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Sports - page 44

Soccer club supports community

in Community Sports by


Photo: Members of the winning U9 and U11 Kaneland United Soccer Club include Samy Awad (front, left to right), Kevin Schilling, Ryan Love, Nate Love, Anthony Buchanan, Joshua Pehl, Will Sands, Jack Rissman and Sean Gannon; U9 coach Mike Mitchinson (back row), U11 coach Brad Simmons, Jacob Simmons, Tommy Musuras, Matthew Northrup, Tucker Jahns, Erick Barrigan, Garrett Robinson, Zach Smith, Tyler Chapman, Zander Webster, assistant U9 coach Joel Rissman and LivingWell Development Coordinator Lori Hanson. Courtesy Photo

The Kaneland United Soccer club recently partnered with the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva and collected nearly $1,000 in cash and gift cards to go along with nearly 100 items needed from the organization’s wish list. A contest was held to see what teams could raise the most money and what team could collect the most items.

The U9 boys team, coached by Mike Mitchinson and assisted by Joel Rissman, collected the most items, while the U11 boys team, coached by Brad Simmons, raised the most money.

The club conducted their campaign during October, in part, to raise awareness for Breast Cancer.

KHS fall athletes earn accolades

in Boys Cross Country/Featured/Football/Girls Cross Country/Golf/Volleyball by

Kaneland—A number of Kaneland High School fall athletes were recognized for their performance from throughout the 2012 season.

Leading the way for Kaneland’s post-season honors was senior offensive lineman Zach Theis. He was named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State Team, was the NIB-12 East Division Offensive MVP and All-Conference.

Joining Theis as Kaneland football All-Conference Team members were senior offensive lineman Nick Sharp, junior offensive lineman Alex Snyder, senior wide receiver Zack Martinelli, junior running back Jesse Balluff, junior quarterback Drew David, junior defensive lineman Justin Diddell, junior defensive lineman Jaumaureo Phillips, senior defensive back Blake Bradford, senior defensive back Kory Harner, junior linebacker Gary Koehring, senior linebacker Ryan Lawrence, and junior kicker Matt Rodriguez. Balluff was also an All-State Honorable Mention. Balluff, David, Snyder and Koehring were each named to the All State Academic Team.

Earning All-Conference honors from the Kaneland High School volleyball team were sophomore Ellie Dunn, senior Lauren Banbury and senior Ashley Prost.

Girls cross country All-Conference honors went to sophomore Victoria Clinton, freshman Brianna Bower, senior Abby Dodis, junior Sydney Strang, and senior Amanda Lesak.

Junior Kyle Carter earned All-Conference distinction for boys cross country.

All-Conference golf team members were juniors Matt Yonkovick and Brody Kuhar, and seniors Luke Kreiter and Connor Williams.

3 goals at a time for State Champ Clinton

in Featured/Girls Cross Country/Triathlon by

Photo: Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton (1059) competes against familiar foe Skyler Bollinger of Yorkville at the Nov. 11 Nike Cross Midwest Regional in Terre Haute, Ind. Clinton was joined in Terre Haute by Lady Knight teammate Brianna Bower (not pictured). Runners from five states—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Missouri—competed in the Regional for a chance to move on to the National meet in Oregon. Clinton has a chance to be invited to the National meet, but that information wasn’t available as of press time. Photo by Ben Draper

Class 2A cross-country queen applies skills to triathlon circuit
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Many fellow cross-country runners were witness to Kaneland High School sophomore Victoria Clinton’s success at the Class 2A State meet in Peoria two weeks ago, specifically the back of her jersey.

From November through August, area followers of Clinton can also keep up with her on the triathlon circuit.

Clinton won the Class 2A State meet with a time of 16:56, but a foot race that asks everything of an athlete would only be a third of the task asked of her as part of the run-bike-swim elements of a triathlon.

Clinton competes as part of the Multisport Madness Triathlon Team (MMTT) housed in the western suburbs. The group boasts more than 20 individual national champions as part of the youth triathlon world, and Clinton doesn’t mind the extra work.

“For triathlons, you have to have endurance,” Clinton said. “You have to have technique and know what to do. It’s swimming, biking and running; and you have to have more strategy.”

MMTT team director John Lorenz has seen what area standouts like Geneva’s Kelly Whitley can do when competing, and has been privy to athletes reaching success under the USA Triathlon banner as part of the U.S. Olympic Committee. He feels Clinton’s skillset is amplified by her work ethic.

“It takes a unique athlete to compete, and she’s always had a desire to want more. Swimming is the hardest for a new athlete coming in, and she showed she was up to the challenge early on,” Lorenz said.

