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Golf Preview: Familiar faces lead charge to the green

in Featured/Golf by

Photos: Junior Matt Yonkovich (right) concentrates before his putt during the varsity golf regional last year at The Highlands in Elgin. Brody Kuhar (below) drives onto the green during the 2011 Boys IHSA Golf Regional. File Photos

KHS golf looks to improve upon 8-4 dual meet finish a year ago
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—You’ll have to excuse seventh-year coach Mark Meyer for not approaching 2012 with trepidation.

Yes, the Knight golfers have to go into battle without their departed senior captain trio of Troy Krueger, Adam Grams and Zach Douglas.

But Meyer is confident that the remaining names jotted on the scorecard a year ago can achieve great heights this year.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Meyer said. “We may not be quite as deep, but we have a lot of talent at the top.”

Finishing 8-4 in dual competition and earning a fifth-place nod at the Northern Illinois Big XII meet a year ago, Meyer will count on a top five of seniors Luke Kreiter, Sean Glennon and Connor Williams, juniors Brody Kuhar and Matt Yonkovich.

Yonkovich was the lone individual to advance to sectionals in 2011 as a sophomore, shooting an 80 at regionals to help cap his first varsity year.

“Kuhar and Yonkovich came up with the two best averages on the team last season, they really stepped up their game. Luke is becoming a great golfer,” Meyer said.

While the lineup’s last spot has yet to be filled, the Knights will depend on a consistent score from everyone.

“We have three golfers that are capable of shooting low 70s. We’ll have to see about that last spot and that’ll help the depth, but we’re looking for consistent scores,” Meyer said.

The Knights won’t rest easy on the links with the beginning of the season already under their belt with meets in Plainfield and Geneva, and they look forward to the meet with Marengo on Thursday, Aug. 23.

“It can only help. A bad start won’t doom you, but a good start can help set expectations for you,” Meyer said.

Kaneland’s first home NIB-12 meet is with visiting DeKalb on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Golf season already underway
Kaneland High School golf has looked productive in its first couple of outings.

The team kicked off the KHS athletic season with a third-place finish in the Plainfield North Invite on Aug. 13. Its team-wide score of 314 was just behind Benet Academy’s 306 and Lockport’s 312. KHS finished just ahead of Marmion at 314 in the 16-team meet.

Kuhar earned the top morning for the Knights with a score of 75, which included a round of 37. Teammate Matt Yonkovich shot a 77 to prop Kaneland up in the 16-team invite.

Last Thursday at the Geneva Invite, the Knights took fourth with a total of 304. Marmion’s 288 accumulation was good for the win. Kuhar managed a 74 tally for 10th overall and best on the team.

Varsity roster
Sean Glennon
Luke Kreiter
Stephen McCracken
Daniel Miller
Connor Williams
Stephen Cannell
Joshua Kilgore
Brody Kuhar
Matthew Yonkovick
Dominick Cozzi
Jesse Denton
Jeremuy Faletto
Victoria Guyton
Sterling Matias
Cody Pitstick
Jacob Sheehan
Zachary Strayve
Julia VanGemert
CJ Wehrmann
Drew Diffendahl
Head coach
Mark Meyer

Varsity Golf Schedule
• Monday, Aug. 13; 7 a.m.
At Plainfield North Invite
• Thursday, Aug. 16; 7:30 a.m.
At Geneva Invite
• Saturday, Aug. 18; 8 a.m.
At Lemont Invite
• Wednesday, Aug. 22; 4 p.m.
At Rochelle Twp HS
• Thursday, Aug. 23; 4 p.m.
At Marengo Comm HS
• Friday, Aug. 24; 4 p.m.
At W. Aurora High School
• Monday, Aug. 27; 2 p.m.
At 18-hole Quad at Mill Creek
• Tuesday, Aug. 28; 4 p.m.
Home vs. DeKalb High School
• Thursday, Aug. 30; 4 p.m.
At Sterling High School
• Tuesday, Sept. 4; 4 p.m.
Home vs. Wheaton Academy
• Wednesday, Sept. 5; 4 p.m.
Home vs. Hinckley-Big Rock HS
• Friday, Sept. 7; 4 p.m.
At Yorkville High School
• Saturday, Sept. 8; 8 a.m.
At Batavia Invite
• Tuesday, Sept. 11; 4 p.m.
Home vs. Sycamore High School
• Tuesday, Sept. 18; 4 p.m.
Home vs. Morris High School
• Wednesday, Sept. 19; 4:30 p.m.
At Jacobs High School
• Saturday, Sept. 22; 8 p.m.
At Genoa Kingston Invite
• Wednesday, Sept. 26; 8 a.m.
At NIB XII Conference

Boys Cross Country Preview: Making excellence familiar

in Boys Cross Country/Featured by

Photo: Conor Johnson tries to create distance between himself and the field at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill. last year during the Class 2A State race. The 15th best boys’ cross country program is slated to return five of seven top runners in 2012. File photo

Cross country team looks to return to top-tier at state
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—One has to be considered a top-tier team in Class 2A after securing 15th place in the boys cross country finals a year ago.

But Kaneland won’t be satisfied.

Yet, while Kaneland looks to aim even higher this year, the program also has to see how to replace important losses.

Gone from the 2011 season’s top seven are Miki Marin and Clayton Brundige, but the remaining top five look to be a force to be reckoned with.

“The very bottom line for us is it’s a 12-week season,” KHS head coach Chad Clarey said. “It’s a long campaign and there’s always a push by many different teams toward the end. We slowly progress our way toward the season.”

Kyle Carter came on strong as his sophomore season went on, and eventually put up top team numbers.

Carter’s 39th place finish could serve him well as a reminder of what’s possible.

“He had a great season last year. He ran a PR for the course at State, and he’s looking for more this year. He wants more out of himself and wants more out of this team,” Clarey said.

Also returning are senior leaders Conor Johnson, John Meisinger, Brandon Huber and junior Luis Acosta, all with pivotal postseason experience.

“Conor and John stand out right away. Both of them are working through some of those aches and pains. They’ve been in the program. This is their fourth year, and that experience makes a huge difference,” Clarey said.

Huber was touted as the most improved runner a year ago by Clarey, having run 16 minutes, 16 seconds at State.

‘We’re going to use our depth, and we’ve got a huge senior class,” Clarey said.

The sense of the moment allowed Kaneland to power through a stacked sectional hosted by Belvidere a year ago, and it will be a challenge to break through that upper class lineup.

The season opens at Elburn Woods on Tuesday, Aug. 28, with a meet against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy.

Varsity roster
Nick Albano
Conor Johnson
Bradley Kigyos
Joe Kuipers
John Meisenger
Nicholas Messina
Ryan Paulson
Joseph Pollastrini
Matthew Rodway
Christopher Wido

Luis Acosta
Ryan Bower
Kyle Carter
Phillip Cutsinger
Nathaniel Kucera
Dylan Kuipers
Marcus Stott

Andrew Lesak
Brandon Park
Connor Pennington
Philip Rawers
James Walker

Aaron French
Alexander Gale
Joseph Kuchera
William Kuipers
Kyle Osborne
Sean Spaetzel
Ryan Weber

Head coach
Chad Clarey

Varsity Boys Cross Country Schedule
• Tuesday, Aug. 28; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. W. Acad., W. Chicago
• Tuesday, Sept. 4; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. E. Aurora, Yorkville
• Saturday, Sept. 8; 11 a.m.
At First to the
Finish Invite—Peoria
• Saturday, Sept. 15; 9 a.m.
Home—Eddington Meet
• Saturday, Sept. 22; 9 a.m.
At ACC Invite
• Saturday, Sept. 29; 9:30 a.m.
At Freeport Pretzel Invite
• Wednesday, Oct. 3; 4:15 p.m.
At Byron Handicap Invite
• Saturday, Oct. 6; 9 a.m.
At Sterling Invite
• Saturday, Oct. 13; 9 a.m.
at LaSalle Peru
NIB XII Conference

Girls Cross Country Preview: Big returns

in Featured/Girls Cross Country by

Photo: The KHS girls cross country team race out of the starting line in last year’s action at Elburn Woods. The Lady Knights’ home opener is Tuesday, Aug. 28. Freshman Aislinn Lodwig (below) ended her season in 2011 with a 59th-place finish, passing 25 runners in the last half-mile at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill. File Photos

Familiar core could equal success for girls XC
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—How can you replace a Lady Knights girls cross country squad that finished eighth in the Class 2A meet a year ago?

