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updated: 6/13/2014 9:00 AM

Looking back at another season filled with memorable moments

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This is it.

This is my last column of the 2013-2014 school year.

That might elicit a chorus of cheers from some readers but for me it means that another high school sports season has come and gone.

It's time to reflect upon a memorable campaign:

Team chemistry

On the final weekend of November, Batavia's football team captured the school's first state title in any sport since 1912 with a 34-14 Class 6A championship victory over Richards in DeKalb. Quarterback Micah Coffey completed 15 of 18 passes for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns while tailback Anthony Scaccia ran for 194 yards and 3 TDs for coach Dennis Piron's Bulldogs.

Led by freshman phenom Grace Loberg, Geneva's girls volleyball team won its first sectional title last November by knocking off St. Charles North on the Vikings' home court.

One week after St. Charles East's girls tennis team earned its first conference title since 1999, Geneva claimed its first sectional girls tennis championship in 7 years.

Sparked by senior guard Liza Fruendt, Batavia's girls basketball team captured its first regional title in 24 years with a home-court victory over Willowbrook.

Meanwhile, Geneva's girls basketball team placed fourth in the Class 4A state tournament after earning its sixth consecutive regional title and fourth sectional crown in 6 years.

On the boys' side, Geneva's boys basketball team won its first regional title since 1963 with a 66-63 come-from-behind victory over Bolingbrook.

In February, senior Will Shanel led St. Charles East's boys swimming team to its first sectional title since 2002.

In March, seniors Makur Puou and Mangisto Deng helped provide Mooseheart with its first state championship as the Red Ramblers capped a 29-3 season with a 63-47 Class 1A victory over Heyworth.

Last month, our local track and field teams cleaned up the competition in Charleston. Aurora Christian won both the Class 1A girls and boys state titles, while Kaneland's boys and West Aurora's girls each placed second in 2A and 3A, respectively, and St. Charles East's girls finished third in 3A.

Batavia's baseball team captured conference and regional championships while compiling an amazing 24-game winning streak that ended following last weekend's 8-3 Class 4A sectional title loss to South Elgin.

Last Saturday, St. Charles East's girls soccer team earned a berth in the Class 3A state title game for the first time since 2000. Coach Paul Jennison's Saints dropped a 1-0 decision to New Trier.

Individual accolades

Marmion senior Johnny Jimenez became the 12th wrestler in IHSA history to win 4 individual state titles after his 5-1 victory over Glenbard North's Jon Marmolejo at 126 pounds.

Geneva freshman Claire Ginsberg captured the all-around title (37.875) in the girls gymnastics state meet this past winter. Her 4-event average was 9.468.

In January, Liza Fruendt poured in a career-high 51 points during Batavia's 75-68 girls basketball victory over host Geneva.

Geneva junior Nate Navigato scored a career-high 41 points during the Vikings' 61-57 win over Bloomington. Navigato had 33 points during a 12-minute stretch.

Other notable hoops performances included a 40-point effort by St. Charles East's Dom Adduci against Elgin; Jontrell Walker's 36-point game during West Aurora's win over Glenbard East; Alec Goetz' 36-point effort in St. Charles North's triple-overtime loss to Simeon; and Tyler Carlson's 29-point first half for Kaneland in its sectional semifinal loss to Rockford Lutheran.

State championship efforts were turned in by West Aurora's Emma Spagnola (100 high hurdles, 300 lows -- 3A girls track); Aurora Central Catholic's Karina Liz (800 -- 2A girls track); Aurora Christian's Natasha Brown (200 -- 1A girls track) and Jonah Walker (discus -- 1A boys track); Kaneland's Ben Barnes (long jump -- 2A boys track) and Nate Dyer (shot put -- 2A boys track); and St. Charles East's 4x800 and 4x400 relay teams (3A -- girls track).

Marmion left-handed pitcher Alex Troop struck out 15 while tossing 8 innings of 1-hit ball during the Cadets' eventual 2-1, 10-inning triumph over Marmion.

In April, Batavia senior Colby Green recorded a no-hitter during the Bulldogs' 6-0 Upstate Eight crossover victory over South Elgin.

