Naperville North soccer player Zoe Swift was one of the athletes whose picture graced the cover of our spring sports preview. On Tuesday she became the recipient of a much greater honor. Swift was named the Gatorade Illinois girls soccer player of the year.
The Kentucky-bound senior forward recovered from an early-season ankle injury to score 10 goals with 10 assists in 11 games entering the 17-0-2 Huskies' match Wednesday against Neuqua Valley in a Class 3A Bolingbrook sectional semifinal, a game in which she scored a hat trick.
Swift and Naperville North have last season's Class 3A state title and a 2011 runner-up finish under her belt. Swift was an Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association first-team all-state selection in each of those seasons.
Swift joins past local stars Megan Oyster of Neuqua Valley and Vanessa DiBernardo and Bri Rodriguez of Waubonsie Valley as Gatorade honorees. The Huskie is now eligible for Gatorade national player of the year, to be announced this month.
Pass the puck, hold the sheepskin
This week St. Francis public relations guru Michelle Kalfas sent out a batch of statistics regarding the school's Class of 2013.
One fact in particular seemed very intriguing: Out of 194 St. Francis seniors, more than 99 percent of them will be either attending a four-year college or a two-year college next year. One student was not.
Which begs the question, who is that one noncollegiate?
It's Patrick Polino, a native of Buffalo living in Glen Ellyn. He's here as a player for the Chicago Steel, the United States Hockey League team that plays at The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville.
In his Steel biography the 5-foot-9 forward said the three things he'd bring with him to a deserted island would be food, gas and a boat. Smarts like that you don't get in college.
The nominations have been sent and selections made for seniors to play in the Illinois High School Volleyball Coaches Association and Illinois Center for Broadcasting Boys Volleyball All-Star Game. The game will be played June 3 at Brother Rice in Chicago. The Girls All-Star Game is held in November.
Locals on the team are: outside hitters Joey Farrell (Glenbard East), Dan Koch (Naperville North), Robbie Mead (Hinsdale South); and setter Richie Planek (Wheaton Warrenville South).
Qualifying for the boys state track meet in the 1,600-meter run at Glenbard North last Friday, Wheaton North senior Paul Steeno said he "just wanted to make my teammates proud."
He was happy to make it downstate for another reason as well.
"Also I get to graduate early on Tuesday instead of Saturday and miss that three-hour ceremony."
Also Friday at Glenbard North, Wheaton Warrenville South junior Nolan McKenna qualified in both the 1,600 and 3,200. Tuesday he was singing in the choir of his school's "Finale Concert." He and others such as Tigers football player and track athlete Kyle Joyce drew applause for selections from Puccini, Verde, Wagner and Gilbert and Sullivan.
Hinsdale Central senior Gideon Ticho ran the second-leg of the Red Devils' 800-meter relay that qualified for the state meet in 1 minute, 30.70 seconds. That's not the most impressive number he's recorded. Ticho scored a perfect 36 on his ACT.
Neuqua Valley senior sprinter Dennis Thurow has been named the recipient of the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Scholarship.
Traditions and T-shirts fit Lisle coach Ken Jakalski like hand and glove. Since he started at Lisle more than two decades ago he's devised an annual shirt that plays into the local lore of host site Eastern Illinois University or the surrounding Charleston/Mattoon area.
A theme back by popular demand, this year's T-shirt design is based on the mysterious and downright weird story of the "Mad Gasser of Mattoon."
In August and September 1944, Mattoon residents were swept into gun-toting panic when a so-called "gas maniac" allegedly sprayed a sickly sweet-smelling gas into people's homes which caused nausea and in some cases partial, temporary paralysis. Several victims, as prairieghosts.com details, claimed to have seen a tall figure dressed in black following the attacks, which provoked an FBI investigation.
One person was arrested but quickly released. Pollution from a nearby diesel engine manufacturer was considered as a cause. Another person, mentally unbalanced, was speculated as the culprit; "after they locked him away ... the gas attacks stopped," the website states.
Harried authorities eventually dismissed the Mad Gasser of Mattoon as a case of mass hysteria. It remains unsolved, creepy and on some T-shirts in Charleston.
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