Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Journey to the 2015 Chicago Marathon

When I first signed up for the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, I was beyond excited. In 2014, I had an opportunity to witness the race in person for the first time. For years growing up, I’d always roll out of bed, groggy-eyed on a Sunday morning on the second weekend of October and see my dad watching the Chicago Marathon. This was well before I started running, which was less than three years ago.

Something about the event captivated me even before I ran or really knew the magnitude of what it was. Watching some of the best distance runners and 40,000 other people run 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago with 1.7 million spectators cheering them on seemed so cool. Seeing these runners cruise by major landmarks as well as the neighborhoods such as Chinatown was a sight to behold.

In 2014, I stayed at my friend Keith’s place in the South Loop the Saturday night before the marathon. I woke up early on marathon morning to head out to the race and watch it. At the time, I had one marathon under my belt and was planning on doing at least one in 2015.

Keith and I made our way to the corner of State and LaSalle, and it was already packed by the time we got there.  Before we knew it, the top elite runners came by and were gone before we knew it. After that, the semi-elite runners came through, followed by a herd of 40,000 runners came stampeding by. I had never seen anything like this in person.

Watching 40,000 runners, all on a mission to cover the 26.2 miles, storm through the streets of Chicago was an amazing experience. Factor in being cheered on by 1.7 million spectators, and I knew this was something I wanted to do again. Keith and I moved to the 13-mile mark to catch the elites and a good chunk of the runners come through again and head west. Runners still looked good at this point, but their journey was only about half done.

Finally, we went over to right around the 26-mile mark. Seeing runners nearing the finish line of an exhausting journey was pretty cool, too.  From that point on, I knew I had to do the 2015 Chicago Marathon.

Fast forward to this year, 2015. I submitted my application back in late winter and was accepted into the Chicago Marathon. I was excited to get all registered and get ready for it in the summer months, but I was also in the middle of training for my second marathon, the Wisconsin Marathon, in early May.

Around the same time, I was offered a position to be the Social Media Manager for Chicago Athlete Magazine. It has been such a blessing to work for the magazine these last several months. I love doing social media for the magazine and being out at races on weekends to take pictures. I particularly enjoy the thrill of covering a triathlon and just seeing people go after their goals. It’s really inspiring.

I ran the Wisconsin Marathon, and I struggled through it to say the least. Once I got around mile 16 or so, I knew my body wasn’t exactly cooperating. By mile 18, I had a cramp in my hamstring that forced me to stop and stretch it. I knew then that my dreams of hitting my goal were over as the cramps spread to the rest of my body.

I was blessed to have two Dick Pond Fast Track teammates by my side that day. First, Joe Vukits got my started off on the right foot for the first 10K. We went out nice and easy, then he unleashed me and let me run. The support and encouragement Joe provided leading up to the marathon was huge, too.

Mark Przybyla is an incredible teammate, and he was standing out on a desolate gravel road around mile 15.5, waiting for me to come so he could run me in the rest of the way. While the cramps from an unusually warm day did me in, Mark was there to support me through it all. We had great conversation throughout, and in the last mile, him and Paul Harris ran me in. Also, Fast Trackers greeted me at the finish line with a medal.

I also have to mention my three friends from Harvest, Sarah, Liz, and Kristi, who came up there to cheer me on. I saw them for the first time at Mile 9, and they drove around in their car for the entire second half of the race even though I was in a lot of discomfort and struggling. Their support was incredible.

I cannot tell you enough how much it meant to have my Fast Track teammates as well as my family and friends there with me. None of them had to get up at insanely early time to come run with me or support me, but they did.

Then began my journey to the Chicago Marathon. It started off with a little bit of rest (not as much as I truly needed) followed by running an 8K 13 days after my marathon and the Soldier Field 10 Mile three weeks after Wisconsin. I probably shouldn’t have ran these races, but running the 8K in my neighborhood and a race that finished on the 50-yard line of Soldier Field were both pretty neat experiences.

In the early parts of the summer, I entered a drawing to win a free, customized training plan from Full Potential Running and coach Eric Wallor. I consider Eric a friend and have bounced ideas off him in the past, but when my name was pulled as one of two winners of the training plan, I was thrilled.
Eric is an extremely kind guy and also extremely knowledgeable (not to mention talented) when it comes to running. I battled some hip pain/knee issues in mid-June, but we slowly began to get after the training plan he had for me.

There were some hard weeks, but I was committed to the plan. I do not run well in the summer, and training for a marathon in the summer was just further proof to me. In addition to that, something just didn’t feel right with my body. My legs ached consistently.

Despite a few brutal long runs where I pretty much got sick, I longed for the marathon and the second Sunday in October where everything, Lord-willing, would fall into place. The thought of 45,000 runners and 1.7 million spectators excites me.

The leg pain continued. At that point, I went into a major physical and mental funk. I was no longer motivated to pound the pavement for any reason. I dreaded runs rather than looked forward to them. I didn’t see how I was getting better. I wasn’t motivated at all.

I wanted to know what was wrong with my body, in particular my lower left leg/shin area. While the heat and humidity were definitely a cause for slower splits and rougher runs, I knew there was something else that was wrong.

Over Labor Day weekend, I went up to Camp Harvest for a 20s Ministry Retreat. The Lord really spoke to me about running and that it shouldn’t be an idol in my life. It’s not wrong to enjoy and love to run, but I had been putting way too much stock in it and became even more frustrated when I didn’t feel fully healthy. I knew that the Lord wanted me to be living for Him first rather than just worrying about this upcoming marathon.

The last 3-4 weeks, I’ve experienced some victories and some more frustrations. In terms of victories, Eric invited me out the Illinois Prairie Path in Elmhurst, a hidden gem of a path/trail, for a Sunday morning run. Not only did I enjoy the views, but I also had a good run with little pain for a change. I was able to run fast and simply enjoy running again.

I recently got a massage and two days later completed my final long run of 18 miles.

