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Sports - page 53

Lekkas among elite chosen for hockey camp

in Elburn/Miscellaneous by

ELBURN—Junior Stefanos Lekkas of Elburn is set to attend the USA Hockey National Player Development Camp held from July 7-13, at the Sports Centre in Rochester, N.Y.

Lekkas, a goaltender, is slated for the Youth Select 16 grouping. He was selected by the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League in their futures draft in May.

KYSO registration online

in Community Sports by

KANELAND—Soccer enthusiasts between the ages of 4 and 17 years old can now register online to play in the KYSO fall season, which will run from Aug. 18 through Oct. 20. The registration deadline is Saturday, June 30. The fee, which includes a jersey, shorts and socks, is $85 for the first player and $60 for any additional players from the same family. Register now at

KYSO is an open-registration organization that serves soccer players all across Northern Illinois. All KYSO practices and games are held at the fields located just to the east of Kaneland High School (47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park).

Consider coaching your child’s team. Support and training will be provided. Open registration can also accommodate special needs players between the ages of 5 and 16 years old, who play with Buddy assistance —the fee is $25. More information can be found on regarding the Kaneland United Soccer Club, as well.

Pitcher Park honored in Ohio

in Baseball by

LIMA, Oh.—After winning 31 games and advancing to the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference tournament, the University of Northwestern Ohio baseball team was honored by the WHAC with three players on the first team All-Conference list and six more on the honorable mention roll.

Pitchers Austin Park, a 2008 graduate of Kaneland High School, and outfielder Ben Smith were named to the first team. Pitchers Juan Espinosa and Pichi Torres, infielders Dylan Brammer and Ben Schubert, catcher Cory Cook, and designated hitter Kevin Cyrus appear on the honorable mention list.

Park was 5-0 with a team-leading 19 appearances, with a 0.96 ERA and 29 strikeouts, while being named to the All-Academic team.

Former Knight Crosby now in MLB win club

in Baseball/Featured/Sports by

Photo: Casey Crosby went 5.1 innings for his first-ever win as a member of the Detroit Tigers pitching staff.
Originally scheduled to start against the Cubs on Wednesday, he is slated to pitch on Friday, June 15, against
Colorado. Mark Cunningham/Detroit Tigers

KHS grad holds
Indians at bay, Tigers player development impressed

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—After his Major League Baseball debut on June 1, Casey Crosby knew he had to push on after a less-than-desirable result.

“You don’t dwell on it and you move on, and the experience is for the better,” Crosby said on June 5.

The member of Kaneland High School’s class of 2007 came back against the American League Central Division rival Cleveland Indians, and earned his first win (1-1) after leading the effort in a 7-5 result.

The lefty went 5.1 innings, two full innings more than his losing effort against the visiting New York Yankees.

Crosby allowed three earned runs on five hits, while striking out two batters and walking three. He threw 91 pitches, 54 for strikes.

Four pitchers followed the former Knight two-sport standout, with Tigers closer Jose Valverde tossing a perfect ninth.

For a highly-touted draft pick like Crosby, selected in the fifth round five years ago, it’s rewarding for the personnel keeping tabs on promise.

“He was a young kid making his first start and facing New York and obviously he didn’t have the start he wanted, but he adjusted well and did things differently in his next start,” Dave Owen, Tigers director of Player Development, said.

Owen, fresh from a trip to Detroit to prepare for the MLB Draft earlier this month, was able to see Crosby in his major league infancy.

“Obviously he’s a great competitor and had success and injuries,” Owen said. “He’s a terrific athlete and ready to emerge and help the club, and we hope he has a long career ahead of him.”

Crosby was the sixth player from the Tigers’ 2007 draft taken. The odds are immense to make it, but Crosby and teammate Rick Porcello are products of the designed strategy.

“You root for everyone to make it and want to see everyone succeed, top to bottom, no matter what round they are taken,” Owen said. “Each call-up is unique and there’s joy when they come up because you get to know them and build relationships with them.”

Owen, who also swung a bat for the 1984 National League East champ Chicago Cubs, believes Crosby has tools in his favor that stand to be heightened.

“He has a plus fastball, and a great changeup. He’s a three-pitch guy and he’s going to gain experience along the way,” Owen said.

Crosby dips into interleague play on Friday, June 15, against Colorado.

Spring kind to Kaneland athletics in awards season

in Baseball/Boys Track/Girls Soccer/Girls Track/Softball by

Photo: Delani Vest capped a stellar senior season for Lady Knights softball by nabbing the NIB-12 MVP honor. File photo

KANELAND—A highly successful 2011-12 spring season was recognized with team awards dished out earlier this week, as well as honors from the end-of-year senior athletic banquet.

Awards were released on June 3.

Leading the charge was sectional semifinalist softball, which boasted the Northern Illinois Big XII MVP in pitcher Delani Vest. Joining the senior on the all-conference list was Paige Kuefler, Hayley Contorno, Allyson O’Herron and McKinzie Mangers, with teammate Lexi Roach an honorable mention.

Vest, Mangers, O’Herron and Sam Hansen were recognized as captains. O’Herron was named defensive player of the year, while Roach was named most improved player. Kuefler and Lanie Callaghan were named co-offensive players of the year, while Contorno and Kristen Gabrielson took home the Lady Knight award.