It’s relatively easy when nearly the entire team returns to do it all over again. Now, they’re a year older, more experienced, and battle-tested.

Paced by sophomore Victoria Clinton’s ninth-place finish, senior Maggie Brundige’s 35th-place finish and sophomore Aislinn Lodwig’s 59th-place at the Peoria gathering a year ago, Kaneland has a unique benefit of bringing back a team familiar with success.

“Every runner’s different, and they have individual goals,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “I think we’ll have good depth, but I’m not sure of the order.”

Sydney Strang, Abby Dodis, Amanda Lesak and Ashley Castellanos rounded out the top seven and bring upperclassmen leadership.

“Lesak saved us last year for never having been a distance runner, and finished 80th in the State meet, and she’s strong. They all bring depth,” Ecker said.

A KHS athlete would need to be exceptional to break through the upper echelon of the team this year.

“You throw in the eighth-grader from last year, Brianna Bower, who’s very talented, and we’ll go pretty deep,” Ecker said.

Ecker also touted Jessica Kucera as a possible contributor to a winning pace.

“We just have to get better and find out what they do and their goal; my goal is to get them to a State meet,” Ecker said.

The full roster will be needed in order to compete against not only the State field, but the ultra-competitive Northern Illinois Big XII Conference.

“You had four teams from the conference finish in the top 11 in the state (Yorkville, Kaneland, DeKalb and Dixon). Yorkville’s lost their top three, but they return an All-State runner and they’ll be strong again. Dixon will be good,” Ecker said.

The 2012 quest begins on Tuesday, Aug. 28, against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy at Elburn Woods.

Varsity roster
Carolina Tovar
Maggie Brundige Abby Dodis
Angalia Carbonara Lisa Jennings
Ashley Castellanos Amanda Lesak
Natasha Ring
Anna Piazza Sydney Strang Victoria Clinton Aislinn Lodwig
Jessica Kucera
Breanna Geller
Katrina Ismaili

Varsity Girls Cross Country Schedule
• Tuesday, Aug. 28; 4:30 p.m.
Home against Wheaton Admy.,
West Chicago
• Saturday, Sept. 1; 9:15 a.m.
At Oregon Invite
• Tuesday, Sept. 4; 4:30 p.m.
Home against E. Aurora, Yorkville
• Saturday, Sept. 8; 8:30 a.m.
At Wauconda Invite
• Saturday, Sept. 15; 9 a.m.
Home—Eddington Meet
• Saturday, Sept. 22; 9 a.m.
At Rock River Run—Sterling
• Saturday, Sept. 29; 9:30 a.m.
At Freeport Pretzel Invite
• Saturday, Oct. 6; 9 a.m.
At Sterling Invite
• Saturday, Oct. 13; 9 a.m.
At LaSalle Peru
NIB XII Conference

Tennis Preview: Eyes on the prize

in Featured/Tennis by

Photo: Last year was an impressive season for KHS tennis. The Lady Knights return to defend their conference crown. File Photo

Defending conference champs aim to continue winning ways
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s an exciting time to be involved in Kaneland tennis, whether you are a player or a parent, a fan or a friend.

Imagine what it’s like for coach Tim Larsen.

Larsen wants to build off of a second consecutive season in which the Lady Knights had a presence at the state level, and now the team has reached a level in which his players consistently expect to win.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Larsen said. “The approach to practice has felt different. Our JV coach (Dominic Bruno) is in his third year, and I feel a lot more comfortable having him deal more with the younger players. That allows me to deal with varsity and make adjustments to their game.”

With Kaneland capturing the Northern Illinois Big XII mantle last season, adjustments might not need to be very significant.

One adjustment that needs to be made is replacing a capable Class of 2011 core, featuring Stephanie Rosenwinkel, Madi Limbrick and two-time State goer Amelia Napiorkowski.

Napiorkowski took care of business at the last two sectionals, pairing up with Lindsay Jurcenko in 2010 and current sophomore Limbrick in 2011.

“Losing Amelia is big. She was a competitive force and set a great example,” Larsen said.

Larsen intends to sync Jurcenko with last year’s No. 2 singles conference champ and fellow sophomore Jenny Emmanouil for the top doubles spot.

“They are very excited to play together. They are kind of making their own story. Immediately, it’s different than what other doubles teams have done,” Larsen said.

The only other cemented pairing is the second doubles spot, with Jenna Bicos and Jessica Woodward serving as a tandem once again.

On the singles side, sophomore Sammie Schrepferman takes the reins.

“Last year, I really had no choice to put her at the No. 1 spot, she was playing so well. She did really well with the experience,” Larsen said.

The other singles entries are sophomore Colleen Landers at No. 2, and Stephanie Karolewicz at No. 3.

Larsen thinks the lineup has it in themselves to do big things, which has been the norm as of late for the program.

“I trust the kids. The game is not bigger than them, they just need to keep their focus on the opponent,” Larsen said.

With a couple meets already under their belt this past week, Kaneland hosts Belvidere North on Thursday, Aug. 23.

Lady Knights start with win
Kaneland kicked off its season with a 5-1 victory over West Chicago on Monday.

“Good start for Kaneland,” Larsen said. “Very happy to start with a win.”

Schrepferman took the No.1 singles match in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2. Landers dropped her match at No. 2 singles, 6-0, 6-3, but Zwick returned the Lady Knights to the win column with a three-set battle, 6-1, 4-6, 7-4.

In doubles action, No. 1 doubles team Jurcenko and Emmanouil, as well as No. 2 doubles team Bicos and Woodward, each won their matches by identical 6-0, 6-1 scores.

The No. 3 doubles match went to three sets, with Grams and Aly Harner earning a 6-2, 6-7, 7-1 victory.

While Larsen and his team are happy with the win, he said there remains room for improvement.

“We did uncover a decent list of things to work on, so we’ll be practicing hard tomorrow (Tuesday),” he said. “But all in all, a very good start.”

The JV team fared even better against West Chicago, sweeping its opponent away 6-0.

