By Mark Gregory
The year was filled with several top stories, some happy, some sad, all memorable.
He are the Bolingbrook and Romeoville Bugle’s top stories of 2015.
PASSING OF A LEGEND
Fifty-nine-year coaching icon Gordie Gillespie died Feb. 28 at his Joliet residence at the age of 88.
Gillespie, who spent 25 years with the University of St. Francis, was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas in July, 2009.
Gillespie posted an overall baseball record of 1,893-952-2.
With St. Francis, Gillespie was 1,020-581-2 in his years on the bench. He spent 10 years at Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he was 239-130. His college coaching career began at Lewis University, where he was 634-241 in 24 years.
Gillespie was not only a baseball coach, nor has he stayed at the college level.
He had a 222-54-6 record in 27 years as coach of Joliet Catholic High School, where he won Class 4A titles in 1975-’78 and the Class 5A title in 1981.
Gillespie also coached USF football for eight years, netting a 48-33-0 record.
He coached Lewis’ mens basketball team for 15 years, putting up a 228-124 record.
He also coached women’s basketball at USF for one year, posting an 11-7 mark.
Overall, Gillespie has a coached a total of 3,453 games, with a 2,402-1,170-8 record, a win percentage of .672.
He won four championships in college, three at Lewis and one with the Saints.
The death of Gillespie brought many stories of his style and dedication to the many sports he coached.
No matter who you talk to or what sport they played one general theme existed – Gillespie cared more for the athlete than the victory.
That philosophy, however, turned into more than 2,000 wins in his illustrious career.
“He would make you feel good,” said Roger Hewlett, a linebacker on Gillespie’s first state championship team at Joliet Catholic. “He was a great motivator. That was why we were so good.
You never had to try and get yourself ready to play, you just had to listen to him for five minutes before the game. He brought out the best in you.”
After spending a better part of his life at Romeoville High School, Jim Boudouris retired as Spartans’ Athletic Director in July.
In 1971, as a freshman at then Lockport West High School, Boudouris first became a Spartan.
A year later, the school was redistricted and its name changed to Romeoville High School and Boudouris first became a member of the school that more than four decades later, his name would be synonymous with.
He would return to the school in 1979 and would remain there for the next 36 years in different roles, most recently as athletic director for the past 12 years.
RAIDERS PLACE THIRD
The cheers from fans who stood outside Bolingbrook High School began when they first got a glimpse of the boys basketball team bus—led by a police and fire department escort—turn onto Raider Way off of Lily Cache Lane.
And the cheering continued inside the gymnasium as those fans were joined by village and school officials for a pep rally to honor the 2014-15 Raiders, who played in Peoria and brought home a third-place state trophy—the first for a boys basketball team in school history—after defeating Geneva, 63-42.
Defeating Geneva enabled the Raiders to exact revenge on the Vikings, who last March ended Bolingbrook’s season in a regional championship game.
The Raiders were denied a trip to the state championship contest after eventual Class 4A champ, Stevenson, handed them a 63-43 loss in the semifinals.
For his efforts, Bolingbrook senior Prentiss Nixon was named as the Voyager Media boys basketball Player of the Year.
The Bolingbrook soccer team won its first regional championship in 23 years before falling to top-seeded Naperville North 1-0 in overtime at the Metea Valley Sectional semifinal.
While the season was a success for the team, it was also a success for senior Luis Flores, who was an All-State selection for the second season in a row by the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches’ Association.
“He is going to be a tough guy to replace,” coach Jamie Clemmons said of Flores. “He had 18 goals this year and was half of our production. He will go on to the next level and will be a big loss.”
Romeoville also had a two-time all state selection in Christian Duarte is again an all-state selection. It is the second straight year he has received this honor.
“Duarte is officially Romeoville’s best boys soccer player ever,” said coach Nick Cirrincione said. “He is the first two-time All-State player ever from the school.”
After the resignation of Jeff Kuna as head football coach, Romeoville went to a familiar face to roam the sideline, naming former player Oliver Gibson as its new head coach.
Gibson was an All-American player for the Spartans and the 1989 USA Today High School Football Defensive Player of the Year.
Gibson played collegiately at the University of Notre Dame and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 1995 NFL Draft. He played from 1995–2003 for the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.
Prior to being hired, Gibson was inducted into the Joliet area Sports Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a player.
The Bolingbrook 4×100-meter relay team went into the state meet at Eastern Illinois University with one goal – winning the state championship.