The senior athletic banquet awards recognized University of Wisconsin-Whitewater bound Sean Carter as Male Athlete of the Year, Kelly Evers as Female Athlete of the Year, Clayton Brundige as the Male Birkette award winner for dedication, and both Evers and Katy Dudzinski as the Female Birkette award for dedication recipient.

For boys track, Carter was named the Track MVP, while Nate Dyer took home the Field MVP honors. Brundige and Brandon Stahl were co-winners of the Drendel Award. Brundige, Carter, Miki Marin, Stahl, Nate Rehkopf, Kelvin Peterson and Mitch Dienst were recognized as captains. Dylan Nauert was named the winner of the Ron Probst award.

Finally, Kaneland’s boys track group of Luis Acosta, Brandon Bishop, Kyle Carter, Sean Carter, Dyer, Shane Jorgensen, Nate Kucera, Nauert, Tanner Andrews, Brandon Cottier, Marshall Farthing, Kory Harner, Conor Johnson, Dylan Pennington, Brundige and Marin were recognized as All NIB-12.

Meanwhile, the 11 State qualifiers were also lauded for their trip to Eastern Illinois University.

For Knights baseball, Tom Fox, Drew Peters, John Hopkins, Trevor Storck, Jake Razo and Tyler Heinle were named to the All NIB-12 team, with Bryan VanBogaert an honorable mention.

VanBogaert, Storck and Ray Barry took home the most improved player nods, and Trever Heinle was the recipient of the 41 Award in memory of Jeff Malewig. Fox was named the offensive MVP and Tyler Heinle was named defensive MVP, with Razo nabbed Mr. Kaneland Baseball for 2012.

The girls track season yielded quite the prestigious awards, with Amanda Lesak, Jessica Kucera, Maggie Brundige, Sydney Strang, Jen Howland, Lauren Zick and Kaltrina Ismaili being recognized as state qualifiers.

Christina Delach, Nicole Ketza, Elle Tattoni, Lesak, Gabby Aguirre, Strang, Zick, Ismaili and Howland also secured Northern Illinois Big XII honors.

Carolina Tovar and Ketza were recognized for their work as captains. Lesak took home the team’s most improved trophy.

The Track MVP honor was given to Strang, while the Field MVP honor went to Tattoni.

Kaneland soccer congratulated Jess Coia, Jordan Ginther, Delaney Stryczek and Katie Taylor for making All NIB-12, while Brittany Olson made the honorable mention list.

Melissa Bohorquez, Ginther, Taylor and Taylor White were recognized as captains, while Brooke Harner was named Most Improved Player for the Lady Knights.

Courtney Diddell and Madi Jurcenko capped impressive campaigns by garnering Rookie of the Year honors.

Taylor Opperman, Heather Ortiz and Stryczek were named winners of the Coach’s Award.

Michelle Ortiz and Olson were named winners of the Lady Knights Award, while the co-MVPs were revealed as Taylor and Ginther.

MWL Stars colliding in KC

in Kane County Cougars by

GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars are making final preparations for next week’s Midwest League All-Star Game, to be held on Tuesday, June 19, at 6 p.m. at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. The mid-season classic will feature some of the best talent in Minor League Baseball with 68 Midwest League players who were selected All-Stars last week.

Fans attending the Midwest League All-Star Game next Tuesday will be treated to numerous events and promotions throughout the day, beginning with a Fan Fest that kicks off at 11:30 a.m. The event will feature a variety of fun including music, food and drink, and opportunities to take batting practice and play catch on the field from noon to 2 p.m. A rock-climbing wall, trackless train and plenty of kid-friendly attractions such as face painters, jugglers, magicians and balloon artists will all be part of the Fan Fest, too, provided by and A Moon Jump 4-U. The first 1,500 fans through the gates that day will receive a commemorative All-Star Game aluminum sports bottle.

The evening’s game will be preceded by an extended-length autograph session from 5:10 to 5:40 p.m. and will feature both All-Star rosters. Entertainment that will be featured during next Tuesday’s All-Star Game includes in-game performances by the Zooperstars, live organ music during the game by famed Chicago White Sox organist Nancy Faust, music by the Chicago Cubs Dixieland Band, a post-game performance by the Jesse White Tumblers, and a booming fireworks show to follow. The Cougars will also welcome iconic Chicago performer Wayne Messmer, who will perform the National Anthem before the game. A long-standing Cougars tradition, fans may run the bases after the game.

A total of tree Cougars players will participate in the game. Outfielders Jorge Bonifacio and Lane Adams will form two-thirds of the starting outfield for the Western Division All-Stars. Cougars pitcher Matt Ridings is part of the 34-man Western Division squad as well, which will be managed by Cougars skipper Brian Buchanan.

Other Midwest League All-Stars who are part of the game include Francisco Lindor of Lake County (Cleveland Indians), ranked as the 29th best prospect in Minor League Baseball, and Beloit’s Miguel Sano (Minnesota Twins). Sano is one of the top sluggers in the Twins’ farm system, and is on pace for more than 90 RBI this season.

Tickets for the Midwest League All-Star Game includes admission to that day’s Fan Fest. A limited quantity of tickets remain for the Midwest League All-Star Game; fans can call (630) 232-8811 or visit to secure their seats.

Former Midwest League All-Stars include Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Greg Maddux, among many other former and current big league stars. The last time the Cougars hosted the game in 2007, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher and reigning National League Cy Young Winner Clayton Kershaw was on the All-Star roster.

