No denying Cyclones tennis team its success
Neither Mother Nature nor Waubonsee College was any match for Moraine Valley College last Wednesday.
The former threatened to wash out a scheduled Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference tennis encounter between the Cyclones and Chiefs by unleashing torrential rains and lightning upon the Sugar Grove area. The inclement conditions did cause a 30-minute delay, but Moraine weathered the interruption just fine.
Much to Waubonsee players’ chagrin, their Cyclones counterparts quickly regained their groove and rolled to a 6-3 win. Half of the 18 sets Moraine captured were by 6-0 scores.
Singles players Alexa Armon (No. 3), Claudia Maki (No. 4), Lindsey Walker (No. 5) and Tricia Poremba (No. 6) all posted at least one 6-0 triumph, and three of the four also excelled in doubles play. Walker and Poremba did so by partnering with one another at second-doubles, while Maka teamed with Kelley Grzych to form the No. 3 duo.
“This first away and conference win is absolutely huge,” Cyclones coach Nicole Selvaggio said. “I’m glad to see the marked improvement and continuous fight in my players. We will continue to work hard and put forth the 200-percent-effort level into practice because it’s evident that it’s all starting to pay off when it counts.”
Moraine continued traveling the high road on Friday as it whitewashed the College of Lake County 9-0 in another ISCC clash.
Liz Dominguez and Armon paired up for a strong showing at No. 1 doubles, but the real excitement came at second-singles, where Grzych was playing for the first time. Despite her inexperience at that spot, Grzych epitomized the team’s “fight like hell for every point” mantra.
She lost the opening set in a 7-6 (7-5) tiebreaker, but regrouped and captured the second one 6-4. The decisive third set came down to a super-tiebreaker, where the first player to 10 wins. Grzych was down 5-1, but then the fight kicked in and she stormed back to claim a 10-6 triumph.
“Most girls would have given up mentally after losing such a close first set, but Kelley fought,” Selvaggio said. “Seeing that comeback was an unbelievable feeling.
“I am so proud of Kelley and all the girls. Their mental game is becoming more solid by the day.”
With two matches remaining on their ISCC slate, the Cyclones find themselves in second place in the conference, just one point out of the lead.
Close calls have not tilted Moraine’s way, as it has missed out on first place in four different events by no more than two strokes. On Sept. 9 at Blackberry Oaks Golf Course, the Cyclones actually tied for the top spot, but officially wound up second based on a fifth individual score.
Joe Knight’s 74 represented Moraine’s lowest 18-hole total, but Jack Misheck was just one shot in arrears of his teammate. Misheck’s round included an eagle and two birdies. Pat Neylon (77) and John Yerkes (78) also delivered solid performances.
Cyclones coach Bob Freudenthal put a positive spin on his squad’s run of hard luck.
“We’ve never had a conference where most of the teams were so evenly matched,” he said. “I’m happy to see our improvement. You can’t ask for more than that.”
The day after that gut-wrenching finish, Moraine took part in the University of St. Francis Tournament, which featured a large number of four-year schools in the field. Despite the tough competition, the Cyclones placed 15th at Wedgewood Golf Course, four positions higher than they did in 2012.
Leading the way for Moraine was Sandburg product Jeff Cizek, who fired an 80. Two other ex-Eagles, John Randolph and Knight, carded an 83 and 87, respectively, while Marist alumnus Yerkes finished with a 91.
Improvements were made and solid times recorded by the Cyclones last Friday as they competed in the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships at Aspen Ridge Golf Course in Bourbonnais.
With cooperative weather, the men raced to a 16th-place finish in an 18-team field, while Moraine’s women were 14th among 15 schools.
Dawid Palace, running in his first event of the season, paced the Cyclones men in the 8K race as he reached the chute in 29 minutes, 09 seconds, which landed him in the 135th position. Moraine’s next-best finisher in a 189-runner field was Evergreen Park grad Brandon Ceh, who took 144th in 29:39.
Also scoring points for the Cyclones were Brother Rice alumnus Thomas Cira (148th in 29:52), Evergreen Park product Anthony Briante (149th, 29:53) and Alejandro Montes (156th, 30:26). Rounding out the list of Moraine’s male participants were Anton Thauer (161st, 30:48), Evergreen Park alum Justin Briante (165th, 31:10) and Jesus Rojas (176th, 32:22).
“I want to thank coach Mike McDowell and Olivet Nazarene for making sure the Illinois Intercollegiates would not disappear after Illinois State University said it was no longer hosting it,” Cyclones coach Mark Horstmeyer said. “Our guys were much improved over the previous week, and we see progress.
“We still have a few guys banged up or just getting back to being able to race. We are still learning, and we learned some more lessons Friday. They are starting to understand what’s needed to compete at this level, and that will help.”
Aileen Gorman (Marist) was once again Moraine’s top female runner as she wound up 94th among 165 finishers by clocking out at 21:16 for 5K. Jessica Flores (123rd in 22:47), Queen of Peace alum Miranda Reyes (125th, 22:53), Lex Mindock (146th, 24:12) and Maritza Najera (148th, 24:33) completed the Cyclones’ list of scorers.
Nancy Ibarra (155th, 25:19) and Stagg product Amanda Gerzon (159th, 25:57) also competed for Moraine.
“We saw overall improvement from the previous week and potential of things to come,” Horstmeyer said. “I like the direction we’re headed.”
The Cyclones resume action on Saturday at Wheaton College’s Gil Dodds Invitational, which will be held at St. James Farm in Warrenville.
“It looks to be another fast, very competitive race,” Horstmeyer said. “We’re looking forward to seeing how the team responds.”
Setter Joanna Curtis (Sandburg) reached a career milestone, and the Cyclones made the occasion a particularly satisfying one by also bagging a 25-14, 25-14, 25-10 ISCC victory over Oakton College last Tuesday.
When Curtis set Kara Kentner up for a kill during one sequence, the play resulted in the former registering the 1,000th assist of her collegiate career. Curtis, who entered the match with 995 assists to her credit, was presented with a game ball between the first and second sets in her recognition of her achievement.
Kentner ended the match with 12 kills, 12 assists, two service aces and a block to pace Moraine. Gina Ryan (eight kills, 12 digs) and Taylor Serrano (seven kills with no hitting errors, 10 points, one ace, two blocks) were other key figures for the Cyclones, whose win was their first in conference play.
Moraine was ranked 14th in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association Division II poll.
Greg Healy’s unassisted goal was all the Cyclones needed to collect a 1-0 triumph over Prairie State College last Tuesday.
Offense remained at a premium for Moraine on Saturday, but again the Cyclones’ defense did the job well enough to ensure that Luis Navarette’s goal wasn’t wasted. That second-half marker enabled Moraine to battle the College of DuPage to a 1-all draw.
Save for the Chaps’ one tally, Brother Rice product Chris Vidos was solid between the pipes for the Cyclones.
The Cyclones’ woes continued last Wednesday as the College of Lake County tagged them with a 9-0 defeat.
Once again, Moraine netminder Diana Lozano faced a barrage of shots on goal. She was equal to the task more often than not, however, as she recorded a dozen saves in the losing effort.
The Cyclones finally broke into the win column on Saturday, as they blanked Triton College 3-0 behind goals from Stephanie Aimone, Antonia Zaper and Maria Gabino.
Zaper and Gabino were also credited with assists, while Lozano preserved the shutout by making five saves.