A youth camp took place earlier this week at the KHS courts for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, and was run by Kaneland High School coach Tim Larsen.
Kaneland junior qualifies for Nationals
SUGAR GROVE—After becoming the youngest Knight ever to medal at the State Tournament back in March, Riley Vanik kept the momentum going into the offseason.
But after winning the 2015 Greco-Roman State Meet in the 185-pound category in late April in Lockport, Ill., and winning the Second-Chance Qualifier in Freestyle in the same weight class May 30 in Sycamore, Vanik punched his ticket to the Asics Vaughan Cadet and Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D., July 18-25. The top two place winners will advance to the national tournament in each weight class and division.
Vanik will wrestle in the Cadet division, which features athletes born between 1998-2000. This is the first year Vanik has competed in the Freestyle and Greco-Roman styles.
“I decided to come out to do this because I saw that the best wrestlers in college for folkstyle had also had a Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling background,” Vanik said. “This made me realize that to be the best wrestler that I can be I need to diversify my wrestling and try something new out.”
The Cadet and Junior National Championships is considered the top youth event in the United States. Wrestlers from every state travel to the tournament, held in the Fargodome, to test their skills against the nation’s best Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers. College coaches and scouts are a common sight at the tournament.
“When I first thought about competing (in Greco-Roman and Freestyle), I wasn’t expecting much. I wasn’t too familiar with the rules, and the technique was pretty awkward for me. But with the help of my coaches I started to pick it up pretty quickly,” Vanik said. “I knew that I was going to do fairly well with my many years of Folkstyle wrestling background, but I had no idea that I would be going to Fargo this year. That came as a huge surprise.”
Before he embarks to Fargo, there’s no rest for Vanik. A three-day camp at the Martinez Wrestling Facility with coaches Nate Martinez and KHS coach Joe Orosco is coming up, followed by the Relentless Pursuit camp at Oak Park-River Forest High School in Oak Park, Ill., July 6-10. He then travels to Champaign, Ill., for training camp with the rest of Team Illinois from July 13-18 before heading to Fargo to compete in the National Championships.
“It can be pretty difficult balancing everything at times, but I have gotten the hang of it. I’ve had to prioritize all of my commitments and put them into a schedule of what has to get done and how important is it,” he said.
Vanik looks forward to the challenges that await him in Fargo.
“I’m feeling pretty excited about Nationals. I think it will be a fun experience, and I can’t wait for all the great competition. This is the biggest tournament in the nation, and I get to show off my skills against the best wrestlers in my weight class,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty confident right now, and I have high hopes. I’m going to give it my all to win it, and I believe I can, but no matter what happens I’m just happy that I have the chance to compete there.”
AURORA—Sugar Grove resident Martha Konovodoff, who completed her sophomore year at Rosary High School in Aurora in May, has been named to the All-National Team by the Junior Volleyball Association.
The award recognizes the top JVA-member club players in the nation (ages 15-18) for outstanding achievement on the volleyball court. The 48 student-athletes chosen are some of the top girls junior volleyball players in the country.
Winners were presented with a personalized award at the JVA Midyear Meeting during the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) National Championships in Orlando, Fla., on June 18.
A 5-foot-7 libero, Konovodoff is a member of Rosary’s varsity team and Sports Performance 16 Elite team. She is a scholar athlete at Rosary, maintaining a high GPA. She was named to the all-tournament teams for WWS, Plainfield Invite, Warrior Blast, and Presidents’ Day 2014; and the 2014 All-Conference Team and All-Area Team. She was recognized as MVP of Rosary’s varsity team in 2014.
Konovodoff, 16, is the daughter of Andrew and Mary Ann Konovodoff of Sugar Grove.
The Junior Volleyball Association is an organization committed to the growth and development of junior volleyball. For more information on the JVA All-National Team Award, visit www.jvaonline.org.
Photo: Kaneland athletes Nick Shaw (from left), Chaz Shaw, Tyler Krause, Jacob Sussland, Joe Bittenbinder and Mason Micka (not pictured), played for the Southwest Lacrosse Club of Plainfield, Ill., this past spring. The group will now have a local option in the Kaneland Lacrosse Club, with parents Eileen and Dave Sussland, Brook Bittenbinder, Lisa and Mike Micka and Ron and Anne Shaw all on the board of directors. Photo submitted by Anne Shaw to firstname.lastname@example.org
KANELAND—A new lacrosse club has been created at Kaneland High School this upcoming school year.
The Kaneland Lacrosse Club is open to freshman through seniors. Lacrosse is a spring sport, but will have clinics throughout the summer and fall.