Closest to the Pin

in Boys Basketball/Wrestling by

KHS wrestling coach Monty Jahns tees off during the Kaneland Boys Basketball Program 3rd Annual Golf Outing, which was held on Saturday at Bliss Creek Golf Club in Sugar Grove. The golf outing has been developed to bring together the Kaneland community, athletes, parents, alumni and community businesses. The fundraiser raised money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts. Photo by Patti Wilk

The Crosby Show

in Baseball/Featured/Kaneland by

Photo: Casey Crosby dishes toward the plate in his major league debut on Friday in a 9-4 loss to the New York Yankees at Comerica Park in Detroit. Crosby becomes the first Kaneland High School athlete to make the major leagues. Yankee Derek Jeter was the first hitter he faced on Friday. Mark Cunningham/Detroit Tigers

Former Knight lefty officially becomes current Tiger southpaw
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Never has a pitching appearance that lasted 3.1 innings been so noteworthy or celebrated.

Elburn and the surrounding area will forever remember the name Doug Fister, as it was his left side strain that forced the Detroit Tigers to sideline him last week with a 15-day disabled list stint. The club then called up Kaneland High School Class of 2007 member Casey Crosby on May 30.


“I felt like I was going to black out. I was all excited and couldn’t stand still.”

– Detroit Tiger Casey Crosby, on receiving the news of promotion to Major League Baseball last week.


Crosby, the 181st player selected in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft, received the call from the Tigers to go up to “The Show” and made his first start on Friday, nearly five years to the day he was selected by the Tigers.

Crosby recalled the details of the whirlwind week by phone at Comerica Park on Tuesday.

“They called around 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time and I was in Rochester (N.Y.),” Crosby said. “There is no explanation or way to prepare yourself. I felt like I was going to black out. I was all excited and I couldn’t stand still.”

Crosby’s first start was a national television broadcast done by Bob Costas and John Smoltz.

It was only against the New York Yankees.

While Crosby was replaced in the fourth inning of his major league debut, the southpaw is up with the big club and ready to help the Tigers in their American League Central division race.

“When I got into the locker room I saw (pitchers) Drew Smyly, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, and they said congrats.”

Crosby now serves manager Jim Leyland on the mound and was at ease when dealing with his tactics and his clubhouse.

“He’s definitely a player’s manager,” Crosby said. “He likes it loose in there, not tight. He talks with everyone before the game.”

While he flummoxed hitters like Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez on changeups, he fell victim to a bases-on-balls epidemic and surrendered a grand slam to Granderson, falling behind 5-1 in the second inning en route to getting tagged with the loss.

Going into the game, Crosby was able to have a degree of comfort due to a lineup switch.


“(Casey) is a humble kid who has come a long way.”

– KHS baseball coach Brian Aversa


“Omir Santos was the catcher that night and he caught me in Toledo (Class AAA), so he was familiar with me, and we were able to talk about what we would do,” Crosby said.

Crosby was prepared to go into Friday’s start for battle, regardless of the intimidating nature of the AL East powerhouse lineup.

“I knew entering in that it’s a big league linup and it’ll be tough. You just go in there and they are like any other hitters and you can get them out. You just try to make it through,” Crosby said.

Crosby had plenty of well-wishers that not only made a short trip to Comerica Park, but from here, as well.

“I felt like a little kid. (Casey) is a humble kid who has come a long way,” KHS baseball coach Brian Aversa said.

Aversa was able to be at the helm for Crosby’s senior season on the diamond in 2007. He was just one of approximately 25 people of a group that included family, friends, coaches and teammates like Jake Razo.

“It was so cool to see, and it’s all up to him now if he performs well. He’s shown he can pitch at this level,” Aversa said.

Crosby knows the sheer odds he had to wade through to get to Detroit. He plans to bounce back after taking the loss on Friday.

“You’ve seen the stats on players that make it to the majors after being drafted. It’s definitely cool to know you’re one that made it. You know how to succeed and you know how fail once you pitch on this level. You don’t dwell on it and you move on and that the experience is for the better.

Crosby is scheduled to face the visiting Cleveland Indians on Thursday, June 7.



• Crosby’s Tigers jersey No. 45 was most recently worn by Ryan Perry, Aquilino Lopez, Alexis Gomez and Lino Urdaneta.

• As of Friday, Crosby becomes the 12th player from the fifth round of the 2007 draft to make the majors, which includes Cardinals pitcher Mark Rzepczynski.

• As of Friday, Crosby becomes the 6th player from Detroit’s 2007 draft to make the majors, joining Rick Porcello, Danny Worth, Luke Putkonen, Charlie Furbush and former Cub DJ LeMahieu.

• As a Kaneland senior in 2006, Crosby nabbed 75 catches for 1,185 yards and 18 TD’s as a wide receiver for the Knights’ football squad that made it to the Class 5A semifinals.


