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Featured - page 15

Lady Knights’ trip to NIB-12 meet yields 5th

in Featured/Girls Track by

Photo: Maggie Brundige (left) and Lauren Zick (right) are counted on to make an impact at the Sterling Sectional this Friday, May 11. File photo

KANELAND—Lady Knights track used the important meet at Streator High School to have a Northern Illinois Big XII pow-wow, and found they have a final output good for the middle of the pack.

Friday had less-frigid conditions than the previously held Kane County Invite in St. Charles, and with 53 points, the Lady Knights found itself with a fifth-place finish out at the home of the Bulldogs.

In last year’s inaugural NIB-12 clash, Kaneland finished third overall.

Geneseo, with 114 points, took the meet, followed by fellow West Division school Dixon with 94 points. Yorkville was third with a 70-point total, and DeKalb was fourth with 66 points.

After KHS was Sycamore in sixth place at 52, followed by Sterling (47), LaSalle-Peru (24) and Ottawa (17).

Kaneland’s lone conference champ is thrower Elle Tattoni, who boasted a shot put effort of 34 feet, seven inches, which was two inches better than Yorkville’s Mackenzie Lee.

Lauren Zick, continuing her path away from previously hobbling injuries, took a second place in the 400 meter dash race, finishing in 59.59 seconds, 2.18 second behind DeKalb’s Jaylaan Slaughter.

KHS gathered four third-place honors at Streator, beginning with Jen Howland’s 11:45.38 time in the 3200m run.

Teammate Amanda Lesak’s 50.42 second effort was third in the 300m hurdles race, while the Lady Knight’s 4x400m relay squad ran a 4:11.05 for third.

Rounding out the third-place collection was Nicole Ketza’s output in the discus throw at 103-04.

Junior Gabby Aguirre’s five-foot leap was good for fourth place.

Ahead for the Lady Knighs is the Class 2A Sectional in Sterling on Friday, May 11, at 4 p.m.

The fellow teams joining Kaneland from the area and NIB-12 in the 16-team gathering are Burlington Central, Dixon, Hampshire, Rochelle, Sterling and Sycamore.

KHS soccer solves 3, puzzled by Sycamore

in Featured/Girls Soccer by

Photo: Brittany Olson tries to get the upper foot in a battle for the ball during Thursday’s 2-0 setback at the hands of Sycamore. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Lady Knights soccer’s late-season homestretch is busy, to say the least.

It matters little how healthy you are heading into the regionals next week.

The Lady Knights continue to soldier on, defeating host Hinckley-Big Rock 5-0 on May 2, but succumbing to host Sycamore on Thursday in a 2-0 match.

The Lady Knights’ loss to conference rival Sycamore was their first since early April’s tournament at West Aurora.

Kaneland righted its soccer ship with a 7-0 rout of Morris on Monday after rainy conditions gave way to sunnier skies, and on Tuesday’s Senior Night, defeated Yorkville by the same 7-0 margin.

Kaneland’s record sits at 10-4-1 (5-2-1 NIB-12) on the year, so far, beating last year’s pace of 7-7-1 through 15 matches.

Facing the Lady Royals along Route 30, Kaneland was treated to goals from Brittany Olson just 61 seconds into the contest, followed by a Courtney Diddell goal 26 minutes later.

The second half saw goals from Diddell with 32:59 left, Madi Jurcenko with 27 minutes to go, and Heather Ortiz with 7:36 remaining.

Assists were gathered by Jurcenko, Jessica Coia and Didell.

Against Sycamore, the Lady Knights fell victim to a goal with 19:43 left in the first half when a shot went out of reach of an outstretched Jordan Ginther, and the Lady Spartans cinched it with a penalty kick with 21 minutes to go.

“On a streak that we’ve had, you think that every match is going to 5-0 or 6-0. It’s always good to get smacked upside the head a little bit and brought down to earth. Hopefully, this did that,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said.

The loss certainly seemed to do the trick for KHS, judging by the two ensuing matches.

Against Morris, Coia supplied a hat trick, while Jurcenko and Olson scored two goals each.

A five-goal first half propelled KHS to another handy win. Taylor White got things going with a goal four minutes in, followed by Coia and Olson finding the net. Olson supplied a hat trick, while White had two goals and an assist. Katie Taylor had a goal and two assists. Coia had a goal and assist, while Jurcenko supplied two assists.

Kaneland faces host Streator on Monday, May 14.

Local country band plays Nashville

in Featured/Kaneville/Maple Park/Regional by

Photo: Back Country Roads, a local country music band with members from throughout the Kaneland area, recently performed in Nashville as part of a country music contest. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
Nashville—Back Country Roads, a local band in the Kaneland area that describes its music as “the big sounds of Nashville (brought) home to the Midwest,” recently brought their sound to Nashville. The band was invited to play at the Wildhorse Saloon, a three-level, 66,000 square-foot live music and dance venue.

Singer Mary Noren and guitar player Brian Miller had gone to “the Music City” several weeks earlier and dropped off electronic press kits at a few places there. The Wildhorse Saloon contacted them the following day to invite the band to participate in a “Battle for the Saddle” competition on April 25.

Each band played five songs for a panel of three judges, among whom was Michael Knox, Jason Aldean’s producer. Although the band performed well, they did not win the contest, bass player Dave Miller said.

“The experience, however, was well worth the trip,” Dave said. “It was an awesome experience to be on a stage playing to 800 to 1,000 people.”

Kaneville resident and one of the newest members of the band, keyboard player Dan Alfrey described the experience as a “whirl-wind trip,” one day down, one day to play, and the third day, back home.
] “It was humbling, playing in such a large place in a town that is known for its music,” he said.