The club is offering a set of three free clinics in July. The goal of the clinics is to help attendees learn the game and practice skills. The only gear needed is a lacrosse stick.
The free clinics take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School athletic field on July 13, 20 and 27.
The group will also take part in the River City Clinic at Burgess Field, 1700 S. St., Geneva, July 13-15 from 9 to 11 a.m. The cost for this clinic is $30.
For more information or to register—or if you need to borrow a lacrosse stick/gear—email Kaneland.email@example.com.
WASCO—Registration is now open for the Wasco Girls Fastpitch Softball league’s (WGFSL) fall ball divisions.
The WGFSL offers the following divisions: T-Ball (Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten), 8U (second grade), 10U (third and fourth grade), 12U (fifth and sixth grade), 14U (seventh and eighth grade) and high school (ninth through 12th grade).
Registration fees begin at $140, and two camps are also available for a separate cost. Registration ends Friday, July 24, after which a late entry fee of $210 will be assessed.
For more information on the league, visit WascoFastpitch.com, or call (630) 513-1200.
The inaugural Kaneland Youth Football League (KYFL) spring and summer flag league ended last week, with over 60 boys participating in practices and games at the Kaneland High School campus.
Don’t see your results in the Elburn Herald? Have your coach email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax them to (630) 365-2251.
KHS Summer Baseball
June 24 vs. Glenbard North—A run in the fifth and five in the sixth propelled the Knights to a 6-0 win over Glenbard North. Tyler Paulson had two hits and an RBI. Noah Jones went six innings, striking out five.
June 24 vs. Glenbard North (Exhibition)—Kaneland won 6-5 in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the fifth. Jack Weigand had three hits, and Josh Norman had three RBIs.
June 25 @ Batavia—The Knights were able to push a run through in the bottom of the seventh inning to put away the Bulldogs 7-6. Ryan David went 6.1 innings, and posted a 1.89 WHIP. Jake Marczuk had two hits for the Knights. Matt O’Sullivan and Joey Brandonisio each had two walks.
June 29 vs. Addison Trail—The Knights romped Addison Trail 18-8. Rich Szewczyk had two hits and three RBIs, while O’Sullivan had two hits and two RBIs. Pollastrini pitched two innings, striking out three.
June 29 vs. Addison Trail (Exhibition)—The Knights scored five in the first inning to help them win 6-0 over Addison Trail in five innings. Brandonisio had two hits and two RBIs, while both Norman and Jake Hummel each had a hit and an RBI. Troy Moss pitched four innings for the win.
June 30 vs. Schaumburg—Recap
Kaneland Youth Soccer hosted a field and appreciation day at the Elburn Lion Club June 13. Over 425 people showed up for hotdogs, soccer and more.
Knights win June 21 Father’s Day Frenzy tournament in Indiana
The Kaneland summer baseball team won the Father’s Day Frenzy tournament, which took place June 19-21 in Noblesville, Ind.
Photo submitted by Carl Paulson to email@example.com
Summer Varsity Baseball
June 8 @ Larkin—Matt O’Sullivan and Luke Calabrese each had three hits, and Tyler Paulson had two walks as the Knights beat Larking 15-0.
June 8 @ Sycamore—The Knights beat Sycamore 7-4. Josh Norman had three hits and Jack Weigand had two walks. Noah Jones pitched four innings, getting two strikeouts.
June 8 @ Sycamore (Exhibition)—Kaneland lost 5-1. Rich Szewczyk and Colin Turner had two hits for the Knights.
June 9 vs. St. Charles North—Kaneland won 8-2 over the North Stars. Paulson had two RBIs, while O’Sullivan pitched six innings, stiking out five.
June 9 vs. St. Charles North (Exhibition)—The North Stars beat Kaneland 12-2, thanks to a nine-run fourth inning.
June 10 @ West Chicago—Jacob Violett pitched a five-inning shut out to help the Knights win 1-0. Jack Marshall and Paulson had hits for the Knights.
June 10 @ West Chicago (Exhibition)—The Knights won 11-1. Szewczyk and Preston Havis each had two RBI and two hits.
June 11 @ St. Charles East—The Knights scored 19 runs on 18 hits, led by Jake Marczuk’s five hits. Paulson, Marczuk and Violett each had three RBIs. Brandon Murabito pitched three innings to get the win.
June 11 @ St. Charles East (Exhibition)—The Knigths won 4-1.
June 19 @ Northern Indiana Bandits—The Knights fell behind 4-1 after two, but clawed back for a 5-3 win. Laudont had two hits, while Marczuk drove in two. Noah Jones pitched five innings to pick up the win during the opening game of the Father’s Day Frenzy at Logan Field in Noblesville, Ind.
