Tag Archives: Ticker


A quick example

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

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

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

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

There’s important overlap with the two.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


‘Pwnage’ robot a hit at middle school

Photo: Kaneland students and 2451 Robotics Team members include Elburn resident Triston Powell (left to right), 16, and siblings Alyssa, 18, and Charles Faulkner, 15, of Aurora. Photo by Lynn Logan

KHS students bring robot to Harter Middle School
KANELAND—Harter Middle School recently had a unique visitor grace its main stage: a robot.

And not just any robot. This one stands 28 inches by 38 inches and weighs nearly 140 pounds. And it also has the ability to move at a speed of 16 feet per second.

The machine in question belongs to robotic team Pwnage No. 2451, which consists of three high school students from Kaneland—Triston Powell of Elburn, and Aurora siblings Charlie Faulkner and Alyssa Faulkner, who is a recent graduate—as well as 22 high school students from Batavia, St. Charles North, St. Charles East, West Aurora, Metea Valley, Glenbard North and Burlington Central.

On the recent visit to HMS, Powell operated the robot to toss red, white and blue frisbees to the sixth- to eighth-graders on the stage in the cafeteria.

“A few of (the students) were in awe,” Powell said. “A lot of them were just saying that it was cool that it could actually do that. And they just were excited to be able to catch a frisbee and stuff.”

Alyssa enjoyed having the robot on the school site.

“(It was) fun to see all of the kids come up and just like talk to them about the robot and see them so excited to see the robot working,” she said.

Charlie noticed that the sixth-graders had lots of enthusiasm about the robot.

“A lot of them were just ready to learn about the robot, ready to look at it, have it explained to them,” Charlie said. “They loved having the frisbees thrown at them.”

Ryan Wlodek, an eighth-grade science teacher at HMS, coordinated the demonstration at the school.

“It’s unbelievable,” Wlodek said. “The effort and the amount of engineering that has to go into something like that to build; that’s highly complex.”

The Pwnage team has made more accomplishments with their recent robot. The machine has a signature move, thanks to a swerve drive that allows it to spin around and around while playing the competitive game “Aerial Assist” with other robots. The game’s objective is to score balls in goals during a 2 minute, 30 second match.

Pwnage in April competed in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition World Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Pwnage ended the competition with a ranking of 14 out of 400 teams.

“It feels really exciting,” Powell said of Pwnage’s showing in St. Louis. “We’re all really happy that we’ve gotten the opportunity to be (ranked) this high.”

The team was a finalist in a Curie division. Dan Kein, adult mentor representative and project manager of Pwnage No. 2451, called the team “pretty incredible.”

“When you consider out of 2,700 or some robots that we were in the top 14, I think that that in itself is a pretty amazing accomplishment,” Kein said. “There’s a lot of really excellent teams out there, and for us to have as highly ranked as we were, I think we’re pretty humbled by that.”

Pwnage’s recent success is already paying dividends, as the robotic team will participate in the Indiana Robotics Invitational (IRI) this July.

“The teams that get invited to IRI are teams that the people who organize (the competition) believe are the best teams in the world,” Kein said.


Dunkin’ Donuts Elburn location breaks ground

ELBURN—Dunkin’ Donuts broke ground in late May for its new restaurant and drive-thru location on the Jewel-Osco property in Elburn. Although the restaurant was initially set to open sometime this spring, discussions between Dunkin’ Donuts and the Jewel-Osco held up construction until now.

The plan, submitted by Dunkin’ Donuts to the village of Elburn in November, showed the location of the restaurant in front of the Jewel-Osco, in the lot at the corner of Prairie Street and Route 47, with the main entrance off of Prairie Street. However, according to Elburn Building Commissioner Tom Brennan, Elburn Jewel-Osco instead wanted the entrance at the north-south street between Prairie Street and the National Bank and Trust. Brennan said there will also be a second entrance at the north end of the property that will line up with an aisle in the Jewel-Osco parking lot.

Calls to Elburn Jewel-Osco were not returned as of press time.

Architect Diane Duncan of Gleason Architects, who represented Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee Vishal Vagahani at village meetings, said the discussions regarding the final location for the entrance were recently resolved, and Dunkin’ Donuts is currently moving forward with construction. She said construction should take about four months, with the store opening likely to take place in September.

Vagahani operates four other Dunkin’ Donuts locations, including a store on Route 59 in West Chicago.

SG Corn Boil Medallion discovered in record time

SUGAR GROVE—This year, the Sugar Grove Corn Boil Medallion was found in record time. The medallion was only hidden for around a week before Barbara Larsen, an employee of the Sugar Grove Park District and a longtime Sugar Grove resident, found the medallion last Friday on June 6.

Larsen cleans the grounds of the Sugar Grove Park District, the parks and the playground areas.

“I found the medallion outside of the park district building by the post sign in a flower bed,” said Larsen. “At first, I thought it was trash, because it was in a plastic bag, but I picked it up and realized it was taped to it. I really just bumped into it.”