Varsity roster
Jennifer Bicos Sarah Grams
Brooke Harner Aly Harner
Cara Lenhardt Abby Meyer
Danielle McCormack
Jessica Woodward
Kaylee Shoaff
Angelica Emmanouil
Madison Jurcenko
Stephanie Karolewicz
Colleen Landers
Samantha Schrepferman
Stephanie Zwick
Head coach
Tim Larsen

Last year, varsity tennis coach Tim Larsen said, ‘There’s an awful lot of hustle in the varsity lineup and not a whole lot of quit.’ File Photo

Varsity Tennis Schedule
• Monday, Aug. 20; 4:30 p.m.
At West Chicago HS
• Wednesday, Aug. 22; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Wheaton Academy
• Thursday, Aug. 23; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Belvidere North HS
• Saturday, Aug. 25; 8 a.m.
At Plainfield North Invite
• Monday, Aug. 27; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Glenbard North HS
• Tuesday, Aug. 28; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. DeKalb HS
• Tuesday, Sept. 4; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. IMSA
• Wednesday, Sept. 5; 4:30 p.m.
At LaSalle Peru HS
• Thursday, Sept. 6; 4:30 p.m.
At Sycamore High School
• Monday, Sept. 10; 4:30 p.m.
At Rosary High School
• 4:30 p.m.Tuesday, Sept. 11
Home vs. Rochelle Twp HS
• Wednesday, Sept. 12; 4:30 p.m.
At Ottawa Twp HS
• Saturday, Sept. 15; 8 a.m.
At Yorkville Quad
• Monday, Sept. 17; 4:30 p.m.
At Oswego High School
• Tuesday, Sept. 18; 4:30 p.m.
At Morris High School
• Saturday, Sept. 22; 8:30 a.m.
At Rochelle Invite
• Tuesday, Sept. 25; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Yorkville HS
• Saturday, Sept. 29; 8 a.m.
At Geneva Quad
• Monday, Oct. 1; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Mendota Twp HS
• Friday, Oct. 5; 1 p.m.
At DeKalb
NIB XII Varsity Tennis Tourney
• Saturday, Oct. 6; 8 a.m.
At DeKalb
NIB XII Varsity Tennis Tourney

Volleyball Preview: V-ball hungry for more

in Featured/Volleyball by

Photo: If they play with the same intensity, The Lady Knights volleyball girls can improve even more over the last two seasons’ combined 38 wins. In coach Todd Weimer’s (right, center) regime, the fact that Kaneland was one point away from a regional match victory shows the significant progress KHS has made on the court. File Photo

Lady Knights use last year’s semifinal loss as motivation
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND-—Last year’s Class 3A regional semifinal against Glenbard South had a little bit of everything.

If you were a Kaneland volleyball fan, it had everything except a win.

Just one point away from getting to the regional final, it leaves the remaining players from the 2011 squad and returning coach Todd Weimer hungry.

“We want to win. No one is happy and we’re making sure we work hard on overcoming that tough loss versus Glenbard South,” Weimer said.

Weimer has seen much improvement in the program since he took over seven years ago, and the Lady Knights have put together back-to-back 19-win seasons.

They’re looking for more from the returnees.

“The qualities and skills are there from all of the girls. While we graduated some great kids, we have a lot of awesome newcomers. Our veterans are doing terrific so far,” Weimer said.

The great kids Weimer refers to are players like Northern Illinois Big XII player of the year Kylie Siebert, current Wichita State University Shocker Katy Dudzinski, Kourtni Bingley and Malory Groen.

While that group of players lost to graduation is significant, a solid core returns to the Kaneland roster.

The Lady Knights are lifted by senior captains Ashley Prost and Lauren Banbury, and junior captain Jenny Lubic.

Senior returnees also include Keri Groen, Lyndi Scholl and Rachael Clinton.

Varsity newcomers include juniors Ellie Strang, Meredith McCaffrey, Casey Jacobsen, Brin Wilk and Emily Laudont.

Two other newcomers to the Kaneland ranks are expected to produce big things in the form of senior Metea Valley transfer Shayna Tucek and sophomore Ellie Dunn, sister of volleyball alum Ashley Dunn.

“We just need to play great defense and work together. The stronger we work together, the more we can accomplish,” Weimer said.

The Lady Knights wish to get things going right away in regular season and conference play, and improve on their third-place finish a year ago.

“We lost four conference matches last year, two to DeKalb, one to Morris and one to Yorkville. It’s wide open and anybody’s conference. We have the tools and weapons to bring it. It’s a matter of finishing it and getting the end result in our corner,” Weimer said.

The Lady Knights opened their season at the Wheaton North Tournament this week, which concludes on Saturday, Aug. 25. Their home opener is against Burlington Central on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Varsity Roster
Shayna Tucek
Rachael Clinton
Lyndi Scholl
Keri Groen
Lauren Banbury
Ashley Prost
Emily Laudont
Brin Wilk
Casey Jacobsen
Lenny Lubic
Meredith McCaffrey
Ellie Strang
Ellie Dunn

Head coach
Todd Weimer

Varsity Volleyball Schedule
• Wednesday, Aug. 22; 4:30 p.m.
At Wheaton North Tourney
• Saturday, Aug. 25; 8 a.m.
At Wheaton North Tourney
• Tuesday, Aug. 28; 6 p.m.
Home vs. Burlington-Central HS
• Tuesday, Sept. 4; 7 p.m.
At Hinckley-Big Rock HS
• Thursday, Sept. 6; 6 p.m.
At Streator High School
• Saturday, Sept. 8; 8 a.m.
At Bartlett Invite
• Tuesday, Sept. 11; 6 p.m.
At Morris High School
• Thursday, Sept. 13; 6 p.m.
Home vs. DeKalb High School
• Tuesday, Sept. 18; 6 p.m.
Home vs. Sycamore High School
• Wednesday, Sept. 19; 6 p.m.
At Rochelle Twp HS
• Tuesday, Sept. 25; 6 p.m.
Home vs. Yorkville High School
• Wednesday, Sept. 26; 5:30 p.m.
At Geneva High School
• Thursday, Sept. 27; 6 p.m.
Home vs. Ottawa Twp HS
• Thursday, Oct. 4; 6 p.m.
Home vs. Morris High School
• Saturday, Oct. 6; 8 a.m.
At Bettendorf Invite
• Tuesday, Oct. 9; 6 p.m.
At DeKalb High School
• Thursday, Oct. 11; 6 p.m.
At Sycamore High School
• Tuesday, Oct. 16; 6 p.m.
Home vs. Rochelle Twp HS
• Thursday Oct. 18; 6 p.m.
At Yorkville High School
• Saturday, Oct. 20; 8 a.m.

Boys Soccer Preview: Through it all

in Boys Soccer/Featured by

Photo: The Kaneland Knights varsity soccer boys finished 12-7-1 last year and fell just short of their quest to clinch a second straight regional title. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—KHS coach Scott Parillo has seen his team go through just about everything on the pitch.

A 2010 postseason saw the Knights play nine postseason overtimes enroute to a regional championship—the first for a head-to-head sport at Kaneland in five years—before losing to Sterling in the sectional semifinal.

In 2011, the Knight roster used a late Alex Gil goal against regional host DeKalb for a win before bowing out to Class 2A State semifinalist Marmion in the regional final.

“They had two D-1 guys, and it was a good team. We were still young with a lot of juniors and sophomores, and we did well,” Parillo said.

Now with nine seniors, 10 juniors and a sophomore on the opening roster, Kaneland wants to improve its win total for the second straight year, after ending 12-7-1 in 2011.

“It’s nice having a lot of experience, and hopefully it works out,” Parillo said.
Stability in goal is personified by senior Marshall Farthing.

“It’s a shame he didn’t get recognized more for how he played in the postseason,” Parillo said of the returnee.

Holes to be filled include the scoring and ball-handling of All-Northern Illinois Big XII forward Jordan Escobedo and honorable mention defender Pedro Perez due to graduation.

Doing their part are returning all-NIB-12 members senior Alex Gil and junior Anthony Parillo.
Other midfield cornerstones are junior Tyler Siebert and Arsim Azemi, while defenders Sam Rymarz and Alec Koczka, another all-conference selection, take charge.

