It was a year that high school sports in Illinois finally returned to normal.
After two years of sports being canceled, moved to different seasons and played under unprecedented conditions, athletes and coaches could finally focus on what they love to do. And they did so in spectacular fashion.
Championships were won for the first time. Athletic programs accomplished feats not done so in a generation. A local athlete joined a Chicago sports franchise. And much more.
Here are the top sports stories of 2022 in the Record Newspapers coverage area.
Yorkville Christian wins school’s first state titles
Yorkville Christian, a school that first opened its doors in 2014 with just 13 students, made school history in 2022 – twice over.
The Mustangs’ wrestling team, a program that began with just four wrestlers, in February won the Class 1A Dual Team State Championship with a 48-24 win over Tremont in Bloomington. That came after Yorkville Christian’s Jackson Gillen won the program’s first individual state title in Champaign.
“It’s crazy to think that we’d go from these four beginning wrestlers to state champs,” Yorkville Christian’s Jeremy Loomis said.
The next month, Yorkville Christian’s basketball program added to the school’s sensational school year.
Behind Duke recruit Jaden Schutt, the Mustangs won their first seven postseason games by an average margin of 44 points. A challenge finally came in the state final, and they met it.
Liberty led Yorkville Christian by one at halftime, but the Mustangs pulled away for a 54-41 win in the Class 1A final at State Farm Center to win the program’s first state championship.
While the challenge was a novelty during Yorkville Christian’s postseason run, it was nothing new for the season in its entirety. The Mustangs played 10 Class 3A or Class 4A schools that reached sectional finals, four of them sectional champions.
“This season was a long one, definitely a grind – and definitely mission accomplished,” Yorkville Christian coach Aaron Sovern said.
By its 39.9 point average margin of victory, Yorkville Christian became the most dominant Class 1A champion in the four-class era.
Noah Schultz drafted by White Sox
Noah Schultz was neither a Cubs nor a White Sox fan as a kid despite growing up in the Chicago area. His dad’s a Dodgers fan, so that’s the team he and his family always watched.
That certainly changed in mid-July.
Schultz, a 6-foot-9 left-handed pitcher who graduated from Oswego East this spring, was drafted by the White Sox with the 26th pick of the Major League Baseball draft.
“My heart stopped,” Schultz told White Sox reporters in a press conference while wearing a black White Sox cap. “It’s the best night of my life.”
A day later, a second Oswego East pitcher got his professional call. Ashton Izzi, a hard-throwing right-hander, was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round with the 126th overall pick.
Both pitchers had made verbal commitments to strong collegiate programs – Schultz to Vanderbilt, Izzi to Wichita State – but both opted to sign contracts and turn pro.
Oswego East firsts
Mikayla Lambert lifted the regional plaque above her head, and was mobbed by blue-shirted Oswego East teammates.
The mad celebration fit the moment.
Lambert and Hannah Chval scored goals in the first and second half, respectively. Sam McPhee had the Wolves’ 11th shutout in goal, as third-seeded Oswego East’s soccer team beat sixth-seeded Oswego 2-0 in the Class 3A East Aurora Regional final in May for the first regional championship in program history.
It capped off a remarkable two-year run for the Oswego East soccer program. Back-to-back Southwest Prairie Conference champions, Oswego East went undefeated during the regular season the spring of 2021 and was unbeaten in conference in 2022.
Likewise, Oswego East’s girls volleyball program made history in the fall.
Oswego East, which already shattered the program win record it set the previous season and won the program’s first conference title, added another first. When Megan Maier’s spike from the left pin wasn’t returned, it completed the Wolves’ 25-23, 25-21 win over Neuqua Valley in the Class 4A Neuqua Valley Regional final and sealed the program’s first regional championship.
“I’m incredibly proud, speechless, I’m in tears,” second-year Oswego East coach Dina Beamon said. “It’s been an incredible journey.”
Oswego East’s 2021-2022 boys basketball team also set a school record with 33 wins, won conference and regional titles and reached the program’s second sectional final.
Yorkville’s Kyle Clabough goes back-to-back
On his final high school attempt, Yorkville senior and Wisconsin recruit Kyle Clabough captured his second straight state championship in the shot put with a winning toss of 18.74 meters.
In 2021, Clabough won the title with a top attempt of 18.76 meters.
Clabough is the first two-time individual state champion in program history, and only the second overall first-place winner. Dave Cox won a Class A state title in the 300 hurdles in 1986.
“This is a lot different than last season because I had to face a lot more adversity,” Clabough said. “Paulo got the lead on his first preliminary throw. I had an OK day considering the situation and was good enough to win.”
(Alex T. Paschalemail@example.com/)
Newark softball makes state
Since the opening day of practice, the word “state” was whispered by and about the Newark Norsemen softball team.
In the last Monday of May at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Inspiration Field, those whispers grew into loud, joyous yells of celebration.
Newark followed up the program’s second sectional championship with its first berth into the IHSA State with a 1-0 win over Heyworth at the Class 1A Illinois Wesleyan Supersectional.
Newark needed extra innings to win its sectional final, scoring two runs in the top of the seventh and three in the 10th inning for a dramatic 6-3 win over Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell.
The Norsemen took fourth place at state.
Yorkville football reaches quarterfinals in epic fashion
Behind a fierce defense that posted five shutouts, Yorkville football went 8-1 during the regular season, and reached double-digit wins and the program’s first quarterfinal since 1999.
And did so in epic fashion.
Kyle Gettemy and Jake Davies led a Yorkville surge that stuffed Moline’s Riley Fuller on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line to end the fourth overtime.
The make-or-break conclusion gave the Foxes a dramatic 34-31 win over Moline in four overtimes in a Class 7A second-round game. And it sent Yorkville, in the second round for the fourth consecutive time, to its first quarterfinal since 1999.
“You have to think about what this game means. The game meant everything. You fill your gap as hard as you can, and you make plays. You got one thing to do – don’t let them in the end zone,” said Gettemy, a senior linebacker.
The game broke a record for most overtimes in a 7A playoff game and tied the overall record.
Source: The Daily Chronicle