On Friday, July 25, Larsen will be awarded a $50 cash prize and the 2014 Sugar Grove Corn Boil glass medallion at the Opening Ceremonies of the Sugar Grove Corn Boil.

Normally the search for the Medallion takes a lot longer for someone to find it, and this year, it was found in the shortest amount of time in the seven years that the Corn Boil has had the search, according to Sugar Grove Resident and organizer of the medallion search, Pat Graceffa.

“Bob Carroll brought the medallion search to the Sugar Grove Corn Boil seven years ago,” said Graceffa. “He passed away a fear years ago, but he got a kick out of it each year. We decided to continue the medallion search. Now, the medallion is glass and has Bob’s image on it. We refer to Bob as the ‘Medallion King.’”

Corn Boil vendor booths available

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Corn Boil announced there are still vendor booths available for the festival, which takes place July 25-27. Booths are 10×10 feet.

Corn Boil representatives reserves the right to place vendors wherever they deem appropriate, in the best interest of the Corn Boil. However, requests to be placed on asphalt or lawn can be made.

All spaces are outdoors. Canopies may be used but they must be contained within the allotted space and cannot be grounded into the asphalt or concrete. Each vendor is responsible for providing all of their equipment and supplies for their display.

Business booths are available at $225 for all three days of the Corn Boil if application is made by July 1. After July 1, booths are $275. Crafter Booths are available at $125 if application is made by June 15. After June 15, booths are $150. Independent home party consultant booths are available at $150 if application is made by June 15. After June 15, booths are $170 and accepted as space allows. Non-for-profit Booths are available at $75 if application is made by June 15. After June 15, booths are $85.

For more information, contact Audrey at (630) 363-2113, call the Sugar Grove Events Line at (630) 466.5166 ext. 71, or visit sugargrovecornboil.org.

Ruggie Mugshot

Former Sugar Grove bank employee admits to theft

SUGAR GROVE—After completing an external bank audit this year, the American Heartland Bank of Sugar Grove discovered that it was missing a large sum of cash.

“Typically, banks will bring in an external auditor to review their finances and count their cash on hand,” said Sugar Grove Police Chief, Pat Rollins. “That’s when American Heartland Bank discovered that they were missing money.”

The Sugar Grove Police department was alerted to the problem on Jan. 24, 2014, after staff at American Heartland Bank discovered they were missing large amounts of the bank’s cash according to Rollins.

On May 23, Alyson Ruggie, 30, of the 500 block of Gregory Lane, Plano, turned herself in and admitted to stealing between $90,000 to $100,000 in cash from American Heartland Bank, where she had been employed, according to Rollins.

Rollins said the defendant was charged with three felony counts; one felony count of theft between $100,000 and $500,000, one count of felony of theft between $10,000 and $100,000, and felony misappropriation of financial institutional property between $10,000 and $100,000.

“Between $90,000 and $100,000 was taken from the vault,” Rollins said. “This theft has been going on for a long period of time, starting in 2010.”

Besides the bank’s cash, no documents were taken from the vault. Ruggie’s motive will come out during the trial, but she was going through financial problems, Rollins said.

Ruggie will have a preliminary hearing later this month before the case goes to trial.


Sectional shutdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Patti Wilk


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

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

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

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

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

369 (2)

Student’s drive, commitment leads to President’s Scholarship

MAPLE PARK—Carissa Miller is all about business. And heart.

Miller, a Maple Park resident and Kaneland High School senior, will major in business administration when she attends Indiana State University this fall.

Miller is one of 20 selected students across America to achieve the ISU President’s Scholarship, and one of two Kaneland High School students to earn the achievement.

Being a President’s Scholar means that if Miller keeps up good grades, she will get free tuition and premium housing at ISU, from freshman to senior year.

“It’s nice to see it pay off, because I’ve always been super-excited for college, too,” Miller said. “And I’ve been working two years now saving up for college. So it’s nice to know that I can pretty much do it on my own.”

Miller has made numerous accomplishments during her high school career. She has a 4.0 GPA, and has been a member of Kaneland’s National Honor Society her junior and senior years.

She also sings alto and performs in the school’s Madrigals chamber choir. She calls herself a “huge music nerd,” adding that she has done choir since the sixth grade. Miller last winter played the role of a queen during the Madrigal feaste event.

Miller has lent a helping hand by doing community service, such as volunteering at Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva. She made care packages for babies, including small blankets, bottles and wipes. She also participated in student council and helped with the grocery food drop. Miller made requests to shoppers to pick up a couple of needed supplies like non-perishable items, deodorant and toothpaste for the military overseas.

Miller has a reason why she stays motivated.

“I’ve always been motivated by trying to be independent, I think,” Miller said. “Also, I like helping others. So that’s with the community service thing. That’s why I like to be like a leader in my student council and stuff like that. It’s because I get the duty to help others.”