“We have seasoned vets and we’re skilled. We’ve just got to stay healthy,” Parillo said.
Parillo looks for the conference landscape to be tough.

“DeKalb is still tough; Morris’ sophomores won conference, and Yorkville is getting a lot better. Rochelle is solid, so it’s a solid conference,” he said. “We know we can score. It’s important for them to remember to possess the ball, work hard and have fun.”

Kaneland’s tour began on Tuesday at Marengo, and it handles the Jacobs Tournament on Friday, Aug. 24.

Soccer starts with a win
Anthony Parillo led the Knights as they kicked off their 2012 campaign with a 4-1 win over Marengo on Tuesday.

Parillo earned the hat trick, scoring twice in the first half and notching his third goal in the second. Assisting on the goals were Gil, Bohorquez and Koczka.

Gil put in the first goal of the season off an assist fromRymarz.

Varsity Roster—
Marshall Farthing, GK/Mid
Tyler Siebert, Mid/Fwd
Jarred Karr, GK/Mid
Kushstrim Ismaili, Mid/Fwd
Anthony Parillo, Mid/Fwd
Adhurim Azemi, Mid/Fwd
Don Seawall, Mid/Fwd
Alex Gil, Mid/Fwd
Ignacio Toscano, Mid/Fwd
Arsim Azemi, Mid/Fwd
Ryan Longson, Def/Mid
Jason Biddle, Def/Mid
Sam Rymarz, Def/Mid
Ben Longson, Mid/Fwd
Chris Van Dinther, Def/Mid
Alonzo Dominguez, Def/Mid
Matt Vander Sande, Def/Mid
Diego Ochoa, Mid/Fwd
Ivan Bohorquez, Mid/Fwd
Alec Koczka, Def/Mid
Head Coach—Scott Parillo

Varsity Soccer Schedule
• Tuesday, Aug. 21; 4:30 p.m.
At Marengo Community HS
• Friday, Aug. 24; 4:30 p.m.
At Jacobs Invite
• Saturday, Aug. 25; 9 a.m.
At Jacobs Invite
• Thursday, Aug. 30; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Geneva HS
• Friday, Aug. 31; 6 p.m.
At Hinckley-Big Rock HS
• Thursday, Sept. 6; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. IMSA
• Tuesday, Sept. 11; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. DeKalb HS
• Thursday, Sept. 13; 4:30 p.m.
At Morris HS
• Tuesday, Sept. 18; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Rochelle Twp HS
• Thursday, Sept. 20; 4:30 p.m.
At Yorkville HS
• Tuesday, Sept. 25; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Sycamore HS
• Thursday, Sept. 27; 6 p.m.
At DeKalb HS
• Tuesday, Oct. 2; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Morris HS
• Thursday, Oct. 4; 4:30 p.m.
At Rochelle Township HS
• Saturday, Oct. 6; 10 a.m.
Home vs. Plainfield East HS
• Tuesday, Oct. 9; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Yorkville HS
• Thursday, Oct. 11; 4:30 p.m.
At Sycamore HS

Race to the (re)finish

in Featured/Maple Park by

Photo: It’s truly a family business at County Line Customs. Ray Lynch (left to right), his wife Becky, sons Remington, Riley and Reece (with the family dog, Jenny) and uncle Tim Miller on the right. Photo by John DiDonna

MP custom body shop shows dedication with Corvair restoration
by Cheryl Borrowdale
MAPLE PARK—If you noticed that the lights were still burning at 2 a.m. at County Line Customs in Maple Park this week, it’s because owner Ray Lynch promised a customer that her father’s 1964 Chevy Corvair would be ready for its surprise unveiling at a picnic hosted by the Chicagoland Corvair Enthusiasts at the Kendall County Fairgrounds this Sunday.

Lynch and his crew have been pulling late nights for three weeks on a full body restoration of the Corvair, which the client had originally taken to another body shop.

“We’ve been pulling together a lot of late nights trying not to let her down,” Lynch said. “She was distraught when this other body shop said they could do the job, then told her at the last minute they couldn’t get it done. So we took the job, and we promised her. We’re going to keep that promise. If we told you it’ll be done, it’ll be done.”

It was no small promise for a body shop with a staff of just four—two of them part-timers—and commitments to several other clients already. The car had to be media blasted at Mackenzie Works in Maple Park, which took the car back down to its bare metal finish, and then has been painstakingly smoothed with custom plastic and body work by Lynch and two other employees, then hand-sprayed with new paint in the shop’s new, state-of-the-art spray booth.

“Doing custom work like this, you’re an artist; you’re a sculptor,” Lynch said. “There’s not a square inch of this car that our hands haven’t been over a dozen times. It’s going to be perfect.”

Though County Line Customs does plenty of custom paint jobs, ranging from full-body restorations to simply adding stripes or flames to cars and motorcycles, the shop also specializes in collision work. The shop, which has been open since January and is fully licensed and insured, does about 50 percent of its business on collisions, working with clients and their insurance companies.

Lynch has restored cars for more than two decades, starting out at Gerald Oldsmobile in Naperville, Ill., as a custom body painter in 1989 and learning the trade by working at various custom body shops, but he decided it was time to strike out on his own last October. The economy had made good-paying body work and construction jobs hard to come by, but with three children, Lynch said his family was his primary motivation.

“You know, I’ve got a family to feed, and I decided it was time to make it happen,” he said. “We’re here late. It’s very strenuous, and you have to have an eye for finish. A lot of guys don’t want to work that hard for the money.”

He’s made it a point to hire other locals with families to support, taking on his brother-in-law full-time as well as two part-time employees as business has grown. As a 17-year resident of Maple Park, he’s also made it a point to support other businesses in the community, sending his blasting jobs to Mackenzie Works, recommending that customers who need mechanical work try Dennis Lexa at Honest Automotive just down the road, and partnering with several Maple Park businesses to put up new signs along Route 38 and County Line Road to let cars driving by know what’s in town.

“We’re all helping each other,” Lynch said. “Dennis at Honest Automotive, I send my wife’s car and my friends over there because I know he’s an honest mechanic and does good work. He sends his customers who need collision work done over to me because he knows I do good work. Maple Park’s a community, and we want the money to stay in the community. We want it to be a good place to live. You come over to my shop, and me and my guys are going to spend that money in town.”

Tim Miller, his brother-in-law, has been with him since the beginning. Though Miller’s background is in martial arts—he worked as a martial arts instructor for Chuck Norris’ non-profit in Texas and also worked as Norris’ occasional bodyguard—he moved back to Kane County to be near his family.

Miller and Lynch restored the building, located at 411 S. County Line Road, starting in October.

“It was practically condemned,” Lynch said. “The drywall was falling down, there was no heat or running water, no power. We painted the place, repaired the roof, did the outside of the building and resealed the driveway. We built the spray booth ourselves.”

Miller has been a quick study, working full time under Lynch’s direction.

“I’ve been learning a lot real fast,” Miller said. “I’m working on putting a new bumper and headlights on a car that hit a deer; I’m learning to do more custom work with Ray. Some cars have a very strict deadline, so we’ll be here late nights. We’re family. We’re going to make it work.”

Lynch said that there were advantages to training his own workers.

“There’s a big benefit to teaching someone. I’m taking in guys who are out of work and teaching them the trade. They don’t have bad habits that they’ve learned at other body shops; they’ll do things my way and be loyal to me,” he said.

Lynch describes himself as a perfectionist who can sometimes be difficult to work for.

