Archive for April 2012
High School Game of the Week - April 30th 2012
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Main South notches dramatic extra-inning win over Evanston
By Rob Valentin
Maine South’s Jimmy Frankos came to the plate in last Thursday’s game against Evanston with every kid’s dream scenario: Game tied, bottom of the ninth and the bases loaded.
Frankos, who will be playing baseball at Iowa, was facing something you don’t see very often in high school baseball, a submarine-throwing pitcher in the Wildkits’ Jack Anderson.
“I saw they brought the five fielders in,” Frankos said. “I knew I had to hit the ball hard. That’s a great pitcher out there. The submarine’s tough to hit, but I knew I just wanted to hit the ball in play and make them make the play.”
Frankos got a hold of one, driving it in shallow center, where the center fielder got a glove on it but dropped it, scoring Mike Virgilio for a 4-3 Hawks win.
The victory kept Maine South undefeated in conference at 8-0 and improved its overall record to 17-3.
The win was coming on the heels of a 2-1 nine-inning victory over the Wildkits just two days prior. That first win gave Maine South a little boost in Thursday’s contest.
“It was a big momentum win for us,” Frankos said. “We knew this would be a big week and we wanted to go 2-0. They got us twice last year and we wanted to come back and get them this year. But we said though, without a win today, that win on Tuesday meant nothing.”
“This is the second extra-inning win in a row against these guys,” Virgilio said. “They’re a good team but we battled. We just played good as a team.”
John Forsythe didn’t get the win for the Hawks but he did have a solid seven innings and kept Maine South in the game.
“I’m definitely pleased; the team comes first every day,” said Forsythe, who had to battle brutal conditions on a cold windy day. “You definitely have to put a coat on in between innings. But sometimes it’s better because hitters have a difficult time hitting in the cold.”
The Central Suburban League South is absolutely loaded this season. Mine South, Niles West and New Trier are all some of the best teams in the Chicagoland Area.
“This is the first year where everyone is basically even and we’re doing great,” Virgilio said. “We don’t have a loss yet. It’s a great job by everyone.”
“We’re doing really well and are on a nice win streak,” Forsythe added. “Hopefully we can keep that going. Defense is the key by far. We made some really nice plays and that’s how we win ball games.”
High School Game of the Week -April 23 2012
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City schools loaded with distance runners
By Rob Valentin
Illinois is known as one of the best long-distance running states in the nation.
It has a rich tradition, producing runners like Craig Virgin, Jorge Torres, Donald Sage and most recently Lukas Verzbicas, who holds the national high school record for the two-mile (8:29).
In the past, the Chicago Public Schools always manufactured some sprinters who could compete with the state’s best. But in recent years they’ve stepped up their game in the longer races.
It started with Stephanie Hughes, a star at Lane Tech who won four cross country city championships and continued with Lavinia Jurkiewicz, who in 2009 became the first CPS runner to win a cross country state title.
Now it seems like multiple teams are cranking out numerous state caliber runners and this year is no different.
Jones College Prep’s Jamison Dale is the reigning cross country city champ and took 6th at the Class 2A state meet but Mather’s Abdurahim Haji is showing he’s a force to be reckoned with as well.
“Things are going great so far,” Haji said. “I have some goal times to hit and hopefully I’m matching them at the end of the season. I want to go to state.”
Haji expects to run the 3,200 and the 1,600 this season. Come the postseason, the main focus will be on the 3,200.
“Two-mile is what I’m looking at since I feel like I’m more of a distance guy,” he said. “I’m considering 9:20 and below so hopefully everything goes as planned.”
The state cut time for the 3,200 in Class 3A is 9:29.04. York’s Jack Driggs won the state title with a 9:06.25. New Trier’s Leland Later has already posted an 8:55 this season.
Haji’s older brother, Kulayifi was a standout at Lane Tech and currently runs for the Southern Illinois cross country and track teams.
Roosevelt’s Jeffrey Rector has shown his versatility this spring with the ability to win anything from the 800 to the 3,200.
Lane Tech has a pair of distance runs looking to make their mark, led by David Timlin.
“It’s all starting to roll together and this is where we’re looking for big marks, big times,” Timlin said. “For me, this is kind of the start of the open season.”
Timlin feels his best race this season came during indoor, where he ran a 1:54 split in the 3,200 relay. Timlin has yet to run an open 800 outdoors and his best time in the mile was a 4:29 in a dual meet at St. Ignatius. Timlin, like many runners, has been hampered by a lot of cold windy days during the last couple weeks. The warmest weather this year was when the track teams were still competing indoors.