June 20 vs Indy Thrashers—An explosive first inning saw the Knights leading 4-3 early, and they tacked on two more in the third to win 6-3 in the second round of the Father’s Day Frenzy.
June 21 vs. LBC Attack—In the Father’s Day Frenzy semifinal game, the Knights won 11-3. Marczuk and Calabrese each had two hits and two RBIs. Ryan Davis pitched all five innings, recording three strikeouts and a 1.80 WHIP.
June 21 vs. Northern Indiana Bandits—In a rematch of their opening-round game, the Knights again beat the Bandits, this time 8-3. The win earned the Knights the tournament championship. Norman had two hits and two RBIs, while Calabrese had two hits and two walks. Szewczyk and Joey Brandionisio each had two RBIs.
June 23 vs. Lake Park—The Lancers defeated the Knights 4-1 in seven innings. Paulson had two hits for the Knights, while Violett went six innigns on the mound in the loss. Despite the loss, the Knights are 9-1 in summer play through Tuesday.
June 23 vs. Lake Park (Exhibition)—The Knights won 3-2 in exhibition over the Lancers by plating two runs in walk-off fashion in the fifth. Szewczyk had two RBI on two hits while Hendricks struck out five over five innings of work on the mound.
High school track coach Doug Ecker (above) showing middle school summer campers how to get over a hurdle during last week’s youth track camp at Kaneland High School.
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) released the classifications breakdown for the 2015-16, and Kaneland will not see any changes to their sports landscape from the 2014-15 season.
• Baseball: 3A (four classes)
• Basketball (boys and girls): 3A (four classes)
• Cross Country
(boys and girls): 2A (three classes)
• Cheerleading: Middle
(three classes—small, medium, large)
• Dance: 2A (three classes)
• Football: Determined at the
end of the regular season
• Golf (boys): 2A (three classes)
• Golf (girls) AA (two classes)
• Softball: 3A (four classes)
• Scholastic Bowl: AA (two classes)
• Soccer (boys and girls): 2A (three classes)
• Track and Field (boys and girls):
2A (three classes)
• Volleyball: 3A (four classes)
• Wrestling: 2A (three classes)
Enrollment for the high school is up 19 students—1,310 to 1,329 —from the 2014-15 school year to the upcoming year. Since classification cut offs vary from sport to sport depending on the number of schools that participate in each sport throughout the state, the Knights had some close calls this upcoming season. Kaneland was 49 students away from moving up to 4A in basketball, 17 students away from moving to 4A in volleyball, and 11 away from moving up to 3A in track and field.
GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars will host one of the most eagerly-anticipated theme nights of the organization’s 25th anniversary season on Friday, July 10, as the inaugural Frozen Night takes place at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
As part of the 6:30 p.m. game that evening against Cedar Rapids, attendees can purchase a special Frozen tea party package that includes the following for $29: a game ticket for the Center Field Patio Deck; a full food and beverage package that includes Swedish meatballs, a sandwich-making station with chips, fruit and vegetable platter along with Frozen-themed desserts; a Frozen cup and activity book for children; and a meet and greet with Elsa, Ana, Kristoff and Ozzie T. Cougar. Those who purchase the package, along with all fans in attendance that evening, can participate in a pre-game Frozen costume parade on the field and enjoy a Frozen-themed fireworks show following the game.
A limited quantity of tea party packages are on sale through July 3, based on availability.
Tickets are available by calling (630) 232-8811 or ordering online at kccougars.com.
SUGAR GROVE—There were awards aplenty doled out, as Waubonsee Community College (WCC) and the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC) honored current and former Chiefs recently.WCC Inducts four into HOF
WCC inducted four new members into the Chiefs’ Athletic Hall of Fame June 10.
The ninth class of inductees to Waubonsee’s Athletic Hall of Fame included former Naperville Central graduate Scott Kawall, who earned Academic All-Conference honors while setting the Chiefs’ all-time record in career stolen bases as a baseball player in the mid-1980’s. The last two decades Kawall has worked as a mentor, counselor and administrator in higher education, helping others find the right career path.
Also honored was former women’s cross country runner Dr. Tara (Tormey) Parks, who was a two-time Skyway Conference Runner of the Year and a Distinguished NJCAA Academic All-American in the mid 1990’s. The Batavia High School graduate also earned All-Region honors twice and currently is a Podiatrist at the Boulder Medical Center in Colorado.
Joining them was Aurora East graduate Alex Rodriguez, a two-time All-Conference and All-Region cross country runner on back-to-back conference championship teams. Rodriguez, a teacher and coach at Oswego High School, went on to place 19th at the NJCAA National Meet in 1996.
