It’s that wonderfully reflective time of the year again when we in the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sports department recap all the highlights and memories of yet another unforgettable sports year. Enjoy and hope to see you next season courtside!
1) Struck wins cross country state title
Mailin Struck, a foreign exchange student from Germany, won the Class 2A cross-country championship in dominating fashion at Detweiller Park in Peoria to become the first female state champion in any sport at Riverside-Brookfield High School.
Her time of 16 minutes, 35 seconds was 29 seconds better than runner-up Maryjeanne Gilbert of Peoria-Notre Dame and the eighth fastest in Illinois history.
“I’m really proud,” Struck said. “I think the school is proud of me, even though I’m still new. I feel like a real student.”
Struck’s championship helped the Bulldogs finish 19th in the 25-team field with 391 points. Senior Sarah Melone finished 40th in 18:36, while senior Clare Bollnow (106th, 19:34), junior Meaghan Dorsey (163rd, 20:30) and junior Deanna Keen (190th, 21:15) were the other scorers. Senior Amy Wagner (192nd, 21:31) and sophomore April Flores (210th, 23:06) also competed well for the Bulldogs.
2) Overholt touched lives on and off the field
Brookfield lost not only a local legend but a tremendous baseball coach/fan, friend, and role model when Roy Overholt, 89, passed away on Dec. 8, 2013. With the support of his wife, Audrey, of 65 years, Overholt began a Brookfield-based tournament in 1963.
The Roy A. Overholt Invitational Tournament, often referred to as the “World Series of District 9” quickly became an annual Little League showcase event, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer.
“The tournament is really for the kids,” he said during an interview at his home last summer. “I’ve coached [in the tournament] in the past, and I didn’t want it to end any more than the kids.”
3) Risley powers Bulldogs to historic swim season
RBHS junior Quinn Risley finished fifth in the 50-yard freestyle and swam the opening leg of the Bulldogs’ 200 free relay, which finished 11th at the boys swimming state finals. Risley became just the 11th swimmer in school history to win an individual medal and the sixth to win two medals in the same year.
Risley’s remarkable performance comprised just a notable portion of a historic campaign for the Bulldogs, who finished 27th in the team standings with 14 points at the state finals. Their 200 free relay team of Risley, sophomore Christian Hernandez, junior Anthony Colon and senior Tim Somers grabbed the 12th and final qualifying spot with a time of 1:26.56 in the prelims, then moved up to 11th in the state final with a 1:27.01 showing.
It was just the fourth relay team in RBHS history to win a medal and the first since 1960, when the 200 medley relay squad finished fourth.
In other results at the state meet, Somers was 29th in the 50 in 22.07 and junior Dominic Rosa took 42nd in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.79).
The 400 free relay of Somers, Hernandez, junior Kevin Garza and Risley placed 22nd (3:14.80) and the medley relay squad of Garza, Chavez, Colon and Somers was 30th (1:38.96).
The Bulldogs also added a first-ever sectional championship to their comprehensive season resume by outperforming host Fenwick and Oak Park and River Forest.
4) Kaminski wins 100 breast, takes second in 200 IM at state
Fenwick senior Paulina Kaminski won the 100 breaststroke (1:02.40) and took second in the 200 individual medley (2:03.67) at the state meet. The Riverside resident will swim at Yale next year.
Texas-bound Mimi Schneider closed out her illustrious Fenwick career in memorable fashion as well, becoming the first double state champion in school history. She won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.87 and also claimed the 100 butterfly title, clocking a time of 53.86.
The Friars (126 points) finished third behind champion New Trier (160.5) and runner-up Downers Grove North (157).
“We worked so hard to be successful this season,” Kaminski said. “The girls on our team will always have a special bond.”
5) Youth movement already in full effect for RBHS girls basketball
Led by freshmen guards Samantha Bloom, Lyndsey Hoyd and 6-foot-5 freshman center Dana Rettke (along with veterans Janae Dabney and Miranda Chavez), the RBHS girls basketball team accomplished the following this season: 25-7 record, first place at the Bill VandeMerkt Thanksgiving tournament, third place at the RB Holiday Classic and second place in the Metro Suburban Conference.
