2018 fall sports recap

Mia Riese and Shalyn Brady
Sports Editor and Sports Reporter

Women’s XC

With a heavily dominated sophomore team, the women’s cross country team came out hot by placing second at their first meet of the 2018 season, the Earlybird Invite.

At the second meet of the season, the Aurora Invite, the Bluejays captured a first place title. Top runners at the Aurora Invite were Emily Gilligan, Elita Spadlowski, Isabella Wolke, and Alisandra Mondrella.

Emily Gilligan was the top finisher for the Bluejays for Earlybird and Aurora Invitationals. Gilligan finished second at the Earlybird Invite and sixth at the Aurora Invite, resulting in her receiving CCIW Athlete of the Week.

The women’s XC team kept the 2018 season rolling with a fifth place finish at the Augustana Invite.

Becky Garcia was the Bluejays top finisher at the Benedictine Eagle. The team finished 11th without the majority of their regular top runners.

At the final invite of the season, the Pre-National Invitational at University Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Gilligan, Wolke, and Spadlowski led the Bluejays to a 33rd place finish.

Emily Gilligan and Elita Spadlowksi earned All-CCIW Honors.


Men’s XC

Graduating five seniors last year, the men’s cross country team had to rely on the freshmen class and a few seniors to carry them through the 2018 season.

The Bluejays opened up the season with a fourth place finish at the Earlybird Invitational. The team was led by Ashith Chirayath placing 30th and Juan Castaneda placing 32nd.

As the season continued, Castaneda and Chirayath were the top finishers for the Bluejays as the team finished 12th at the Aurora Invitational and 17th at the Augustana Invitational.

The Bluejays competed at the CCIW Championships, earning an eighth place team finish out of nine teams.

However, head coach James Akita explained the eighth place finish by saying, “We competed, and with 3 top 25 teams in the country in our conference, it can be tough to place high. On top of that, our number 5 runner, Armando Alvarez dropped out due to injury, which hurt our team score.”

Juan Castaneda placed 23rd at the CCIW Championships, being just three places shy of receiving All-CCIW honors.


Women’s Tennis

The Bluejays welcomed new head coach Tadd Matlby and assistant coach Terry Maltby to their coaching staff for the 2018 season.

The new coaching staff led the women’s tennis team to a 7-4 overall record and a 4-4 conference record.

The women’s tennis team cruised passed many of their opponents—only taking losses to North Central, Augustana, Carthage, and Wheaton.

Captain Rachel Rettger commented on the success of the team, “It was the team’s first winning season in 10 years, so that was something we were all proud of.”

The Bluejays wrapped up the 2018 season with a huge 9-0 conference win over North Park University. Doubles Kathryn Wheeler and Rachel Rettger, Chiara Guidio and Ysabel Gonzaga, Sarah Paist and Maddy Freeman swept all three double matches. The team also easily took all six single matches.

The women’s tennis team will be back in action for the 2019 spring season.

Football

The football team started the season off with a great 21-20 win over Aurora University. However, it stopped there.

After the first game of the 2018 season, the Bluejays struggled to get another win under their belt. The Bluejays lost all 5 of their home games and also lost on the road to Carthage, Illinois Wesleyan, and North Central.

Despite the team struggles, defensive player Brandon Greer earned CCIW Player of the Week two times this season. Kicker Blake Bailey also earned a CCIW Player of the Week honor.

The Bluejays wrap up their season Saturday, November 10 at Wheaton College.

Women’s Golf

The women’s golf team, made up of primarily freshmen and sophomores, struggled to stay afloat this season.

Three of the five tournaments the Bluejays finished in last place—one of those being the 2018 Women’s Golf CCIW Invitational.

However, the Bluejays earned a third place finish out of five teams at their home Invitational at Oak Brook Golf Course. Freshman Sydney Roberts led the way for the Bluejays at their home tournament shooting 82, which made her tie for second place. Sophomore Eva Toon shot 86 for a ninth place finish, and freshman Julia Shaver shot 99 for a 23rd place finish.

The women’s golf team has two spring 2019 Intiationals, April 8 and 16.

Women’s Volleyball

The women’s volleyball team finished the year with a 12-19 record, which falls just below the average for a .387 win percentage. From that 12-19, they only came away with two wins in conference play, losing six for a .250 win percentage in the CCIW. They dropped five of those 19 at home, winning only three matches in their home gym.

