Joliet Junior College title tops list of top 2012 stories
By Dick Goss dgoss@stmedianetwork December 30, 2012 4:28PM
Joliet Junior College coach Wayne King receives congratulations from assistants after getting win No. 900 Tuesday. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Aaliyah Brown wins 200, takes second in 100 and runs on two second-place relays as Lincoln-Way East finishes fourth in Class 3A state track.
Seneca’s Alyssa Applebee repeats as the champion in the Class 1A pole vault (11-9), edging Reed-Custer freshman Morgan Azacharias by three inches.
Lincoln-Way co-op senior Ajani Cargle becomes first gymnast in state history to win six events in one day at state meet.
Lewis men’s volleyball reaches national semis, falling to Southern California in four sets.
University of St. Francis men’s cross country team wins NAIA national championship.
Brad Keselowski wins at Chicagoland Speedway, the second straight year the winner of Joliet’s race goes on to win the Sprint Cup.
St. Joe’s All-Stars earn a berth in Bronco (12-year-old) World Series in California and go 3-1 in pool play, becoming the first North Zone representative ever to beat Chinese Taipei.
Providence grad Mike Uremovich jumps from the University of St. Francis to Northern Illinois, and will be running backs coach and special teams coordinator for the Huskies at the Orange Bowl.
Joliet Catholic finishes second in the IHSBCA Phil Lawler Classic Summer Baseball Tournament.
Providence finishes third in the Class 3A softball state tourney.
Minooka finishes fourth in boys state volleyball tourney.
Updated: February 1, 2013 6:02AM
From a national championship for the Joliet Junior College baseball team to a runaway tarp to injuries that affected the seasons of two nationally ranked high school football stars to the deaths of three high school athletes to team and individual championships and near misses, the Joliet-area sports scene offered an array of interesting and touching stories in 2012. Narrowing the candidates never is an easy task, but we decided on the following as the Top 10.
When coach Wayne King earned his 900th career win in a 12-4 decision April 10 over Harper, his third national title seemed nothing more than a dream. But the Wolves, who entered their best-of-3 Region IV tournament against Milwaukee Area with a 31-28 record, got hot at the right time. They lost the opening game of that series, stranding 19 runners, and the victory that punched their ticket to the NJCAA Division III World Series was a 12-11 heart-stopper. Once they got to Texas, they were a different animal, winning four straight games for the title. The finale was a 6-5, 10-inning roller coaster of emotions. To top off the storybook season, freshman second baseman Luke Andrade (Lincoln-Way West), who drove in the winning run in the championship game with a sacrifice fly, was named the MVP of the World Series and later was selected the Division III National Player of the Year.
The captain goes down with the ship. Or, in this case, with the tarp. On the night of June 29, a violent storm passed through Joliet during the Slammers game against Southern Illinois at Silver Cross Field. Because of the strong wind, Slammers president Bill Waliewski got trapped under the runaway tarpaulin that was supposed to be covering the infield. With the help of Kelli Drechsel, of the Slammers’ staff, he eventually escaped. Fortunately, no one was injured in the mayhem, Waliewski included. A video broadcast and recorded on the Slammers’ Ustream channel drew about 600,000 views on the team’s YouTube page. The video was picked up by Deadspin, Yahoo, USA Today, FOX News Report, ABC 7 and the Herald-News, among others. Waliewski said the best part of the night was how so many of the Slammers’ personnel, along with Southern Illinois’, pitched in to make sure everyone was safe. The bad part? The Slammers lost the six-inning game 7-4.
Seldom will an area this size have two high school senior football players who attract as much attention as Joliet Catholic wingback Ty Isaac (Southern California) and Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey (Illinois). Both were injured and missed significant amounts of time; whether they would play the next game became a weekly question. Isaac hurt a shoulder in Week 1 against Providence and later injured his groin. He was in and out of the lineup all season, yet rushed for 1,500 yards, including 277 in a 40-37 loss to Montini in the 5A semifinals. Bailey missed just about all of Game 6 vs. Lincoln-Way East, when he suffered a knee injury and did not return until the second round of the playoffs, when the Raiders lost to Neuqua Valley.
