Season 12 of Naperville Sports Weekly Time Capsule

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The 2018-2019 school year seems like it just ended but we take one more like in to the past for the Season 12 Naperville Sports Weekly Time Capsule, presented by BMO Harris Bank. 

Fall Sports

Season 12 of Naperville Sports Weekly saw a lot of excitement for the athletes of the NSW coverage area, as many teams headed into the fall of 2019 with state title aspirations.

The boys and girls state golf meet started off the post season series as usual and more than one local golfers were in the hunt for the championship.

On the boys side, bad weather actually cancelled the first day of competition, resetting everyone’s score for the day, thus making it a one day winner take all tournament. Waubonsie Valley junior Will Troy took advantage of the reprieve and fired a one under 71 to tie for third place. Three strokes behind will was Metea Valley senior Scott Boyajian as he wrapped up one of the best careers in Mustang history with a 13th place finish.

Benet Academy senior Lauren Beaudreau returned to the Redwings golf team after a year of playing in National and International tournaments. The two time state medalist took a 4-stroke lead heading into the final 6 holes. But a bogey on 13 and a double on 15 left Lauren up by only one with three holes left. After hitting into the sand on 18 and needed a par to claim the 2A state title, the Notre Dame bound star delivered a chip for the ages to set up the state championship winning par putt. Naperville North senior Mara Flarehty ended up in 15th place, leading the Huskies to a 5th place finish as a team.

In early November, it was time once again for what had become an annual tradtion of Naperville North girls cross country and boys soccer, along with Neuqua Valley boys cross country to win state trophies on the same day.

All three teams would oblige once again. Neuqua Valley took home the third place trophy, thanks to four runners finishing in the top 50.

Naperville North girls made it a three pear performance, led by senior captain Alex Morris finishing 3rd. Fellow Huskies Maggie Gamoba, Campbell Peterson, Lucy Westlake, Audrey Mendrys, Claire Hill, and Megan Driscoll all finished in the top 40.

Late that night, Naperville North boys soccer completed a three peat of their own. It was a historic season for the Huskies, who entered the state final a perfect 25-0. Libertyville was also undefeated at 22-0, but the North defense and goalie Tom Welch shut the door once again. Colin Iverson’s header from Ty Konrad was the difference as the Huskies took the 1-0 victory. 45 straight wins for Naperville North , 22 shutouts on the season and the first undefeated and untied state champion in IHSA history. We may never again see such a dominant soccer season.

After a three year absence, we were finally able to cover state volleyball at Redbird arena thanks to Benet Academy. The Redwings returned to state thanks to a big three set road win over Bloomington in the supersectionals. Although BA fell to eventual champion Marist in the semi finals, Benet was able to bounce back the next day and bring home the 3A third place trophy after a two set win over Prairie Ridge.

Wrapping up the fall season at the state girls swimming meet, and the local teams put on their best performance in several years. Metea Valley took 2nd in the 4X400 relay and the 200 freestyle relay with Laurel Bludgen, Rylee Stone, Kellie Willhite and McKenna Stone. McKenna also finished as the state runner up in the 100 and 50 yard freestyle events.

Neuqua Valley put together a complete team effort. The relay teams won the 200 free relay championship and the 4X400 behind Megan Ciezczak, Kristen Stege, Rachel Stege and Tiffanie Ruan. Maxine Parksinson finished 2nd in the 100 yard breaststroke. And sophomore Rachel Stege broke the IHSA record in the 500 yard freestyle, winning the state medal, while also taking 4th in the 200 freestyle. The bounty of medals led the Wildcats to their first ever state championship trophy in girls swimming and diving.

Winter Sports

At the state girls dance tournament that winter, Naperville North entered the tournament one year removed from a 10th place state finish, which was the best in program history. The 2019 dance team surpassed that performance by a wide margin. The Huskies dazzled the judges by winning not only their sectional, but the 3A state championship. The first dance title for the Naperville area since Neuqua Valley went back to back in 2015-16.

