Local athletes excelled in soccer, track and tennis

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

The four athletes who earned Regional/Reporter honors in boys and girls track, girls soccer and boys tennis were just the tip of the iceberg.

Several other local athletes also had stellar years and were recognized by their conferences. For those sports without all-conference recognition, there were plenty of athletes who qualified for the Illinois High School Association state finals in their respective sports.

Here is a list of some of the best:

Girls soccer

The South Suburban Red recognized Shepard’s Amar Mason, Kaci Jasik, Vivian Garza and Grace Elliot, Evergreen Park’s Ciara Black and Mara Bracken, Richards’ Isabella Nelson and Jade Ingram and Oak Lawns Jessica Hassett and Cayley Patete.

The SouthWest Suburban players selected were Sandburg’s Kylie Hase, Aislinn Mulvey, Paige Pappanastos, Sydney Rudny, Bella Strolia and Christine Szymanski plus Stagg’s Grace Javaras, Erini Kosmas, Veronica Stafira and Emily Stefan.

The East Suburban Catholic Conference was represented by Marist sophomore Annie Callahan and junior Michelle Lenz.

In the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference, Mother McAuley’s Grace Hynes, Isabella Garrity and Emily Leiser plus Queen of Peace’s Zaida Chacon earned spots on the squad.

Chicago Christian’s Karlee Koyvenhoven, Abby Tiemersma, Cassidy Vande Kamp, Tori DeJager and Cassy Sluis were named to the Metro Suburban squad.

Boys track

Class 3A state qualifiers were Sandburg’s Peter Demogerontas, Alex Szymanski, Nico Calderon, Martin Skucas, Dylan Jacobs and Ayo Abiona, Brother Rice Jimmy Baker, Rob Groyon, Michael Butler-Kindle, Ty McCoy, Josh Boulanger, Ronan Dolan and Justin Palmer, Oak Lawn’s Patrick Michaels, Shepard’s Shepard Brian Hauser, Caleb Washington and Neiko Carterand Stagg’s Sam Snell and Anthony Koncius.

Class 2A state qualifiers were St. Laurence Lonnie Chambers, Tyree Colbert, Toriano Clinton and Alex Saunders plus Evergreen Park’s Colin O’Dwyer, Eric Williams, David Torres, Tajuan Ingram, Damon Turner and Kobe Green.

Class 1A qualifiers were Chicago Christian’s Ben Friesen, Brayden Roberts, Casey Starostka and Connor Pearson.


Girls track

In Class 2A, Evergreen Park sent and army of athletes to the state meet -- Lily Sader, Kayley Burke, Tiera Robinson-Jones, Grace Huneck, Lilly Gozum, Taylor Jones, Tyra Pickett, Alexus Clark, Meleah Tines, Briana Parker, Lizzie O’Dwyer, Tia Walker, Kayla Carpenter.

In Class 1A, Chicago Christian qualified Jill VanDyk, Rylei Jackson, April van Ryn, Allie Boss, Rebecca Falb, Carissa Simon, Sara Cahill, Emily Woods and Brooklyn Seiber.

In Class 3A, Mother McAuley qualified Ashley Bryja, Kelly Gallagher, Ciara Nelligan and Colleen Ford,

Stagg sent Allyson Mussallem, Shepard qualified Hayley Goebel and Kellie Callahan while Sandburg sent Chibueze Obia, Hannah Sullivan, Tina Siebenaler and Julia Gary

 Boys tennis

State qualifiers were Stagg’s Michal Wolan, Kevin Wacnik, Brian Jaski and Momas Dargis, Shepard’s Alex Kokoszka and Paul Milkus, Brother Rice’s Brenden Leibforth and Ryan Cunnea and Marist’s Jeremiah Joyce.

Trophy kids: More hardware just might be coming soon

  • Written by Randy Whalen



Photo by Jeff Vorva

Marist’s softball team finished fourth in the state and, according to some players, had a lot of fun.


EAST PEORIA -- It was a young team that many would say had a great season.

It’s just not the ending that the Marist softball team was looking for.

After losing in the regional title game a year ago, the RedHawks returned to the state finals looking for their second Illinois High School Association state championship in three seasons. Instead they settled for fourth after losing a late lead and falling to Barrington 7-6 in nine innings on Saturday in the Class 4A third-place game at EastSide Centre in East Peoria.

Still it was the third state trophy in six seasons for Marist (25-9), which also won the Class 4A state title in 2012. The Fillies (37-4) tied a school record for most wins in a season and earned their eighth trophy. They have four third place finishes to go along with a pair of seconds and fourths.

