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Big win, small margin

in Girls Track by
Junior Lauren Zick placed second in the long jump at the Jill Holmes Invitational Saturday with a leap of 16 feet, 9.5 inches. Photo by Patti Wilk

KHS earns slim team win at home meet
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There’s nothing like seeing what you’re made of on your home track.

Kaneland girls track has a lot of substance and talent, based on the first-place output at the annual Jill Holmes Invite on Saturday.

The 160.5-point output from the Lady Knights beat Northern Illinois Big XII rival DeKalb by one.

Hononegah, Oswego East and Rosary rounded out the top five with 120.5, 118.5 and 108, respectively.

Rival Sycamore took sixth with 77 points, while Burlington Central was seventh with 63. Familiar foe to the north Belvidere took 11th with 21 points.

Capable senior Ashley Castellanos left the 200 meter dash field in her wake with a first-place finals effort of 27.49 seconds, .2 seconds better than Belvidere’s Kelsey Stone, while junior Lauren Zick’s 59.80 time in the 400m dash earned a first as well.

Junior Sydney Strang took fourth in the 800m run finals with a time of 2:27.75, and teammates Victoria Clinton (5:29.40) and Brianna Bower (5:34.66) acclimated themselves well in the 1600m run, taking second and third, respectively.

Bower came back to finish second in the finals of the 3200m run, thanks to a finish of 11:53.04, while senior Abby Dodis took fourth at 12:41.27.

Lady Knight Amanda Lesak battled through the 300m low hurdles final field to take fourth with an effort of 51.52.

In the 4x100m relay race, Kaneland’s foursome of Kaltrina Ismaili, Allie Heinzer, Olivia Galor and Zick won the field with a time of 51.34 in the finals.

Ismaili, Lesak, Strang and Heinzer managed a fourth for the 4x400m relay finals, thanks to a 4:23.17 time, while Lesak, Jessica Kucera, Clinton and Strang won the 4x800m relay race at 10:17.5

Junior Christina Delach’s second place in the pole vault was due to an effort of eight feet, six inches, while Zick’s 16-9.5 was second in the long jump finals.

Castellanos put in productive field time with a second-place 35-6.25 in the triple jump.

The throwing events were handled quite well by sophomore Elle Tattoni.

The KHS talent took fourth in the shot put at 29-11.25, and claimed the discus mantle at 101-04.

Tattoni was glad to get outdoors for track competition and is seeing what works with plenty of time left in the season.

“I was a little shaky on that first Tuesday meet,” Tattoni said. “Now it’s early in the season and the weather’s warming up, so we should be good. I’m seeing what works and trying some new things.”

The Lady Knights also did battle with host Sycamore on Tuesday and returned home on the wrong end of a 73-63 result.

The Lady Knights head to Ottawa for the ABC Invitational on Friday, April 12, followed by Jenni’s ABC Meet on Saturday, April 13, in Maple Park.

Ready for more

in Baseball/Elburn/Featured/Kaneland by
Casey Crosby fires a pitch from the mound in 2012 action as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens. 					     Photo courtesy of Toledo Mud Hens

Photo: Casey Crosby fires a pitch from the mound in 2012 action as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens. Photo courtesy of Toledo Mud Hens

First big-league start whets Crosby’s appetite
by Mike Sandrolini
ELBURN—Casey Crosby certainly didn’t mind an unexpected change of plans late last May that got him to “The Show,” aka, the Major Leagues.

The former Kaneland High School star, drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2007, was to make a scheduled start for the club’s Class AAA affiliate Toledo Mud Hens in Scranton, Pa., on a Thursday night, May 31, 2012, against the Yankees’ farm team, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

Crosby would then travel back to Toledo after the game on the team bus overnight and meet his wife, Haley, who was driving up from Elburn, so the couple could spend some time together since the Mud Hens had a home stand that weekend.

But that was all before Mud Hens’ manager Phil Nevin paid Crosby a visit on Wednesday. Nevin informed him that his start was being pushed back to Friday, June 1. Crosby instead would be heading north to Detroit to take the place of the injured Doug Fister in the Tigers’ rotation, and thus, be making his first Major League start.

“It was a dream come true,” said Crosby, rated the Tigers’ No. 8 prospect after the 2012 season by Baseball America. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do (since I was a kid) ever since I could talk, really. My hair stood up and heart started racing nonstop after that.”

After getting the good news, he called Haley in Elburn, where the couple makes their home, but downplayed the change of plans.

“I played it off as not a big deal,” he said, “kind of joking with her that my start was being moved back to Friday because throwing against the New York Yankees was better than throwing against Scranton.”

Crosby’s mound opponent for his first big-league start was none other than C.C. Sabathia. However, Crosby said he didn’t allow the fact that he was facing one of baseball’s premier pitchers to affect his mindset before the game.

“If you treat the game bigger than it actually is, you’re going to get eaten up,” said Crosby, who interestingly was called C.C. by his youth travel team teammates because he, like Sabathia, is left-handed and his initials are C.C. “You’re already amped up because you’re there, but you want to calm yourself down. It’s the same game you’ve played as a kid. Since I was a little kid I watched him (Sabathia) pitch.”

Nonetheless, Crosby said it was quite an experience to step onto the field at Comerica Park for his first start in front of over 41,000 fans.

“Going into the stadium onto the field, just taking it in size of stadium, the cameras, it was such an uplifting feeling to know that you made it,” he said, “and doing something that pretty much not every kid can experience when they‘re older.”