Friday, June 1, 2012 Comerica Park, DETROIT, Mich. Detroit Tigers (24-27) vs. New York Yankees (27-23) 56 degrees, cloudy Wind: 14 mph, out to left Home plate umpire: Jerry Layne Yankees P: CC Sabathia (6-2) Crosby’s box score: Top 1: Derek Jeter singled to center, Curtis Granderson struck out looking, Mark Teixeira lined out to left, Jeter to second on passed ball, Alex Rodriguez struck out looking 0 runs, 1 hits, 0 errors NY Yankees 0, Detroit 0 A Danny Worth RBI single gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Top 2nd: Robinson Cano walked, Nick Swisher walked, Cano to second, Andruw Jones fouled out to third, Jayson Nix walked, Cano to third, Swisher to second, Chris Stewart flied out to shallow left, Jeter walked, Cano scored, Swisher to third, Nix to second, Granderson homered to deep right, Swisher, Nix and Jeter scored, Teixeira flied out to left 5 runs, 1 hits, 0 errors NY Yankees 5, Detroit 1 Top 3rd: Rodriguez struck out swinging, Cano grounded out to shortstop, Swisher flied out to left 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors NY Yankees 5, Detroit 1 A Ramon Santiago home run and a Prince Fiedler RBI single cut the Yankees lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the third inning. Top 4th: Jones grounded out to shortstop, Nix doubled to shallow right, Nix stole third Stewart singled to shallow center, Nix scored Luis Marte relieved C. Crosby 1 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors NY Yankees 6, Detroit 3 Final score: NY Yankees 9, Tigers 4 W: Sabathia (7-2) L: Crosby (0-1) SV: Rafael Soriano (7) IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP ERA Crosby 3.1 4 6 6 4 3 1 2.40 16.20 76 pitches, 40 strikes

Sterling softball too golden for Kaneland

in Featured/Softball by

Photo: Hayley Contorno slides safely into second on a hit by Sarah Grams in the second inning of Kaneland’s sectional playoff game against Sterling, hosted by Belvidere North, on May 30. Photo by John DiDonna

KHS softball (31-7) sees season end
in sectional semi

by Mike Slodki
BELVIDERE, Ill.—Kaneland softball’s season had more ups than downs in 2012.

Unfortunately, the Sterling Lady Warriors brand of diamond play made KHS land with a thud.

A Lady Knight lineup that saw the spectrum of convincing victories and dramatic comebacks in a regional championship—its first since 2005—fell victim to the pitching of Stephanie Kester and an opponent that plated nine runs in a 9-1 sectional semifinal result at Belvidere North High School on May 30.

Sterling lost to Marengo in the sectional final on Monday by a 2-1 clip.

Kaneland’s season ended at 31-7.

“They earned everything they got this year,” KHS coach Brian Willis said. “Certainly it’s encouraging that we’ll be getting people back, but it’s hard to comprehend right now and it’s disappointing to go out this way.”

Kester defeated Delani Vest in the pitching matchup in what would be Vest’s final varsity game.

But Vest contributed early with her bat after allowing a run in the top of the first inning.

After a double, Allyson O’Herron sacrificed her over to third base. Third baseman Paige Kuefler drove Vest home with a single but was thrown out at second.

Sterling scored twice in the second for a 3-1 deficit, and Kaneland would find itself with two runners on base for the last time in the game.

With one out, Hayley Contorno and Sarah Grams laced back-to-back singles, but Sam Hansen lined out and Vest popped out to end the threat.

Kaneland would get just two more hits the remainder of the game, and Sterling would put up two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and three more in the seventh to ice the win.

While Sterling’s fielding kept the Lady Knights mostly in check, Willis would liked to have seen enough hitting for the defense to be irrelevant.

“We bunted the ball too hard, it was right to their third baseman, and I would put it more on us than I would on them.”

With the conclusion of Kaneland’s softball year, the program says goodbye to seniors Vest, Hansen, McKinzie Mangers, Alexis Villarreal and Sarah Kitz.

Harter dominates middle school track

in Middle School by

Photo: Harter athletes make their way in the State parade. Courtesy Photo

KANELAND—Kaneland Harter Middle School tracksters ended their successful season with three noteworthy accomplishments. The first was on May 7 at Plano High School, where they claimed the title of Prairie Conference Champs at both the 7th and 8th grade levels against eight other schools. The next accomplishment came a week later at Sycamore, where 35 athletes qualified for the state meet in East Peoria, Ill. Qualifying athletes were: Tanner Robertson, Tyler Paulson, Andrew Burroughs, Jake Marczuk, Sean Spaetzel, Alec Aurelio, Giovanni, Regalado, Andy Delgado, Brandon Cruz, Jack Saloga, Mitch Groen, Freddy Paulino, Brock Harner, Chris Diehl, Hunter Regelbrugge, Adam Rivas, Seth Howlett, David Farrell, Connor Hoeft, Allison Heinzer, Olivia Galor, Brianna Bower, Gabby Cano, Holly Fedderly, Lexie Guerra, Carly Elliot, Maddie Keifer, Jenna Harvell, Rachel Goress, Nicole Sreenan, Alyson Jesionowski, Nina Rotter, Charity Montalbano, Kristen Siebert, and Erica Eckert.

On May 19, the team headed down to East Peoria to compete against the best athletes in the state. Despite the warm temperatures, all athletes performed well with the following outstanding performances: 7th grader Carley Elliott took 6th in the 400 meter dash with a time of 1:03.22, Brianna Bower took 9th in the 1600 meter run with a time of 5:31.79, and the 8th grade girls 4×400 meter relay took 10th with a time of 4:22.40, which broke the previous school record.