Back in August, Clinton was second overall in the 13-15 category at the National Championships in Westchester, Ohio, and moved up to the 16-19 category this season.

“I’ve always had a love for running, but as I’ve trained and competed, I’ve become fond of swimming, and I’ve felt like it’s helped my running,” Clinton said. “It’s helped me cardiovascularly and made me more flexible.”

Lorenz feels that the sophomore’s triathlon possibilities are limitless.

“She has the drive and talent to compete for Team USA one day, and the world championships are an achievable goal,” Lorenz said.

In just her second season, Clinton isn’t intimidated by what could lay ahead.

“The World Championships would be great, and then there’s the Junior Olympics. It’s my second season, and we’ll see what happens,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s MMTT outfit looks to compete in March as part of a competition in Claremont, Fla. The team website is www.mmtt3.org.

Winter Sports Preview: Lady Knights look for more

in Girls Basketball by

With a large group of returning players, Kaneland looks to exceed last year’s stellar season
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Could this be a lucky seven for coach Ernie Colombe and crew?

Last year, the Kaneland Lady Knights basketball program brought its skills to the floor in a way not seen in quite awhile, ending with a berth in the Sycamore Sectional final and a 20-10 overall record.

Now in his seventh year at the helm and with a glut of returning talent, Colombe and the Lady Knights are looking to put their plans into execution again for an even better year.

Despite the loss of post presence Kelly Evers, Kaneland returns several assets like seniors Ashley Prost, Emma Bradford, Allyson O’Herron and Sarah Grams.

With four projected starters returning, it’s time to hold court.

“It’s a change in terms of having this many kids back,” Colombe said. “It’s also a challenge to make sure we don’t get complacent. We’ve got a great group of kids that work really hard in practice.”

Also returning to help the KHS cause are returning personnel like senior guard Ashley Castellanos, senior forward Brooke Harner and junior forward Marina Schaefer.

“Things look pretty good early on, but that doesn’t always translate on the court. You’ve got to get stuff done on the court and this team’s very capable of doing that,” Colombe said.

New varsity additions take the form of junior guards Caroline Heimerdinger, Sydney Strang, Katherine Brinkman, junior forwards Jessica Jablonski, Amber Winquist-Bailey and Brittany Kemp, and junior center Kelly Wallner.

Two underclassmen fill the roster out: sophomore center Ally VanBogaert and freshman guard Vanessa Gould.

“We have a bunch of kids that can play coming off the bench.We think the younger players are going to help us, and this is a good group of seniors to bring up a young kid with,” Colombe said.

Kaneland looks to be right in the thick of things when it comes to the Northern Illinois Big XII layout.

“I think our conference is really good and improved,” Colombe said. “DeKalb had a great run and we had a nice run; Rochelle’s returning a co-conference player of the year. Sycamore’s improved, and the competition should be good. Morris is improved and we had a nice rivalry with Yorkville, and it’s a shame they got moved up to 4A, but our whole conference is pretty strong.”

Kaneland already got past Wilmette’s Regina Dominican on Saturday by a 47-38 clip at the pre-Thanksgiving Immaculate Conception stop.

After tournament play, the NIB-12 slate begins at Morris on Friday, Nov. 30, with the first home conference matchup against Sycamore on Thursday, Dec. 6. Kaneland also hits the Ottawa Tournament for holiday play after spending that week at Oswego East High School the past six years.

Winter Sports Preview: Season of change

in Boys Basketball by

Knight cagers hope returnees lead team full of newcomers
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There seems to be a wrinkle at the beginning of every Kaneland High School boys basketball season.

In 2009-10, Dave Dudzinski ran roughshod over the area, while in 2010-11, the Knights captured their first conference title since the Reagan administration. And in 2011-12, the Knights benefited from all-Northern Illinois Big XII selection and West Aurora transfer Marcel Neil and secured a Regional plaque.

Now, coach Brian Johnson has to prepare a group for a similar postseason run like the one that advanced to the Sycamore Sectional semifinal, but without personnel like Neil (at Kishwaukee Junior College) and junior Thomas Williams, who transferred to Texas.

“There’s been a lot of change, even from just the summer when we had Thomas, but we have some boys that have put in a lot of hard work,” Johnson said.

Among the group of hard-workers Johnson is talking about are senior guard Dan Miller and senior forward Matt Limbrunner, the two oldest reps on the Knight squad. The Knights will also expect heavy contributions from junior forward John Pruett and junior guard Tyler Carlson.