Sabathia and the Yanks unfortunately got the better of Crosby and the Tigers that night, beating Detroit, 9-4. However, Crosby was back on the bump June 7, and did pick up his first Major League victory after the Tigers edged Cleveland, 7-5. He gave up three earned runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings.

“It was great,” Crosby said regarding getting the “W.” “Everything from seeing the last out made to getting the game ball to getting a beer shower, it was an amazing day.”

Fister returned from the disabled list in mid-June, so Crosby went back to Toledo to finish out the season. He was 7-9 with Toledo last year, with a 4.01 ERA, giving up 112 hits in 125 2/3 innings while striking out 112.

Crosby is on the Tigers’ 40-man roster and spent spring training at the team’s facility in Lakeland, Fla. He pitched a total of seven innings. That might not seem like a lot to the casual baseball observer, but Crosby explained there were only so many innings to go around, given the sheer number of pitchers in camp.

“There’s so many guys in spring training that everyone needs to get their reps in,” he said. “It’s hard (to get more innings). Most of guys were around seven innings. They’ve got some solid veteran pitchers.”

Crosby pitched two innings during his final spring outing with the Tigers, giving up one hit and no earned runs vs. the New York Mets. Although Crosby was optioned to Toledo in mid-March shortly after facing the Mets, Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland said he liked what he saw from the 24-year- old.

“He started to pitch with a little more confidence in his control,” Leyland told the Detroit Free Press. “Also had a pretty good curveball, so he’s a guy we want down there stretched out. He got his feet wet a little bit last year, got a little bit of an idea what it’s about up here. That’s a good thing.”

“They just said that I showed a lot of improvement from last spring training,” Crosby said of his conversations with those in the Detroit organization prior to him going back to Toledo. “Even though I’m getting sent down doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen, that (I won’t) get back into the big leagues. If I’m a guy who’s doing well down here, I’ll get the call (back up), but I just have to keep plugging away and working.”

Crosby’s curveball was rated the best in the Tigers’ farm system by Baseball America after the 2012 season, but he also possesses a fastball that’s clocked in the mid-90s.

“The main thing they told me is keep throwing strikes and not holding back with my fastball,” Crosby said. “Let it go and throw strikes with it.”

Crosby said he’ll be on a pitch count (80 to 90 pitches per start) in Toledo until late April.

“They still project me as a starter,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to spot start a game or two (this year in Detroit).”

Softball returns to regular action

in Softball by

Following weather delays and road trip, KHS finds consistency
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It was good to finally take to the softball diamond on Illinois soil. The experience on Thursday was made even better with a handy win. With Ellissa Eckert’s effort on the mound and key hitting in scoring position, the Lady Knights beat the host Rochelle roster by a 10-4 final on Thursday.

In Rochelle, things escalated quickly for the Kaneland bats, as two of the first three hitters reached on errors. With two runners in scoring position, Lanie Callaghan knocked a single for a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Sarah Grams hit a single for two more runs and a 3-0 lead.

In the top of the third and with a 3-1 lead, Haley Contorno was hit by a pitch and came home on an RBI triple from Grams. Eckert then helped her own cause with a squeeze play that ended in a run scored and a 5-1 edge.

In the top of the fifth and with Rochelle closing to within 5-2, Callaghan tripled and Meg Cohrs walked. After a stolen base put runners in scoring position, Grams’ single resulted in her fourth RBI of the day. After a grounder to third by Eckert, the lead increased to 7-1 in the fifth.

A steadfast hitter, Grams was just glad to contribute to the offensive effort on the day.

“I was just happy I put the ball in play and on the ground so my runners could actually score,” Grams said. “That was my main concern, just putting it in play so I could get runners in.”

Paige Kuefler’s RBI double and an RBI single by Cohrs gave Kaneland a 10-2 lead in the sixth to cinch matters.

KHS coach Brian Willis said that any quality at-bat helps the squad after a start-and-stop beginning to 2013.

“Certainly Sarah was seeing the ball well,” Willis said. “I thought we struggled a little bit with our timing today. We did have a few good quality at-bats and that helped us at the right time.”

Against former conference rival Batavia, Kaneland scored 11 runs in the first inning, three more in the second, one in the third and two in the fourth. Eckert improved to 4-0 on the season.

West Aurora failed to hit Lady Knight sophomore Anissa Becker on Monday, and fell in the 1-0 squeaker.

Against Yorkville on Tuesday, the Lady Knights held a 3-1 lead until the top of the seventh, when Yorkville put up three runs to take the lead and steal the victory. KHS suffered from seven errors in the game.

Eckert took the loss on the mound, spreading eight hits over seven innings of work, and surrendering just two unearned runs. Allyson O’Herron led the team from the plate, hitting 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Kaneland now stands at 7-2 overall, 1-1 in Northern Illinois Big XII East Division play.

Future action for KHS has the Lady Knights traveling to Morris for a conference tilt on Thursday, April 11, at 4:30 p.m.

See-saw start to season

in Baseball by
#10 gets hit
[button color=”blue” link=”http://kanelandpublications.com/29041/2013/04/18/photos-kaneland-vs-sterling-april-9/2/”]View Photos[/button]

After rough start, Knights baseball wins 4 of last 5
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s a case of slowly but surely for the boys in black.

After dropping its first five games of the year in Cardinals territory, the KHS baseball lineup may find its footing just yet.

The Knights won four of their last five, with a win over Plano on April 3 preceding a loss on Thursday in Rockton, Ill., against Hononegah. They added a Northern Illinois Big XII crossover win in Maple Park against Sterling and came through in a 6-4 win over Rochelle at home on Tuesday.

Following Tuesday’s win, KHS sits at 4-6 in the still-young season.