"Getting back here was huge for us," Marist coach Colleen Biebel said. "That [fourth place] wasn't how we wanted to finish, but we have a team full of mostly sophomores. This is going to leave a bitter taste in their mouths and we'll be back."

Someone who is expected back is pitcher Angela Zedak (19-7). The sophomore right-hander pitched a pair of complete games at state and had seven strikeouts and three walks in the third place game. But Barrington banged 15 hits off her in the game.

"Barrington can hit, they hit very well," Zedak said. "It's kind of disappointing that we took fourth, but I know we're only losing two people, so there's a lot of returners. Just to get down here is an awesome feeling."

The RedHawks led 6-4 with two out and two on in the top of the seventh, but Rachel Krysko tied the game with a 2-run single to center. Carly Kordich drove home the winning run with a two-out slap single past third in the ninth. Abbey Jacobsen led the Fillies, who had five players with two or more hits. Marist, which had 12 hits, never got a runner past first in the final three innings.

Things started great for Marist with four runs in the first. Zedak and Lexi Voss had RBI hits. Jessica Balich walked to force in a run and Abby Rosynek rapped a sacrifice fly. After Barrington closed within 4-3, Balich added a sacrifice fly in the third. Leading 5-4, Zedak zipped an RBI double to the fence in left-center to score Alexis Rogers but Madison Garofalo was thrown out at home on the play to end the inning.

"We just wanted to go out, play softball and have fun," said Rogers, who will attend the University of Tennessee-Martin next year. "That's what this team did, have fun.

"We have 14 returners and I know they'll back here. They have heart and fight. For me, it was really nice to get back here [to state]. I didn't know if we would, but it was great to know that your last game would be here."

The RedHawks’ two seniors were Rogers and Madison Franks.

"Alexis Rogers was a four-year starter for us and she was the team rock," Biebel said. "And Madison Franks was a nice player and the team mom. She cleaned up after everyone."

In the semifinals, on Friday, June 9, Marist lost 2-0 to Lincoln-Way East. The game was a rematch of the 2015 state title game, which Marist won 1-0. Garofalo and Voss had singles in the top of the first inning, but those were the only two hits off East ace Alex Storako,(eight strikeouts) who retired 13 in a row and 19 of the last 20.

East (30-4) went onto lose 1-0 to defending champion Oak Park/River Forest (37-1) in the title game.


Brown drops a few hits and RedHawks heading back to state

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



Photo by Jeff Vorva

Marist coach Colleen Biebel gets doused with water after her team won the Class 4A Sandburg Supersectional with a 4-1 victory over West Aurora on Monday.  

Marist freshman center fielder Brianna Brown dropped a routine fly ball in what thus far was the most important softball game of the year for the RedHawks.

It happened in the second inning of the Class 4A Sandburg Supersectional on Monday and it allowed West Aurora to take a 1-0 lead.

But the Tinley Park resident more than made up for it the rest of the way. She reached base on a high hopper in the third and a chopper in the fifth and scored both times. She also hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth and the RedHawks are still alive to try to win their third state championship in six years with a 4-1 victory.

Marist (25-7) takes on Lincoln-Way East (27-3) in the state semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Eastside Centre in East Peoria. Marist beat East, 7-3, April 11. The RedHawks also beat the Griffins, 1-0, to win the state championship in 2015.

Brown was happy she could make up for the rare error.

“I just lost my balance and was on my heels,” she said. “After something like that, you have to keep your head up.’’

Sophomore winning pitcher Angela Zedak drove in a run and sophomore shortstop Alexis Voss drove in a pair. Senior third baseman Alexis Rogers threw out a runner at home plate in the third inning to prevent West Aurora (32-7) from taking a 2-0 lead in the third.

Rogers was on the 2015 squad and is thrilled to be back.

“That was the most exciting thing in my four years at Marist,” she said. “This is awesome. We’ve played Lincoln-Way East this year and we will have to play great defense to beat them because they can hit the ball. We just have to play great softball.’’

To get to the supersectional, the RedHawks picked up some revenge on the team that shocked them out of the playoff in 2016.

Lyons Township, which knocked off the RedHawks, 5-1 in the Lyons Regional championship game, met up with the RedHawks on Saturday in the Hinsdale South Sectional championship and in perfect synergy, Marist came up with the 5-1 victory.

Voss drove in a pair of first-inning runs to get the offense started and then homered two innings later.

Zedak picked up her 18th win of the season threw a two-hitter and struck out five.

It was Marist’s fourth sectional title.

