Monday, September 30, 2013

Harper Bests Triton, Loses to Moraine Valley

Volleyball: Lindsey Murphy 2013
Lindsey Murphy (15) recorded a double-double with 14 digs and 33 assists against Moraine Valley. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score 1 | Box Score 2

PALATINE, Ill. –The Harper College volleyball team earned a straight sets victory over conference opponent Triton College (25-15, 25-11, 25-16) on Thursday night before falling in four sets to Div. II Moraine Valley Community College (25-21, 22-25, 23-25, 16-25).

In the first match against Triton, Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) powered the team to victory with a team-high 12 kills. She nearly completed a double-double with nine digs and also added five service aces.
Rebekah Hischke (Algonquin, Ill./Dundee Crown) (11 kills) and Alyse Kolner (Crystal Lake, Ill./Marion Central) (10 kills) both notched double digit totals in kills for Harper (14-15, 5-3 N4C) in the winning effort. Setter Valerie Bazemore (Houston, Tex./Keller) led the team with 29 assists.

Against Moraine Valley, the Hawks played consistently with the lead and continued to earn sideouts until they pulled away at the end to win 25-21. The second set was also very close, with five ties along the way. Harper missed a crucial serve when the score was tied at 22-22, and Moraine Valley went on to win the game.

In the third set, the Hawks had a 19-15 advantage after an incredible dig by libero Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove). Harper later had a 23-19 edge but the Cyclones won the last six points of the game to take a 2-1 advantage in the match.

"They played brilliantly those last six points in a row," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet. "I suspect they became a better team as a result of that comeback, which was the point of playing a match like this against quality opponents."

Harper could not bounce back in the fourth set, missing serves and falling victim to a hard-hitting, well-coached Moraine Valley team.

"Both teams played well in this match. Somebody had to win," Vilsoet said. "We are a much better team at this point during the season than we started out. Even in the loss, our defense was spectacular and I was still very proud of how we played."

Three Hawks – Melina Villaber (Chicago, Ill./Taft) (12 kills, 12 digs), Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) (10 kills, 13 digs) and Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) (14 digs, 33 assists) – recorded double-doubles in defeat. Spychala led the team with 20 digs, followed closely by Morgan Peterson (Roselle, Ill./Conant ) with 18 digs.

The team's next match is Tuesday night at home against Joliet at 6:00 PM. It is Harper's last home weeknight match, and the Hawks will recognize their sophomores for their contributions to the program on Sophomore Night.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tobias Bass Inspirational Story

Mariano Rivera Final Game at Yankee Stadium

Spychala's Defensive Prowess on Display for Hawks

Athlete of the Week: Kelly Spychala
Harper libero Kelly Spychala is leading the country in digs.
PALATINE, Ill. – Sophomore volleyball player Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) had an outstanding week this past week with 141 digs in six matches and is currently the leading the nation in digs with 459. Harper coach Bob Vilsoet said Spychala, the team's libero, is also the vocal leader and backbone of the Harper defense. For these reasons she has been named the second Harper College Athlete of the Week for the 2013-14 school year.

Spychala came to Harper College in the fall of 2012 after her sister Katie played volleyball for the Hawks in 2008 and 2009 and was a key part of the team that made it to nationals in 2009 as well as an Academic All-American. This past week, the 5-foot-6 libero has elevated her play to new heights for the Hawks, who are ranked No. 7 in the most recent national poll.

Last Thursday against No. 1 Madison College, she tallied 22 digs. Against tough competition over the weekend, Spychala had 22 digs against D2 Black Hawk, 20 digs against D1 John A. Logan, 18 digs against D2 Lincoln Land and 31 digs against Marshalltown. Finally, she recorded 25 digs in a victory over No. 5 Rock Valley, the defending national champion in D3.

"Kelly has an innate desire to play the best she possibly can on every point she plays," said Vilsoet. "She never takes a point off. If she doesn't make a play or dig, she comes back and figures out where she should have been on that play so that point doesn't happen again against her."

Spychala's 459 digs are 87 more than the next closest NJCAA Div. III player, Tara Wogomon of Rock Valley. Her 5.28 digs/set rank 12th in the nation.

Athlete of the Week: Kelly Spychala File
As a freshman, she totaled 338 digs in 101 sets (3.35 digs/set). With about half of the season still remaining, Spychala could break the Harper record for digs in a year (811) and threaten the career record (1298).

According to Vilsoet, Spychala is not only all over the court on defense but an exemplary teammate who genuinely wants the team to win and is providing constant encouragement to her teammates who step in to fill her position at a given time.

"You can tell by her attitude that it doesn't matter to her who does what on the team – her one and only passion is to win that point, the game, and then the match," Vilsoet said.

With about half of the season left, Spychala feels the Hawks are improving and still have their best volleyball ahead of them.

"If everyone performs at the higher level they are capable of, we can make a run to nationals for sure," Spychala said.