Approximately 30 to 40 people from the area traveled to Nashville to hear them play. Maple Park resident Kim Goodenough, a friend of vocalist Kyle Miller’s parents, drove them back and forth in her family’s 40-foot motor home.

“The kids are exceptional,” Goodenough said. “They play so well together. They were the only band that had people out on the floor dancing.”

Back Country Roads, also known as BCR, originated in 2009. Kyle and Noren, students together at Northern Illinois University, began singing Karaoke in some of the bars in DeKalb. Their friend Brian Miller soon joined them on acoustic guitar. The band’s first gig was for the Maple Park Fire District Women’s Auxiliary at the Maple Park Pub.

They played a few shows as an acoustic trio, but decided they wanted a bigger sound. They added Jarred Klotz on drums and Dave Miller, Kyle’s great-uncle, on bass guitar.

Soon, they were playing at various festivals and events throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including the Maple Park Fun Fest, Kaneville Fest, as well as Country Thunder USA in Twin Lakes, Wis. They added Hanna Mathey on fiddle and Dan Alfrey on keyboards. John Von Arx joined the group later on lead guitar.

The band plays mainly newer country music, such as Lady Antebellum, Sugarland, Zach Brown Band and Jason Aldean, as well as some of the older favorites, such as Alabama and Johnny Cash, Dave said. They have a loyal following and have opened for bands such as Phil Vassar, David Lee Murphy and Darryl Worley.

More recently, they have begun writing their own music, and have their first single, called “Wake Up This Day.” They are hoping to get the song played on local stations.

“We want to be a band that other people cover,” Dave said.

BCR will perform at Country Thunder USA this summer for their third consecutive year and will open for Neal McCoy at DeKalb’s Corn Fest. They will also play at Elburn Days and the Maple Park Fun Fest.

For more information and a schedule for Back Country Roads, visit backcountryroadsband.com, ‘Back Country Roads’ page on Facebook or download their free Droid/iPhone app ‘Back Country Roads.’

Pound 4 Pound offers fitness, fun

in Elburn/Featured by

Photo: Dan DeKing (left) trains Luke Cowart at Pound for Pound Fitness in Elburn. Dan and co-owner Ryan Darby opened the business on April 1 and had their Grand Opening on April 28 and 29. Photo by John DiDonna

by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—Danny DeKing, co-owner of Pound 4 Pound Fitness in Elburn, has been a fitness proponent from an early age. He participated in a variety of sports in high school, including football, basketball and boxing. When he joined the United States Navy, he was a command fitness leader, responsible for the fitness of the units.

After six years of service in Kuwait and state-side, DeKing came home and trained with Don Beebe’s House of Speed for five years, and worked for a few other fitness companies before starting his own business.

He is a House of Speed-certified trainer, and is working on his certification through the National Association of Sports Medicine, which includes the study of biomechanics, kinesthesiology, nutrition and other areas of fitness.

DeKing’s partner, Ryan Darby, was a roller hockey player and a speed skater in school, but he really became a fitness advocate when he was trying to quit smoking. Darby said he began exercising as an outlet for stress during that time. First, he started riding his bike, then lifting weights, and pretty soon he had a gym membership.

“The rest is history,” he said. “It was the exercise that made me quit.”

Both DeKing and Darby want to bring their enthusiasm for fitness to others in the community.

“It made me feel so good, I want to teach other people,” Darby said. “You can’t just change for a few months; it’s a whole lifestyle change.”

He is working on his certification and wants to become a personal trainer, as well.

The gym offers a variety of equipment, including various presses and a multi-station Universal Cybex machine. DeKing said his focus in fitness training is on functional movement and athletic performance. He uses some of the many available machines in the programs he sets up for people, but he also likes to use equipment such as speed ladders, heavy ropes, kettle bells, tires and medicine balls to help them get in the best shape possible.

“You want full range of motion,” DeKing explained. “The body moves in 360 degrees.”

Pound 4 Pound offers monthly memberships, and a variety of workouts are available, including boot camps that focus on the fundamentals, the basics of boxing for adults and teens, TRX (a low-impact body weight workout using suspension straps) and circuit training.

Personalized training sessions that include nutrition advice and specific exercises to reach an individual’s fitness goals are also available.

DeKing and Darby said they want people to enjoy their workouts and have fun.

“A variety of training methods will keep you interested, energized, motivated and hungry for more,” Darby said.

Calder Cup chase ends for Sweatt

in Elburn/Featured/Miscellaneous by

Photo: Bill Sweatt, shown here in earlier season action against Abbotsford, excelled locally in 2011-12 for the Chicago Wolves, who saw their season end on Friday to San Antonio in the Calder Cup Playoffs’ first round. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

First year with Chicago’s Wolves ends in first-round defeat
by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—If it’s not navigating the puck or avoiding checks into the boards, it’s packing boxes.

The activity never stops for the Elburn native Bill Sweatt, moving back to Colorado Springs for the offseason, after his 2011-12 season with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves that ended in the fifth game of the first round Calder Cup series against the San Antonio Rampage on Friday.

“We were down 2-0 in the series, and won games three and four, and took it to double-overtime in game five before we lost,” Sweatt said. “It was great to play in Chicago, and I was able to show teammates the area a little bit. I enjoyed every second of it.”

A left-wing, Sweatt was the Blackhawks’ next draft pick after Patrick Kane in 2007, and was involved in a trade with former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before the 2010-11 season, Bill and brother Lee signed with the Vancouver Canucks organization and starred for the AHL affiliate Manitoba Moose.

