday, the Knights’ defense was always in the right spots to make plays.

“We tried to dial it down to let the kids fly around and be aggressive, and they’ve really responded,” he said.

Senior Gary Koehring, who led the team with 8.5 tackles, led the defense, which has given up an average of only 10.5 points through last Friday’s game.

“Our defense played awesome; we all are buying into what coach Snyder has us doing,” Koehring said, “Everyone is doing their jobs, and we’re just playing as a whole unit.”

Koehring was impressed with his teammates’ contributions, too.

“Tyler Carlson played really well; he had two interceptions. He’s done a really nice job filling in for our two graduated guys last year in Korey Harner and Blake Bradford,” Koehring said. “Andy Kray steps up as a sophomore; he’s been doing really good this year.”

Carlson also had a tackle for a loss, and Kray had one of three sacks for the Knights.

“Everyone has just stepped up as a unit this year,” said Koehring.

The Knight’s offense was impressive, too. Junior Isaac Swithers got the Knights on the board on their third possession with a three-yard touchdown run with 2:56 left in the first quarter.

The Knights drove the ball well early in the second quarter, with key catches coming from senior John Pruett (five catches for 91 yards), and were rewarded with another Swithers TD run, this time from the goal line.
Later in the second, after a Brandon Bishop 51-yard touchdown pass was called back due to a penalty, David found junior Connor Fedderly for a seven-yard TD pass with 1:57 to go before the half.

Two third quarter touchdowns: a four-yard run by senior Nate Dyer after a nice drive, and a quick strike 14 yard pass from David to senior Tyler Slamans as time expired in the third quarter finished the scoring on the night.

However, a scary moment came with 7:51 left in the third quarter, when Bishop (seven catches, 91 yards) had to be taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons after taking a helmet to the back on a punt return. The senior did give his teammates and the Peterson Field crowd a thumbs up as he was loaded into the ambulance. Head coach Tom Fedderly said Bishop’s playing status wouldn’t be determined until late in the week.

Hampshire finished the night with only 84 yards of total offense, and had just four first downs.

“To do what we did tonight and with the turnovers, (to give up) only four first downs and to shut a team out in the playoffs—that’s a total team defensive effort right there,” Snyder said after the game.

Snyder credited his unit’s preparation for keeping the Whip-Purs offense in shambles.

“It starts in film study, and they’ve been phenomenal. They see things I haven’t even seen, and I pride myself in studying film,” Snyder said.

Snyder was quick to credit the rest of the defensive staff.

“Their position coaches do a tremendous job with them—Pat Ryan with the inside linebackers, Marcus Goedken with the defensive line and Ryan Gierke with the defensive backs—so when they get to me, I can just coach them on some smaller things, and then they just know what is going on out there,” Snyder said. “It makes my job much easier when you have smart football players that play like that.”

The Knights now travel to Joliet, Ill., to take on the Joliet Catholic Hilltoppers at Joliet Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m. The winner of the second-round matchup will face the winner of the Montini Catholic/Marian Catholic matchup in the Quarterfinals.


Photos by Patti Wilk

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Last line of offense

Knight behemoths help Kaneland football in trenches
KANELAND—Throughout the 35-game regular season win streak and 47 wins in the last 52 overall games, Kaneland’s playmakers have made plenty of noise with their actions.

But it’s been said by coach Tom Fedderly in months past that the games are won on the offensive line.

Being charged with the task of protecting quarterbacks like Drew David and predecessor Joe Camaliere, while being asked to clear holes for Jesse Balluff, Isaac Swithers, Nate Dyer and Blake Serpa, is all in a productive night’s work for the Knight offensive line. It’s personnel like seniors Alex Snyder, Shane Jorgensen, Joe Komel, Justin Diddell and Sam Bower that win the offensive battles first, allowing for glory in the endzone later.


With Kaneland securing one playoff win in Class 5A action, the challenge of storied program Joliet Catholic looms, but personnel like Jorgensen (6-foot-2, 270 pounds) just wish to play within themselves, even as two-way players.

Jorgensen, whose older brother Troy was a valuable receiver on the 2006 Class 5A semifinalist team, has tried to keep it business as usual.

“We try to practice just as hard, no matter what jersey we have on,” Jorgensen said. “The Morris game was huge, we just knew we had to bounce back.”

Diddell (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) came into 2013 in a unique situation, having been mostly a defensive lineman, but still maintains the aggressive mentality.