While she has not yet received any offers from four-year schools, she said she'd love to play at the next level while pursuing her degree in elementary education. She also acknowledged that her older sister's good experience at Harper is something she is now experiencing for herself.

The Hawks will continue to play good teams in the coming weeks, giving Spychala plenty of opportunities to impress four-year schools looking to recruit an agile and consistent defender, strong serve receive passer and most importantly a team leader with a strong will to win.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mariano Rivera Final All-Star Game

The video of Mariano Rivera making his final appearance at Yankee Stadium tonight is not up on YouTube yet, so I settled for this for now...

Turpel Named New Women's Basketball Head Coach

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper women's basketball program will be under new direction for the 2013-14 season. After head coach Nichole Jones put in her letter of resignation this week, assistant coach Jenny Turpel has been named the new head coach for the Hawks.

Turpel has served as the assistant coach for Harper for two years. She played collegiately at Lewis University in Romeoville and graduated with a degree in Sports Management in 2011.

"I'm looking forward to building the program up. It was definitely one of my goals to become a head coach, and I can't wait to get started," Turpel said.

Turpel also said she is looking forward to the leadership role and is ready to hit the recruiting trail in search of more area talent.

"Jenny Turpel is a great fit for our program. She has playing, coaching and recruiting experience," said Harper athletic director Doug Spiwak. "Her degree in Sports Management also adds value to our team as we continue to strengthen an athletics program that provides extracurricular opportunities for degree-seeking students. Jenny has demonstrated excellence in her teaching skills and has developed an outstanding rapport with student-athletes. Once the local coaches, parents and athletes get a chance to meet her, they will recognize the opportunities at Harper for women to experience success in our basketball program."

Current students who are interested in playing this year should contact Coach Turpel at 847-925-6467 or She also serves as a Facilities Aide in the Wellness and Sports Center.

Hawks Fall to RCTC, Defeat Triton

Womens Soccer: Mikayla Nagle 2012
The Hawks defeated Triton 3-2 on Wednesday. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score 2
PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper women's soccer team fell 7-0 to No. 6 Rochester Community and Technical College Saturday but rebounded to defeat N4C opponent Triton College 3-2 in a shortened game on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Mikayla Nagle made 19 saves in goal for Harper.

In Wednesday's contest, the Hawks jumped out to an early lead as Nicolette Kruczek (Wonder Lake, Ill./Woodstock North) found the back of the net in the 5th minute. Triton struck back in the 14th as Elizabeth Pineda scored to make it a 1-1 game.

Kruczek scored her second goal of the game in the second half (40th minute) to give the Hawks their second lead of the game. Two minutes later, Stephanie Hurwitz (Rolling Meadows, Ill./Fremd) scored her second goal of the season to extend the advantage to 3-1.

Triton's Bianca Prado scored in the 65th minute to make it a 3-2 game, but the Harper defense tightened up to secure a victory. Lacey Richards (Hobart, Ind./Merrillville) earned the victory in goal for the Hawks with 12 saves.

The game against College of DuPage scheduled for today (Thursday) has been cancelled. The Hawks return to action Friday at home against Morton College for a 4:00 PM game.

Men's Soccer Beaten by Triton

Men's Soccer: Kevin Engebretsen 2013
Kevin Engebretsen (#9) recorded a shot on goal in the loss. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College men's soccer team lost 6-0 to Triton College on Wednesday.

The Hawks fell to 1-6 overall and 1-5 in conference play, and the Trojans improved to 6-1-1 and 4-0 in N4C play.

The Trojans scored in the ninth minute and then three more times late in the first half to take a commanding  4-0 lead at halftime.

For Harper, Kevin Engebretsen (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Conant)Ryan Murphy (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) and Benjamin Castellanos (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) each recorded shots on goal. Daniel Gescheidle (Long Grove, Ill./Stevenson) started in goal and made three saves.

The Trojans next play on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at home against Madison Area Technical College. The WolfPack topped the Hawks 3-2 back on Sept. 6.

Harper Knocks off No. 5 Rock Valley

Volleyball: Melina Villaber 2013
Melina Villaber recorded a double-double with 14 kills and 13 digs. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score

ROCKFORD, Ill. – The sixth-ranked Harper Hawks volleyball team knocked off fifth-ranked and defending national champ Rock Valley College in straight sets Tuesday night (25-13, 28-26, 27-25).

"The ball bounced very favorably for us the whole match, and we didn't give much away," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet. "We played about as well as we can play, especially defensively."

In the first game, the Hawks (13-14, 4-3 N4C) had control throughout, holding leads of 5-1, 10-4 and 17-10. Harper had zero hitting errors and was led by Melina Villaber (Chicago, Ill./Taft)'s five kills and setter Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South)'s 13 assists.

