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Sports - page 45

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.

Fedderly recognized by Chicago Bears

in Featured/Football by

Sixth-year coach gets Coach of the Week award after Morris win
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—In the midst of playoff preparations for a first-round rematch with Belvidere on Oct. 23, KHS coach Tom Fedderly checked his voicemail messages.

“It was Pat McCaskey of the Bears telling me that I’d been named Bears Coach of the Week for Week 9 after our win against Morris,” Fedderly said. “I couldn’t believe it, I thought someone was pranking me.”

The Bears selected a High School Coach of the Week after every regular season game, with Fedderly selected after the last-minute win over Morris to secure Kaneland’s third consecutive Northern Illinois Big XII Conference title and undefeated regular season.

The Coach of the Week program is in its 17th season and also has some nice perks for the winning coaches.

Fedderly and the winning coaches will be invited to attend a “chalk-talk” with Bears coach Lovie Smith and have lunch with the ninth-year coach. That leads up to the Sunday, Dec. 2, contest against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field.

The Bears also make a $1,500 donation to the winning school’s football program.

Honors aside, Fedderly is not just happy for himself.

“This isn’t about me, this really is about the whole staff, who work so hard. It’s nice to see this, we really have young, hard-working coaches that do such a great job,” Fedderly said.

The weekly honor winners are not the only ones that are scheduled to be introduced at halftime, but also the eight state championship winning coaches.

Fedderly hopes there’s a bit of overlap when it comes to his honor.

“We hope we’re in there, but I’m lucky to have this, and it’s about what the staff has been able to do,” Fedderly said.

The Knights travel to Lincoln-Way West High School for their second-round matchup on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m.

First things first

in Featured/Football by

Photo: Kaneland’s Kory Harner takes down the Belvidere receiver in the third quarter of the Knight’s 48-0 home playoff romp on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Knight attack
sends Belvidere Bucs
reeling in 48-0 win

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Saturday night seemed familiar.

No. 1 Kaneland and No. 16 Belvidere once again brought in 9-0 and 5-4 records, respectively, to their second consecutive Class 5A first-round meeting.

The obviously similar occurrence to last year would be the Knights football squad emerging as the victor, which was about the only thing the same.

Instead of a 51-45 shootout from a year ago, the Knights jumped out early and stifled whatever Belvidere’s offense could muster in a 48-0 shellacking of the NIC-10 representative Bucs.

Kaneland (10-0) begins a playoff win streak anew after losing in the Class 5A State semifinals to visiting Montini Catholic to close out the 2011 season.

KHS is now 35-3 in its last 38 contests, dating back to the 2009 campaign.

Belvidere finishes at 5-5 after putting up 74 total yards and three first downs, despite the vast talents of quarterback Troy Vandenbroek and wide out Kane Steger.

Running back Jesse Balluff had 110 yards rushing and two scores, while quarterback Drew David continued to work his way back from a nagging hand injury with 128 yards passing and a rushing TD.

On the defensive end, Dylan Nauert picked off three passes and very nearly ran them in for scores before being stopped.

Balluff got things started early, with shades of Quinn Buschbacher’s first play from scrimmage in 2011, taking a direct snap out of wildcat formation all the way to the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown just 81 seconds into the contest for a 7-0 lead.

After a Blake Bradford fumble recovery deep into Bucs’ territory, Balluff scored from the 1 four plays later for a 14-0 edge.

“We knew their defense was the weaker part of their team,” Balluff said. “We scored 51 last year and we knew that was coming, but still, we were worried about their offense.”

The Knights’ next drive had a key third-down pass to Zach Martinelli for 19 yards, and two plays later, David called his own number for a one-yard touchdown sneak for a 21-0 lead with 10:43 left in the second quarter.

Kaneland employed Balluff to gain ground on its next drive, and Matt Rodriguez nailed a 35-yard field goal try with 3:18 remaining in the first half for a 24-0 lead.

A Nauert interception on the first play of the Bucs’ ensuing drive gave the ball back to KHS at the 13-yard line, where Rodriguez hit his second field goal, a 25-yarder, for a 27-0 advantage with 1:30 left in the first half.

Belvidere began the second half with a three-and-out, allowing David to find Kyle Pollastrini after one play for a 56-yard TD strike after the receiver deftly followed a block and galloped down the sideline with 10:49 left in the third for a 34-0 edge.