Although Kenwood knocked off the Bulldogs 69-55 in a regional final to close out the season, the future looks extremely bright with the return of the starting lineup and several key reserves.
“The freshmen came right in and competed very well,” RBHS coach Dallas Till said. “They are gym rats and always looking to get better. I’m excited about the future.”
6) Riverside’s Schoen does it all for Fenwick football
Powered by a plethora of talented players, the Friars finished 10-3 under coach Gene Nudo. No player impacted the game more for Fenwick, however, than Riverside resident Richard Schoen. The two-way senior star served multiple roles as a big-play receiver and ball-hawking linebacker/safety. He also anchored the Friars’ special teams unit.
Schoen, who will play football next season at Miami of Ohio with Fenwick teammate Ryan Smith, caught 36 passes for 795 yards and four touchdowns. Defensively, he was even better with 66 tackles, two fumble recoveries and nine interceptions.
Led by Schoen, Smith, Class 7A all-state running back Robert Spillane, quarterback Gino Cavalieri, defensive lineman Chris Hawthorne, linebacker Jack Rafferty and cornerback Aaron Garland, the Friars won a second consecutive Chicago Catholic League White Division title. In the 7A playoffs, Wheaton North rallied from a huge halftime deficit to stun Fenwick 32-31.
7) Bulldogs remain model of excellence in boys hoops
You would be hard pressed to find a better example of consistent success than the RBHS boys basketball team. Led by veteran coach Tom McCloskey and his excellent coaching staff, RBHS went 21-7 highlighted by a 12-0 record in the Metro Suburban Conference. The Bulldogs’ undefeated run through the league ensured their 13th straight conference title.
“I say it every year but when other teams in our conference play us, it’s their Super Bowl,” McCloskey said. “We’ve won the conference 13 years in a row and I’m sure [our conference opponents are] sick of it. I don’t know what’s around the corner for us, but I’m very optimistic about this group.”
RBHS welcomes back dynamic point guard Danico Jackson and sharpshooter Kevin Fitzgerald along with an outstanding frontline of 6-foot-7 Mark Smith, 6-foot-6 Sam Johnson and 6-foot-5 Paul Sitkiewicz next season.
8) Korabik, Dunham and Flight excel at boys track and field state finals
Chris Korabik and Conor Dunham, a pair of St. Ignatius seniors from Riverside, powered the Wolfpack to an impressive seventh-place finish in the team standings of the Class 3A boys track and field state finals.
Dunham won the state title in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 36.90 seconds and also earned fifth place in the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.49.
Korabik, who has committed to DePaul, took second in the 1,600 meters, clocking a time of 4:11.20, trailing only state champion Patrick Perrier of O’Fallon (4:10.34).
“I was really hoping to win the state title but I was pleased with my race, a personal record by three seconds,” Korabik said. “I think competing in the state finals in past years really helped me remain focused and calm this time. Conor was great and I thought we did very well as a team.”
Fenwick also benefitted from the contributions of a Riverside running star at the state finals over the weekend. Junior Sal Flight placed fourth in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4:22.88 at the Class 2A state finals. During the fall, Flight placed 139th with a time of 15 minutes, 16.9 seconds in the Class 3A state final at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
9) Hickey triggers Lions’ midseason surge
About halfway through the regular season, the LTHS baseball team was slightly above .500 hampered by injuries and inconsistent play. Then, the Lions caught fire by winning 17 games in a row, including a share of the highly coveted West Suburban Conference Silver Division championship and a regional final won over archrival Oak Park and River Forest.
The team’s dream run ended abruptly via a 2-0 loss to eventual state runner-up St. Rita 2-0 in a sectional semifinal matchup of the Class 4A playoffs.
The emergence of hard-throwing right-hander Tom Hickey, from Brookfield, surfaced as one of the Lions’ most compelling stories this season. The 6-foot-3 senior-to-be lost his first decision in relief but rebounded to finish 7-1 with a 0.89 earned-run average and was nominated for all-state honors by LTHS coach George Ushela.
“He had a pretty special year,” Ushela said. “We’re going to have a good season next year.
“We’re going to have good pitching depth with Hickey, Quinton Hughes, who didn’t pitch much this year because of injury, Jeff Wolf and Charlie Harrigan. The trick will be replacing some of the hitters.”