In game two, the two teams were knotted on several occasions (7-7, 16-16, 18-18, 22-22, 23-23, 24-24) before the Hawks pulled out a win. Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) led Harper with six kills while libero Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) had eight digs and Murphy had 12 assists.

"It's way better getting ahead in the match 2-0 than dropping back to 1-1 without the momentum. Those last points were very important," Vilsoet said.

The third game was another close set, with ties at 7-7, 24-24 and 25-25. Middle hitter Madison Rodriguez (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) led Harper in the game with four kills, and Murphy nearly had a double-double in the game with 15 assists and nine digs.

Two Hawks – Melina Villaber (Chicago, Ill./Taft) (14 kills, 13 digs) and Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) (19 digs, 40 assists) – logged double-doubles in the match. Spychala continued her stellar her defense with 25 digs, and Morgan Peterson (Roselle, Ill./Conant ) had six kills with no hitting errors and 11 digs.

Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) reached double figures in kills (10) for the eighth time in her last 11 matches while Messner put down nine kills to go along with nine digs.

Up next, the Hawks host a doubleheader Thursday night in the Wellness and Sports Center. At 6:00 PM, Harper takes on N4C opponent Triton College, followed by Div. II opponent Moraine Valley Community College at 7:30 PM.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Harper College Hosts Very Competitive Volleyball Invitational

Volleyball: Veronica Dabrowski 2013
Veronica Dabrowski was selected to the Harper College Invitational All-Tournament team. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score 1 | Box Score 2 | Box Score 3 | Box Score 4
PALATINE, Ill. –The Harper College volleyball team won its opening match at the 11-team Harper College Invitational before dropping three matches against tough competition to end the weekend.

Harper (12-14) began the tournament with a 3-1 win (19-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-15) over Black Hawk College on Friday. Outside hitter Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) (14 kills, 14 digs) and setter Lindsey Murphy(Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) (15 digs, 41 assists) each recorded double-doubles in the victory.Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) had 12 kills for the Hawks while libero Kelly Spychala(Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) led the defense with 22 digs.

The sixth-ranked Hawks lost a tightly-contested match in straight sets to John A. Logan College (24-26, 21-25, 21-25). Dabrowski led a balanced Harper attack with six kills and was a big presence at the net, totaling six blocks. Murphy recorded her second straight double-double with 12 digs and 22 assists in the match, and Spychala added another 20 digs.

"This tournament this weekend found us making some more lineup changes in an attempt to improve the consistency of the team," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet.

On Saturday morning, the Hawks took the opening set from No. 7 Lincoln Land Community College (Div. II) but fell in four sets (27-25, 9-25, 9-25, 16-25). Murphy once again posted a double-double with 13 digs and 21 assists.

In the final match of the weekend, Harper fell in a five-set thriller to Marshalltown Community College (24-26, 25-18, 25-23, 23-25, 10-15). Dabrowski nearly had a triple double as she recorded a team-high 20 kills, eight blocks and seven digs. Three Hawks recorded double-doubles, led by Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South)with 14 digs and an incredible 55 assists, one off of Harper's five-game record for assists.

Melina Villaber (Chicago, Ill./Taft) recorded her first double-double of the year with season highs in kills (13) and digs (24). Rebekah Hischke (Algonquin, Ill./Dundee Crown)matched a season-high with 15 kills and had a season-high 20 digs. Spychala led Harper with 31 digs, and the team totaled a season-high 124.

"Hopefully, all this tough competition has done its job and toughened us up," Vilsoet said. "The idea isn't to defeat the average teams, but we need to defeat the very best teams."

Weekend Accolades/Totals

Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) was named to the Harper College Invitational All-Tournament team as she led the Hawks with 44 kills.

For the weekend, Villaber was second on the team with 29 kills, behind only Dabrowski. She also had 62 digs, behind only Spychala'a team-leading 91 digs (5.69/game).Morgan Peterson (Roselle, Ill./Conant ) was second on the team with 3.81 digs/game while Murphy led Harper with 139 assists (8.39/game) and had 54 digs (3.38/game).

National Update

Currently, Spychala leads the nation in total digs (434), and Dabrowski is second in the nation in total kills (231).

Looking Ahead

The Hawks return to action Tuesday as they travel to Rockford to take on No. 5 Rock Valley College. The Golden Eagles topped the Hawks in four sets back on Aug. 27. First serve is slated for 6:00 PM.

Hawks Lose 3-0 at Joliet

Men's Soccer: Aldo Fig
Aldo Figueroa recorded one of Harper's shots on goal against Joliet. (Jim Cummins)
JOLIET, Ill. – The Harper College men's soccer team could not muster up much offense on Friday afternoon at Joliet Junior College and lost 3-0 to a strong Wolves squad.

Joliet's Leatile Masula got the home team on the board with a goal in the 2nd minute to give the Wolves an early 1-0 lead. Two minutes later, Jonathan Iniguez made it 2-0 as he beat Harper goalkeeper Sean Cox(Schaumburg, Ill./Conant).

