Fenwick won its 1st ever football state championship in DeKalb, IL, on Saturday.
The Friars (12-2) beat Kankakee 34-15 on Saturday at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb to claim the Illinois Class 5A State Championship! Our talented boys dominated, jumping out to an early, 28-0 lead in the first half and never looked back. It was a total team win highlighted by stellar catches (Bryan Hunt, Jr., Eian Pugh and Max Reese), spectacular throws and runs (QB Kaden Cobb), hard-nosed blocking (Jimmy Liston, Rasheed Anderson, Will Rosenberg, Pat Durkin, Aaron Johnson, Lukas Mikuzis and the rest of the offensive line). Defensively, the Paris twins (Conor and Martin) stood out, as usual, as did Suleiman Abuaqel, Den Juette, Mirko Jaksic (junior), Harry Kenny, Conor Stetz (junior), Aden Vargas, Jacque Walls, Quin Wieties, sophomores Luke D’Alise & Will Gladden and freshman Nate Marshall. They executed defensive coordinator Coach Titcus Pettigrew’s game plan to near perfection.
Running back Danny Kent (above) rushed for more than 200 yards on 28 carries and was named Player of the Game. This marks Fenwick’s first state title in football since the IHSA first introduced the playoff system in 1974.
“It has been amazing how I have been fully embraced as a Friar, and I could not be happier to have helped deliver this first-ever football state championship to Fenwick High School and the community,” says Head Coach Matt Battaglia, who joined Fenwick in late 2019. “Special thanks and congratulations to all the players and coaches who made this possible, especially our seniors! Thanks, and Go Friars!“
Athletic Director and alumnus Scott Thies ’99 adds: “Congratulations to Coach Battaglia, our student-athletes and all who contributed to Fenwick’s first state championship in football! It was so awesome to see generations of Friars come out in support of this team. We are all super proud!”
Friars win their Sectional and claim first conference title since joining the GCAC eight years ago!
Conference and Sectional titles were impressive achievements for the Fenwick girls’ tennis team, but they saved the best for last by earning a third-place trophy — of 80 teams represented — at the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class 1A State Finals this past Thursday through Saturday in Buffalo Grove, IL!
The Friars tallied 12 match wins, reports Head Coach Gerard Sullivan: two in the main draw from Kate Trifilio in singles (17th place of 64) and five each from doubles pairs Rachel Abraham & Maeve Paris (9th) and Trinity Hardin & Megan Trifilio (sixth). En route to their finish, Fenwick players pulled off three upsets of higher seeds and went 2-1 in three-set matches. “Congratulations to the team and their coaches for a great finish to a record-setting season!” praised Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99.
GGAC & Sectional run
On Saturday, October 9, at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL, the team won its first Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (GCAC) title in the eight years since joining the conference. They won three of their five head-to-head matches against the Ramblers, sealing the title a week after dropping three of five in the teams’ dual meet.
Erin Hayes led the way with a 2 ½-hour semifinal win at #2 singles; Maeve Paris / Rachel Abraham followed, with another semi-final win at #3 doubles, and Megan Trifilio / Trinity Hardin sealed the title in a Rambler demolition in the #1 doubles championship.
A sweep of the Ramblers was still possible, and Kate Trifilio at #1 singles and Caroline Blair / Kate Dugan at #2 doubles pushed their opponents to tie-breakers in their narrow losses. K. Trifilio placed 4th at #1, Hayes 2nd at #2, M. Trifilio / Hardin 1st at #1 doubles, Blair / Dugan 2nd at #2, and Abraham / Paris 1st at #3.
Paris’s conference title was achieved at the end of her first week of competition after sitting out the first six weeks of the season with a broken arm, Sullivan points out. Her only regular-season match to prepare her was a win with Abraham over OPRF three days before conference. But in 2020, Paris was a #1 doubles player and a sectional third-place finisher who would have gone to state. Unfortunately, the 2020 State tournament was canceled due to COVID concerns.