While I do not know how my body will hold up in ten days, I know some things for certain. I plan to enjoy this first Chicago Marathon experience to the fullest, regardless of how my body performs. I am extremely grateful for my family, friends, and teammates who will be cheering me on downtown on Sunday, October 11. Finally, I plan to run this race to honor my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is to him that I owe the ability to run and be able to do this.

This brings me to the final reason I am running this race. My first marathon, the Wisconsin Marathon in 2014, I was able to raise funds to help support the rebuilding effort of Washington, Illinois, a town devastated by a huge tornado in November of 2013.

While I know I am way behind in the fundraising game and most charities for the marathon have already finished their fundraising campaigns, I still have the desire to bless people in any way I can. This is why I will now begin raising money for Breakthrough Urban Ministries in Chicago.
Breakthrough partners with those affected by poverty to build connections, develop skills and open doors of opportunity.  The ministry is located is Chicago’s East Garfield Park, a rough area of the city with very high poverty and very low opportunity. The ministry is about “restoring the broken networks of youth and families and empowering adults in the community to achieve self-sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty.”

The great part about this ministry is that God is at the core of it. I personally have had an opportunity to work with Breakthrough. Late in 2014 and early in 2015, I had the chance to lead groups of high school students from my church, Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, down to the men’s and women’s homeless shelters on Sundays. We bought groceries/fixings for a meal before we left for the city, got there and prepared a meal, and served the meal to the men and women.

It was an amazing opportunity to serve a meal to these men and women and sit down and have conversations with them. I was blessed to be able to serve in this capacity and hope to get back to Breakthrough in the near future.

With your financial support, we can bless those who need it immensely at Breakthrough. Please consider donating to this cause and praying for the lives it will touch.  I will keep this initiative going for as long as needed in order to get the funding where it needs to go.

If you are interested in donating to this cause, please call, text, or Facebook message me about how you can do so.

I am really excited for the Chicago Marathon! It’s the month of October already, and the race is nearly here. The race weekend festivities are going to be incredible. I cannot wait to run through the streets of Chicago to 1.7 million cheering spectators and have the support of my family, friends, and Fast Track teammates. 

Everybody has a story and journey of how they make it to the starting line of the Chicago Marathon. Mine's little messy and has been difficult, but I am going to do it. Not for my own glory. For the glory of God. For Breakthrough. For family, friends, and teammates.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

God Bless,


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Chaires Chooses Biola University

PALATINE, Ill. – Harper cross country and track and field athlete Stephanie Chaires (Palatine, Ill./Christian Liberty) nearly gave up running due to a frustrating injury that wouldn't seem to go away. However, coach Jim Macnider encouraged Chaires to continue rehabbing because he saw the potential in her.

He saw potential in her to not only be a great Harper Hawk athlete, but to be good enough to get a college scholarship after Harper. Chaires finally got healthy and developed into an even better runner in her sophomore season, and because of that she will now run for Biola University in La Mirada, California.

Women's Cross  Country and Track and Field: Stephanie Chaires Biola University Signing 2015
Chaires will continue her collegiate running career at Biola University in La Mirada, California.
Biola University is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and a member of the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC). Chaires was drawn to the school for a variety of reasons.

"I heard it was a good school, so I reached out to the school and everything just fell in place," Chaires said. "I love how the school will encourage me to grow in my faith, how committed the track and field and cross country programs are, and how challenging the academics seem."

Chaires graduated from Harper with an Associate in Arts degree and will major in business with concentration on management and marketing at Biola. She plans on using that degree to either start a business, work in a health/wellness related job, or work with kids.

Chaires' list of accomplishments in her time at Harper College is a lengthy one, starting on the academics side. Chaires received an NJCAA Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement, an award given to student-athletes who have a GPA between 3.60-3.79 on a 4.00 scale. She was also an N4C Academic All-Conference student-athlete in both her years at Harper.

Athletically, she finished her Hawks track and field career this May with a strong showing at the 2015 NJCAA Division III Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championship. She placed fourth in the nation in the 1500m and fifth in the 5k and also helped the 4x400m relay team finish in fourth.

In the fall, Chaires placed 16th at the 2014 DIII Cross Country National Championships and her team took second place, best in school history. She gives credit for her success to the tandem of Macnider and assistant coach Eric Wallor.

"They were the two coaches that saw potential in me and pushed me to what I didn't think I was capable of doing," she said. "I'm blessed to have them."

Things seemed bleak last spring as Chaires sat out the entire season due to a foot injury she sustained back in the summer of 2013. She placed 23rd at the 2013 DIII Cross Country National Championships despite battling injury.

Prior to the injury, Chaires was a big part of the Hawks track and field team's success in the spring of 2013. She was a member of the 4x800m relay team that took home a national title, was a member of a fifth place 4x400m relay team, and took fourth individually in the 1500m.

Before her running career at Harper started, Chaires was a First Team All-Region midfielder for the Hawks' soccer team in 2012 and helped the team win a regional title and place sixth in the nation.
Reminiscing on her time at Harper, Chaires is grateful for her entire experience.

"I'm grateful for all my business teachers and my classes. I feel prepared academically because of the great teachers I had. Their goal is to help you succeed," she said. I don't feel anxious and feel completely prepared going into the (cross country) season, and I will most definitely miss all the amazing people and friends I have made along the way."

Opening Ceremony Set for August 24

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College athletic department will be hosting an opening ceremony for student-athletes to kick off the 2015-2016 school year on Thursday, Aug. 24.

The event will be held in the gymnasium in the Wellness & Sports Center (Building M) and is open to all students. The ceremony begins at 3 PM and will feature an introduction by Director of Athletics and Fitness Doug Spiwak. This year's featured keynote speaker is former Harper cross country and track and field athlete David Adler.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: David Adler 2014

Adler, who was featured in last summer's Harper College Alumni Spotlight series, competed for the Hawks in 1973 and 1974. After graduating from Harper, he received an athletic scholarship to Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and ran cross country for the school.