“I pride myself on our quality workmanship,” he said. “We use quality materials, and in a nutshell, I’m extremely picky. I’m my own worst critic. I’ll break down anything we do here and try to find anything wrong with it before it leaves. I drive my guys nuts, but we 360 a vehicle before it leaves. If we do collision work on one side of a vehicle, we’ll buff and wax the other side. We want both sides of the vehicle looking good. We’re going back to the old-fashioned ways of doing things; we’re doing the extras. A car should look like it had a facelift while it was here.”

Despite the attention to detail, Lynch said, the shop’s rates are competitive with other area body shops. Summer is a slow season for body shops, he said, because people drive their custom cars during the summer and often have restorations done in the winter, and better weather means that there are fewer collisions.

“You’re going to get the best price (on work) in the summer,” he said. “The busiest season at most body shops is in the winter.”

County Line Customs also offers discounts on labor on custom jobs for members of the military and police officers, he said.

“We like to help them out. We discount their bills because we appreciate their service,” he said. “It’s all about the community for us.”

Confidence through competition

in Featured/Sugar Grove by

Photo: Amanda (left) and Alex (right) Malawski surround their coach, Ben Berg. The trio worked together to prepare for the 2012 National Junior Disability Championships in Mesa, Ariz. Courtesy Photo

Sugar Grove twins train, travel to national athletic competition
by Amanda Niemi
SUGAR GROVE—Just as the world watched the closing ceremony for the Olympics this week, Sugar Grove celebrated its athletes’ own homecoming. Twins Alex and Amanda Malawski, 11, recently set personal and national records at the 2012 National Junior Disability Championships (NJDC) in Mesa, Ariz.

The championships brought together over 115 athletes from across the country. Teams traveled from as far as New Jersey, Florida and Texas to compete in track and field, archery, powerlifting, table tennis, swimming and pentathlon during the week-long event.

The Malawski’s represented the Fox Valley Special Recreation (FVSRA) at the NJDC. The two-person team set 13 personal records, including three national swimming records by Amanda.

They were accompanied by their coach, FVSRA Athletics Coordinator, Ben Berg.

“Some members of the U.S. Paralympic team got their start here. NJDC gives these young athletes great role models and something to work for,” Berg said. “Alex and Amanda definitely rose to the occasion at NJDC. The heightened level of competition spurred them on to new personal bests.”

Together, the twins took 11 first-place finishes, seven second places, two third places and “best small team.” This is their third time in the competition.

Born 11 weeks early, both twins have cerebral palsy and impaired motor functions due to strokes as infants.

“They’re getting stronger, and their endurance is getting better,” said their mother, Lori Malawski. “At this age, they try anything, and as they get older they’ll specialize.”

The parents noted greater rewards for both their children and the family as a whole. They said their kids have shown greater overall confidence since competing, and the parents have a strong support network of families who understand the challenges of raising children with disabilities.

Likewise, Alex and Amanda enjoy being mentors to younger, or newly disabled athletes.

“They’re not alone,” Lori said. “When they’re at school, you don’t see the kinds of disabilities they have. When we’re at a tournament, they fit right in.”

With a myriad of trophies and plaques from their past competitions, there is no doubt these two have a competitive drive and truly enjoy their time in sports.

“There is competition, but they’re only competing against kids in their same disability class and age,” said their father, Matt Malawski.

What’s the best part for the kids?

“I like seeing my friends from across the country,” Alex said.

Since returning from Mesa, Alex and Amanda have competed in Dare2Tri, a triathlon designed for those with disabilities. This was Alex’s first time in the triathlon, and Amanda’s second.

“There are not many kids that do this with them, and we wish there were, but not many people know about (FVSRA),” Lori said. “It’s helped them be more confident in themselves.”

Amanda currently plays for the Kaneland Youth Soccer Organization and wants to specialize in soccer. Both hope to compete in the 2016 Paralympics.

The Fox Valley Special Recreation Association exists to enrich the lives of people with disabilities. For more information, please contact FVSRA at (630) 907-1114 or visit FVSRA.org.

Elburn resident competes in Chicago Triathlon to honor her mom

in Elburn/Featured by

Photo: Elburn resident Shawn King (left) will run in the Chicago Triathlon later this month to support the Lung Power Team, and her mother, Judy McDonald (right), will serve as the inspiration. Courtesy Photo

King seeks donations for fundraising run
Elburn—When Shawn King accompanied her mom to her most recent doctor’s appointment, she actually saw the doctor smile about what he had to share.

“This isn’t something I get to tell a lot of my patients with pulmonary fibrosis,” he said, “but your scarring has stopped,” he said.

Judy McDonald’s story—and good news—is unique. For most people with pulmonary fibrosis, the cause is unknown, but the disease causes irreversible scarring in the lungs, and there are no approved treatment options or cures. The best available option is a lung transplant.

In Judy’s case, doctors diagnosed her with pulmonary fibrosis in January and believe she got the disease as a side effect of medicine she was prescribed. Fortunately, if her pulmonary fibrosis has stopped progressing, it could be life-saving. But, she still struggles with the damage it’s already caused to her lungs. On a day-to-day basis, pulmonary fibrosis deteriorates a person’s lung capacity so much that it makes it hard to do everyday tasks, such as cleaning or walking to the mailbox. King has noticed a change in her mother’s capabilities.

“We were recently on a family vacation in Michigan, and there were about 100 steps down to the beach,” King said. “Last year, my mom would have just taken the steps, but this year she didn’t even want to try because she knew she didn’t have the lung capacity.”

To honor her mother and her fight to regain her endurance, King and her husband signed up to compete in the Chicago Triathlon on Sunday, Aug. 26. They are participating as part of the Lung Power Team, a group of athletes supporting the Respiratory Health Association. Lung Power Team athletes participate in races nationwide, and many are personally affected by lung disease. Each Lung Power Team member raises funds that support Respiratory Health Association’s lung disease research and programs.

When King participates in the triathlon at the end of August, she will be cheered on by her family and pushed to finish because she knows what’s waiting for her. She said the first person she’ll look for when she crosses the finish line is her mom.

“My mom is everything in the world to me; she’s my best friend,” King said. “I know if this would have happened to one of her kids, she would have stayed strong, so I’m doing this for her. I’m using working out and exercising as my outlet to be strong, and the Lung Power Team is helping me motivate myself to get through this and bring awareness to the disease.”

King said that with the support of her family, she’s been able to train and has surpassed her $500 personal fundraising goal. For more information on the Lung Power Team or to support King’s efforts, visit www.lungchicago.org/shawnking.

Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago has been a local public health leader since 1906. Today, the association addresses asthma, COPD, lung cancer, tobacco control and air quality with a comprehensive approach involving research, education and advocacy activities. For more information, visit www.lungchicago.org.

Softball star Vest not done yet

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Elite pitcher earns partial scholarship to Northern Illinois
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Delani Vest is not quite done impressing on the softball diamond.

After originally planing to join the softball outfit at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove for the upcoming 2012-13 school year, Vest took a partial scholarship offer to play Huskie softball at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

Vest, who was an important cog in the Lady Knight softball machine the past four years, as well as the Northern Illinois Big XII Most Valuable Player in 2012, said it came about quite suddenly.

“I was planning to commute to Waubonsee, but my travel team is well-known (the Wasco Diamonds), and Christina Sutcliffe, the new (NIU) coach, had seen some local teams and offered me a scholarship,” Vest said.

Rather than mow down opposing batters in a Huskie uniform, Vest looks to break batters’ spirit by nabbing ground balls as an infielder.

“I’m used to playing in the infield, and have played it for my travel team for the last three years,” Vest said.

