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Boys Volleyball: Oswego Knocks Off East, Advances To Regional Semifinals

Oswego East lines up for the National Anthem on Monday.

Winning a playoff game is always exciting, but it’s even sweeter when you get to knock out your biggest rival.

That’s exactly what Oswego did on Monday night, defeating crosstown foe Oswego East 25-14, 25-20 in an opening round game of the West Aurora regional. It was the Panthers’ third victory against the Wolves this season.

“The crosstown rivalry definitely added a lot more to this game,” Oswego outside hitter Trevor Hamman said. “We play them every year and for the seniors, it was the last time they’ll ever play them. We wanted it more because it that.”

Oswego shot out to an early 11-3 in the first game and never looked back. Middle hitter Freddy Miller had five kills and a block and outside hitter Quentin Kovac had four kills and a block as the Panthers took the first game 25-14.

In the second game, the Wolves capitalized on seven early errors by the Panthers to take an 9-5 lead. However, the Panthers captured the lead with a 6-0 run that featured two kills and a block from middle hitter Brandon Garcia, and never relinquished the lead.

Oswego coach Amie West said that Hamman – who had four kills in the second game – was the key to the Panthers’ 25-20 victory in game two.

“Trevor did a fantastic job in the second game. He really stepped it up, and got some really good kills,” West said. “Our passing struggled a little so we couldn’t go to our middles as much as we’d like, so we turned to him.”

Miller led the Panthers with eight kills, while Kovac had seven and middle hitter Kevin Oppe had five. Garcia had three kills and two blocks.

Setter Blake Izzo had four kills to lead the Wolves, while middle hitter Ryan Passini added three kills and a block.

The No. 15 seeded Panthers will face No. 2 seed Glenbard East on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in a regional semifinal.

“We have not seen them at all this year. I know that they’re ranked No. 2, so they’re a very good team. You beat good teams by having a lot of heart,” West said.

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Boys Track: Neuqua Valley Finishes Second At Naperville North Sectional

Athletics compete in the 400 relay at Thursday’s Naperville North sectional. 

Minooka (80) edged Neuqua Valley (78) by just two points to take first place at Thursday’s 3A boys track sectional at Naperville North, but it was still a successful night for the Wildcats who had six individuals and three relay teams qualify for next week’s state meet.

Waubonsie Valley (72.60), Plainfield North (46.60) and Joliet West (40) rounded out the top five. Naperville North and Naperville Central tied for seventh place with 31 points each. West Aurora (28) finished in eight place, Oswego East (19.60) was in 11th, Oswego (18) finished 13th and East Aurora (4) came in 16th to round out area teams.

Neuqua distance runner Mark Derrick qualified for state in two events, taking first place in both the 1,600 (4:18.30) and 3,200 (9:12.37). In the 1,600, Derrick pulled ahead of Yorkville’s Chris Kellogg on the final lap to take his second title of the night.

“I was a little worried for a second, then I saw that he wasn’t really putting me away, so I got myself back into the race,” Derrick said.

Taylor Soltys will join Derrick at state in the 3,200 after finishing in second place. Jacob Bender qualified in both the 400 and 400 relay. However, the senior pulled in his hamstring during the 400 and was unable to participate in the 1,600 relay.

Neuqua received second place finishes Andrew Peterson in the pole vault and Carlos Varela-Hernandez in the discus. The Wildcats’ 3,200 and 800 relay teams also qualified for state.

Nobody was going to out-throw Waubonsie Valley’s duo of Riley Kittridge and Jamaal Bearden on Thursday.

Kittridge took home sectionals titles in both the shot put (55-3.5) and discus (164.5), while Bearden also qualified in both events, finishing second in the shot put (54-1) and third in the discus (157-3).

“I wanted to win both events, and I accomplished that,” said Kittridge, who qualified for state last year in the shot put. “Last year I struggled in disc, but this year it’s really picked up for me.”

