Here are the most important stories of the 2015 calendar year.
Charlie Donovan, a 2015 Westmont graduate, died suddenly in November.
Donovan, was recruited to the University of Michigan out of high school, but had deferred his enrollment because of a bout with mono over the summer. He was the 2015 Gatorade Illinois Baseball Player of the Year and was the three-time Voyager Media Player of the Year.
He was drafted in the 30th round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I am heartbroken over the whole thing and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and the Westmont community. We are a tight bunch,” said Westmont coach D.J. Cocks. “We are mourning right now. It has been tough for everybody.
On the field, Donovan is the career Westmont leader in 24 categories, including runs scored (172), hits (181), batting average (.479), extra base hits (81), assists (325) and team wins (88). Cocks said the team’s win record was the stat Donovan was most proud of
Benet girls hoops title
The members of the Benet Academy board just may want to petition Illinois State University for a name change to the on campus athletic facility.
Currently called Redbird Arena, Benet has a solid claim to rebrand it Redwing Arena.
After the Benet girls volleyball team claimed the state title on that floor in November, the girls basketball team followed it up and claimed the program’s first-ever state trophy by winning the Class 4A state championship with a 61-39 victory over Fremd.
The game was back and forth the entire way, as the two teams played to a tie at the end of first quarter (13-13) and the end of the jalf quarter (21-21). Benet pulled away in the third quarter slightly and grabbed a 38-33 lead heading into the final stanza.
That was where the Redwings took over.
Benet outscored Fremd 23-6 in the fourth, all off free throws by Duke-bound senior Haley Gorecki, as the Vikings did not score a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Benet junior Kathleen Doyle was later named Voyager Media Player of the Year.
Downers goes 1-2 in 800
Downers Grove owned the 800-meter run at the state finals at Eastern Illinois University.
Downers South’s Michaela Hackbarth took home the title with a time of 2:11.24 after finishing second last year, and Downers North’s Emma Moravec was second with a time of 2:12.22.
“It means everything,” Hackbarth said. “I’ve been working hard all year for this. I’m so happy this all came together. Knowing all my hard work has paid off is awesome. My goal was to win state but I knew there were a lot of good runners.”
“I’m really excited about how that went,” Moravec said. “I went in expecting to medal and I’m really happy where I ended up. I gave it everything I had.”
Both girls will return next year as Hackbarth is a junior and Moravec a sophomore. The friendly rivalry also helps them continue to get better.
Green tabbed Female Athlete of the Year
Downers North’s Jaida Green is known for her basketball skills. She was a first team all-area selection this past year after averaging 17.4 points, 3.5 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.2 blocks per game as a junior. During the year she also verbally committed to Penn State University.
Her commitment led her to try out track, where she competed in the high jump.
After qualifying for state, Green set a personal record at the state meet, jumping 5-feet, 6-inches to place third in the state.
For her accomplishments in both sports, Jaida Green is the Voyager Media Female Multisport Athlete of the Year.
For the last three years, former Benet Academy basketball player Frank Kaminsky III returned to his hometown to host a youth basketball camp for local players.
This year, the former Wisconsin Badger standout returned home with even more clout than in the past.
Kaminsky was the ninth overall selection in the 2015 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets, after leading Wisconsin to the NCAA National Championship game and being the unanimous men’s National College Player of the Year in 2015.
While he was home for a few weeks, the youth camp wasn’t all Kaminsky did in his down time. He threw out the first pitch and took batting practice with the Chicago White Sox.
Beaudreau fourth in state
It was a great week of golf for Benet’s Lauren Beaudreau.
The freshman finished fourth in the state with a two-day total of 146, 2-over par.
Earlier in the week, she topped the defending state champion Jessica Yuen, a senior, to win the Neuqua Valley Sectional title.
The two girls battled the wind to post matching 69s, forcing the playoff, which Beaudreau won on the first hole.
DGS remembers Miller
No matter the sport or even the gender, when a team’s season comes to an end, no matter if it’s the first round of the playoffs or in the state final game, there are tears in the post game huddle.
Players are saying goodbye to a season, seniors are saying goodbye to a career and a coach is saying goodbye to a team.
Just as always, there were tears after Downers Grove South’s 2-0 loss to Lyons Township May 26 in the opening match of the Hinsdale Central Sectional, but the tears were not because they were saying goodbye.
The tears were because they already had.
On March 30, the Mustangs were only one game into the season, when they said goodbye to Kailee Miller, a senior defender that died suddenly at age 18.
Since that game, South rallied around her memory and “played for 11,” which was Miller’s jersey number.
At the beginning of the season, all of the players, including Miller, we asked to come up with team goals by first year head coach Chris Hernandez. Miller’s goal was to win the regional title, which was a goal shared by many on the team.
After her death, the Mustangs made that a rallying cry for the season.
South accomplished that goal May 22 when it defeated Glenbard East 1-0 to win the regional title.
Harris earns 3 medals
Winning one state medal is a feat a lot of track and field runners are lucky to accomplish in their career.
Winning two is tougher, but winning three in the same season places an athlete in rare company.
Lisle’s Aaron Harris earned a trio of medals in Class 1A, placing third in both the 200 (22.17) and the 400-meter dashes (49.11), while he took sixth in the 100 (11.01) at the state meet last weekend in O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.
Harris is the first Lisle runner to ever claim three individual medals in the same meet and the first to win three medals overall in a year since Chris Jones placed in the 200, 400 and 1600 relay in 1996.