Despite the difficulty of finding success for this young and growing team, the Bluejays finished the season with back-to-back wins against Benedictine University and Lincoln College.

Junior right side hitter Bailey Brouwer led all attackers with a 3.05 kill per set average, racking up a total of 338 kills on the season, while junior setter Kelly Townsend led the charge all season long, accumulating 626 assists and a 5.91 assist per set average. Freshman defensive specialist Valerie Thomas finished her rookie season strong with 432 digs, a 4.32 dig per set average.

The women’s volleyball team is one of the youngest, with ten players currently on the roster who still have three more years left at EC.

Women’s Soccer

After falling to Wheaton College in the CCIW semifinals on October 31, the women’s soccer team wrapped up its season with a successful 9-6-2 record for a .588 win percentage. They went an even 4-4-0 in conference play, won five matches on home turf, and went 4-4-1 on the road.

Freshman MJ Lessila came onto the team and dominated from the start: she finished the season first in goals with six, second in points with 13, and fifth in assists with one. She also had a team-high three game-winning goals. Senior Sidney O’Keeffe contributed 14 points, three goals, a team-leading eight assists, and one game-winning goal in what was a strong final season.

After starting the season on a hot 5-0-1 streak, they surrendered their first loss on September 18, 19 days into their season. With losing ten seniors this spring, they welcomed in five freshman, all of who performed well in their first seasons on the team.

Men’s Soccer

The men’s soccer team dropped their final game of the season on October 27, a 1-4 loss to Illinois Wesleyan University. They ended the year with a 4-14 record and a .222 win percentage.

The team won just 2 at home and dropped 8, while going 2-8 on the road. In the process, the team fell to a 2-5 record in CCIW play.

Senior Keegan Thompson was stellar throughout the season, leading the team in every single category. 11 points, 4 goals, and 3 assists.


Men’s Tennis

In their first season under new head coach Jason Foreman, the men’s tennis team had a final record of 0-19. They won 14 of 149 total sets played, winning with just a .009 percentage.

The team of seven players will be losing two in Chris Wallace and David Demoll come springtime.


Men’s Golf

Playing in seven tournaments this fall, the team finished in top the five three different times, including one first overall victory.

Four players led the way in rounds played with 11, and two of those four had team lows of 68. Senior Curtis Geiger had one first place finish in the Judson Fall Invite—the same tournament in which the team came away with first place—and freshman Ethan Green ranked second overall in just his second tournament of the year, the Aurora University Invitational. At their annual Elmhurst College Fall Invitational, the Bluejays captured third place with an overall score of 302.



Soccer loses to Auggie

Mia Riese
Sports Editor

Homecoming weekend at Elmhurst College finished with the women’s soccer team (9-4-1) taking a 4-0 CCIW loss on a penalty kick by Augustana at Langhorst Field Saturday night, October 20.

EC’s key defensive player and captain Kennedy Irmen tore her ACL Wednesday, October 17 against North Central, and the Bluejays had to reorganize their back line for the Auggie game.

Auggie attacked early in the first half with header into the back of the net by Karissa Gottardo, assisted by Jordyn Sundberg.

The Bluejays went into halftime only trailing 1-0, but the Vikings came out with full force in the second half.

Anna Fank, for the Vikings, scored off of Abby Wendell’s corner kick 13 minutes into the second half. Then Andria Seria added another goal, increasing the lead to 2-0 for Auggie.

The Vikings went on to score another goal when Wendell sent a corner kick into the box, and then Seria scored off of an assist by Fank.

The Bluejays shuffled defense could not keep up with Auggie’s offensive pressure. Now, the Vikings had quite the opposite effect on the Bluejays’ offense.

“Auggie had a really solid back line, and that made it hard for us to penetrate and get into the box in order to get some dangerous attempts on goal,” explained senior MF Jami Lessila.

The Bluejays only had 6 shots on goal compared to Auggie’s 12.

In the final moments of the game, Auggie scored again when Fank converted on a penalty kick, resulting in Auggie cruising away with the 4-0 win over EC.

The Bluejays travel to Kalamazoo College Tuesday, October 23 for a non-conference matchup.  


Bluejays fall short at homecoming game

Mia Riese
Sports Editor

It was a bitter ending to the Homecoming game Saturday, October 20 when the Bluejays lost in the last six minutes after leading since the kick off.

