We head back to the 2017-2018 school year for another Time Capsule of Naperville Sports Weekly: Season 11, presented by BMO Harris Bank!
Season 11 of Naperville Sports Weekly premiered in August of 2017 with some very notable changes. Allie Kaleta became the 7th host in show history and the first female to anchor the program. NSW also moved back to airing new episodes on Sunday nights only, dropping the Thursday show.
The changes were not exclusive to NSW, the IHSA and the Dupage Valley Conference announced some big changes for the future. The 2017-18 season would be the first year that boys and girls lacrosse became an IHSA sport. It was also the last year that Lake Park, Glenbard North, Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South would be members of the DVC. The four schools would go on to join the newly formed DuKane Conference.
One thing that did not change is that boys golf was the first sport to hold its state tournament in the fall. Neuqua Valley senior Jack Vercautren put the feather in the cap of a great career by finishing as the state runner up in class 2A. The three-year varsity golfer was just a single stroke behind winner Jackson Bussell from Stevenson. Naperville Central senior Tommy Dunsire also finished in the top 15.
While none of our girls volleyball teams won a sectional title in 2017, Metea Valley did set a school record with 29 wins and went undefeated in the DVC behind star seniors like Mikaila Dowd, Kailee Bass, Emma Aske and Sydnie Aitchison.
Down at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Naperville North girls cross country flew past the field en route to a second consecutive state championship. Sarah Schmitt, Alex Morris and Hannah Ricci finished 4th, 7th and 1th respectively as all 7 varsity runners finished in the top 80.
About an hour later, Neuqua Valley boys cross country earned a state trophy for the 3rd consecutive season. Junior Zach Kinne led the way for the Wildcats by finishing 4th as Neuqua took home the 2nd place trophy behind Downers Grove North.
Later that night, Naperville North boys soccer once again followed cross country’s lead by winning the state title for the 2nd year in a row. The Huskies and goalie Tom Welch shutout the previously unbeaten Libertyville by the score of 1-0 thanks to a Jack Barry throw in that found the head of Colin Iverson. Welch broke the state championship record with 13 saves in the game and would go on to win the Gatorade Illinois High School boys Soccer player of the year.
Benet Academy Football once again surprised the 7A field by advancing to the state semi finals as the 17 seed with wins over Maine West, Hononegah and Lincoln Way Central before falling to eventual state champion Batavia 23-13 in the semis. Senior Connor Reid led the Redwings stifling defense with 9 Interceptions to earn First team All State honors. Naperville Central QB Payton Thorne and wide receiver Jayden Reed transferred from Metea Valley and led the Redhawks to the quarterfinals and a DVC Championship. The All State duo are teammates once again at Michigan State University.
Another new addition to the local sports scene in Season 11 was the addition of boys bowling at Naperville Central and Naperville North. The two schools also started girls bowling programs for the first time, joining the three valley schools in the DVC.
But the biggest bowling story of the year came from Metea Valley senior Ian Ridgway. Competing as an individual since Metea does not have a boys team, Ridgway rolled a perfect 300 at regionals, finished in third place at sectionals and 6th place at state, the best finish for any boys bowler in Naperville Sports Weekly history.
In season 11, veteran NSW reporter Ryan Risky became the exclusive voice of all area high school hockey highlights. He had plenty of highlights to cover for the Warriors Hockey Club once the Blackhawk Cup began. The Waubonsie/Metea Co-Op upset number 1 seeded Glenbard in the semi finals, after going 0-3 in the regular season against their rivals. The Warriors went head to head with BGHW in the Blackhawk Cup championship at the United Center, but settled for a 2nd place finish after a 7-2 loss.
Fast-forwarding to May and the state badminton meet. After back-to-back state titles, and a state runner up finish over the previous three seasons. The Wildcats kept their state trophy streak alive by securing the 4th place trophy. IT was Naperville North who had the best finish in the area. The Huskies doubles team of Clara Duan and Taylor Zhou earned third place medals, while Emma Lin took 6th place in singles. Freshman Bhaavya Manikonda burst onto the scene with a 2nd place finish in singles as Naperville North lifted the 2nd place trophy at state.