Nauert had interceptions on the next two Belvidere drives, the final one putting Kaneland at the visitors’ 21.

Fullback Nate Dyer ran the ball six consecutive times before plunging in from the 1-yard line for a 41-0 lead with 3:10 to go in the third to trigger the running clock.

Backup QB Tyler Carlson scampered for a 30-yard TD run with 5:12 to go for the final 48-point margin.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly made sure the Knights were not caught off guard by their foes from the north again.

“We really wanted to make sure we gave them our best effort tonight,” Fedderly said. “I’m really happy with the results. You look at some of the teams they play, and they’re great, like Rockford Boylan, Harlem and Hononegah. We’re just not taking anyone for granted.”

Saturday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m. brings the second-round challenge for the Knights, in the form of a road jaunt to New Lenox, Ill., to face the host No. 9 Lincoln-Way West (LW-W) Warriors. The Warriors, coached by Todd Ernst, finished 6-3 in the regular season and ousted No. 8 Rochelle on Friday night in a 35-0 drubbing of the Hubs in Ogle County.

The Warriors, members of the Southwest Suburban Conference Red Division, outscored its opponents by an average of 24-13 through the regular season, and also made it to the second round a year ago.

LW-W gave up a season-high 19 points back on opening night, Aug. 24, against Kaneland rival Sycamore in a 19-13 setback.

The Knights-Warriors battle marks the first time KHS has been on the road for a second-round matchup since a meeting with the North Chicago Warhawks back in 2006.

Offsetting Rochelle’s loss, the Northern Illinois Big XII saw wins from Sycamore with a 35-13 win over Chicago’s King, and Morris, which beat Rich East 44-0.

KHS clears regional net, subdued at sectionals

in Featured/Volleyball by

Photo: Three Kaneland volleyball captains receive the Regional Plaque at Hampshire on Oct. 25: Jenny Lubic (left to right), Ashley Prost and Lauren Banbury.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Lady Knights dethrone Sycamore, defeated by R-B on Tuesday
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Volleyball came to its end for Kaneland High School on Tuesday night in Woodstock, Ill., but not before the postseason run had its share of highlights.

While KHS was ousted in the Marian Central Catholic Sectional by fellow Class 2A unit Richmond-Burton, the Kaneland program achieved a monumental Hampshire Regional championship win last Thursday against Sycamore.

The Knights had their work cut out for them on Thursday, battling not just Sycamore, but the ghosts of regionals past.

What occurred was an exorcizing and subsequwnt nabbing of the school’s first regional championship since 1991.

“I think we put everything we had out there and outhustled them as much as we could,” sophomore Ellie Dunn (four kills) said. “We ran for balls that I didn’t even think we could get sometimes.”

Midway through the first set saw the Lady Knights work out to a 15-9 lead, but the Debbie Klock-coached Lady Spartans closed within 15-12. Side outs were exchanged until a Lauren Banbury kill made it 18-14.

After Sycamore closed within 18-17, Side outs and errors played into the match with kill attempts often finding their way out of bounds. The Lady Spartans closed within 21-19, but kills by Lyndi Scholl (seven kills, six digs) and Banbury increased the lead to four. After a spike attempt went over the line, it was a Banbury kill that served as game point with the final six-point margin.

A tight second game saw a lead as big as six for KHS. A Keri Groen kill set the score at 19-17, with a Scholl kill increasing the lead to three.

The Lady Spartan lineup rallied to tie with an ace at 20-20, but a set into the net gave the Lady Knights the lead for good at 21-20. It was an exchange of Side outs that led to game point, with a bump that trailed off, serving as game point for the final two-point margin.

“They are a really good team, so I was expecting just craziness to come,” Banbury said. “I was giving everything I had on the court, and I think the team was, too.”

KHS coach Todd Weimer’s first regional title in his eighth season at the helm came as part of team play that was par for the course.

“I think it’s been a pretty terrific season. We’ve had some really good matches. I don’t know if this was our best match or not, and there’s always room for improvement. But this is the best effort I’ve seen from these girls,” Weimer said.

In Tuesday’s other sectional semi, Marian Central Catholic defeated Grayslake Central, 25-17, 25-9.