In addition wrestler Omi Acosta, who was a two-time NJCAA All-American grappler and the 133-pound National Champion in 2010, was honored. Acosta, a native of Homestead, Fla., went on to win an NAIA National title as well and currently coaches at the United States Coast Guard Academy.
Randall inducted into ISCC HOF
Former WCC baseball coach Dave Randall was inducted into the ISCC Hall of Fame at the league’s annual summer luncheon, held in Waubonsee’s Academic and Professional Center ballroom.
Randall guided Waubonsee’s baseball team to 895 career wins over 37 years before stepping aside after the 2014 season. He is second all-time among NJCAA Division III baseball coaches in career wins, and had the second-longest active tenure in all of the NJCAA when he put down his clipboard. Despite being the only non-scholarship baseball program in the conference, Randall’s squads won six ISCC championships. He was named the ISCC Coach of the Year six times, while his teams also won six Region titles. Waubonsee was ranked in the top-15 nationally 20 times, and finished second (1996), seventh (2010), third (2013) and fourth (2014) at the NJCAA Division III World Series under Randall’s direction. He has served as the ISCC’s Baseball Chairman, the Region IV Code of Conduct Chairman, as an NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association Committee member, the Region IV Baseball Chairman, and Director of the Region IV Junior College All-Star game over the last three decades. A Kaneland High School alumnus, Randall has worked as Waubonsee’s Athletic Manager since 1984, and was previously inducted into the Illinois Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2002) and the Region IV Hall of Fame (2005).
Kish honored as CotY by ISCC
The Chiefs’ head volleyball coach Steve Kish was named the ISCC’s Female Sports Coach of the Year after leading his squad to Waubonsee’s first ever conference title, Region IV title and berth in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament last fall.
Kish, a graduate of Aurora East High School, led Waubonsee’s volleyball squad to an historic season. The Lady Chiefs captured the regular season ISCC title and the ISCC Tournament crown for the first time ever, going undefeated in the process. Kish’s crew then clinched the Region IV Division II District B title for the first time in school history to advance to the National Tournament for the first time ever. Kish was subsequently tabbed the Region IV Division II District B Volleyball Coach of the Year. Waubonsee finished the season 35-16 overall, tying the school mark for wins in a season set in 1994 and equaled in 2013. Along the way they received votes in the NJCAA Division II poll, placing in the nation’s top-25 for the first time in school history. In three seasons at the helm Kish has led Waubonsee to 80 wins
Four Kaneland-area WCC student athletes earn awards
Four Kaneland High School graduates earned honors from their time at WCC.
KHS graduate Sarah Grams, of Elburn, was selected as the Most Improved Female Athlete by Waubonsee’s coaches at the school’s awards banquet June 10. After playing sparingly off the bench her freshman year, Grams averaged 11.8 points per game and had a team-leading 84 three-point baskets for the Lady Chiefs’ basketball team. The 5 foot, 4 inch sophomore also averaged 3.4 assists, handing out 117 on the season. The Fitness Leadership major shot 40 percent from three-point range in ISCC play, and exceeded those numbers at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament. Grams nailed seven treys, one short of the tournament record, in the Lady Chiefs’ opening game and connected on 13 of 27 (48 percent) attempts in Waubonsee’s three tournament games.
Another KHS graduate and cross country runner, Amanda Lesak, of Sugar Grove, was tabbed as the S.T.A.R. Award recipient, given to the student/athlete that displayed a good work ethic, dedication to academics and achieved perfect attendance in Waubonsee’s athletic monitoring program. Lesak, an Occupational Therapy major, demonstrated these attributes and more while earning All-ISCC and All-Region status. The Kaneland High School graduate went on to finish 34th out of 274 athletes participating at the NJCAA Division I National Meet in Levelland, Texas.
Two local athletes were part of an unprecedented five Waubonsee student-athletes also honored as co-winners of the ISCC’s Dick Durrant Award for academic excellence: Cara Lenhardt of Elburn and Shayna Tucek of Sugar Grove.
Lenhardt, a Kaneland High School graduate, played at number three singles for the Lady Chiefs’ tennis team the last two fall seasons.
Also a graduate of Kaneland, Tucek was one of six sophomores who helped lead Waubonsee’s volleyball team to an unprecedented 70 wins the last two seasons volleyball player Shayna Tucek.
ELBURN—Kaneland United SC is taking registrations for its Fall 2015 Recreational, TOPSoccer and Little Knights soccer programs through Friday, July 3 at KanelandSC.com.
