2009 Year in review
It was an unforgettable year for the Bulldogs, Lions, Friars, and even the Flaming Red Hot Cheetos. Here’s a captivating look back at the Landmark’s Top 10 sports stories of 2009 highlighted by state championships, thrilling victories, record-setting performances, and Jordan Petronella’s game-clinching feats in Brookfield.

1. Fenwick water polo dominates decade

The virtually unbeatable Friars picked up two more state titles in May as the boys team cruised to a 19-4 win over Sandburg and the girls team captured a 15-5 decision over Naperville Central. The boys squad won a sixth consecutive state championship, while the lady Friars (33-0) earned a second straight state title and fifth in six years.

Chris Wendt (career 304 goals, 224 assists) and Morgan Bonk (senior year 103 goals, 53 assists) paved the historic way.

“We’ll always be proud of what we accomplished at Fenwick,” said Wendt earlier this year.

2. LT Soccer takes state in OT

The Lions (26-3) won the Class 3A state championship in November when senior Billy McGuinness scored the decisive goal in overtime lifting LT to a 2-1 victory over Lake Zurich. Chris Meingast, Zach Pearsall and Horacio Sanchez, who scored the other goal in title game, also assumed leadership roles for LT.

3. Young Lions finish second in volleyball

After a 20-year hiatus (LT won the state title in 1989), the Lions appeared in the championship game this year. Although Cary Grove prevailed with a 25-23, 25-17 win in the Class 4A title matchup, LT enjoyed a remarkable season. Seniors Mo Stroka, Katie Bazzoni, sophomores Alexis Viliunas, Laura Williams and junior Jocelynn Birks led the Lions to a 37-5 record.

4. McDonagh, VandeMerkt set records

Riverside-Brookfield wide receiver Mark McDonagh shattered the record books this year. The sure-handed senior finished with 165 catches, eclipsing state and national records for most receptions in a single season.

“I had a blast this season,” said McDonagh. “I’ll remember all the great moments shared with my teammates and coaches.”

Quarterback Billy VandeMerkt (2,763 yards passing) set a new Illinois high school record with 774 completions in his career.

5. Teammates leave legacy at RB

Regan Riley, Rachel Buccieri, Molly McCloskey and Fallon Ryan carried the Bulldogs to multiple titles in volleyball, basketball and softball. Riley and Buccieri were honored as co-recipients of the RB Female Athlete of the Year Award.

6. Harazin nets third

After leading the LT tennis team to a state summer championship in June, senior Tina Harazin assured the Lions would carry their success into the fall.

The Lions finished sixth at state (19 points), highlighted by Harazin’s 6-1 mark to take third place in singles.

7. Risley sets standard in RB pool

Graham Risley set 11 swim records at RB and captured a pair of third-place finishes in the 100-yard butterfly (48.56) and 100-yard backstroke (49.78) at the state finals. The Bulldogs’ Male Athlete of the Year graduated RB as the most decorated swimmer in school history. He is now at Penn State.

8. Navy-bound Barnhisel bags 152-pound title

Fenwick wrestler Bobby Barnhisel pulled out a 5-0 overtime victory over Kevin Bialka of Lockport in the wrestling state finals. Barnhisel (168-17 career record), who went 42-2 his senior year, is now grappling at the U.S. Naval Academy.

“Bobby is really pushing the bar for himself,” said Fenwick wrestling coach Jerry Ruffino. “He’s a totally committed wrestler.”

9. RB soccer earns first regional title

The painful memory of losing to Little Village on penalty kicks during the 2008 playoffs was erased in October. The Bulldogs (14-4) rolled to a 6-2 victory over St. Francis to capture their first-ever regional championship.

“It’s a great feeling to win our regional,” RB forward Ruben Chavez said after the game. “I thought we came out and gave a good performance.”

10. Flaming Red Hot Cheetos claim Overholt

Three walk-off homers from Jordan Petronella proved to be the catalyst for Brookfield National (21-1) winning the 46th Annual Roy A. Overholt Invitational Tournament.

“There was some pressure because it’s the last inning and I wanted to come up big,” said Petronella. “I just wanted to get base hits, but sometimes more than that happened.”