“It’s still nice to hit people. But, the thing is, people took me under their wing and they helped me out throughout practice,” Diddell said. “Every time I’d make a mistake, they helped me out.”

That mode has made a big difference for the first-year O-line talent.

“They don’t just leave me there to die, and I’m just glad I have a group of linemen that know what they’re doing,” Diddell said. “We really get hyped up about our double teams. Then, when we start pancaking people and we start double-teaming them after that, that’s when we get really hyped up.”

Snyder (6-feet-0, 270 pounds) is the elder statesman of the line, and holds the school record for most wins in a four-year span as an individual player for the Kaneland football program.

How much of a change to Snyder’s game has there been?

“I think, physically, I’m more of the same player; mentally, just a lot different,” Snyder said. “I understand a lot more things. Obviously, with maturity and preparing more. But it’s just seeing what someone will do and seeing their tendencies from the first couple of plays.”

With injuries to threats like Balluff and Zach Thielk and a share of dings, bumps and bruises, Snyder and Co. have had to work and persevere through a slew of obstacles in 2013.

“I just think this year, seeing how people have responded kind of helps us through everything. With the Sycamore game, obviously we didn’t want to lose it, but the only thing we could do was bounce back,” Snyder said.

Komel (6-foot-4, 280 pounds), at right tackle, has a full plate of tough draws every game that differs slightly from his linemates.

“The right tackle is responsible for the pocket. Guards and centers are more responsible for the depth. Those defensive ends are coming hard at me and the quarterback, and you’ve got to keep them off,” Komel said. “You get a running start and you’re backpedaling almost, basically.”

With the 2013 postseason the last ride no matter what week it ends, the line responsible for so many breakaway plays breaks it down to its basest form.

“You’ve just got to protect the quarterback as best as possible,” Komel said.

Kaneland’s meeting with Joliet Catholic takes place on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m., at Joliet Memorial Stadium.

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Kaneland takes care of sectional challenge

Photo: Sophomore Sean Spaetzel cracked the varsity roster, running as Kaneland’s seventh runner at the Belvidere Sectional with a time of 16:51. File Photo

Boys’ fourth place yields State berth
KANELAND—In certain situations, a team’s fourth-place finish might be cause for kicking one’s self.

For the Kaneland boys cross country team, it’s a chance to keep striding toward bigger and better things at this coming weekend’s State contest at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.

Kaneland boys cross country’s performance at the Class 2A Belvidere Sectional on Saturday morning yielded a total of 163 points, in the middle of the pack of State qualifiers. Vernon Hills took first with 45 points, followed by Northern Illinois Big XII entry Dixon with 99 points. Crystal Lake Central took third at the 102-point mark. After Kaneland’s comfortable fourth-place slot, Prairie Ridge and Grayslake Central earned qualifying nods with 181 points each.

Ryan Pitner, senior representative from Crystal Lake Central, finished the morning with a time of 15 minutes 9 seconds to nab individual champion honors.

Kyle Carter, a KHS senior, finished in 19th place at 15:56, finishing over Grayslake Central’s Jack Battaglia by .09 seconds, with senior classmate Nathaniel Kucera next up for KHS in 21st at 16:00. Additionally, junior Brandon Park took 37th at 16:21, followed by fellow junior Andrew Lesak in 41st at 16:23, while senior Ryan Bower finished in 45th at 16:30.

Kaneland’s average varsity time was 16:23 on the Belvidere school course.

“We knew it was a battle for the final two qualifying spots, and we knew a pack split under 40 seconds was necessary for this team to advance for a third year in a row,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “Led by an inspired effort from the seniors, the team advanced with a 34-second pack split.”

As the 17th boys team to advance to the big course, Clarey was glad to see the team effort work on the grass.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity to return to Peoria. We realize there are some very talented teams who will end their seasons today. When we needed it most, the team rallied around one another and got the job done,” Clarey said.

The highest finish for the Kaneland program in recent memory was second place 14 years ago. In 2012, Chicago’s Jones High School took the Class 2A crown with 85 points, followed by Belvidere North at 126 points. Local rival Yorkville took third with 129 points.

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Just enough: Girls cross country’s fifth place means another trip to Peoria

Photo: Senior Erika Carlson stepped up for the Lady Knights, running as their No. 3 with a time of 19:30. File Photo

KANELAND—Looks like the Lady Knights cross country squad had just enough on Saturday in Belvidere, Ill.

Due to their 176-point total, the Kaneland girls cross country lineup earned the last Class 2A State qualifying margin by 27 points over Woodstock at the Sectional meet at Belvidere High School.

