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Boys Volleyball: Glenbard East Blows Past Oswego, Into Regional Final

The two teams meet at midcourt before Tuesday’s regional semifinal.

Glenbard East was just too much to handle for Oswego on Tuesday night.

The Rams never trailed as they defeated the Panthers 25-13, 25-16 in a semifinal game of the West Aurora regional.

Glenbard East (31-6), the No. 2 seed in the Wheaton Warrenville South sectional, moves on to face seventh-seeded Downers Grove South on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the regional title game.

“We were outmatched,” Oswego coach Amie West said. “They run a really fast offense and we haven’t seen anything like that. Glenbard East is a great school, they run a great program.”

In Game 1, the Rams used a 7-0 run to take a commanding 13-3 lead, and never looked back, winning the game 25-13. Glenbard East outside hitter Joey Farrell helped set the tone early, tallying eight kills in Game 1.

“I thought they came out well. We had good energy, as we should in a regional game. Joe was on top of his game,” Glenbard East coach Marci Maier said.

The second game didn’t go much better for the Panthers. Glenbard East shot out to 5-0 lead, as outside hitter Ben Haimann and middle hitter Tim Shenkin each provided two kills and two blocks. The Rams stretched their lead to 12 as they won Game 2 25-16.

Middle hitter Freddy Miller led the Panthers with seven kills and three blocks in their final game of the season.

“We are a really good team. They had a ton of potential and they had heart,” West said. “They knew it was going to be difficult, but they had heart, they played with pride, and that’s all I can ask from these boys.”

Maier is hoping her Rams can get some revenge in Wednesday night’s regional final.

“Downers Grove South beat us in our home tournament, so we’re hoping the outcome is different this time,” Maier said.

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

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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: West Aurora Captures First Place At Oswego Outdoor Invite

West Aurora’s Royce Golembeck prepares to launch in the pole vault.

Paced by a dominant performance in the field events, West Aurora’s boys track and field team took first place at the Oswego Outdoor Invite on Friday.

The Blackhawks tallied 161 points while Aurora Central Catholic finished in second place with 129. Host Oswego followed close behind in third place with 110 points while East Aurora ended up in fifth with 45.

“The field events got us off on the right foot and the track followed up with some really good performances,” said West Aurora coach Cortney Lamb. “Overall, it was a real good night for us.”

The Blackhawks won seven individuals events, including five of the six field events.

Aaron Kennebrew finished on top in both the high jump (6 foot, 1 inch) and triple jump (40-09.5). The junior jumper set a personal record in the high jump.

“I want to get better every single meet. I listen to my coaches, I trust them completely,” said Kennebrew. “My philosophy is to get better every single practice, every single meet so I’m ready for the big meets coming up.”

The Blackhawks swept the top three spots in both the shot put and the discus with Lijah Spears finishing on top in both events. Spears was followed by David Aleman and Shaq Redmond in the discus. Jorgeluis Ramirez and Aleman finished second and third in the shot put.

With a final jump of 12-06, pole vaulter Royce Golembeck finished first in his event for the second straight meet. Golembeck also took first in the pole vault at the Peterson Prep at Kaneland last weekend.

“I didn’t do well the three weeks before Kaneland, so I went in to practice and worked hard,” said Golembeck. “I’m trying to break in a new pole, and it’s turned out nicely for me these last couple meets.”

On the track for the Blackhawks, Vontrel Hawkins took first in the 400 meter dash (50.78) and while Greg Roache won the 110 meter hurdles (16.01). Roache also finished third in the triple jump.

Lamb hopes the Blackhawks’ success on Friday carries over into next week’s Kane Country meet, which will be hosted by West Aurora.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with what happened tonight. They came out and made a good showing,” said Lamb. “We accomplished what we needed to. That’s going to give us confidence going into next week and the following weeks.”

Despite being the smallest school at the six-team event, second-place Aurora Central had a strong showing, winning three individual events and two relays (4×400 and 4×800).

Matt Meyers took home first place in both the 800 meters (2:00.40) and 1600 meters (4:31) while sprinter Joseph Fese won the 100 meter dash (10.84). Chargers athlete Patrick Lefevre finished second in the triple jump and 110 meter hurdles and third in the 300 meter hurdles.

“We have a lot of courage on our team,” said Meyers. “Even though there were 3A teams here, we weren’t intimidated. We really wanted to go after it.”

Third-place Oswego was paced by long-distance runner Caleb Beck, who finished first in the 3200 meters (9:31.10) and jumper Alain Dixon, the champion on the long jump (21-00). The host Panthers also won the 4×100 and 4×200 relays.

Beck blew past his competition in the 3200, finishing 45 seconds ahead of second place Ricky Barajas of East Aurora (10:16).