The recreational program includes eight games over nine weeks running from Aug. 30 to Oct. 24. Games are played on Saturdays beginning at 9 a.m. Each team typically practices one evening per week and the Club provides free skills clinics for registered players.
Kaneland United SC’s recreational program features small sided games, balanced teams and skills clinics for player development and is focused on providing a fun and enjoyable experience for players and families.
The recreational program is open to boys and girls ages 5 through 17. Registration fees are $105 through July 3, and include a full uniform including jersey, shorts, socks. After July 3, the normal registration rate of $135 is in place. Multi-player discounts are available.
TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a national soccer program for special needs players providing meaningful learning, development and physical participation opportunities for young athletes through soccer. As part of KYSO’s community involvement programs, TOPSoccer is provided free for special needs players.
The TOPSoccer program is held on Saturday mornings from Sept. 12 to Oct. 24.
Little Knights is a clinic-style introduction to soccer program for boys and girls ages 3 and 4. The program teaches basic soccer skills through fun games and activities.
Six 45-minute Little Knights classes are provided on Saturday mornings from Sept. 12 to Oct. 17. Registration fees are $50 by July 3 and include a soccer jersey.
For registration-related questions, contact Kate Love at (630) 463-9001, ext. 720, or by email at KLove@kanelandsc.com.
Volunteer coaching positions are also available, and a coach training session and orientation will be held in early April. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (630) 463-9001, ext. 703, for details.
Kaneland United SC is a community focused soccer club, providing area youth with recreational and competitive soccer opportunities, recreational referee development and soccer coach training and development in the Big Rock, Cortland, Elburn, Hinckley, Kaneville, Lilly Lake, Maple Park, Sugar Grove and Virgil area. The club is the merger of the Kaneland Youth Soccer Organization and Kaneland United Soccer Club programs.
GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars have announced the organization’s silver anniversary team to commemorate the 25th season of Cougars baseball. Fans will be treated to a special giveaway on Thursday, July 30, as the first 1,500 fans receive a 25th anniversary team card set, courtesy of Comfort Inn and Suites of Geneva. Beginning in March, the Cougars allowed fans to cast their votes online for the silver anniversary team.
Starting Pitchers: Josh Beckett, Dallas Braden, A.J. Burnett, Ryan Dempster, Dontrelle Willis. Beckett (’00 Cougar) was a three-time Major League All-Star and bookended his career with a 2003 World Series MVP award for the Florida Marlins and a no-hitter thrown in 2014 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Braden (’04) threw a perfect game with Oakland in 2010 and interestingly enough, was on the mound for the Cougars in 2004 when then-state representative Barack Obama threw a ceremonial first pitch before a Kane County game. Burnett (’98) is the lone remaining active big leaguer who pitched for the Cougars during the ‘90’s. The right-hander holds the Cougars’ single-season record for most strikeouts with 186 and has 11 big league seasons with 10 or more wins. Dempster (’96) won a 2013 World Series championship with Boston and won 10 or more games in nine big league seasons. Willis (’02) was teammates with Beckett in 2003 with the Marlins and was named National League Rookie of the Year that season.
Relief Pitchers: Antonio Alfonseca, Andrew Bailey, Santiago Casilla, Huston Street. Alfonseca (’94) received the 2000 Rolaids Relief Pitcher Award while saving 45 games that season with Florida. Andrew Bailey (’07) was named American League Rookie of the Year in 2009 with Oakland and is a two-time Major League All-Star. Santiago Casilla (’03-’04) is a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Street (’04) is currently 27th on the all-time Major League saves list with 292.
Catcher: Charles Johnson, Gregg Zaun. Johnson (’93) was a two-time Major League All-Star, four-time Gold Glove Award winner and 1997 World Series champion with the Florida Marlins. Zaun (’91) was part of the inaugural Cougars season and enjoyed a 16-year big league career.
First Base: Ross Gload, Adrian Gonzalez. Gload (’98) enjoyed a 10-year big league playing career. Gonzalez (’01) is a four-time Major League All-Star, has won four Gold Gloves, a pair of Silver Slugger awards and is regarded as one of the most well-rounded Major Leaguers.
Second Base: Luis Castillo, Jemile Weeks. Castillo (’95) was a two-time Major League All-Star and World Series champion with the Florida Marlins. Weeks (’08) batted .303 in his rookie season with Oakland in 2011.
Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez, Edgar Renteria. Gonzalez (’96) was a Major League All-Star in 1999 and a member of the Florida Marlins 2003 World Series championship squad. Renteria (’93) was a five-time big league All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner and two-time World Series MVP with Florida and San Francisco.
