It seems like only 11 months ago we dived into high school athletic pursuits of the 2013-14 academic year. Passing for a brief summary and admittedly using a familiar crutch, here's a review from A-Z.
In Class 1A, Aurora Christian did what only a handful of schools have done -- win both girls and boys state track meets in the same year. On the girls side Natasha Brown won the 200-meter dash and a week later Jonah Walker took home the individual 1A discus title for the boys. Fellow luminaries Peyton Wade will take her talents to Maryland, and renaissance man Johnathan Harrell will pursue men's basketball -- and poetry -- at North Carolina-Greensboro.
On Dec. 13, Aurora Christian head football coach Don Beebe resigned to devote time to his passion, the Gospel, in the form of a film treatment of "Six Rings from Nowhere," the book he co-authored with Beacon News senior columnist Denise Crosby. Relinquishing control of a program he'd led to the 2011 and 2012 Class 3A state championships and a 2008 runner-up, Beebe's record over 10 seasons was 97-26, an outrageous winning percentage of .788. His successor? Defensive coordinator and brother, David Beebe.
The famous Twin Chmelik Technique helped St. Charles East's girls track team place third in Class 3A, May 24 in Charleston. Juniors Elizabeth and Allison Chmelik ran the first two legs of a victorious 1,600-meter relay, getting the baton first to Casey McNichols and then the indomitable Jordan Shead. Hours before, Shead anchored the winning 3,200 relay with Torree Scull, Anastasia Honea and Corrin Adams.
Junior forward Darcy Cunningham returns 15 goals and 15 assists, second in scoring for St. Charles East's girls soccer team, following only graduated senior midfielder Amanda Hilton. The Saints (19-5-5) reached the Class 3A state championship game June 7 in Naperville, playing for the title for the first time since 2000. St. Charles East allowed a seventh-minute goal to New Trier which stood up, but coach Paul Jennison's Saints earned the program's 11th state soccer trophy.
West Aurora senior track athlete Emma Spagnola won 15 DuPage Valley Conference individual championships out of the 16 competitions she entered in over four varsity seasons as a hurdler and jumper. At the Class 3A state meet in May the Minnesota recruit avenged her sole regular-season 100-meter hurdles loss by winning the finals in 14.10 seconds. The Blackhawks record-setter added the 300 title in 42.45 seconds, placed third in high jump and anchored a third-place 1,600 relay to have a hand in 34 of West Aurora's 39 points, good for second place.
Batavia's Liza Fruendt, honorary captain of the 2013-14 All-Area Girls Basketball Team, scored 51 points on Jan. 17 against a great Geneva squad that finished 26-7 and took fourth in Class 4A. The Missouri State recruit then rewrote another Batavia record by eclipsing Katy Issel's girls program scoring record. Liza then topped her own brother, Nick, to finish with 1,921 career points, second in Batavia history, boys or girls, behind Corey Williams.
Geneva's Claire Rose Ginsberg averaged 9.4688 points on vault, beam, bars and floor with a total score of 37.8750 to become the first freshman since 2005 to win the girls all-around title in state gymnastics. Teammates Dominique Brognia and Megan Beitzel helped the Vikings take fifth place.
One day after an accident claimed the life of 21-year-old Jared Harrell after he and sister Janella drove home from watching their brother, Aurora Christian's aforementioned Johnathan Harrell, play basketball at the Plano Christmas Classic, Johnathan returned to the court against Ottawa. After scoring 15 points with 7 assists Eagles coach Pat McNamara removed Harrell in the fourth quarter as fans and players from Aurora Christian, Ottawa and other teams stood and applauded.
Harvard-bound Aurora resident Steven Tan, a senior at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, became the first swimmer in IMSA history to win a state title with his time of 48.43 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly. Tan also finished second in the 100 backstroke for his sixth all-state honor in three trips to the IHSA state finals.
Marmion 132-pounder Johnny Jimenez (41-3) dealt Glenbard North's Jon Marmolejo his first defeat of the season in the Class 3A state wrestling finals. After the Wisconsin-bound Jimenez won at 103, 113 and 120 pounds his first three years, the Assembly Hall crowd delivered a standing ovation to salute one of 12 Illinois boys to win four state titles.
The St. Charles East and St. Charles North dance teams' Kick-A-Thon raised a record $100,000 by a record 165 community kickers. Through 20 years the effort's raised $778,091.05 toward cancer research and assistance.
Mooseheart had not had an all-state cross country runner until Wal Khat finished 24th in Class 1A in 2012. He improved to fourth last fall to become the institution's first two-time cross all-stater. On May 31 Khat anchored the Red Ramblers' victorious state 1,600-meter relay, which the Illinois High School Association lists as Mooseheart's sole all-state relay finish, much less a winner.
Aurora Central Catholic whiz-bang Karina Liz ran her preliminary heat of the 800 meters at the Class 2A girls state track finals in 2 minutes, 12.69 seconds, more than 2 seconds faster than any of the 25 other qualifiers. The next day, May 24, she won the championship in a time of 2:10.73, setting a new 2A record. She's a sophomore.