Following his time at Northeastern, he spent 14 years in the hotel business in food service and served two presidents as well as a number of famous athletes. He currently works as a GM in the food service industry in Phoenix, Arizona and also stays active in the sport of running to this day.

Men’s Soccer Tryouts Being Held August 3-7

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College men's soccer team is holding tryouts beginning  Monday, August 3 for those interested in playing for the fall 2015 team.

Here are the tryout dates/times:

Monday, August 310 AM-12 PM
Tuesday, August 410 AM-12 PM
Wednesday, August 510 AM-12 PM
Thursday, August 610 AM-12 PM
Friday, August 710 AM-12 PM

After the tryout on Friday, August 7, the team will likely be finalized.

All interested student-athletes will need a current physical and must have it completed prior to tryouts. The paperwork can be picked up in the Athletics office in M Building (M219) or found here: Athletic Physical Packet Student Checklists. Interested student-athletes can also fill out the Prospective Athlete Form.

Men's Soccer: Juan Hernandez 2014
The Harper College men's soccer team will hold tryouts beginning Monday, August 3. (Jim Cummins)
Please contact head coach Dan Klaus ( or 847-925-6467) for more information.

The Hawks finished with an 8-6-2 record in 2014 in Klaus' first year as the head coach. Harper finished as the runner-up to Rock Valley College in the Region IV Tournament. This year, the Hawks open regular season play on Tuesday, August 25 at College of DuPage.

Chaires, Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Honored by NJCAA

PALATINE, Ill. – Harper women's cross country and track and field student-athlete Stephanie Chaires (Palatine, Ill./Christian Liberty) and the Harper College women's outdoor track and field team received honors for their academic success during the 2014-2015 school year.

Women's Track and Field: Team Photo 2015
Chaires (bottom row, middle) and the Harper College women's outdoor track and field team received honors for their 2014-2015 academic success. (Jim Cummins)
Chaires received an NJCAA Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement. This award is given to student-athletes who have a GPA between 3.60-3.79 on a 4.00 scale.

The women's outdoor track and field team earned NJCAA 2014-2015 All-Academic Team Distinction for maintaining a team GPA above 3.0.

Women’s Soccer Practices Start August 3

PALATINE, Ill. – For those interested in playing on the fall 2015 Harper College women's soccer team, the team will begin practicing on Monday, August 3 at 2 PM.

Women's Soccer: Kristen Serviss 2014
The Harper College women's soccer team starts practicing Monday, August 3. (Jim Cummins)
All-interested student-athletes will need a current physical and must have it completed prior to practicing. The paperwork can be picked up in the Athletics office in M Building (M219) or found here: Athletic Physical Packet Student Checklists Interested student-athletes can also fill out the Prospective Athlete Form

Please contact head coach Dwayne Cruz ( or 224-381-2832) for more information.

Women’s Basketball Signs Five Incoming Players, Six Returners

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College women's basketball program bolstered its team for the 2015-16 season by signing a five-player recruiting class. Additionally, the Hawks had six returning players who signed their NJCAA Letters of Intent to play another season for Harper.  

The incoming group of players who signed their Letters of Intent includes: Mary Saitta (Hoffman Estates), Jaclyn Stroud (Ridgewood), Ayana Johnson (Normal Community ), Sarah Lucansky (Jacobs), and Jasmine Munoz (Dundee-Crown).

Women's Basketball: Recruit Signings 2015
The Harper College women's basketball team signed a five-player recruiting class and had six returners sign to play another season for the Hawks. (Bill Smith)
Saitta was a three-year letter winner in basketball and played for coach Mike Koester. She captained the team in 2014 and 2015 and earned Daily Herald All-Area Honorable Mention. Finally, she has ability as an outside shooter, as she competed in the 3-point contest at the regional and sectional level in 2013 and 2014. Saitta also competed in track and field for two years and was a sectional medalist.

Stroud brings a wealth of high school experience to the table. She was a four-year letter winner for the Rebels under coach Amanda Timothy. She also earned All-Conference honors twice, and her team won the regional crown in 2012. Additionally, she was voted Team MVP all four years and holds school records for most points in a game, most points in a season, and most 3-pointers. Stroud also played softball for a year at Ridgewood.

Johnson comes from a Normal Community program coached by Marcus Mann. In her time with the Ironmen, Johnson earned a Scholar Athlete and Sportsmanship Award.

Lucansky was a four-year letter winner for the Eagles who played for coach Joe Benoit, and she won a Sportsmanship Award. Lucansky also competed for the Jacobs track and field and tennis teams.

Munoz played for the Cougars and won a Sportsmanship Award. She also competed on the track and field team.

The six returning players who signed their Letters of Intent include: Kim Herzog (/Buffalo Grove), Ashonte Sims (/Normal Community West), Lane Winkler (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows), Nastia Solsaa (/Menomonie ), Sarah Nelson (/Warren Township ), and Shannon Koch (/Prospect).

Herzog ran the point guard position for Harper during the 2014-15 season and started 28 games. The 5-foot-3 guard was second on the team in scoring at 9.8 points per game (PPG) while averaging 4.0 rebounds per game (RPG) and 4.0 assists per game (APG). Herzog scored a season-high 27 points in a home contest against Wilbur Wright College.

Sims played in all 29 games for the Hawks as a freshman and made 28 starts.  The 5-foot-8 forward averaged 9.0 PPG and 6.2 RPG while logging 37.7 minutes per game.  Sims notched a season-high 18 points at Oakton Community College and reached double figures scoring 13 times.

Winkler was a staple in the Hawks' lineup, starting all 29 games for the team. The 5-foot-6 guard averaged 7.2 PPG and 7.1 RPG (second on team) in 38.5 minutes per game and scored a season-high 18 points in a win over College of DuPage. She also led the team in 3-pointers made with 43.

Solsaa started nine games for the Hawks before an injury ended her season. The 5-foot-3 guard averaged 9.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 3.3 APG in those contests and scored a season-high 14 points two times.