In the 6-5 win over Interstate Eight Conference mainstay Plano, it was a six-run fifth that did the trick for the Knights. The flurry was enough to withstand the five-run rally by the Reapers squad in the top of the seventh.

Josh Cohrs had a double, while Dan Miller and Matt Limbrunner had two RBI each.

Freshman callup Anthony Holubecki took the win, while Nick Stahl shut the seventh down for the save.

In the loss against NIC-10 school Hononegah, the Knight nine dropped a 4-0 result, as they managed just two hits on the afternoon, accomplished by Miller and Lane Davis.

Limbrunner was tagged with the loss on the mound.

In windswept conditions on Saturday, the Knights’ 1-0 win over the Golden Warriors was buoyed by just one hit, a Cohrs RBI double in the first inning, to win the affair.

Curtis Thorson powered through on the hill to earn the victory.

“(Sterling’s) always a very aggressive and competitive team,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “That win showed us a lot again. We still are figuring out a lineup, we got an incredible performance from Curtis Thorson that solidified our belief in his ability, and we proved that we are capable of winning the tight games and playing good defense when it counts.”

Holubecki came on in relief on Tuesday and notched another win, shutting down Rochelle in his two innings pitched, collecting a walk and a strikeout as well.

The Knights ran out to a 3-0 lead after two, before Rochelle battled back with two runs in each of the third and fourth innings. A three-RBI sixth inning gave Kaneland the winning edge.

Miller led the Kaneland hitters with a 2-for-3 day, with a run, RBI an a walk. John Hopkins also went 2-for-3, and Martinelli went 1-for-3, with two runs and a stolen base.

Kaneland concludes its series with NIB12 rival Rochelle in Ogle County on Wednesday and Thursday, April 10 and 11. Wednesday’s result was not available as of press time.


A week of firsts

in Girls Soccer by

Kaneland soccer scores first goal, earns first win of season
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—By the looks of it, the Kaneland Lady Knights will play teams quite tough in 2013.

The only question is whether or not wins will come as frequent as they’d like considering the heightened competition.

Coming in to the West Aurora Blackhawk Invite with just one previous match under the jersey, Kaneland took to the Aurora field on Thursday and lost to the hosts 1-0, and followed through with a Saturday 1-1 tie against perennial area contender Rosary.

Kaneland sits at 1-2-1 (1-1 Northern Illinois Big XII) in the early juncture of the 2013 campaign.

“We are a very young team and sometimes it takes a while to gel,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “We are getting better every day and hopefully we click soon. We have played some pretty decent teams to start the season and that will only help. We really need to shoot more.”

For KHS against the Lady Blackhawks, it was a second-half goal that did the Lady Knights in to open the invite.

Against the Royals, who had previously eliminated the Lady Knights in their 2010 and 2011 regional title matches, the blustery conditions limited successful scoring outputs. However, Kaneland powered through and earned its first score of the season thanks to a Kiandra Powell goal on a feed from returnee Jess Coia in the first half.

Rosary was able to tie the tussle with a second-half goal.

The Lady Knights group was able to fit in its second NIB12 Conference clash at Morris on Tuesday. Brittany Olson provided the only scoring for both teams, giving Kaneland the lead in the first half and adding to it in the second.

Ahead for the Lady Knights is a Thursday, April 11, battle with visiting Rochelle.

East Moline momentum

in Boys Track by

First-ever win at traditional outdoor opener for boys track
By Mike Slodki
Kaneland—For the talent pool near the Quad Cities, to take the unofficial opener of the 2013 outdoor season is a big deal for the Knights track roster.

The 12-team gathering saw Kaneland score 260 team points on Saturday in the UTHS Boys Kiwanis Invitational, hosted by East Moline United.

The hosts were second overall with a total of 220.5, and Northern Illinois Big XII crossover foe Geneseo was third overall with 204 points.

Rock Island (184), Iowa’s Pleasant Valley (169) and T.F. South (135) rounded out the top half of the standings. Sterling, with 88 points, took ninth.

The meet was structured in flights of “A,” “B” and “C,” and had Kaneland running to daylight in plenty of events.

John Meisinger’s 3200 meter run “B” resulted in a second-place effort (10:41.54), while the “B” 4x800m relay team for Kaneland took second with a time of 8:59.28.

Kaneland’s 4x100m “B” team won the event with a time of 45.83 seconds, while the “A” foursome of Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier, Dylan Nauert and Ben Barnes won its challenge with a time of 43.85.

Nauert struck again in the “A” 110m hurdles event that saw him nab second with a time of 16:07, while Stephen McCracken of Kaneland managed a second in the “C” running of the 800m run (2:09.41).

In the 800m run “A” battle, reliable Knight Conor Johnson won the event with a time of 2:02.58, while the 4x200m relay “B” crew took first with a time of 1:38.83.

Kaneland’s 4x200m relay group of Bishop, Barnes, Dylan Pennington and Cottier took second in the “A” group with a time of 1:32.67.

Knight speedster Kyle Carter worked through the 400m dash “B” flight for a win in 51.28, while “A” counterpart Nathaniel Kucera won his race with a time of 51.05.

Kaneland made more of a hurdle presence in the 300m hurdles “B,” thanks to Brock Robertson’s second at 42.71 and Nauert’s “A” first-place at 40.68.

The field events saw a nice dose of Kaneland power, especially in the shot put, with “B” champ Shane Jorgensen’s 47 feet, 7.5 inches, and “A” king Nate Dyer’s 52-04.

The pole vault saw “C” glory thanks to JR Vest’s first (12-06), Kory Harner’s second in “B” (11-06) and Dylan Kuipers’ “A” reign (13 feet).