The Lady Knights, who saw sophomore Victoria Clinton take the top prize in 2012, now set plans for the Class 2A finals on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.

Crystal Lake Central was crowned Sectional champs with a 103-point total, followed by Marengo at 121, Vernon Hills at 126 and Lake Forest at 141.

Senior Maura Beattie of Woodstock took the course with a stellar time of 17 minutes, 43 seconds. For Kaneland, the troop was led by junior Clinton, who finished 11th at 18:31. Sophomore Brianna Bower continued her steady trajectory with a 18:37 for 15th place. Third-best for KHS was senior Erika Carlson in 42nd at 19:30. Rounding out the top five for Kaneland: freshman Abby Shaw in 53rd at 19:46, and veteran junior Aislinn Lodwig at 55th in 19:49.

For the third year in a row, the Lady Knight girls saw hard work and a rise to the occasion pay off.

“Once again, Victoria Clinton and Brianna Bower led the way with strong races,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “In arguably the toughest sectional in the state with 8-9 teams running for five spots, I’m very proud of how the girls ran their best race on the day it mattered most. They definitely earned their trip to the State meet.”

In 2012, Clinton’s championship run helped KHS toward a sixth-place team finish, with rival Yorkville and Normal University taking the top two spots on the Peoria course.

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Third game not a charm

Photo: Sophomore Anna Sinise had four digs and two kills in the Lady Knight’s Regional loss to Sycamore last Thursday. Photos by Patti Wilk

Lady Knights’ journey ends by third-seed Sycamore in regional final
SANDWICH, Ill.—There would be no standing tall, despite the valiant effort.

Kaneland, the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A Sandwich Regional, looked to knock off Sycamore, the No. 3 seed, last Thursday, in a repeat of the 2012 Hampshire Regional final.

What ended up happening after a nice first game was two drops in a row, allowing the Lady Spartans to hoist the Sandwich Regional plaque after a 17-25, 25-12, 25-18 tussle. Sycamore was set to hit the Princeton Sectional against Dunlap on Tuesday in a semifinal matchup.

Kaneland finished the 2013 campaign at 16-16, while Sycamore improved to 16-17 after the three-game tussle.

Lone senior Jenny Lubic had 25 assists in her swan song, while junior teammate Ellie Dunn had 13 kills and 14 digs. Sophomore Vanessa Gould had seven kills and eight digs.

Kaneland had earned a slot in the final by beating Plano on Oct. 29, while Sycamore had defeated Sandwich in the following game.

The Lady Knights got off to a nice start against their Northern Illinois Big XII conference rival with a 14-9 edge in the first game. Sycamore took advantage of some service errors to close within 17-16. Soon, Dunn took control with two kills, and coupled with a sideout, the Lady Knights led 23-16. After a Sycamore point, the Lady Knights got a Dunn kill followed by a Lubic set to Dunn for the match point and eight-point margin of victory.

Service mishaps, errors and an overall tightening of the Sycamore game had Kaneland fall to a 20-8 margin in the second game. Despite a key kill by Hannah Nauert to close it to 21-10, Sycamore went on a 4-2 run to even matters.

Back and forth action had Kaneland’s last lead of the 2013 season at 12-11 before strategic placement of the ball and key blocking made for third-game woes. Sycamore went on an 11-4 run to take a 22-16 lead. Dunn would come up with two late kills, to close within 24-18, but a side out ended the contest.

With the first year a season-long adjustment, the Lady Knights hoped to make it past the regional final. Strides were made, however.

“New coach, new systems, young team, individual player, the bond, trust and friendships that were made, we did a lot in roughly 70 days,” KHS coach Kerri McCastland said. “I’m just sorry we didn’t have more time to foster it. The future looks bright.”

With the loss, Lady Knights volleyball says goodbye to Lubic.

“Jenny was the unanimous chosen leader on our team by her peers,” McCastland said. “She was great under pressure and stayed poised as a player and person. She is selfless; playing injured and never giving less than 110 percent. She’s a dynamic player who loves to attack the game. I will miss that among so many other things about her.”

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Knights Armory gives back

KANELAND—Samantha Garcia, a Kaneland High School senior, recently shared some advice to a first-grader. However, the first-grader wasn’t enrolled in the Kaneland School District. Rather, Garcia’s words traveled to a low-income neighborhood in St. Louis, Mo.