“Those guys have put in a lot of time. They’re good athletes and good kids. People ask me what type of team we’ll have and I don’t know yet,” Johnson said. “Last year, we could attack the rim, and we rebounded fairly well. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do all those things this year.”

Adding to the question pile is the health of third-year point guard Drew David, still on the mend after football bumps and bruises.

“It’ll be nice having Drew back in his third year at the point, and Tyler and John practiced with us all year and they know what we’re expecting,” Johnson said.

Also looking to contribute with varsity minutes in 2012-13 are sophomore guard Connor Fedderly and fellow sophomore guard Ben Barnes, junior forward Tom VanBogaert, junior guard Bailey Harvell and junior forward Cole Carlson, who saw quality summer minutes.

The Knights also bring a freshman guard into the mix in the form of Dylan Vaca.

“They’ll fill their roles as best they can and see some successes. This year, we’re going to have to be a team in every meaning of the word. That’s one thing I’ve really noticed, is we don’t necessarily have those go-to guys; they all work really well together,” Johnson said.

When it comes to the hierarchy of the NIB-12 and the odds of getting to a second conference title in three seasons, Johnson knows Kaneland must wade through several capable teams.

“DeKalb’s coming back with a really nice player in Andre Harris. Rochelle has their two guards that are very solid players. They’re good teams and are at the top of our league, and Yorkville did a really nice job last year,” Johnson said.

Action got underway on Wednesday at the Batavia Windmill Classic, with results unavailable as of press time against the hosts. The home opener is Friday, Nov. 30, against Morris, with the Knights once again making a stop at the Plano Christmas Classic, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 22.

Winter Sports Preview: Grapplers count on experienced core

in Wrestling by

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Last year brought a handful of success for Kaneland High School wrestling.

In 2012-13, the Knights are looking for more good fortune than they are able to carry.

KHS improved its dual meet mark from the previous year to finish 11-12, and was fortunate to have a sizable postseason presence.

Three of those people return as seniors, including the sixth-best 106-pounder in the state, Stephen Gust, plus Dan Goress (138 pounds) and Esai Ponce (126).

Out of last year’s State qualifiers, Ben Kovalick is gone to graduation, but the returning personnel also includes wrestlers like senior Regional champ Zach Theis, as well as fellow Sectional qualifiers Connor Williams and Sonny Horn.

“Absolutely, these seniors are going to lead the way for us,” KHS coach Monty Jahns said. “We are going to need points anywhere we can, with us giving up some weights in dual meets. The senior guys take over the room.”

Not only do the senior guys provide talent and leadership, but the wrestlers also have an extra added bonus.

“We were able to get the football players in a little earlier than in the past two years. They are busting their butts right now,” Jahns said.

Additional members of the Knights crew who look to duplicate more positive success to build on include Dane Goodenough and Luke Kreiter.

With the third-place finish in the Northern Illinois Big XII tournament plus additional success as the postseason wore on, Jahns trusts the returning Knights to use those experiences for motivation.

“It makes a big difference to go toward a goal like that, and you include that going into this year and try to be as solid as you can,” Jahns said.

Kaneland will aim for another top-three finish, but has to battle other capable schools.

“Yorkville is pretty dominant even though they lost some seniors. Sycamore is always solid, but they lost a couple people, and you can’t count out DeKalb. This year, we need to get as many wins as we can in the upper and lower weights to make up for a couple forfeits, but the kids are doing what we ask them to do,” Jahns said.

Saturday, Nov. 24, brings the first test with a home quad meet against Burlington Central, Freeport and Wheaton-Warrenville South. The first NIB12 tussle is on Thursday, Nov. 29, at Sycamore.

Winter Sports Preview: Senior-laden KHS bowlers hope to lay hurt to pins

in Bowling by

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Bowlers representing Kane-land High School are taking to the local lanes with a love of the sport.

For the 2012-13 season, the Lady Knight lineup benefits from a heavy presence of seniors in the journey.

Varsity seniors include Angela Charhut, Elissa Eckert, Anne Salerno, Amanda Strayve and Morgan Wojciechowski. They also get a lift from junior talent, as well.

“Christie Crews, a junior, is also back after recording the second-highest average on the team last year,” KHS coach Jim McKnight said. “We look to Christie and the seniors to lead the team this year. Charhut, Salerno, Strayve, and Wojciechowski can break loose with a high game at any time. Eckert, had varsity time last year and is looking good in practice this year.”

The Lady Knights are joined by sophomore teammate Dominique Lee, with new varsity additions Eckert and Lee being looked upon for big things.

“They both are showing remarkable consistency in practice, so we hope to see some good and consistent scores from them in competition, as well,” McKnight said.