In the second half, Iniguez scored his second goal of the game in the 58th minute to give the Wolves a 3-0 edge. 

Harper (1-5, 1-4 N4C) could only manage two shots on goal (Aldo Figueroa (Wheeling, Ill./Buffalo Grove),Benjamin Castellanos (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove)) in the game, both in the second half. Cox made six saves in goal for the Hawks.

The Hawks are back in action at home Wednesday against Triton College at 4:00 PM. The Trojans topped the Hawks 4-2 back on Sept. 4.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Murphy Making Huge Impact for Hawks

PALATINE, Ill. – For Harper men's soccer player Ryan Murphy (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg), soccer is his passion and everything he focuses on.  After showing up to tryouts and making the team, the freshman midfielder has made an immediate impact for the Hawks with a team-leading four goals in five games, and for this reason Murphy has been named Harper College's first Athlete of the Week for the 2013-14 school year.

Murphy has played soccer for his entire life and has a track record of playing for successful soccer programs. In his first two years of high school, he played for FC United out of Skokie as well as the Schaumburg High School soccer team.

As a junior, he was a member of a Saxons team that won the 2011 Regional and Sectional Championships as well as the MSL West Division. He also played for SCU of Schaumburg his junior and senior year.

Murphy thought Harper would be a good place to continue his soccer career after high school because of the affordability and convenience of Harper College. He also thought it'd be a good place to start and hopefully move on to a four-year university.

Murphy is off to a torrid start for the Hawks in 2013. After the Hawks were shut out in their season opener to Joliet, Murphy scored a goal in each of the team's next four games. He also leads the Hawks in other major offensive categories, including points (9), shots (18), and shots on goal (9).

Athlete of the Week: Ryan Murphy File
"Ryan is a very talented soccer player, and his work rate is incredible," said Harper head coach Jason Diebold. "He's a workhorse that just works and works, and he's a very good teammate, too."

While the Hawks are off to a 1-4 start this season, Murphy isn't writing off his team.

"We're a good team. We just need the results to show it," he said. "It'll turn around if we just stay focused and stay positive."

According to Diebold, his team has gotten more properly organized on the field, and he's looking forward to the second part of the schedule, which features rematches with Joliet and Triton.

The team continued to show signs of improvement in their first win, a 6-1 win over Milwaukee on Sept. 11. In that contest, Murphy attempted 11 shots (3 on goal) and scored an unassisted goal.

"He leads by example and plays very hard," Diebold said.

Over the first few weeks of school, Murphy has enjoyed Harper due to its "relaxing" atmosphere and the opportunity he has to play the game he loves. While he isn't sure what his soccer future holds, he's looked into some four-year universities to continue his playing career. As a pre-veterinary major, Murphy would also consider business or structural engineering if he finds a four-year school to play that doesn't have a veterinary program.

Volleyball: Team vs. Madison 2013
Despite a valiant effort, the Hawks were unable to defeat No. 1 Madison (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College volleyball team was up to the challenge against No. 1 Madison College Thursday night, but the Hawks fell in four sets (14-25, 25-22, 18-25, 18-25).

"It's encouraging that I feel like we played much better," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet. "It was discouraging that we made so many unforced errors. We are still a very good, but inconsistent team. Madison is ranked No. 1 for a reason." 

After dropping the first set, the Hawks (11-11, 3-3 N4C) played a solid second set to nod the match at 1-1, something they were unable to do in their previous meeting on Aug. 24. However, the WolfPack responded with strong play and also took advantage of Harper mistakes with two 25-18 victories to close the match.

Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) paced the attack for the Hawks with 10 kills, followed by Rebekah Hischke (Algonquin, Ill./Dundee Crown)'s eight kills. Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) finished with 24 assists for Harper. Rebekah Hischke (Algonquin, Ill./Dundee Crown) (16-for-17),Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) (17-for-18) and Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) (11-for-11) provided consistency in the service game while Dabrowski led the team with four service aces.

Libero Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) recorded a team-high 22 digs while Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) added 16 digs.

"We will hopefully continue to improve by practicing hard, watching video and fixing the mental aspects of the game," Vilsoet said.

On Friday and Saturday, No. 6 Harper hosts the 11-team Harper College Invitational, with teams from multiple states and multiple divisions arriving to play each other. For a full tournament schedule, click here.

Here's who Harper will play in four matches:

Friday 9/20: Harper vs. Black Hawk College 3:00 PM

Friday 9/20: Harper vs. John A. Logan College 5:00 PM

Saturday 9/21: Harper vs. Lincoln Land Community College 10:00 AM

Saturday 9/21: Harper vs. Marshalltown Community College 12:00 PM

Men's Basketball Holding Tryouts September 24

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College men's basketball team will be holding tryouts for the 2013-14 team on Tuesday, September 24 at 5:30 PM in the gym of the Wellness & Sports Center (M Building).