“I explained my life and how I hope they’re doing well in school,” Garcia said. “And to really take it seriously because it’s their future. Stay in school and give it your all.”

Garcia is one of 75 students in the Knights’ Armory, a special education study skills class at Kaneland High School, who participated in the recent St. Louis Project during Kindness in Kaneland week, Oct. 13-19, as part of the events celebrating kindness throughout the Kaneland School District and its surrounding community.

The St. Louis Project involved Kaneland staff and students in the Knights’ Armory adopting a first-grade class of 19 students at Nance Elementary School.

According to Sandy Faletto, case manager and Knights’ Armory special education teacher, students wrote encouraging letters to first-graders about the importance of kindness and helping others, and to be a good reader and do their best in school. Kaneland staff, administration, parents and some students pitched in to provide needed school supplies.

“I told my students about this (St. Louis Project) idea,” Faletto said. “They wanted to be involved and kind of pay it forward (with) kindness.”

The first-grade teacher on the receiving end of Kaneland’s kindness was Kathleen Kuhar, 23, a Kaneland High School graduate and Teach for America educator who works with students who are economically disadvantaged. Most of the children are African-American and receive free or reduced lunch.

Kuhar said that she was surprised and grateful by the offer from Mrs. Faletto.

“It is amazing that they reached out and picked me and my students, and reached out and have gone above and beyond to help us out,” Kuhar said. “Now my kids get their own notebooks, which some have and some don’t.”

At least four boxes of school supplies were donated, filled with tools like notebooks, folders, pencils, crayons, markers, dry-erase boards, coloring books, glue sticks, rulers, index cards and gently used children’s books.

Faletto and Beth Trafton, a special education teacher, drove to Kuhar’s classroom to personally deliver these special supplies on Friday.

“That way, we could not only take pictures of the students, but maybe create a video to bring back for our students to see what their kindness did,” Faletto said.

In the meantime, Kaneland students have learned how giving can be a good thing.

“It feels really good giving them supplies and everything after hearing their story about how they have practically nothing,” said Devin Allen, a KHS sophomore. “A lot of the kids don’t have enough pencils to go around or notebooks or anything.”

Jessica Henery, a KHS senior, said she learned some lessons from participating in the project.

“If you’re able to help out, it’s a great feeling to be able to help out kids that aren’t fortunate to have what we have,” she said. “And sometimes if you feel down and you do a good deed, it makes you feel better about yourself and it gets you further in life.”

Maple Park PD_Ocotber26_1

Crazy Quail event pulls for Special Olympics

Photo: Maple Park Police Department held its ‘Crazy Quail’ event in support of Special Olympics on Saturday at the St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club in Elburn. Crazy Quail is a new game where participants shoot targets thrown by a 360 degree rotating base. Event coordinators said that they had a good turn out and it was a busy and fun day all around. Here, Ted Smykowski of Elburn fires away. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

MAPLE PARK—People were signing in and waiting in line at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday, even though the Crazy Quail shooting event didn’t begin until 9 a.m.

According to Maple Park resident Dean Goodenough, who hosted the event on his property, close to 200 people came out to shoot, cheer the shooters on or play a golf-chipping game, all to raise money for the Illinois Special Olympics.

“We were really happy with it,” Goodenough said.

The shooting event featured a beginner’s stand for young people and inexperienced shooters, as well as a high tower stand for more experienced shooters who wanted more of a challenge. The high tower stand features a 45-foot lift, from which an individual thrower releases the clay targets.

The Crazy Quail, designed by local manufacturer Barry Bordage, is an oscillating disk with up to four individual throwers attached, giving it the capability of throwing out 160 clay targets per minute.

“It takes shooting to a whole new level,” Goodenough said.

Bordage donated the use of three Crazy Quail machines, as well as four individual throwers, the lift for the high tower stand and staff, to make sure everyone was safe and had a good time during the event.

About 35 volunteers helped in various ways throughout the day, including a group of Kaneland High School students. Many local businesses sponsored and donated money and merchandise to make the fundraiser a success, including the Killian Financial Group, which donated the pork.

Goodenough said that people came from all over to participate in the event, including Winfield, Wheaton, Geneva, Batavia and Aurora, as well as Maple Park residents. Other participants included children as young as 8 years old, adults who had never shot before, and people that Goodenough thought might be over 80 years old.

A golf chipping game was available for people who didn’t want to shoot but still wanted to participate. There were three putting greens, and people won prizes based on where their ball landed.