Waubonsie had two other individuals place first – Kyle Schafer in the 300 hurdles (38.20) and James Travis in the triple jump (44-1). The Warriors’ 400 and 1600 relay teams also qualified for state.

Naperville North was paced by sprinter James Kerns who qualified in both the 100 (10.97) and 200 (22.24). The senior finished second in the 100, and third in the 200 with a time exactly at the state qualifying standard.

Kerns will be joined in Charleston by long jumper Kareem Midani and pole vaulter Nick Lyon. Midani set a personal record in the long jump with a leap of 22-7.5.

“I honestly had no idea that I’d do this,” said Midani. “It was one heck of an accomplishment. I just went out there and did it. I was so psyched.”

Naperville Central will be well represented in the field at Charleston next weekend. Pole vaulters Mike Juretschke and Kevin Rzepczinski and shot putter David Goodalis all qualified for state.

The Redhawks also had three relays qualify for state – the 800 team of Brandon Lau, Tyler Haines, Kevin Kulling and Sam Bransby, the 1,600 team of Haines, Bransby, Kulling and Brad Kouchoukos and the 3,200 team of Kouchoukos, Forrest Thayer, Ethan Brodeur and Christian Schafer.

Hanies, a senior, got a week added to his high school career by qualifying for state in two relays.

“It’s not over for us,” Haines said. “It feels good knowing that I can continue seeing my friends even though tomorrow is the last day of school. We still get to hang out during practice.”

West Aurora will be represented at state by triple jumper Aaron Kennebrew and its 3,200 relay team of Calvin Robinson, Zach Truckenbrod, Vontrel Hawkins and Brandon McKay.

Kennebrew overcame an injured heel to finish second in the triple jump with a leap of 43-6.

“I had a lot of support from my coaches and my family. They just told me mind over matter,” Kennebrew said. “I just went out there and jumped. The adrenaline kept me going and it didn’t hurt anymore.”

Oswego East had two individuals qualify for state– Kalmon Strokes in the 300 hurdles and Chase Skenandore in the 800. The Wolves’ 3, 200 relay team of Dakoda Skenandore, Andrew Holm, Rene Salinas and Chase Skenandore also qualified.

For Stokes, a senior, qualifying for state meant a four-year dream realized.

“It feels amazing. It’s what I’ve been trying to get my whole four years of high school,” Stokes said. “To finally accomplish that, it makes me happy.”

Long jumper Alain Dixon was the lone qualifier for Oswego. The senior placed third (22-7), but he out-jumped the state qualifying mark 0f 22-3 by four inches.

East Aurora sprinter Desmond Gant was .14 seconds away from qualifying for state in the 200. The Tomcats’ sophomore placed fourth (22.38).

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon, Naperville Sun and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Girls Softball: Oswego Claims City Pride With Comeback Victory Over East

Oswego’s Kristy Tracy faces Oswego East’s Alex Wagner on Thursday.

More than just a win was on the line Thursday when crosstown rivals Oswego and Oswego East squared off for the second time this season.

“It was just about pride. Pride over who owns Oswego softball,” said Panthers pitcher Stephanie Prentice.

Prentice had three hits, including a home run, as host Oswego overcame an early five-run deficit to defeat Oswego East 7-6 in a Southwest Prairie Conference matchup.

The Panthers completed a season sweep of the Wolves and earned the right to call themselves the queens of Oswego softball.

“That’s a big deal for the girls. I know they’re excited about it,” said Panthers coach John Carlson. “That will definitely be a high point of this year for sure.”

The Wolves got things going early, scoring five runs in the first inning. Brittany Warnecke, Molly Talaska and Alex Wagner each contributed run-scoring hits as East pulled out to a quick 5-0 lead.

But Prentice held down the Wolves from that point forward, allowing just one run and one hit in her final six innings of work.

The sophomore was also a big part of the Panthers’ comeback at the plate, collecting three hits – including a third-inning home run – and scoring three runs.

“I just wanted to come back and try to throw strikes again because I was a little all over in the first inning. I wanted to come back and fight for it,” said Prentice.