Considering the opposing talent level and the mix of experienced and new, KHS coach Eric Baron feels it was a job well done out west.

“They did fine, they had lots of excitement about this first meet,” Baron said. “They really performed well. It was the first time we won this meet and that is saying a lot considering the legendary track programs we competed against.”

Kaneland also had a dual meet at Sycamore on Tuesday and dominated Sycamore and Hiawatha. Kaneland tallied 111 points, well out in front of Sycamore’s 34 and Hiawatha’s 1.

The Knight crew heads to the Ottawa Invitational set for Saturday, April 13.

Baseball sees rough beginning on Missouri trail

in Baseball/Featured by

Photo: Kaneland High School starting pitcher Blake Sowell fires one home during Tuesday’s 12-10 win over visiting Sandwich. Photo by Ryan Wells

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Much like the Cubs going into Cardinals territory, there existed little welcome for the Chicago-area Kaneland Knights baseball squad (0-5).

Spring break and the season began on March 27 against Fox High School at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill., home of the Frontier League’s Gateway Grizzlies, and the Knights fell 4-3.

Kaneland then lost to St. Genevieve of Mo., 13-3 on Thursday, downstate Mt. Zion in Harrisburg, Ill., on Friday by a 6-4 clip, before finally dropping a doubleheader to O’Fallon on Saturday, 4-3 and 10-2.

Against St. Genevieve, KHS took a 2-0 lead in the second and had a 3-1 lead after three innings before the hosts put up a four-spot in the fifth and 10 in the sixth to cinch the slaughter.

Nick Albano suffered the loss in relief, while Kyle Pollastrini and Tyler Bellock each had an RBI.

In the loss against Mt. Zion, KHS again went out to a lead, 4-1 after three, before the hosts scored five for the Knights’ setback, including three in the sixth.

Knight Nick Stahl took the loss in relief, while Joe Komel added a double and two RBI.

The Saturday twinbill failed to bring good news. In game one, Kaneland broke a 2-2 deadlock with a run in the top of the eighth, but the hosts scored two in the last at-bat. Curtis Thorson was tagged with the loss, with Josh Cohrs tagging a double.

The final Saturday contest saw Kaneland fall behind 8-0 after the first two inning on the way to a loss. KHS also committed four errors in the field.

Thorson suffered the loss, but Blake Sowell recorded a double.

“I think we found out who the guys are that we can lean on and who the guys are that we need to get going,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “What I know is that we were in a position to win all but one game. We held the lead at some point during the last three innings of each game but ended up relinquishing it. A play here, a call there and we come home 4-1 instead of 0-5.”

On Tuesday vs. Sandwich, the Knights kicked off the home part of their non-conference schedule with a 12-10 win in a cold slugfest.

Komel recorded the win in relief, surrendering just one run in two and a third innings. He also notched three strikeouts.

Limbrunner went two-for-two from the plate, driving in three runs, scoring three times, and adding a steal to his statline.

Wednesday had a home date against Interstate Eight stalwart Plano, with results not available for press time.

On Thursday, April 4, the Knights are set to travel north to Rockton, Ill., to face host Hononegah.

Lady Knights start season out of state

in Softball by

Kaneland—Dealing with numerous cancellations locally, the Kaneland softball squad managed to get to another state to play its initial slate of games over spring break.

After venturing to Tennessee in 2012, the Lady Knights venture in 2013 took them to the 3rd Annual Oldham County Spring Break Classic in Buckner, Ky., near Louisville.

KHS ended the Friday and Saturday jaunts going 3-1.

The hosts, Oldham County, currently the eighth-ranked team in Kentucky, beat Jackson High School of Ohio to capture the tournament mantle and go 5-0.

The Lady Knights beat Collins High School, 11-0 to begin the tournament, followed by an 8-1 win in four innings over Conner High School.

The only team from Ill., to make the trip down, Kaneland went into bracket play beating Revere High School of Ohio before succumbing to eventual runner-up, Jackson.

Kaneland begins conference play on Thursday, April 4, in Ogle County against the host Lady Hubs of Rochelle at 4:30 p.m.

Fifth Third Bank Ballpark to host sports card, memorabilia show

in Kane County Cougars by

GENEVA—Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, home of the Kane County Cougars, will host the “Take Me Out to the Card Show” trading card and sports memorabilia event, scheduled for Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event, being directed by DanCamCom and Autograph Authentics Plus, will be held inside Fifth Third Bank Ballpark’s upper deck level and include local hobby shops and sports memorabilia retailers. Admission is $3 for adults, along with children age 13, with $1 from each admission being donated to Ozzie’s Outreach, the Cougars’ charitable foundation. Youth baseball and softball players wearing their team uniform will receive a special door prize.

A pair of well-known Chicago sports figures will be present that day as well. Chicago Blackhawks legend Hockey Hall-of-Famer Denis Savard is scheduled to sign autographs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Autograph pricing is as follows: $15, or two for $25, on any item except for the Blackhawks Ambassadors “Blue Line” photo, which is $40. Authentic Autographs Plus will have pucks, mini-sticks, mini-helmets and 8X10 photos available for purchase. Also, former Chicago Cub Randy Hundley will sign autographs from 12 to 1:30 p.m. Autograph pricing is as follows: $10 or two for $15, on any item, with an additional $5 for inscriptions.

For more information on the event or to reserve dealer space, contact event organizer Dan Campana at dan@dancamcom.biz.