Waubonsee athletics inducts more HOF members

in Waubonsee Sports by

SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College recently inducted five new members into its Athletic Hall of Fame during the college’s annual Athletic Banquet. Waubonsee’s sixth class of inductees included former baseball player, coach and administrator, Dr. John Avendano; basketball player and current Indiana University assistant coach Tim Buckley; long-time area sportscaster and Chiefs’ supporter Jim Teckenbrock; two-time All-American wrestler Stanley Gress; and record-setting former baseball player Bob Stehman. The 2012 inductees were honored for their involvement in sports, dedication to Waubonsee, athletic successes, and contributions to the community or career accomplishments earned after leaving Waubonsee. The Hall of Fame was formed in 2007 in conjunction with the school’s 40th anniversary celebration.

“We are proud to recognize the success of our student-athletes, as well as the coaches, administrators and community supporters who helped to foster that success,” Waubonsee Athletic Manager Dave Randall said. “Waubonsee athletics has a rich history in contributing to the total development of our students and to the campus community as a whole.”

After being a stand-out athlete at Aurora East High School, Dr. John Avendano came to Waubonsee to play baseball. As a freshman, he earned All-Skyway First Team honors before serving as the Chiefs’ captain and setting Waubonsee’s season and career marks for sacrifice bunts his sophomore year. After finishing out his playing days and undergraduate education at Elmhurst College, Avendano later returned to Waubonsee as the Assistant Baseball Coach for nine seasons. During that time he also managed Waubonsee’s Fitness Center, which he had helped create. Avendano took over as Head Coach of the softball team for one season, leading the Lady Chiefs to a Skyway Conference title. He then served in several different administrative roles at Waubonsee before leaving in 1995 to become Dean of Student Services at Illinois Central College. In 2009 Avendano became the sixth president in the history of Kankakee Community College.

Tim Buckley has been a part of the basketball programs at a lot of colleges and universities over the years, but it all started when he played for the Chiefs in the early 1980s. In his sophomore year, he earned All-Skyway Conference status before continuing his playing career at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. Bemidji State also gave Buckley his start in coaching as he served as an assistant there before becoming the youngest head coach in the nation at Rockford College in 1989. He reached 50 victories faster than any coach in Rockford’s history. In 1993 Buckley became an assistant at the University of Wisconsin, helping the Badgers earn their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1947. He spent the next five years as an assistant at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. During his tenure, the Cardinals won the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament and competed in the 1995 NCAA Tournament. With Buckley’s assistance, they later earned a share of the MAC title in 1998 and participated in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). Buckley then took over as Head Coach at Ball State for six seasons, leading the Cardinals to a MAC West Division title in 2001-2002 before eventually reaching the Elite Eight of the NIT Tournament. Among the team’s 23 wins that season were victories over No. 3 Kansas and No. 4 UCLA. Buckley served as an assistant at the University of Iowa in 2006-2007, and at Marquette the following season before joining Indiana University’s staff as the Hoosiers’ top Assistant Coach. During his 20-plus year career, the Aurora Central Catholic High School alumnus has also served on the Executive Committee for the MAC, and on Regional Committees for both the NCAA Division I and Division III Tournaments.

Stanley Gress graduated in 1988 from South Ridge High School in Huntingburg, Indiana, where he was the 189-pound state champion his senior year. He then earned NJCAA All-American status his freshman season at Grand Rapids (MI.) Junior College before transferring to Waubonsee for his sophomore season, where he made an immediate impact. Gress won the St. Louis Open; was the Skyway Conference Champion, was named the Skyway Conference Tournament’s Most Valuable Player, was the NJCAA Region IV Champion; and placed third in the nation at the NJCAA Wrestling Championships to earn All-American honors for the second time. Gress finished the season 48-9, which still stands as a Waubonsee record for most wins in a single season. Subsequently, Gress was named Waubonsee’s Male Athlete of the Year for 1989-1990. Later that summer he wrestled in Spain with the Junior College National Wrestling Team. After graduating with an associate degree from Waubonsee, he received a wrestling scholarship to Eastern Illinois University, twice qualifying for the NCAA National Tournament. Gress was ranked in the top 12 of the NCAA’s 190-pound weight class his entire senior year. He graduated from EIU in 1993 with a B.S. in Education and went on to win two AAU National Championships in Folk Style wrestling, a style of amateur wrestling practiced at the collegiate and university level in the United States. Gress later taught Physical Education and Health, and coached track at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Terre Haute, Indiana for four years. He also volunteered as one of the wrestling coaches at Terra Haute North High School. Gress started his own businesses in 1999, Air & Aqua Clean, and Aqua Proof Roofing, which operate in the Terre Haute area.

Bob Stehman looms large in the rich history of Chiefs baseball, and still holds nine school records. The right-handed batter posted single-season records in 1998 for batting average (.500), hits (77), runs (62) and triples (nine). Stehman reached base a school-record 109 times, and his on-base percentage of .582 has never been eclipsed. In addition, he smacked nine home runs, ripped 16 doubles, drove in 39 runs, stole 23 bases, drew 25 walks and had four game-winning hits during the 1998 season. His career batting average of .478 has never been approached, and he securely holds the career records for hits (133) and triples (14). Numbers like these led to many accolades for the Sandwich High School graduate, including First Team All-Skyway, First Team All-Region and an appearance in the Region IV All-Star game. His sophomore year, Stehman earned the ISCC’s Most Valuable Player Award as he led the Chiefs to the conference title and the Region IV crown. That 1998 squad set a school record with a team batting average of .338 en route to being ranked seventh nationally, which was up until that point, the second-highest ranking ever attained by a Chiefs’ baseball team. Stehman then transferred to the University of Missouri-St. Louis on a baseball scholarship where he twice earned All-Conference status.