IHSA executive director Marty Hickman declared on Dec. 16 that the organization would not support a state series in boys and girls lacrosse. In August 2013 the IHSA approved sanctioning contingent upon 65 boys teams and 40 girls teams signing a participatory agreement by Dec. 15. The girls came through with 43 but the boys' 55 teams was not deemed sufficient. The sport remained with its respective associations and was returned to IHSA Emerging Sport status.
Ns ran wild on the Kaneland boys track team. Numerous Class 2A all-staters including Nate Dyer, Dylan Nauert and Nathaniel Kucera pressured favored Cahokia literally to the finish line in the last event. Dyer won the shot put title, Ben Barnes took long jump on a dramatic final leap, and the Knights' second-place finish was their best since 2010.
All baseball teams would love an Oh-fer like this: Between April 24 to June 7 Batavia went without a loss, a period of 44 days. Pitcher Colby Green and the rest of coach Matt Holm's Bulldogs rode a 24-game winning streak to a No. 1 sectional seed and a Class 4A sectional final.
Batavia's Dennis Piron is a quote machine. He was never more prescient than when in the football preseason the coach said, "The postseason goal of a trip to DeKalb is not an unrealistic one." After knocking on the door the Bulldogs barged through it, beating Richards 34-14 in the Class 6A state championship to claim their first football title in a program dating to 1909. Headed by Butler-bound back Anthony Scaccia's 189 yards and 3 touchdowns and a 96-yard pass completion between all-staters Micah Coffey to Michael Moffatt, Batavia capped a season in which it set team records for points, first downs, total offense, sacks and tackles for loss. Scaccia, who joined Coffey as honorary co-captain of the All-Area Football Team, set Bulldogs season records for carries, rushing yardage, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns.
It was a quandary as to what Marmion, St. Francis, Rosary, Aurora Christian, Montini and Marian Central would do when the other seven Suburban Christian Conference schools moved to the Metro Suburban Conference effective in 2014-15. Marian split to the East Suburban Catholic Conference. The other four boys schools will play Chicago Catholic League football and boys soccer; in 2015-16 all Aurora Christian teams but football move to the Northeastern Athletic Conference. Each of the other girls programs stay in the SCC this next season then move to the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference in 2015-16. Marmion, St. Francis and Montini have applied to the CCL for all remaining sports starting in 2015-16.
Batavia's boys lacrosse team had never beaten its arch enemy, Geneva -- until March 24. Headed by first-year coach William "Sandy" Romans, the Bulldogs won on the road, 8-7, holding off the Vikings' furious fourth-quarter rally.
South Sudan (a double score, by the way) was well-represented on Mooseheart's Class 1A boys basketball champions. One season after the IHSA temporarily ruled as ineligible 7-foot Akim Nyang, 6-10 Makur Puou and 6-7 Mangisto Deng, the boys simply played ball and routed Heyworth 63-47 to finish 29-3.
Be they threes, treys or 3s, St. Charles North senior Alec Goetz knocked 'em down in a rip-roarer at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. Before the North Stars finally fell 82-74 in triple-overtime to four-time defending state champion Simeon, the 6-foot guard nailed a tourney-record eight 3-pointers in 11 tries. Overall Goetz made 10 of 16 shots plus all 8 free throws for a career-high 36 points.
Earning the big trophy for the umpteenth time, Coach Peg Kopec and St. Francis (37-3) claimed the Class 3A girls state volleyball title 25-19, 25-7 over LaSalle-Peru. It's actually short of umpteen at 10 state titles for St. Francis, yet second only to Mother McAuley's 13.
Whether or not one considers competitive dance a sport there's no denying these people are wildly athletic. Geneva coach Amy VanWagenen's Vikings prove it by winning the Upstate Eight Conference competition, the Class 2A Stagg sectional and the 2A state championship. In Bloomington Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Geneva surpassed Vernon Hills after the preliminaries to earn the top spot. St. Francis finished fourth in 1A.
Headed to play basketball for the University of the Incarnate Word, West Aurora guard Jontrell Walker, honorary captain of the All-Area Boys Basketball Team, led the Blackhawks to a 40th regional title before getting knocked off by Geneva on a late Chris Parrilli fadeaway. Walker finished with a program-record 1,772 points while setting West's single season mark for free throws made, and season and career records for 3-pointers.
X marked the unlucky spot at Elgin Memorial Stadium where Marmion boys track throws coach Ed DeGeeter stood when he was hit in the head by a shot put thrown reportedly more than eight feet outside the sector at the Class 3A Bartlett sectional. He suffered a fractured skull and stayed two days in intensive care while recovering.
Kaneland senior Matt Yonkovich was tied for 23rd place with nine other golfers after the first round of the Class 2A boys golf championship in Normal. The next day he started off with a birdie, added another on the eighth hole and finished the inward nine with a 35. Yonkovich finished the round 1-over at 72 to loft him into a tie for fifth, the Knights' best finish since 2002.
Z is usually a toughie but not this year. Kaneland's Lauren Zick anchored a sixth-place 400-meter relay in Class 2A; Rosary sprinter Sydney Zaragoza will be running at Augustana.
And we'll be running our lawn mowers. Have a good summer.
Craig Brueske, John Lemon, Kevin McGavin and Chris Walker contributed to this report.