A pair of state champion female athletes from the 1990s; an all-state basketball player from the 1980s; and a 2-time all-conference football player from 1959 and 1960; are the 2013 inductees to the St. Charles East Athletic Hall of Fame.
Cori McLeod Allivato, Megan Morgan, Jeff Surges, and Jon Duerr will be honored as Jodie Harrison Lifetime Achievement Award recipients prior to the Saints’ varsity basketball game against Batavia Saturday night.
Here’s a closer look at the fabulous four:
Cori McLeod Allivato (Class of 1996)
McLeod Allivato earned 8 varsity letters in cheerleading and track during her illustrious career at St. Charles High School.
“What I remember most was the overall experience,” she said. “I think of the friendships that were made and the teamwork involved. I’ve used the experiences throughout my life.”
A captain of the Saints’ state champion cheerleading team in 1996, McLeod Allivato continued her storybook senior season as a state qualifier in the 400-meter dash before capturing the state high jump title during the spring track campaign.
“I knew I had a chance (to win) but it was never a sure thing,” said McLeod Allivato. “It was going to be close so I knew anything could happen.”
She wound up clearing the bar at 5-8 to claim the Class 2A state title by an inch over competitors Jamie Tyler of O’Fallon (5-7) and Candy Phillips of Champaign Centennial (5-7).
McLeod Allivato got her start as a high jumper in junior high school with mixed results.
“I was not excelling,” she said. “Then my freshman year I jumped 4-10 out of nowhere. Something started to click and from there I was able to improve upon it.”
Upon graduation, McLeod Allivato went on to become a 4-year member of the Indiana University women’s track team, where she began the next chapter of her career as a pole vaulter.
“They knew I had been a cheerleader back in high school and asked if I wanted to try the pole vault,” she recalled. “There are some similarities. You have to be comfortable in the air and upside-down.”
It didn’t take her long to perfect the technique, as she went on to place third in the 1999 Big Ten Championships with a then-school record height of 11-0 ¼.
Her all-time best vault was 11-10 ¾.
“When I first went to Indiana, I didn’t want to do track anymore,” she said. “After being there a short time, things didn’t feel right so I went out for the team a few months into the season.”
McLeod Allivato, who earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 1999 and 2000, currently works as a personal trainer and lives in Chicago with her husband, Jim, and their 2 sons.
Megan Morgan (Class of 1994)
Morgan’s senior girls golf season was a memorable one.
After earning regional and sectional medalist honors for the second consecutive year, Morgan fired a 2-day total of 149 to become St. Charles’ first individual girls golf state champion while also leading the Saints to the team championship — a whopping 53 strokes ahead of second-place Rockford Guilford.
“I’m a very competitive person and always have been,” said Morgan. “I just wanted to win the next tournament in front of me.”
Nearly 20 years later, Morgan is reminded of her high school golf days every fall.
“Whenever there’s a crisp Indian summer autumn day, my mind goes back to the high school golf matches played at St. Charles Country Club,” she said. “I can remember sitting around the 9th green after a round and waiting for my teammates to finish. Those were just great times.
“After we won state, I remember the ride back home with “We Are the Champions” blaring in the background,” added Morgan.
She credits Saints coach Rod Osborne for his role in the team’s success.
“The program was amazing,” she said. “Rod was a phenomenal coach. As a 17-year-old, you think you have the answers to everything. Looking back, I’m eternally grateful to him (Osborne) for what a kind, compassionate coach he was. We had some strong personalities but he kept us focused.”
Morgan took her talents to the University of North Carolina, where she earned All-America honors in 1998.
The next year, she played professionally on the Futures Tour.
“It absolutely became a job and I didn’t like it,” said Morgan. “But at the end of my athletic career, how many people in the world get a chance to play professionally?”
Morgan, who lives in Chicago with her 2-year-old son, currently works for a European derivatives trading firm after spending some time as a trader on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
“It was a heavily male-dominated industry,” she said of being a trader. “When they realized I knew what I was talking about (golf), I earned their respect without even picking up a golf club.”
Jon Duerr (Class of 1961)
Things were a little different around St. Charles in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
“Our high school was where Thompson Junior High is located today,” said Duerr, who was the senior class president at St. Charles High School in 1961. “Since we didn’t have lights at Reid Field, all of our home football games were played on Saturday afternoons.
“Back then, the population of St. Charles was 6,300,” he added. “There were 128 students in our graduating class and about 880 in the high school. The majority of students participated in a number of sports.”
Duerr, who also competed in wrestling and track, was a 2-time all-conference football player for the Saints as a 6-1, 185-pound defensive end/center.
“The one thing I remember about playing Saturday afternoon games was that it was much more of a college feeling,” said Duerr.
Unfortunately, one of the school’s top athletes wasn’t allowed to compete.
“Frankly, the best athlete in our class probably was Phyllis Huerstel,” recalled Duerr. “She was very strong and she could throw harder than most of the boys. But girls’ sports didn’t exist back then.”
Duerr, whose father was a 1916 graduate of St. Charles High School before going on to a career as a landscape architect, eventually served as executive director of the Kane County Forest Preserve.
“In high school, I had an opportunity to work in a greenhouse,” said Duerr. “That’s where I got my start.”
Today, Duerr, who served as a St. Charles city alderman and celebrated his 50th high school reunion in 2011, is a faculty member at Waubonsee Community College. He resides in St. Charles with his wife, Joy.
Jeff Surges (Class of 1985)
Surges, a 6-3 guard, averaged 20 points per game during his senior basketball campaign at St. Charles in 1984-85, scoring a season-high 35 points for a Saints team that finished at the .500 mark with a record of 13-13.
He began the season by earning Most Valuable Player honors at the annual St. Charles Thanksgiving Tournament.
For his efforts, Surges was recognized on the all-state team by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. He also earned all-conference honors.
His junior year, Surges played an important role as the Saints captured regional and sectional championships under the direction of legendary coach Ron Johnson.
St. Charles finished the 1983-84 season with a record of 18-12 and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in Johnson’s tenure before suffering a 60-50 supersectional loss to eventual fourth-place state finisher St. Joseph.
Surges earned all-sectional team honors as a junior.
A 1989 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Surges went on to become president and chief executive officer for the Extended Care Information Network, Inc., before its sales to Allscripts in 2007.
In 2010, Surges was appointed to his current role as chief executive officer of Merge Healthcare Incorporated in Chicago.
He lives in Naperville with his wife and 3 children.
You can reach Craig Brueske at firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.