Miller plans to have a career as a manager after finishing college. During college she plans to try out for choirs and volunteer as an ISU recruiter and at an animal shelter. She even hopes to possibly study overseas in Ireland.

Her dad, Scott Miller, chuckled as he thought about what makes his daughter special.

“She’s got a big heart to go with her intelligence,” he said.

Christina Staker, an English teacher at Kaneland High School, recalled Carissa going the extra mile in her yearbook class when she gave a PowerPoint presentation about why the yearbook should go along with her “unleashed” theme.

“She definitely has the leadership roles to become a CEO one day,” Staker said. “Or really be in charge of a mass group of people and make sure that good work comes out of whatever it is that they are creating.”

Photo by Patti Wilk

School Board approves technology position addition, increase

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on May 28 voted unanimously to increase a current information systems specialist position from .8 to full time, and add a full-time technician to begin work July 1.

The cost for the technician will be between $30,000 to $35,000, including benefits. There will be an additional salary of $8,500 for the specialist job, with benefits.

Board members in March, with the exception of Tony Valente, voted in favor of a technology purchase at a cost of $225,000. The purchase means that there will be a 3-to-1 ratio, or three students for every one device, during the next school year. Devices that had been approved for purchase totaled approximately 679 and included iPad Minis and Chromebooks.

Valente said that the board, upon approving the technology purchase, should have been informed of the need to pay for additional technology staff. He also questioned why the information was just now being presented to the board.

“This expenditure is coming down the pipe,” Valente said. “We’re already down the slippery slope.”

Valente also said that the situation puts him in a “pickle.”

“We’ve spent this revenue and we have to support it,” he said.

Asked whether technology support is needed at this point in time, Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler said that “it’s a need now.”

Board President Cheryl Krauspe noted that technology support has been a need for a couple of years. According to a report by Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, the School District has relied on college student interns for hardware and software questions in its schools. Interns have also helped provide teacher support to learn new technologies pertaining to items including laptops and LCD projectors.

Fuchs noted “challenges” with the intern approach, such as the district having to plan around students’ college course schedules, and employee turnover occurring every one-to-four years.

“We believe the additional support is necessary to ensure the successful use of technology throughout the district,” Fuchs wrote in the report.

As for the information specialist job, Fuchs noted in her report that the time required for this job increased “significantly” for tasks such as reporting demands by state and federal agencies, as well as technical demands of the PARCC assessment (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).

Village considers credit card convenience fee

ELBURN—Residents will soon be required to pay a convenience fee of $2 when they pay village bills and fees with their credit card.

Village Board members on Monday discussed the fee recommended by Village Finance Director Doug Elder to help cover the village’s cost of accepting credit.

Elder said that the village had 859 credit card transactions last year, which cost it an additional $2,153. The average cost to the village comes to approximately $2.51 for each time it has to process a credit card payment.

Elder said the proposed convenience fee won’t cover the entire cost to the village for processing such transactions, but “it will help to cover some of it.”

The village will only accept credit cards for transactions of a minimum of $15 and up to a maximum of $1,000.

The range will cover most village fees, such as water bills, parking tickets and permits. Since debit card transactions don’t cost the village anything, the fee will not apply to those.

The board will vote on the fee at its June 16 meeting.

Photo by Marshall Farthing

Excellence in action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet revenge leads to Sectional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lady Knights have bummer in Burlington

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

The Kaneland lineup was hoping for more.

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

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

Morrow pitched both games of the regional.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos by Marshall Farthing

Parker Wolfsmith

Kaneland teen killed by train in Maple Park

MAPLE PARK—Harter Middle School student Parker Wolfsmith was struck and killed by a Union Pacific freight train in Maple Park on Saturday night. Wolfsmith lived in an unincorporated area of Kane County outside of Maple Park.

The 14-year-old Wolfsmith, who was in the eighth grade, would have participated in a “promotion” ceremony on Tuesday, marking his move from middle school to high school.

According to Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta, Wolfsmith was on the east side of the railroad crossing at Liberty Street, and had gotten too close to the train when he was struck at 9:30 p.m. According to Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis, the west-bound train traveling from Joliet, Ill., to Wyoming consisted of 135 empty coal cars.

A few of Wolfsmith’s friends were at the scene when Acosta arrived. He was pronounced deceased at 10:01 p.m., according to the Kane County Coroner’s office.

Acosta said the Maple Park Police Department is in the process of trying to piece together what happened. He said it has not yet determined if a game in which a person stands as close to a train as possible when it comes by was involved in the incident.

“They like to feel the power of the train and the wind rushing by,” he said.

Acosta said it’s a very dangerous game. When the young person gets too close to the train, the wind from the train can pull them under it.

Acosta is not sure whether or not this was the case on Saturday night. He said they have ruled out suicide and there is no evidence of foul play.

