Naperville has been put on the map thanks to many state champions coming from this area. Teams coming together to defy the odds and bring home the title is what this award is all about. Stick with Allie Kaleta as she brings you the six nominees for Team of the Year presented by BMO Harris Bank.
Naperville North Girls Cross Country
Kicking off the Team of the Year is the first team to bring home a state trophy in the fall of 2018… and trust me, it wasn’t their first go around earning the title. The Naperville North Girls Cross Country team not only won their third straight state championship this fall in Peoria but were Runner Ups at the Nike Cross Country Nationals. The team was lead by Alex Morris who crossed the state finish line in third and the Nike line in seventh. Following behind her was Maggie Gamboa, Campbell Peterson, Lucy Westlake, Audrey Mendrys, and Claire Hill. Before they made the trip down to state, the girls won the Twilight Invite and the DuPage Valley Conference Championship, and regionals and sectionals which helped them gear up for the bigger competitions. Despite three seniors leaving this team, it’s no secret that the Naperville North girls Cross Country team is locked and loaded for another run at the state title.
Naperville North Boys Soccer
On the exact same day that the Girls Cross Country team took home the state title, another Naperville North team was in search of their third state title as well. The Boys Soccer team carried a perfect season of 25-0 intro the title game against unbeaten Libertyville and they managed to score only one goal from Colin Iverson’s head but that would be enough. The huskies won their third state title, had a perfect 26-0 record, and outscored opponents 74-5 on the season. Top Drawer Soccer dot com ranked the blue and orange the #1 team in the country. The soccer scene at North has been amped up a notch thanks to the girls this spring, who also won the state title, making Naperville North the first school since 1996 and 97 to win the boys and girls state soccer championships in the same season. With senior brick wall and goal tender Tom Welch in net completing 19 shut outs and Colin Iverson and Ty Konrad leading the offensive charge, the huskies were unstoppable. Coach Jim Konrad was also named the United Soccer Coaches National High School Coach of the Year after leading the huskies on this three-year adventure.
Neuqua Valley Girls Swim & Dive
The next Team of the Year Nominee and the next team to go on a state destined trip was the Neuqua Valley Girls Swim & Dive team. The Wildcats started making waves the second they dove in to the water… literally. Sammy Carlson and Jane Riehs were the main divers for the team and they had their eyes set on the state competition, constantly taking the top spots in competitions and gaining the cats early points. Then once the girls went off the blocks it was all over. Rachel and Kristen Stege, Maxine Parkinson Megan Ciezczak, and Tiffanie Ruan helped multiple relays take top spots in early competitions as well. The blue and gold won the DVC championship and also went on to win their sectional, qualifying them for a run at the state title. Rachel Stege took first in the 500 meter swim at state along with their 200 yard and 400 yard relay teams. The wildcats edged out Rosary, the defending state champions, and won their first ever state title by 16 points and there is no doubt they will look to do that again in 2019.
Waubonsie/Metea Hockey Club
We move to the most extreme of winter sports with the Waubonsie/Metea Co-op hockey club. After coming off of a loss to BGHW last year in the Combined Division of the Blackhawk cup, the Warriors had revenge on their mind as they took to the ice this year. Zach Pearce lead the team and league in a multitude of categories including goals scored and total points and Justin Howard held strong in the net for the Warriors as they made their way through the season. After winning the Illinois West Conference Cup, the warriors set their eyes on the United Center for the state game and boy, did they deliver. After defeating defending state champions, BGHW in the Quarterfinals the team went on to face off against Glenbard, the team not only fought through all of regulation, but had to go to two overtimes as the game was tied at 3 a piece. In the second over time, Noah Cummins deflected Pearce’s shot for the game winner and the warriors become state champions in the combined division for the second time in program history.
Naperville Central Boys Water Polo
Going back to another team that was won three state titles in a short amount of time, we jump back in the pool as well with Naperville Central Boys Water Polo. The Redhawks were the only team in the state to never give up double digit goals in a game all season thanks in large part to goal tender Jonah Klein-Collins. His brother Luke, along with Cam Doughtery Bender Russo, and Brad Sanford also led the charge as the team went 34-1 on the year. The team went through a gauntlet in the state tournament, having to take down 2017 state champs Stevenson, along with Fenwick who was the only team to defeat the Redhawks in the regular season. Central went on to dominate the state title game, defeating Lyons 8-5, helping them to win three state championships in the last four years behind coach Bill Salantine.
Benet Academy Girls Soccer
We round out the top teams with one of our most recent teams to win a state title, happening just a few weeks ago. The Benet Academy redwings started off their season on an 8-0 run before falling to ESCC rivals Joliet Catholic. After that, the wings knew what they had to do to achieve their goals. They ended their regular season as Conference champions, with only one loss in the ESCC. Mary Kate Hansen, Abby Casmere, and Eva Frantzen are just a few of the veteran names on the roster but they were also joined by Jaimee Cibulka this season who had a major role as a goal scorer. In the 2A state champion game, the redwings were down by one but Hansen got the game tying goal and then Cibulka notched the game winner in over time for the Wings to defeat Waconda and take home the title for the first time in program history with a 24-3 and 1 season.
A team that went 26-0 and made Illinois history with the perfect season… The NSW staff couldn’t hand them their first loss! They also three-peated as state champions which takes the cake on Team of the Year. Of course, it’s the Naperville North Boys Soccer Team. Their stats are unlike any other and there is no doubt they are already planning for next years domination!
You can check out all of the highlights from these teams in our Sports Page!