10) Rogers, Moody set tone for Bulldogs on track
The RBHS boys track and field team closed out another stellar regular season under coach Tim Olson’s guidance by winning the Metro Suburban Conference championship for the second straight year.
In fact, the RBHS varsity and frosh/soph squads earned a clean sweep of league titles in dominant fashion with 23 personal records and 29 all-conference performances at the conference meet hosted by Elmwood Park.
In addition to winning conference, RBHS claimed first place at its own Gary Johnson Bulldog Relays and the T.F. South Invitational along with runner-up finishes at the Morton Invite and Metro Suburban Conference Indoor Invite.
In the postseason, RBHS finished second with 76 points behind sectional champion, LTHS (104 points) at the St. Rita Sectional in Class 3A action. State qualifiers included the Bulldogs’ 1600-meter relay with a time of 3 minutes, 27.06 seconds, Dan Curtin in the 1600 (4:29.21), Lou Grigoletti in the discus throw (143-04) and seniors Lewis Rogers and Gerrand Moody in both the 300 intermediate and 110 high hurdles.
*RBHS baseball racks up 23 wins, regional title
The Bulldogs produced another fine season under head coach Dallas Till and assistant coach Mark Ruge with a 23-12 record including a12-6 mark in the Metro Suburban Conference. The Bulldogs’ 9-1 victory against highly-regarded Clemente in a regional championship meeting served as the season’s signature moment. Unfortunately, RBHS played poorly in its next game, committing seven errors in a 4-2 loss to Montini in the semifinals of the Glenbard South Sectional.
While the Bulldogs will return several key players, notably Brian Kulaga, Connor Berek, Kevin Fitzgerald and Jake Surprenant next spring, the loss of seniors Justin Agne, Xander Catrambone and all-state pitcher Will Kincanon, in particular, will be hard to replace.
Kincanon (9-3, 0.91 ERA), who will play college baseball at Middle Tennessee State next season, leaves RBHS with 320 plus strikeouts, 27 wins, an ERA under 1.20, five school records and a reputation as arguably the greatest pitcher in school history. He also hit .486 batting average, three home runs, 13 doubles and 29 RBIs and 16 stolen bases this spring.
“In terms of results and accomplishments, I think we overachieved this year,” Till said. “We had a good group of hard working kids and whenever you have a pitcher like Will Kincanon, you feel like you have a shot to win any game.”
*Fenwick baseball wins first-ever sectional
Trailing Montini early in the Glenbard South Sectional final, Fenwick rallied with six unanswered runs to claim a 6-2 victory and its first-ever sectional championship
Regarded as a dangerous seventh seed in the sectional, Fenwick knocked off higher seeded squads in Benet, Nazareth and Montini en route to its first sectional title in program history.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Hogan said. “Everybody starts the same in the spring tournament and then you just hope to keep playing. We’re having fun.”
In the supersectional, Grayslake Central edged Fenwick 2-1. The Friars finished 25-11 in their finest season in school history.
*Lin, Haugen earn state titles in badminton and high jump, respectively, for LTHS
Lyons Township High School badminton player Stephanie Lin retained her state singles championship during the spring when she knocked off Hinsdale South freshman Judy Yang 22-20, 21-13 in the title match at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
Lin, a junior, is the eighth girl to win two state singles titles. Only three players have won three times.
Lin’s victory over Yang enabled the Lions to edge Hinsdale South 12-11 for third place in the team standings, thus securing the first state trophy in program history. T.F. South won the title with 16 points.
“I think that’s even more important than [my championship],” Lin said. “It’s very special.”
After taking second in the state in the high jump her sophomore year, LTHS junior Emma Haugen recorded a jump of 5 feet, 7 inches to win this year’s state championship in the high jump of the Class 3A state meet. She also earned seventh place in the triple jump (36-8.75).
*LTHS girls soccer drops heartbreaker to Lincoln-Way North
Working off the momentum of a brilliant regular season showing and strong performances in regional and sectional play, the Lions lost 2-1 on penalty kicks to Lincoln-Way North in a stunning supersectional loss. Under veteran coach Bill Lanspeary, the senior-laden Lions finished 19-4 on the season.
Matt Le Cren and Lauren Recchia contributed to this report.