Stuck by Barbs

in Featured/Girls Soccer by

Photo: Freshman Kiandra Powell (above) battles with a DeKalb player during Kaneland’s 1-0 loss Tuesday. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

Season opener sees Lady Knights stifled in Maple Park
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—After all the cancellations and scheduling switches, the Lady Knights’ soccer roster was ready for action.

It’s too bad it was in tundra-like conditions and against a capable rival in DeKalb High School.

A goal by the Lady Barbs with 35:44 remaining in the Tuesday afternoon tilt held up despite a handful of chances, and Kaneland fell in the 2013 curtain-jerker.

Kaneland is now 0-1.

The goal by Lady Barb Morgan Beaty kept going despite goalkeeper Jordan Ginther’s deflection attempt.

Kaneland controlled the ball for most of the second half, but the closest tries by Heather Ortiz and Kiandra Powell were stopped near the opposite goal.

Courtney Diddell’s booming rocket with 15 minutes to go was handled on the opposite goalkeeper’s end, marking the last best chance of the match.

KHS experimented with lineup modifications throughout the game due to a banged-up roster that left it down to two subs, and Michelle Ortiz had to leave the game with an ankle injury.

However, KHS coach Scott Parillo saw a silver lining on the frigid afternoon.

“I’m pretty pleased,” Parillo said. “I wish we didn’t have that little mental block where we left that girl wide open. But we’re not going to make any excuses. They capitalized when they needed to, and unfortunately we didn’t. We’ll build on this.”

The Kaneland lineup has capitalized on a suitable mix of leadership with younger talent, and the experimental lineup yielded some good signs for Parillo.

“Nicole Koczka did a nice job at stopper, Gabby Cano did a nice job at forward, Heather Ortiz did well at mid. This was not a bad effort with our first time outside being (Monday),” Parillo said.

Kaneland heads to the West Aurora Blackhawk Invite beginning on Thursday, April 4.

Staying on track

in Community Sports/Featured by

Renowned track coach hopes area can become a hub for big meets
by Mike Sandrolini
ELBURN—One of the most successful and innovative cross country/track and field coaches in the country just might be your next door neighbor.

Skip Stolley, whose resume includes stints as an Illinois prep and college coach—he’s also coached more than 60 athletes over the years who’ve qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials—has been living in Elburn for less than a year.

Stolley moved to Elburn from St. Charles last August.

“It’s worked out well for me,” he said.

Last November, the Aurora native was named chairman of the USA Track and Field’s Illinois Long Distance Running Committee, and he quickly set the pace for the organization. Stolley created a nine-race USATF Illinois Road Race Championship Series for 2013, which began in January with the Warm Your Heart Indoor 5K at Chicago’s McCormick Place—an event that featured around 2,100 runners—and wraps up with the Evanston Flying Turkey 5K Nov. 28.

The series also includes the Fox Valley Marathon, to be held on Sept. 22 in St. Charles, and the Sycamore 10K Pumpkin Run Oct. 27.

“There hasn’t been an Illinois USTAF road championship at any distance for more than 20 years,” Stolley said, “and within 60 days we put that plan together.”

But Stolley is hoping the Fox Valley area can become a regional and national competitive running hub over the next few years.

Just before retiring as head track coach at North Park University in Chicago, Stolley founded the Chicago Area Track and Organizing Committee, a volunteer-based coalition of coaches, running enthusiasts, community and business leaders that are interested in bringing major regional and national running events to the area.

Stolley has started working with the Kane County Board on the possibility of developing a permanent cross country course on 780 acres of the Settler’s Hill property. The course would be 10 meters wide and located north of Settler’s Hill Golf Club, bordered by prairie grass with a wide start-finish area.

If development of the course comes to fruition, Stolley hopes it would be completed by the fall of 2015. He said there would be enough parking for 5,000 vehicles, along with permanent rest rooms and concession facilities.

A master plan, he said, would include a permanent finish chute, a press box, a scoreboard, a Jumbotron and underground timing pads. He envisions this course hosting events such as the NCAA, USA, open and world cross country championships.

“It’s really a tragedy that there’s no major meets in the Chicago area,” he said. “This is such a hotbed for track and field and cross country, and high school and college track is just booming.”

Stolley is clearly well plugged into the national cross country and track circuit. In addition to his current roles, he’s been a member of the USATF Men’s Track and Field executive committee, and chairman of the USATF National Club Council. He’s also been the meet director for the 1999 USA National Cross Country Championships in Long Beach, Calif., the 2004 Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and the 2006 USATF National Club Championships at Mt. San Antonio College.

In 1983, Stolley served as assistant meet director for the U.S. championships that were being held in Indianapolis. While working the meet, he had conversations with Bob Seagren, the 1968 Olympic pole vault gold medalist who at the time was the head of the PUMA Energizer track club in California. Seagren asked Stolley—who was still the men’s and women’s cross country and track coach at Indiana State University—if he would be interested in becoming the club’s executive director. With the Olympics being held in Los Angeles the next year, Stolley left Indiana State to join the club and moved out to Southern California.

“I thought this would be a great opportunity,” he said.

Stolley later started Track West, a USATF club that catered to developing post-collegiate men and women distances runners. During his tenure with Track West, Stolley helped produce more than 60 qualifiers for the USA Outdoor Championships and 24 athletes who took part in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

“One of the things that I’m most proud of from that club is that the vast majority of those kids were not NCAA champions or medalists,” Stolley said. “They were people who wanted to continue their running careers after college and really developed with us to the point where they were national qualifiers and contending for places on USA teams.”