Naperville North girls water polo broke through the stranglehold of Naperville Central for the first time since 2014. The Huskies fell to eventual state champion Stevenson in the semi finals, but defeated Loyola Academy 11-9 to win the third place trophy. The best finish in program history.
On the boys side, Naperville Central made it back to the state championship and to call the Redhawks dominant would be an understatement. A 34-1 overall record with the one loss being the only match where Central did not win by at least three goals. The Redhawks rolled through the playoffs, knocking off Fenwick 13-5 in the final to earn their 2nd state championship in three seasons.
After winning state in 2017, Naperville Central boys tennis didn’t quite match the feat, but still finished in 4th place in Class 2A. Martin Matov and partner Ammaar Saeed won the third place doubles medals. Senior Ryan Roegner ended his career with a 6th place finish, edged out for 5th place in a marathon match against Waubonsie Valley senior Anthony Nguyen.
Naperville North girls track and field came into the state meet confident after bringing back many key members of the previous season’s third place team. The Huskies were right to be confident. Halle Bieber repeated as the 300 meter hurdles champion and finished as the runner up in the 110 hurdles. Sarah Schmitt and Alex Morris racked up key points by taking 3rd and 4th in the 3200. And in the last race of the day, the 4X400 team of Annie Bieber, Claire Hill, Saffilla Allie and Allison Grady finished in 2nd place to secure the first ever state championship for Naperville North track and field. It was also a big day for Naperville Central senior Rose Fritz who took 3rd in the pole vault and Neuqua Valley freshman Riley Ammenhauser who won the triple jump state championship.
At the boys meet a week later, Neuqua Valley did not have any individual state champions, but a complete team effort helped with Wildcats win their first ever boys track and field state championship. The 4X800 relay team of Tyler Bombacio, Ryan Kennedy, Danny Winek and Dakota Getty, Donovan Turner in the 110 hurdles, Ife Oketona in the long jump and Zach Kinne in the 3200 all earned 2nd place medals. The 4X400 relay team finished 3rd to hold off Homewood Flossmoor and Plainfield North to clinch the title.
The good vibes continued for Neuqua Valley at the boys volleyball state tournament. Facing a tough battle from Metea Valley, who won its first regional title in team history, the Wildcats prevailed as part of five consecutive three set victories in the post season. NV then stunned powerhouse Glenbard West in a three set semi finals, thanks to players like Jeremy Grove, Kevin Kauling and Jeremy Cardenas. In the state championship match against Lincoln Way East, Neuqua took the first set 25-20 but dropped sets two and three 25-21, 25-22. The 2nd place finish was the best ever for the Wildcats.
After two straight heartbreaking losses in the supersectionals, Naperville North girls soccer finally made it back to state for the first time since 2013. The Huskies fell to eventual champion Barrington in the semi finals, but bounced back against Sandburg the following day to win the 3A state trophy.
Naperville North boys and girls lacrosse made the first season of IHSA play a memorable one. The girls won an overtime thriller in the supersectionals over St Charles 7-9 when captain Lauren Platou scored the game winner with 8 seconds to play.
The Huskies fell to New Trier and Loyola in the semi finals and third place game and took home the 4th place trophy.
The North boys also won a sensational supersectional game against the South Elgin Coop. Trailing by one and with time running out, Scotty Allgood found freshman Jacob Lubrant for the game tying goal with under a second remaining. In overtime, Allgood and Lubrant connected again for the game winning golden goal to send the Huskies to state. Sean Sullivan and goalie Jake Allgood also played key roles as the Huskie boys also took home the 4th place trophy following losses to Loyola and New Trier.
A historic season in more ways than one, Season 11 of Naperville Sports Weekly was packed full of first time and repeat champions. The memories made and and the performances on the field made the 2017-18 athletic year one that will not be soon forgotten.
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