Fellow inductee Jim Teckenbrock probably holds some unofficial records in sports broadcasting. A former Chiefs coach, Teckenbrock’s coaching eye and overall sports knowledge informed his early broadcasts at WMRO in Aurora in the 1970s and 80s, leading to a part-time gig at WSPY Radio in 1996. Since becoming a full-time announcer, Teckenbrock has called the action of countless local sporting events over the years, in all kinds of weather and from a wide variety of vantage points. Each year the Plano High School graduate calls nearly every basketball game of the Reapers’ Christmas Classic Tournament. Last December alone, he described the action of 32 games over five days. In addition, over the last 12 years, he has hosted his own Saturday morning sports show and given daily sports reports six days a week, often detailing the latest exploits of Waubonsee’s teams.

Regional Rally

in Featured/Softball by

Photo: Sam Hansen leaps into the arms of fellow Class 3A IMSA Regional-winning teammates on Saturday after Kaneland’s 9-5 win over Yorkville. Photo by Patti Wilk

Furious 6th inning leads to comeback over YHS for Regional

by Mike Slodki
AURORA—There’s a saying that if you give someone an inch, they’ll take a mile.

In the case of Lady Knights softball, give them the sixth inning, they’ll score six runs.

Kaneland softball (31-6) scored nine runs in its final two at-bats during Saturday’s Class 3A Regional Championship at Illinois Math and Science Academy against the second-seeded Yorkville Lady Foxes for a 9-5 win and its first regional plaque in seven years.

“We’ve been doing this all year,” coach Brian Willis said. “They never quit. I didn’t have to say anything. They know what they’re capable of.”

Kaneland got into the final with a 10-0, six-inning triumph over fourth seed Rosary on May 23.
Delani Vest earned the win in both games.

“Since freshman year I’ve wanted to win a regional championship. It feels awesome to finally get one, and we really had to push through this one,” Vest said.

Yorkville went up 1-0 in the third inning, and it remained that way until the bottom of the fifth.

With one out, Allyson O’Herron singled, as did Paige Kuefler. Lanie Callaghan laced another single for an RBI to tie the game. With two outs, Lexi Roach redeemed her third-inning at-bat that left two runners stranded with a triple to give Kaneland a 3-1 lead.

“That was the biggest hit, no question,” O’Herron said. “That got us going.”

After Yorkville put up four runs on Vest in the top of the sixth, Kaneland’s lineup came alive with six runs after 11 girls came to the plate.

With the score 5-4 after a Vest RBI, McKinzie Mangers lifted a flyball out of the right-fielders reach that plated two more for the 6-5 lead. Sarah Grams and Roach came up with two more run-scoring hits.

In the seventh, Sam Hansen caught a liner at second base, triggering a celebration.

“We are confident. This shows that we could do it, and we have to ride the wave,” O’Herron said.

The sectional wave was scheduled for Wednesday at Belvidere North against Sterling. Sterling won the game 9-1, ending the KHS season. See the June 7 edition of the Elburn Herald for game coverage.

Kaneland’s 11: Boys track performs at high level

in Boys Track/Featured by

Two Kaneland HS relay teams earned all-state honors last weekend.
Photos by Marshall Farthing

Knights’ 2A trip to
EIU sees five All-State
efforts, three records

by Mike Slodki
CHARLESTON, Ill.—When you send as many Class 2A State finalists for boys track as Kaneland High School did, you’ll push some entries to the finals by sheer force and numbers.

Or in the case of this past weekend, by speed.

With five finalists, the Knights program achieved All-State medal honors in those events.

A year ago, Taylor Andrews won the 110m high hurdles in Class 2A, while Nick Sinon claimed the high jump in the 2010 try that featured the Knights taking second in the entire state.

This season, with 19 points, Kaneland finished an exceptional 11th.

Cahokia High School was crowned champ with 67 points, while former KHS conference rival Glenbard South took second with 56. The other local school to finish near Kaneland was Burlington Central with 22 points for 10th.

“Our program gained a great deal of experience this past weekend as we look towards next year,” KHS coach Eric Baron.

For KHS, the top finish was the 4×200 meter really unit of Dylan Pennington, Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier and Sean Carter, who took third with a time of 1:29.89 in the finals, a school record. Glenbard South’s team won the race with just .31 faster of a time.

Other exceptional relay action featured the 4x100m relay foursome of Bishop, Cottier, Dylan Nauert and Carter, which finished sixth in the finals at 42.70 seconds, marking another school record.

Individually, Nauert added a sixth-place finish to his mantle with a 39.34 second time on the 300m low hurdles event.

In the 200m dash event, Carter took seventh in the finals at 22.80 seconds.

Finally, the 4x800m school relay group of Conor Johnson, Nate Kucera, Clayton Brundige and Kyle Carter finished ninth overall with a clip of 8:02.68. A 7:59.87 time in prelims was good for a school record, as well.

Other State qualifiers that were in crowded fields included Kory Harner, who vaulted 13 feet in the pole vault.

Nate Dyer ended his season with a 50 feet, 1.5 inch toss in the shot put prelims.