Kaneland bowlers will need to bring that consistency to the lanes on meet day in order to improve on a 2-15 dual meet record from a year ago.

“The better they bowl, the more fun it is for them. It’s usually better to take it slowly when teaching them during the first few weeks,” McKnight said. “It takes time to make new friends and become comfortable playing the game. A good attitude is absolutely essential for instruction and enjoying the game in the short and long term.”

When it comes to the widescale Northern Illinois Big XII conference landscape, Kaneland is preparing to deal with tough forces in the group.

“Our conference is always highly competitive, and this year will be no exception. DeKalb, Sterling, Dixon, Streator and Morris should all be tough this year,” McKnight said. “In addition, Sycamore, Rochelle and Ottawa have the capabilities to roll some very high scores. It should be very interesting to see if any one school starts to dominate the conference. We’re in a position where we just hope we can be competitive.”

Kaneland already had a meet with fellow Mardi Gras Lanes tenant DeKalb on Tuesday, with results unavailable as of press time. The first home meet of the season takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 26, against Marengo.

Photos: Scoring some spaghetti

in Boys Basketball/Featured/Kaneland by

The Kaneland boys basketball program held it’s fourth annual spaghetti dinner on Nov. 15 at the high school cafeteria. Proceeds benefited the program, and the food was served by the basketball players. Marty Scialabba, 11 (right), gets his helping of food
during the dinner.


A group of kids make a party out
of the dinner by acting silly and
eating treats.

Photos by John DiDonna

Two spirits

in Featured/Maple Park/Miscellaneous by

Photo: 11-year-old Madison Tegtman, a sixth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School, with her horse, Preston, navigates over an obstacle during one of their rides. She has been riding horses since she was only three years old. Courtesy Photo

Sixth-grader and derby horse both get life experience
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Located on Lees Road in Maple Park, Silver Spur Farm houses a youngster diligently working toward doing the very best in competition—and that’s just the sixth-grade student from Kaneland Harter Middle School.

11-year old Madison Tegtman doesn’t pick up a ball or racket. Her idea of unwinding is working in tandem with a 10-year old Oldenburg horse named Preston.

Tegtman has six first-place events under her cap, and most recently competed in Gurnee, Ill.

With an attentive and solid support group like her mother and horse owner Gina, grandparents Ed and Polly Ruzic, and trainer Tasha Lasiowski, Tegtman—who’s been a rider since she was 3—can focus on equestrian events and caring for Preston.

“I come here to spend time with him,” Tegtman said. “When we come here and get ready for everything, we have to clean all our stuff, clean the horse, practice, take lessons, and get ready to have competitions on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Preston just got back into the fold in early September after recovering from a damaged femur, the result of getting kicked by a fellow horse.

“That was my favorite place to compete at (Crosswinds in Marengo, Ill.), because it was his first show with me after his injury,” Tegtman said.

Specifically, Preston competes a hunter jumper horse, similar to obstacle courses that have walls, gates and fences, and has had quite the long road back. The recovery process took 18 months, and the injury occurred six weeks after Preston was acquired from Michigan.

“It’s a long wait, but I was patient and I was happy for everyone else, and they finally let me ride,” Tegtman said.

It was Madison’s patience that helped Preston recover, because Preston’s prognosis was not good.

“Every day, Madison was out there working with him. The vet would check him out and say it was doubtful he would be able to get back to where he was, but they kept at it,” Gina said.

Preston is the first Oldenberg horse owned by the family after owning two ponies previously.

It takes not just a level of commitment, but temperament, to take on the task of loving and caring for a prize animal.

“You definitely have to be patient. The horses are so good for the kids. It teaches them patience and responsibility, and you’re caring for a live animal,” Lasiowski said.

Lasiowski also owns and operates Escapar Farms within the grounds of Silver Spur, and has dealt with her share of local animals.

“It’s a big animal, and it’s got a mind of its own. It’s about learning to read your horse. Going forward in life, I think it teaches you how to read people,” Lasiowski said.

Tegtman and crew are enjoying what they do, and eventually would like to ease into different events.

“There’s higher jumps; more derbies in the future, I think,” Ed said. “All around the Midwest, you have an opportunity to see terrific horses and terrific riders.”

“I want to take him to hunter derbies, so he can get recognized more,” Tegtman said.

Hunter derbies, now moving on to an international stage, involve larger courses that are inclined with the horse’s natural way of moving about, and measures overall brilliance.

Brilliance is what Tegtman seems to strive for, along with her 10-year-old partner.

“When you go to compete, you hope you have a good horse to go with, and I do.”

