There was no championship parade along Ridgewood Road, but that certainly didn’t stop Riverside-Brookfield High School athletes from celebrating another banner year. The Bulldogs won 11 conference championships and four regional titles, led by the considerable contributions of a stellar senior class.
Here’s a closer look at some notable RB athletes who have committed to playing college sports next season.
Regan Riley (volleyball), Loras College
Riley is an outstanding athlete, but her sparkling career at RB fittingly will be linked with teammates/close friends Molly McCloskey (Lake Forest College, volleyball), Rachel Buccieri and Fallon Ryan.
These four athletes carried the Bulldogs to multiple titles in volleyball, basketball and softball. Riley and Buccieri were recently honored as co-recipients of the RB Female Athlete of the Year Award.
“I loved playing all these sports with Fallon, Rachel and Molly,” Riley said. “We had a lot of success and they became my best friends.”
Riley, a defensive whiz at third base in softball and a versatile forward on the hoops team, truly excelled as a 5-foot-10 outside hitter in volleyball. A four-year varsity player, Riley led the Bulldogs to an 87-38 record, four straight conference championships and RB’s first regional title in 16 years. She had 271 kills, 43 aces, 176 digs and 20 blocks this season alone. Riley hopes to find similar success in college playing for the Duhawks.
“I wanted to go to a smaller school that was kind of close to home,” Riley said. “I really like the Loras campus and smaller class sizes. Hopefully, we can win some conference championships.”
Dan Oswald (basketball) Illinois Wesleyan University
At maximum efficiency this season, the Riverside-Brookfield boys basketball team was a scoring machine with deadly shooters spread all over the court. A 6-foot-2 combo guard, Oswald often was the star of the Bulldogs’ high-scoring show, and will be remembered as one of the program’s premier shooters. After suffering a wrist injury around Christmas his final season at RB, Oswald returned to spark a late-season surge for the Bulldogs (who finished 24-3) while also attracting the attention of Illinois Wesleyan.
“I went for an overnight at Illinois Wesleyan and fell in love with the place,” Oswald said. “Obviously, it’s going to be tough. I’ll need to adjust to the speed and physicality of college basketball. I have been working out all summer. Hopefully, I’ll see some minutes as a freshman.”
Oswald averaged 16.8 points per game and shot 51 percent from the field his senior year.
“Dan is going to a great basketball program in the best Division II conference in the country.” RB coach Tom McCloskey said. “He’ll have his work cut out for him, but Dan is a tremendous shooter and a great competitor.”
Lindsay Hayes (softball), Illinois Wesleyan University
Lindsay Hayes will be missed, just ask RB softball coach Dan Hull.
“She’s such a great hitter,” Hull said. “Every time she came to bat, we all just expected her to hit a home run or get a clutch hit. It was like Mickey Mantle or something. Plus, she’s a super kid.”
Hayes’ numbers speak for themselves. This season, she hit .431 with seven home runs, 32 RBIs and 47 hits (all team-highs), while registering an 11-4 record in the pitcher’s circle. Hayes also earned Metro Suburban Conference MVP honors, leading the Bulldogs (28-9) to conference and regional championships.
Looking ahead to life in Bloomington, Ill., Hayes is excited about playing softball (and possibly tennis), while also studying nursing.
“I definitely think it’s going to be demanding to manage my academic and softball schedules,” Hayes said. “But, that’s the reason I chose a Division III softball program, so I can keep playing sports and keep academics a top priority.”
John Mossman (track), University of Notre Dame
As a sprint specialist, Mossman typically set a “catch me if you can” pace against the opposition in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash events. During his junior year, Mossman qualified for state in the 4 x 400 relay, while also taking first place (including the 100 and 200) in four events in the Metro Suburban Conference.
Although hamstring injuries limited his action this year, Mossman is in full rehab and recovering nicely, hoping to hit the ground running in South Bend, Indiana.
“At Notre Dame, I will run the 100 and 200,” said Mossman, who also played football at RB. “The [Notre Dame] campus is just awe-inspiring. It’s a perfect fit because I feel like I can be competitive but also have room for improvement.”
Joe Ruge (baseball), University of St. Francis (Joliet)
Despite battling tendonitis in early spring, Ruge turned in a spectacular senior campaign, hitting .383 with five homers, 45 RBIs (school record) and 46 hits coupled with six wins, four shutouts and a 0.96 ERA as the Bulldogs’ unquestioned ace. Fresh off 26 wins with the Bulldogs and recruiting guidance from RB coach Mike Ziroli, the two-time Metro Suburban Conference MVP will play next for legendary coach, Gordie Gillespie (college baseball’s all-time winningest coach), at the NAIA level.
“Coach Gillespie called me and then he saw me play against Guerin,” Ruge said. “He wants to win and so do I, so it’s perfect.”
Ruge is looking forward to the challenges of playing baseball and studying business administration in college.
“As a pitcher, the key for me is going to be keeping the ball down,” Ruge said. “I’m ready to move on, but I’ll miss joking around and having fun with my teammates at RB.”
More Bulldogs shined in 2008-2009
Graham Risley (Penn State), who was honored as the RB “Male Athlete of the Year,” capped off a brilliant swimming career by capturing a pair of third-place finishes at state in the 100-yard butterfly (48.56) and 100-yard backstroke (49.78).
In track and field, Joe Swon finished eighth in the long jump (21-3/4) and 11th in the triple jump (44-8), while Emily Swift (considering track at Illinois State) finished fifth in pole vault at state. Golfer Jorianne Maritato (Elmhurst College) notched a school-record three consecutive sectional appearances for RB.