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Titles for IC volleyball, Matt Burns lead local trophy haul

IC Catholic volleyball players Kimmy Martino (left), Delaney D'Amore and Rory Manion hoist the Class 2A state championship trophy as head coach Jean Field looks on Nov. 16, 2013. The Knights claimed their first state title since 1984.
IC Catholic volleyball players Kimmy Martino (left), Delaney D'Amore and Rory Manion hoist the Class 2A state championship trophy as head coach Jean Field looks on Nov. 16, 2013. The Knights claimed their first state title since 1984.

As the calendar flips over to 2014, there is no better time to reflect on some of the best performances put forth by local high school athletes in 2013. Several state champions – IC Catholic girls volleyball, Willowbrook's Matt Burns, Montini wrestling — were crowned, and even more teams and athletes made their marks with top finishes in state competitions.

School: IC Catholic

Sport: Girls volleyball

Place: Class 2A state champs

State run: The Knights won the third state title in the program's history. Three seniors – Rory Manion, Delaney D'Amore and Kimmy Martino – led IC to a dominant showing at state. The Knights swept both matches at state and prevented from the opposition from reaching 20 points in three out of four sets. IC finished the season 36-6 with a schedule against mostly larger class schools.

Quote: "Only one team can end on a high note. To be able to hit the ball down to end it and turn around and celebrate with my teammates was special." – Delaney D'Amore

School: Montini

Sport: Wrestling

Place: Class 2A state champs

State run: The Broncos made it six state titles in a row and 11 since 2000. As expected, Montini had no trouble in the state tournament. The closest match was a 43-25 win over Sycamore in the semifinals. In addition to eight individual finalists, Edgar Ruano was also third at 220 pounds and Jimmy Pawelski took fourth at 106 individually.

Name: Matt Burns, Willowbrook

Sport: Boys track, 400-meter dash

Place: Class 3A champ

State run: Burns was a surprise winner of the 400-meter dash at state. He was seeded seventh entering state and qualified out of the preliminaries with the third-fastest time, but was the only finalist to run a faster time in the finals. Burns finished the race in 48.89 seconds to win his medal. He is back this spring to defend his title.

Quote: “I won my preliminary heat against some pretty fast kids and that’s when I realized I do have a shot at winning the whole thing. It hit me that I won obviously, but it didn’t truly hit me until the next morning when I woke up." – Matt Burns

Name: Chris Garcia, Montini

Sport: Wrestling, 138 pounds

Place: Class 2A champ

State run: The Broncos' junior was 43-11 and won the state championship after losing in a state final the year before. Garcia picked up two major decisions in a dominant showing at the state tournament.

Name: Xavier Montalvo, Montini

Sport: Wrestling, 160 pounds

Place: Class 2A champ

State run: Montalvo qualified for state as a freshman, but truly broke through to win the state championship as a sophomore. He was 54-5 and his closest match at state was a 7-2 victory in the final.

Name: Jake Turk, Montini

Sport: Wrestling, 182 pounds

Place: Class 2A champ

State run: Turk capped off his career with a state title at 182 pounds, improving on his fourth-place finish as a junior. He posted a 43-8 record and had two pins and a major decision in four matches at state.

Name: Anthony Ferraro, Montini

Sport: Wrestling, 195 pounds

Place: Class 2A champ

State run: Ferraro made it to state as a sophomore, but earned his first state medal by winning 195 pounds as a junior. He won his first two matches at state by fall and pulled out a pair of close decisions, 5-2 and 7-3, in the semifinal and final.

School: Montini

Sport: Football

Place: Second in Class 5A

State run: The Broncos were hoping for the program's fifth straight state title and made a run at the first undefeated state title for Montini, but came up short in the title game. Montini still won 13 games to match a school record and went undefeated in the regular season against one of the state's toughest schedules.

Quote: “I’m very proud of our team, obviously. They’ve had a terrific career as seniors. We’re going to miss these guys. They’ve been class in every way, shape and form.” –Coach Chris Andriano

School: Montini

Sport: Girls track, 4x800-meter relay

Place: Second in Class 2A

State run: Montini's foursome of Brittany Fisher, Maddy Jamrozek, Catherine Kitz and Theresa Connelly qualified fifth out of the preliminaries, but moved up to second with a fast final time. The relay team dropped over six seconds from its preliminary time.