Wasco Diamonds 18U coach Steve Cihlar is familiar with what Vest brings.

“She’s been entrenched there for three years for our 18U team and will go to college having played well over 250 games there against top competition. NIU is getting a player that has major college talent,” Cihlar said.

Vest joins an NIU team that finished 19-34 and 7-15 in Mid-American Conference play a year ago. Sutcliffe joined the team in June after seven years as an assistant coach for Miami University of Ohio.

Vest, a 2012 Kaneland graduate, won 20 games for the Lady Knights squad and made things happen in the lineup itself as a leadoff hitter in a year that saw the KHS group reach the Belvidere North Sectional.

As a college student, future Division I athlete, and mother to her son, Braden, born during the 2010-2011 softball season, Vest was relieved, excited and thankful for continued support.

“I think it was a little bit of everything. It’s going to be a little easier as a commuter for the first season. It was a Division I scholarship, and the travel is obviously more, but it was such a great opportunity. I want it so bad. I have my family, and Braden, and everyone has been so supportive,” Vest said.

Vest knows the prestige that comes to the Kaneland program as someone who makes it to the next level.

“Everyone on the softball team could have gone to play somewhere in college, and there were a lot of teammates like my sister (Rilee, at Cornell College), and players going back before me,” Vest said.

With an opportunity on the horizon, Vest has her goal and an opportunity right in front of her, and will see what she has in this intial year of college softball.

“Right now in this first year, I’ll commute from home. We’ll see how I do and see about coming to DeKalb the next year. But, we’ll take it as it comes,” Vest said.

SG Trustee announces run for Village President

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Geary plans to make communication a priority for the future
by Ryan Wells
Sugar Grove—Sugar Grove Village Trustee Kevin Geary announced this week that he will run for village president in 2013.

Geary began his 13-year tenure on the Village Board because of his relationship with the community, and he is seeking to take that relationship one step further. He joined the board in May 1999, just over three years after moving to the village.

“When we first moved to Sugar Grove, my wife and I thought we’d found heaven,” Geary said. “We really love the fact that we are surrounded by cornfields, and we were so happy to be here.”

He said that shortly after the couple closed on their house, the developer went bankrupt, and soon, many homes in the neighborhood had issues to be solved.

“I happened to be more vocal than the rest,” Geary recalled. “As we worked through those issues (with the village), a number of residents suggested that I get on the board, that I could somehow be their catalyst to getting their issues and concerns heard. I believe I’ve done a good job of that over my tenure.”

He said that his desire to listen to Sugar Grove residents and address their concerns is what led to his decision to oppose current Village President Sean Michels, who announced his intention to run for re-election at the end of July.

“The biggest issue over the next term isn’t the big-box growth that has been talked about in the past, it is merely addressing current residents’ issues,” Geary said.

Geary pointed out multiple examples in the past that he said demonstrate the need for improvements in that area. One example is the ongoing Mallard Point issue, in which some residents of the subdivision have faced extensive drainage problems for years. As a fellow Mallard Point resident, Geary knows about the issue from both perspectives—as a resident and as a government official.

“For it to take five years to get a project done, when the residents were begging the village for some form of assistance, it’s way too long,” Geary said. “I didn’t feel the village engaged all the possible tools at their disposal to help with the problem.”

He said there are a number of streets in the village that need repair, but no money is allocated in the budget for them until the situation becomes such a problem that it cannot be ignored any longer. The process that led to Perry Street’s repair is an example of this problem, he said.

According to the candidate, the lack of meaningful communication with residents was also apparent following a series of small-group discussions with residents. With partial funding from the state several years ago, the village engaged in what was called the Community Cares Initiative, designed to give residents a chance to help develop a plan that reflected the community’s wants and needs for the future.

“A lot of residents put in a lot of time, only to have the project fail,” Geary recalled. “The plan was thrown on a shelf and ignored … In the years I’ve been on the board, that plan has never been referred to again.”

Geary said that the communications problem extend to the village’s relationship with the other municipalities in the area as well.

“Sugar Grove does a terrible job of building relationships with sister communities,” he said. “Pick any one of them, and you ask them about Sugar Grove, and they go ‘Well, OK …’ We just don’t have a good working relationship with any of them.”

If elected as village president, communication would become the priority, he said.

“I lead by consensus, hearing what the people want to say,” Geary said. “My belief is that the village government is the people, and if you have residents coming and asking about stuff, you shouldn’t give them a short, curt answer; you should be listening to them and trying to figure out how to answer their questions and address their problems.

“It is a service type of job. It isn’t for the glory or a stepping stone to higher things. The residents are asking you to work for them.”

They serve

in Elburn/Featured by

Lions Club: a presence in the community since 1929
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—The Elburn Lions Club has hosted the annual Elburn Days celebration since 1930. The first-ever Elburn Days, however, was billed as the “Elburn Road Celebration and Fall Festival,” and was held in October in honor of the last concrete being poured on the road from Elburn to Sugar Grove (Route 47).

The Lions Club do far more than host Elburn Days; they serve the community in a variety of ways.

Service to the blind and visually impaired is first on the list of charities that Lions Clubs all over the world contribute to. With 1.4 million members, the Lion’s is the largest service organization in the world. They also contribute to the hearing impaired, diabetes awareness and education, environmental projects and youth programs.

The Elburn branch has 200 members who volunteer their time to raise money for local and national charities. Elburn Days is their biggest fundraiser, but all throughout the year, they put on events that not only raise money, but also provide opportunities for the community to get together.

In its 25-acre park in Elburn, the clubhouse, playground, baseball and softball fields, and open pavilion are places for company picnics, wedding receptions, class reunions, dinners, Bingo and raffles.

Bingo is an ongoing activity that supports charities from its proceeds. The Calendar Raffle affords participants the chance to win every day of the year. Collection boxes all over town—in the library, the banks, at Lions Park—serve as places for people to drop off their old eyeglasses and know that someone somewhere else in the world will be able to use them to improve the quality of their life.

The club has events virtually every month. In January, it partners with neighboring clubs to take sight-impaired individuals on a weekend ski trip. In March, it serves up corned beef and cabbage for its Irish Dinner. For Easter, it puts on an Easter Egg Hunt and Pancake Breakfast. Summer is spent getting ready for Elburn Days and hosting private events. Casino Night is held in September, and in October, the club runs a Fall Classic Car Show, and also a German Dinner of bratwurst and pork loins. During the holidays, the club has a Holiday Meat Raffle, Breakfast with Santa and a Potluck Dinner.

The Lions Club has a group for young adults called the Leos. It holds food drives, creates a float for the Elburn Days Parade and hosts a Mother’s Day Breakfast.

WCC’s VandenBorn earns Dick Durrant Award

in Featured/Waubonsee Sports by

Sugar Grove—The Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference recently named Waubonsee Community College’s Kelsey VandenBorn as one of the co-winners of the Dick Durrant Academic Athlete of the Year Award for 2011-2012.

The Dick Durrant Award is given annually to the male and female student-athletes in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC) who attain the highest grade point average after completing four semesters of college work, and at least 48 semester hours of credit.

Begun in 1979, the award is named after Dick Durrant, who was an outstanding teacher, coach and athletic director at Elgin Community College from 1961 through 1985.

Durrant championed the philosophy of academic as well as athletic excellence while at Elgin.
Durrant was known for his concern for students, his sense of fair play and his attitude of education before athletics.

VandenBorn, a nursing major from Batavia High School, finished the school year with a perfect 4.0 grade point average while being a leader on Waubonsee’s volleyball team. The sophomore was tabbed to the All-ISCC First Team after leading Waubonsee with 88 blocks.

