Season 9 of Naperville Sports Weekly was a year of change, success and milestones. Go back in time with the Season 9 Time Capsule, presented by BMO Harris Bank!
Two big changes that immediately affected the NSW landscape was the addition of two new hosts. Joe Olmo took over the Thursday slot while Nico Haeflinger manned the Sunday show. There were also changes on the field as the Valley schools of district 204 joined Naperville North and Naperville Central as members of the historic Dupage Valley Conference.
Naperville North girls cross country was unfazed by the new conference mates as the team brought home a state trophy for the 5th consecutive year. While the Huskies girls finished second as a team, senior Judy Pendergast stole the show by shattering the state record with a time of 15:54, becoming the first female runner in IHSA history to break the 16 minute barrier.
The Neuqua Valley boys cross country celebrated the move to a new conference with some hardware of their own. The Wildcats used exceptional depth to overcome key injuries en route to a third place trophy at Detweiler Park.
At the state golf meet, Neuqua Valley star Jessica Yuen’s incredible career came to an end one stroke shy of a state championship three peat. The Wildcat senior still took home the state runner up medal while Benet Academy freshman Lauren Beadreau put the state on notice by finishing fourth.
The Neuqua Valley boys rode the momentum of a regional and sectional plaque to a third place finish at the state tournament. One of the season’s highlights was Jack Vercautren’s 18th hole chip in to clinch the sectional championship for the Wildcats.
The high school tennis careers of Naperville Central’s Tiffany Chen and legendary head coach Don Bonet both came to an end at the state championship singles match in October. Chen finished as the state runner up to Hinsdale Central’s Izabella Lorenzini, adding a 2nd place medal to go alongside her 4th, third, and 1st place finishes.
Another Redhawk capping off an incredible career was diver Sydeny Dusel. The Naperville Central sensation soared past the competition, winning the state championship for the 2nd time in three seasons.
The football season saw Naperville Central rule the roost in the regular season, with a DVC championship and an 8-1 record, but it was the 5-4 Warriors of Waubonsie Valley who shocked the state by making the first run to the state semi finals since 1991, upsetting Edwardsville, Neuqua Valley and Naperville Central before coming up just short against Marist.
As the Calendar turned to 2016, Naperville Sports Weekly Season 9 reached a milestone on February 21st with the airing of the show’s 500th episode. While we celebrated the occasion in the studio, there would be plenty of celebrations from our local teams as the winter sports season concluded.
The Neuqua Valley dance team made it back to back state championships with another outstanding routine at the state meet. The Wildcats became the first back to back champs since competitive dance became an IHSA sport.
Metea Valley wrestler Dylan Ervin made program history. The senior overcame rival Max Ihry of Waubonsie Valley in the sectional, becoming the first Mustang to make the grand march at the State Finals at the University of Illinois, finishing as the state runner up at 195 pounds.
Naperville Central boys swimming made an impressive run late in the state meet, taking second in the 4 by 400 free relay by less than a half second to move into second place and secure the runner up trophy over Hinsdale Central. It was the second consecutive state trophy for the Redhawks.
The Benet girls basketball team embraced the target on their backs as the defending state champions. The Redwings went through a gauntlet of tough opponents en route to a 2nd straight trip to state. While BA was able to overwhelm Trinity in the state semifinals, the state championship rematch with Fremd went down to the final seconds. Senior Kathleen Doyle proved why she and the Redwings were the state’s best with a late three pointer to capture the school’s second consecutive state title. Doyle would also be named Illinois Ms. Basketball, an honor which allowed her to throw out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game.
Despite an impressive regular season, which included an ESCC conference championship, many viewed Benet Academy boys basketball as an underdog throughout the state playoffs. The Redwings proved they belonged by stunning the top ranked Simeon Wolverines by one point in the state semi finals. The following night, Benet had a 10 point lead in the 2nd quarter, but could not hold off the Curie Condors in the state championship. It was the second state runner up trophy in three years for Benet.
Spring sports arrived and the juggernaut that was Neuqua Valley badminton continued to roll. Despite some tough competition from first time sectional champion Metea Valley and Naperville North, who finished third at the state meet, the Wildcats won their second straight state championship. Lauren Ho finished as the state runner up in singles, and the Wildcats made it an all Neuqua doubles final with Sophia Li and Eva Chen defeating teammates Joyce Chen and Shrinithi Venkatesan for the state medals.
At the state girls track meet a pair of juniors dominated the competition to bring home state medals. Benet Academy pole Vaulter Ali Munson not only won the state event in class 2A, she even had a higher vault than the 3A champion by six inches! Metea Valley’s Courtney Morgan took home her second state championship in the shot put, while also finishing third in discuss.
It was a sea of red at the state water polo meet at Stevenson high school. The Naperville Central boys capped off the best season in team history, going a perfect 36-0 while knocking off the host Patriots for the program’s first state championship. The Redhawk faithful were treated to a nail-biter in the girls championship as Central erased a halftime deficit to send the game into overtime. But in the end it was Fenwick who escaped with the 13-12 win and the state title. Season 9 of Naperville Sports Weekly was a big one! Check out Season 10 next week!
Check out other Time Capsules in our Sports Stories!
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