East Aurora rounded out area teams in fifth place. Blazing sophomore Desmond Gant once again led the Tomcats, finishing first in the 200 meter dash (22.58) and third in the 100 meter dash (11.11).

“I wanted to run under 22.5 in the 200, obviously I didn’t do that, but I still felt I ran good tonight,” said Gant. “I can do better though, so I’ve still got work to do.”

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

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Girls Softball: Oswego Outfoxes Yorkville, Takes First At Fox Valley Tournament

Oswego catcher Jessa Garcia picked the perfect time to hit her first home run of the season.

The junior’s three-run homer in the fifth-inning broke a 4-4 tie and the Panthers held on to defeat Yorkville 7-6 to take home first place at the Fox Valley Third Annual Softball Tournament.

“That was a huge home run and it came exactly when we needed it,” said Oswego coach John Carlson. “We knew she had the power and she hit it in a time when we really needed something big. It was a huge motivator for the girls.”

Oswego took advantage of some early miscues by Yorkville and jumped out to 4-0 lead. The Foxes gave up three unearned runs as they committed four errors in the first four innings.

Yorkville evened the score with a four-run fifth inning that included RBI base hits by Corrine Rowe, Lauren Rhodes and Madeline Avery.

The Panthers quickly recaptured the lead in the bottom of the inning when Garcia’s three-run homer soared over the center field fence.

“I got a pitch down the middle and a little outside. That’s where I like it, so I just hit it,” said Garcia. “It just made me happy, because I’ve been waiting for so long to finally hit a home run.”

Rowe narrowed the Foxes’ deficit to one when she hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

The Foxes had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh inning, but Oswego (7-7) pitcher Jessica Clark was able to retire the next two Yorkville batters to seal the Panthers’ victory.

Clark pitched a complete game for the Panthers while also registering three hits at the plate.

Carlson said the Panthers played their best softball of the season in wins over West Aurora, Metea Valley and Yorkville in the Fox Valley Tournament.

“This team has played great these last three games. We hit better in this tournament than we have been all season,” said Carlson. “The girls are just playing together, they’re playing for each other.”

Yorkville (11-5) coach Kathi Dockstader said the Foxes were hindered by a lack of motivation.

“We just started things offensively a little late,” said Dockstader. “We were very motivated to play last night against Batavia, but we didn’t have that same intensity today. Oswego wanted it more than us.”

Yorkville and Oswego will play again in a doubleheader later this month and Dockstader is already looking forward to the rematch.

“The good thing about this loss is we get to play Oswego in a couple weeks in a regularly scheduled game,” said Dockstader. “We’ll definitely be up to the challenge.”

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

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Girls Soccer: Carly Franzese Scores First High School Goal As Naperville Central Tops Oswego

Naperville Central midfielder Carly Franzese didn’t know what to do after she scored a goal early in the Redhawks’ 2-0 victory over Oswego Monday afternoon.

It was the first time the senior had scored a goal in a high school game.

“I saw an opening and I wasn’t marked, so I just ran through and someone made the perfect pass,” said Franzese. “I didn’t even know how to react once it went in since it was my first goal in high school. It was so exciting.”

It was forward Abby Joyce who made the pass to Franzese, setting up a goal that gave the Redhawks an 1-0 lead just five and half minutes into the game.

Forward Kristen Krebs came off the bench to give Naperville Central a 2-0 lead 20 minutes into the first half. Defenseman Amanda Albert’s entry pass was deflected by midfielder Paige Silver right to Krebs, who then scored her first goal of the season from five yards out.

“She [Krebs] needed to get that first one to get her going,” said Naperville Central head coach Ed Watson. “Early in the season, it’s nice for girls who haven’t scored yet to get on the score sheet. So it was really good to see Kristen and Carly score today.”

Naperville Central (4-0) was able to dominate possession all game, and the Redhawks out-shot the Panthers 17-2. Oswego (0-2) had very little success getting the ball past midfield.

“We kept the pressure on them. When the ball really came out of their end, it was tough for them to gain possession and link too many things together,” said Watson. “We bottled them up pretty well, our back four kept things under control. We kept the ball in front of us.”

Oswego has yet to score a goal this season.

The Redhawks have won their first four games, but Watson said the beginning of the season is about more than just wins and losses.

“These first five games before spring break are like our spring training,” said Watson. “It’s always nice to win these games, but more importantly, it’s all about giving the coaches a sense of what we have and what we need to tweak, and giving the girls an opportunity to know one another as teammates.”

The Redhawks will finish off their opening five-game stretch on Wednesday night against Waubonsie Valley at North Central College.

“Game one was a little shaky, game two was a little shaky, but three and four have been better,” said Watson. “That’s a good sign and we look forward to keeping things going against Waubonsie on Wednesday.”

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

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