The Bluejays’ offense came alive for the overflowing crowd in the first quarter when Jim Robley scored on an 18 yard pass from Jake Tahnaey. The drive took 5 plays for 82 yards. Kaiden Triniger kicked the extra point.

Millikin evened out the score in the second quarter with Jazontae Howard’s 6 yard touchdown run. The drive took 15 plays for 93 yards, and Raibley secured the extra point.

Later in the second quarter, EC broke the 7-7 tie with a 28 yard field goal by Kaiden Triniger. The drive was completed in 11 plays for 51 yards.

In the third quarter, EC stretched their lead to 13-7 after driving 54 yards in 11 plays to score with a 27 yard field goal by Triniger.

The Bluejays’ defense held off Millikin in the third quarter when Romaine Richards sacked quarterback Cal Pohrte on the 40 yard line on 4th down giving EC back the ball. Brandon Greer also helped the Bluejays’ defense in the third quarter with an interception in the end zone, which kept Millikin from scoring.

EC failed to get a first down on their next possession, and Millikin took the ball at midfield after the EC punt. In the middle of the fourth quarter, Pohrte found Tyrice Hines for a 33 yard touchdown pass, giving Millikin a 14-13 lead.

“With 5 minutes left on the clock, the hope was to drive down the field to get into field goal position [range],” said head coach Ron Planz’s about his strategy when Millikin took the lead.

However, at Millikin’s 45 yard line, EC turned the ball over with one minute left. This allowed Millikin to run out the clock and steal this year’s EC Homecoming football game.

The Bluejays travel to North Central College next Saturday, October 27 for another CCIW match up.


Bluejay volleyball defeated by Aurora

Shalyn Brady
Sports Reporter

After splitting a tough day on Friday, October 19 with a straight set loss to University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a 3-2 hard-fought win over University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the Bluejays fell in 3 sets to the Spartans of Aurora University on Saturday afternoon, October 20—their second straight set loss in two days.

Though comebacks would be had throughout the contest, the Spartans, led by outside hitter Karli Chambers, overpowered in almost every aspect of the game.

With a total of 49 kills, 2 aces, 7 blocks, 46 and 52 digs, the Spartans cruised through the 1st set, winning 25-17. The closest the score ever got was 15-12 when the Bluejays closed within three.

The 2nd set was a much closer game, with the Spartans barely escaping with a 26-24 win. The Bluejays stormed back from a tough 10-6 start, using a 6-1 stretch to bring the game to 23-21. But yet again, the Spartans rallied and closed it out in extra points. The 3rd sounded much like the middle set, with the Bluejays closing in on a win with a 20-19 lead. But the Bluejays ran out of gas, and the Spartans grabbed the 25-20 win, closing out the weekend with a sweep over the home team.

Though the Bluejays had a tough weekend at home, head coach Julie Hall had some positive things to say about her squad.

“Our team is super young, super inexperienced, and the goal for us is to get better every day, so even though we took a couple steps back, I think overall, we got better as the weekend went on.”

Junior right-side hitter Bailey Brouwer hung toe-to-toe with Chambers, notching 14 kills, while fellow junior setter Kelly Townsend had 37 assists to match Aurora’s 40 from setter Emily Lines. They currently hold a 10-17 record on the season.

The Bluejays have one more home game of the season against North Park on Wednesday October 24, and then they close out the season with a road game at University of Chicago on Friday, October 26, and with two against Lincoln College and Benedictine at Benedictine University on Saturday, October 27.


Bluejays rally against North Central

Mia Riese
Sports Editor

After graduating all six of their starting positions, the EC volleyball team had to started scratch. Still, the young team consisting of sophomores and freshmen rallied past CCIW opponent, the North Central Cardinals, on October 2 at R.A. Faganel Hall.

The first set went back and forth and was tied 9-9 until sophomores Taylor Zurliene and Kaye Lesure led a 4-0 run for EC. However, North Central countered back coming within 1 point of EC. Again, the Bluejays pulled away with a 5-1 run. The Cardinals trailed behind the Bluejays the rest of the set. The Bluejays won the first set 25-20.

The Bluejays came out hot in the second quarter, leading the scoring 12-5. The Cardinals could not keep up with EC’s pressure, and came no closer than 3 points the rest of the set, thus resulting in a 25-18 victory for the Bluejays.