According to Acosta, it could take a week for the Union Pacific to make available to the Police Department video footage that will show what took place at the front of the train that night.

Acosta said that Wolfsmith had moved to the Maple Park area last August to live with his father. The police chief said residents have told him that Wolfsmith and his friends were at the Saturday night Drop-in Center at the Maple Park Community Center earlier in the evening, but he has not yet been able to confirm this.

In a release issued from the Kaneland School District on Sunday, Superintendent Jeff Schuler said district staff wanted to “extend our deepest condolences and sympathy to Parker’s family and friends,” and asked that the community “keep Parker’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”

The School District on Monday provided students the opportunity to meet with counselors at Kaneland Harter Middle School. Schuler said that teachers who had worked with Wolfsmith on a daily basis described him as a “fun-loving, bright kid,” a “great friend” and “someone who could always make you laugh with his witty sense of humor.”

Acosta was also at the school on Monday to talk to the students in Wolfsmith’s class about the incident.

According to Acosta, some of the students were having a difficult time with what had happened. This is the same class that, as seventh-graders last year, experienced the sudden death of another classmate, Caitlyn Phillips, who was hit by a car when she rollerbladed into the street.

Schuler said the eighth-grade promotion ceremony and the dance following was held as scheduled.

Acosta said the students with whom Wolfsmith typically ate lunch left an empty chair at their table on Monday.

Acosta said he went to sit in the chair and the students said, “No, no, that’s Parker’s.”


International Jousting Tournament coming to Maple Park

MAPLE PARK—Top-ranked jousters on Labor Day weekend will travel to Promise Equestrian Center, 45W050 Beith Road in Maple Park, to compete in a three-day-long, full-contact International Jousting Tournament.

Riders in this competition will hail from the United States, Canada and Australia, and are affiliated with one or more of the following groups: International Jousting League, The International Jousting Association, The International Jousting Champions and The International Series. There will be at least two women who will compete in the tournament, and one of them is the No. 1-ranked jouster in the world.

Preliminary jousts will take place on Friday, Aug. 29, and full competitions will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 30-31, with the Championship on Sunday afternoon.

“This is the first year ever for The International Series, and there will be five-to-six sanctioned tournaments around the country,” said Jerry Paulsen, co-founder and president of Boots and Hooves, Inc. “Ours will be the last for the season, and we are already looking to host at least two next year in 2015.”

All of these events are open to the public, with an admission fee. The event is a part of the Promise Equestrian Center’s Labor Day Heartland Equestrian Festival. Attendees will be able to select and choose from a variety of packages for both themselves or for the family.

Community members from the surrounding area have the opportunity to witness and partake in a weekend of full contact competitive jousting, games, fun and food.

“This is going to be a fantastic time for everyone young and old, novice or skilled in horsemanship or anything to do with horses and competitive sports,” Paulsen said. “Jousting is the only sport where both men and women compete equally. There is no difference in the rules, regardless of gender.”

Paulsen said Promise Equestrian Center will also have a huge equestrian show put on by master trainer Enrique Martinez of Monte Cristo Equestrian Center, which operates out of Promise Equestrian Center.

“The ultimate goal is for everyone to come out for a great weekend of friendship—old and new—food, family and fun.”


Photo: Promise Equestrian Center in Maple Park will play host to a full-contact jousting tournament Labor Day weekend.
Courtesy photos submitted to njuns@elburnherald.com

Correction: KHS graduation is at 4 pm.

Sorry for our error that appeared on page 13A of the May 29 edition. The Kaneland High School Graduation ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 1, at the NIU Convocation Center.

From kaneland.org:

Commencement (Graduation) is Sunday, June 1, 4:00 pm. It will be held at the NIU Convocation Center, 1525 W Lincoln Hwy, DeKalb, IL 60115

Seniors participating in Commencement Exercises on Sunday, June 1, must be at the high school and to your reported room by 2:00 pm. Your room assignment will be in the Commons. Buses will leave for NIU at 2:15 pm. Caps and gowns will be worn at the ceremony. You must wear proper attire – levis, tennis shoes or flip flops are not acceptable. Students who choose to dress inappropriately will not be allowed to participate in the Commencement ceremony. If you are walking for graduation, YOU MUST TAKE THE BUS FROM KANELAND TO THE CONVOCATION CENTER. There are no exceptions to this. You do not need to take the bus back from the ceremonies. You may go home with family. There will be a few buses available if you must come back to the school.

The Graduate’s picture will be taken when they receive their diploma cover. Pictures will be available for purchase through H.R. Imaging, at shop.hrimaging.com.
Doors at NIU Convocation Center will open at 3pm for parents and guests.


Dance teacher assists with ‘bucket list’ wish

Photo: Jenny O’Brien, owner of Dreams Dance Academy in La Fox, assists Cammy Babiarz in crossing an item off her bucket list by helping her tap dance. Photo by Debbie Behrends

LA FOX—The “tappa-tappa-tappa” of a dozen pairs of small feet was accompanied by excited squeals of glee on Sunday at Dreams Dance Academy in La Fox.