Nelson began playing for Harper at the beginning of the spring semester and appeared in 15 games, making 14 starts. The 5-foot-4 guard averaged 4.1 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 37.1 minutes per game. She scored a season-high 12 points and hit four 3-pointers at Wilbur Wright College.

Koch played in 27 games for the Hawks, making nine starts. The 5-foot-5 guard made her biggest contributions on the defensive end throughout the season while logging 19.5 minutes a game.

Majerus and Arriaga Continue Journey to Judson

PALATINE, Ill. – Harper cross country and track and field athletes John Majerus (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) and Jordy Arriaga (Wheeling, Ill./Wheeling) formed a close bond during the 2015 track and field season. The two sophomores ran the same events and produced very similar results throughout the season.

The two will continue their athletic careers together, as they both recently committed to Judson University in Elgin.

Judson University is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and a member of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC).

Men's Track and Field: John Majerus and Jordy Arriaga 2015
Majerus (left) and Arriaga (right) will both continue their collegiate careers at Judson University in Elgin. (Photo Courtesy of Digital Sports Photography, Herkimer, NY)
Both Majerus and Arriaga are two-time national champions in cross country as they were a part of the 2013 and 2014 NJCAA DIII Men's Cross Country National Championship teams. In 2014, Majerus earned All-American honors at the national meet with a ninth place finish. He credits Harper coaches Jim Macnider and Eric Wallor for knocking 4 ½ minutes off his 8K time in just one year. His respect for them goes much deeper than improved times.

"Basically everything I've done in running, I can attribute to Coach Macnider and Coach Wallor," Majerus said. "I came from playing different sports in high school. They welcomed me in with no experience, found out that I had potential, and worked with me to reach that potential."

After the back-to-back championships in cross country, Majerus and Arriaga trained and competed against each other this spring on the track. The two ran the same events (800m, 1500m, 4x800m) and gave the Hawks a major boost at the 2015 NJCAA Division III Men's Outdoor Track & Field Championship for a Hawks team that took second place.

They each ran a leg of the 4x800m relay and helped the Hawks to a third place finish and six valuable points. At 1500 meters, Majerus placed fifth in the nation while Arriaga took sixth place to earn a combined seven points. Finally, at 800 meters, Arriaga captured seventh place, and his teammate was right behind in eighth place. Harper scored 98 points in the meet and edged Montgomery College (91 points) for runner-up honors.

"Going with Jordy (to Judson) is something I'm really excited about, too," Majerus said. "He became like a brother this season."

Majerus and Arriaga will be joining former Harper standout runner Nick Modlin (Wheeling, Ill./Wheeling), who committed to Judson just over a year ago. Majerus enjoyed his visit to Judson and says the team seems like it'll be a good team to run with. He also pointed to the fact that Judson provides very specific guidance with internship placement as a key factor in his decision to attend the school.  

Majerus graduated from Harper as a N4C Academic All-Conference student-athlete for two years with a 3.39 GPA and an Associate in Arts degree and Associate in Science degree. He plans on majoring in accounting at Judson (JU).

Arriaga, who plans on majoring in biochemistry at JU and wants to get into physical therapy, was also drawn to the school initially after talking to Modlin in the fall of 2014.

"After half way into the spring semester, Judson started to become a really affordable option for me with a great, strong, and young team of runners who are passionate about running," he said.

Much like Majerus, Arriaga touted the Harper coaching staff and how instrumental to his experience they were.
"Coaching at Harper was an amazing experience that revived my running spirit long gone after my high school years," Arriaga said.

He also credits Macnider and Wallor for getting him interested in physical therapy because it involves exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Arriaga also hopes to become an assistant coach at the university level during his grad school years.

Arriaga is grateful for his experiences at Harper and optimistic about his future at Judson.

"I will definitely miss the people and the cross country and track and field environment I experienced during my time there, which was also the part I enjoyed the most, especially when people supported me no matter what," he said. "I'm very excited to meet new people and make new bonds just like at Harper. I'm excited to put myself to the test and see how I fair at the NAIA level."

Alumni Open House Set for June 25

PALATINE, Ill. – The Office of Alumni Relations is hosting an Alumni Open House for Alumni of Harper College on Thursday, June 25. This event will feature time to reconnect with fellow alumni and favorite faculty members, complimentary refreshments in the alumni event, tours of new areas of the campus, and the 44th Annual Dinner and Jazz Concert.

Men's Basketball: Alumni Event Group Photo (2) 2015
The Office of Alumni Relations is hosting an Alumni Open House for Alumni of Harper College on Thursday, June 25. (Rich Malec)
The schedule of events on that day will go as follows:
  • 4 - 6 p.m. Alumni Open House
    • Refreshments and alumni give-aways in the alumni tent
    • Campus tours
  • 6 p.m. BBQ Dinner
  • 6:30 - 8 p.m. Concert
The event will be held on the lawn adjacent to the Reflecting Pond located between Buildings J, X, I, and H. 

The Alumni Open House and Concert are free while the cost of the BBQ buffet dinner is $12 for general admission and $6 for children ages 12 and under. To purchase a BBQ meal ticket, please call the Harper College Box Office at 847.925.6100.

To register for the Alumni Open house, click here. Please register for the Alumni Open House by June 18. 

If there is inclement weather, the event will be held in Building A, Student Center Lounge, A236. Parking is available in Lots 12, 13, and 14.

Fall 2015 Baseball Information

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College baseball team has announced that there will be an mandatory meeting on Monday, August 24, for those interested in trying out for the Harper College Baseball team.

The meeting will be in Room E107 and begin at 4:00 PM. All interested student-athletes will need a current physical and must have it completed prior to the meeting.  That paperwork can be picked up in the Athletics office in M Building (M219) or found here: Athletic Physical Packet  Student Checklists

Baseball: Nick Leone 2015
The baseball team will hold a meeting on Monday, August 24 for those interested in trying out for the team. (Jim Cummins)
Please contact head coach Cliff Brown ( or 847-925-6485) for more information.

