The 2023-24 Herald Cup honors excellence

If you noticed something interesting on the front page of this week’s Daily Herald Sports sections, you weren’t alone.

We found it interesting, too.

We debuted what we hope will become a new tradition for our sports department: The Herald Cup. It’s designed to honor athletic excellence among the dozens of high schools in our coverage area.

It’s reminiscent of the Paddock Cup, engineered decades ago by our legendary former sports editor, Bob Frisk, to tip a hat to the top overall sports program in the Mid-Suburban League.

With the Herald Cup, though, we decided to take things a step beyond. Instead of looking at conference finishes, we analyzed state tournament performance for all our schools.

We developed a points system that awards schools for top-10 team finishes in individual sports. There’s a separate points system for “team” team sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc.

We weighed football a little more because it’s king of the school year. We awarded fewer points to single-class sports such as lacrosse, swimming and bowling because many of our schools don’t compete in them.

When all the points were tabulated, we ranked the schools and separated them into divisions of large schools and small schools based on enrollment. The dividing line roughly grouped the large schools in football’s Class 7A and 8A, and the small schools from 6A down. We did not place an enrollment multiplier on the private schools.

What you’ve seen this week is a countdown of the top small school athletic programs in the Daily Herald coverage area. It featured No. 5 Glenbard South, a tie between No. 3 IC Catholic Prep and Montini, No. 2 Benet, and concluded with No. 1 St. Francis.

Next week we’ll reveal the top five large schools with a similar Herald Cup countdown. It’ll work the same as this week with one school revealed each day and a breakdown of why they finished where they did.

We realize it’s not a perfect system, but we feel the Herald Cup does a nice job recognizing the athletic programs that showed balance throughout the entire school year. One state title gives a big boost to the point total, but that eighth-place finish in golf adds a jolt, too.

This seemed like a natural honor for us to create, given the strength of our coverage area. Fifteen team state titles were won by our schools during the 2023-24 school year, and countless more individual titles.

Look at colleges throughout the country and you’ll see our athletes contributing in one sport after another. We’ve also got our fair share of competitors in the professional ranks. And you’ll see plenty in the upcoming Summer Olympics.

Creating the Herald Cup was a labor of love for our sports staff, a way to officially recognize what we already knew. We’ve got a lot to brag about in this area.

Congratulations to the top five small schools unveiled this week, and congratulations to the large schools about to be announced.

We hope you find the results interesting.

We sure do.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.