Cottier’s effort in the 100m dash prelims was a 11.46 time.

With the season ended, the Knights say goodbye to Brundige, Sean Carter, Mitch Dienst, Andrew Essex, Miki Marin, Marcel Neil, Kelvin Peterson, Nate Rehkopf and Brandon Stahl.

Scholarship stars

in Sports Boosters by

The Kaneland Sports Boosters offer four $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors each year. The athletes write an essay based on the theme—”lessons learned in victory and defeat.” These scholarships were awarded at the Senior Athletic Banquet sponsored by the sports boosters and the athletic office on May 22. This years winners were (from left) Zachary Douglas, Katherine Taylor, Malory Groen, and Clayton Brundige. Courtesy photo

No repeat trip for Kaneland baseball

in Baseball/Featured by

Photo: Ray Barry dives safely back to first base in the first inning of Kaneland’s home playoff game against DeKalb on May 23. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Sometimes too much of a good thing turns out to harm you in the end.

Kaneland baseball had to get past DeKalb in the Class 3A Kaneland Regional semifinal on May 25 in order to embark on its repeat road to Joliet, Ill., and another State plaque.

But three instances of bases-loaded situations for the Knights yielded only one run total, and the DeKalb Barbs made the most of its late-inning at-bats.

The end result was a 9-3 loss that ended the KHS campaign at 24-11.

The Knights finished last year as Class 3A champions at 26-10 after winning its final 13 contests of the year.

DeKalb went on to lose on Saturday during the regional final to Marmion Academy, 4-1, and finished 18-16-1.

This marked the second time in three seasons the Knights have exited in the regional semi, having lost to Hampshire at home in 2010.

“Things came back to haunt us,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We had situations early in the game. If we took advantage of the bases-loaded situation, it would have been a completely different game.”

For Kaneland, John Hopkins earned the loss, going 4.2 innings while giving up five runs on four hits.

Ray Barry went 1-for-3 with two runs, a double and RBI, while Tom Fox went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

DeKalb took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but Kaneland got one back.

Barry singled and stole second and third. After Jake Razo walked and stole second, Tom Fox drove Barry home with an RBI to make it 2-1. Trever Heinle walked, but Quinn Buschbacher grounded into a 5-1-3 double play to end the threat.

Kaneland had another bases loaded opportunity in the second, but Tyler Heinle lined into a double play.

Kaneland would tie the game in the third, beginning with a Razo walk. After he moved to second on a balk, Fox drove him in with an RBI double. With one out, Buschbacher walked, but Hopkins grounded out to the pitcher and Jordan Jones struck out.

The Knights took their last lead of the year when Barry hit a one-out double, and Tyler Heinle drove him in with a single. After Razo sacrificed him over, Fox popped out to short.

DeKalb went on the offensive with three runs in the top of the fifth to take a 5-3 advantage. In the bottom of the fifth, Kaneland saw what would be its last, best opportunity.

Buschbacher drew a one-out walk, and new pitcher Drew Peters singled. With two outs, Joe Pollastrini singled for a bases loaded situation, but Barry flied out to right.

In the top of the sixth, DeKalb poured it on with four more runs to cinch the win.

“DeKalb’s a good club, they came out and proved it today. We’re good, too. We just didn’t play up to our caliber,” Aversa said.

The Knights say goodbye to Buschbacher, Trevor Storck, Fox, Tyler Heinle, Peters, Jones, Mike Tattoni, Trever Heinle, Barry, Bryan VanBogaert and Razo due to graduation.

Norman part of All-MWC Honors list at Beloit

in Baseball/Hometown by

RIPON, Wis.—Three members of the 2012 Beloit College Baseball team earned a spot on All-Midwest Conference Team, released today by the Conference Office.

Shortstop Jordan Jaenicke (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bishop McNamara), starting pitcher Alex Norman (Elburn/Kaneland) and relief pitcher Al Loth (East Troy, Wis.), all seniors, were named to the team.

Norman, a left-hander who also earned All-MWC honors in 2011, , led the team with seven wins, a 2.19 ERA and 50 strikeouts. His 2.19 ERA was the fourth-best in a single season while his seven victories tied the season record. Career-wise he finishes first in innings pitched, second in wins with 19 and ERA at 2.89, and third in appearances with 41. He led or shared the MWC lead in ERA, innings pitched and wins and was second in strikeouts and strikeouts looking.

The Bucs finished the 2012 season with a 19-21 overall record. They had a 9-7 mark in the MWC and earned a spot in the MWC Tournament for the second straight season and third time in four years, where they finished as the runner-up for the second straight season.

Kaneland United Soccer Club holding tryouts

in Community Sports by

MAPLE PARK—The Kaneland United Soccer Club will be holding tryouts for its 2012 fall travel teams for boys and girls from U8 through U18. Tryouts will be held from May 29-June 1 at the Kaneland High School soccer fields east of the auditorium. Register ahead of time at Contact Brad Simmons at for questions.

4th sectional title in a row for KHS boys track

in Boys Track/Featured by

Photo: Kory Harner can call himself a 2012 State qualifier in the pole vault after his Thursday performance at the Rochelle Sectional. File Photo

Kaneland sends 11 events to hallowed EIU turf this weekend

by Mike Slodki
ROCHELLE, Ill.—Labeling the Kaneland boys track output from Thursday’s Class 3A Rochelle Sectional as “exceptional” would be right on the money.