The Maple Park Police Department Crazy Quail fundraising event raised $5,000 for the Illinois Special Olympics, pushing the 2013 fundraising amount to $62,000, surpassing its 2013 goal of $50,000.

Elburn resident Colleen MacRunnells, co-coordinator of the MPPD Law Enforcement Torch Run, had worked for the Illinois Department of Corrections and had been organizing Law Enforcement Torch Run events for the DOC for several years when she retired. At that point, she approached Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta about organizing the fundraisers for the MPPD, who readily came on-board.

According to Jim MacRunnells, who is Colleen’s husband, the police department and the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run partnership is in a good position for first place in the competition among Illinois police departments to raise the most money for Special Olympics.

With 325 police departments across the state raising money for Special Olympics, Jim said that the Maple Park Police Department is currently beating out much larger organizations, such as the Illinois State Police, the Chicago Police Department and the Joliet Police Department, for the top spot.

“It’s an impressive showing for such a small department, Jim said.

Maple Park has only one full-time officer, Chief Acosta, and five part-time officers.

“It’s a friendly competition,” Jim said of the Torch Run competition. “We’re just a little more competitive.”

The Illinois Special Olympics is a nonprofit organization providing year-round sports, training and competition to more than 22,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Illinois. Through training and competition, Special Olympics athletes enhance their physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence and social skills.

Other Maple Park Police Department fundraising events throughout the year include the Wheel of Meat Extravaganza at the Maple Park Pub in Maple Park, the Lobster Boil at Bootlegger’s in Maple Park, and the group’s largest fundraiser, the Pulling for Special Olympics event, which is a clay shooting event at the St. Charles Sportsman’s Club in Elburn. This year, that event netted $38,000, Jim said.

Several Special Olympians attended the event, including Elburn resident Eric Ream. Ream was eager to try his hand at shooting. With the assistance of an instructor standing next to him, he made four shots, and hit all four.

“He was the star on Saturday,” Jim said.

“Meeting the athletes is a high point in these fundraising events,” Jim said. “People get to see why we do what we do.”

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More like it at Morris

Knights recover nicely from Sycamore setback, finish regular season 8-1
MORRIS, ILL.—One never knows how the usual Week 9 regular season battles between the Kaneland Knights and Morris Redskins will go.

Luckily, the Friday gridiron battle decided to go the way of the Knights for the fourth-straight instance.

Coming off of their first regular season loss in 35 games the week prior in Sycamore, the Knights perhaps started a whole new streak against a scuffling Morris squad in a 49-14 rout.

Kaneland finishes the regular season at 8-1 (4-1 Northern Illinois Big XII), while Morris (3-6, 1-4 NIB-12).

Kaneland ends the regular season with its sixth straight winning record, and 18th winning record in the last 19 tries. Morris was eliminated from playoff contention a year after completing a State runner-up appearance in 2012.

“I was really happy with how we came out,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “Especially on the first drive, we marched right down and scored. So, I was really happy and just wondering how the kids were going to respond.”

Quarterback Drew David had 204 yards passing on 12 of 24 passing attempts.

The first quarter started well enough for KHS, with David moving 35 yards off a read option. Four plays later, Isaac Swithers (101 yards, 12 carries) shrugged off contact and scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 9:41 left in the first for a 7-0 lead.

On Morris’ second drive, Jake Walker took the handoff and exploited a hole for an 84-yard touchdown run with 8:03 to go that tied the score at 7-7.

Three Kaneland drives later, the Knights used Swithers’ runs to set up a pass up the middle to Dylan Nauert for a 16-yard score with 1:46 left and a 14-7 lead. Nauert had 71 yards receiving on the night.

Nauert would find paydirt again with a sprint up the middle for a 41-yard touchdown run, with Tyler Carlson catching the two-point try and a 22-7 lead with two ticks left in the frame.

“We didn’t play up to our best last week,” Nauert said. “We wanted to come back this week and just (proves) that that’s not our team. Morris is always a fun game.”

After both teams traded interceptions, including one by Carlson, Kaneland would get the ball back and Nate Dyer would spin off a would-be tackler en route to an 18-yard touchdown run and a 29-7 advantage with 8:43 before the half.

The next two drives would pay dividends for KHS, thanks to a six-yard run by Swithers with 4:47 to go to make it 36-7, and a five-yard deep ball to Brandon Bishop for a 42-7 edge just 20 seconds before the break.

The Knights’ final regular season touchdown came thanks to Swithers from the 24-yard line of the Redskins just 17 seconds into the third quarter, triggering the running clock with a 49-7 lead. Kaneland had taken over after one Morris play due to a fumble recovery.