Although Cameron “Cammy” Babiarz, 5, of Wheaton, is in a wheelchair and unable to tap on her own, Dreams Dance Academy teacher Jenny O’Brien and a young assistant moved her legs so she could feel and hear the taps, too.

Cammy at 18 months of age was diagnosed with Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder that affects about one in 10,000 girls.

“I was just really touched by their story,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien became acquainted with the Babiarz family in March when Cammy’s dad, Bill Babiarz, ran across Illinois to raise awareness for the syndrome and funds for research. He made a stop in Elburn, and Jenny and her students presented him with several pairs of legwarmers for Cammy.

In the past year, the Babiarz family has raised about $90,000 for research. And Cammy has been accepted into a clinical trial starting in July in Boston for drug therapy that may reverse the syndrome’s effects.

“Hopefully this drug will be beneficial,” said Cammy’s mom, Jackie Babiarz. “(Rett’s) was reversed in mice in 2007. We’re confident there will be a cure in her lifetime.”

According to Jackie, Rett’s is not terminal, but life expectancy is “about 40” years of age. She said there was no indication at birth that anything was wrong with Cammy.

“It’s just a genetic fluke; it’s not hereditary,” Jackie said. “(Cammy) developed normally until she was about 8 months old, when she just stopped progressing. At 14 months she lost hand function, and at 18 months she lost the ability to sit up on her own.”

Tap dancing is one of the many items on Cammy’s bucket list. And that’s where O’Brien comes in.

A dance teacher for 15 years, O’Brien teaches a wide variety of styles in addition to tap dance, including ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and musical theater. With no specific training for working with children with special needs, O’Brien said she loves teaching and loves working with children.

Jackie said Cammy receives aquatherapy and hippotherapy, allowing her to enjoy swimming and horseback riding. Although she is unable to speak, Cammy uses eye-tracking devices and buttons to communicate with her family and teachers.

“We were just so excited when Jenny offered this special party. It brought tears to my eyes to see how excited Cammy was,” Jackie said.

The party also was attended by Cammy’s younger sister, Ryan, 3, along with several cousins and friends.

O’Brien said she would like to start a class for children with special needs.

For more information about Dreams Dance Academy, call (630) 262-5051 or visit www.dreamsdance.com.


Elburn man arrested, charged with online solicitation

ELBURN—Peter J. LaSalle Jr., a former board member for the Elburn Youth Baseball and Softball League and local den leader, was arrested on May 16 and charged in connection with child sex crimes in Virginia.

Authorities in Staunton, Va., issued a warrant for LaSalle’s arrest, charging him with two counts of online solicitation of a minor and one count of taking indecent liberties with a minor, and asked the Elburn Police Department to assist in taking him into custody.

Elburn police officers waited for LaSalle to leave his house on the 800 block of Morrill Lane that morning, pulling him over a block from his home at 6:40 a.m., Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith said. A search warrant for his home was also issued.

“Since they are in Virginia and we are here, (the Staunton Police) asked for our assistance in arresting him and seizing computers and all that,” Smith said. “It happens when there are Elburn residents involved in something and the other jurisdiction is not close.”

James A. Shapiro, an attorney representing LaSalle, said that his client should not be convicted in the court of public opinion.

“Pete LaSalle is presumed innocent of these charges, and I know that’s sort of a fiction in the court of public opinion, but it’s the truth in a court of law and under the Constitution,” Shapiro said.

He described LaSalle as “a pillar of the community.” LaSalle is a family man with two sons and a steady job that he has held for 18 years, and he has served as a volunteer den leader and baseball coach, Shapiro said.

“We ask the public to respect the presumption of innocence,” Shapiro said. “He is about as fine a citizen, notwithstanding these charges, as he could have possibly been.”

LaSalle’s arrest is part of an ongoing effort by the Staunton Online Solicitation Task Force, which is part of the larger Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The task force has officers online, posing as underage girls and waiting to be approached by potential predators.

“Basically, they just get online and use their skills and training to make contact with these individuals,” said Jennifer Stevens, the public information officer for the Staunton Police Department. “They don’t seek them out. They just sit and wait.”

According to the task force, LaSalle, 44, contacted an undercover officer who was posing as a 14-year-old girl, and sought a sexual act, Stevens said.

She said the task force typically arrests eight to 14 people for online solicitation in each two-week period. Eight others were arrested on similar charges at the same time as LaSalle, all men living in Virginia, Stevens said.

Smith said that the Elburn Police do not know of any local children who were contacted.

“There are no victims in Elburn, or none that we are aware of,” Smith said. “We don’t have any reason to believe that there are. We don’t know that 100 percent, but as far as we know from this investigation, there are none.”