If you are interested in trying out, you must have a current physical and fill out the Athletic Physical Packet listed under "Athletic Department". The paperwork can also be picked up in the Athletics office in M building.

Please contact head coach Tony Amarino (847-925-6265 or for more information.

Harper men's basketball tryouts are scheduled for Sept. 24. (Jim Cummins)

Hawks 2-1 to Start 2013 Season

Womens Soccer: Sancha Ogden 2012
The Hawks are off to a 2-1 start in the 2013 campaign. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score 1 | Box Score 2 | Box Score 3

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College women's soccer team is off to a 2-1 start in the 2013 season. The Hawks picked up wins over Milwaukee Area Technical College and Century College before falling to No. 5 Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

Game 1 Recap

In their opener on Sept. 11, the Hawks beat Milwaukee 7-3 behind a strong six-goal performance in the second half. In the first half, Jessica Cosentino (/Bartlett) scored Harper's first goal of the season in the 44th minute on a feed from Jillian Zelek (/Elk Grove) to nod the score at 1-1.

The Hawks came out strong in the second half, as Nicolette Kruczek (/Wauconda) scored an unassisted goal in the 52nd minute, followed by an unassisted goal from Zelek in the 55th minute. Kruczek struck again in the 60thminute for another goal, and she scored a final time in the 75th minute to give her a hat trick.

Vanessa Salazar (/Proviso West) and Stephanie Hurwitz (/Fremd) added late goals for the Hawks, who outshot the Stormers 20-7 in the game.

Four Hawks players spent time in goal, including Amanda Hagen (/Hoffman Estates)Lacey Richards (/Merrillville), Kruczek, and Hurwitz.

Game 2 Recap

The Hawks traveled to Minnesota to take on Century College on Saturday, Sept. 14. Kruczek scored two goals, her fourth and fifth of the season, to lead Harper to a 3-1 win over Century. Katherine Milla (Honduras/CEAD Christian School) and Maria Garduno (/Aspira Early College) assisted Kruczek on the goals.

Zelek scored her second goal of the season and recorded an assist. Kruczek and Hagen spent time in goal for the Hawks.
Game 3 Recap

On Sunday, Sept. 15 the Hawks fell 9-0 to No. 5 Anoka-Ramsey. Hagen made 17 saves in goal for Harper.


The game yesterday against College of DuPage was postponed due to inclement weather and will be made up on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 4:00 PM.

Up next, the Hawks take on No. 6 Rochester Community and Technical College at home on Saturday at 12:00 PM.

Hawks Top Stormers in 4; No. 1 Madison Next

Volleyball: Anna Lanier 2013
Anna Lanier led the Hawks with 10 digs. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College volleyball team was victorious over Milwaukee Area Technical College Tuesday night, winning in four sets (25-19, 27-29, 25-19, 25-14).

Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) continued her strong play for the Hawks (11-10, 3-2 N4C), putting down 10 kills to go with three blocks. In the serving game, Madison Rodriguez (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) and Valerie Bazemore (Houston, Tex./Keller) provided a big boost, serving six and four aces, respectively.

Anna Lanier (Dominican Republic/Home School) led Harper defensively with 10 digs, and Katherine Milla(Honduras/CEAD Christian School) led the team with 12 assists.

"Our inconsistency is continuing to show – no matter who we play," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet. "On the other hand, everyone on the team was able to play in this match."

Up next for No. 6 Harper is a key showdown Thursday night against No. 1 Madison (11-2, 5-0 N4C), who has defeated Joliet and Rock Valley already in conference play. The WolfPack topped the Hawks in straight sets (25-17, 25-21, 25-14) on Aug. 24 to win the College of DuPage 18th Annual Classic crown.  First serve is scheduled for 6:00 PM in the gym of the Wellness & Sports Center (Building M).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Peak Sports Challenge 15K

The PEAK Sports Challenge 15K was held on Sunday, August 25. Ellen and I signed up for it well in advance back in mid-late July.

The event also had a 5K team obstacle course for teams of three to compete in.

The proceeds from the event went to help fund the Winnebago County 9/11 Emergency Responders Memorial, being built to remember fallen responders who have given their lives in the line of duty. Two pieces of steel from the World Trade Center were at the race, symbolizing the sacrifice made by responders every day.

Little did I know, the road to running the race would not be easy for me.

Injury and Weeks Leading up to Race
While I was up at my church’s camp, Camp Harvest  in early August, I was roughhousing with high school students as well as other adult leaders. I was extremely sore from playing football, handball, basketball and other activities but was lucky to have not been hurt. That is, until the second to last day we were there.

My five-man team handball team made it to the tourney championship when it happened. I collided hard with another adult in the title game and messed up my hip. I kept playing on adrenaline and because I wanted to win (we ended up winning!), but I knew something wasn’t quite right.