Oswego (9-13, 2-8) chipped away at the Wolves’ lead, scoring one run in the first and two each in the third, fifth and sixth.

Jessica Clark’s sixth inning single brought home Brooke Riess and gave the Panthers their first lead of the game, 7-6. Earlier in the inning, Riess hit a double to score Prentice and tie the game at 6-6.

Riess went 4-for-4 with three singles and a double, scored three runs and stole two bases.

Oswego East (8-14, 2-8) committed four errors and had two runners caught stealing. Wolves coach Patrick Molinari said the mistakes were just too costly.

“We didn’t make the right adjustments at the plate and made a lot of mistakes today that really came back to bite us in the butt,” said Molinari. “Our girls competed and did the best that they could. We’ve just got to learn how to hold on to a lead and finish a game.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

Oswego gathers in left field after their victory over Oswego East.

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Boys Track: Host Kaneland Takes First Place At Peterson Prep Invitational

Workers get the pit ready for the triple jump final at Peterson Prep.

Sixteen teams came to Kaneland High School on Saturday in hopes of winning the Peterson Prep Invitational, but it was the home team that finished first.

The Knights placed in 15 of 18 events, won two relays and had three individual champions on their way to capturing first place with 84 points.

“This was a nice win for us on our home track,” said Kaneland coach Eric Baron. “All these programs are very good. To finish in the top five or top ten here shows you’re a strong competitor throughout the state of Illinois.”

Geneva, who held the team lead going into the final event, ended up in second place with 75 points. Burlington Central, paced by their intermediate runners, captured third place.

West Aurora finished in fourth place with 64 points, Yorkville took fifth with 45 and Oswego East followed closely in sixth with 42. Elgin came in ninth with 30 points, East Aurora finished in 12th place with 16, and Dundee Crown ended up in 14th with 9 to round out area teams.

Kaneland rode anchor Sean Carter to first in the 4×100 (43.78) and 4×200 (1:31.31) relays. The Knights also finished second in the 4×400 (3:26.62).

Dylan Nauert (300 meter hurdles) and Nate Dyer (discus and shot put) won individual championships for the Knights.

“Taking first at a home invite is a lot of excitement,” said Dyer. “Doing it twice, it was definitely a good day.”

Geneva’s Ben Rogers launched himself into first place in both the long jump (21 feet, 8 inches) and triple jump (43-11).

The Vikings’ senior was held back last season by a nagging hamstring injury. This year he’s fully healthy and performing at an exceptionally high level. His mark in the triple jump on Saturday was a new personal best.

“I’d like to keep getting better every meet, I think that’s the goal,” said Rogers. “I think if I can keep getting better each meet, I’m going to end up where I want to be.”

The Vikings also got a big boost on the track from Justin Davis, who finished first in the 400 meters, third in the 200 meters and seventh in the 100 meters.

“We covered the events well, which is what we always preach,” said Geneva coach Gale Gross. “We had to fight through some injuries, but overall the kids did awesome.”

Burlington Central runners Mike Gulik and Clint Kliem both finished in first place in three events. The two were part of the Rockets’ first-place 4×400 (3:25.43) and 4×800 (8:01.69) relay teams.

Gulik captured first in the 800 meters (1:57.28) while Kliem was the champion of the 1600 meter race (4:24.38). Kliem ran the third leg of the 4×400 relay just 25 minutes after setting a personal record in the 1600.

“That last one was just all guts,” said Kliem. “After finishing that mile, I just kept my legs up for five or ten minutes, did a little jog, and tried not to think about the next race. It’s just all basically a mental game.”

Central athletes Ben Damisch (400 meters) and Johnny Reuter (pole vault) both took home second place in their events.

Fourth-place West Aurora was paced by pole vaulter Royce Golembeck, who jumped 13-06 to capture first in his event.

The Blackhawks also got strong performances in the field from Aaron Kennebrew (second place in the triple jump and fourth place in the high jump), Lijah Spears (second place in the discus) and Jonny Gosong (third place in the long jump).