With the Winnipeg Jets returning to the National Hockey League, Vancouver switched its top affiliate to the Wolves, giving Sweatt a chance to play at home, of sorts.

“Hockey is big here, like it was when I was growing up. The Blackhawks have new ownership and won the Cup, and youth hockey seems bigger here. It’s more intense,” Sweatt said.

Sweatt scored 16 goals and supplied 18 assists on Wolves duty, with a goal and assist in the five-game playoff series that ended with a 3-2 loss.

Sweatt has played internationally as well as in Winnipeg, Manitoba last year, and even got called up for the parent club for two games in 2011-12.

The former Colorado College star has an idea of a common thread in any playing environment.

“Everywhere is different. We had really good fans here, and it was sold out most games (at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.). Internationally, though, instead of booing something they don’t like, they’ll whistle,” Sweatt said.

Sweatt feels good about being with the Vancouver organization, which saw an abrupt end to its Stanley Cup dreams with a first-round loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

“They had someone present at a lot of the games, mostly before the trade deadline. It motivates you a little more when you see someone from the office there,” Sweatt said.

Sweatt played under the coaching eye of Craig MacTavish, a player on four Stanley Cup teams, and a former coach of the Edmonton Oilers.

“He wasn’t a screamer; he only really got on us when we had a five- or six-game losing streak,” Sweatt said. “He was on an even keel and would really work with us individually.”

Sweatt and the Wolves will try to rebound next year for their first Calder Cup since 2008.

“I think we never changed our style of play, even after being down 2-0. We were able to push it to game five, and San Antonio is a good team. We were still a good team at the end,” Sweatt said.

In the meantime, it’s time for some “R and R” before Sweatt’s nuptials in August. Then it’s back to the grind for Sweatt, who has a year left on his original deal with the Canucks.

If that means suiting up for a squad by where he once called home en route to skating on NHL ice, so be it.

“It was great to get there (into the NHL). My end goal is to stay there, not just for two games,” Sweatt said.

8th-place finish at Kane County Invite for girls track

in Featured/Girls Track by

Photo: Kaneland girls Lauren Zick and Sydney Strang try to catch a DeKalb runner in the 800 meter during their meet at DeKalb on April 25. Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—With the regular season in its final weeks, the Kaneland High School girls track squad finds itself homestretching across finish lines.

Despite ending up on the wrong side of a dual on April 25 at DeKalb High School, the Lady Knights finished eighth in a stacked and frigid Kane County Invite out at St. Charles North High School on Friday evening.

In the 91-58 loss to the Lady Barbs, KHS saw several first-place honors, taking the reins in six events.

Nicole Ketza excelled in the field, taking the discus throw with a mark of 91 feet, two inches, while teammate Gabby Aguirre won the high jump event with an effort of 4-06.

Pole vaulter Christine Delach did her part for Kaneland, winning the pole vault at nine feet even.

Long-distance asset Sydney Strang continued her strong sophomore campaign with a two minute, 21.2 second 800 meter run for first place.

Amanda Lesak staked her claim to the 300m low hurdles by conquering it in 49.4 seconds, and Kaltrina Ismaili won the 200m run in 27.7 seconds.

The 2012 edition of the Kane County gathering saw West Aurora (142), St. Charles East (83) and Batavia (58) take the top three. St. Charles North, Burlington Central and Geneva took fourth through sixth, respectively, while Rosary finished just ahead of KHS. The Lady Knight’s 34-point total edged Hampshire’s 32 for eighth place overall.

Noteworthy finishes for the Lady Knights included a runner-up in the 4x800m relay with a time of 10:08.06. Adding to the long-distance favorables was Jen Howland, finishing third in the 3200m run in adverse and windy conditions. The senior ran a 11:56.10 course.

Finalist Ashley Castellanos was part of the elite 100m dash group and took fourth with a time of 13.23 seconds. Castellanos finished fifth in the prelims with a 13.28 second effort.

Strang ran the 1600m run in 5:27.80, good for third.

“Sydney is more consistent this year, and I’m very happy with how Jessica Kucera and Maggie have run,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

The 4x400m relay foursome took fourth place with a time of 4:17.76. Freshman Elle Tattoni continued to shore up Kaneland’s throwing ranks with a fourth in the shot put (34-05.75).

Distance-runner Abby Dodis dealt with the windy conditions as best she could.

““I haven’t run in any colder conditions this year,” Dodis said. “We have more girls in distance this year, and it’s fun to run against tougher competition.”

Ahead for Kaneland is the NIB-12 get-together on Friday, May 4, at Streator.

Knight boys lay down exceptional efforts

in Boys Track/Featured by

Photo: Brandon Bishop begins a relay in the rain during the Boys and Girls visit to DeKalb on April 25. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Your Kaneland High School boys track outfit is getting hot at the right time.

On April 25, the Knight boys took care of DeKalb’s team in convincing fashion in a 110-36 dual.

They followed that with a second-place finish at their usual Crystal Lake Central Invite on Friday, dealing with other schools with a distinct numbers advantage.

Against the host Barbs, the Knights saw another stellar afternoon from Nate Dyer, who grabbed two firsts.

The sophomore threw a 48 foot, 7-and- a-half inch shot put, and also took the discus with a 140-10 throw.

Teammate Eric Dillon won the high jump with a 6-foot launch, while teammate Marshall Farthing won the triple jump with a 38-7.5 try. Dan Evers nabbed a first in the pole vault with an 11-06 vaulting, as well.

In relay activity, the Knights saw firsts in the 3200 meter relay with a time of 8:45.5 and a 400m relay run of 44 seconds.

