Some moments were shocking, some surprising, others were expected. Through it all there were plenty of high school sports highlights that took place during the spring season. We narrowed it down to a Top 10.
10) Zeman accepts Fenton “OC” job
In April, former RB football coach Otto Zeman accepted the offensive coordinator position at Fenton. The Metro Suburban Conference rival Bulldogs and Bison will square off next school year in what will likely be the most hyped game of the season.
9) Dambra dashes to fourth place in 400
Lyons runner Julie Dambra took fourth in the 400-meter dash at the state finals with a time of 57.61 seconds.
8) Till, Bulldogs’ “new identity” spells success
Taking over for coach/friend Mike Ziroli, RB first-year head coach Dallas Till also changed the Bulldogs’ approach – out of necessity. Lacking power in the lineup, Till and the Bulldogs called on excellent pitching, steady defense and “small ball” offense to carve out 25 wins, a regional title, and a top-three finish in the Metro Suburban. Seniors JT Evans, Chris James, David Tortorici, Vito DeRango, Charlie Morrissey and Tyler Radek led the Bulldogs to a sectional final appearance.
7) LT boys water polo pushes Fenwick
The Lions (29-3) enjoyed a spectacular season, highlighted by a 15-5 win over Brother Rice in a sectional final. In the state quarterfinals, LT seriously threatened eventual state champion Fenwick but ultimately lost a 10-8 thriller.
6) RB softball makes fourth straight sectional final
Under RB first-year head coach John Vermillion, the Bulldogs started off a relatively shaky 5-4. After being swept three games by Glenbard South, the resilient Bulldogs went 19-4 the rest of the season. Nazareth bested the Bulldogs 6-3 in the St. Francis Sectional Championship. RB returns seven starters next season, notably sluggers Kiley Rusen (.496, 5 HRs, 39 RBIs) and Becky Mantel (.478, 5 HRs, 29 RBIs).
5) Big games big part of LT girls soccer
Although LT lost the Pepsi Showdown, Naperville Invite and York Sectional title games, the three close setbacks against top flight competition proved the Lions were one of the best teams in the area. Led by high-scoring senior Kelsey Holbert (19 goals), LT won 22 of its other 24 games.
4) RB volleyball serves up best season ever
The Bulldogs (28-11), which passed the program’s previous high mark of 24 wins in 2007, advanced all the way to the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs this spring. St. Rita ended the Bulldogs’ deep postseason run with a 25-23, 29-27 decision. Two-time captain Elliot Louthen, who graduated as the Bulldogs’ all-time assists leader, led a stellar eight-man senior class often praised by coach Dan Bonarigo.
3) RB boys 3200 relay team third at state, sets school record
The RB boys 3200-meter relay team of Travis Trevizo, John Kingzette, Alex Amaya and Keegan Buttimer took third place in the Class 2A State Track and Field Meet held at Eastern Illinois University. The Bulldogs posted a school-record time of 7:54.25 in the 3200 relay final.
“In the [state] prelims, we wanted to break the [RB] school record of 7:54.78 but we fell short of that goal,” Buttimer said, “It was a lot of fun especially running so well and breaking the record in the final.”
2) Fenwick water polo honors Perry with another title
The Fenwick boys water polo team defeated St. Ignatius 16-9 to win the state championship, the Friars’ eighth straight state crown. Led by stars Matt Farmer, Connor Brown and Dan Newell, the Friars’ most recent title took on added meaning as legendary coach Dave Perry helped with the team despite battling a reoccurrence of prostate cancer.
The girls team beat Stevenson 9-6 to capture their sixth state title over the last eight years.
1) LT baseball Class 4A state champs!
Led by the dynamic pitching duo of Connor Cuff and Zach Remigas (both went 11-0 this season) coupled with a balanced offense, LT produced a brilliant 2011 campaign. The Lions (37-4) capped off their amazing run with an 8-3 victory over Providence in the state final at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.
Cuff scattered five hits and struck out six and also knocked in four runs against the Celtics. Steve Heilenbach went 3-for-4 while both Brian Rodemoyer and Spencer Mahoney finished 2-for-2 with three runs scored.
LT earned its third state baseball championship overall, including second title under head coach George Ushela, who also guided the Lions to the 2003 crown.