The state wrestling meet at U of I is always an exciting stage and the 2019 meet in late February was no exception. Metea Valley senior Phillip Sims capped off a great career by winning the 3rd place match at 138 pounds. The 2nd best finish in program history. Neuqua Valley senior Roberto Pena threw his weight around at 285, seeing his arm raised to take home the 5th place spot on the podium. 170 pounds was a very competive weight class. Seniors Jackson Punzel from Naperville Central and Jacob Boumans from Neuqua met in the quarterfinals as Boumans emerged victorious. Punzel ended his tournament by winning the 5th place match, while Boumans advanced to the state final. Boumans was unable to get the edge on David Ferrante in the championship match, but left U of I as the state runner up.

Just like the girls state swim meet, the Naperville boys made their mark at the New Trier pool. Naperville Central did well in the relays, taking 2nd the 200 medley and 3rd in the 400 free relay. Goncalo Wanzeller, Bender Russo, Andrew Dai and Brad Sanford were key relay members. Bender Russo also took 3rd in the 100 breaststroke.

Waubonsie Valley got great efforts from Lucas Conrads, Brian Daugherty, Brian Knothe, Jake Darlinger and Aayush Deshpande. Deshpande was the state runner up in the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly. The Warriors also took 4th in the 200 medley relay and 2nd in the 400 free relay. WV lifted the 3rd place state trophy, the best finish for the program since 1997.

Once again, just like the girls meet, Neuqua Valley was our best local team. Jack Hiss took 3rd in the 500 yard freestyle, Connor Boyle was 3rd in the 100 free, but the relays carried the Wildcats. NV won both the 200 and 400 free relays behind a combination of Boyle, Hiss, Patrick Jensen, Matt Townsend, Tanner Schrev and Jimmy Senese. Thanks to their expertise in the freestyle events, the Wildcats brought home the 2nd place state trophy.

For the first time since winning state back to back in 2015 and 2016, Benet Academy girls basketball made it back to Redbird arena at ISU. The high powered Redwings rolled through the playoffs with 25 point wins over Montini and Oswego in the sectional final and supersectional. At the state tournament, BA was unable to translate first half leads into victories as the Redwings fell to Mother McAuley in the semi finals and to Hononegah in the third place game. Maine West ended the year as the 4A champion.

The winter sport finale saw the Warriors Hockey Club back on the state’s biggest stage. After winning the Illinois West Cup for the first time since 2014, the Warriors made it back to the United Center to face conference rival Glenbard in the Blackhawk Cup Combined Championship. NCTV17 carried the state final and boy did it live up to the hype. Waubonise took a 3-1 lead in the 2nd period and held a 3-2 advantage with under 3 minutes to go in the 3rd. Brett Quinn scored the tying goal from one knee for Glenbard to send the game into overtime. In double OT, Zach Pearce had his 4th assist of the game put home by Nolan Cummings to win the Blackhawk Cup 4-3.

Spring Sports

Turning to the spring, it was another strong local showing at the state badminton meet at Eastern Illinois. Naperville North took home another state trophy, finishing third behind Stephanie Liang and Taylor Zhou’s 4th place doubles finish. Bhaavya Manikonda built on the previous year’s runner up finish by winning the state singles championship. The Huskie sophomore never needed more than two sets to take home the state’s top prize. Waubonsie Valley sophomore Sonali Manoharan gave her the toughest test, as Monoharan eventually finished in 5th place. Neuqua Valley also finished in 4th as a team and Metea Valley 6th.

At the water polo state tournament, Naperville North and lone senior Taylor Wessel advanced all the way to the state championship for the first time in program history. Despite falling to Stevenson 11-5 in the state final, The Huskies set a new program record with 32 wins.

In the same pool less than an hour later, Naperville Central boys water polo hoped to repeat as state champions. The Redhawks had the exact same record as the year before, but faced a tougher road. Central barely escaped Neuqua Valley 10-8 in the sectional final and Stevenson by a 6-5 score in the quarterfinals. But this close to the state title, the Redhawks came through and won their third state championship in a four year span by an 8-5 score over Lyons Township.

Naperville Central boys tennis earned another top five finish at the 2A state tournament, plaching 5th as a team. Leading the way was the doubles pairing of Blake Roegner and Daanyal Saeed, who stunned the competition by making it all the way to the state championship match. Roegner and Saeed finished as the state runners up to Joe Daw and Noah Hernandez from Hinsdale Central despite playing as the #2 doubles pair on their own team all season.

It’s not very often that we have multiple athletes competing on the final day of the state boys gymnastics meet, but 2019 saw Naperville North senior Michael Hunter finish in 8th place on the vault. Neuqua Valley sophomore Michael Baren returned to state for the 2nd straight season, taking 7th on the parallel bars and third place on the pommel horse.

