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Boys Volleyball: Glenbard East Shuts Down DGS To Claim Regional Title

Glenbard East poses with its regional championship plaque.

Glenbard East’s play at the net was so dominating during Wednesday’s West Aurora regional final against Downers Grove South, it was as if Joey Farrell, Matt Ploke and Tim Shenkin formed a brick wall over the net.

Farrell had 12 kills and two blocks, Ploke had eight kills and two blocks and Shenkin added three kills and four blocks as the Rams knocked off the Mustangs 25-14, 25-17.

“I thought our blocking was absolutely fantastic. It was just lights out and so was our defense,” Glenbard East coach Marci Maier said. “We were firing on multiple cylinders and we always like to see that in the postseason.”

Glenbard East, the No. 2 seed in the Wheaton Warrenville South sectional, moves on to face sixth-seeded Benet at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a sectional semifinal.

The Rams came out of the gate strong, taking a 5-1 lead in Game 1 and never looking back. Glenbard East ended the game on a 7-1 run that featured three kills from Farrell. The junior outside hitter tallied eight kills in Game 1.

“We lost to DGS in our tournament earlier this year. We really wanted to send a message and let them know that we really wanted to win regionals,” Farrell said. “They’re a great team, but we came out with a lot of energy and we came out on top today.”

Downers South (25-11) held its only leads of the match early in Game 2, going ahead 1-0 and 2-1. But the Rams took over from there, going on a 7-2 run powered by two kills and a block from Ploke to take an 8-4 lead. Glenbard East (32-6) would never lose its advantage, going on the win Game 2 25-17.

The Mustangs were unable to win more than two points in row during the match.

“They looked pretty impressive tonight. We couldn’t shut them down, we couldn’t get touches on the ball. At times, we played alright with them, but they had it tonight,” Downers South coach Kurt Steuer said. “Glenbard East is a high energy team. You can’t measure chemistry and they’ve got that on the court.”

Outside hitter Greg Garro had seven kills to lead the Mustangs. Libero David DeMarco had 11 digs and setter C.J. Blaha added 10 assists.

Farrell believes the Rams are playing with the right intensity heading into Friday’s semifinal match against Benet.

“I feel like its going to be a great match, but if we play as good as we did tonight, we’ll come out on top.”

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

Downers South lines up for the National Anthem before Wednesday’s game.

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Boys Volleyball: West Aurora’s Season Ends In Thriller Against Downers South

Downers South lines up before its regional semifinal against West Aurora

West Aurora wasn’t going to end its season without a fight.

The Blackhawks fought off three match points in the second game of their regional semifinal match against Downers Grove South, but it wasn’t enough.

On the Blackhawks fourth attempt at extending their season, middle hitter James McGrath’s block attempt landed out off bounds, giving the Mustangs a 29-27 Game 2 victory.

Downers South, the No. 7 seed in the Wheaton Warrenville South sectional, won the match 25-22, 29-27 and will face second-seeded Glenbard East Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the West Aurora regional final.

“The boys were resilient. They were going to work on every point, there was no doubt about it,” West Aurora coach Tolis Koskinaris said. “In the end, Downers South was just a little bit tougher at the net than us tonight. It was a close match, it came down to a couple blocks and they did a better job than we did.”

The 11th-seeded Blackhawks dropped a back-and-forth first game that featured 14 ties and four lead changes. After his team fell behind 22-20, Downers South coach Kurt Steuer called a timeout to regroup. The Mustangs responded by winning the next five points and the game.

The Blackhawks made four errors in the final five points of the first game, and they carried over that sluggish play into the second game. The Blackhawks fell behind 9-5, but they were able to recover and stage a comeback. After getting within one point seven different times, the Blackhawks finally tied the game at 21-21. Nine points later, West Aurora took its first and only lead of the game, 26-25, on a kill by outside hitter Eric Roggeman.

However, Downers South (25-10) sophomore Mike Schmitt stole the show from that point forward. The outside hitter had three kills during the final five points of the match as the Mustangs clinched a regional semifinal victory.

“He’s stepped in and done some nice things on the outside for us,” Steuer said. “He’s proven himself to these guys, as young as he is. He’s done some big things, and we’re happy with what we’ve seen from him.”

Roggeman and outside hitter David Vasquez each had eight kills to lead the Blackhawks. McGrath added five kills and two blocks.

West Aurora finishes its season with 23 wins and 13 losses. The Blackhawks won two tournaments and set a school record for regular season wins with 22.