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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.”

Soccer_@Sycamore1

Recalled in regional final

Late goal dooms Knight soccer against BC, semi sees rout of Spartans
SYCAMORE—Class 2A Regional soccer features squads that have to make the most of the 80 regulation minutes given.

In the case of the Oct. 23 Regional semifinal at Sycamore between the Knights and host Spartans, Kaneland could have played at a high level for more than the time allotted in a 4-0 win.

During Friday’s regional final against the local rival Rockets of Burlington Central, the Knights probably wished they had more time than given after a late goal led to a 1-0 defeat.

It marked the end of the season for a program that has seen four straight regional final appearances and two plaques. Kaneland advanced to the sectional finals last year.

Burlington Central, the top seed at the regional, advanced to its own sectional, where it was scheduled to battle Freeport on Tuesday.

Kaneland finished its 2013 season with a record of 10-6-4 through 20 matches.

Against the Rockets, it remained scoreless for nearly all of regulation before Alan Camarena scored off the Knights with just 55 seconds remaining. BC improved to 21-2 with the win.

Facing off against the No. 3 seed Spartans as the No. 2 unit, Kaneland started to take care of business fairly early thanks to a rocket from Anthony Parillo from 20 yards out 9:01 into the match for a 1-0 lead.

“I made a run to the box and took a one-touch hit,” Anthony Parillo said. “We’re playing really well, and we’re going to have to step it up on Friday.”

Knight Angel Escontrias struck with a shot from the left of the goalie box with 8:15 before halftime to go up 2-0.

“You always hope you can pop a couple of early ones in and make the other team really push,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “We did well, and Anthony’s shot was just unbelievable. That was a wicked shot.”

About six minutes into the second half, Sycamore committed an own goal off a deflection for a 3-0 edge for Kaneland. The scoring concluded when Escontrias put a shot in thanks to a feed from Adhurim Azemi with 19:40 to play for a 4-0 lead.

JT Karr had two saves in the effort.

5.

Lady Knights earn regional final berth-day

Photo: Riley Hannula (left) and Vanessa Gould prepare to battle Riverside Brookefield during Saturday’s Spikefest at KHS. Photo by Lynn Logan

Sweep against Plano means Halloween contest against Sycamore
SANDWICH, ILL—Tough challenges can come your way as the No. 1 seed in any type of regional.

It’s just a matter of what to do with those challenges.

Kaneland volleyball dealt with a competitive No. 4 seed Plano lineup off a win against Rochelle the previous day, and took care of the Lady Reapers on Tuesday evening by a final of 25-19, 25-23.

Sycamore lines up to be the Kaneland opponent in the Halloween night regional final in Sandwich, Ill. The Lady Spartans, who were shelved by Kaneland in the Hampshire Regional final in 2012, beat Rock Falls and improved to 15-17 after a 30-28, 25-21 match.

Kaneland, after a week that included a Senior Night win over Yorkville, improved to 14-15.

Kaneland also hosted their annual Spikefest Saturday, but complete results were not provided by press time.

Against Plano, a tight first game still had Kaneland lead for most of the duration, and an Ellie Dunn tip over the net made it 15-13. Later, a Riley Hannula kill made it 17-14. A kill by Dunn, followed by a couple of sideouts and a spike by lone senior Jenny Lubic completed a 7-2 run to make it 24-16.

Plano would have a mini-rally after a couple of blocks and a kill, but a too-strong serve ended the game with the six-point margin.

The Lady Reapers relied on more capable front-line play to take a 17-9 advantage in game two, with things looking like they were headed to a third and deciding game.

Kaneland hurried back with two kills by Dunn. After Plano increased the lead back to 19-12. A couple of errors and another Dunn kill, coupled with a Plano sideout brought Kaneland to within 20-16. With time getting tight, A block by the combination of Hannula and Anna Senese and a tap by Vanessa Gould tied the score at 22. After a sideout made it 23-22 for Plano, Kaneland rallied with a side out, and a tap and kill by Gould on successive instances to win the match.

“I think we were just really pumped up and motivated,” Lubic said. “We wanted to win in two, and we were just focused on our goal and what we wanted to get to in the future.”

KHS coach Kerri McCastland realized a challenge was overcome, with more on the horizon, with the help of the established crew.

