The area had no shortage of drama and excitement in 2013 with teams and individuals going deep into state and national tournaments and making waves on the professional level.
Here is a look at the top 10 sports stories from the Reporter and Regional area.
1. Macs Mighty again
Mother McAuley’s girls volleyball team won its 14th Illinois High School Association state championship Nov. 16 but just its first since 2004. That’s the longest stretch the school has gone without a title.
The Mighty Macs knocked off two-time defending Class 4A state champion Benet 25-22, 25-19 at Illinois State University in Normal. The team finished 40-2 with both losses coming to out-of-state teams.
Coach Jen DeJarld called it “an amazing season.”
“There is such an incredible satisfaction in what this team accomplished by keeping focused throughout the season from Aug. 14 through Nov. 16.”
Kayla Caffey and Mallory Maxwell each led the Macs with eight kills while the coach’s daughter, Ryann DeJarld, added seven and Kelsey Clark six in the state championship match.
2. Sandburg pins down another wrestling crown
Sandburg’s wrestling team won back-to-back state title in Class 3A after beating Marmion 38-17 on Feb. 23. Earlier in the day, the Eagles beat Oak Park, 33-23, to make it to the finals in Bloomington.
C.J. Brucki, Colin Holler and Ricky Robertson also won Illinois High School Association Class 3A individual titles in their respective weight divisions.
3. Richards football second in state
Richards made it all the way to the Class 6A state championship game and the usually reliable defense had a tough time in a 34-14 loss to Batavia in November in DeKalb. Richards had beaten Batavia earlier in the season.
Despite the lopsided final score, Richards amassed 389 yards. Quarterback Hasan Muhammad-Rogers threw for 226 yards on an 18-of-41 performance, which included a touchdown toss to Dedrick Shannon. Shannon had eight catches in all for 112 yards.
Romeo Johnson paced the ground attack with 97 yards on seven carries, while Muhammad-Rogers added 65 yards on 16 carries and accounted for the Bulldogs’ other score.
4. Moraine Valley hoops second in the nation
The Cyclones called their style of play “94-feet-of-heat” and the team scorched most opponents and reached the national championship game of the NJCAA National Tournament before falling short with an 87-69 setback to Rend Lake College March 23 in Danville. It was the first time two teams from the same state played in the DII title game.
“It was a great run, and I enjoyed every step. This was great for Moraine Valley. It was the chance of a lifetime for these guys,” said outgoing coach Dedrick Shannon.“After the game there was no holding our heads down. These schools we played have big scholarships for players. They have recruits from all over the country. We have local kids, and our biggest guy is 6’7”. Rend Lake had five guys over 6’7”. But we played impressively.”
Lockport’s Karrington Ward had 11 points and 11 rebounds and was named to the All-Tournament team.
5. T.J. McFarland’s season
Former Stagg High School standout T.J. McFarland spent a full season in the major leagues and was 4-1 with a 4.22 ERA for the Baltimore Orioles. The left-hander made 38 appearances including one start.
Ryan Pollack of the Camden Chat Blog also pointed out this unusual accomplishment.
“In the 112-year history of the American League, only six 24-year-old rookie left-handed relievers threw at least 74 innings in a season,” he wrote. “Five of them pitched in the 1980s; the sixth [McFarland] pitched in 2013.”
6. Bob Hallberg is courted
Oak Lawn’s Bob Hallberg, a longtime basketball coach, was honored by St. Xavier University on Nov. 13 when the school dedicated the court at the Shannon Center in his name before his Cougars women’s team went out and beat Trinity International University 87-46.
“This is a very memorable occasion for me,” Hallberg told the crowd after the game. “It’s a fantastic night for me and my family. And what makes it so memorable for me is that I always thought when they name a court after you, you would have to be dead. But I am still around here to enjoy it.”
He opened this season with 905 wins on the high school and college level and all came while coaching schools in Chicago.
7. TCC’s Reidsma’s running exploits
Trinity Christian College’s Andy Reidsma finished fourth in the nation in the NAIA Men’s Cross Country Championship on Nov. 24 in Lawrence, Kansas. That came a week after winning the NCCAA National Championships.
The senior from Michigan completed the NAIA 8K race in a time of 24 minutes, 35.69 seconds, which bested his school record time by 26 seconds. He outdistanced all but three other competitors in the field of 313 runners from 96 schools. Included in that field were six runners who finished ahead of him in the conference championship of which he finished in eighth place.
8. Kentner’s monster volleyball season
Moraine Valley Community College Kara Kentner, a Sandburg High School alum, had a monster sophomore season as she helped her team finish in the top 10 in the nation in volleyball at the junior college Division II level.
She led the nation with a .436 hitting percentage and seventh in the nation with 514 kills. She earned several individual honors including two All-America awards.
“She is one of those players that makes me sad that his is a two-year college and not a foury-year,” Cyclones coach Gloria Coughlin said.
9. Sky’s the limit
Shepard freshman gymnast Skylor Hilger tied for fourth in the all-around event at the Hinsdale Central Sectional in March to qualify for the state tournament. But the night before the state meet, she fell ill and was not able to compete.
Hilger’s state qualifying run was even more amazing considering she returned to the sport after three years of concentrating on other sports.
10. Coach Dooley hangs up the spikes
Palos Heights resident and longtime head St. Xavier baseball coach Mike Dooley will have one more ride before calling it a career. Dooley announced he will retire after the 2014 campaign — his 22nd year at the helm.
The SXU Athletics Department announced that current assistant coach Rocco Mossuto will take over for Dooley after July 1.
The Cougars program has been around 42 years and had just three head coaches — John Boles (1973-79), John Morrey (1980-92) and Dooley.
“After 42 years as an educator and 33 years with the Saint Xavier University baseball program, including the last 21 years as the head coach, I felt that at the end of the school year and baseball season was the right time to step aside,” Dooley said.