In the third set, the Bluejays kept rolling and got an early 10-6 lead. The Bluejays then upped the score to 22-13, and North Central could not keep up. EC took the win in three sets.

“Even though they are young, they have experience,” said head volleyball coach Julie Hall on the team’s success. “They also have a willingness to get better, are coachable, and take it personal when things don’t go well.”

The volleyball team is back in action, Wednesday, October 10 at Carthage College.


The Leader sports roundup: February 27 2018

By Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

Follow him at @ColeSheeks

Men’s Track and Field

Despite an overall team effort that placed eighth out of nine teams at the CCIW Indoor Championships, junior Victor Ogbebor finished second in the 55-meter sprint on Feb. 23 with a time of 6.47 seconds.

This accomplishment was the highlight of the event for EC, as Ogbebor’s feats of speed and athleticism earned him a place among the All-CCIW squad.

Other performances of note included the EC distance medley relay team, which finished seventh and Joe Rivas, who placed 12th in the mile.

Men’s Lacrosse

Mac Harden received CCIW Player of the Week honors last week as he led the Bluejays in scoring throughout their opening games of the season.

Harden, a junior attacker, confounded opposing defenders as he scored six goals and assisted on two more, leading his team to a split of their first two games of the 2018 campaign. He returns for the men’s lacrosse team as a two-time first-team All-CCIW selection.

In the Bluejays road opener, the team traveled to Michigan, where they defeated Wittenberg University, 13-11 on Feb. 17.

Harden netted four goals and fellow EC attacker, sophomore Ty Funderburk, added three of his own while the Bluejays rallied to score nine times in the second half after trailing by four goals at the intermission.

Game two of the season did not feature the same happy ending, with our local lacrosse heroes falling to Aurora University on Feb. 21 by a final score of 8-7.

This matchup took place in frigid conditions, as Langhorst Field played host with the Bluejays beginning their home schedule.

EC competed throughout this back-and-forth affair, besting Aurora in shots on goal (21-15) and limiting their turnovers (allowing 15, while creating 20).

Yet, it was ultimately not enough, as Aurora scored six second half goals and handed the Bluejays their first loss.

EC heads up to Mequon, Wisconsin to face Concordia University Wisconsin on Feb. 28 at 3 p.m.

Mens Hoops

While the men’s lacrosse team began their season, the men’s basketball team concluded theirs as they fell to nationally ranked Augustana College on Feb. 20 in Rock Island, 79-77.

Despite missing the conference tournament, their 13-12 final record represented progress for the Bluejays after the team finished with an 8-17 mark last year.

Junior forward Jeremy Ireland was named to the All-CCIW second team while freshman guard Jake Rhode took home conference Freshman of the Year honors.

Both players made their EC debuts this season, as Ireland led the group with per-game averages of 14.8 points and 8.5 rebounds and Rhode adding 13.3 points of his own along with a team-leading 5.1 assists.

They figure to return next season when they will once again join guard Ryan Patton and forward Derek Dotlich in search of the programs first postseason appearance since their consecutive bids in the 2015 and 2016 CCIW tournaments.

Wrestling

A trio of Bluejay wrestlers have advanced to the NCAA Championships via strong performances at a regional tournament on Feb. 24.

Jimmy McAuliffe, Josh Lawson, and Anthony Munoz all competed valiantly as they represented the EC colors on the mat.

The NCAA Division III Championships will take place March 9 and 10 in Ohio.

COLUMN: The 1988 Slam Dunk Contest: 30 Years Later

  Brandon DeJesus, Sports Writer

Brandon DeJesus, Sports Writer

By Brandon DeJesus, Sports Writer
Follow him @WRSEBrandon

Ah, the Slam Dunk Contest. This event has given basketball fans some the greatest and most iconic moments in NBA history. From Vince Carter’s reverse 360 windmill dunk in 2000, to Nate Robinson dunking over Spud Webb in 2006 and Zach LaVine’s “Space Jam” dunk in 2015, the Slam Dunk Contest has something for everyone.

Coming off a really entertaining contest this year which saw Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell take home top honors over Larry Nance Jr., today I will be giving a retrospective on what some may consider the greatest dunk contest of all time and that is from 1988 at the old Chicago Stadium.