“Ellie and Jenny are the only ones who have ever been to this dance, I’m full of kids who have never seen the likes of what this is,” McCastland said. “I think that played into it tonight. Hat’s off to Plano, I think they played to win.”

On Thursday, Kaneland closed out conference play with a three-game win over Yorkville in Maple Park by a final of 25-22, 18-25, 25-21. Noteworthy nights were had by Lubic with 29 assists, Dunn with 14 kills and Gould with six kills and eight digs.

Scores at the Saturday Spikefest at Kaneland included KHS beating Riverside-Brookfield 23-25, 27-25, 16-14 and losing to Geneva 17-25, 25-14, 15-5, among the happenings.

Thursday’s Sandwich Regional final will send the winner to the Class 3A Princeton Sectional beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 5, with either Kaneland or Sycamore facing the winner of Illinois Valley Central-Dunlap in the Monmouth-Roseville Regional in the semifinal.

“Marty” of Batavia has been competing with his chili for 3 years now.

Chili-a-plenty

The annual Chili Cook Off at Kuipers Family Farm was held on Saturday, with proceeds going to Conley Outreach. Most of the contestants have been in cookoffs for years and loved being a part of this effort on Saturday. “Marty” of Batavia has been competing with his chili for 3 years now.

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Local residents ‘Help Becky Bounce Back’

KANEVILLE—Nearly 400 people came to Sunday’s Help Becky Bounce Back Benefit, with people packing the Kaneville Community Center’s gym to make frantic last-minute bids in the silent auction and then spilling outside to bid on live auction items.

And when the crowd melted away, Anne Carson sat down to tally how much had been raised to help pay the medical bills of her niece, Becky Nelson, the Maple Park native who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a hit-and-run accident in the Cayman Islands on July 1.

Becky, who had no health insurance, was in a coma for five weeks and will need two years of rehabilitative therapies as she relearns how to walk, dress herself and recover other daily functions. Medicaid will cover only 80 percent of her medical bills, leaving her and her family to pay the rest.

No one knew how much to expect—but the $24,000 raised exceeded all expectations.

“We were overwhelmed by how generous everyone was,” Carson said.

When Elburn resident Audry Buchanan, one of the organizers, heard the total from Carson, she pulled her car over to the side of the road and cried.

“Oh my God, I cried,” Buchanan said. “I was driving to Chicago, and I stopped en route and cried. $24,000? I was screaming in my car. I could not believe it, not in my wildest dreams. And I thought, ‘What a tribute to small towns.’”

The hottest auction item was a pair of front-row seats for the upcoming Nov. 11 Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers game, which went for $1,000 to Pete Peterson and Reece Bend, both from Shabbona, Ill. The two friends joked that they’d better get some Bulls jerseys before the game.

Yet they were just two of the many who bid on and bought 72 silent auction items, 18 live auction items and 33 bucket raffle items.

John and Darcy Weidner made the winning bids on two pies made by Mary Pritchard, the wife of Illinois State Representative Bob Pritchard. The Weidners, who own a farm in Virgil and have known the Nelson family for over 35 years, paid $120 per pie.

“We don’t want people thinking we’re rich or hoity-toity,” Darcy said. “(The Nelsons) are good farming family friends of ours. We came with an amount in mind to donate, and we bought something, that’s all.”

That spirit of community pervaded the event, something that thrilled Peggy Nelson, Becky’s mother.

“It’s been awesome,” Peggy said. “There was a huge turnout and a lot of support for Becky from friends, from family, from the community. We’ve had awesome people donating items, and it really helped to bring in people. And it’s just great to see this work being done for Becky.”

Though Becky has a long recovery ahead of her, Peggy said that she is making steady progress. A cranioplasty is scheduled for Oct. 31 to put a plate in her head, which will replace a section of skull removed during an earlier surgery. Once the plate is in, Becky will no longer have to wear a protective helmet.

“She has good days and bad days, but she continues to improve all the time,” Peggy said. “She’s talking more clearly. Before, it was hard to understand her, but she’s trying hard to articulate. And her sense of humor is still there. She makes little comments to me. The other day, I said, ‘I’m sorry, Becky, I couldn’t understand you.’ And she joked, ‘Mommy, focus!’ That’s the teacher in Becky that we know and love.”

Since Becky is a preschool teacher and once worked at the Kaneville Community Childcare Center, the family-friendly fundraiser featured games and crafts for kids.