Third Base: Jeff Baisley, Miguel Cabrera. Baisley (’06) made his big league debut with Oakland in 2008 and holds the Cougars’ franchise record for most RBIs in a season with 110. Cabrera (’01) won the Triple Crown in 2012 (the first occurrence since 1967), is a nine-time Major League All-Star and has won a pair of American League MVP awards.
Outfield: Nelson Cruz, Andre Ethier, Mark Kotsay, Scott Podsednik. Cruz (’03) is a three-time Major League All-Star and has clubbed 20 or more home runs in six straight seasons. Ethier (’03) is a two-time big league All-Star and has more than 600 career RBI. Kotsay (’96) drove in 720 runs in his big league career. Podsednik (’97) was a member of the Chicago White Sox 2005 World Series championship squad and was also a Major League All-Star that season.
Designated Hitter: Kevin Millar. Millar (’94) was part of the Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series championship team and had 7 seasons with 15 or more home runs. Fans can regularly hear his colorful analysis as part of the MLB Network.
Field Staff: Lynn Jones (Manager), Matt Winters (Hitting Coach), Brian Peterson (Pitching Coach). Jones (’94-’97) won 275 regular season games at Kane County, led the Cougars to the 1997 Midwest League Championship Series, and during his Cougars tenure, managed several future big league stars including the aforementioned Millar, Podsednik, Dempster and Alfonseca. Jones enjoyed an eight-year playing career and was part of the Kansas City Royals’ 1985 World Series championship team. Winters (’96-’01) was hitting coach of the 2001 Midwest League champion Cougars squad that included Cabrera, Gonzalez and Josh Willingham. Peterson (’93-’97) spent five seasons as Cougars pitching coach and worked with Alfonseca and Dempster, among many other future big leaguers during his time at Kane County.
The Kane County Cougars, Major League affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, are the only Major League affiliated Minor League Baseball team in the Chicagoland area and are celebrating the organization’s 25th anniversary season in 2015. In 2013, the Cougars became the first Class-A team in Minor League Baseball history to reach 10 million fans.
The 2015 Kaneland Knights softball team placed third in State over the weekend in East Peoria, Ill. The team included Angie Morrow, Aly Jesionowski, Sara Lascola, Mary Clausen, Alexis Slowick, Shannon Herra, Meg Cohrs, Rachel Goress, Destiny Cowsert, Morgan Weber, Rachel Ulrich, Paige Kuefler, Hannah Theobald, Annissa Becker, Courtney Davis, Samantha Payton, Hailey Douglas, Alexsis Mullins and Morgan Sikon. Junior Meg Cohrs (right) went 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI to help the Knights. Photos by Stephanie Vanik
.500 weekend nets KHS third-place trophy
EAST PEORIA, Ill.—Only two softball teams in the state get to say they finished the season with a win, and Kaneland High School became one of those teams on Saturday.
After losing a close 2-1 game Friday against Marengo, the Kaneland softball team regained its offensive potency in the State Third Place game, dispatching Springfield’s Sacred Heart-Griffin (SHG) 7-1 to earn the third-place trophy on Saturday.
Weather played its part in the weekend, as Friday’s game was delayed four hours due to thunderstorms, and Saturday’s game was moved up an hour to get ahead of even more storms forecast for the afternoon.
“(The girls) stayed even-keeled through the whole thing,” head coach Peter Goff said. “They were focused, and I have to give them credit for what they did.”
Friday’s game against eventual State runner-up Marengo looked to be quite the pitchers’ duel, with the Knights facing the daunting task of trying to solve Mariah Dionne, who entered the tournament with a 25-3 record, a 1.89 ERA and 259 strikeouts over 178 innings. Meanwhile, Kaneland countered with Angie Morrow and her 17-2 record, 1.20 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 122 innings.
Kaneland was only able to muster one run on four hits against Dionne, who struck out four. Morrow only allowed two runs (one earned) over six hits, and struck out eight in the loss.
After 1-2-3 innings by both teams in the first inning, Marengo had its first chance against Morrow with two outs in the second, when Amber Proberts singled and advanced to second after a walk. But a fielder’s choice ended the first Indians threat. Kaneland was again stifled in the second, going 1-2-3. Marengo then got all the runs it needed in the third, with a two-run rally with two outs. Kaneland got its first hit in the third when Courtney Davis singled to center, but a double play ended the Knights’ hopes in that inning. Neither team had any significant chances until the top of the sixth, when Marengo got runners on first and second on back-to-back singles with no outs. Both runners advanced to second and third on a sacrifice, but a pop fly and a ground out to Meg Cohrs ended the Indian’s chances. Finally in the bottom of the sixth, the Knights’ Hannah Theobald reached on an error and advanced to second on a passed ball. Aly Jesionowski singled in Theobald before a ground out ended the Kaneland threat. A groundout and two Morrow strikeouts kept the game at 2-1 with the Knights coming to the plate one last time. A Morgan Sikon single with two outs gave some hope before a pop up to third base ended the game.