The Lady Knight program says goodbye to seniors Tucek, Rachael Clinton, Scholl, Groen, Banbury and Ashley Prost.

Soccer’s sectional dream stopped

in Boys Soccer/Featured by

Photo: Tyler Siebert put the Knights ahead 1-0 in the first half during the Class 2A Sterling sectional championship against East Moline United on Friday. Kaneland hung on for two overtimes but lost 3-2. File Photo

Knight’s furthest road ever blocked by East Moline U. after 2 OT
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Kaneland High School soccer was in definite unchartered territory this postseason.

The further out you go in unchartered territory, however, the more threats can cut you down.

Such was the case on Friday evening at the Class 2A Sterling Sectional, where the Knight attack was defeated in two overtimes by East Moline United, 3-2.

The Knights’ journey ended with a record of 16-4-2, thanks to the setback at the hands of the Panthers.

Kaneland had reached its first ever Sectional title match with a 1-0 win over Freeport on Oct. 24.

The Panthers met Arlington Heights, Ill., outfit St. Viator in the Hampshire Super-Sectional meeting on Tuesday.

Kaneland made it to the DeKalb Regional championship in 2011 before being eliminated by Marmion Academy, and was defeated in overtime by semifinal opponent Sterling in the Belvidere Sectional in 2010.

A Panther goal 93 seconds into the first overtime provided the final margin, and Kaneland was unable to match the output in the following 10-minute overtime.

The regulation scoring all occurred in the first half, as Tyler Siebert put one on the board five minutes, 24 seconds into action.

After EMU scored two goals, Alec Koczka scored with 5:01 remaining.

The Knights’ win over the Pretzel lineup was highlighted by a second-half goal from Alex Gil with 20:20 remaining in the contest.

“We had a very good run, and it was a shame it ended, but the boys worked hard all year,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “It is amazing we were able to accomplish all we did when we didn’t have a Saturday practice because of players having to work. That is the way it is; the economy has had an effect on us. I am so very proud of what we accomplished.”

With the loss, Kaneland says goodbye to a handful of seniors instrumental in the success garnered in 2012: Ryan Straughn, Cullen MacKenzie, Sam Kilgore, Marshall Farthing, Kushstrim Ismaili, Gil, Jason Biddle, Sam Rymarz, Ben Longson, Alonzo Dominguez, Diego Ochoa and Koczka.

The toughest path to State

in Girls Cross Country by

Loaded Sectional tests successful Lady Knight cross country team
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—It seems like old times for the Lady Knight cross county squad, which is just fine.

Dealing with what many consider the toughest Class 2A Sectionals in the entire state, in the form of the Belvidere gathering, Kaneland’s roster qualified for the Class 2A State meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill. This is the second straight year the Lady Knights advanced to the State Finals.

The three-mile course in Boone County had Marengo take the ultimate crown with a 57-point total, followed by Crystal Lake Central at 76, Kaneland at 131, Vernon Hills at 166 and Grayslake Central at 173, to round out the qualifying teams. Prairie Ridge of Crystal Lake, Ill., missed the cut at 203 in the 21-team clash.

Marengo senior Katie Adams outran the field with a stellar time of 17 minutes, 23.2 seconds, but was followed closely by Kaneland’s own Victoria Clinton at 17:38.6.

Crystal Lake Central’s area standout Sami Staples took third at 17:49.5.

Kaneland’s top seven finished within a two minute, 27.4 second split, led by Clinton’s time.

Freshman Brianna Bower was second-best for the Lady Knights (10th place) with a time of 18:35.7.

Clinton and Bower took home all-Sectional honors with their efforts, and the freshman felt good in the new postseason setting.

“I just ran it the same way I always do,” Bower said. “I was a little nervous at first, but once the race started it was OK.”

Following nearby was senior Abby Dodis (33rd) at 19:20.4.

Sydney Strang (41st) ran the course in 19:30.6 for fourth-best on the squad, followed by Amanda Lesak (45th) at 19:37.2.

“Abby Dodis, Sydney Strang and Amanda Lesak ran their usual strong races to round out the top five,” KHS head coach Doug Ecker said.

Senior Maggie Brundige (50th) ran her last-ever sectional at 19:45.7, while Aislinn Lodwig (57th) rounded out the top seven at 20:06.