Those interested in playing for the 2015-2016 team are encouraged to enroll in KIN-210 Teaching Methods: Baseball (Fall 2015: Tuesday/Thursday 2:00 PM – 3:45 PM). Participation in the course does not guarantee a position nor is it required to be on the spring 2016 team, but it is recommended that you participate if you are planning to try out for the team.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Week 6: Team 4 Gets Past Undermanned Team 6

Team 6             66
Team 4             74    6-0

Going up against a solid squad captained by Steve Carter and Jeff Huang, we knew we’d be in for a battle. With some solid shooters and strong big men, including 7-footer Jonathan Pratscher, we would be in for a challenge. However, Pratscher missed the game with a back injury, and our opponents only had five players for this 7:30 AM tilt, our first of the season.

The last two years, we’ve been accustomed to playing shorthanded, but today we had seven guys. We came out hot, knocking down shots and building up a big lead early.

However, as has become a bit of a pattern this season, we let our opponents creep back into the game. Their point guard Fidel probably played his best game of the season. Not only was he knocking down 3’s, but he was also completing some crazy finishes at the hoop. After a huge lead early, the game was about even at halftime. 

In the second half, we played better and eventually pulled away for the victory. Our opponents were forced to play with four players for the last three minutes after Steve Carter out (which we weren’t sure if he really had five fouls). Even though they only had four, they kept it interesting and even cut the deficit to five in the final minute. But it wasn’t enough as we hung on for a 74-66 win. 

We had a good devotional titled “Why Does God Want Our Worship?”, a great reminder that there are many ways to worship the Lord. It’s also amazing how God doesn’t need our worship, but he takes delight in our worship of him. We also talked about why it’s important to intentionally prepare for worship and to be worshiping the Lord at times other than in church.

The allure of the smell of bacon was too much for Billy, Brian, and Vince as they decided to hit up the Men’s Breakfast in the Cornerstone CafĂ©. It was a good time of excellent food (eggs, bacon, sausage, doughnuts, etc-THE WORKS!), worship, and a panel discussion about issues facing men today.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hawks Post 3-3 Record at N4C Softball Dome Jamboree

N4C Softball Dome Jamboree Results

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Harper College softball team started its season over the weekend at the N4C Softball Dome Jamboree in Rosemont. The Hawks posted a 3-3 record and 3-2 record in conference play in the games played at The Dome at the Ballpark.

Softball: Sam Cummings 2014
The Hawks posted a 3-3 record at the N4C Softball Dome Jamboree. (Jim Cummins)
Game 1 (Friday, 12 PM)-Waubonsee Commmunity College 13, Harper College 4

In the season opener, the Hawks led 4-1 after two innings but could not hold the lead. The Chiefs scored twice in the fourth and once in the sixth inning to tie the game at 4-4. In the seventh inning, the Waubonsee offense exploded for nine runs to pull out a 13-4 victory.

Sara Markelonis (Cary, Ill./Cary-Grove) and Raegan Fingerman (Fox River Grove, Ill./Barrington) each had two hits and an RBI for the Hawks.

Game 2 (Friday, 7:30 PM)-Harper College 6, Triton College 3

Freshman pitcher Olivia Hamilton (Homewood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) turned in an excellent performance inside the circle to lead the Hawks to their first victory of the year. Hamilton scattered six hits, allowed zero earned runs, and struck out three in a complete game.  She also went 2-for-4 with a run scored.  Harper took advantage of five Triton errors and took the lead for good with a three-run fifth inning.

Game 3 (Saturday, 9 AM)-Madison College 10, Harper College 2 

After a promising start to the game against Madison on Saturday morning, the Hawks struggled to contain the WolfPack offense. Harper led 2-0 after 1 ½ innings, but Madison put up three runs in the second, four in the third, and three in the sixth to get the victory.

Markelonis, Hamilton, and Sam Cummings (Roselle, Ill./Lake Park) each had two hits in the loss.

Game 4 (Saturday, 11:30 AM)-Harper College 12, Joliet Junior College 0

A combination of great hitting and great pitching lifted the Hawks to an easy victory over the Wolves. Hamilton tossed a five-inning no-hitter for the Hawks, and it was almost a perfect game if not for one Harper error.

The Harper bats pounded out 13 hits in the win. Leading 4-0 after three innings, the Hawks scored five runs in the fourth and three in the fifth.  Beth Petrunich (McHenry, Ill./McHenry East) led the attack, going 2-for-3 with a double, triple, and three RBIs. Markelonis was 2-for-4 with four RBIs, and Cummings was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Hamilton and Lane Winkler (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows) also had multi-hit performances.

Game 5 (Saturday, 4:30 PM)-Harper College 14, College of DuPage 4

To cap off Saturday's tripleheader, the Hawks took on the Chapparals. Nursing a 3-2 lead after three innings, Harper exploded for three runs in the fourth, three in the fifth, and five in the sixth to secure a victory.

The Hawks tallied a season-high 14 hits in the contest. Cummings was 3-for-4 with a double, triple, and three RBIs. Petrunich was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBIs, and Fingerman went 2-for-5 with two RBIs.

Olivia Hamilton (Homewood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) (3-1) earned her third victory by allowing four earned runs and eight hits over six innings.

Game 6 (Sunday, 9:30 AM)-Rock Valley College 13, Harper College 0 

The Hawks squared off with the Golden Eagles, the top-ranked team and defending national champion at the NJCAA Div. III level, on Sunday morning in N4C play.

The Rock Valley offense scored nine runs in the third inning on its victory to a victory. For Harper, Emily Butler (Prospect Heights, Ill./Hersey) was 2-for-2 at plate. The Hawks managed just three hits.

Up Next

The Hawks are scheduled to play a nonconference doubleheader on Thursday, March 18 at Kishwaukee College. First pitch for game one is set for 3 PM.  Harper will also play a doubleheader the following day, Friday, March 19, at College of Lake County beginning at 3:30 PM.