Kaneland Youth Competitive Cheer team concludes 1st season

in Cheerleading by


Photo: The Kaneland Youth Competitive Cheer team gather after a first-place finish earlier in their season. The team concluded the year on Nov. 10. This year’s team included Asst. Coach Val Massa (back, left to right), Gianna Carbonara, Sarah Ball, Emma Zukauski, Brooke Bastone, Anna Massa, Alyssa Lech and Asst. Coach Meredith Haring; Emily Savarese (front), Kristin Layne, Kailey Krajewski, Niki Kull, (directly behind Niki) Regan Franzen, Maddy Wheatley, Anna Massa and Julianna Klecka. Not pictured are team alternate Brooke Johnson, Asst. Coach Megan Mendoza, Asst. Coach Theresa Miller and Coach Andrea Williams. Courtesy Photo

Kaneland—The Kaneland Youth Competitive Cheer team concluded its first season on Nov. 10 with a third-place finish at the Conant Spirit Challenge.

The team was organized by Andrea Williams last spring. After working with the KYBL cheerleading program for the past few season, Williams said she saw a desire for something more from the girls as they were reaching middle school. A former Kaneland cheerleader herself, Williams said there is currently no school-sponsored cheerleading program at the middle school level.

Even though many of the girls participate in the cheer programs offered by both KYFL and KYBL, the competitive arena is entirely different. Williams said the hope is that this competitive program will teach participants the skills they need and become a feeder program for the Kaneland High School team. Although there are other competitive teams in the area, high cost can be a factor for some families. Williams said she did her best to keep costs at a manageable level for participants, but noted that community support is what keeps programs like this running.

This season, the team consisted of 14 members and one team alternate between sixth and eighth grade. They practiced over the summer to learn a routine approximately 3 minutes in length including dance, cheer, tumbling and advanced stunting skills. Williams said she could not have gotten through the season without the help of her assistant coaches—Emily Haring, Meredith Haring, Valerie Massa, Megan Mendoza and Theresa Miller.

The Knights participated in three area competitions and earned first-, second-, and third-place finishes, respectively. The final competition on Nov. 10 was a qualifying event for the IRCA (Illinois Recreational Cheer Association) state competition in December. Williams said she was proud of the third-place finish—noting that the girls missed a state bid by 1.6 points.

You can find out more information about KYBL including the competitive cheer program and fundraising efforts by visiting their website at: www.kanelandcheer.org.

Vanik takes 2nd at USAW Pre-Season Nationals

in Middle School/Wrestling by

Iowa—Riley Vanik of Sugar Grove nearly pulled off a championship victory in the USAW Pre-Season Nationals at the University of Northern Iowa inside the UNI-Dome Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Nov. 4.

The tournament drew 2,594 wrestlers from 38 states. Vanik entered the 152-pound weight bracket in the Seventh/Eighth-grade Middle School Division.

Because of Vanik’s performance the previous year, he earned a first-round bye in this year’s tournament. He took a tight match, 3-2, in his second-round opener.

Vanik found himself in another hard-fought battle in the next round, taking his Iowa opponent into overtime. He secured the 5-3 victory with just 19 seconds remaining in the overtime period.

He battled the eventual tournament champion into the second period, where he lost by pin, securing second place in the tournament.

Dratnol named to Capital One Academic All-District team

in Football by

ROCK ISLAND, Ill.—Kaneland alum Eric Dratnol was one of two Augustana football players named to the first team of the Capital One Academic All-District team. The junior center earned the honors in District Seven, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

The team is selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

He will now be advanced to the national ballot, where he will attempt to add to Augustana’s prodigious total of Academic All-Americans. Since the AAA program began in 1951, Augustana has produced 139 honorees, which places the Vikings sixth all-time. Augustana is currently second among NCAA Division III institutions.

Dratnol has been a season-long starter at center and is considered a primary reason why the Augustana rushing attack came to life this year. He is an accounting and applied math major with a 3.83 grade point average. He is the son of David and Phyllis Dratnol of Montgomery.

Knights 8th-graders finish 3rd in St. Charles tourney

in Middle School by

Kaneland—The Kaneland eighth-grade football team concluded its season last month with a third-place finish in the annual St. Charles Tournament.

Kaneland’s finish was its second-best ever, and was the first time Kaneland defeated Batavia in the tournament.

The two schools faced each other in the third-place game on Oct. 13, a day that saw Kaneland emerge victorious 26-14.

The game concluded an 8-3 season.

KC pro indoor football team preps for 1st season

in Miscellaneous by

Kane County—In preparation for its inaugural season, the Kane County Dawgs professional indoor football team recently announced the hiring of its head coach, Matt Griebel.