After the game, the pain intensified and my hip stiffened up and it became harder to walk. That night, I struggled to walk regularly and even more so on the hills we had to traverse to get to our cabins.

When I got home, I had it checked out by the athletic trainer at Harper, and she said I had a strained IT band.  I initially thought maybe it was a deep bone bruise. The IT band is a group of fibers that basically runs from the hip down the outside of the thigh to the knee.

I began rehabbing the injury with whirlpool treatment, stretches that hurt like crazy, and icing after the stretches. During the first week of recovery, I played in two golf outings, which entailed a lot of twisting and turning as well as walking. Not a good idea.

I knew I needed to take my injury more seriously, so I began rehabbing it with foam rollers and the proper amount of rest it needed. After a little over a week, I still hadn’t ran, but the pain shifted into my knee.

It was a sharp pain that hindered my walking even more. After 12 days of no running, I finally decided to give a try. My pathetic attempt at running about 1.4 miles did not go well as I hobbled around and had no lift in my leg and a lot of pain. The next day, I ran about two miles with Ellen and still felt severely hindered.

I only had slightly over a week until race day. I weighed the options and tried to decide what to do. On one hand, I could run it and risk further injury because I’d be compensating and not truly ready/trained for the race. On the other hand, I could pull out and still be there to support Ellen.

In the final week before the race, I played 12-13 minutes in a basketball game and ran Wednesday-Saturday for a total of about 14.5 miles. The pain mostly radiated to my quads and hamstrings, but I felt like I might be able to do this despite the minimal training.

Race Day

Race day came around and I knew I’d have to temper my expectations. In July, I completed a 10K in 39:10 (6:19 mile pace), so I was hoping to step up to the 15K and maintain a pace somewhere in the 6:25-6:30 mile range. My goal was honestly to just be able to finish it.

Before the race, I was extremely nervous because I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it. I was stretching, but that only seemed to make my knee more purple and swollen. Additionally, it was a hot morning and I knew I’d have to stay hydrated.

The Peak Sports Club in Loves Park is a humongous, state-of-the-art facility on the inside and out. The race volunteers were holding maps before the race so we could be clear on the course route.

I was really encouraged by the PEAK staff on Twitter, constantly checking in on me and encouraging me. Ellen and I also had support at the race, as Mr. and Mrs. Larson would be watching.

The gist of the course was basically two big loops through a neighborhood and around the peak totaling about 5.4 miles, followed by a half loop or so, then going out on the Perryville path about 1.5 miles and making your way back  and to the finish line.

Moments before the start of the race, I went into a mini panic and thought I was going to pull out of the race. My knee just didn’t feel right. However, I asked the Lord to help me through this, and off we went.

The first two miles or so were through residential areas. As much as I wanted to be up with the lead pack, I knew there was no way my knee would allow it. I decided to settle in to a group that was well behind the lead pack and just run my own race.

Once I came out of the residential area, we made a loop around Peak and back towards where we started, so in total we had gone about 2.7 miles (in about 20 minutes). I normally am not one to grab water much during my races, but I knew with the humidity I’d have to. Ellen’s parents were very supportive the first time they saw me, with Mrs. Larson cheering me on and Mr. Larson asking how I was doing. I went back into the neighborhood for a second loop and felt o.k. during it. I knew I was more than half way done with the race after completing the second loop.

Instead of going back into the neighborhood, we made a half loop around Peak and headed to the Perryville path for the last portion of the race. I settled into the final portion of the race running alongside a guy who looked a few years older than me. For most of the race, he had been near or just ahead of me, so I thought he’d be a good guy to run by.

I saw Ellen for the first time as I made my way back to Peak. She was on her way out on the path and looked happy as ever. It always amazes me how she can be supportive, encouraging and have such a big smile when in the middle of a long, strenuous race.

Over the final half mile or so of the race, I felt a tingling sensation in my bad knee and couldn’t push the pace to finish the way I wanted to. The guy who I ran by ended up beating me by 15-20 seconds, but I wasn’t bitter in any way because he was ahead of me and helped me keep pace throughout the race.

I finished in 1:07:17.32 (7:13 mile pace), good for ninth place out of 56 total runners. I was just thrilled to be able to finish and have the support of the Larsons as I crossed the finish line. I am thankful to the Lord that I was able to complete this race.

I talked to the guy who I ran by for most of the race and found out his name is Greg Karlovits from Bettendorf, IA. A race junkie himself, it was cool to connect with someone and talk about the races we’ve ran this year.

In “something I would do” fashion, I became friends with him on the social media airwaves and we still talk about running races to this day. That’s what these races can do – bring total strangers into community with each other through a sick enjoyment of running 9.3 miles in late August morning heat.

I drank several bottles of water as I waited for Ellen to cross the finish line. I was expecting  to see her around the 1 ½ hr mark, but she came to the finish line in 1:25:05.26, good for 26th place overall and the ninth female to finish. She didn’t have to stop once to walk and did a great job!