“Finishing third in the toughest 2A sectional in the state capped off a great year that saw the girls win the regional, finish second in the conference, and win two invitational championships,” Ecker said.

Kaneland will run at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.

BXC’s big day in Belvidere

in Boys Cross Country by

Boys running crew clinches 16th trip to State in 26 years
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Chilly weather and northern Illinois powerhouses did their collective best to stop Kaneland boys cross country.

But the Knight collective powered through to earn a State berth.

In the loaded Belvidere Sectional on Saturday, the Knights finished fifth overall with a point total of 174.

The Knights outlasted sixth-place Grayslake Central by 11 points for the final qualifying spot.

Belvidere North was crowned sectional champ with a 47 point output, while Dixon had 95 for second place. Deerfield had 108 for third, while Crystal Lake Central had 109 to fill out the top five spots in the 21-team gathering.

In 2011, the Knights took fourth at sectionals, while it was lone Knight Trevor Holm that qualified in 2010. KHS finished fifth in 2009.

The is the 16th time the Knights have qualified for State since 1986, and they have made the trip in four of the last five years.

Belvidere North speedster Garrett Lee finished first overall in his final sectional, completing the three-mile course in 14 minutes, 49 seconds.

Kaneland junior Kyle Carter was tops for his team with a time of 15:42.2 for 16th place, followed by senior counterpart Conor Johnson at 15:51.1 for 17th place.

“Our 1-2 punch of Carter and Johnson was great,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “We knew we needed to beat Vernon Hills and Grayslake Central, and they beat other top runners. Our three, four and five runners made a huge impact.”

Senior John Meisinger (39) was third for the KHS lineup at 16:20.3, followed by Luis Acosta (48) at 16:32.0.

“Senior John Meisenger saved his best race of the season for a course he races well on last fall,” Clarey said. “John beat important scoring runners from teams we needed to defeat in such a talented and loaded field.”

Junior Nathaniel Kucera (54) was fifth for the Knights with an effort of 16:41.9, and fellow senior Brandon Huber (56) took sixth at 16:43.6. In seventh for the Knights was Ryan Paulson (70) at 16:53.4.

“Luis Acosta and Nathaniel Kucera looked exceptionally strong through the mid-race checkpoints,” Clarey said. “Kucera cramped up a bit, fell back, then finished strong to complete our scoring.”

Clarey said it was his team’s pack-running mentality that led to the strong team finish.

“Our pack made the difference for us today, running right at 60 seconds,” he said. “Having our third to seventh runners just 33 seconds apart was an advantage for us; being able to see your own teammates throughout the race is such a big key for us.”

The State race takes place on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to race without the burden of pressure (from having to qualify), set some new PR’s at Detweiller (Park),” and give ourselves a shot at bettering our 2011 finish,” Clarey said, referring to the team’s 15th-place mark in Class 2A last season.

Kaneland boys basketball annual 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.

NIB-12 champions

in Featured/Football by

Last-minute heroics lead to win over Morris, 3rd-straight conference crown
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—It was anyone’s ballgame to win.

By virtue of heightened play on their last drive, coupled with a bit of luck, it turned out to be Kaneland’s ballgame.

Echoing the dramatic narrative histrionics of a year ago in Grundy County, it came down to the Knights’ final possession against Morris on Friday, with Drew David throwing a five-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Zach Martinelli with :27 left for a 33-30 win.

“We’ve run that route numerous times all year, and Drew put that ball on the money,” Martinelli said. “It couldn’t have been any better. I saw it coming and I was smiling.”

The win cemented Kaneland’s third straight undefeated regular season. Kaneland’s program has now won 28 regular season games in a row. Counting the postseason, KHS is 34-3 in its last 37 contests.

The Knights also finish the regular season as Northern Illinois Big XII East division champions and have never lost a conference game.

Kaneland outgained the visiting Redskins by a count of 408-280 and advanced 200 yards on the ground in the win.

Jesse Balluff provided immense support for the Knights with a 140-yard rushing effort with a touchdown, and even took some snaps out of the Wildcat formation to relieve David, who is still recovering from a nagging hand injury.

Morris quarterback Zach Cinnamon had a team-high 81 yards rushing.

His counterpart, David, was 13-for-21 for 208 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

“I didn’t play last Friday, and I felt a little out of the game rhythm, but once we got back on the field for the first play I was good to go,” David said.