Life is fragile
The Joliet Catholic and Lincoln-Way Central families celebrated significant athletic success in 2012, but they also grieved. Joliet Catholic starting defensive tackle Matt Mammosser, a senior, learned shortly after the New Year that he had primary nervous system mestatic melanoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. His relatives, friends and classmates did all they could to support him and raise funds for his medical treatment, but after several operations, he died in May. Lincoln-Way Central lost standout senior golfer and baseball pitcher Tom Schuman in early April; and junior Austin Lempera, a reserve defensive lineman in football, in November — both, apparently, to undiagnosed cardiac conditions.
Coming off a 2011 season in which they won the Frontier League championship, the Joliet Slammers finished a disappointing 37-58. Manager Bart Zeller was fired. Soon afterward, owner Alan Oremus sold the team to Joliet Community Baseball & Entertainment, LLC. Much of the management of the team has changed, with Chris Franklin, a Joliet native who was a three-sport athlete at Morris, hired as the general manager. The new ownership has talked of success coming not only from increased attendance at the Slammers’ Frontier League games, but also increased usage of Silver Cross Field beyond baseball.
Lincoln-Way West’s Morgan Flaherty made quite a debut at the girls state bowling tournament. The junior captured the school’s first individual championship in any sport by rolling a 2,764 two-day total at Cherry Bowl Lanes in Rockford. Her 230.3 average for 12 games ranked third-best among state champions in the history of the tournament. Minooka claimed second place in the team competition behind Courtney Johnston’s seventh-place finish. The Indians fell 22 pins short of state champion Andrew.
The Joliet area was its usual greedy self when it came to collecting individual state championships. Providence senior Eddie Klimara won his second title in the Class 3A 126-pound final, beating Plainfield Central’s Nate Davis 6-0. Klimara’s first championship came when he was a freshman. Also in 3A, Lincoln-Way East junior Kyle Langenderfer claimed the 138-pound title, Lockport’s Shaun’Qae McMurtry won at 160 pounds and Minooka’s Jake Residori was the champion at 170. Langenderfer and McMurtry had finished second in 2011. Reed-Custer’s Billy Chancey repeated as a 1A state champion when he took the 160-pound championship.
The Joliet area through the years has had precious few NFL first-round draft picks. But as the 2012 draft neared, the stock of Stanford tight end and Joliet Catholic graduate Coby Fleener rose, stoking anticipation that the drought would end. If it was disappointing the first round passed without Fleener’s name being called, that changed early the next day. He went second in the second round — to the Indianapolis Colts, where he rejoined his college quarterback, Andrew Luck, the overall No. 1 pick. Fleener has enjoyed a solid rookie season and is one of the reasons for the Colts’ revival.
The Bolingbrook girls had been to the Class 4A state finals seven consecutive seasons and had played in the previous six state championship games, winning four titles. The reign had to end sometime, and it did in the Hinsdale Central Supersectional. The Raiders dropped a 74-65 quadruple-overtime decision to the state’s other dominant program, Whitney Young, in a contest that will be remembered as one of the wildest girls basketball games ever. Bolingbrook sported an unheard-of eight seniors who signed with Division colleges, led by All-American forward Morgan Tuck (Connecticut). The others were Keiera Ray (Penn), Allie Hill (Texas-Pan American), Cabriana Capers (Auburn), Nia Moore (Illinois), Annaya Moore (Alabama-Birmingham), ChaRosese Williams (Stetson) and DeLacy Anderson (George Washington).
Boys state track
It was a portrait in courage. Minooka, which would finish second in the Class 3A 1,600-meter relay in the boys state meet, was being challenged by Plainfield North. But the Tigers’ third-leg runner, Derick Suss, collapsed on the track with a hamstring injury. As other teams finished, Suss got to his feet and limped across the track as his teammates cheered him on. Minooka’s time was 3:18.3. North finished in 5:47.44, but the Tigers got their medals because of Suss’ courage. “It was hard to run but it wasn’t hard to finish,” Suss said. Joliet West’s Calvin Edwards was second in the 100 and 200, the area’s best individual finishes.