For the remaining field at this weekend’s Class 3A State gathering in Charleston, Ill., the showing could be described as “ominous.”

Kaneland’s total of 115 points gave a nice cushion over second-place Burlington Central’s 84, Dixon’s 83, Sterling’s 64 and Rochelle’s 60.

The point total for Kaneland beats last year’s sectional best of 90 points.

Trying to nab a State trophy for the second time in three years, Brandon Cottier, who will hope to make his presence felt in the 100 and 200 meter dash, is among those who is not just “happy to be there”.

“Once I get to State, I try to better myself. We don’t settle, and we go in to win,” Cottier said.

Sophomore Dylan Nauert highlighted the eleven separate events to make it down to State, with a 40.18 time in the 300m low hurdles, taking the Sectional title.

In a nice piece of symmetry, both Cottier and Sean Carter finished 1-2 in the prelims for the 200m dash, with a flip of places in the finals.

Carter earned the sectional crown with a time of 22.67 seconds, and Cottier finished in 23.14.

In the 100m dash, Cottier took fourth with a time of 11.03 seconds, after finishing fourth in the prelims at 11.13.

“If we run our best race, we’ll definitely place at State. The sectional is a different feel because you are doing your best to get to State. Once you get to State, there’s nothing after that,” Cottier said.

In the 400m dash, Nate Kucera’s fourth place time of 50.65 seconds earned him a qualifying nod.

Relay action went the way of the Knights in the form of races like the 4x800m relay, which ran in 8:05.20, good for fourth.

Additionally, the 4x100m relay squad took home the sectional mantle with a time of 43.30.

It went nice with another first-place race in the 4x200m relay, which ran in 1:29.80, 1.75 seconds better than Boylan Catholic.

Field events were highlighted by Nate Dyer and Kory Harner.

Dyer, after a double conference championship in both the shot put and discus, also punched his ticket to Eastern Illinois University with a fine showing.

The sophomore threw 155 feet, nine inches and finished third in finals, after finishing second in the prelims with a 155-09 effort. In the shot, Dyer finished third with a tally of 50-11. Dyer also finished third in the prelims (50-11).

Harner made it in the pole vault with a second-place effort of 13-03.

“Every year, we just want to qualify someone in pole vault. It’s been 30 straight years,” Harner said. “When you get to sectionals, you really feel the pressure of wanting to go down (to State).”

Kaneland has bragging rights to several State champ honors the last two years, with Taylor Andrews’ 110m hurdles in 2011, Nick Sinon in the 2010 high jump, and the 4x400m relay in 2010.

Girls track sees 2 finalists at 2A State meet

in Featured/Girls Track by

Photo: Sydney Strang was part of Lady Knight relay action during the Class 2A State meet in Charleston, Ill. Courtesy Photo

KANELAND—While it wasn’t on the scale of the final finish in 2011, the Lady Knights track outfit still came out of the weekend at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. with elite totals in terms of the rest of the state.

When the dust settled from the Friday and Saturday meet, the top finishers brandishing Kaneland duds were Sydney Strang and Jen Howland.

Strang, the lone Lady Knight to make it from prelims to finals on the weekend, qualified for the final 800 meter run group with a time of two minutes, 19.29 seconds and finished 11th in the state with a finals time of 2:20.12.

Kelsey Cramsey of Effingham won the event with a time of 2:12.54. Rochelle’s Michelle Dobbs took third with a time of 2:14.33.

Other Lady Knight final competition included Howland competing in the 3200m run and finishing 11th at 11:36 in an event won by Kristen Busch of Freeburg at 10:54.74.

Additional KHS competition in the prelims included the 4x800m relay foursome of Amanda Lesak, Jessica Kucera, Maggie Brundige and Strang finishing tenth in its heat at 10:07.04.
Lauren Zick, after earning a finals berth last year, finished sixth in her prelim heat of the 400m dash at 59.36 seconds, and the 4x400m unit of Lesak, Zick, Strang and Kaltrina Ismaili finished its prelim run in 4:05.53, less than two seconds from qualifying for the finals.

Teamwise, Springfield Southeast won the trophy with 63 points, followed by Walther Lutheran’s 46. Chicago’s Lindblom (38), Freeport (29), Freeburg (27) and Marengo (27) rounded out the top six.

Kaneland says goodbye to seniors Ashley Cottier, Caroline Eichelberger, Kelly Evers, Howland, Christina Janes, Nicole Ketza, Carolina Tovar and Shannon Wallace.

NIB-12 roster to drop by 1 in 2014

in Kaneland/Sports by

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Northern Illinois Big XII action is going to look different in a couple of years.

Kaneland athletics director Leigh Jaffke was informed by e-mail on Friday that Dixon will leave the NIB-12.

“Their superintendent suggested they look elsewhere,” Jaffke said on Tuesday. “They were open and upfront and now the conference has to look for new options.”

Jaffke also said Streator High School was looking for a new conference on suggestions of its superintendent but could not find appropriate suitors.

“According to bylaws, Dixon has two years left in the conference, and the conference will see who’s out there. We’d like to expand and get eight and eight on either side,” Jaffke said.

Jaffke said the conference had been talking with two schools recently, but the locations by the Indiana and Iowa border was an obstacle.

“The travel would be insurmountable,” Jaffke said.

With Dixon’s departure, the West Division is left with five teams: Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Sterling and Streator.

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