The 6’1” middle blocker was second on the team with 222 kills, and also recorded 69 digs and registered 21 aces last fall for the Lady Chiefs. VandenBorn is the 18th Waubonsee student-athlete, and first since 2007, to earn this award. Waubonsee had seven consecutive recipients from 1993 to 2000, while 14 of the Chiefs’ honorees overall have been female student/athletes.

Just ducky

in Elburn/Featured by

The Elburn Town and Country Library held its annual ice cream social on Saturday. The event included an obstacle course, petting zoo, face painting, jousting, and of course, plenty of ice cream. Here, two-year-old M.J. (right) from Elburn gets close to the ducks.

Aaron Beegle, 11, stopped by on his way from football practice to cool off with ice cream at the event. Photos by John DiDonna

Wyatt Lisborg and Trevor Pope battle it out in the jousting arena during the Town and Country Ice Cream Social.

Jessica Tait, 5, of Elburn took a trip down the giant slide at the social.

Photos by
John DiDonna

Once upon a time …

in Featured/Kaneland by

The Kaneland Fine Arts Group presented Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella on July 13-15 and July 20-22 at the Kaneland High School auditorium. The opening scene from Cinderella (top, right) as well as some of the younger actors (below) performing a dance in the street during Cinderella.

As a community theater event, the show featured performers of all ages with Kyra Trynoski (below) as
Cinderella, Diane McFarlin as the Stepmother, Peter Lopatin as the king and Trisha Mills as the queen.

Photos by Kimberly Anderson


in Community Sports/Featured by

Photo: The Kaneland Knights 12U team is all smiles following their 10-9 win in the championship game of the Kane County Bronco League season-ending tournament. The Knights finished the year with an 18-2 record. Team members included Colin Noel (front row, left to right), Brennan Hare, Jake Romas, Luke Gomes and Trevor Jones; Josh Marczuk (middle row, left to right), Jack Douglas, Dylan Baker, Austin Berens, Reece Sowell and Michael Rivas-Vera; and coaches Kevin Gomes (back row, left to right), Mike Noel, Mike Romas and Mike Berens. Courtesy Photo

Kaneland Knights 12U team takes KCBL tourney championship
kaneland—The Kaneland Knights 12U baseball team concluded its 18-2 season with a championship victory in the Kane County Bronco League (KCBL) Tournament in late July.

The team faced the Oswego Cobras in the championship game, and the two teams battled into extra innings.

The KCBL utilized what is known as “California Rules” for extra innings, which is a way to speed up the conclusion of a game. Each team begins each extra inning with an automatic one out with a runner on second. Each batter begins their at-bat with an automatic 1-1 count.

Oswego started off their half of the extra inning by driving one run in.

When Kaneland took their turn at the plate, the Knights secured their victory with a walk following by a two-run drive into right-center field.

Kaneland Knights 13U hosts tryouts
Black 13U Travel Baseball tryouts
Thursday, Aug. 9 • 6 to 8 p.m.,
& Saturday, Aug. 11 • a.m. to noon.

Sugar Grove Sports Complex
901 Wheeler Road

Xplosion takes 3rd in nationals

in Community Sports/Featured by

Photo: The Kane County Xplosion 16U softball team battled for a series of come-from-behind wins for the Class A Northern National Tournament. The team included Coach Don Miller (back, center); Coach Wally Spagnola (standing, left to right), Lauren Zick, Denise Gombar, Samantha Phelps, Kaylee Hayton, Allison Miller and Coach Mike Kuefler; Paige Kuefler (kneeling) and Stephanie Prentice; Emma Spagnola (sitting, left to right), Madeline Avery, McKenzie Bretag and Amanda Lack. Courtesy Photo

Kane County 16U softball team takes talents to Nebraska
North platte, neb.—With a never-say-die attitude, the Kane County Xplosion 16U softball team earned several come-from-behind victories to earn a third-place finish in the Class A Northern National Tournament in North Platte, Neb.

In game one of Pool Play, the girls beat the Echoes Adrenaline from Omaha, Neb., 6-4. Offensively, Lauren Zick and Emma Spagnola each had two hits and accounted for three of the runs, while Amanda Lack had a triple and Samantha Phelps added a double. Stephanie Prentice got the win with five strikeouts. Lauren Zick turned in the defensive play of the game with a diving catch in center field.

Game two saw the girls win 14-5 over the JR. Phoenix from Wisconsin. After falling behind 5-1, the girls put up 10 runs in the top of the fourth to blow the game wide open. Madeline Avery and Allison Miller were both 3-for-4, with Avery knocking in three runs in the fifth with her first homer of the tournament. Kaylee Hayton got the win.

The Orland Park A’s were the first opponent of Bracket Play, and after spotting them four runs in the first inning, the girls shut them out the rest of the way for a 7-4 win. McKenzie Bretag was 4-for-4 and Avery 3-for-4 to lead the team offensively, with Prentice notching the win. Kuefler was stellar at third base on defense.

Next up were the Wisconsin Bandit’s Black, and in a hard-fought game the girls came out on top with a 7-6 win. After jumping out to a quick lead, the girls found themselves behind 5-4 in the fifth. The girls were able to score two in the top of the seventh inning to come from behind for the win. Avery added her second home run of the tournament and was 3-for-4, while Kuefler and Phelps were 2-for-4.

Next up were the Bridgeview Redbirds, and once again the girls fell behind early. Kane County was down 4-0 after three innings before the bats came alive, scoring six runs in the last three innings for another come-from-behind win, 6-5. Phelps led the charge, going 3-for-3.

On Sunday, the girls came out flat for the first game and lost to the eventual champion. Kuefler notched her first home run of the tournament, and Lack went head over heels for a diving fly ball. After dropping to the loser’s bracket with three teams remaining, the girls once again faced the Bandits Black and came up one run short in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The girls finished the season at 40-15-2.

Tryouts for the Kane County Xplosion are this week; interested girls should check www.kcxplosion.com for details.

Former Cougar duo hits the bigs

in Featured/Kane County Cougars by

Dan Straily (right) and Mickey Storey (inset), former Kane County Cougars, made their respective big league debuts on Friday. Courtesy Photos

Minor League Baseball’s strikeout leader debuts for Oakland; Storey debuts for Astros
GENEVA—A pair of Kane County Cougars alumni made their Major League debuts on Friday evening.

Pitcher Dan Straily, a member of the 2010 Cougars, made his Major League debut, starting for the Oakland Athletics against Toronto. Another pitcher, Mickey Storey from the 2009 Cougars squad, made his debut for the Houston Astros against Atlanta.

Storey and Straily become the 119th and 120th former Cougars to reach the Major Leagues. Both players join pitchers Pedro Figueroa and Sean Doolittle, who both debuted earlier this season with Oakland, as Cougars to make their big league debuts this season.

The 23-year-old Straily was part of the Cougars’ 2010 Opening Day roster and was a 10-game winner that season, going 10-7 with a 4.32 ERA and 148 innings pitched. Straily won 11 games the following season at Class-A Advanced Stockton, and opened this season at Double-A Midland. The right-hander, who was not regarded as one of the A’s top prospects by numerous publications this past spring, quickly caught the attention of Minor League Baseball earlier this season and hasn’t backed off since. The right-hander struck out a career-high 15 batters on May 18 for Midland, and was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento the following month. In eight starts with Sacramento, Straily went 5-2 with a 1.36 ERA, and at the time of his promotion on Thursday, led Minor League Baseball with 175 strikeouts. The next closest pitcher has 138 strikeouts. Straily becomes the first Cougar from the 2010 team to reach the Major Leagues.