Overall, this event was very well-run and had a good turnout. There is more potential for growth with it, too, because it is truly for a great cause.

Final Remarks
Race director Will Pedersen followed up with all race participants in an email on Sept. 5 and already laid out nine changes they’ll make for the race for next year. It’s awesome to have a race director who cares about what the participants think and values their input.

Here is a link to win the pictures from the race:

I am looking forward to running in this race again next year!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dabrowski Selected to Illinois Valley All-Tournament Team

Volleyball: Veronica Dabrowski 2013
Veronica Dabrowski was named to the Illinois Valley All-Tournament team. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – Harper volleyball's Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) was selected to the Illinois Valley All-Tournament team for her performance over the weekend.

Dabrowski's versatility was on display throughout the weekend for the Hawks, as she totaled 41 kills (3.42/game), 13.5 blocks, 18 digs, and was 35-for-36 serving in three matches. She notched a career-high 22 kills in the final match of the weekend, a four-set victory over Elgin Community College.

"She hits very hard, is difficult to defend, and looks very flashy along the way," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet. "She is also versatile, played good defense, and passed serves well. Clearly, she caught the eye of the opposing coaches we played against."

Dabrowski is currently fourth in the nation in total kills with 167 kills (2.61/game).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hawks Fall to Waubonsee and Joliet, Top ECC at Illinois Valley

Volleyball: Veronica Dabrowski 2013
Veronica Dabrowski had a season-high 22 kills in the win over ECC. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score 1 | Box Score 2 | Box Score 3

OGLESBY, Ill. –The Harper College volleyball team fell to Joliet Junior College and Waubonsee Community College on Saturday before rebounding to pick up a victory over Elgin Community College and finish the day with a 1-2 record at the Illinois Valley Invitational.

On Saturday morning, the Hawks (10-10) edged Waubonsee in a tight first game but dropped the next three to the Chiefs (25-23, 22-25, 18-25, 20-25). Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) led the Harper attack with a team-high 11 kills and added six blocks, while Rebekah Hischke (Algonquin, Ill./Dundee Crown) smashed 10 kills for the Hawks.

 Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) played a solid all-around match as she handed 26 assists to go with seven digs and a perfect 23-for-23 serving match with two aces. Libero Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) kept several points alive and finished the match with 23 digs.

"We have to run and execute our plays and be more precise in our set locations," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet. "Although improved, we are still inconsistent. Waubonsee has turned into an elite team this past year."

For a second time this year, the Hawks fell in four sets to Joliet Junior College (22-25, 25-18, 26-28, 22-25) in a match they were outscored by a total of one point. Hischke (15 kills, 10 digs) and Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) (12 kills, 14 digs) each recorded double-doubles in the defeat. Dabrowski was once again a disruptive force around the net, totaling six blocks for a second straight match.

Murphy once again guided the offense with 30 assists, and Spychala led the Harper defense with 25 digs.

"We will continue to focus on our consistency," Vilsoet said. "Joliet played with more passion than we did this time around, but when we will play well, we can be very good."

In the final match of the weekend, the Hawks bounced back and defeated Elgin Community College 3-1 (25-13, 25-18, 20-25, 25-9). Dabrowski could not be defended, as she put down a season-high 22 kills to go with 11 digs. 

Murphy directed the offense with 31 assists, and Morgan Peterson (Roselle, Ill./Conant ) led the Harper defense with 12 digs. Murphy and Claire Fluegel (West Dundee, Ill./Elgin Academy) served up seven combined aces against the Spartans.

"This was a fun match. Consistency dogged us again when we lost game three. But clearly, as the score indicates, we played well again in game four."

The Hawks welcome N4C opponent Milwaukee Area Technical College to Palatine on Tuesday night. First serve is scheduled for 6:00 PM in the gym of the Wellness & Sports Center (Building M).

Harper Men Place Second Among JC's at Illinois Intercollegiate

Men's Cross Country: Juan Barajas 2013
Juan Barajas ran another great race, placing 65th in a time of 26:37.7. (Jim Cummins)

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The Harper men's cross country team placed 11th out of 18 teams at the Illinois Intercollegiate Cross Country Championships, hosted by Olivet Nazarene University, on Friday. The Hawks finished second among junior colleges with 320 points, behind only tenth place Morton College (303 points).

Juan Barajas (/Schaumburg) once again led the Hawks, finishing in 65th place in 26:37.7, improving upon his 26:45 time at Aurora. Nick Modlin (Wheeling, Ill./Wheeling) finished in 91st place with a time of 27:19.1, and he was followed by Zach Stella (/Palatine), who took 93rd place in 27:23.7.

Jhoan Lino (León, Guanajuato/Streamwood) came in as Harper's fourth runner, taking 115th place in a time of 28:22.2. Vince Greco (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) rounded out the scoring as he placed 125th with a time of 28:40.5.