Then, in Lemont, IL, the team won its fifth Sectional title, overwhelming the other eight teams and finishing with 30 points of a possible 36. Erin Hayes won two rounds in singles, knocking out the #5 seed in her second win and losing to the #4 seed in her qualifying match. Kate Trifilio also pulled off an upset of the #2 seed in her semifinal, advancing to the singles championship and finishing as runner-up for the second straight year. Unlike last year, Kate and the other four qualifiers were headed to State, this time with the depth of quality needed for a high team finish.
Both doubles teams advanced to the title match and faced each other in a Fenwick vs. Fenwick doubles final. Rachel Abraham / Maeve Paris were seeded 6th and took out two seeds, including the #2 seeded Nazareth team on their way to the final. Megan Trifilio / Trinity Hardin played up to their #1 seed, giving up no more than two games in any set in their march to the title.
The Friars were one of 16 sectional champion teams at the State tournament but clearly had momentum going in that put them near the top.
The Fenwick Swimming & Diving Team finished 13th overall in Illinois this season.
Swim team accomplishments this season:
The 200 Medley relay of Peter Buinauskas ’21 (Western Springs), Michael Flynn ’22 (Brookfield), Connor McCarthy ’21 (Elmhurst) and Dan Bajda ’20 (Lombard) took 12th place in the state of Illinois. They also set a team record for the medley relay of 1:34.30 in prelims at the IHSA Championships.
Michael Flynn took 3rd in the 500 Freestyle and 9th in the 200 Freestyle at the IHSA Championships. “Considering he is on both relays, he is by far the team’s MVP,” says Head Coach and alumnus Luke McGuire ’90.
The 400 free relay took 7th at the IHSA Championships (Flynn, C. McCarthy, Buinauskas and Bajda), nearly missing a team record from their performance at Sectionals.
The Fenwick Swimming and Diving Team took 13th overall at the IHSA state Championships. Led by Captains C. McCarthy and Bajda, the team had solid performances last Friday in Evanston and was able to come back and score team points on Saturday, McGuire reports.
Chalk up another 20-win regular season for Fenwick girls’ basketball Head Coach Dave Power. But he says his young team (23-8, 3-3 in the GCAC) is not finished. In fact, the once injury-plagued Friars finally may be gaining momentum heading into post-season play.
Two weeks ago “marked the first game all season where we had every player fully healthy,” reports alumna and Assistant Coach Erin Power ’07, Dave’s daughter and once a stellar point guard for the Friars. “Sheila Hogan returned from an ACL [rehab]. Lily Reardon was out for several weeks with a separated shoulder. Mia [Caccitolo] had her knee injury. Mira [Schwanke] and Audrey [Hinrichs] both were out with ankle injuries at certain points. Katie Schneider was out for a few games with the flu.”
While their head coach isn’t in the habit of making
excuses, he can confirm the busier-than-normal athletic training room traffic.
“We’ve had at least nine players out for something,” a frustrated, elder Power
says, lamenting that his squad lost games last month that they probably would
have won at full strength. “We’ve had about 15 different starting line-ups this
season. It’s hard to prepare for opponents when key, position players are out,”
he explains, “be they rebounders or shooters.”
The strength of Fenwick’s sometimes-daunting schedule did not help matters. During a particularly difficult stretch in January – one that Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99 referred to as “the gauntlet” — Fenwick lost badly to Montini and then dropped consecutive games to four more Catholic-school rivals: St. Ignatius, Benet (which was close), Mother McAuley and Marist.
The Powers know, as experienced coaches do, that they can control only certain factors when it comes to their teams. Injuries, while preventable, are not necessarily controllable. Age is another element out of their control. Make no mistake: the Friars are young (five sophomores and four juniors). However, the youth is buoyed by strong leadership from upper-classwomen, Dave Power points out, giving a nod to his quartet of seniors, who all are guards: Hogan, Stephanie Morella, Reardon and Schneider.