Particularly, I will be talking about the final showdown between two of the greatest dunkers in NBA history, Michael Jordan and “The Human Highlight Film” Dominique Wilkins. It was the first time since the 1985 contest that these two men went 1-on-1 in the finals because injuries plagued Jordan in 1986 and the same went for Wilkins in 1987.

Going into the All-Star break, Jordan and Wilkins were the two top leading scorers in the league and would end up finishing the season as the two top leading scorers. Jordan averaged 35 points per game on his way to winning the first of five MVP awards and Wilkins finished the 1988 season with 30.7 points per game.

To get to the finals of this dunk contest, Jordan and Wilkins outlasted 1986 Slam Dunk champion and teammate of Wilkins on the Atlanta Hawks, Spud Webb. Other participants included Otis Smith, Clyde “The Glide” Drexler, Jerome Kersey, and Greg Anderson.

The 18,000 plus fans at Chicago Stadium certainly got their money’s worth as Jordan and Wilkins dazzled them with some of the best dunks in the history of the contest. In the final round, the two men combined for four perfect scores of 50.

One of the perfect dunks was an impressive throw off the backboard from Wilkins jumping high above the rim slamming the ball with authority. When it comes to power dunking, nobody was better than Dominique Wilkins. He always took the ball and jammed it down with sheer force and that dunk was no exception.

However, Wilkins was outshined by one of the most iconic dunkers in NBA history. Jordan needed a 48 to tie Wilkins’s total score of 145 in the final round and a 49 to successfully defend the Slam Dunk title that he won in 1987. Sure enough, Jordan completes the infamous free throw line dunk and the judges awarded him with a 50.

What people tend to forget about that dunk is that Jordan did not simply hold the ball above his head while in the air like Julius Erving did when he converted the free throw line dunk in 1976. Instead, Jordan added a little more flair by double-clutching the ball in mid-air and slamming it home.

In what was an epic final round between Jordan and Wilkins, Jordan took home his second straight Slam Dunk championship. However, it was not the only hardware he took home that weekend because the next day, he won the first of three All-Star Game MVP awards.

At the end of the day, was 1988 the best Slam Dunk Contest of all-time? Me personally, I would say no mainly due to much better creativity shown among the participants in future contests (a la Amar’e Stoudemire in 2005). But there is no denying the historical significance that the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest had on the league. It is a dunk contest that was ahead of its time and it set the benchmark for dunk contests that came after it.      

Bluejays lose to Millikin, rebound with victory over Carthage

By Brandon DeJesus, Sports Writer
Follow him @TheRealBDejesus

A rocky start to the second half due to poor shooting and defense proved to be the ultimate downfall for the Elmhurst Bluejays as they lost their fifth straight game by the score of 87-70 to the Big Blue of Millikin University.

The Big Blue scored the first seven points of the game and started out with a 15-5 lead five minutes into the first half. Trailing 35-22 with five minutes left in the first half, The Bluejays went on a 13-0 run to tie the game including sophomore guard Ryan Patton scoring eight consecutive points. After the game, Ryan was asked about the late resurgence from the Bluejays late in the first half.

“We are just a resilient bunch. We are still trying to figure things out but we always play hard and we never stop playing hard until the final buzzer” said Patton.

The Bluejays also got the Big Blue into a lot of foul trouble throughout the first half and converted on most of their free throws. Patton was asked about what all the fouls drawn showed about the teams toughness.

“We just try to go at them. We try to get to the rim, we try to pound it down low right in the beginning of the game. So that is why we drew a lot of fouls and led to a lot of those free throws” said Patton.

The poor second half play was mostly due to the Bluejays not being able to stop the stellar play from Millikin’s Zach Fisher. He finished the game with 33 points while shooting 13-of-17 from the floor including 6-of-8 from three point range.

Junior forward from Elmhurst Jeremy Ireland (who finished the game with 12 points) talked after the game about what made it difficult for the team to stop Fisher and his rapid scoring.

“He never stopped moving and he has a high and quick release on his shot. We gave him too much space and he got hot early” said Ireland.

Not only did Fisher contribute to Millikin’s victory, so did forward Elijah Henry who got himself a double-double by scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Millikin also got great play from their bench mostly thanks to Michael Beaty who came off the bench to score 17 points.

This loss gave the Bluejays their fifth straight loss and are now 11-11 on the season as well as falling to 4-9 in CCIW conference play. The team looks to end this losing streak on Feb. 10 as they take on the Carthage College Red Men at Faganel Hall.