Dylan Nauert continued a positive trajectory by taking the 110m high hurdles in 16.3 seconds, while Sean Carter won the 100m dash in 11.3 seconds.

Nauert continues to impress coach Eric Baron.

“Dylan is a very strong hurdler,” Baron said. “His technique is getting better all the time, but his strength carries him through right now.”

Knight Luis Acosta brought home the 800m run title with a 2:05.7 try, and Brandon Stahl won the 400m run with a 55.4 clip.

Carter also bested the field in the 200m run at 22.4 seconds, while the 1600m relay unit finished first with a time of 3:36.8.

In the 10-team Crystal Lake Central Invite held on Friday, the Knights also received enough good effort and fortune to take second up north.

With Belvidere North’s team taking first at 114 points, Kaneland’s second-place, 99-point total was good enough to outlast Harlem (93), the hosts (81) and Burlington Central (74).

Dyer’s 50-07.75 was good for second in the shot put, while Dillon reached fourth place in the high jump at 5-09.

Ben Barnes took third in the long jump at 19-05.

Kaneland’s 3200m relay team took second, with Nate Kucera, Conor Johnson, Clayton Brundige and Kyle Carter running a 8:21.18 track, and the crew of Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier, Nauert and Sean Carter were crowned champs of the 400m relay with a time of 43.84 seconds.

Nauert took the invite mantle in the 110m hurdles with a time of 15.96.

Ahead for the boys is the Kane County Invite, held at West Aurora High School on Friday, May 3, at 4:30 p.m.

KHS soccer cleats Hubs

in Featured/Girls Soccer by

Photo: Kaneland’s Heather Ortiz fights in a crowd in the first period of Kaneland’s 7-0 win over Rochelle on Thursday. Kaneland soccer is now 6-0-1 in the last seven matches. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—When you put up a seven-spot in soccer, you know something’s gone right.

With six goals in the first half, the Lady Knights picked up a conference win and upped their record to 7-3-1 after a 7-0 solving of the visiting Rochelle Hubs.

Courtney Diddell, Brittany Olson, Taylor White and Katie Taylor all scored for the rising Lady Knights, with Madi Jurcenko putting a cap on the evening with a goal just 21 seconds in to the second half.

The Lady Knights continue with NIB-12 play with a trip to see the rival Sycamore Lady Spartans on Thursday, May 3.

It serves to help KHS get ready for a three-team regional set to begin in two weeks, with Burlington Central and Kaneland the top two seeds.

“That will be interesting to see how that game (on May 12) plays out,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “I don’t know if either team wants to show too much in case we play each other in the championship game.”

Midwest wrestling company brings piledrivers, fun to Elburn

in Elburn/Featured by

by Keith Beebe
ELBURN—North American Pro Wrestling invaded Elburn last Saturday night, and for anyone who caught the show at the Elburn Community Center, don’t be surprised if some of the wrestlers featured on that card eventually land in the mecca of pro wrestling: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

“The show (on April 21) was unbelievable. We have the best group of recognizable talent you could possibly have in the Midwest, as far as wrestlers go,” said Randy Ricci, who serves as chief operating officer of NAPW. “Our talent roster are guys who are hungry and work their tail off. They want to be stimulated in hopes of getting that next spot. These guys work harder than the guys in WWE, because they’re on their way up … and I’ve gotten a lot of guys hired by WWE.”

The show at the community center only drew about 120 people, but Ricci said the performers didn’t care—they were intent on entertaining and dazzling those in attendance.

“After shows, I get a chance to talk to wrestling fans of all ages—from 6-year-old kids to people who are 80 years old—and they say, “Oh my gosh, I would put this level of action up against World Wrestling Entertainment any day of the week,” Ricci said.

Ricci, who was brought on by Midwest-based NAPW earlier this year, has been in the wrestling business since 1988 and has an extensive resume, having served as a performer, production manager, promoter and television producer for companies such as WWE and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). Wrestling under the alias of “Jerry Fox” while in WWE, Ricci had the privilege to square off against squared-circle legends such as Ravishing Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Dino Bravo, Earthquake, Big Boss Man, King Kong Bundy and Haku.

“It’s a heck of an industry,” Ricci said.

NAPW was founded last year by Joey Rose and Chris Koley. According to Ricci, the company’s roster currently features 12 veterans and an additional eight to 10 rookies. He said the average age for wrestlers who enter NAPW is about 22 years old, and many of these kids hail from Rockford, Ill., downtown Chicago, Janesville, Wis., and Griffith, Ind. NAPW does about 200 dates each year, so there’s plenty of experience to be had by anyone who wrestles in the company’s ranks.

Ricci raved about NAPW rookie grappler Anthony Antonelli.

“What a gifted athlete he is. There’s nothing this kid can’t do in the ring, and he’s got heart like you wouldn’t believe,” Ricci said.

Anyone interested in attending an NAPW show is in luck, as the company will return to the Elburn Community Center for an event on Saturday, May 12. The main event that night will feature NAPW Heavyweight World Champion Pauly Thomaselli in a title defense. If you need further incentive to attend, Ricci can help with that.

“Independent wrestling organizations have popped up all over the Chicago area (as of late), and they’re kind of a dime a dozen, and I am not trying to pick on anyone else, but I am someone who has been through every facet of the industry and worked for every company,” he said. “I’ve been all over the world and have made a living in wrestling … that’s why (NAPW) brought me on the first of this year.”