Nationals Roundup: Three Harper Wrestlers Earn All-American Status

DES MOINES, Iowa. – Three Harper College wrestlers earned All-American honors at the 2015 NJCAA Wrestling National Championship over the weekend. Donte Winfield (/Perry Meridian ), Jacob Belllis, and Chance Shea (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) each finished as All-Americans for a Harper squad that scored 50.5 points and took 13th place out of 40 teams. The Hawks were the second-best team in the nation among non-scholarship schools.

Iowa Central Community College won the national meet with 158.5 points, followed by Clackamas Community College (131.5 points) and North Iowa Area Community College (113 points).

Results/details provided with assistance from Click here for Harper results.

Donte Winfield (/Perry Meridian )-All-American, Fourth Place at 285 Pounds

After a first round bye, Winfield lost a tough 2-1 decision to Highline Community College's Ben Tynan to send him to the consolation bracket.

Winfield won his next match in a sudden death victory over Northeast Oklahoma's John Davison. The freshman then went on to win by fall and won another sudden death to improve to 3-1 on the tournament.

Winfield won his next match decisively, 12-2, over Donovan Lozada of Springfield Tech Community College to reach a consolation semifinals rematch again Ben Tynan, who he lost to earlier in the tournament. This time, Winfield got the better of Tynan with a 5-3 victory to reach the third place match.

In the third place match, Chris Ballard of Iowa Central CC topped Winfield, 3-1. Winfield finished the national championship with a 5-2 record and 14.50 points for the Hawks.

Jacob Bellis (/Bloomington)-All-American, Seventh Place at 125 Pounds

For a second straight year, Bellis finished seventh in the nation at 125 pounds. He received a bye and lost his first match, but the sophomore went on to win his next three matches handily.

Bellis lost to North Idaho College's Michael Nguyen, sending him to the seventh place match. In that match, he made quick work of Colby Community College's Hunter Price, winning by fall in 1:17.
He finished the national championship with a 4-2 record and 12.00 points for Harper.

Chance Shea (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest)-All-American, Eighth Place at 184 Pounds

Shea's first round match was a narrow 12-9 victory over Wouvel Chevelon of Iowa Lakes Community College. He dropped a second round match to Labette Community College to send him to the consolation bracket.

Shea reeled off three straight wins, all by fall, in the consolation bracket to set up a match with LaVonte Perdue of Muskegon College. Perdue topped Shea 14-6, sending him to the seventh place match.

He lost a 9-4 decision to Iowa Western Community College's Jhalen Flanders, but the eighth place finish netted All-American accolades.

Shea finished the tournament with a 4-3 record and earned the Hawks 11.50 points.

Other Notables-Blake Tisza (/Thornton Fractional South), Dusan Bogicevic (/Larkin), Sean Dulom (/Sarasota), Greg Jacquez (/West Aurora), Kerin Ramirez (/Addison Trail) Earn Points

Despite battling illness, Blake Tisza (/Thornton Fractional South) managed to post a 2-2 record and score the team 4.00 points at 157 pounds. Tisza two wins came decisively (17-1 and 14-4).

Dusan Bogicevic (/Larkin) posted a 1-2 record at 133 pounds and scored 3.00 team points. He won his first match of the tournament by fall over Pratt Community College's Zachary Schridde.

Sean Dulom (/Sarasota) won his first match by fall in 4:01 over John Peeden of Colby Community College but dropped his next two matches to finish with a 1-2 record and 3.00 team points at 149 pounds.

Greg Jacquez (/West Aurora) won a pair of 4-2 decisions before losing his final two matches to finish with a 2-2 record and 2.00 points at 165 pounds.

Kerin Ramirez (/Addison Trail) went 1-2 at 141 pounds and scored 0.50 team points. His win was an 11-4 victory over Northland College's Austin Hjelle.
Wrestling: All-Americans 2015
Winfield, Bellis, and Shea (from left to right) each earned All-American status at the 2015 NJCAA Wrestling National Championship. (Jim Cummins)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Week 5: Krupp’s Triple Sends Team 4 to 5-0 Start

                                                  1    2    F    
Team Lindstrom/Strietzel            36    31    68        3-2
Team 4                                         33    37    70        5-0

On the verge of losing our first game of the year, Zack Krupp wouldn’t let that happen for us. The 6-foot-5 Krupp buried a 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining to give us a 70-68 win on Saturday morning against a very solid team captained by Jon Lindstrom and  Jon Strietzel.

Krupp’s three capped off a comeback in the closing minutes. We trailed by seven after a Paul Von Tobel rainbow, banked 3-ball with just under three minutes to play. Many of us thought this may have been the dagger to our hope of staying unbeaten. 

But with a couple of quick buckets and a trapping defense, we were able to tie the game with under a minute remaining. After they split a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left to take a one-point lead, Krupp took the ball down the court. While the rest of us were panicking not knowing who would take the final shot, Krupp channeled his inner Michael Jordan, sized up a 3 from the top of the key, and buried it. 

After the game, all we could ask ourselves was, “Did we really just win that game?” It had the feeling that we really escaped with one against a quality opponent. It was another great team win with everyone playing an important role in the victory.

The Week 5 devo, the “Bridge Diagram”, was a great reminder to us not only of how we can witness to people but also just how gracious God is in giving us eternal life and hope found through Jesus. We went through several verses that are essential to share with nonbelievers. The common theme we came across is that we must witness in a gentle, listening manner, one that identifies with the person. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God, but the amazing news is that we have the free gift of eternal life offered to us through Jesus Christ. 

Hawks Fail to Halt Stormers

Box Score
MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The Harper College men's basketball team had a hard time slowing down a potent Milwaukee Area Technical College offensive attack on Wednesday night. The Stormers shot 56.9 percent on their way to a 96-70 victory over the Hawks on the campus of Alverno College.

