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Sims' state titles, strong XC and swimming finishes highlight DGN fall sports

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013 6:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:46 a.m. CDT
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(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawme)
Downers Grove North's Sebastian Calvino (right) hands off to running back Kyle Leto against Hinsdale Central. Calvino scored 10 touchdowns this season. Bill Ackerman file photo - backerman@shawmedia.com
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(Douglas Cottle)
Downers Grove North's Zack Smith runs in the 2013 IHSA Class 3A state cross country final. Smith and teammate Ryan Clevenger both finished inside the top 10. Douglas Cottle/PhotoNews For Suburban Life Media
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Gabby Sims

The girls basketball team has been the early story from the start of the winter sports season at Downers Grove North, but it’s not too late to reflect on a solid fall sports season for the Trojans.

From a deep playoff run in football to a pair of runner-up state showings from boys cross country and girls swimming, the fall sports season at DGN had plenty of memorable moments, listed in no particular order.

1. Calvino steps up as Trojans surge to quarters

Initially, Sebastian Calvino was considered merely a place-holder when starting quarterback David Edwards suffered a leg injury in Week 6 of the football season. Edwards’ injury was more debilitating than first expected and Calvino – the Trojans’ senior starting tight end at the start of the season – shined under center. Aided by a supporting offensive cast that included Vontae Diggs, Kyle Leto and Richard Olekanma, Calvino stepped in and scored 10 touchdowns in seven games as the starter, guiding the team to the Class 7A quarterfinals. On the other side of the ball, the Downers D recorded three shutouts and held opponents to single digits on six different occasions. In the quarterfinal clash against eventual state champion Mt. Carmel, North’s defense limited the Caravan to just seven points, their lowest total of the season.

2. Sims’ state titles lead Lady Trojans to second

Gabby Sims’ high school career ended in dramatic fashion at the state finals in November when she captured first place in four events and vaulted the Trojans to second overall. Sims won the 100-yard backstroke and 100 freestyle, and helped North take first in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay as she and the team set several school records in the process. The Trojans also won the West Suburban Silver conference meet and decimated the competition at the sectional, winning every event en route to the sectional championship.

3. Smith, Clevenger have runs to remember

This season was a stark turnaround for the boys cross country team, which did not even qualify for the state finals in 2012-13. A year later, led by senior Zack Smith and junior Ryan Clevenger, the Trojans flourished in the West Suburban Silver conference, placed second at both regionals and sectionals, and emerged as contenders for the 3A title. At state, Smith’s blazing time of 14:23 was the third-best individual time while Clevenger finished seventh, powering the Trojans to second overall and making them the only team at state with two top 10 runners.

4. Michigan-bound Mahlke, North capture regional

A four-year varsity starter who is set to sport Michigan’s maize and blue next year, Katherine Mahlke’s 294 kills and 36 aces helped the Trojan volleyball team defeat the likes of Naperville Central, Metea Valley and Wheaton Academy on their way to a No. 2 seed in the 4A playoffs. Touting an experienced squad and standout newcomers like Mary Helen Beacom and Lexi May, North downed both Argo and Riverside Brookfield in straight sets to capture its second regional title in three years.

5. Girls cross makes team trip to state finals

Grace Maletich became a household name this season for the Downers Grove North girls cross country team. The sophomore made immense strides during her second year on varsity, placing fifth individually in a competitive sectional race and helping the team secure a birth at state finals.

At Peoria, Maletich finished 36th with a time of 17:51 as the team finished 21st overall.

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