In 2006, Stolley then formed the VS Athletics Track Club, which supported developing men and women athletes over a broad spectrum of events such as distances, sprints, hurdles, jumps and throws. VSA became a USATF-designated Elite Development Club and produced 10 qualifiers for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in just its third year of existence.

“VS was a great marriage,” he said. “It’s extremely difficult to continue in our sport after college. While most people think that our Olympic teams are made up of the best college athletes, the truth is that the average age of our track and field Olympians is 29.2 years old. That means our best athletes have to find a way to stay in the sport for five, six, seven years after college and continue their development up to the international level.”

Stolley left the VSA for North Park in 2009, moving back to the Chicago area to be closer to his mother, who just turned 90, and his three brothers.

Outside of his affiliations with the Chicago Area Track and Organizing Committee and the USATF’s Illinois Long Distance Running Committee, Stolley hasn’t made a final decision as to what he would like to do in the future. But he did express interest in starting a track club in Illinois similar to Track West or the VS Athletics Track Club.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I would definitely use the VS Athletics model. What clubs there are (in Illinois) are mostly (for) distance running. There’s a real need for an organization like this.”

Watson hits Hall of Fame

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Local sports writer to be inducted into Kaneland Hall of Fame
by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Don Watson will be inducted into the Kaneland Hall of Fame this spring as a “Friend of Kaneland.” His connection with the Kaneland District and its athletic teams goes back to the early 1970s, when he and his family moved to Elburn.

Sports coverage for the Kaneland athletic teams was virtually non-existent when Watson arrived in town. The Elburn Herald would sometimes have only a paragraph or two in its weekly coverage, and the daily papers were busy covering the larger schools in Geneva, Batavia and St. Charles.

Watson had two boys in sports—one a swimmer, the other a diver—and as a proud father, he wanted to acknowledge their accomplishments. He approached Louise Cooper, owner, editor and publisher of the Elburn Herald at the time, with the idea of writing about the Kaneland sports events.

Cooper told him that if he wrote something, and there was space for it, the paper would print it.

“I had never done anything like this previously,” Watson said.

His college degree was in business, with minors in psychology and music.

Watson began by covering the boys’ basketball season in 1974, and his first article about the Sycamore King Korn Tournament, titled “Knights shucked in Korn Tournament,” ran in the Dec. 5 issue.

“It was the beginning of a journey that covered a span of 28 years for this part-time sports writer,” Watson said. “I was able to be a witness to some of the most memorable Kaneland sports teams and tell the community about their accomplishments.”

During that time, boys and girls track both won two state championships, as did the boys cross-country team and the girls basketball team. Kaneland also documented two back-to-back undefeated football teams in 1997 and 1998.

Pattie Patterman, now a language arts teacher at Kaneland Harter Middle School, was a sophomore on the Kaneland girls basketball team in 1982, when it won the state championship. She played basketball all four years, and was on the varsity team during her sophomore, junior and senior years.

“I have such fond memories of Don,” she said. “He was more like a member of the team than just a reporter. He knew everyone personally and he was with the parents in the stands.”

Patterman said that Watson not only wrote about the star players who scored the most or had the most rebounds, but also documented whoever had a good game that night, whether it was handling the ball or registering steals.

The girls team knew that the community was strongly behind them. According to Patterman, you couldn’t drive anywhere without seeing team signs in yards.

Patterman will be the one to introduce Watson at his induction ceremony. She said she is happy to be able to honor someone who was such a supportive part of her high school years.

“He continued to be there throughout my whole high school experience,” she said. “If we were there, he was there. He was a very positive influence.”

Watson didn’t just write about sports; he was instrumental in establishing a women’s athletic program at Waubonsee Community College. He established the Lady Chiefs volleyball program at Waubonsee Community College in 1977, and served as head coach for the next 14 years. His teams finished in the Skyway Conference’s top three at least seven times during that stretch.

Watson helped to establish the women’s softball program, as well, and coached the team to victory in the Skyway Conference in 1980. He was inducted into the WCC Hall of Fame in 2010.

He also coached the girls volleyball team at Hinckley-Big Rock High School for 13 years.

Watson was quite an athlete himself, and at 50 years of age began playing on an Illinois volleyball team that went on to compete in nine straight Senior Nationals. He also played with the team in the USA Volleyball National Championships in Phoenix.

Watson continues to be an inspiration to young people in the area. When he turned in his last story to the Elburn Herald, the paper honored him with the title “Sports Editor Emeritus,” and established a scholarship in his name. The Elburn Herald Donald L. Watson Scribe Award is a journalism-specific award in honor of his development of sports coverage for the Elburn Herald.

Watson said he was happy that he could give the athletes at Kaneland an outlet for their accomplishments, and a place where they could go and read their names in the paper.

“It was a fun gig,” he said.

Girls track makes case at IWU

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Illinois Top Times outing sees 11th-place finish for indoor
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The Illinois Indoor Track Championship Top Times Track and Field held on Saturday marks the unofficial state meet for indoor track competition.

Kaneland girls track made sure to officially put a stamp on the festivities in a nice send-off to the indoor slate.

The Class AA gathering at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill. saw KHS nab 11th place overall with a finals point total of 19 points, tied with downstate Mahomet-Seymour.

Carbondale was first overall with 36 points, followed by Chicago fixture Lindblom with 30. Area rival Marengo was third with 26, followed by Burlington Central with 25.5. Nearby Hampshire was seventh with a total of 23.5.

The Lady Knights made their presence known in several events, beginning with the 60 meter dash. Junior Lauren Zick placed eighth with a time of 7.96 seconds, after earning seventh in the preliminary heat with a 7.97.