Czerwinski takes on adversity

in Featured/Sugar Grove by

Photo: Shari Czerwinski takes an adaptive-pedal-equipped bike out for a test ride. She suffers neurofibroma and has limited use of her left leg. Courtesy Photo

SG resident overcomes neurofibroma, receives Challenged Athletes Foundation grant
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—It was 2004 when Sugar Grove resident Shari Czerwinski noticed she had some numbness in her left leg. Numerous tests and X-rays showed no abnormalities in Czerwinski’s body, but by 2006 she started to display a bit of muscle atrophy in her left foot, and by 2008 her left knee would buckle occasionally when she walked.

Still, multiple tests, MRIs and X-rays revealed nothing of concern.
“I knew something was wrong, as it is obviously not normal to have a leg that feels numb, no reflex, and falling down because your knee buckles, but I gave up finding an answer,” she said.

It should be noted that Czerwinski has suffered from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a painful and debilitating form of arthritis that targets the spinal cord and larger joints in the body, since 1998. After tests revealed nothing of concern in her body, Czerwinski said her rheumatologist wrote it all off as a rare complication of the disease and upped all of her rheumatological medications.

Fast-forward to February 2009, when Czerwinski’s car was rear-ended on the Eisenhower Expressway, leaving her with several herniations and a lot of pain. Czerwinski began visiting a pain clinic the next month and mentioned to her doctor all of the problems she had with her left leg. An MRI of Czerwinski’s abdomen that June revealed what had been plaguing her the previous five years: she was suffering from neurofibroma.

“I had a 5.5 inch-long tumor called a neurofibroma along the femoral nerve, which is the largest nerve running down the front of your leg,” Czerwinski said. “They assembled a team of three surgeons to discuss getting this tumor out with the most success of me walking again.”

Czerwinski went in for surgery that September, and doctors were forced to remove seven inches of her femoral nerve, because it wouldn’t separate from the tumor. The decision was made to remove a section of nerve from her inner thigh and graft it onto the femoral nerve. She then had to wait 12 months and endure a grueling recovery to see if the nerve would regenerate.

It didn’t.

“My left leg was partially paralyzed. I could only walk with a leg brace. I could not march, or run, or lift my leg without grabbing it with my hand and picking it up,” said Czerwinski, now 41 years old. “It has affected everything. I have fallen several times since the surgery and injured my leg. We had to remodel the bathroom to make a handicapped shower. We live in a two-story, and just getting up and down stairs is very difficult. I have to get help with a lot of daily activities. My family—husband Chad, son Ryan and daughter Katherine—have been great at helping out with things I need.”

“Shari’s ‘disability’ has definitely been challenging for us. We often joke that if this is a test, we should really study harder, because we have to keep taking it over and over again,” Chad said. “I am thankful, however, that we have been able to face it together. Patience is something we are constantly learning through trials.”

Northwestern doctors told Czerwinski there was nothing else they could do to help her. Following a considerable amount of research, Shari and her husband were introduced to a surgeon in San Antonio, Texas, who was willing to bring the couple out so he could try to attempt a procedure on Shari in which the large muscle (latissimus) would be removed with all the nerves attached and put into her thigh to form a new quadriceps muscle. Shari went into surgery in December 2010, at which point doctors discovered that the original nerve graft had pulled apart and was not connected.

“He decided to try reconnecting it to give it a second chance. It did not work, either,” Shari said. “They (had) given me the option of going through that all again and trying to move the back muscle this time, but after two long, grueling years of therapy and doctor appointments and getting my hopes up, I had come to a place of acceptance. I was not willing to go through another surgery and another 12 months of waiting to see if it would work.”

Things didn’t get any easier for Shari from that point on, as her kneecap would occasionally dislocate due to the lack of muscle in her left leg. She underwent a partial knee replacement surgery last November, and recently completed therapy at Fox Valley Physical Therapy and Wellness in St. Charles. She also acquired a “smart” leg brace, which she said helps her walk in a more normal manner. Doctors hope Shari’s most recent surgery will ease her pain considerably, but have also discussed performing a complete knee replacement if desired results for Shari’s knee are not reached by the end of this year.

Amputation could also be a possibility if Shari’s knee pain continues to persist.

“I have had to give up a lot of outdoor activities we used to enjoy, such as biking and hiking,” she said. “Through all these trials, my faith in Jesus Christ helped me to persevere. I have tried to stay as active as I could, drawn strength from Him, and learned to rely on others for help, which was not a lesson easily learned for me.

“This is by far the hardest thing I have ever gone through, but by the grace of God, I am able to get up with a smile on my face and remember all the things I have to be thankful for, and not dwell on all the hardships.”

In order to get back to doing the outdoor activities she loves, Shari began researching adaptive equipment, and did a test ride on a recumbent bike with adaptive pedals at The Bike Rack in St. Charles. Adaptive equipment is expensive, however, and her husband, a carpenter, was seeing less and less work due to a sluggish economy.

“I wanted to be able to get out of the house and do sports with the family, and staying active helps so much mentally and with controlling some of the arthritis pain,” Shari said. “I researched some more and found that there are agencies that help people with part of the costs of specialized equipment.”

Shari then contacted six agencies, and promptly received rejection letters from five of them. The remaining agency sent a letter stating that they make those decisions in April each year. Sure enough, Shari received a letter from the Challenged Athletes Foundation two weeks ago stating that they would award her a $1,500 grant toward the cost of an adaptive bike.

Her new bike is on order at The Bike Rack.

“I just want to encourage people not to give up. If you feel something is wrong with your body, keep searching for answers,” Shari said. “I think disabled people become isolated due to lack of mobility, depression, etc. I just want to encourage people to get outdoors and be active, no matter how small of a start (they) have to make. It really does boost your mood. I am so excited to get my bike, and already have lined up willing family and friends to go for a ride.”