“Everyone else is dealing with it so you can’t complain,” Timlin said. “But of course you’d rather have blue skies and 70’s. But everyone’s running well in bad weather.”
Timlin goal times this season are a 1:52 in the 800 and a 4:15 in the mile.
Lane Tech has another promising runner in Lucas Beltran.
“The season is going pretty well so far,” Beltran said. “I’ve run a 4:26 in the mile and spit 1:58 in the 4X8. The season goals are to make it to state in the 4X8 and the mile.”
Beltran has also been running the open 800 and the 4X4 but the 3,200 relay and the 1,600 are his specialties.
“For the 4X8 I’m probably going to have to be 1:57 and in the mile the qualifying time is 4:22,” Beltran added. “By the end of the year I’m hoping to be sub 4:20.”
On the girls side, Kenwood’s Dhiaa Dean has proven to be the top of the class but Northside College Prep has three solid distance runners in Mary Coomes, Madison Weatherly and Elizabeth O’Connor.
High School Game of the Week - Apr 17 2012
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Conant starts fast, holds on against Elk Grove
By Rob Valentin
Softball — It might have just been an early season Mid-Suburban League crossover but Conant and Elk Grove poured everything they had into winning last Friday’s showdown in Hoffman Estates.
The host Cougars did their damage early and held on late, picking up a 6-4 win in a battle between two ranked teams.
“We were really pumped all day,” said Conant’s Kim Jacobson, who had a key two-run single in the third inning. “You could tell that we were very antsy during the day. It was a good vengeance game for the past few years.”
The Cougars (10-1) put up a run in the first Miranda Cavin’s triple plated Rachel O’Malley. Conant pushed the lead to 3-0 in the second thanks to a two-run homer blasted by Telly Hunter that also scored Elisa Ambrose.
“I was just going in there looking for a hit and came put with a homer,” said Hunter, who has three home runs on the season. “It was down the plate a little bit on the right side so I just went with it.”
The Grenadiers (9-3) picked up a run in the top of the third when Marjorie Sloan scored on an error. But the Cougars got it right back and one more as Allie Bauch and O’Malley scored on a single to center field by Jacobson for a 5-1 lead.
“I’ve gone against (Elk Grove pitcher Dani Goranson) for about four years and I was really ready to hit off her,” Jacobson said. “It was just solid and it felt good.”
Conant tacked on one more run in the fifth inning when Sarah Thompson smoked a single to left scoring O’Malley.
Cougars’ pitcher Briana Cavin was solid through six inning but things got a little dicey in the top of the seventh.
Goranson led the inning off with a single. Andrea Starr was up next and reached base on an error. Megan Keenan and Carly Danek followed with back-to-back RBI singles and suddenly the Grenadiers had the tying run at the plate.
Cavin hit the next batter to bring the go-ahead batter to the plate. But Cavin was able to get out of the jam, allowing only a sac fly RBI by Becca Walz.
“Towards the end of the game we had some mental blocks and didn’t field everything to our full potential but we came back to get those three outs so we could finish the game strong,” Cavin said. “It was a really tough game and it felt great to come and beat Elk Grove. We finished strong in beating them last year and we had the fire to come back and try and beat them again this year.”
Friday’s win will do more than add a little swagger to Conant’s step.
“It’s great because it moves us up in the rankings,” Hunter said.
Falling behind 6-1 proved to be the downfall of the Grenadiers.
“We went out there with a lot of intensity but they had intensity too so it was hard to fight back,” Keenan said. “We finally got our attitude back into it and we wanted to go out there and show them that we can hit the ball.
“We tried and we went down swinging hard. That was a positive. The season is good. We started off good and now we’re facing harder teams. It’s promising, we just need to keep our heads up.”
High School Game of the Week - April 9th 2012
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Maine East rallies past Niles West
By Rob Valentin
BOYS VOLLEYBALL — Maine East looked to be in pretty bad shape early in the second game of its match against Niles West last Thursday night in Park Ridge.
The Blue Demons dropped the first game to the Wolves by a score of 25-23 and they were trailing 10-3 in Game 2.
But Maine East stayed focused and didn’t panic. They scored nine of the next 10 points to take a lead and never looked back, winning the final two games 25-22, 25-13 to earn the victory.
“We were able to shift the momentum our way and that’s what really helped us,” said Blue Demons’ senior hitter Artur Theil. “I trust my team so I wasn’t that worried.
Maine East got off to a slow start in Game 1, falling behind 14-7. They even managed to tie it up at 20-20 before allowing Niles West on a little 3-0 run. With their backs against the wall, the Blue Demons managed to get a sideout and two straight service points by Adam Bloniarz. But a sideout and an ace served by Niles West’s Nick Hester gave the Wolves the Game 1 win.