Griebel is a former player of the Indianapolis Colts and is a resident of Joliet, Ill.

The Kane County Dawgs Professional Indoor Football team is a part of the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL).

Griebel was an offensive lineman for the Colts; he also played for the Georgia Force and the Green Bay Blizzard Professional Indoor Football teams. He has a bachelor degree from Indiana State University, where he was a full athletic scholarship football team captain and scholar athlete (2002-2003). He earned his associate degree at Joliet Junior College and was a N4C All Conference selection (2001), playing high school ball at Lockport Township.

He took over the Dawgs’ head coaching duties immediately and has begun the hiring process of his coaching staff and evaluation of players.

The Kane County Dawgs will play a 10-game schedule, with five home dates at Canlan Ice Sports Arena in Romeoville, Ill. Games begin in February.

The team will hold its second open tryout on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the team’s official training center, ESP Sports Performance, 2050 Mitchell Drive, Oswego, IL 60543. Registration begins at 5:15 p.m., and the try-out begins 6 p.m. View the team’s website, www.kcdawgs.com, for additional information.

Pair of former KC Cougars win Silver Slugger Awards

in Kane County Cougars by

Total of 5 former Cougars have won award
GENEVA—A pair of former Kane County Cougars have won a 2012 Silver Slugger Award. Detroit Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera and Minnesota Twins outfielder Josh Willingham were each honored last Thursday evening.

Cabrera and Willingham both played for the 2001 Cougars Midwest League Championship squad. The Silver Slugger, which was first awarded in 1980, is distributed to the best offensive players at each position in both the American and National Leagues.

Cabrera has now won four Silver Slugger Awards (2005, ’06, ’10, ’12) in his big league career. Cabrera’s 2012 campaign also included the American League Triple Crown—the first Triple Crown in Major League Baseball since 1967. Cabrera was named a Major League All-Star for the seventh time in his career, and is a strong candidate for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, to be announced on Thursday, Nov. 15.

Willingham was recognized with his first-ever Silver Slugger following a career year offensively. The 2012 season was Willingham’s first season as a Twin, and the 33-year old set personal bests with 35 home runs and 110 RBI.

The ’01 Cougars teammates have combined for 488 major league home runs.

Other past Silver Slugger Award winners who played at Kane County include Edgar Renteria (’93), a three-time Silver Slugger in 2000, ’02 and ’03. Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier (’03) won a Silver Slugger in 2009, while Dodgers teammate Adrian Gonzalez (’01) won his first Silver Slugger in 2011.

Victorious Victoria

in Featured/Girls Cross Country by

Photo: Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton (908) battles with the top group shortly after the half-way point at Saturday’s IHSA State Cross Country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Clinton would eventually break away from the pack with less than a mile to go, winning the 2A girls State championship, and leading the Lady Knights to 6th place in the team standings. Photo by Justin Vacha

Clinton takes State crown in cross country
by Mike Slodki
Peoria, Ill.—Victoria Clinton, your spot is ready.

The Kaneland sophomore earned her way into IHSA and Kaneland High School girls cross country history by becoming State champ in the Class 2A race at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill., on Saturday.

It’s the first individual crown in the school’s history.

Clinton, who also finished second at the Belvidere Sectional and first at the Kaneland Regional, topped the three-mile course with a stellar time of 16 minutes, 56 seconds. The pace of a 5:39 mile helped best her sectional time by 43 seconds. It was a personal best for the sophomore.

Senior Stephanie Saey of Galesburg was in second place—11 seconds behind Clinton’s winning time.

Clinton strode ahead in the final 800 meters of the competition.

The sophomore athlete helped Kaneland to a sixth-place team finish with 180 points overall.

“(Victoria) ran a very smart race,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “(She) ran with the front pack for the first two miles, took the lead and pulled away the last half-mile. Earning a State championship pretty much says it all.”

Kaneland’s Victoria Clinton is congratulated after being crowned the IHSA Class 2A Individual Cross Country Champion. Photo by Justin Vacha
It was a dream come true and a job well done for the Kaneland standout.

“I felt great, and the Lord allowed me to do the rest,” Clinton said. “As we started closing in toward the second mile, I said I needed to pick it up. With a half-mile left I had to give it my all.”

Fellow Northern Illinois Big XII school Yorkville took the team crown with a total of 66, followed by Normal University at 112.

Montini Catholic finished third in a tiebreaker over Glenbard South at 172, and Marengo finished with 174 points for fifth.

Kaneland’s effort outpaced Crystal Lake Central, which took seventh with 203 points.

“Our team has really been working hard. We all have positive attitudes,” Clinton said.