Men's Basketball: Donte Harper 2014-15
Harper provided a lift off the bench with 12 points and five rebounds. (Jim Cummins)
The Hawks (9-20, 2-11 N4C) were led in scoring by Admir Suljic (Chicago, Ill. /Lane Tech) with a game-high 23 points (9-of-21 shooting). Davion Benton (Chicago, Ill. /Alcott College Prep) posted a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Donte Harper (Elgin, Ill. /Elgin) provided a lift off the bench with 12 points and five rebounds.

Milwaukee (21-7, 8-5 N4C) had four scorers in double figures, led by Kevin Kellner, who knocked down six 3-pointers and scored 22 points. Aaron Bailey added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Stormers, who knocked down 37 of their 65 shots on the night and led 53-29 at halftime.

Harper wraps up regular season play with a home game on Saturday at 3 PM against Madison College.

Gatlin Garners Player of the Week Honors

PALATINE, Ill. – Harper College freshman point guard Marcus Gatlin (Chicago, Ill./Curie) was named the NJCAA Region IV Div. III Men's Basketball Player of the Week yesterday.

Gatlin averaged 16 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 2.5 APG over a two-game span last week. Against College of DuPage, Gatlin scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. In Saturday's game against Joliet Junior College, the 5-foot-9 guard scored a career-high 17 points (8-of-16 shooting) and grabbed eight rebounds.

Men's Basketball: Marcus Gatlin 2014-15
Gatlin (with ball) was named Benton was named NJCAA Region IV Div. III Men's Basketball Player of the Week. (Kevin Tiongson)
In Gatlin's last four games, he has scored 15 or more points in every game and is averaging 15.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 2.3 APG over that span.

Gatlin's distinction marks the seventh time this season a Harper College men's basketball player has been named the Region IV Div. III Player of the Week.

Men’s Basketball Welcomes Kadeen Alansari to the Team

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College men's basketball team partnered with Friends of Jaclyn Foundation once again to welcome seven-year-old Kadeen Alansari as an honorary team member for the second straight year.

Men's Basketball: Kadeen Alansari Honorary Team Member 2015
Kadeen (center with basketball) and his family with the Harper men's basketball team prior to the game. (Doug Spiwak)
Kadeen and his family of Huntley, Ill. met the team prior to the start of the Wednesday, Feb. 4 game against Triton College and took a photo with head coach Justin Welke, his staff, and Hawks players before Harper took the court.

After warmups, he was introduced in the starting lineup as the honorary sixth starter for Harper. Kadeen then got in the middle of the huddle and fired up the team prior to tipoff. Finally, he was taken to center court by freshman Davion Benton (Chicago, Ill. /Alcott College Prep), where he did a jump ball against Triton 6-foot-9 center Donovan Smith (which he won).

Kadeen spent the rest of the game cheering the team on the bench and inspiring the Harper men's team.

"He meant the world to me. He had joy and energy, and he just inspired me," said freshman point guard Marcus Gatlin (Chicago, Ill./Curie), who scored a career-best 16 points in the game. "I broke down. Some people take life for granted, and he's not doing that."

Friends of Jaclyn is a non-profit organization that states their mission as,"Our mission is to improve the quality of life for children and their families who are battling pediatric brain tumors and to raise awareness about this insidious disease." They have been featured twice on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Click here to view those videos.

Kadeen suffers from a health condition known as Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma. Kadeen's father Muhannad also attended Harper College from 1999 to 2000 and ran cross country and track and field for the Hawks. His mother attended Harper as well.

"Having Kadeen at our game and close to us throughout the night was so special because it allowed us to truly embody a phrase that our team uses daily: We before Me. We were able to touch the life of someone in our community and realize that serving others is what brings you true joy in life," Welke said. "I was very proud of how our guys embraced Kadeen and made his night special, and in the end, Kadeen made all of us feel special, too."

Harper Men Set PR’s at Chicagoland Indoors

NAPERVILLE, Ill. – Several Harper College men's track and field athletes achieved personal-bests and qualified for nationals with their performances at the Chicagoland Indoor Championships hosted by North Central College on Saturday.

Edward Phillips (/Schaumburg) set a PR and qualified for nationals in the shot put with a toss of 12.99m. Phillips also PR'ed in the weight throw (9.83m). Tyler Block (/Conant) set PR's in both the 200-meter dash (23.99 seconds) and triple jump (11.89m). Nick Dorsen (/Palatine) cleared 1.72m (5'7 ¾") in the high jump for a personal-best.

Men's Cross Country: Adam Brauer 2014
Brauer notched a PR in the mile run at the Chicagoland Indoor Championships hosted by Central College on Saturday. (Jim Cummins)
In the 800-meter run, Jordy Arriaga (Wheeling, Ill./Wheeling) and Manny Franco (/Cary-Grove) both clocked their best times. Arriaga finished in 2:07.45, and Franco was just behind in 2:07.54. Adam Brauer (Palatine, lll./Palatine) ran a PR time of 5:01.66 in the mile run. Juan Barajas (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Schaumburg) notched a PR in the 3k with a time of 9:00.21.

The meet featured primarily four-year schools, including NCAA Div. I, II, and III schools as well as NAIA schools. Host North Central College won the team title with 188.50 points. Lewis University placed second with 83 points, and the University of Chicago was third with 58 points.

Harper is back in action on Friday, Feb. 20 at the North Central Cardinal Classic beginning at 5 PM. 

Hawks Go Cold in Loss to Joliet

Box Score

PALATINE, Ill. – It was another tough shooting day for the Harper College men's basketball team. The Hawks shot just 30.4 percent for the day in a 66-55 loss to visiting Joliet Junior College Saturday afternoon inside the Wellness & Sports Center.