“We came in with a good focused attitude and we did a real nice job today,” said Blackhawks coach Cortney Lamb. “It’s not our best meet, but we have a lot things we can build on.”

Fifth-place Yorkville had no individual champions but runners Jake Callahan (800 meters), Chris Kellogg (1600 meters) and Eric Baker (3200 meters) all finished second in their events. The Foxes also got third place finishes from Jake Hoffert (3200 meters) and Joe Haske (pole vault).

Sixth-place Oswego East was paced by senior Kalmon Stokes, who finished second in both the 110 meter hurdles (15.77) and 300 meter hurdles (40.84). The same Wolves team of Dakoda Skenandore, Andrew Holm, Rene Salinas and Chase Skenandore took home third place in 4×800 relay (8:09.19) and fifth place in the 4×400 relay (3:32.24).

Elgin’s Dennis Moore was definitely the standout athlete for the Maroons. The senior sprinter blazed his way to first place in the 100 meter dash (11.46) and fourth place in the 200 meter dash (23.72).

Moore, along with teammates Terrell Campbell, Derek Moorman and DeVante King, also took home second place in the 4×100 and 4×200 relays.

East Aurora sprinter Desmond Gant accounted for all of the Tomcats’ points. The electrifying sophomore earned first place in the 200 meter dash (23.07) and third place in 100 meter dash (11.61).

“In my opinion, this was the fastest competition I’ve had,” said Gant. “If I’m winning against these guys, I know I can go out at other meets and come in first with a bigger lead. So, that’s my goal now.”

Dundee-Crown’s highest finisher was shot putter Joe Meixner, whose throw of 137-09 earned him third place. The Chargers placed in two relays, earning fifth in the 4×200 (1:33.27) and sixth in the 4×800 (8:14.33).

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon, Elgin Courier and yourseason.com. It appears here and here. I wrote separate stories for the Beacon and Courier and combined them for the blog.

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Girls Track: Oswego East Takes Third, Batavia Fourth At Cold And Windy Carlson-Anderson Classic.

Winter is coming . . . to a track and field meet near you.

Athletes at Friday’s 28th Annual Carlson-Anderson Classic at Batavia High School didn’t just have to worry about their fellow competitors, they also had to deal with frigid temperatures and bitter winds.

Wheaton Warrenville South won its third straight Classic in dominating fashion–it won all four relays and had seven individual winners. The Tigers (188) finished with more than twice as many points as second place Minooka (87.5). Oswego East finished third with 74 points and host Batavia finished fourth with 70.50 points.

Oswego East’s Ariel Michalek, Kyla Price and Aliyah Everson, and Batavia’s Hailey Clabough and Haleigh Theuerkauf were some of the individuals who were able to produce outstanding results despite the less than desirable conditions.

Michalek, the defending 3A state champion in the 3200 meters, ran the event for the first time this season and took first place with a time of 10:56.80. The Wisconsin-bound senior was pleased with her first two-mile run of the outdoor season.

“Breaking the 11 minute mark was a big step,” said Michalek. “I wanted to do that today and I’m glad I did because it means I’m one step closer to breaking my personal record and one step closer to getting to a 10:30 pace.”

Michalek, a former cross country state champion, had also planned to run the 1600 meter race, but pulled out after suffering back spasms at the finish line of the 3200.

Everson swept the sprints, taking first in the 100 meter dash (12.15) and 200 meter dash (25.62). The Wolves’ senior held off strong competition from Wheaton Warrenville South’s Maggie Dandsill and Glenbard North’s Simone Carr.

“I just run my race, it doesn’t matter what the other girls are running,” said Everson. “I just want to do the best I can and not worry about the competition.”

Price continued her strong start to the outdoor season by finishing first in the triple jump (36-06) and second in the long jump (15-10). Batavia’s Tamar Norville (34-10) finished second to Price in the triple jump, while Bulldogs teammate Jessica Hartmann (33-03) finished fourth.