After Clinton wowed the crowd, the next Lady Knight to cross the finish line was freshman Brianna Bower, who concluded her first campaign in 32nd place with a time of 18:09. Next for KHS was Sydney Strang, who was 38th with a time of 18:14.

Fourth for KHS was sophomore Aislinn Lodwig, who battled through the field with a finish of 18:36 for 69th place, while senior teammate Amanda Lesak finished, 81st with a time of 18:42.

The Lady Knights’ two-through-five runners all ran personal bests in Peoria.
Maggie Brundige finished her final State race with a 98th-place finish at 18:54. Fellow senior Abby Dodis took 120th at 19:15.

“Girls cross country is back to being the successful program it once was,” Ecker said.

No-Way for Knight football

in Featured/Football by

Photo: Quarterback Drew David looks downfield under good blocking during the second quarter at Lincoln-Way West on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Lincoln-Way West builds big lead, eliminates Kaneland in second-round action
by Mike Slodki
NEW LENOX, Ill.—It’s been awhile since the Knight football team has seen that kind of offensive and defensive output from a playoff opponent.

The newest of the four Lincoln-Way schools, the Warriors from the West, used their playmakers to the best of their ability while employing their stingy defense on the way to a 31-15 upset of the Kaneland crew on Saturday afternoon.

In the first meeting of the two schools on the football field, the Warriors pressured Drew David and also broke long gains throughout the day in a meeting of No. 1 and No. 9 seeds in the Class 5A playoffs.

For Kaneland, it marks the earliest exit for the squad since 2009, when rival Sycamore bested the host Knights, 40-13, in a first-round matchup.

The Warriors improve to 8-3 on the year, while KHS finishes the season at 10-1, but still is 6-4 in its last 10 playoff encounters. The Knights will also enter 2013 with its 28-game regular season win streak intact.

Junior Drew David had his toughest game of the 2012 campaign, still nursing an injured hand. He was sacked seven times and threw for 84 yards with three interceptions.

L-WW saw its first scoring drive end with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Justin Keuch to Nick Andrade with 5:20 left in the first for a 7-0 lead.

L-WW struck again in the second quarter on a 10-play drive that ended with a 26-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation by senior transfer Lavonte Blackful on fourth down for a 14-0 edge with 7:47 to go before halftime.

Kaneland fell victim to an interception on the ensuing drive’s second play, and runs by Blackful and Javier Montalvo set up a 22-yard field goal from Joe Leo with 2:00 left for a 17-0 lead going into the break.

The Warriors expanded on their lead when the running attack set up a 10-yard TD strike to Jake Robbins with 8:01 remaining in the third for a 24-0 edge.

Jesse Balluff (30) comforts quarterback Drew David (4) at the end of their playoff loss to Lincoln-Way West on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk
A dagger came after a KHS punt set up the hosts at their own 18, but Blackful went 82 yards for a score on a sweep with 2:24 remaining in the third for a 31-0 lead.

Kaneland finally found the end zone thanks to a nine-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Carlson to Zach Martinelli with 2:06 to go. Martinelli ran in the two-point try to make it 31-8. On its next possession, the Knights’ Carlson ran it in from the four with :47 left for the final 16-point margin.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly gave credit to the Warriors, a force to be reckoned with.

“It was tough, but we kind of got behind so much that we really had to go to our passing game,” Fedderly said. “We knew going in that we’d have to mix things up. To their credit, those guys did a great job. Offensively, they moved the ball on us.”

Lincoln-Way West faces Joliet Catholic in the third round, as the Hilltoppers beat Tinley Park on Saturday, 42-21.

KHS duo secures postseason honor

in Tennis by

by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Hits just keep on coming for the celebrated tennis duo from Kaneland.

That’s continuing with the volleys and smashes they sent at opponents in 2012.

The State-qualifying duo of Madi Jurcenko and Jelly Emmanouil were voted in as All-State players the last week of October, by virtue of their performance at the IHSA State Tournament in the northwest suburbs. A letter was mailed to Kaneland High School with the information last week, according to KHS coach Tim Larsen.

It’s the first All-State honor for KHS in tennis.

Going 4-2 in the final tournament, two-time State qualifier Jurcenko and Emmanouil were undefeated in regular season doubles play. The output allowed a top-24 standing at the final competition. The duo had previously nabbed the No. 1 doubles mantle at the Northern Illinois Big XII gathering at DeKalb High School.

No. 1 singles player Sammie Schreperman had also qualified for State.