On Saturday, it was once again Morrow taking the ball against the SHG Cyclones. This time, the Knights had few chances early, while SHG got a few runners on base, but advanced them no closer to home than second. SHG finally got on the board first behind a leadoff single by MaKenna Butcher. Courtesy runner Clare Dodson stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice fly before scoring on a groundout, making it 1-0. Kaneland answered in its half of the fourth, when Cohrs hit a one-out single and Morgan Weber walked. Mary Clausen singled in Cohrs to make it 1-1. A quiet 1-2-3 inning by SHG was followed by an explosive fifth for the Knights, as they plated six runs to put the game out of reach. Jesionowski singled to left field with one out, and Morrow rapped a single to left to advance her to second base. Paige Kuefler reached on an error, and KHS had the bases loaded with just one out. Cohrs came through with a single to center field, scoring Jesionowski and Rachel Urich (running for Morrow) to make it 3-1. Weber then doubled to center, making it 5-1. Sikon reached when she was hit by a pitch, and Clausen singled, scoring Weber. Sikon was able to score on the play due to an error, making it 7-1. SHG could only muster a single in the sixth. Morrow walked a batter with one out in the seventh, and then got a strikeout/throw out double play to end the game and clinch third place.
Goff praised his battery of Morrow and Kuefler.
“It’s nice to have a pitcher (like Morrow),” Goff said about his ace. “To have a battery like we had this year (Morrow and Kuefler), I think they are the best in the State.”
In the championship game on Saturday, the Washington Lady Panthers beat Marengo 2-1, with Dionne taking the loss.
The Knights generally dominated the postseason, going 6-1 overall and outscoring their opponents 48-8. On the season, the Knights finished 25-9 and outscored their opponents 235-91.
This marks the fourth time in KHS history a girls team has brought home a State trophy, according to IHSA.org, with Knights girls basketball (1982) and track and field (1987, 1988) teams each taking home titles.
Goff, also the athletic director at KHS, was appreciative of his team. He noted the head coaching position—which he held on an interim basis this season—would soon be posted. Goff compiled a 63-47 record as a softball coach at his previous stops before taking the reigns at KHS this season.
“We always knew it would be a one-year deal (coaching the team),” Goff said. “The girls knew it was on them to get to where they wanted to go, and I’m just happy to have been along for the ride.”
Arnold Palmer on hand for opening ceremonies
SUGAR GROVE—Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove last week hosted the world’s 20 best collegiate players to play in the Palmer Cup, the 18th annual Ryder Cup-style amateur tournament named in honor of the legendary Arnold Palmer. Adding to the excitement of the event, Palmer attended the opening ceremonies evening of June 11.
Palmer, a former collegiate player himself, has been called America’s greatest ambassador for the game of golf.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be on the same stage with ‘the King,’” Palmer Cup U.S. Coach Bruce Heppler said of Palmer. “Thank you for your character and the way you support the game.”
Heppler, who just completed his 20th season coaching the Yellow Jackets at Georgia Tech, was serving as head coach of the USA team for the second time. He introduced his players individually, saying that there are future Ryder Cup players among this group of the best players from the best collegiate teams in the country.
The Palmer Cup, started by the Golf Coaches Association of America in 1997, includes in its mission the preparation of the players for careers in professional golf.
The tournament, which ran from Friday through Sunday, June 12-14, also included a Junior Clinic for participants of the Kids Golf Foundation of Illinois, headquartered at Rich Harvest Farms. More than 130 young people participated in Wednesday’s Junior Clinic, which the 20 players and their coaches conducted.
“It was a tremendous experience for the participants to learn from the PGA Tour stars of tomorrow” Rich Harvest Farms’ Tournament Director Vicky McGowan said in a release.
The Kids Golf Foundation is a statewide junior golf association that offers and supports several golf programs and events designed to introduce children between the ages of 5 and 17 to the sport of golf, its fundamentals, rules, history, etiquette and life lessons.
The 20 players also competed in a college-am on June 11, which is similar to a pro-am on the PGA Tour. They were required to sign numerous autographs throughout the week, something that made Palmer one of the most popular athletes in the country.