Thanks to a lean across the finish line by senior Jessica Watkins, they did just that, edging Lincoln-Way East by one hundredth of a second, finishing with a time of 47.58.
The veteran unit overcame adversity over the years to win the title, making everything pay off in the end.
Watkins closed her career in style, finishing with a fourth-place finish in the 100 (12.11) and a seventh-place showing in the 200 (25.52).
Charlyncia Stennis placed seventh in the 400, finishing with a time of 57.79.
Senior Mikayla Houston had a shot put distance of 37-feet, 9.5-inches, which was short of qualifying for finals.
Romeoville’s Cierra Pulliam finished second place Saturday at Eastern Illinois University with a distance of 39-feet, 7.75-inches.
No. 4 Lewis women’s basketball saw the best season in school history come to an end on March 24 in the Elite Eight at the Sanford Pentagon at the hands of No. 2 Limestone 61-58.
Lewis closed the 2014-15 campaign 31-3, setting school records for most wins and fewest losses in the process. This was Lewis’ first Elite Eight berth in program history.
Because of the team’s success, Lewis University women’s basketball head coach Lisa Carlsen was named the 2015 United States Marine Corps/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year as well as the WBCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year and the Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year.
Two months later, Carlen was named as the new women’s coach at Northern Illinois University.
Then, in July, the Flyers announced Kristen Gillespie, grandaughter of Lewis coaching legend Gordie Gillespie, as the new women’s backetball coach.
She comes to Lewis on the heels of a four-year run at Division III Benedictine in Lisle, where she was the head coach.
TITLE RUN FALLS SHORT
After defeating them earlier in the season, top-seeded Lewis men’s volleyball fell 3-2 (21-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-27, 23-21) to No.3 Loyola on May 9 in the 2015 NCAA National Championship. The contest featured a dramatic fifth set where both teams earned several match points.
The match was the third contest in NCAA Championship history to go to extra points in the fifth game. The 16-point overtime is the longest fifth-set in NCAA Tournament history.
Lewis ended the 2015 campaign 27-4. Loyola improved to 28-3 with the win. The match was played at Maples Pavilion on the campus of host Stanford University.
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on May 15 that Lewis University senior and Romeoville High School graduate Rebecca Preisler has been named the USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Midwest Region Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year.
“I am so happy for Rebecca to receive this honor,” Lewis head women’s track and field coach Dana Schwarting said. “She truly is one of the best athletes in the country and this will mean a lot to her, her family and our program.”
Preisler, the 2015 NCAA Division II Indoor Pole Vault Champion, posted the nation’s top outdoor pole vault at 4.20m (13’9 1/4”), setting a Great Lakes Valley Conference meet and Lewis record. She placed second in the nation during the outdoor season.
On May 16, Bolingbrook’s Ariel Massengale was drafted as the 29th overall choice in the WNBA draft by the Atlanta Dream.
The WNBA draft consists of only three rounds of 12 players taken in each round, meaning only 36 players are selected each year.
Massengale was the first local player drafted in the WNBA since JCA’s Allie Quigley was selected 22nd overall in 2008.
In that season, Naperville Central’s Candace Parker was the No. 1 overall selection in the draft, much like this season, where Niles West graduate Jewell Loyd was the top pick, as she decided to forego her senior season at Notre Dame to enter the professional ranks.
While at Tennessee, Massengale is only the third Lady Vol with more than 1,000 points and 500 assists in career. She is No. 4 on the all-time assist leader in Tennessee history with 518.
At Bolingbrook, Massengale helped the Raiders claim three-straight state titles. Her senior season, she was McDonald’s High School All-American, WBCA High School All-American and Gatorade Illinois Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
It was an emotional year for former Raider .
In December his younger brother, Chad, died while playing a pick-up basketball game. Over the summer, Cooke put on a show at the 66th Illinois Open – setting records along the way.
The 2011 Bolingbrook High School graduate carded a record score of 199, 16-under-par, at Royal Melbourne Country Club, in Long Grove, beating Web.com pro Vince India (11-under 204).
His 128 total over the final 36 holes was also a tourney mark in the Illinois PGA event.
Cooke’s five-shot win matched the largest margin of victory by an amateur in tournament history – equaling Gary Hallberg’s winning margin in 1977.
The 22-year-old Cooke opened his final round with an eagle. After a good drive, he nailed a 144-yard pitching wedge to six feet and dropped the putt for an eagle. That broke his three-round tie with Brad Marek, who birdied.