Like most coaches, the Power duo dislikes distractions. But how do good Catholics say “no” to the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago? When Cardinal Blase Cupich informed Fenwick President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P. last Thursday that he’d like to attend the next evening’s girls basketball game, the scramble began! But Power really didn’t mind. His Eminence’s presence was icing on the cake for the Friars’ Senior Night. The Cardinal sat on both sides of the bleachers, cheering for the Catholics. Our team was victorious, 58-50, over the Carmel Corsairs of Mundelein (18-8, 3-3).
Another welcome distraction came this past Tuesday night, as Power’s girls capped a four-game winning streak by defeating top-ranked Evanston (20-4, 9-0) in their regular-season finale. A thrilling, half-court buzzer-beater by 6’0″ forward Elise Heneghan (24 pts.), one of the sophomores, sealed the deal: 45-43 in favor of the Friars.
The Wildkits fourth-year head coach is Fenwick alumna and All-Stater Brittany Johnson ’05 (Chicago). Johnson, who played at Boston College, averaged 18 points per game, six rebounds and five steals as a senior for the Friars. “I’m so proud of Britt,” Power beams. “She had a great career at BC and got her master’s degree. Hers is a great success story!”
In a pre-game ceremony, after Power hugged his former-player-turned-opposing-coach, the school officially named the locker room in its Fieldhouse Gym after him. Fenwick President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P. was in Florida visiting with alumni, but he sent a statement from afar: “It is a privilege to honor Coach Power’s commitment to our community with this dedication, along with a corresponding, generous gift of $500,000. The donor family wishes to remain anonymous, but their gesture truly is heartfelt.” (Read more.)
In Father Peddicord’s stead, President EmeritusFr. Richard LaPata, O.P. ’50 stepped onto the Fenwick hardwood, talking about Dave Power’s legacy and their friendship, which now spans three decades. AD Thies also spoke, sharing stories about how Power has made an impact on his life and continued to pursue excellence relentlessly. “Coach Power [has] impacted so many lives, so many who have gone on to be successful in life,” Thies said.
Of The Power Locker Room naming and half-million-dollar donation, the coach himself says: “The generosity of this person – and I really don’t know who it is – is beyond overwhelming. I’m blown away that someone would be so generous – not for me, but for all the success the program has had; all the wonderful coaches and girls who’ve played for me … all their successes. I think of it as a dedication to them. It’s a great thing for Fenwick!”
One of the coaches sharing Power’s legacy is his late
brother, Bill, who passed away in 2018. Another faithful assistant is Dale
Heidloff, a science teacher at Fenwick who also is the head coach of the girls’
track team and an assistant coach for boy’s golf. “When I first
started coaching with Dave 20 years ago, I had a much different view on
the game of basketball,” Coach Heidloff shares. “I always believed strongly in
playing defense, but Coach Power’s philosophy has always been to just ‘score more
points than the other team.’ This simple philosophy has won him nearly 1,000
games, so I’ve learned to trust the methods, the madness and the magic of Coach
“Beyond the X’s and
O’s, however, I’ve been able to share unforgettable memories with a man who has
become like a brother to me,” Heidloff continues. “We have both been fortunate
enough to share in winning a state championship with our daughters [Kristin ’04 in 2001 and Erin in 2007]
and have had the opportunity to coach the next generation of Friars alongside
our daughters. His coaching legacy speaks for itself, but his true legacy
is the impact he has had on his players and coaches, the fierce loyalty he has
towards those he cares about, and his unwavering commitment to the Fenwick
that coaching with daughter, Erin, at his side these past four years has been
quite special. He adds that her title of assistant coach really is a disservice.
“Erin’s role goes way beyond that,” he says. “She can relate to the young girls
and is the definition of a role model: strong, intelligent and demanding. She
demonstrates [techniques] in practice on the court, which I can’t do so well
anymore. Plus, she knows how to do all that social media stuff!” he laughs.