State champions, school records, remarkable individual performances ranging from savvy seniors to a pair of precocious freshmen, a notable coaching change, and two improbable field goals heard round the West Suburban (Silver) Conference highlight our review of the top sports moments and stories for RB and LT athletics this past school year.
LT foils Fenwick, captures state title
The Lyons Township boys water polo team defeated Loyola 14-6 in the state championship game to become the first public school in the 11-year IHSA state series to claim the title. Joe Shannon scored six goals to power LT past the Ramblers.
The Lions (34-2) dethroned eight-time defending state champion Fenwick 8-7 at the York Sectional paving the way for their historic run. Trailing the Friars 6-4, Kovas Zygas and Shannon scored two goals apiece to pull out the landmark victory.
“I’m so proud of all the hard work the guys put in,” Lyons coach Doug Eichstaedt said. “It’s just awesome.”
LT baseball back where it belongs, again
The Lions’ incredible bid to win consecutive Class 4A State championships fell one game short as LT dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker to conference rival Oak Park. LT (27-13-1) caught fire in the second half of the season, highlighted by impressive postseason victories over St. Laurence, Mount Carmel and Marist.
“There were some ups and downs for us during the season,” LT coach George Ushela said. “Our team became more focused and jelled at the right time.”
Rech resigns; Curtin up as new RB football coach
After coaching RB football for two seasons, Jason Rech resigned citing health reasons. The Bulldogs lost Rech’s final game at the helm 20-0 to Fenton, ironically, which hired Otto Zeman (Rech’s predecessor at RB) as the Bison offensive coordinator.
“I don’t have any regrets,” said Rech, who finished with a 6-12 record at RB. “We played a very difficult nonconference schedule. Our kids learned how to play the right way and they worked hard with a positive attitude.”
Brendan Curtin, 39, takes over as the Bulldogs’ new head coach. An RB alum, Curtin previously coached 16 years at Nazareth, serving primarily as the Roadrunners’ offensive coordinator.
“11 is Heaven” for RB boys hoops
Although the Bulldogs’ season ended with a disappointing 69-57 loss to Crane in the RB Regional championship game, RB enjoyed another banner season under veteran head coach Tom McCloskey. The Bulldogs (23-5) captured their 11th straight conference championship (finishing 12-0 in the Metro Suburban), won the Bill VandeMerkt Thanksgiving Tournament, and closed the season on a tear, ripping off 16 wins over the last 17 games.
Versatile offense, kicker fuel LT football
The Lions advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 8A State playoffs for the second year in a row before losing to Loyola 33-10 in Wilmette. Under innovative coach Kurt Weinberg, LT (7-5) featured a potent offense sparked by Jaime Jones, Matt Harris, Zach Mahoney and clutch kicker Jake Elliot, who booted a pair of game-winning field goals against Oak Park (52 yards) and York (47 yards) as time expired in consecutive weeks.
Netzel-led Lions card state runner-up
The LT boys golf team roared to second place in the state finals with a score of 621, trailing only champion Lake Forest (612). While LT lost Kevin Carlson to graduation, who shot a 160 in the state tournament, every other key golfer returns, notably state runner-up Charlie Netzel (shot a 149), Ryan Hudson (157), Dan Hudson (158) and Jack Ferguson (164).
Trevizo earns “four stars” at state
RB track star Travis Trevizo became the first RB athlete in school history to qualify for state in four events. He finished his stellar career off in style by taking fourth place in the 800 meter run of the Class 2A State finals with a time of 1:56.33. Trevizo also competed in the 4 x 800, 1600 meter and 4 x 400 races.
Chatt nets second at state
LT top singles player Alex Chatt rolled to straight set wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the state tournament before dropping a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 decision in the championship match to Jerricka Boone of Morgan Park Academy.
Till, Vermillion guide Bulldogs on the diamond
RB baseball coach Dallas Till and RB softball coach John Vermillion led their perennially solid clubs, to 23-13 and 26-8 records, respectively. Pitchers Alex Nenadovic and Will Kincanon anchored a strong pitching rotation for Till, while sluggers Kiley Rusen, Becky Mantel and Emily Hastings powered the Bulldogs’ potent offense in softball.
LT freshmen Kurfirst, Haugen state champs
Gymnast Kelsy Kurfirst earned a share of the state title in the uneven parallel bars with a 9.6 average. She became just the third individual state champion in LT’s program history. The Lions’ prized freshman finished ninth in the all-round standings with a 37.375
Emma Haugen also won an individual state title by taking first in the high jump at the Class 3A Track and Field Meet. Haugen leapt 5-7 for the win.