Martinelli was the top receiver with six catches for 124 yards.

KHS struck first in the opening frame, thanks to a third-down pass under pressure to Martinelli for a 59-yard touchdown with :10 left in the first for a 7-0 lead.

A kickoff return for a touchdown by Morris was called back because of a penalty, negating Morris’ chance to answer.

Morris’ first score came on a Cinnamon touchdown run from the 15-yard line with 4:21 remaining in the half.

KHS seemed to be moving toward another score, but a tipped pass was picked off by Josh Lincoln at the 5-yard line and returned all the way back to the 16-yard line of KHS. With time for one play, Fernando DelToro’s 33-yard field goal try ended the half with the Redskins taking a 10-7 lead.

Third-quarter scoring got underway with Balluff galloping over a tackler and going for a 53-yard touchdown with 8:38 remaining for a 14-10 lead in the third quarter.

The following drive went eight plays, featuring Balluff runs and a pass to Kyle Pollastrini. However, the drive stalled, allowing Matt Rodriguez to boot a 41-yard field goal for a 17-10 lead with 3:10 remaining.

Morris took five plays to find the end zone as Anthonee Monson scored on a 16-yard TD pass with :56 left in the frame to tie the score.

The fourth quarter began with six Balluff runs and a 39-yard field goal for a 20-17 lead with 9:52 remaining in regulation.

Morris used an Austin Hogan kickoff return to set up shop at the KHS 31. Reese Sobol scored on a 20-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of the drive for a 24-20 Morris lead with 8:01 remaining.

Kaneland made good on the next drive: an eight-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Dylan Nauert catching a touchdown pass from the 14 out of trips formation for a 27-24 edge with 4:10 remaining.

The two squads traded punts with Morris scoring next, thanks to a 49-yard scamper by Cinnamon with 1:58 remaining. The extra-point try was no good, but Morris still led 30-27.

After two incomplete passes, David rushed for 15, 33 and two yards to put the Knights in solid Redskins territory.

A pass to Pollastrini was good for 19 yards, which set up the final successful play.

Morris had a chance to drive 69 yards in 21 seconds, but Cinnamon was sacked on the final play.

“We go every week saying it’s going to be a four-quarter game,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly. “We’ve got to play every single second of the game until the last play is done, and we had to do it tonight.”

Kaneland, as the No. 1 seed on its side of the bracket, will host No. 16 Belvidere at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27. Kaneland held on against the Bucs in the first round of the 2011 playoffs for a 51-45 barnburner.

IHSA Class 5A Playoff Notes
No. 1 Kaneland will host Belvidere High School in the first round of the Class 5A State Series.

Belvidere comes to Kaneland with a 5-4 overall record, and averages a 12.2 scoring deficit for the year.

Meanwhile, Kaneland enters the playoffs with a perfect 9-0 record, outscoring its opponents by an average 28.1 points per game.

Back to the top

in Boys Soccer/Featured by

Photo: Kushstrim Ismaili tries to get control of the ball in the rain during Kaneland’s 5-1 playoff win against IMSA at Burlington on Oct. 17. Photo by John DiDonna

Soccer crew wins 2nd regional plaque in 3 seasons
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Saturday’s Class 2A Burlington Central Regional title match between No. 1 Kaneland and No. 2 Burlington Central was a tight affair between two teams playing with a well-disciplined edge.

While that can fill any accomplished team with some degree of pride, what really seals the deal is the hardware the Knights secured after a 2-1 win.

An initial two-goal lead held until the end, despite constant pressure from the host Rockets, and Kaneland came away with its second regional title in three seasons. The Knights last won a regional in 2010, but were defeated by Sterling at Belvidere High School in the sectional semifinal in a postseason that featured nine overtime frames.

Kaneland got to the regional promised land due to a 5-1 win over Illinois Math and Science Academy on Oct. 17.

Kaneland now takes on Freeport, which beat Belvidere on Saturday as part of the Belvidere Regional on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

The Knights (15-3-2) took it to the Rocket rivals (17-4-2) early with a booming rocket of a kick by Alex Gil with 19:20 remaining in the first half.

“We practice switching the field and going back and forth,” Gil said. “We go left and right, and I was able to get it in.”

The Rockets were barely able to catch their breath before Alec Koczka’s header in the same area where Gil’s goal ended up made it 2-0 with 18:05 to go.