LaSalle served as a volunteer and board member for the Elburn Youth Baseball and Softball League for several years. Ron Vohs, the current president of EYBSL, confirmed that LaSalle is no longer a member of the organization, but would not say when LaSalle left his position.

EYBSL does background checks on all volunteers who have contact with players.

“While a member of EYBSL, Pete passed every background check he ever took,” Vohs said.

The organization had no further comment.

Shapiro noted that the allegations against LaSalle do not involve his work with the Boy Scouts or EYBSL, and he said that LaSalle has been experiencing a tremendous outpouring of support from the community.

“Even the allegations themselves don’t involve any same-sex solicitation,” Shapiro said. “They involve teenage girls, one officer posing as a teenage girl in Virginia.”

LaSalle was taken to the Kane County Adult Corrections Center and released on May 17 after his father posted $50,000 bail. Pete will be extradited to Virginia for trial. Under Virginia law, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison if convicted, with a maximum sentence of 30 years, for the online solicitation counts.

Elburn Police said that local parents will have to decide for themselves whether to discuss the matter with their children.

“There’s no one way that will fit every family situation,” Smith said. “Parents will have to know their children and what they feel comfortable talking to them about.”

Smith urged all parents to monitor their children’s Internet usage, noting that cases of online solicitation are on the rise throughout the country.

“Pay attention to what your kids are doing, to their computers and their cell phones and who they are in contact with,” he said. “Kids don’t understand it, when there are people out there who could hurt them. Even teenagers, parents should be looking out for their best interest, because parents have the life experience and children don’t.”

Smith also urged parents to report any inappropriate contacts their children receive to the police.


Photos: It’s senior night

Kaneland High School hosted its Senior Honors Night for the class of 2014 May 22 in the KHS auditorium. A host of scholarships and awards were presented in the categories of Memorial, Organizational, Departmental and Academic including National Honor

Society, Illinois State Scholars, National Merit Scholar, Knights of Distinction, Salutatorian and Valedictorian. Senior Madeline Heinzer (above, right) was awarded the World Language Scholarship, and received a sombrero and pinata filled with college goods, from Spanish Instructor Michelle Jurcenko. Senior Tyler Hill (below) was awarded the Donald J. Fee scholarship by Dr.
Donald J. Fee.


A worthy weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fantastic Friday for KHS boys track

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Knights heights

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

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

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

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

Boys pole vault coach Andy Drendel starts with the basics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Softball steadying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Field of hope

Photo: Sisters Emma, 4, and Kailey Kunstman, 6, wearing their red, white and blue, visited the KHS Healing Field to honor the military during the opening ceremony on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Last weekend’s Healing Field display at Kaneland High School caught the community’s attention.

According to Rudy Keller, chair of the Kaneland Healing Field Committee and interim co-athletic director of Kaneland High School, a total of about 3,000 people attended the Healing Field between May 23 and Memorial Day. The event remained open until Tuesday.

The Healing Field took place on the grassy field to the east of the high school. The idea of the field is to symbolize patriotism and honor the servicemen and servicewomen who have fought to defend America and people’s freedom, Keller said.

One thousand American flags filled the field. People could purchase flags to represent the veterans who have served America and veterans who have died.
Keller said that more than half of the flags were sold.
All flag proceeds will go to local American Legions in Maple Park, Elburn and Sugar Grove.

Everything with the Healing Field went as scheduled, with one exception: the plan was to set up an additional 2,000 American flags in the community.

“We could not put the flags on Keslinger Road,” Keller said. “I wanted to line Keslinger Road with flags, from County Line to Route 47. But that wasn’t approved by the Department of Transportation, the county. So we just changed our plans.”

Those extra flags ended up getting set up around the perimeter of the high school.

Keller explained that the work involved in putting together the event ranged from doing lots of planning and having lots of volunteers to measuring the field to have perfect rows of flags.

The events had what Keller called “a variety of different layers.”

The Healing Field events had both an opening ceremony and Memorial Day ceremony. Highlights from Monday’s event included KHS students singing patriotic songs like “National Anthem,” “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”

Two World War II military planes did a flyover during Saturday’s opening ceremony, as the crowd in attendance cheered and applauded.
CW4 Ty Simmons was the keynote speaker on Saturday. He spoke of honoring United States of America by doing things like attending the Healing Field, remembering veterans and taking pride in the colors of the American flag.

“We had many, many, many visitors each day,” Keller said. “And every one of them commented how special it was. The beauty of it is just breathtaking out here.”

Struck down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Color Guard members from Elburn American Legion Post No. 630 lead Elburn Cub Scout Troop 107, Elburn Boy Scout Troop 7 and a host of other parade participants on a short trek from Elburn Lions Park to Blackberry Cemetery for the start of the Elburn Memorial Day Ceremony.