Dozens of people volunteered their services, including DJ Ricky Nilsen, a Kaneland High School classmate of Becky’s who helped emcee the event; Josiah Jones, who performed his juggling act; Bruce Sims of Long Eared Livery Service, who provided mule-drawn wagon rides; Steve Almburg of Almburg Auctions in Malta, Ill., who conducted the live auction; Hill’s Country Store in Kaneville, which sold food and donated 10 percent of the proceeds; and Paisano’s Pizza in Elburn, which donated pizzas.

Nilsen said that he’d heard about Becky’s plight through Facebook and wanted to do something.

“Everyone needs to get together to do something. It’s how I feel about Kaneland as a whole. You need to do something as a community,” he said.

Elburn resident Lauren Steers, a seventh- grader at Harter Middle School, helped run the slingshot game and was among many young people who volunteered at the event. Though Steers had never met any of the Nelsons, she heard about the benefit from her mother, Nancy, and offered to come.

“I just felt like doing something for the community,” Lauren said. “So my mom and my brother and I, we all came. You get volunteer hours (at school) for it.”

Support for Becky also came in the form of bracelets from Taylor Schmidt, a 9-year-old girl from Aurora. Schmidt, whose mother works at Old Second Bank in Elburn with Peggy, made blue-and-white rubber band bracelets—“The blue is for the ocean”—and plans to give one to Becky once her doctors allow her to wear jewelry again.

Kaneville Village President Pat Hill, who has been selling fundraising bracelets and collecting donations at her store, said she was pleased with the community’s response.

“I’m very happy with the turnout,” Hill said. “The gym was packed. They’ve been coming and going. Becky’s a sweet girl, and she deserves our help. We’d all want someone to do the same for us. We take care of each other.”

Additional fundraisers may be planned, Buchanan said, because Becky’s medical bills will continue to rise. The next event is on Nov. 10 at Eddie Gaedel Pub and Grill at 117 N. Main St. in Elburn. The restaurant—a new eatery from Dick and Annette Theobald, the owners of Paisano’s—will donate 10 percent of the day’s sales to the fundraising effort and will host a 50/50 raffle.

To follow the continuing fundraising effort and get updates on Becky’s progress, like the Help Becky Bounce Back page on Facebook.

“All you can say is thank you,” Peggy said. “It’s wonderful to see how much everybody loves Becky.”

Photos by Patti Wilk

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First setback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos by Patti Wilk

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Coaching back to Normal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yonovich_File

Welcome to the club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Setting a second-place course in Morris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Taking on the field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dunn_File

Far from Dunn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.

Lions Park playground gets a makeover

ELBURN—The playground at the Elburn Lions Club Lions Park is getting a facelift and a retrofit, thanks to the club’s fundraising efforts and those of the volunteers doing the work.

The project began last year, under the guidance of the Elburn Lions past president Pam Hall. Hall said that the Lions Club fundraising events throughout the year helped to fund the $25,000 project to update the equipment to current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, provide needed maintenance and add some new equipment.

Hall said the current playground was built 25 years ago. Without a park district within the village, the park and the playground over the years have provided a place for children in the community to come and play, whether or not their parents are Lions Club members.

“A ton of kids come and play on the playground equipment,” Hall said. “It gets a lot of use.”

Hall explained that in addition to providing services at a regional and national level, as well as around the world, one of the goals of the Lions Club is to give to its local community. The updating of the playground is one way the club is doing that.

“We’re putting money back into the community,” she said.

Hall said that things have changed in the last 25 years, and the ADA standards that existed then have changed. The new equipment will meet the new ADA standards.

She said that during the first year or two, club members will be working on maintenance-type things. They began by dismantling part of the playground, moving the ramp and changing the railings and steps.

For his Eagle Scout project, Elburn Eagle Scout Jacob Sheehan will put in place all new timbers and do the edging around the playground. He and his fellow scouts will be working on that the weekend of Oct. 25-26.

Club volunteers will be pouring the asphalt for the sidewalk in November, which will allow people in wheelchairs better access to the playground. The Leos Club helped to raise the money for the sidewalk, as well as purchasing three sensory panels and a chimes maze that will be added with people with disabilities in mind.

“People don’t realize that the Lions Club and the Park is a 501© 3 organization,” Hall said.
What that means is that the club doesn’t receive funding from the government. All the work is done through volunteers and fundraising.”

Photos by Lynn Logan

062

Steady as she goes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCastland agrees with Lubic’s assessment.

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

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

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

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

“That was awesome,” she said.

IMG_9719

The fox is silent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Photos by Ben Draper

Golf_October8_3

Return of the Matt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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