Best games

Sept. 13: St. Charles East's football team rallied from a 21-13 deficit with 8:09 left for a 28-21 overtime victory over cross-town rival St. Charles North at Norris Stadium.

Nov. 16: Batavia hung on for a 19-14 Class 6A state quarterfinal victory over the Scouts at Bulldog Stadium.

Nov. 23: Aurora Christian lost a heartbreaking 28-26 semifinal decision to eventual Class 3A state champion Stillman Valley during a frigid late afternoon clash in Aurora.

Jan. 17: Fruendt's aforementioned 51-point effort during Batavia's 75-68 girls basketball victory over Geneva.

Feb. 14: R.D. Lutze picked up a loose ball near midcourt and launched the game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to lift Aurora Christian to a 60-57 basketball victory over visiting Marmion.

March 7: Drew David connected on an 18-footer with 2 seconds left to lead Kaneland to a 62-60 regional championship victory over Marmion in Maple Park.

May 6: St. Charles East edged St. Charles North 5-3 in the opener of their 3-game baseball series that included some bizarre plays and a controversial reversal call by umpires.

May 28: Down to its last out in the bottom of the 8th, Micah Coffey's RBI double tied the game and Laren Eustace raced home on a wild pitch in the 10th during Batavia's 5-4 extra-inning regional semifinal win over Bartlett.

Fab frosh

The area's top freshmen included Aurora Christian's Tanner Chada (cross country/track); Batavia's Toni Galas and Rachael Lovestrand (softball); Geneva's Grace Loberg (volleyball/basketball), Claire Ginsberg (gymnastics) and Grace Krueger (tennis); Kaneland's Nicole Sreenan (track); Rosary's Alexis Yager (swimming); St. Charles East's Casey McNichols (track), Claire Rasmussen (soccer), Jordan Hieber (softball) and Kylee Stout (softball); St. Charles North's Kate Lillie (golf), Gianna Furrie (golf) and Zach Mettetal (baseball); and West Aurora's Tania Rayford (track).

Favorite athlete interviews

Aurora Christian's Johnathan Harrell; Batavia's Micah Coffey, Laren Eustace, Liza Fruendt and Anthony Scaccia; Geneva's Kirby Einck, Janie McCloughan, Nate Navigato and Morgan Seberger; Kaneland's Tyler Carlson and Drew David; Marmion's Jordan Glasgow and Alex Troop; St. Charles East's Dom Adduci, Brannon Barry, Amanda Hilton, Jasper Koenen and Will Shanel; and St. Charles North's Nichole Davidson, Alec Goetz, Sabrina Rabin, Grant Spellman and Cory Wright.

Athletes most likely to play professionally

Batavia outfielder Laren Eustace (baseball) and Marmion pitcher Alex Troop (baseball).

Most inspirational moments

Nearly 24 hours after his older brother, Jarred, was killed and his older sister, Janella, was injured in a head-on auto accident on Route 30, Aurora Christian's Johnathan Harrell returned to the court and recorded 15 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds during the Eagles' 64-45 loss to Ottawa at the Plano Christmas Classic. Harrell received a standing ovation from both teams during the pre-game player introductions.

Watching Drew Hahn (anaplastic large-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma), the 12-year-old son of Geneva baseball coach Matt Hahn, Kaneland softball coach Brian Willis (colon cancer) and Phil Kassinger (lung cancer), the father of Knights' pitcher Kevin, throw out the ceremonial first during last month's "Strike Out Cancer" fundraising baseball game between Geneva and Kaneland at Fifth Third Ballpark in Geneva.

Tough to say goodbye

It won't be the same next season without some familiar faces on the sideline and behind the scenes -- Aurora Christian football coach Don Beebe, Geneva girls volleyball coach KC Johnsen, St. Charles East football coach Mike Fields (all 3 of whom stepped down) and Geneva athletic secretary Nancy Lindenmuth (retired).

On a personal note, I will miss seeing longtime St. Charles high school superfan Jim Wheeler at sporting events next season. Wheeler passed away in April at the age of 68.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your summer.

You can reach Craig Brueske at

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