In the sectional semifinals on May 31, Lyons ended Richards’ season with a 3-0 victory. Seventh-seeded Richards had stunned second-seeded Sandburg in the Hinsdale Central Regional title game on May 27.



Crusaders make best teams in the state sweat

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Brother Rice players celebrate a state quarterfinal win over Hinsdale Central on Friday.

The conventional wisdom was that heading into this weekend’s Illinois High School Association State Volleyball Tournament, Glenbard West and Lake Park were the top two teams in the state and were ready to butt heads in the state championship game.

On Saturday morning, Lincoln-Way East had other plans, knocking off Lake Park 25-21, 27-25 in the first semifinal at Hoffman Estates High School.

Then, when Brother Rice opened the second semifinal with a 25-21 win over the two-time defending state champion Hilltoppers, it was looking like conventional wisdom was about to turn into unconventional lunacy. But Glenbard West, which had lost just three sets in two years prior to the Brother Rice setback, came back and squeaked out 25-20, 25-22 victories in the final two sets before moving on the beat Lincoln-Way East in three to claim its third straight state title. 

That set up a Brother Rice-Lake Park battle for third and the Crusaders made the Lancers sweat before falling 21-25, 25-20, 25-16.

The Crusaders, making their first state appearance since 2012 and winning their second state trophy in program history, finished 31-11 on the campaign.

Junior middle hitter Dan Littleton showed he could be a monster next season as he had 10 kills and hit .769 against Lake Park while senior Jimmy Baker had 10 kills and a .364 hitting percentage.

In the semifinals against Glenbard West, junior Kyle Springer had 12 kills, Lewis University-bound Joe Kenzinger had 11 and hit. 500 to go with five blocks while Ryan Banky and Baker each had 10 kills as the Crusaders hit .326.

To get to the trophy round, Rice beat Hinsdale Central, 25-17, 25-20. Springer had 10 kills and Banky nine.

Junior setter Matt O’Donnell spread the wealth around and was credited with 102 assists in the three matches and Baker said that was a key to the team’s success this year.

“Opponents have no idea where the ball is going,” Baker said. “Sometimes we don’t even know where it’s going.’’

Players graduating from this year’s team are Kenzinger, Bankey, Baker, Mike McIntyre, Vito Calace, Brendan Ashley, Cal Konecki and Patrick Hollander. Underclassmen on the playoff roster hoping for another state appearance next year are juniors O’Donnell, Springer, Littleton, Alex Culloton, Tom Kleist, Tom Phelan and Sean Badali.


Regional baseball champs lead to exciting sectional matchups

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Since the Illinois High School Association baseball pairings came out, it appeared the Class 4A St. Laurence Sectional would be a battle between four Chicago Catholic League South Blue teams.

The league will have to settle for 75 percent. Reavis’s 5-4 shocker over fourth-seeded Mt. Carmel Saturday at Mt. Carmel’s regional squashed those plans.

But three other teams made it.

Top-seeded St. Laurence won its seventh straight regional title but didn’t have an easy time of it with a 3-2 win over Riverside-Brookfield to win the Oak Lawn Regional. Gage Olszak, Mike McCormick and winning pitcher Jimmy Burnette drove in runs for the Vikings (32-5).

Second-seeded Brother Rice improved to 28-9 with a 5-0 victory over Harlan to win the De La Salle Regional. It’s the Crusaders’ second regional title in a row. Ryan Kutt struck out 13 for Brother Rice.

Third-seeded St. Rita beat Lyons, 5-0 with Steve Washilewski pitching the shutout. The Mustangs are playing with some extra incentive as they are hoping for a huge finish in coach Mike Zunica’s final season.

St. Laurence was slated to play Reavis in the Battle of Burbank on Wednesday and Brother Rice is taking on St. Rita at 4 p.m. Thursday. The sectional championship is at 11 a.m. Saturday.

 Sandburg gets shot at the streak

Sandburg won the Class 4A T.F. North Regional with a 5-3 victory over Lockport on Saturday thanks in part to the pitching of Kevin Lane and that set the Eagles up to try to break the most amazing postseason streak in IHSA baseball history.

Sandburg was scheduled to face Providence Catholic in the opening round of the Homewood-Flossmoor Sectional on Wednesday. Providence is the three-time defending Class 4A champ and entered the game winning 23 straight postseason games despite never being able to win a CCL Blue title.

Stagg was the first area team to get a shot at the Celtics in the Andrew Regional semifinals on Thursday and carried a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. But the Celtics scored runs in the sixth and seventh to stun the Chargers.

“That’s what they do,” Chargers coach Matt O’Neill said.