“Reflecting on Madi and Jelly, I think if anything, that state tournament completely refocused them for next year,” Larsen said. “We had set goals of getting there and winning a match or two. By exceeding expectations to the extent that we did, two things have happened. First, we’ll always think about that weekend with a great, sentimental feeling. It is filled with fun, thrilling, and positive moments. Even though we lost our last match, we took away so many good things that the tournament was a great experience for all of us. Secondly, and more to the point of future seasons, we found out what we’re capable of.”

Power in Peoria

in Boys Cross Country/Featured by

Photo: Kaneland junior Kyle Carter (1296) and senior Conor Johnson (1298) battle a Yorkville runner shortly after the 2-mile mark at Saturday’s IHSA State Cross Country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Johnson finished a team-best 15 minutes, 18 seconds, good enough for 36th place, while Carter was just behind in 15:22 (48th place). The Knights placed 13th in the meet. Photo by Justin Vacha

Knights’ 13th-best program in State after Detweiller Park run
by Mike Slodki
Peoria, Ill.—The Kaneland High School boys cross country team set a number of personal and team records at the State Finals in Peoria on Saturday.

The Knights finished 13th overall, improving upon last year’s 15th place finish at State.

Yet, even more important than inching up the team final totals, the Knights set an all-time school record for team time of scoring runners, 78:34. Kaneland’s previous best mark of 78:43 was set by the 1987 State Championship team.

KHS head coach Chad Clarey said the team came to Peoria with a gameplan consisting of a list of goals, both on a personal and team level.

“The team executed our race plan flawlessly, in the deepest and fastest (Class) 2A field ever,” Clarey said. “We averaged 15:42 for our scoring runners, and even that wasn’t fast enough to make the top 10 of this class.”

Keyed by top-40 finishes from leaders Conor Johnson and Kyle Carter, Kaneland finished 13th overall with a team score of 351 points, 20 better than in 2011.

With an 85-point total, Chicago’s Jones High School took the top team trophy, followed by Belvidere North at 126 and Knight conference rival Yorkville at 129.

Former conference-mate Glenbard South was fifth overall at 190, while fellow Northern Illinois Big XII outfit Dixon was 10th.

Kaneland finished 10 points behind East Moline United, and ahead of Fenton’s 376.

“The team has worked so hard through summer heat, cold ice baths, intense intervals and exhausting races,” Clarey said. “We are so proud, and even more blessed to have had this opportunity come and then be answered by seven courageous young men and their teammates.”

John Wold of Glenbard South ran the course in 14 minutes, 16 seconds for the individual title, followed by Crystal Lake Central’s Alex Baker at 14:21, and Riley McInerney of Charleston rounded out the top three at 14:33.

The top-seven of the Knights proved itself formidable in chilly conditions, with the senior Johnson running his final high school race at a 36th-place clip of 15:18, good for a 5:06 pace, shaving 42 seconds off his state run the year prior.

“His (Johnson) senior leadership has been a major reason why we made it this far,” Clarey said. “We are very proud of his character, as well as his running talents.”

Carter was next for the KHS lineup at 15:22, completing his junior season in 48th place in the state. Carter’s time shaved 23 seconds off last year’s appearance at the State Finals.

“We are so proud of Kyle, and all he has managed these past four weeks with an IT band injury,” Clarey said. “He’s overcome a lot, and certainly been a leader on the course and in practices.”

Junior Nathaniel Kucera was 103rd overall at 15:51.

“Nathaniel Kucera didn’t even make our state roster last fall. He turned that disappointment into fuel for a fire that allowed him to post an incredible 15:51 PR,” Clarey said. “His story from 2011 to 2012 will be long remembered, and cherished.”

Senior teammate John Meisinger took 111th at 15:53.

“Seeing seniors like Meisinger leave the course smiling and fulfilled is probably the best part of our day, as coaches,” Clarey said.

Junior Luis Acosta was fifth-best on the team and 139th overall with an effort of 16:12. Kaneland senior Brandon Huber was 157th overall at 16:22, while junior Ryan Bower finished the State lineup at 16:32 for 165th place.

“There isn’t a trophy for what this team achieved, but there’s great satisfaction in knowing that their group set the new standard over another that was Coach Eddington’s greatest cross country team,” Clarey said. “Granted, we are twice the size of a school now than when Larry’s crew won in ‘87.”

Boys basketball spaghetti dinner

in Boys Basketball by

Kaneland—The Kaneland boys basketball program will offer its fourth annual spaghetti dinner for the Kaneland community on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

The price per person is $5. Enjoy food that will be served by the boys in the basketball program.

RSVP to Brian Johnson by email, brian.johnson@kaneland.org, or by phone at (630) 365-5100, ext. 347.

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