The Hawks (9-19, 2-10 N4C) found it difficult to score both inside and outside in the game. With the Wolves (18-10, 4-8 N4C) starting 6'5" Darious Randolph, 6'7" Kylee Beheler, and 6'7" Matt Hund on the interior, Harper was forced to take its game outside, where they struggled, making just 4-of-30 threes.  The Hawks trailed 30-24 at halftime after Admir Suljic (Chicago, Ill. /Lane Tech) (15 points) beat the buzzer on a 3-pointer.

The Wolves opened up their biggest lead of the game with 7:40 remaining in the game on a Randolph (15 points) layup to make it 51-37. Marcus Gatlin (Chicago, Ill./Curie) kept Harper in the game as he scored 15 of his career-high 17 points in the second half. His layup with 1:40 left cut the Joliet lead to 61-55.

Men's Basketball: Marcus Gatlin 2014-15
Gatlin scored a career-high 17 points against Joliet on Saturday afternoon. (Kevin Tiongson)
After a defensive stop, Suljic had a chance to cut the Joliet lead to three, but he misfired on a three. The Wolves closed the game on a 5-0 spurt, highlighted by a Randolph windmill dunk on the fast-break.

Davion Benton (Chicago, Ill. /Alcott College Prep) added 11 points and nine rebounds for Harper. Daymeann Stewart led Joliet with 17 points, and Matt Hund put up 13 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks.

The Hawks take the court next at Milwaukee Area Technical College (20-7, 7-5 N4C) on Wednesday at 8 PM.

Nicholson’s Big Day Not Enough for Hawks

Box Score
Daily Herald Article

Despite 30 points from Joslyn Nicholson (/Cary-Grove), the Harper College women's basketball team lost 82-56 to a hot-shooting Joliet Junior College team on Saturday afternoon inside the Wellness & Sports Center.

Women's Basketball: Joslyn Nicholson 2014-15
Nicholson scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds on Saturday against Joliet. (Jim Cummins)
Nicholson was 13-of-29 from the floor in the 30-point effort and also grabbed 13 rebounds for the Hawks (9-17, 3-8 N4C). The sophomore is averaging 23.7 PPG (seventh in nation) and 11.6 RPG (23rd in nation). Kim Herzog (/Buffalo Grove) and Sarah Nelson (/Warren Township ) each scored eight points, and Lane Winkler (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows) added seven points and nine rebounds.

Joliet (19-9, 8-4 N4C) shot 52.3 percent (34-of-65) for the game and led throughout. Four Wolves reached double figures led by Le'royia Campbell with 17 points. Chavon Banks added 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Bernasia Fox and Naomi Mayes each had 11. Joliet led 42-29 at halftime.

The Hawks take the court next at Milwaukee Area Technical College (20-7, 10-2 N4C) on Wednesday at 6 PM.

Harper Women Compete at Chicagoland Indoors

NAPERVILLE, Ill. – In its second meet of the season, the Chicagoland Indoor Championships hosted by North Central College, the Harper College women's track and field team had several athletes achieve personal-bests.

In the 200-meter dash, Danielle Reptowski (/Schaumburg) set a PR with a time of 31.08 seconds. In the 800-meter run, Cynthia Siddiqui (/Palatine) notched a personal-best with a time of 2:49.69. Stephanie Chaires (Palatine, Ill./Christian Liberty) ran a career-best 5:40.31 in the mile run, and Shayan Dussard (/Hoffman Estates) set a PR in the weight throw with a hurl of 10.43m.

Women's Track and Field: Mary Piltaver 2014
The Harper women competed at the Chicagoland Indoor Championships hosted by Central College on Friday. (Jim Cummins)
In a loaded 60-meter dash field, Leah Kloss (/Grayslake Central) placed ninth overall with a time of 8.08 seconds.

The meet featured primarily four-year schools, including NCAA Div. I, II, and III schools as well as NAIA schools. Lewis University collected the team title with 143 points, and host North Central (94.50 points) took second place by edging the University of Chicago (92 points).

Harper is back in action on Friday, Feb. 20 at the North Central Cardinal Classic beginning at 4:30 PM.

Harper Loses to Rival DuPage, 76-70

Daily Herald Article

Davion Benton Dunk on

Davion Benton Dunk on

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College men's basketball team closed to within four points in the closing minutes against rival College of DuPage on Wednesday night but ultimately lost 76-70 in the N4C contest inside the Wellness & Sports Center.

The Hawks (9-18, 2-9 N4C) trailed for most of the second half and by 11, 67-56, with 8:36 to play in the game but slowly crept back in the game. Davion Benton (Chicago, Ill. /Alcott College Prep)'s layup with 3:39 to play cut the Chapparals' (16-10, 6-5 N4C) lead to 69-65, but Jonny Woolf answered with a 3-pointer to put DuPage back up seven.

Admir Suljic (Chicago, Ill. /Lane Tech) (game-high 24 points, eight rebounds) put Harper within four again with a 3-pointer, but DeAndre Manuel's layup put DuPage up 74-68 with 1:10 to play. The Hawks would draw no close than to within five the rest of the way.

Men's Basketball: Davion Benton 2014-15
Benton scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. He also had a highlight reel dunk that was featured on and (Jim Cummins)
Benton had a monster game for the Hawks with 20 points and 16 rebounds. Benton's dunk over a DuPage defender at the 17:45 mark of the first half was featured on and Marcus Gatlin (Chicago, Ill./Curie) added 15 points (6-of-9 shooting) and seven rebounds. The Hawks shot 40 percent (26-of-65) in the game and outrebounded their opponents 40-37.

The Chapparal bench was a big factor in the win, scoring 53 points. Woolf led the way with 20 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, and Fredricks Joshua canned five 3-pointers and finished with 16 points in just 19 minutes of action. DuPage shot an impressive 55.2 percent (16-of-29) in the second half and 46.7 percent (28-of-60) on the night.

The Hawks led for a good portion of the first half until Woolf's free throws tied it at 24-24 with 3:36 to play. The Chapparals took a 32-31 lead into halftime.

The Hawks play their next game on Saturday as they host Joliet Junior College (17-10, 3-8 N4C) at 3 PM.