Name: Nick Zito, Willowbrook

Sport: Boys swimming, 200-yard individual medley

Place: Second

State run: Zito's impressive showing at the state meet, which included qualifying for the finals in two events (IM and 100 breaststroke, where he placed fourth), netted him offers from college programs. The current college freshman swam personal-best times at state and headed to Iowa.

Quote: “He’s going to be someone that you’ll hear a lot from in the next several years. He’s got goals now of getting to the Olympic Trials. If Nicky says he’s going to do it, it’s hard to argue with him because he’s that talented.” –AT/Willowbrook co-op coach Kirk Ziemke

Name: Kelly McNamara, Willowbrook

Sport: Girls swimming, 100-yard butterfly

Place: Second

State run: McNamara made the finals of the 100 butterfly for the second year in a row and improved from sixth in 2012 to second in 2013. The junior has another year to chase down a state title and will be the top returner in the state.

Quote: "I didn't expect it. I was really excited when I saw it on the board." –Kelly McNamara

Name: Dan Rowland, Willowbrook

Sport: Wrestling, 170 pounds

Place: Second in Class 3A

State run: Rowland had hopes of winning a state title, but settled for second at 170 pounds. He went 49-2 on the season and only lost 2-1 to undefeated Colin Holler of Sandburg in the final.

Quote: “It was one of coolest things I’ve ever experienced." –Dan Rowland on the grand march before the state finals

Name: Dan Draski, Willowbrook

Sport: Wrestling, 220 pounds

Place: Second in Class 3A

State run: Draski didn't have a top ranking like his teammate and fellow state finalist, Dan Rowland. However, Draski just kept winning and made it all the way to the championship match at 220 pounds.

School: Montini

Sport: Girls basketball

Place: Third in Class 3A

State run: Montini was unable to win a fourth straight state title, but it did win a state trophy for the fourth year in a row and fifth time in six years. Throughout the year, Montini proved to be among the state's elite with a 35-2 record that included wins over Class 4A state qualifiers Rolling Meadows and Whitney Young.

Quote: "Three years, the same thing. It never gets old. It's a good experience." –Montini player Sara Ross

Name: Emma Fisher, York

Sport: Girls track, 3,200-meter run

Place: Third in Class 3A

State run: Fisher ended a stellar standout career with her best-ever finish in the state track meet. Between cross country, the 3,200 and the 1,600, Fisher was an eight-time state qualifier.

Quote: “Looking back I have to be pretty happy with the accomplishment of getting to state and placing as high as I did. Every year I did a little bit better and got a little bit more comfortable with what I was doing.” –Emma Fisher

School: York

Sport: Softball

Place: Fourth in Class 4A

State run: The Dukes had just two seniors – Gracie Sullivan and Elena Schwarz – on the roster and had some inconsistent play during the regular season. The young team got hot during the postseason and made a surprise run to the state semifinals. York came away with the program's first trophy and eight starters are expected back this season.

Quote: “Coach is always talking about legacy and what we’re leaving behind. It was just an awesome way to end my senior year. Leaving a trophy and being like, 'Oh, I won that.'” –Gracie Sullivan

Name: Brandon Kupczyk, York

Sport: Wrestling, 132 pounds

Place: Fourth in Class 3A

State run: Kupczyk entered his senior season with the simple of goal of making it to state for the first time. Once he got to Champaign, he didn't stop and earned a surprise medal.

Quote: “I couldn’t have pictured anything better than what happened. It was a great way to end my career.” –Brandon Kupczyk

Names: Tommy Pawelski, Vince Turk, Jordan Laster and Michael Sepke, Montini

Sport: Wrestling

Place: Second in Class 2A

State run: In addition to four individual champions, Montini had four more wrestlers take runner-up honors. Tommy Pawelski (113 pounds), Vince Turk (120), Jordan Laster (126) and Michael Sepke (145) were all second-place finishers in their weight classes.

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