Allie Kucera

Roll out the red carpet, warm up the orchestra and watch the searchlights dance in the sky.

Night of Champions makes its highly anticipated debut at West Suburban Medical Center (3 Erie Court) in Oak Park on Wednesday, June 15 between 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

The sports awards party was created to recognize elite high school teams, athletes and coaches in the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark area. Awards include Coach, Female Team, Female Athlete, Program, Male Team, and Male Athlete of the Year. 

Following a reception, the sports awards presentation portion of the evening will begin at 7 p.m. with Landmark category winners announced from the following schools: Riverside-Brookfield, Lyons Township and Nazareth.

Landmark sports editor Marty Farmer and Mark Farina, a Brookfield resident who announces RBHS baseball games, will introduce the honorees.

Here are the 2016 award winners: Coach of the Year, Scott Walker, LTHS boys swimming; Female Team of the Year, Nazareth softball; Female Athlete of the Year (co-winners), Allie Kucera, RBHS soccer and Dana Rettke, RBHS volleyball; Program of the Year, RBHS boys and girls volleyball; Male Team of the Year, Nazareth football; Male Athlete of the Year, Dean Zigulich, RBHS football/track & field/basketball.

Here’s a synopsis of these champions.

Guided by Walker, the LTHS boys swimming team turned in a stellar performance at the state finals by becoming the first team in program history to win a state championship. 

The Nazareth softball team put together a remarkable season as well. Led by first-year coach and alum Emily Matthews, the Roadrunners notched a No. 1 sectional seed, advanced to the supersectionals in Class 3A and reached 30 wins for the first time in program history.

Standout RBHS athletes Allie Kucera and Dana Rettke will split the Female Athlete of the Year award. 

Kucera is a sophomore forward on the RBHS soccer team who scored 30 goals as the Bulldogs won their second straight regional title. In 2015, she scored 32 goals as a freshman.

Rettke, a 6-foot-8 junior outside hitter, earned all-state recognition and finished with 419 kills, 47 blocks, 190 digs and 64 aces this season. Rettke also holds multiple single season and all-time volleyball records at RBHS.

The Program of the Year award belongs to RBHS volleyball, which produced excellent campaigns for both the girls and boys squads under coach Dan Bonarigo. 

Along with Rettke, Gia Cinkay and Olivia Gyssler powered the Bulldogs to a 26-10 record and conference title.

The boys team improved dramatically to record the best season in program history. After a disappointing 13-25 record in 2015, the Bulldogs bounced back by going 26-9 this year. Middle hitter Maclean Nolan, outside hitter Erik Hartwig and setter Peter Ferguson starred for RBHS.

On the gridiron, Nazareth (12-2) cruised past Lincoln-West 42-21 in the Class 5A state final to win a second consecutive state championship. 

RBHS senior Dean Zigulich starred as a three-sport athlete in basketball, track & field and football. He was particularly impactful as a standout wide receiver, defensive back and special teams player who led the Bulldogs to a 10-2 record and quarterfinals appearance in the 6A state playoffs.