Burlington Central kept pressing and ended up halving the deficit with a goal from Alan Camarena with 10 minutes left on the first-half clock.

The second half had the majority of the action around Kaneland’s goal and a final flurry was set away, volleyball style, by goalkeeper Marshall Farthing with :16 left.

“That was just a quick reaction I had,” Farthing said. “I didn’t know what else to do. It just came right in and I stuck my hands out.”

The Knights’ win over the Titans featured a 5-0 lead at halftime, thanks to goals from Tyler Siebert, Kushstrim Ismaili, a free kick by Sam Rymarz and two goals from Anthony Parillo.

The Knight-Pretzel encounter was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Sterling, with the winner facing either East Moline’s United Twp. or Rochelle in the final on Friday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m.

Results of Wednesday’s contest were unavailable at press time.

Big win keeps Girls XC party going

in Featured/Girls Cross Country by

Effort of top 7 nabs 1st regional crown in 20 years
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If you don’t have totals worthy of a sectional, your season comes to an end in girls cross country.

Luckily, KHS won’t have to worry about that matter, as their 43-point total at their own regional on Saturday morning grabbed a first-place regional plaque.

The one-point win over Crystal Lake Central sends the Lady Knight roster to the Class 2A Belvidere Sectional along with Crystal Lake and Prairie Ridge, which amassed 80 points.

Kaneland had five of the top 15 runners to put the team over the top, most notably sophomore Victoria Clinton, who ran in 18 minutes, 5.7 seconds.

“It was an excellent race by the entire top seven and an overall team victory,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

Next for Kaneland was Brianna Bower, who continues to make waves as a freshman with a time of 19:33.8

“(Brianna) finished sixth as she continues her steady improvement with each race,” Ecker said.

Sydney Strang finished ninth with a time of 19:55.6, while the next KHS representative was senior Abby Dodis with a time of 20:16.3, good for 12th.

Senior teammate Amanda Lesak was 15th best in the field with a time of 20:27.

The upcoming Belvidere Sectional takes place on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 10 a.m. for the girls, along with eligible teams from the Antioch and Belvidere North Sectionals.

A year ago, Kaneland was the fourth-best roster to advance to State, thanks to a one-two punch from Clinton (18:28) and Dodis (18:52).

Strong end for KHS tennis

in Featured/Tennis by

2 entries represent Lady Knights program proudly
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—No State medals were garnered, but the two separate Lady Knight entries that made the trip to the IHSA State meet at various northwest suburban tennis courts acclimated themselves well.

Kaneland High School had two entries head to State competition for the first time in school history, and was represented by No. 1 singles entry Sammie Schrepferman and No. 1 doubles tandem, Jelly Emmanouil and Madi Jurcenko.

Keisha Clousing of Wheaton-Warrenville South ultimately won the singles group, but Schrepferman had already made history by being the first Lady Knight singles player in history to make it to the late October dance.

The sophomore lost her two matches on Thursday, first to Adesuwa Osabuohien of Homewood-Flossmoor in a 6-1, 6-1 match, and finally to Oswego East athlete Jaiere Harlow by a tally of 6-4, 7-5 in the consolation bracket.

For the third year in a row, the Lady Knights had a Jurcenko in the State tourney, and the Emmanouil/Jurcenko crew beat Grace Alexander and Sam Diemer of Boylan Catholic High School by a final of 6-4, 6-0 in the opening round on Thursday.

The second round saw Kaneland’s duo beat the Whitney Young team of Syedah Cabell and Kendall Scruggs in a 7-6, 6-3 match.

The action picked up on Saturday after rain delays at Palatine High School, and the KHS duo took yet another match in the fourth round over Rachel and Rebecca Lewis of Danville by a final of 5-7, 7-6, 6-3.

The fifth round had Emmanouil and Jurcenko take a match over the Glenbrook South team of Martina Dragoytchev and Jessica Chepurda in an 8-5 single-setter, assuring a claim of a top-24 team.

The Lady Knight unit saw its season come to an end with a loss to New Trier’s Kirstie Woodbury and Cammy Frei by an 8-3 final that would have sent Kaneland’s team to a top-16 berth.

KHS coach Tim Larsen was glad that the talent on paper translated to actual court time.

