Whether they were starting a career as a freshman, coming back from an injury, or even joining a sport as a senior, these athletes burst onto the scene taking their leagues by storm. Marcel Francis has our nominees for Newcomer of the Year sponsored by Edward-Elmhurst Health.
Naperville Central girls basketball won back-to-back State championships back in 2003 and 2004 behind the legendary Candace Parker. Now, the Redhawks may have their next superstar in Trinity Jones who had a stellar freshman year. The All-State selection averaged 20.3 points per game, 12.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.2 blocks. The 6’2 dynamo helped her team to 21 wins, including the program’s first regional championship since 2018. She was also selected to the The 2023 USA Women’s U16 National Team. Jones is only just getting started having three more years of wearing the red and white.
Chase Adams experienced the dream season playing for Naperville Central boys soccer. Playing with his older brother Carter and under his father Troy, Chase showcased his talent all season long. His 21 goals and 19 assists helped lead the Redhawks to a 26-3-1 record and the 3A State championship for the first time in school history. On top of that, Chase was further honored as an All-State selection and USC High School All-American honors. In terms of both team and individual success, the freshman campaign of Chase Adams is one of the greatest that Naperville has ever seen.
It’s rare to see a senior on the newcomer nominee list, but this is a rare exception as Naperville Central’s Sean Lee joined the varsity bowling team for the first time this winter. An experienced varsity athlete with the baseball team, Sean Lee decided to team up with his younger brother Aidan on the lanes. Sean’s addition to the roster was just what the Redhawks needed to break through into the top tier of the state. His success helped Central to an 18-0 record in dual matches, the first regional championship in school history and state qualification for the first time ever. At state, Sean led the team placing 14th individually. Although his high school bowling career was a one and done, his impact on the Naperville Central bowling program will carry on.
Annie Fitzgerald and Ivana Vukas
Our next nominees come to you as a pair because these teammates are too hard to separate. Freshmen Annie Fitzgerald and Ivana Vukas made major impacts on an elite Benet Academy girls soccer squad. Playing in the midfield, Fitzgerald racked up nine assists and seven goals, while At forward, Ivana Vukas led the team with 15 goals and 10 assi sts. This dynamic duo shined all season long. Helping the Redwings to the 2A championship for a second consecutive season. While Benet fell in the State final to Glenwood in overtime, Ivana Vukas and Annie Fitzgerald made outstanding first impressions for a program that is now considered amongst the best in Illinois.
Benet Academy softball made major strides last season, advancing to the sectional championship game for the first time in over a decade. After losing several key players from the lineup, sophomore Angela Horejs was eager to carry her share of the load after missing her freshman campaign with a broken back. Taking over at shortstop, Angela teamed with her older sister Gianna and returning stars like Nina Pesare, Taylor Sconza and Bridget Chapman to help power the Redwings deep into the postseason. Horejs stepped up to the place with 9 home runs while hitting .350 and driving in 37 runs, none bigger than the go ahead single in the 8th inning of the supersectional victory over Richards. The heroics sent Benet to the 3A state series for the first time since 2011.
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