“I’m proud of the guys, they had a good run. Good season. We accomplished a lot of things,” Koskinaris said. “Tonight, it was two points, they were just a little bit better than us. I believe they felt they could have won this match.”

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

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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: Eric Roggeman Leads West Aurora Into Regional Semifinals

West Aurora huddles before its regional quarterfinal match against St. Joseph.

West Aurora outside hitter Eric Roggeman set the tone early as the Blackhawks defeated St. Joseph 25-6, 25-16 Monday night in an opening round game of the West Aurora regional.

Roggeman tallied two kills and an ace in the first five points of the match as West Aurora shot out to an early 4-1 lead. Later in the game, the Blackhawks went on a 13-0 run that gave them a commanding 18-3 lead. St. Joseph made 13 errors as it dropped the first game 25-6.

“He came out ready to play. His hits were very clean. He’s very committed to ending strong his senior year,” West Aurora coach Tolis Koskinaris said of Roggeman. “I know he really badly wants to do this, and it showed today.”

St. Joe’s play improved in the second game, and after a 7-2 Chargers run, the game was tied 14-14. However, the Blackhawks answered back immediately, going on a 11-2 run to clinch a 25-16 victory.

“Today was one of those games where you’ve got to stay consistent. You can’t let your guard down, because these are the teams that sneak up on you and come back when you don’t expect them to,” Roggeman said.

“They gave us a little bit of a scare in the second game, but we know we’re the better team, and we finished it out strong.”

Roggeman led the Blackhawks with nine kills while middle hitter Joe Frommert and outside hitter David Vasquez each added five. Libero Patrick Ronan had 11 digs.

No. 11 seeded West Aurora will take on No. 7 seeded Downers Grove South Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in a regional semifinal game. Koskinaris said he expects a tough battle.

“It’s going to be a very good game tomorrow night. I expect nothing less. It’s going to be close, and it’s going to be good,” Koskinaris said.

Roggeman said the Blackhawks are up to the task thanks to their tough DuPage Valley Conference schedule.

“I’ve never seen them play, but I’ve heard they’re pretty good,” Roggeman said. “But we’ve played some pretty darn good teams, so I’m ready for the challenge.”

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

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Boys Tennis: Marmion Qualifies 4, Claims West Aurora Sectional Title

Through The Fence: Batavia’s Josh Cogan returns a serve on Saturday.

Marmion continued its historic season on Saturday when two singles players and one doubles team qualified for state as the Cadets finished in first place at the West Aurora boys tennis sectional.

Senior Will Graft and sophomore John Graft took second and third place respectively in singles, while the doubles team of senior Chris Pattermann and junior Jackson Rettig finished third.

“The boys made history. It’s the first time in a long time, if ever, that we won a sectional title,” Cadets coach John Tsang said.

The Cadets went undefeated in the regular season and were champions of the Suburban Christian Conference.

Marmion topped all teams with 25 points, while Naperville Central and Waubonsie Valley tied for second with 18. Batavia (16) came in fourth.

Batavia senior Josh Cogan, who tied for ninth at last year’s state tournament, knocked off Marmion’s Will Graft 6-2, 6-1 in the singles championship.

Cogan, a four-time state qualifier, was able to overpower Graft with his serve.

“The serve felt really, really good. I was hitting it really clean,” said Cogan, who claimed the sectional title for the second straight year. “I got into a rhythm, and I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was just stepping up to the line and hitting it.”

Waubonsie Valley’s senior duo of Deep Chatterjee and Abhi Singh defeated the Naperville Central team of junior Danny Albert and sophomore Wesley Lo 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in the doubles championship.

With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, Singh said the third set was mentally and physically challenging.

“It was just mental toughness,” Singh said. “Both teams were really tired, we both won a set, and basically, it was whoever wanted it more.”

Singh qualified for state the previous three years in singles, but Chatterjee will be playing at state for the first time.

The Redhawks’ No. 2 doubles team of Matt Mason and Justin Gillette placed fourth and will be joining Albert and Lo at state. Marmion’s Pattermann and Rettig knocked off Mason and Gillette 6-7, 7-5, 6-1 in the third place doubles match.

West Aurora senior Matt Kuntzi qualified for state after a fourth-place finish. Marmion’s John Graft defeated Kuntzi 6-2, 6-4 in the third place singles match.

West Aurora and Metea Valley tied for fifth place with eight points. IMSA (6), East Aurora (4) and Aurora Central (4) followed.