KCFB celebrates 100 years, hosts family event

in Featured/Regional by

Photo: KCFB Information Director Ryan Klassy points out details in the carving to KCFB members Erwin Panzer, Bernice Maness and Leonard Panzer of Maple Park. The sculpture, at the corner of Randall Road and Oak Street in St. Charles, tops out at 11 feet tall and sports a Kane County Farm Bureau 100th Anniversary logo. Courtesy Photo

KANE COUNTY—The seventh annual Touch-A-Tractor at the Kane County Farm Bureau attracted a steady crowd thanks to the efforts of dozens of member/volunteers. Several events at the April farm-city event helped highlight the Farm Bureau’s centennial celebration.

A tree carving on the corner of the KCFB property, facing Randall Road, made a one-of-a-kind Touch-A-Tractor experience. Professional carver Michael Bihlmaier of Marengo, Ill., turned the base of a trunk of a 120-year-old ash tree, taken down due to disease, into a towering ear of corn.

Bihlmaier used half a dozen chainsaws of varying sizes to chip away at the carving over the course of the three-day event, creating a tribute to Illinois’ number-one commodity crop.

“Ash is a very hard, dry wood so it takes a lot of time,” said Bihlmaier.

His chainsaws hummed away as onlookers waited to see what the sculpture would be. What remained when Bihlmaier hit the off switch on his chainsaw was an 8-foot-tall ear of corn, complete with curling husks that cradle over 350 individually carved kernels of corn. Good weather allowed him to finish the ear of corn before the last Touch-A-Tractor visitor left.

A Kane County Farm Bureau 100th Anniversary logo was all that was left to be added when showers came late in the day on Sunday. The sculpture measures 11 feet tall, from the ground to the tallest point.

“It’s definitely the biggest ear of corn I’ve ever carved,” said Bihlmaier, who has completed hundreds of carvings.

Bihlmaier has award-winning talent, has competed in national carving competitions and is a member of the Echo chainsaw carving team. He used a grinder, dremel and other woodworking tools to add detail to the sculpture.

“We’re really impressed with the job Mike did,” said PR Chair Beth Engel of Hampshire. “The detail is so impressive. It should catch the attention of drivers on Randall Road and give them a reason to stop and see what we’re doing to promote a bright future for agriculture here in Kane County.”

KCFB also kicked off the Centennial Grove tribute program, and visitors were able to get a first-hand look at the trees available for purchase to dedicate to individuals or events.

Another first-time attraction was a 1913 Port Huron steam engine brought in by KCFB member Tom Runty. It was a huge hit with kids and adults.

“The littlest kids seem to have the best understanding of it,” Runty said. “They know it looks like a train, and of course that’s exactly the way it works, like a steam-operated locomotive.”

Runty’s first appearance at Touch-A-Tractor was perfectly timed, as the association is celebrating its centennial. The steam engine, which he bought in 1999 and spent five years restoring, is almost the same age as the Kane County Farm Bureau, which has a date of Dec. 31, 1912, on its charter. Almost every kid, and many adults, took a turn standing on the platform of the 20,000-pound behemoth.

“Because we are celebrating our 100th year, we wanted to make this Touch-A-Tractor one to remember,” said Director and PR committee member Bill Collins. “Thanks to moderate weather conditions and some exceptional equipment and displays, I think we provided a really good experience for the kids—which is what it’s all about.”

The event featured 17 antique tractors, modern farm equipment, farm animals and lots of agricultural activities for children. The weekend wrapped up with the announcement of 21 college-bound recipients of nearly $22,000 in Kane County Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships, followed by the drawing of the winners in the not-for-profit’s annual Winner’s Choice Tractor Raffle fundraiser.

Attendance at the annual farm-city event was estimated at 1,500 people for the three-day event.

Baseball holds own in NIB-12 conference play

in Baseball/Featured by

Photo: Second baseman Joe Pollastrini tries to turn a double play in the fourth inning, but the ball was just a little late getting to first baseman Jordan Jones during Kaneland’s home game against Yorkville on Monday. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—Much like last year, the Knight nine are taking care of business as the calendar turns pages on the season.

Wins over Yorkville, Wheaton Academy and DeKalb have the first-place KHS baseball crew feeling quite good.

Kaneland’s (14-7, 7-1 Northern Illinois Big XII) steady pitching went well with just enough hitting on Thursday in DeKalb.

The 2-1 victory was earned with a single run in the second and fifth innings, and Matt Limbrunner (1-0) took the win in a starting assignment. The tall right-hander went 6.2 innings and allowed no earned runs on four hits.

Ray Barry swiped three bases and scored both runs, while Jordan Jones produced an RBI.

In a 6-0 Saturday shutout of Wheaton Academy, the Knights got help on the mound from Jones, who went five innings and allowed four hits. Barry went 2-for-4 and swiped three more bases, along with his double and two RBI, while Tyler Heinle went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run.

On Monday, the Knights engineered an 8-6 win against the Yorkville Foxes. Down 3-1 in the third, KHS scored two in the third and four in the fourth for a lead before YHS tied matters with runs in the fifth and sixth. Kaneland’s two-run sixth gave the the hosts the edge.

Bryan VanBogaert improved to 2-1 with a win in relief, while Jordan Jones earned the save in a perfect seventh inning.

Tom Fox was 3-for-4 at the plate with a triple and three RBI, while Joe Pollastrini was 2-for-2 with two doubles and a walk.

In Kendall County, the Knights erased a 2-1 deficit with two runs in the top of the seventh to subdue the Foxes.

Trevor Storck improved to 4-0 on the year with a six hitter, in which he allowed just two earned runs.