The state girls track and field meet did not see any of our teams raise a team state trophy, but there were still plenty of individual standouts. Naperville North senior Alex Morris ended her career with a 3rd place finish in the 3200 meter race. Fellow senior Halle Bieber ended her Huskies campaign with a three peat as state champion in the 300 meter hurdles. Mikenna Robinson of Neuqua Valley was another multi year state qualifier, the senior ended her final race in 4th place in the 400 meters. Neuqua Valley sophomore Riley Ammenhauser earned three state medals, finishing top ten in the long jump and the 4X100 relay. But her final leap in the triple jump set a new PR at 40 feet 11.50 inches and won her the state championship for the 2nd straight year.

The boys track and field meet a week later saw a similar level of success. Metea Valley senior Pryce Giwa Osagie cleared 6’5 en route to a 4th place finish in the high jump. Neuqua Valley junior Matt Appel showed off his strength with two top five finishes. The Wildcat hurler took 4th in the shot put and 3rd place in the discus.

Naperville Central sent longtime head coach Steve Weisbrook off on a high note with a 9th place team finish and several state medals. The 4X800 relay team made up of Set Klein-Collins, Patrick Julian, Thomas Codo and Thomas Shilgalis won state by over a second to start the day’s running events. Shilgalis went on to win the 800 meters later in the day for his 2nd state title. A great end to the senior’s career after battling injuries at state cross country in the fall.

Boys and girls lacrosse entered its 2nd year as an official IHSA sport. This time it was Neuqua Valley who qualified both teams into supersectionals. The Wildcat girls eked past Naperville North 12-11 in the sectional final, but fell 10-8 to the St. Charles Co-op one game shy of state. The Wildcat boys rolled through the playoffs with four straight wins by 7 goals or more, taking down Barrington to qualify for the state semis. Neuqua fell in a hard fought 8-6 loss to eventual champion New Trier in the semis, but bounced back with a blowout 16-7 win over Glenbard West to win the 3rd place state trophy.

Although not an official IHSA sport just yet, Esports is growing rapidly in popularity. At the new NIU Naperville Esports facility, Naperville North took home the 2019 Overwatch state championship in the inaugural state tournament.

Season 12 of Naperville Sports Weekly concluded at the state girls soccer tournament down the road at North Central College.

In class 2A, Benet Academy made it to state for the first time since 2005 after falling a game short in 2018. The Redwings then took down Triad in the state semi final to make their first ever state championship game. Taking on Wauconda in the final, BA trailed 1-0 with under two minutes to go in the game when senior Mary Kate Hansen scored the equalizer to send the game into overtime. In the extra session, sophomore Jaimee Cibulka got her shot off just in time to score the game winner. Benet Academy and 3rd year coach Gerard Oconer hoisted the championship trophy for the first time.

Naperville North was back at state for the 2nd consecutive year thanks to a supersectional win over Minooka. In the 3A semi final against Lyons Township, a 2nd half goal from Hannah Martin send the game into overtime. After 20 scoreless minutes, the state championship trip was settled by penalty kicks. Leah Schumate, Katie Murphy, Emily Dulik and Hannah Martin all scored their PK shots, while Huskies goalie Amanda Johnson made huge saves to send North to the state title game.

Against defending champion Barrington in the final, neither team was able to get any offense going. The state championship would be decided by penalty kicks after 100 minutes of scoreless play. In the PK’s, Leah Schumate and Emily Dulik scored but Muphy and Martin missed. With North up 2-1, Amanda Johnson made a massive stop against Juliana Moreno, putting the Huskies one goal away from the title. Maddie Schlecht, a senior playing for North after spending three years in club soccer froze the goalie and sent the game winner into the upper right corner. Naperville North took home the 3A state championship for the first time since going back to back in 2012 and 2013. It was the 4th IHSA state championship of the 2018-19 school year for the Huskies, tying them with East St. Louis for the most in the state.

An incredible year of sports and an incredible 12 season of Naperville Sports Weekly. We hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at the memorable moments through the NSW Time Capsule. As the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has shown, we should never take for granted the opportunity to do the things we love and appreciate the greatness of our young teams and athletes.

Check out other episodes from the Time Capsule series!