Kaneland did well for itself in the demanding 3200m run field, with freshman Brianna Bower taking fourth at 11:26.46, and senior teammate Abby Dodis taking ninth at 11:48.27.

In the 4x400m relay, Kaneland’s entry worked toward a fourth-place nod with a time of 4:08.82, and the 4x800m counterpart took 11th with a time of 10:10.79.

The Lady Knights saw Zick at it again in the field categories, with a mark of 18 feet, five inches in the long jump, just an inch behind Lakes’ Brittani Griesbaum.

“I thought that everyone who competed did well,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We had indoor personal bests from almost everyone. Brianna Bower in the 3200 meter run and Lauren’s long jump stand out. Abby Dodis in the 3200 meter run was a big breakthrough for her. We are relatively healthy and ready for some good weather for the outdoor season,” Ecker said.

The outdoor season commences for KHS on Tuesday, April 2, at Burlington Central, in a triangular also featuring Oregon.

Knight coach Johnson named IBCA All-Star coach

in Boys Basketball/Featured/Kaneland by

Photo: KHS head coach Brian Johnson works with his team during this past season’s action.
File Photo

Exhibition to take place at Illinois Wesleyan University this June
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In theory, you always have a chance to witness hoops talent up close as a basketball coach.

In coach Brian Johnson’s case, the chance to do so will be right in front of his face this summer.

The four-year Kaneland High School boys basketball coach was informed last week of his appointment to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association 3A/4A All-Star Game, held at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center on June 29.

Johnson, who has won two Northern Illinois Big XII titles with the Knights roster in the last three years, said he is humbled by the opportunity and recognition.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Johnson said. “Some of those coaches that have been down there are legends.”

The IBCA has a committee select the North and South Teams, with I-80 as the boundary. The teams will be selected from a pool of senior All-State teams, with around 25 players total.

“I had been approached by the IBCA to come on as coach; I had done some stuff for them in the past,” Johnson said. “It had been brought up a couple of months ago.”

Johnson saw the Knights’ season end at the hands of St. Francis of Wheaton last month in the IMSA Regional, but his coaching prowess will be called on to manage some top-tier talent.

“We get down there on Friday and see the different players, and have a couple practices before Saturday’s game,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s trail to head coach involved Dundee-Crown High School, where he worked as an assistant, and the North coaching staff will carry significance.

“Lance Huber will be an assistant coach; he gave me a shot at Dundee-Crown and helped out so much to get me where I am today,” Johnson said.

In the midst of summer league action, Johnson will have a responsibility with quite the spotlight, but with the honor bestowed and the all-star talent at his disposal, the Knights’ sideline roamer is keeping the stress at bay.

“I’m going to go down there and have a good time,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be fun.”

The festivities in Bloomington, Ill., are also scheduled to feature a similar 1A/2A All-Star Game that same weekend.

Boys track shows good timing

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Illinois Prep Top Times sees KHS 10th overall
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There’s something to be said for making the best of your surroundings.

With weather being less than cooperative and the boys track team getting antsy, the Knights ventured to the Illinois Top Times Indoor Track Championship, housed by Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.

The final send-off before the outdoor campaign begins in earnest had the Kaneland outfit take 10th overall with a total of 15 team points and tied with Lakes High School of Lake Villa, Ill.

It was downstate Cahokia with a runaway 95 points, followed by Bloomington’s 54 and Chicago’s North Lawndale Charter’s 33 that rounded out the top three.

Fellow Northern Illinois Big XII school Sycamore finished in a three-way logjam for seventh with 16 points.

The KHS 4×400 meter relay foursome finished in second place with a time of three minutes, 29.75 seconds, 2.59 second behind Cahokia, and the 4x800m relay team took fourth overall at 8:18.72.

In the high jump, Kaneland’s Marshall Farthing tied for ninth with a six-foot effort.

Capping off the noteworthy totals for the Knights’ unit was Nate Dyer, who finished seventh overall with a shot put try of 51-07.

KHS coach Eric Baron is now quickly putting the excursion to Bloomington in the rearview mirror in order to concentrate on the outdoor destinations.

“Our performances were OK,” Baron said. “Dyer stood out with a new personal best, (and) Kyle Carter ran two nice legs in both relays for us.”

Kaneland’s outdoor journey begins at the East Moline United Invitational on Saturday, April 6.

Change coming to NIB-12

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With Dukes, Bulldogs out, conference braintrust elects for smaller divisions
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Within the last decade of Kaneland athletics, the Knights have called several landscapes home.

Once able to call the sprawling Suburban Prairie Conference North Division home, the Knights moved to the new Western Sun Conference.

After four years, a new set-up emerged for the fall of 2010 in the form of the two-division Northern Illinois Big XII.

Beginning in the fall of 2014, the Knights will still be able to call the conference home, but the ambiance will be a tad different.

Dixon and Streator officially elected to vacate the conference at the end of the 2013-14 academic year, following a meeting of conference principals.

The conference’s athletic directors had previously met in early March to discuss proposals and forward them to the principals.

Dixon, with an enrollment of 803 students, has elected to move to the Big Northern Conference, after originally joining the NIB-12 from the defunct NCIC.

Streator, at 876 students, mulled several options as the southernmost school in the school grouping. It was invited to join the Interstate Eight Conference in February.

Both schools came from the West Division, meaning conference shuffling or addition had to take place.

The March 15 meeting of the conference Board of Controls put in motion the switch to a 10-team conference with two five-team divisions.

The larger East consists of DeKalb, Kaneland, Rochelle, Sycamore and Yorkville, while West play features Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Rochelle and Sterling.