Tyler Heinle went 1-for-3 with a run scored, as did brother Trever Heinle.

The Knights are at Yorkville on Thursday, April 26.

KHS softball reaches 20-win plateau

in Featured/Softball by

Photo: Paige Kuefler gets the runner out trying to steal third base in the fourth inning of Kaneland’s 15-1 home victory over Dixon on Saturday. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—Lady Knights softball continues to hit, which may give groans to opponents that see the Kaneland lineup on its upcoming schedule.

In a twinbill with Northern Illinois Big XII West division school Dixon in Maple Park on Saturday, Kaneland brought the aluminum with a 15-1 win in game one and an 11-2 win in game two.

That accompanied a 9-3 win in Streator, Ill., against the Lady Bulldogs on Tuesday afternoon.

The Lady Knights are now 20-5 (5-0 NIB-12, and have now emerged victorious in 19 of their last 21 contests—a sharp contrast from the previous immediate stretch in which the KHS crew lost 21 of 28 games.

The Lady Knights were helped by Ellissa Eckert’s five-inning, complete game effort, in which she allowed just an earned run on four hits.

On the hitting side of the spectrum, Paige Kuefler (2-for-2, two BB, two RBI) supplied the hitting charge.

Game two had the Lady Knights put up an eight-spot in the second, two in the third and one in the fifth for all the offense needed.

The winning pitcher line took the form of Alexis Villarreal’s complete-game four hitter with 10 strikeouts to boot.

Vest took care of business on the mound at Streator, with a three-run, three-hit effort in the circle.

Catcher McKinzie Mangers’ 2-for-2 day with two walks helped the winning effort, while Allyson O’Herron went 2-for-3 with and RBI and a run scored.

KHS girls track sees firsts in 4×800, 1600m

in Featured/Girls Track by

Photo: Nicole Ketza gears up for a discus throw during recent action. Ketza and the Lady Knights gear up for the Kane County Meet in North Stars country on Friday, April 27. File photo

DIXON—Interstate 88’s corridor wields some talented girls track rosters, and Kaneland’s intent was to join that group after Friday’s Dixon Invite.

When the points were tabulated, KHS emerged in the middle of the pack of a 10-team invite.

With 55 points, the Lady Knights edged NIB-12 rival Sterling by three points.

Additional NIB-12 outfit Geneseo took the meet with 93, followed by Dixon with 81. Harlem scored third with 76 points and Moline finished fourth with 68.

Kaneland’s bar is at a higher setting for several events, and just in time for the prestigious Kane County Meet occurring this Friday, April 27.

The 4x800m relay foursome of Sydney Strang, Jessica Kucera, Jennifer Howland and Amanda Lesak emerged victorious with a time of 10 minutes, 7.35 seconds, over two seconds better than the team from Dixon.

Strang also got into the act by running away from the fellow 1600m run crowd, thanks to a 5:42.50 time.

The frosh/soph group of Kucera, Rachel Steinmiller, Kyla Goodine and Madison Keith did well by finishing third in the 4x400m relay event with a time of 4:27.24.

Field events went well for KHS in the form of Kelly Evers’ third in the high jump (13 feet, eight inches), and with Shannon Wallace’s third in the pole vault (23-06).

Kaneland’s Kane County trip takes them to St. Charles North High School for a 5 p.m. starting gun.

Elburn resident brings Hunger Resource Network to Fox Valley

in Elburn/Featured by

Photo: On March 24, the Hunger Resource Network distributed more than 61,000 pounds of chicken to more than 40 food pantries and homeless shelters. Elburn resident Wynette Edwards is a director with the network, and has been instrumental in expanding the network into the Fox Valley area. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn resident Wynette Edwards, a director of the Hunger Resource Network, was part of an effort in March to distribute more than 61,000 pounds of chicken to more than 40 agencies. Thanks to Edwards, those agencies included the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry, the Elgin Food Pantry, the Kendall County Food Pantry and the Salvation Army in St. Charles.

Edwards, who has lived in Elburn for about seven years, is one of a small group of individuals who started the Hunger Resource Network three years ago. The network makes connections between suppliers and volunteer organizations that want to help with food banks, pantries, homeless shelters and other agencies that help those in need.

The distribution of the chickens was a great example of how the network brings together generous and hard-working people and businesses with organizations during the Hunger Resource Network Community Outreach Day on March 24.

Whole Foods Markets customers and associates in the Evanston area donated more than $26,000 raised during several collection campaigns the two stores sponsored. Miller Poultry in Indiana, a supplier of Whole Foods, offered their antibiotic-free Amish whole chickens at a greatly reduced price, and network directors arranged for the purchase of the chicken and its distribution to area soup kitchens, food pantries and homeless shelters.

“We gave it out in three hours,” Edwards said.

The network has a great model for the distribution of food and other items that people need, she explained.

“Logistics are especially important when you are distributing frozen food; you have to get it there quickly,” she said.

Another part of their model involves matching farmers markets with food pantries. Volunteers show up at the farmers markets at the end of the day, obtain unsold fresh produce and make sure that it gets to the pantries while it is still fresh.

“I can’t see things being wasted,” Edwards said. “The food needs to be eaten. I like to keep it out of the landfills and in people’s stomachs.”

The network’s volunteer organizations have included churches, service clubs, students with their school service projects, and even a book club. Volunteers are always needed, whether it is to help with the distribution of food, raising money or making calls to food pantries to find out about their needs.

Sometimes agencies call the network with their needs, and the directors make the necessary connections to fill that need. Hesed House was on the receiving end of this when they asked for and received a refrigerator.