“The girls and I knew that we had talent on the team, but didn’t know what we were capable of in the State tournament,” Larsen said. “Now we know. Having done that well as sophomores isn’t going to be a ‘finish line’ mentality at all. I can tell you for sure that Sammie has seen what it takes to have success in that tournament, and she will be more determined than ever to do so next year. And for Madi and Jelly, they surpassed their own goals for this year’s tournament. That was because the tournament was still somewhat of an unknown to us. Next year, we’ll be able to set challenging, realistic goals because of this year’s experience.”

With the end of the productive season, Kaneland tennis says goodbye to seniors Jenna Bicos, Sara Grams, Aly Harner, Brooke Harner, Cara Lenhardt, Danielle McCormack, Abby Meyer and Jessica Woodward.

Good enough

in Boys Cross Country/Featured by

Boys XC punches Sectional ticket with 2nd-place finish
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If it weren’t for Crystal Lake Central, Kaneland High School boys cross country would have even more to celebrate.

As it stands, celebrating a berth at the Belvidere Sectional is cause enough.

With a pack separated by 46 seconds, the Knight lineup took second at the Class 2A Kaneland Regional on Saturday, thanks to a 69 point total.

Crystal Lake finished with 31 points, while Sycamore had 96 points to be the third and last unit to travel to the Sectional. The Spartans edged Prairie Ridge by one point.

Burlington Central, Woodstock, Hampshire and Rochelle rounded out the eight-team field.

“The team had a better overall performance than the conference meet,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “We have some mental hurdles to clear, but this group can respond quickly with great senior leadership.”

Crystal Lake senior Alex Baker was the first of three straight teammates to top the race, and finished with a leading time of 15 minutes, 37.1 seconds.

Kaneland’s top runner was senior leader Conor Johnson, who finished sixth with a time of 16:36.9.

Following closely was junior teammate Kyle Carter, who finished with a time of 16:37.2.

In 13th place was Knight junior Nathaniel Kucera, who finished with an effort of 16:56.5.

Junior Luis Acosta was fourth-best for the Kaneland lineup in 20th place overall at 17:14.4, and Brandon Huber was 23rd with a time of 17:24.0.

“We know the rigors of our home course, and we needed to get a solid race in and finish the day healthy,” Clarey said.

The boys race begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, with successful teams from the Antioch and Belvidere North Regionals.

Special Export

in Boys Track by

With area’s help, local athlete Dyer can head Down Under
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland junior Nate Dyer has had quite the list of athletic accomplishments.

Currently, he can be seen on the gridiron pounding out necessary yards in short-yardage situations.

In the spring, he can be seen chucking in the shot put in the area and at State.

But the summer of 2013 could see an amazing and unique opportunity for the already-accomplished athlete, with your help.

Dyer and his family, in cooperation with American Legion Post 312 in Maple Park, hosted an “All-U-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner” fundraiser on Saturday to help raise funds for a potential trip to Australia, organized by Down Under Sports for an international track competition.

“I got a letter about it in August, and I’d like to go. My brother (Brock) did track, and I started doing it in eighth grade and realized I was pretty good,” Dyer said.

For the competition happening July 5-7, 2013, funds are due June 3, according to Penny Dyer. The cost of the trip runs $5,200.

According to Penny, the Australian outfit researched the IHSA’s track elite to invite track athletes, with just 300 athletes chosen nationwide.

Dyer, who states his goal is to one day compete in a future Summer Olympiad, is eager to hit the Southern Hemisphere location.

“It’s a four-hour flight to L.A. and about 14 hours from there, but I’d like to go and it’d be fun,” Nate said.

Dyer was the only sophomore in the state to qualify for both the shot put and discus events and was an all-Northern Illinois Big XII Conference selection, as well.

“We’ve got some other ideas out there for fundraisers, and we’ve been talking with Mardi Gras Lanes in DeKalb to possibly host something, and Down Under Sports has T-shirts available to sell,” Penny said. “It’s all-you-can-eat spaghetti with good dessert.”

To support Dyer and his goal of competing Down Under, contact Penny Dyer at (630) 742-6388. All the effort could go a long way for the junior that has already competed nationwide.

“He wants to go, definitely,” Penny said. “We’ll have some of his medals there and people can see what he’s done. We can get him there and help him experience it.”

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