Price missed the end of last season with a stress fracture in her back, but the senior said the injury motivated her to become a better jumper.

“Coming back from the injury, I’m a little bit more determined this year and that’s what has been pushing me to do better,” said Price.

Despite having trouble staying warmed up, Theuerkauf earned first place in both the discus (108-7) and shot put (39-03).

“I was pretty happy with my performance just because of how cold it was outside,” said Theuerkauf. “It was tough. I know I should be able to prepare for that, but I didn’t do it that well. I could have done a better job staying warm.”

In one of the most exciting races of the day, Clabough out-leaned Minooka’s Lucia Rossi for first place in the 300 meter hurdles by .28 seconds (47.68 seconds to 47.96 seconds).

“We always practice leaning, no matter what, at the line,” said Clabough. “If I didn’t lean, I probably wouldn’t have gotten her.”

The senior also took second place in the 100 meter hurdles (15.40 seconds) and set personal records in both hurdles races.

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Boys Volleyball: Minooka Towers Over Oswego East In Conference Victory

Oswego East huddles during a timeout in the first game of Thursday’s match.

Minooka’s boys volleyball team stood tall as the Indians defeated host Oswego East 25-8, 25-16 in a Southwest Prairie Conference match on Thursday.

The Indians, led by 6’9” middle Justin Toth, 6’6” middle Maalik Walker and 6’4” outside hitter Richard Bishop, towered over the Wolves as they cruised to a two game victory.

“It’s hard, you’re looking at college teams that are that tall. I was telling my guys to tool the block, because I knew they could block us straight on,” said Oswego East coach Jim Mueller.

“We were worried about Walker, he’s pretty good. He’s just so tall, he’s way over us. If he gets a good set, there’s nothing you can do.”

Walker led the Indians with six blocks and added four kills and an ace. Bishop was the Indians’ kill-leader with eight, while outside hitter Nicholas Vertin added six kills. Toth had two blocks and one kill.

Setter Philip Hannon led Minooka (15-2, 6-0) with 19 assists and five digs. Indians coach Janel Grzetich credited the junior for consistently setting up big shots for his teammates.

“Our setter was making some very smart decisions in terms of where we were in the rotations, where the defense was moving and when to set them,” said Grzetich. “Once he made passes, his teammates could see the open areas and they were hitting. They did a very good job of that.”

Minooka set the the tone early, shooting out to a quick 9-0 lead in the first game. Bishop had five kills and outside hitter Ryan Bauer had three aces as the Indians cruised to a 25-8 win.

The Wolves’ play was much improved to start the second game. Setter Sam Izzo’s ace gave Oswego East (3-12-1, 0-6) an early 5-1 lead. However seven points later, a block by Walker gave the Indians their first lead of the game, 7-6, and Minooka never looked back, winning the second game 25-16.

“We were out of sorts in the first game, and we’re a lot better than that. I give them a lot of credit, they hustled every ball, they hit everything down, they just outplayed us that first game,” said Mueller. “The second game, I was happy with our effort. I told the guys, ‘play loose, have fun and just do your job,’ and we did that.”

Despite his team’s slow start to the season, Mueller believes the Wolves are not far away from competing with the conference’s best teams.

“We have to improve on our passing,” said Mueller. “As soon as we get our passing down, we can compete with anybody. I believe that.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

I went a little photo crazy at tonight’s game. Here’s an artsy shot of Oswego East’s fearsome-looking Wolves logo.

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Boys Baseball: Big Fourth Inning Powers Minooka Past Oswego East

Oswego East warms up before Tuesday’s game against Minooka.

After a promising start, Oswego East gave up eight runs in the fourth inning as the Wolves dropped their fifth straight game 12-1 to visiting Minooka in six innings on Tuesday.

Minooka first base man T.J. Condon had two hits and three RBI and pitcher Kevin Ruff only gave up two hits and one run as the Indians picked up the Southwest Prairie Conference victory.

