By Scott Taylor | @Taylor_Sports
When Plainfield North’s Zach Jarosz opted to have surgery midway through the basketball season to be ready by midseason for baseball, he had one thing on his mind – a state baseball title.
While the Tigers came up short, the plan worked for Jarosz as he came on strong down the stretch of the season and helped the Tigers win their first state trophy.
That capped a remarkable season career for Jarosz, but his senior year is one for the record books.
That is why Jarosz is the Voyager Media Male Multisport Athlete of the Year.
It all started during the football season, where Jarosz made some incredible catches, including one to help beat Oswego.
For the season he caught 47 passes for 842 yards and 12 touchdowns. The stats don’t tell the whole tale though as Jarosz was named All-State in Class 7A.
“He was a game breaker for us and proved to be a very difficult matchup for many teams,” North football coach Tim Kane said after football season. “He also set numerous school records for receiving yards and TD’s.”
Next up was basketball where Jarosz started and saw extensive minutes as a hard-working player that coach Bob Krahulik praised throughout the season.
His loss midway through the season hurt the team in multiple ways as Jarosz not only brought toughness to the team, he added a valuable body as the Tigers were riddled with injuries by the end of the year and went with a six or seven man rotation at the end of the year.
Then came baseball, where he didn’t start the season but was the leadoff hitter once healthy and batted .356 with nine doubles, two triples and scored 28 runs in 27 games, culminating with the state trip.
Other multisport athletes of the year, by zone, are:
The Bolingbrook junior was IBCA 3A/4A special-mention All-State and a member of the All-SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue Division team.
Akenten was a member of the Voyager Media All-Area Basketball third team after he averaged 14 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, while shooting .460 from floor and .345 behind the 3-point line.
“Nana is one of the most talented kids we have had in our program and is only going to get better,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said after his all-area selection. “He is an outstanding student-athlete who represents everything that is good about BHS.”
In the spring, Akenten teamed up with Shawn Showalter, Tanner Banks and Tyler Elmore to advance to the state track and field state finals. The quartet posted a time of 1:30.36 in the 800-meter relay.
Arenas was a two-sport all-area member for Maine South. During the football season, he had 56 receptions for 732 yards and eight touchdowns, bringing his two-year totals to 88 catches for 1,362 yards and 14 scores.
On the hardwood, he was a third team all-area selection and Voyager Media All-Star game participant. He recorded 14.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, in addition to 101 assists and 57 steals.
“Jon was a three-year starter that helped us win 25, 26 and 21 games,” Maine South basketball coach Tony Lavorato said. “In his senior year, he led our team on and off the floor with his dedication and passion for our program. Jon was always a natural scorer, but developed himself into an all-around player throughout his career. His greatest impact to our program was his character. He has influenced many future Hawks with his dedication and approach.”
In a season full of talented multi-sport athletes in the Joliet area such as Minooka’s Joe Butler (basketball and baseball) and JCA’s Harold Davis (basketball and football), it was Lockport’s Derrius Rodgers that earned the nod.
A core member of the Porters’ football team, playing defensive back and wide receiver, he had expected to continue his career on the gridiron in college.
Then track happened.
The same success that convinced Rodgers to pursue track at Illinois State University also earned him the nod for the athlete of the year nominee from the area.
Rodgers claimed three medals at the IHSA state finals, grabbing a pair of second-place finishes, coming up just short of Galesburg’s Josh Eiker in both the 100-meter dash (10.66 seconds) and the 200 dash (22.13).
Rodgers’ medal in the 100 dash is the first-ever for a Porter and his second-place finish in the 200 ties him for second all-time with Ed Flink, who placed second in the 220-yard dash in 1919.
Rodgers’ third medal came as he joined Chris Gargano, Jesse Bustami and Sheldon Snapp to place sixth in the 800-relay with a time of 1:27.67.
Rodgers owns the Lockport honors of the most individual medals with four, as Setta has three individual awards and was part of three relay teams. He also joined Nick Setta and Dan Schrock as the only Lockport athletes with three medals in one state final.
He leaves Lockport with five medals in his career, making him the second most decorated Porter ever behind Setta, who won six medals from 1995-98.
Benet senior standout was a second team all-area basketball selection after averaging 11 points per game, while leading the state-runner up Redwings in rebounds and assists.
“Danny often had to guard the post player from the other team,” basketball coach Gene Heidkamp said. “He made up for his size disadvantage with heart and toughness. He was an excellent shooter, passer, and rebounder, and was a great leader for our team.”
Then, after missing the start of the baseball season due to the extended basketball season, he was still able to bat .341 with 11 doubles, 24 RBI and 20 runs scored despite having no offseason.