The 2023-24 Herald Cup: No. 2 York

Editor’s note: Now that the high school sports year is over, we devised a points system based on team state finishes to measure which of the 85 high schools from the Daily Herald circulation area had the best athletic year in 2023-24. Last week we announced the top five small schools. This week we’re unveiling the top large schools, one per day, starting with No. 5 on Monday through No. 1 on Friday.

York’s athletic teams definitely didn’t coast into June.

The Dukes ended the school year with a bang by earning three state trophies in the spring alone.

They finished second in the 2023-24 Herald Cup standings for large schools with 128 points that were calculated by weighing team finishes throughout the fall, winter and spring.

A state title in girls cross country got the athletic program off to a great start. A runner-up finish in boys volleyball capped the school year.

How they did it

Pack running worked wonders for the girls cross country team, which had six runners finish between 11th and 32nd to win the team title.

The football team, for second straight season, advanced to the Class 8A semifinals. Unfortunately for the Dukes, they lost to Loyola for the second straight time.

The boys volleyball team was runner-up to Marist, and a week later the baseball team finished fourth in the state.

Badminton was also fourth in the state, the girls tennis team eighth and the girls lacrosse team and girls water polo team each won sectional titles. The boys water polo team reached the quarterfinals.

Who made it happen

Ben Brown and Jack Bute combined for 537 kills while leading the boys volleyball team to its best finish in program history.

Pitchers Ryan Sloan, Noah Hughes and Chris Danko combined to help lead the baseball team to back-to-back fourth-place finishes, the program’s first trophies since title runs in 1993 and 1960.

Lindsey White and Ella Glosner finished fourth in doubles in state badminton.

Balance on both sides of the ball carried the football team to the semifinals. While quarterback Sean Winton, running back Jake Melion and receiver Luke Mailander led the offense, all-state linebacker Cole Ostendorf and Notre Dame-bound lineman Joe Reiff anchored the defense.

Key stats

Sloan — who’s committed to Wake Forest but is expected to be drafted high in the MLB draft in July — hit 99 mph with his fastball during the state tournament. Sloan struck out 90 and allowed only 2 earned runs in 46 innings this season.

The football team reached the semifinals with a stunning quarterfinal comeback against Edwardsville. The Dukes trailed 21-7 before rolling up 29 straight points to win 36-29.

The state championship girls cross country team finished second last season and won a state title the year before. The recent run earned the program’s first state trophies since 2002.

Key fact

The boys volleyball team won 30 matches for the second straight season and for the fourth time. The Dukes, however, never before had reached the state final and hadn’t reached the quarterfinals since 1997.

They said it

“There were times I was like, ‘Can we get back here?’ That standard we set was so high last year. But we talked from Day One of the off-season, this is where we are at and this is where we have to get to.” — Mailander after the semifinal loss to eventual state champion Loyola.

“It was phenomenal. The best season in York school history. We set school records for wins and were the first volleyball team, boys or girls, to play for a state title.” — York boys volleyball coach Ken Dowdy.

“It wasn’t our day yesterday, it wasn’t our day today, but it was a fun ride for sure. I feel like we left our mark.” — York baseball player and Illinois State recruit Chris Danko after the team’s fourth-place finish.

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