"Juan ran really well for the second consecutive week," said head coach Jim Macnider. "I thought the men ran pretty well as a team. We just need to close the gap between our top 3 and our 4th and 5th runners. If we do that, we will be able to finish ahead of Morton."

Host Olivet Nazarene University captured the team title (52 points) as their top five runners placed in the top 14. Lewis University (79 points) and North Central College (80 points) rounded out the top three.

The Hawks do not race this upcoming weekend but will continue training in preparation for the College of DuPage Invite on Friday, Sept. 27.

Harper Women Run at Illinois Intercollegiate

Women's Cross Country: Marisa Andreuccetti 2013
Marisa Andreuccetti led the Hawks with a 114th place finish in a time of 22:14. (Jim Cummins)

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The Harper women's cross country had three runners compete at the Illinois Intercollegiate Cross Country Championships over the weekend. The meet was hosted by Olivet Nazarene University and featured 15 full teams and five teams with less than five runners.

Marisa Andreuccetti (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Conant) led the Hawks again, finishing in 114th place with a time of 22:14 in the 5K race.

Gabby Beaupre (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) crossed the finish line if 26:52.3, good for 161st place. Gabrielle Brosnan (Mount Prospect/Christian Liberty) placed 164th with a time of 31:31.5 for the Hawks.

The University of Chicago had five runners in the top 20 and captured the team title with 48 points. Second place Lewis University also had 48 points, but the University of Chicago's sixth runner placed higher (22nd) than Lewis' sixth runner (27th). Host Olivet Nazarene rounded out the top three with 69 points. Danville Area Community College was the top junior college, coming in ninth place with 299 points.

The Hawks do not race this upcoming weekend but will continue training in preparation for the College of DuPage Invite on Friday, Sept. 27.

Four Hawks Double-Double in Win over COD

Volleyball: Alex Messner 2013
Alex Messner had a double-double (15 kills, 15 digs) to go with seven service aces. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score

PALATINE, Ill. – Four Harper volleyball players recorded double-doubles to lead the Hawks to a four-set victory (25-19, 25-12, 25-27, 25-17) over visiting College of DuPage in front of a large home crowd Thursday night.

The Hawks (9-8, 2-2 N4C) were led by outside hitter Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd), who was 26-for-28 hitting with 15 kills to go along with 15 digs, while hitter Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) totaled 14 kills and 12 digs. Messner also had her jump serve working as she recorded seven service aces.

Setters Valerie Bazemore (Houston, Tex./Keller) and Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South)each recorded doubles-doubles, as Bazemore had a team-high 26 assists to go with 12 digs and Murphy had 19 assists and 12 digs.

 "We passed serves well, hit well, served well, blocked better than we normally do, had 96 digs which is a respectable 24 per set and we had a lot of assists," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet. "COD played well against us and put up a very competitive match."

Up next, Harper plays at the Illinois Valley Invitational in Oglesby, Ill. on Saturday. The schedule goes as follows:

11:00 AM-Harper vs. Waubonsee
1:00 PM-Harper vs. Joliet
3:00 PM-Harper vs. TBD

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hawks Beat Milwaukee 6-1 for First Victory of Season

Men's Soccer: Luis Vargas 2013
Luis Vargas had three assists against Milwaukee. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score
PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College men's soccer team earned an emphatic 6-1 victory over visiting Milwaukee Area Technical College on Wednesday to pick up their first win of the season.

The Hawks (1-4, 1-3 N4C) struck early and often against the Stormers, as Andy Carrillo (Hanover Park, Ill./Schaumburg) got the scoring started in the 13th minute on a feed from Luis Vargas (Palatine, Ill./Palatine). Four minutes later, Vargas found Kevin Engrebrtsen for his second goal of the season that put Harper ahead 2-0.

Milwaukee answered with a goal of their own in the 20th minute to cut the Harper lead to 2-1, but the Hawks answered back in the 23rd minute with a goal from Aldo Figueroa (Wheeling, Ill./Buffalo Grove) on a pass from Daniel Swiderski (Chicago, Ill./American School)

Three minutes later, Ryan Murphy (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) gave the Hawks a 4-1 cushion with an unassisted goal, his fourth goal of the season.

In the second half, Dionissios Chronopoulos (Des Plaines, Ill./Maine West) took over for Sean Cox (Schaumburg, Ill./Conant) in goal and made two saves. Harper continued applying pressure to Milwaukee throughout the second half, as they recorded 14 shots on goal in the game to just three for Milwaukee.

In the 74th minute, Aton Chabo found Rosario Militello (/Jacobs) for his first goal of the season. Six minutes later, Julio Bravo (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates) scored his first goal of the year on a beautiful feed from Vargas, whose beautiful pass was his third assist of the contest.

Up next, the Hawks look to avenge an early season loss as they travel to Joliet on Sept. 20 to take on Joliet Junior College.