Niles West came out on fire to start Game 2, racing out to the 10-3 lead. Maine East quickly called a timeout and head coach Jon Kulesza tried to rally his troops.
“Coach told us to keep fighting,” Theil said. “We weren’t about to let them make a fool out of us on our home court so we just had to keep battling and it went our way.”
Maine East quickly got back in the game taking a 12-11 lead. The game was back and forth the rest of the way but Theil (14 kills) stepped up late with the Blue Demons leading 22-21.
The 6-foot 3-inch righty drilled home two kills to give Maine East game point, leading 24-21. The Wolves got a sideout but it was just a momentary reprieve as Theil spiked home the game winner on the next point.
Game 3 was a whole different story. This time it was the Blue Demons racing out to a fast start. They never took the foot off the gas and buried Niles West in the decisive game.
“During the third game I came right into that huddle and said ‘First two games we didn’t start off strong and this game we’re starting off strong,’ and that’s exactly what we did,” said Maine East senior Greg Siemienczuk. “It’s our home court and we never back down on our home court. We take the game at home.”
Maine East is off to a 5-2 start this season and is hoping Thursday’s win can springboard them to bigger and better things.
“The season has started off great,” Siemienczuk said. “We’re expecting to get big wins and we have high goals and we intend to get them. We just have to work our butts off, every day.”
Setter Jon Coldea has done a good job getting the Blue Demons into position to score while the hitters have converted on their opportunities.
For Niles West, it was an extremely frustrating loss. The Wolves were close to delivering the knockout punch and going home winners. But they didn’t get the job done.
“A lot of our losses this year come from a lack of momentum and not finishing games,” said Wolves junior hitter Dange Gillespie. “It’s like a machine, when every part is working we play well. And when one machine part doesn’t work, we fall apart and have a hard time pulling ourselves back together.”
High School Game of the Week - Apr 2 2012
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Taft's Aguayo shuts down Maine East
By Rob Valentin
BASEBALL — With the temperature hovering near 40 degrees, Taft starting pitcher Lorenzo Aguayo had ice running through his veins as the Eagles visited Maine East Saturday morning in a nonconference affair.
But it wasn’t because of the cold. The junior lefty got into a couple of jams against the Blue Demons but worked out of every single one as he tossed a complete game two-hit shutout to lead Taft to a 4-0 victory.
“I just went out there healthy and thank my teammates for backing me up all the way,” Aguayo said. “Just keeping the ball low in the strike zone, trying to get them on the inside corners. My arm hasn’t been feeling that good but I went out there feeling pretty good.”
With the victory, the Eagles remained undefeated on the season at 6-0 while Maine East fell to 6-2.
“This is my first year playing for Taft but right now we’re 6-0 and hopefully we keep it like that, keep it undefeated,” said Aguayo, who would love to see his team capture a city championship. “That’s the goal for everybody. Everybody is chasing the same dream so we’re just going to have to fight for it and see who has the most heart.”
Taft raced out to a 2-0 lead in the second after Ozzie Lugo drove in Daniel Munoz with an RBI single. Ray Cekus followed with a double to plate Lugo.
Maine East threatened in the fourth getting a pair of runners in scoring position but a strikeout stranded them there. The Blue Demons loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth, but again Aguayo ended the threat with a strikeout.
The score would remain 2-0 until the top of the sixth when the Eagles added a pair of insurance runs. Francisco Ayapan drove in a run with a bunt single. Two batters later, Lugo drove in Ayapan with a triple to deep center field.
Aguayo retired eight of the last nine batters he faced with the lone blemish being a batter that reached on an error.
“Lorenzo threw great all game and had good defense behind him,” Cekus said. “It feels pretty good to come out here and get a victory against a suburban team. We don’t play too many teams out here.”
Taft has enjoyed its solid start to the 2012 campaign.
“Hopefully we’ll stay strong like this throughout the whole season,” said Taft’s Scott Krawiec. “We’re hoping to win the city championship. We just have to keep it going with our pitching. We’ll have to rely a lot on small ball because we’re not a big team.”
Maine East’s Muhammad Tabani, the No. 9 hitter, was the only one to figure out Aguayo on Saturday as he accounted for both of the Blue Demons hits.
“My first at-bat I got on with a bunt single and the second time I had two strikes on me and hit it to right field just trying to get something going,” Tabani said. “We had the bases loaded but couldn’t cash in. I thought we were just a little flat but we’ve proven we can hit. We have a 6-2 record and we’re fine.”