“One of Arnold Palmer’s big things is to make sure people can read your autograph,” Heppler said. “That way, you can look at it later and know who signed it. It’s about taking care of people.”
Palmer concluded his remarks during the tournament’s opening ceremony with these words.
“If you ever find 20 young men that look any better, act any better than these young men, watch them play, and you will see something that will put a feather in everyone’s cap,” Palmer said. “Let’s have a great tournament.”
Team USA wins the 2015 Palmer Cup at Rich Harvest Farms
SUGAR GROVE—Despite Europe winning five matches on Sunday, the United States reclaimed the Palmer Cup at Rich Harvest Farms by defeating Europe 18-12. The United States leads the all-time Palmer Cup series, 10-8-1.
Going into Sunday, the Americans needed just 2 points to win the Palmer Cup. Europe’s Clement Sordet earned and kept a lead early. After a birdie on 11 and par on 13, Sordet went 3-up and would go on to take the match 2 and 1, keeping Europe’s hopes alive for a short time.
USA’s Hunter Stewart went 1-up on the first hole, and Europe’s Thomas Detry battled back to go 1-up through five. After a birdie on 8, Stewart continued to win holes and went on to take it 4 and 3.
Europe’s Pep Angles led early in his match with USA’s Beau Hossler. However after a few lost balls, Angles found himself in trouble on 11 and 16, which allowed Hossler to finish 2 and 1 on 17 to clinch the Palmer Cup for USA. Ollie Schniederjans claimed his match against Europe’s Max Rottluff around the same time.
During the Closing Ceremonies, Maverick McNealy received an exemption into the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard. The honor was voted on by his teammates before play began. McNealy’s Palmer Cup caddie Zach Urwiler, a freshman at Mooseheart Academy and second-year caddie at Rich Harvest Farms, will accompany McNealy as his caddie at the 2016 event at Bay Hill. This is the first time the Palmer Cup has awarded this honor to a player.
Stewart and Robby Shelton of Team USA became the 15th and 16th players to post a 4-0 record at a Palmer Cup and the first since Andrew Yun of the United States in 2012. It was the first time that multiple players went undefeated and untied since Europe accomplished the same feat in 2006.
Matthias Schwab of Austria and Stewart of Lexington, Ken., were named recipients of the Michael Carter Award, which is presented to the Palmer Cup participant that best represents the qualities and ideals of sportsmanship, integrity and upholding of the game.
Photos by Laura Gampfer
Kaneland’s Johnson new boys basketball coach at West Aurora
MAPLE PARK—The West Aurora High School School Board approved the appointment of Brian Johnson as its new head boys basketball coach on Monday. Johnson had been the head boys coach at Kaneland High School for the past six years, where he won two conference championships and three regional championships.
He replaces the legendary Gordie Kerkman, who coached the Blackhawks for 39 years before retiring this spring.
Johnson said he called Kerkman after he had announced his retirement to thank him for his mentorship and all Kerkman has contributed to Illinois basketball. Before becoming head coach at Kaneland, Johnson had served as an assistant to Kerkman for one year at West Aurora, and they had kept in touch ever since.
“When we spoke, Gordie encouraged me to apply for the position,” Johnson said. “I was excited about the prospect of coaching a historic program in a great basketball community. I enjoyed my brief stay at West Aurora and was impressed by the school’s student body, academic excellence, and administrative leadership. I consider West Aurora to be one of the top-5 high school basketball jobs in the state and am very excited to have this opportunity.”
Johnson has hit the ground running since his appointment and is, right now, in his first week of the Blackhawks’ two-week summer basketball camp.
“Defensively, one thing I know for sure is that we are going to continue the West Aurora tradition of playing hard-nose, man-to-man defense,” Johnson said. “Offensively, by the end of camp I’ll know what kind of weapons we have and how we’ll need to play to make the most of them.”
Johnson commented that leaving Kaneland was not easy.
“I’ve had great players and great relationships here with my teams, students, faculty, and staff members. When I told my team I was leaving, I explained that I needed to pursue my full potential as a coach just as I’ve told them they must pursue their full potential as players. They were very supportive of my decision and wished me luck. I received the same kind of support from principal Jill Maras and athletic director Peter Goff and will always be grateful for the time I spent here,” he said.
The Kaneland varsity football team took part in Northern Illinois University’s 7 on 7 Camp
Senior Tyler Paulson catches a pass and takes it in for a touchdown.
Senior Tanner Robertsen hauls in a pass for a touchdown.
The Kaneland defense lines up against Grayslake North High School for more football training.
A basketball fundamentals camp for kindergarten- through fourth- graders was held June 8-11 at Kaneland High School.