Photos: Memorial Day blessings

Photos from around our towns on Memorial Day. Photos by Natalie Juns, Lynn Logan and Patti Wilk
Color Guard members from Elburn American Legion Post No. 630 lead Elburn Cub Scout Troop 107, Elburn Boy Scout Troop 7 and a host of other parade participants on a short trek from Elburn Lions Park to Blackberry Cemetery for the start of the Elburn Memorial Day Ceremony.

At the Kaneland Healing Field ceremony, a mother and her son spend some time among the 1,000 flags.
At the Kaneland Healing Field ceremony, a mother and her son spend some time among the 1,000 flags.
Anna Wendling, 16, of Kaneville, marches in Monday's Kaneville's Memorial Day Parade playing her snare drum.
Anna Wendling, 16, of Kaneville, marches in Monday’s Kaneville’s Memorial Day Parade playing her snare drum.
Boy Scout Troop No. 7 and helpers place flags on veteran headstones May 22.
Boy Scout Troop No. 7 and helpers place flags on veteran headstones May 22.
Members of the US Navy carry a Navy Memorial Wreath to place under the U.S. Navy flag. Memorial wreaths were placed for each branch of the service.
Members of the US Navy carry a Navy Memorial Wreath to place under the U.S. Navy flag. Memorial wreaths were placed for each branch of the service.
Members of Sugar Grove American Legion Post No. 1271 fire off a salute to the veterans on Monday morning at Sugar Grove Cemetery.
Members of Sugar Grove American Legion Post No. 1271 fire off a salute to the veterans on Monday morning at Sugar Grove Cemetery.
A vintage military jeep and soldiers enter Blackberry Cemetery Monday during Elburn’s celebration.
A vintage military jeep and soldiers enter Blackberry Cemetery Monday during Elburn’s celebration.

Hole(s)-in-one at Hughes

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


Family seeks funds for autism service dog

SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove resident Jason Mann looks at his son Marshall and sees joy contagious to those who are around him.

“Immediately, he’ll walk into a room and want to give people hugs and smile,” Jason said. “Like with the rest of us who are older in life, there’s no pessimism whatsoever. He’s still young and innocent.”

Marshall, a 5-year-old pre-schooler, has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He was diagnosed with it in December 2011 when he was just 36 months old.

Marshall tends to wander and bolt in parking lots, the family’s yard, even department stores. And he can have meltdowns from time to time. He does talk; however, Jason said that what Marshall speaks is scripted, practiced and, for the most part, echoed.

The ASD diagnosis was not an easy one for Mann and his wife Gretchen to hear.
Mann Family
“It took me a long time,” Jason said. “It probably took me at least six months to finally come to grips and accept (the diagnosis). It took awhile.”

Gretchen said that she and her husband took the “proactive approach.” They educated themselves about autism and tried to find means to help their son.

The couple is raising money to buy Marshall an autism service dog through 4 Paws For Ability, a non-profit organization that places service dogs with children who have disabilities.

The autism service dog costs $22,000. The organization raises a portion of that amount; however, the Mann family has to raise a total of $14,000.

Through fundraising for a month, the couple needs to raise about $8,000 to make the mark of getting a service dog to help Marshall. The dog will be a puppy that will be trained for a year to meet Marshall’s needs.

At that point, the dog will be there for Marshall.

The dog will be able to give Marshall a nudge, nuzzle or kiss, a deep pressure to hold Marshall down, and the ability to track him if Marshall leaves the house. Marshall could be tethered with the dog. It would also provide companionship and a means to have more social interaction with children.

Those who want to help donate can go to www.razoo.com/story/An-Autism-Service-Dog-For-Marshall. Those interested in donating can also go to www.4PawsForAbility.org/donate-now. The name “Marshall Mann” must be written in the Instructions to Merchant section.

Checks can also be written with the name “Marshall Mann” on the memo and mailed to: 4 Paws For Ability; In Honor of Marshall Mann; 253 Dayton Ave.; Xenia, Ohio 45385.

The joyful side of Marshall was on display during a recent afternoon at home. He smiled brightly; completely engaged with his eyes locked on a tablet’s matching game while sitting on his dad’s lap.

Gretchen explained what makes Marshall so special.

“He kind of gets to your heart and pulls at your heartstrings,” she said.

Marshall Mann 3 Marshall’s sister Scarlett, 3, knows exactly what she likes about her brother.

“I like to play with him so much,” Scarlett said. “I love my brother.”


Great turnout & success for Special Olympics fundraiser

ELBURN—Sunday marked the seventh annual Pulling for Special Olympics event, held at the St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club in Elburn. The event year after year continues to grow and includes more people who are passionate about raising funds for Special Olympics participants.

The funds that are raised at the event are allocated for the participation fees for people who want to participate in the Special Olympics. Over 350 people attended the event on Sunday for an afternoon of clay pigeon and trap shooting.

Colleen MacRunnels, one of the main organizers of the event, commented on the importance of the fundraiser.