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon, Naperville Sun 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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Boys Track: Wheaton North Wins DVC Meet In Dominating Fashion

Wheaton North stole the show at Friday’s DuPage Valley Conference track meet at Naperville North.

The Falcons won five individual championships and two relays on their way to taking first place with 175 points. Wheaton North had more than twice as many points as second-place Wheaton Warrenville South (81).

Naperville Central (78), Glenbard East (71), Naperville North (65) and West Aurora (57) rounded out the top six.

The Redhawks had two individual champions – Mike Juretschke in the pole vault and Sam Bransby in the 400.

Juretschke, a senior, won his first outdoor DVC title by setting a personal record in the pole vault (14-3).

“It feels great to win conference, especially because I’ve been jumping all four years,” Juretschke said. “It was a really big goal of mine to improve as much as I could this year.”

Bransby, a sophomore, defended his DVC indoor championship in the 400 (50.09) and finished third in the 200 (22.10).

“Indoor is a completely different monster, everyone gets faster outdoors,” Bransby said. “You feel like you have to step it up with everyone else, and I was proud to do that today.”

The Redhawks’ 3,200 relay team of Ethan Brodeur, Christian Schafer, Brad Kouchoukos and Forrest Thayer placed second (8:01.56).

Hurdler Michael Jopes placed third in both the 110 and 300 races. Central also got a third place finish from shot putter David Goodalis.

Fifth-place Naperville North was paced by sprinter James Kerns. The senior finished first in a very competitive 100 with a time of 10.86. Kerns also took second place in the 200 (22.08) and ran the opening leg of the Huskies’ third-place 800 relay.

Kerns had his mind set on next week’s sectional as soon as the DVC meet ended.

“This is the last meet before we go to sectionals, so the goal right now is to make sure you have the right time,” said Kerns, whose 100 and 200 times on Friday were below the state qualifying standards. “Winning conference is nice, but as long as I have the time I need to make state, that’s the primary goal.”

The Huskies got third place finishes from Nick Lyon (pole vault), Kareem Midani (long jump), Nick Drendel (3200), Adam Milsap (400) and Jimmy Qiao (1600).

Despite finishing sixth in the DVC, West Aurora coach Cortney Lamb saw a lot to get excited about heading into next week’s sectional meet.

“Overall as a team, we were really good. As far as we’re concerned, we came out and did what we needed to do,” Lamb said. “Great momentum going into next week, I think we’re peaking at the right time. The kids have confidence, the kids are having fun. It’s awesome.”

Aaron Kennebrew delivered the Blackhawks their only individual championship in the triple jump. The junior jumped 44 feet, 2¼ inches on his second attempt in finals, leaping almost a foot further than his previous personal best.

“I had a lot of adrenaline going, so I knew it was going to be a big jump,” said Kennebrew, who also placed fourth in the high jump (5-11). “I just trusted myself and my coach told me to just go after it. I wanted to get first, and that’s exactly what I did.”

Lijah Spears placed in both throwing events for the Blackhawks, taking second in the discus (150-1) and fourth in the shot put (49-4½)

After setting a personal record in the discus at Kane County last week, Spears did so in the shot put on Friday. The senior thrower said he’s peaking at the right time.

“I’m finally doing things right and it’s looking good for me,” Spears said. “I’m going to give it to them next week (at sectionals).”

Despite both running in the “slow heat,” Blackhawk sprinters Benny Prunty (22.28) and Tony Oros (22.82) placed fifth and sixth respectively in the 200.

“I just told them they’ve got to run like they do in relays because they kick butt in those relays,” Lamb said. “They finally did it in the open today.”

The Blackhawks got fourth-place finishes from Charles House in the triple jump and Josh Robinson in the 800, and fifth-place finishes from Parrish McGhee in the long jump and Omar Gomez in the 1600.

Wheaton North, also champions of the indoor DVC meet in March, could not be stopped on Friday. The Falcons won seven total events and had two athletes finish in the top-six of nine individual events (100, 400, 1600, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, pole vault, triple jump, shot put and discus).

Wheaton North athlete Zach Gordon won the 200 (21.79), long jump (23-5) and ran anchor on the Falcons’ first-place 40o relay team. The Falcons also got titles from their 800 relay team (1:30.31), Brett Kohler in the 300 hurdles (38.35), Mac Spaulding in the shot put (56-9) and Christian Hollinger in the discus (160-4)

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

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