With the calendar about to flip over to 2018, there is no better time than now to look back on the top stories of 2017, to recognize the sensational performances of area athletes and more. Here is a look at some of those top stories:
Running into the record books
Jacob Ridderhoff and Downers Grove North ran into the record books.
The Trojans’ cross country runners claimed the first team state championship in program history by winning the Class 3A title at Peoria’s Detweiller Park in November.
Ridderhoff, a team-best eighth individually, led four Downers North runners who had top 25 All-State performances. Five Trojans finished in the top 30, including Nick Chudzik, Miles Christensen, Jack Roberts and Sam McCool. Downers North, which placed second in 2016, was the inspiration for this run.
“I still can’t believe it’s actually true,” Ridderhoff said. “[Last year] was super inspiring to know that if we work hard, we can get second. We thought let’s work even harder and try to win.”
Muller dominates on the mat
Westmont’s Zach Muller reached wrestling’s peak.
With his pin in the Class 1A 285-pound state championship match, the Sentinels’ senior capped off a 37-0 season. His pin of Fulton’s Taylor Fleetwood was Muller’s third win by pin in four matches at state.
“It was a crazy season, a long season,” Muller said. “There have been a lot of ups and downs, but I had the confidence because I had been in big matches before.”
Also at the state wrestling finals, Downers Grove South junior Sergio Villalobos took third place at 195 pounds in Class 3A.
Trojans girls volleyball team wins historic sectional title
Sophomore setter Elizabeth Dunlap kept her cool, and Downers Grove North won a historic victory.
Dunlap dished out 34 assists to seven different hitters, and Downers North beat Glenbard West 25-15, 20-25, 25-23 in November to win the program’s first sectional title since 1988.
Clare Delaplane, a Villanova recruit and the Suburban Life Player of the Year, had 13 kills and Margaret Mahlke added 11. The Trojans earlier in the season clinched their first West Suburban Silver conference title since 2007.
“We played loose and played together and it worked out in our favor,” Delaplane said.
Benet’s Munson soars to another
pole vault championship
Defending Class 2A pole vault champion Ali Munson didn’t defend her state title. She won the Class 3A state title instead.
Munson cleared 12 feet, 3 inches to claim the 3A title May 20 at Eastern Illinois University. The 10 points Munson earned put Benet in a tie for 24th in the team standings.
Wander steps down
John Wander doesn’t plan to give up his headset or leave the Downers Grove area.
He just won’t be a head coach.
Wander, who led the Trojans to the Class 8A state championship in 2004 in 16 years as head coach, stepped down after the 2017 season. He was a Trojans assistant for 16 year before becoming head coach. Wander, a 1984 Downers Grove North graduate, had a 90-79 record as head coach with 10 playoff appearances.
“I’ve been a part of this program since I’ve been watching games since I was 8 or 9 years old,” Wander said. “I’ve always had a dream to one day be the head coach. I had a blessed opportunity to do it for 16 years.”