Storey pitched in 13 games for the Cougars in 2009, all in relief. The right-hander only allowed one earned run in those 13 games before receiving a promotion to Class-A Advanced Stockton on June 25 that summer. The only other Cougars alumnus to make his big league debut with the Astros was Tommy Martin (’91 Cougar) on April 2, 1997.

Friday’s occurrence marks the third time in franchise history that two former Cougars made their big league debuts on the same date. Vic Darensbourg (’93 Cougar) and Gabe Gonzalez (’95 Cougar) both debuted with the Florida Marlins on April 1, 1998. More recently, Trevor Cahill (’07 Cougar) and Ronald Belisario (’02 Cougar) made their big league debuts on April 7, 2009, for Oakland and the Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively.

The Cougars organization, which began in 1991 and is presently affiliated with the Kansas City Royals, has had at least one former player make a Major League debut in each season, dating back to 1993. The list includes Major League All-Stars, World Series champions and former Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winners.

The Decorating Coaches

in Elburn/Featured/Regional by

Photo: Elburn residents Mary Lynn Gehrett (left) and Christine Katkus are the Decorating Coaches, offering redesign services to create extraordinary spaces in ordinary places. The duo created the business in 2012. Courtesy Photo

FOX VALLEY—The Decorating Coaches is a home redesign and staging business in the Fox Valley area, owned by Mary Lynn Gehrett and Chris Katkus of Elburn and created in 2012.

The duo’s redesign services try to create extraordinary spaces in ordinary places, with staging services to help sell homes quickly with a larger return, and color consultations that are a quick, fun way to refresh a room.

The Decorating Coaches staging services help put a “method to the madness” of selling a home. A staged home is appealing to a buyer. It showcases the home’s best attributes and gives the potential buyer a vision of “home sweet home.” The Decorating Coaches offer consultations and walk through a checklist of “things to do” with you. This list includes decluttering, cleaning, repairing and neutralizing. After the list is completed, The coaches stage your home with furniture placement, rugs and accessories.

Home Redesign offered by the coaches uses the homeowner’s existing furniture, art and accessories in new ways to brighten up the space. Redesign can transform a room without spending a fortune—the space gets a fresh look on a comfortable budget.

The Home Redesign services offered by the Decorating Coaches start with a consultation and walk through of the space. They discuss your desires and needs for the space and develop a plan. After the plan is discussed, you can hire the Decorating Coaches to implement the plan or do it yourself.

The Decorating Coaches are a partnership between Gehrett and Katkus. The partners discovered a mutual love for design while working together as teachers. Both are professionally certified through SRA, Staging and Redesign Academy in Crystal Lake, Ill.

As a child, Gehrett loved to redecorate her room when the seasons changed. Now she loves vintage-inspired furnishings and still redecorates seasonally. She also dyes wool to use in her original rug hooking designs. Gehrett and her husband’s home was featured in the November 2008 issue of “Country Sampler”magazine.

Katkus is inspired by nature’s kaleidoscope of change when creating beautiful spaces. Four years ago, her world expanded after taking an art class. Color, texture, paint and design opened up a new area for Katkus, bringing much joy to her life. She enjoys painting landscapes, while portraits of four-legged critters and people are also part of her portfolio. Katkus’ work has been displayed at libraries and the county fair.

For more information, contact Mary Lynn Gehrett at (630) 272-8030, Christine Katkus at info@thedecoratingcoaches.com, or visit www.theDecoratingCoaches.com.

12 Perfect Years

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Photo: Kaneland High School graduate Steven Krafft has never missed a day of school in his life. Photo by John DiDonna

Krafft receives perfect attendance, sets sights on NIU jazz guitar
by Cheryl Borrowdale
KANELAND—There may not have been a special recognition at graduation for what Steven Krafft, a 2012 Kaneland High School graduate, achieved this year, but his parents thought it was worthy of a new acoustic guitar—something the aspiring jazz musician had been wanting.

After all, Steven had accomplished what no other student in the district did: 12 straight years of perfect attendance. That’s 2,160 consecutive days of school without ever even being tardy to class, despite a daily sprint down the entire length of the high school—from the jazz band room at the east end to a Spanish room at the west end—during his senior year.

“I was really never sick, so that always helped,” Steven said. “I was just really busy and never had time to be sick.”

Yet his mother, Julie Krafft, said his attendance record reflects his dedication to his music and his studies, not his stellar immune system.
“Even when he’s had a headache or he’s been up late, and most kids would skip school, he just wanted to go,” she said.

She particularly remembers one day in middle school when he had injured his foot and insisted on going to school no matter what.

“I wanted to take him to go get it x-rayed,” she said. “My husband and I feel that school is pretty important, and we always told him that school was pretty important. But he needed an x-ray, and we tried to talk him out of (going to school) that day.”

Steven was so insistent that he couldn’t miss a day, she said, that she rescheduled the appointment for after school and he hobbled around on his foot, which was sprained, that day.

In fact, he was so insistent that he couldn’t miss a day, his parents would occasionally threaten him with it, Steven said.

“They knew that I wanted it, the perfect attendance thing, so it was a punishment basically,” he said. “They always told me to dress warm, to make sure I ate my vegetables, stuff like that, because if I got sick they weren’t going to let me go to school. It was tough love. It worked.”

It became a goal the whole family shared. So when Julie logged onto Konnect, Kaneland’s online gradebook and attendance system, to check on his grades during his junior year, she was shocked to see Steven’s first tardy.

“I told him, and he was really upset,” she said. “We had to get that straightened out.”

It turned out the tardy was a mistake. Like many Kaneland music students, Steven had P.E. on A days and jazz band on B days, but he had accidentally been marked tardy by his P.E. teacher on a day that he was scheduled to be in band. His father, Keith, called the school to get the record fixed.

Steven’s dedication to school was surpassed only by his dedication to music, which he spent an average of six hours a night studying throughout high school. He started taking evening music theory and guitar classes at Waubonsee as soon as he turned 16, trying to get a head start on college and preparing for the audition that the Northern Illinois University jazz studies program requires for admission.

He admits that his attendance record at Waubonsee wasn’t perfect, but it was for good reasons.

“I went to Waubonsee for night classes, and having that on top of Kaneland work, that was a lot of work,” Steven said. “The classes were difficult and I didn’t have time for much else. So I skipped Waubonsee classes a few times when I had finals, just because I was worried about Kaneland. They don’t really take attendance (at Waubonsee), so it wasn’t really a big deal.”

His dedication paid off: he’ll be taking that acoustic guitar with him to NIU, where he’s been admitted to the jazz studies program, one of the top 10 in the nation. To Steven, the best prize is the chance to study with Rodrigo Villanueva, the associate professor who directs the university’s Jazz Lab Band.

Although he’s giving up perfect attendance as his goal now that he’s starting college, that’s because he hopes that he’ll have the opportunity to go on tour at some point during his music studies.

“I’ll see if (NIU) take(s) attendance or anything, but I don’t really think they do that, at least not with jazz studies,” Steven said. “The professor was on tour with Sting, and because he did that, I’m sure that he understands if you want to do something like that with music, because the only way to really learn music is by doing it.”

His mother can’t see him missing class for anything less important than his music.

“He has always said that he’s going to have perfect attendance his entire life, so I see that continuing,” Julie said. “He’s passionate about his studies, so I think he’ll make it. I’ve always taught him that it’s important for every person to attend school and to put a lot of work into it, and he does that. I feel you get out of it what you put into it. He’s put a lot into it.”

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