“Our attempt is to ensure the competitive and long-term health of the Northern Illinois Big XII conference,” Rochelle principal and conference president Travis McGuire said. “All topics, avenues, and positions were discussed and contemplated through this process. We will continue to look to expand our conference as we move forward.”

The new alignment becomes the lay of the land for football, with proposals still to be had for the other sports for conference crossover play.

Football’s schedule situation would involve the standard two crossover games, meaning the 2014 schedule would feature three non-conference games.

Kaneland football would have to secure three season-opening foes in 2014, with Chicago’s Brooks Prep and Elmhurst’s Immaculate Conception signed to one-year deals for 2013.

“In football, it’s such a big deal to play schools your own size and to get non-conference teams to play you,” KHS football coach Tom Fedderly said. “I think they were listening to ideas and were looking for teams to come in. Maybe one day, smaller schools can come into the conference. We’ll see what happens later with sports like basketball.”

Waubonsee’s Heiss inducted into NJCAA Hall of Fame

in Featured/Waubonsee Sports by

Danville, ILL—Waubonsee Community College’s long-time head men’s basketball coach Dave Heiss was recently inducted into the NJCAA Basketball Hall of Fame at the Division II National Tournament Banquet.

“It’s an honor, but it’s not just my honor. A lot of people have helped me get to this point,” Heiss said. “I didn’t do it by myself. Obviously, my name is on that plaque, but a lot of people at Waubonsee, the administration, athletic director Dave Randall, my assistant coaches and all the players, have helped make this possible.”

Heiss began coaching the Chiefs in 1986 and has built the program into a perennial power over the last 28 seasons. He has led Waubonsee to victory 552 times, an average of nearly 20 wins per season for almost three decades. Heiss currently is 17th among active junior college coaches on the NJCAA’s win list. Under Heiss’ guidance, the Chiefs have won 20 or more games 15 times, and tallied 19 wins on four other occasions. His squads have won 11 Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC) titles with 63 of his players being named First Team All-Conference, including eight league MVP Awards. In 2008 Heiss became the ISCC’s all-time record holder for career wins with his 191st victory, and currently has 249 wins and counting.

Heiss has led Waubonsee to five Region IV titles and five subsequent berths in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament, finishing seventh in 1991. Heiss has been selected as the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) and the Region IV Basketball Coach of the Year five times, while the ISCC has tabbed him with that honor nine times. Previously Heiss has been inducted into the NJCAA Region IV Hall of Fame (2006), the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Hall of Fame (2009), the Aurora West High School Hall of Fame (2010) and the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Hall of Fame (2010).

Heiss was an All-Upstate Eight Conference performer for Aurora West in 1980, when his team finished third in the state. He went on to play at Eastern Wyoming Junior College, leading the NJCAA Region IX in scoring as a sophomore. Heiss then transferred to Bemidji (MN) State University, where he was All-Northern Sun Conference his final two years. Heiss later played for the Utah Jazz rookie team in the Pro-Am League in the summer of 1986.

Off the court, Heiss earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Bemidji (MN) State University and his master’s degree from Chicago State University. Heiss has been a full- time faculty member in Waubonsee’s Physical Education Department since 1992, and was instrumental in the establishment of Waubonsee’s S.T.A.R. program, an academic monitoring and tutoring program for student/athletes. Additionally, Heiss has guided the Chiefs’ golf program for the last 21 years, orchestrating three ISCC titles and a Region IV crown, while helping 32 golfers reach All-Conference status. A life-long resident of Aurora, Heiss has three children, D.J., Danielle and Demi.

Sterling is gold for KHS boys

in Boys Track/Featured by

Knights rule NIB-12 indoor track at Sterling
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—The Kaneland’s boys track squad amassed 107 points by the end of Saturday’s Northern Illinois Big XII Indoor conference meet housed by Sterling High School’s Westwood track.

The remaining field would have to be competing a fairly long time to match that total.

Geneseo’s 67, DeKalb’s 62 and Yorkville’s 55 rounded out the top four. Sycamore (52), Dixon (44), LaSalle-Peru (23), Ottawa (22), Sterling (17) and Rochelle (16).

The field event accolades began with senior stalwart Marshall Farthing, who took third at six feet, three inches. Teammate Dylan Kuipers’ 12-09 effort in the pole vault was good for third.

The long jump was accented by KHS duo Tanner Andrews in third at 20-07, and Ben Barnes in fourth at 20-05.5.

The triple jump featured Knight Andrews in second at 41-02.25 and teammate Dalvell Triplett in fourth at 40-08.25.

Junior Nate Dyer’s 49-06 in the shot put was good for second place to round out the field festivities.

Kaneland’s winning edge increased thanks to personnel like Brandon Bishop, who’s second-place time in the 60 meter dash came as a result of of a 7.15 second time.

Knight Dylan Nauert’s 8.78 in his 60m hurdles event took first, while the Kaneland 4x200m relay effort of 1:37.25 was third overall.

The 800m run had two noteworthy finishes thanks to Kyle Carter’s second (2:03.65) and Luis Acosta’s fourth (2:06.53).

Nathaniel Kucera of Kaneland conquered the 400m dash field at 52.99.

Topping the afternoon was the KHS 4x400m relay squad’s first place time of 3:33.80.

“We scored well and placed in many events but didn’t get very many personal best,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “We are struggling with the weather this spring, and our lack of adequate indoor facilities is starting to show in our performances. We are getting many injuries due to the training surfaces we have to use in the hallways and gym floors, as opposed to rubberized field house tracks. I am hoping that weather breaks soon.”

The outdoor campaign’s is scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 6, at the East Moline United Invite.

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