In racing parlance, Crystal Lake Central grabbed an early lead and maintained a pace that no other Fox Valley Conference school could match.
The Tigers recorded another outstanding fall season in boys and girls sports. The rest of Central’s teams provided solid finishes after that, and Central, for the fourth consecutive year, is the recipient of the Northwest Herald All-Sports Award.
The plaque, given each year to the FVC school with the best overall boys and girls sports performances, was started in 1990. This is Central’s 10th time as the winner.
The Tigers finished with 128 1/2 points, while Huntley (122 1/2), Cary-Grove (122) and Jacobs (122) were next. Central started the fall season with FVC Fox Division titles in football and volleyball, along with an FVC Meet title in boys cross country and an FVC girls runner-up finish in cross country, along with a third place in boys golf.
Later, the Tigers’ wrestling team won the FVC Tournament, and the girls soccer team shared the FVC Fox crown with Woodstock.
“It’s a big deal to us,” Central athletic director Jeff Aldridge said. “It’s a huge compliment to our kids, our coaches and our families. Everybody has to be involved for something like that to happen. The fall is so important, it gets everybody off for the school year.”
Kassi Dvoracek, an outside hitter for the volleyball team, appreciates the atmosphere created at Central.
“It’s awesome [to win this],” Dvoracek said. “It has to do with a lot of good coaches. They make sure they focus on winning as much as having fun and making sure we enjoy the sports.”
The Tigers' volleyball team has won six Fox Division titles in a row, sharing the first in that string with Prairie Ridge in 2009.
Mike Zelasco, who played linebacker in football and also wrestled, said wrestling coach and football assistant Justen Lehr made an impact on him.
“The only reason I went out for football was because of Coach Lehr,” Zelasco said. “I see him as a role model. I liked it because we were together as a team. We always work together and help each other out. Everyone always got along; we never fought.”
Central’s cross country teams have been local powerhouses in many years. Senior Ryan Pitner said last season’s victory was a surprise.
“We lost some of our top seven, and Alex Baker [who is at NCAA Division I Loyola],” Pitner said. “We all tried to do our best. We had our ups and downs, but we won conference. It was a fairly decent race for us.”
About the award
The Northwest Herald All-Sports Award is a traveling trophy given each year to the school with the best boys and girls sports overall in the Fox Valley Conference. There are 16 sports that count toward the award – swimming and girls golf do not count because not all 14 schools compete in those sports. Boys golf was counted, although Woodstock co-ops with Woodstock North in that sport. Seven points are given for each first-place finish, with one point less for each place after that. In sports with conference meets or tournaments, 14 points are given for firsts, with one point less for each descending spot.
2014 Northwest Herald All-Sports Award Standings
1. Crystal Lake Central 128.5
2. Huntley 122.5
3T. Cary-Grove 122
3T. Jacobs 122
5. Crystal Lake South 115.5
6. Grayslake Central 111
7. Prairie Ridge 107
8. McHenry 94.5
9. Grayslake North 76
10. Hampshire 69
11. Woodstock 68.5
12. Johnsburg 68
13. Dundee-Crown 59
14. Woodstock North 26.5