“The money we raise pays the participation for people in the Special Olympics,” she said. “We also have all-in participants today who pay $500 to shoot. It warms my heart.”

The Maple Park Police are supporters of the event, and many of the officers, including Chief Mike Acosta, were in attendance. Maple Park Police Officer Ray Radis was there to help out, as well.

“I’ll do anything to help,” Radis said. “It’s great for the kids, and it’s a wonderful to do.”

Acosta has been participating in Pulling for the Special Olympics since he started working in Maple Park.

“This is a great event, and it teaches people how to use a gun safely,” Acosta said. “It also raises a lot of money. We would like to be the highest-raising group in the state of Illinois this year.”

This year, organizers added a special twist and invited disabled veterans out to the event at no charge. Janet and Charlie Johnson from the Vaughan Paralyzed Veterans of America appeared at the event to show their support.

“This is a great opportunity for veterans to assimilate back into civilian life and use guns for recreational purposes,” Janet said. “They can feel good about being at this event that’s for a good cause without being the spotlight.”

There was also a raffle and a silent auction run by Jim MacRunnels.

“Our sponsors donated all kinds of guns, equipment for the guns and for camping,” Jim said. “There are also bigger items, too.”

Jim later said that over $45,000 was raised during the afternoon.

A couple of outdoor games and activities were also set up for people to enjoy during the event. Stacy Reever and her daughter, Kassidy, volunteered for the day and were helping out with a couple of activities.

“I have been helping to fundraise for the Special Olympics for 10 years, and my daughter Kassidy has volunteered with me,” Stacy said. “Kassidy started a Special Olympics club by us when there wasn’t one.”

Terry Monnett, a supporter of the event, became involved in helping raise funds for the Special Olympics because of the MacRunnels’ interest in the cause.

“The president of the gun club at the time was very supportive of raising funds for the Special Olympics when we approached him, and the club has been a great help ever since,” Monnett said. “This is one of the most unique events, and I’ve heard of other people in different areas wanting to create an event like this one after they hear about it.”


KHS rolls to NIB-12 title

Sectional meet challenge awaits Friday
KANELAND—It was all in a conference season’s work on Saturday at Kaneland for the Northern Illinois Big XII boys track meet.

A weather delay from Friday evening didn’t deter any Kaneland success, as the Knights finished first with a total of 146. Dixon was next with a distant 92, followed by DeKalb’s 78, Sycamore’s 67 and Geneseo’s 57.5 to fill in the top five. Yorkville (35), LaSalle-Peru (29), Sterling (29), Rochelle (14.5) and Ottawa (10) filled out the point-registering outfits, as Morris and Streator failed to record varsity points.

“The seniors got this team going,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “We had eight conference champions; seven by seniors.”

KHS saw relay success beginning with the 4×800 meter crew of Austin Kintz, Luis Acosta, Andrew Lesak and Nathaniel Kucera’s 8:04.15 for first place. The Brandon Bishop/Brock Robertson/Dylan Nauert/Isaac Swithers foursome took third in the 4x100m relay.

The 110m hurdles had Robertson take a second place with a time of 15.07 in finals action.

Kyle Carter managed to win the 800m run field and become conference champ with a time of 1:55.55, .96 seconds better than Dixon’s Kylian Lally.

Relay action continued with a second-place effort of the 4×200 crew of Ben Barnes, Bishop, Nauert and Swithers with a time of 1:30.49.

Kaneland then put its stamp on the 400m dash with Kucera becoming conference champ at 49.69 seconds, while Andrew Lesak took third at 52.40.

Nauert returned in the 300m hurdles to capture first with an effort of 39.07 seconds, a new NIB-12 record.

Kaneland capped the event on its own grounds with a Robertson/Bishop/Carter/Kucera win in the 4×400 by racing a 3:24.21, a new conference record.

Field events saw conference record holder Dylan Kuipers (15 feet) and Dan Evers (13-06) take the top two spots in the pole vault. Barnes was able to secure the long jump crown and an NIB-12 record with a 22-07 jump. Nate Dyer was able to make third in the discus at 148 feet, while acing the shot at 55-.5 and taking a new conference record.

Baron was also proud how the team conducted itself after one of its frosh/soph discus throwers, Tristan Kinder, was injured after a disc hit him through netting after a bounceback, requiring surgery to repair a broken bone below his eye.

“The boys on the team offered to drive his mom to the hospital. They comforted her and Tristan while this whole ordeal was taking place. As a coaching staff, we strive to have great athletes, but our number-one goal is to make these young men into caring compassionate people and that is exactly what happened. The victory is great, but to hear how the boys responded was what I was most proud of this weekend,” Baron said.

The Class 2A Burlington Central sectional, featuring Kaneland and 15 other squads, kicks off Friday, May 23, at 4 p.m.

“Looking ahead, our goal as always at sectional is to get as many state qualifiers as possible,” Baron said. “The team scores will take care of themselves.”

Photos by Marshall Farthing