“When you’re in a tight ball game, everybody is a little tense, hoping to get that first big hit,” said Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic. “Once we got the hit to take the lead, it just seemed like things kind of snowballed from there and we hit the ball really, really well.”

Wolves pitcher David Schurr held the Indians scoreless through three innings, giving up just three hits while striking out five.

The Wolves took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Nick Mazzocchi trotted home after Ruff was called for a balk.

However, things quickly went downhill for the Wolves. Minooka pounded out seven hits and eight runs as 12 Indians came to the plate in fourth inning.

Condon gave the Indians a 2-1 lead with a two-run single that caromed off the center field fence.

Max Brozovich, Dane Colvin, Tyler Thorson, Steve Wittkamp and Carson Neushwander all had RBI singles as the Indians tacked on six more runs in the inning.

“We weren’t trying to hit the ball as hard in the fourth,” said Wittkamp, who had two hits in the inning. “We were just trying to put it in play and hopefully try to make things happen.”

Joe Carnagio and Austin Polcyn had RBI singles and Condon added an RBI double as the Indians scored four more runs in the sixth inning to take a 12-1 lead.

Ruff found out he was going to start just 10 minutes before Minooka (11-8, 4-3) took the field, but that didn’t seem to have any ill-effect on the right-handed senior as he picked up the win.

“I didn’t have my best stuff but I was just throwing strikes and getting ahead early in the count,” said Ruff, who struck out five batters while walking two. “I think I only threw 60 pitches throughout the whole game, so I was really efficient.”

Oswego East (4-10, 2-5) coach Jim Vera said not much has gone right for the Wolves during their current five-game losing streak.

“We’re not hitting, we’re not playing defense. If we continue to fail at doing the little things right, it’s going to take a long time to get on the right track,” said Vera. “The talent is here, just the confidence isn’t right now.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Kenny Obendorf Leads Metea Valley To Victory Over Oswego East

Metea Valley 75 Oswego East 67

Metea Valley has been relying on Kenny Obendorf all season long, and things were no different Tuesday night as the Mustangs defeated Oswego East 75-67 in Aurora.

The senior guard hit three-pointers on three straight possessions in the third quarter as the Mustangs (22-3) went on a 10-2 run and pulled away from the Wolves. Obendorf had 14 points in the quarter while making all four of his three point attempts.

“The shots weren’t falling for him in the first half and he wasn’t being aggressive. He hit those first two and I just kept going to him, because he has a tendency to get hot like that,” said Metea Valley head coach Bob Vozza. “He’s been our leader all year. And in big moments, he hit big shots for us today.”

Obendorf led the Mustangs with 23 points, while fellow starter Milan Bojanic added had 13 points and 7 rebounds.

Raysean Parker (12 points, six rebounds and three steals) provided a spark off the bench for the Mustangs.

“We got some contributions off the bench in a big way. I think Raysean is finally getting healthy. He’s been battling some stuff all year, and he’s looked great the last few games,” said Vozza.

Metea led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but Oswego (12-12) was able to cut the deficit to 35-27 at halftime.

Kendall Dorsey got the Wolves within six points after knocking down two free throws with five minutes left in the third quarter.

But then Obendorf went off, knocking down three-pointers on three straight possessions as Metea pulled away.

The Mustangs lead grew to 21 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Wolves didn’t give up. Oswego responded with a 12-0 run to cut the lead to single-digits with two minutes remaining in the game.

However, Obendorf was able to knock down free throws and Metea hung on for victory.

Kenny Battle Jr. led Oswego with 24 points, while Kalmon Stokes notched a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The Mustangs will have nine days off before their Upstate Eight Conference crossover game on Fri. Feb. 24. Vozza hopes his team will be able to rest-up for the playoffs during the lay-over.

“We’ll try to mend some soreness and bodies, but at the same time we want to continue to get better. I think we’re going in the right direction,” said Vozza. “We just want to be playing at a high level when playoffs come, and they’re coming now, so we’ve got practice time to prepare and then one game to get ready.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon, Naperville Sun and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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