For more information about the network, find out how to help or how to receive help, visit the website at www.hungerresourcenetwork.org.

Celebrate 100 Years of Girl Scouts with Disney

in Featured/Regional by

Photo: A rock-climbing wall will be one of many activities available during the Girl Scouts’ Centennial Celebration on Saturday, April 28. Courtesy Photo

Girl Scouts host celebration with Radio Disney
DeKalb—In honor of 100 years of Girl Scouting, Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois (GSNI) will host a family-friendly Centennial Celebration on Saturday, April 28, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the NIU Convocation Center, 1525 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.

The Radio Disney AM 1300 Road Crew will provide interactive entertainment that includes music, dancing, prizes and more. The event will also feature a live stage performance by pop group Savvy, stars of the TV series “The Wannabes” on STARZ Kids & Family Channel. State Street Dance of Geneva will choreograph a dance designed especially for the event, celebrating Girl Scouts’ 100th Anniversary.

Admission includes parking, performances and all activities:
• Rock-climbing wall
• Play zone with DJ, inflatables and photo booth
• Hands-on activity zones including environmental, financial literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), healthy living and Girl Scouts through the years

Tickets are $10 per person; $12 per person day of event. Children ages 2 and under are free.

Tickets can be purchased at the NIU Convocation Center box office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-745-3000 or at Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois Shops. Tickets purchased at the Girl Scout Shops can either be purchased in person or by phone. Tickets purchased by phone will be available for pick up at the will call window on the day of the event. All ticket sales are final.

Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival is almost here

in Featured/Kaneland by

KANELAND—The Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival will continue its tradition of showcasing the artwork of Kaneland students, as well as celebrating the professional visual and performing arts, on Sunday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Another tradition of the festival is the free admission, along with the ability to participate in workshops and experience the arts.

This year’s roster of performing artists include a dixieland jazz band, an ensemble of mimes, a Zydeco band, classical and folk guitars, comedy troupes, and a barbershop quartet. Workshops, available to all ages, include a music and movement workshop and an opportunity to become a mime. The visual artist roster includes the art mediums of batik, jewelry, oil pastel, photography, sculpture, woodturning and collage. Bring home a balloon animal or have faces painted by the KHS art club. Little ones who are not yet in school can enjoy storytime, as well as music and movement opportunities.

For information, contact Maria Dripps-Paulson at maria.drippspaulson@kaneland.org or (630) 365-5100, ext 180, or visit www.kanelandartsfestival.org.

And they’re off!

in Elburn/Featured by

The 8th annual Dewey Dash was held on Sunday. It included a one-mile walk/run and a 5K race.
There was a large turnout, and the kids (right) just enjoyed being out and running around.

This year’s race was titled “Full Throttle Thurber.” Scott Metcalfe (right) stretches before the star of the 5K race. Some people (below) got a free ride
during the Dewey Dash on Sunday.

Photos by Mary Herra

Head rush

in Featured/Girls Soccer by

Photo: Kaneland soccer defeated East Aurora, 3-0, on April 11 at the West Aurora Blackhawk Invitational, won by the host school. Here, Madi Jurcenko executes a backward head pass. Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland soccer enjoying unbeaten stretch
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In spite of injuries, Kaneland soccer is remaining a tough team to battle.

Needing to rely on underclassmen more than ever with the injury bug infesting the roster, the Lady Knights still suited up and bested East Aurora on April 11, tied Dixon on Saturday and trounced Marengo on Monday.

That accompanied a 1-0 win over the visiting Lady Barbs on Tuesday.

The current stretch leaves KHS at 5-3-1 (2-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Kaneland traveled to the Blackhawk Invitational stomping grounds of West Aurora High School to finish the tournament. West Aurora’s plaque went Kaneland’s way two seasons ago, and sent the Lady Tomcats reeling with a Madi Jurcenko goal just three minutes, 29 seconds into the contest.

“It’s very crucial, because it puts you ahead of the game,” Jurcenko said. “When you have that one step ahead in the beginning, it helps you play better.”

With a younger lineup of which Jurcenko is involved, winning seems to be the cure to any jitters.

“It definitely helps when we win because we’re such a young team and we haven’t played together that much, scoring really helps our confidence.”

Melissa Bohorquez found the net on an assist from Katie Taylor with 13:51 to go in the half for a 2-0 lead.

Finally, Emily Eckert put a cap on the afternoon with a goal due in part to a Nicole Hanlon assist with just 2:19 remaining in the contest.

Despite West Aurora winning the tournament for a second consecutive year, KHS coach Scott Parillo saw encouraging developments, almost by necessity.

“That first goal was huge,” Parillo said. “That doesn’t always happen, and it kind of set the tone. I was real happy. Fifteen of these players are freshmen and sophomores, and that’s pretty impressive.”

In NIB-12 crossover action, the Lady Knights benefitted from a goal from Brittany Olson on a Courtney Diddell assist 14 minutes, 19 seconds into the match, but surrendered a second-half goal to the Duchesses—one of three shots on goal to deadlock matters.

Against the Lady Indians on Monday, Katie Taylor broke through with two goals with 27:17 and 10:40 left in the first half, and set up the final goal by Taylor Opperman with 5:30 to go in the half.

The lone goal against DHS was an Olson goal with a Jurcenko assist with 31:43 left in the contest.

Frosh/soph action included the Lady Knights improving to 4-3-1 with a 1-1 mark in conference play. They have a 5-1 win over Marengo to thank for that, with Emily Grams finding the net four times, and Eckert scoring once.

Kaneland was set to partake in more crossover action, this time on Thursday, April 19, in Ottawa.

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