Here are highlights, in semi-chronological order, from the Loyola sports scene for the 2017 year.
The Loyola boys and girls basketball teams each won Class 4A regional titles, the first for both programs since 2014. Erin Dillon scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter as the girls beat beat GCAC Red rival Trinity 55-51 on the Blazers’ home court Feb. 16. Lilly Wehman blocked six shots. The boys topped New Trier 43-40 on March 3 at Zion-Benton. Ramar Evans scored a team-best 15 points, nine of which he scored in the final eight minutes. The girls finished the season 21-11, while the boys were 22-9.
Julia Martinez and Lilly Wehman both etched their names in Loyola lore during the 2016-17 basketball season. Martinez finished with a program-record 196 assists, and her 6.8 assists per game average also was a record. Wehmam’s 125 total blocks and 3.9 blocks per game both were single-season records. Both players were named Class 3A/4A honorable mention by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
Ramar Evans left a lasting legacy on the Loyola boys basketball program. A three-year starter, he was selected to the all-Catholic League team and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Class 3A/4A honorable mention after he led the Ramblers in points (13.4), rebounds (5.9), assists (3.8) and steals (1.6) as a senior. He graduated sixth on the Loyola all-time scoring list with 1,044 points. He is a freshman guard at Wisconsin-Parkside.
The Loyola girls hockey team followed up its 2016 state title with a runner-up finish, losing to Glenbrook South 7-3 on March 17 at the United Center. Key contributors last season, Valerie Caldwell scored two goals, and Tess Dettling had one goal in the loss. Loyola finished 18-5-3. Caldwell is a freshman forward at University of Vermont, and Dettling is a freshman forward at Yale.
Getting points from multiple athletes and events, the Loyola boys track and field team finished first in the Catholic League’s conference meet May 13 for the fourth season in a row. Declan Ritzenthaler scored in the pole vault, the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and 110 high hurdles. Andrew Niewiarowski and Luke Phillips went 1-2 in the 800, while Aidan Sullivan and Marc Daly also scored in the race. All four ran career-best times.
The Loyola girls soccer team overcame a halftime deficit on its home field to beat Maine South 2-1 on penalty kicks in the Class 3A regional final May 19. Not only did Maggie Avery star in goal, she kicked the game-winner to give the Ramblers their ninth regional title in a row. Stephanie Ramsay scored with 6 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.
Margot Dooley took third place in the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 16.03 seconds at the Class 3A state meet May 20. It was the best finish for a Loyola female in any individual running event. On April 22 at Palatine’s invitational, she set the program record for the 800 with a time of 2:14.43. Dooley is a freshman runner at University of Alabama.
Two Loyola women’s crew teams experienced success at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America’s national regatta May 26-27 on the Cooper River in Pennsauken, New Jersey. The Varsity 1 team took third place, while the Varsity 2 team finished fourth. Both boats were coached by Loyola alums Matt Baldino (Class of 1993), Mike Kelley (Class of 1997) and Tim Aghai (Class of 2012).
Playing in the toughest conference in the state, the Loyola baseball team went 22-13, including a 12-9 record in the Catholic Blue, in head coach Nick Bridich’s fifth season. It was the second consecutive spring the Ramblers won at least 21 games. Loyola was led by captains Sean Tully and Brian Vance and all-Catholic Blue selections Ryan Lin-Peistrup and PJ McKermitt. Tully (DePauw), Vance (St. Joseph) and Lin-Peistrup all are playing in college.
Brennan Dwyer scored seven goals and Delaney Oliveira delivered a standout performance in goal as the Loyola girls lacrosse team won its ninth consecutive state championship with a 15-9 win over New Trier at Northwestern’s Lakeside Field on June 2. Grace Clarke scored three goals, and Madison Kane added two. Clarke is a freshman attacker at Butler, Kane is a freshman midfielder at Marquette and Dwyer is a freshman midfielder on Northwestern’s lacrosse team.
The youngest child of head coach John Dwyer, Brennan Dwyer graduated as arguably the best to ever play for the Ramblers and one of the best to play in the Midwest. A four-year starter and four-time state champion, she totaled 395 goals, 238 assists, 876 draw controls, 276 ground balls and caused 202 turnovers. Dwyer was a four-time all-American and US Lacrosse Magazine’s Midwest Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017.
Kyle Koch concluded his extraordinary prep lacrosse career June 3 at Stevenson with a second-place finish at the state tournament after the Ramblers lost to New Trier 9-6. A four-year starting defenseman and two-time captain, Koch was instrumental in helping Loyola set a state record for goals allowed in a season as a senior. He won a state title in 2016 and took also took second in 2014. It’s believed that Koch, a freshman defenseman at Marquette, is the first player from Illinois to earn three all-American selections.
Nina Rutkowski placed 30th at the Class AA state golf tournament Oct. 13-14 at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur to lead the Ramblers to eighth place as a team. A four-year varsity player and the GCAC’s player of the year as a senior, Rutkowski was either medalist or co-medalist in every match except for one and top three in all invitationals during the regular season.
The Loyola boys golf team made history by becoming the first to win a regional and sectional title in the same season. Ben Scherman was the medalist at the Class 3A sectional at Winnetka Golf Club. He beat teammate Chip Savarie in a sudden-death playoff for the honor. The Ramblers finished fifth at the Class 3A state tournament at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington. Peter Radler led the way by tying for eighth.
Although injuries interrupted her running cross country career, Lainey McKinley ended on a high note by capturing the GCAC championship Oct. 17 at Lewis University in Romeoville for her first win. The Ramblers won the team title. The Kentucky-bound McKinley then qualified for the Class 3A state meet and finished 110th.
Maggie Hines completed a remarkable tennis career by winning four matches at the Class AA state tournament Oct. 19-21 with doubles partner Lizzie Witkowski. In three trips to the state tournament, Hines won 13 matches. She and Witkowski also finished first at No. 1 doubles at the GCAC’s tournament at Loyola on Oct. 7.
Grace Balestrery was selected to the Illinois High School Field Hockey Association’s all-state second team. A captain, Balestrery helped the Ramblers advance to the quarterfinals of the state tournament, where they lost to New Trier 2-1 in overtime Oct. 27.
Despite losing a majority of its starters from the 2016 football team that took second in Class 8A, the Ramblers returned to the state final, where they lost to Lincoln-Way East 23-14 at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb on Nov. 25. Loyola finished 12-2 and captured the Catholic Blue championship with a 4-0 league record.
After serving as a backup quarterback his first two seasons on varsity, Quinn Boyle (pictured above) showcased his star quality as a senior. A captain and the Catholic Blue’s Lawless Award winner, he completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 2,202 yards and threw 21 touchdowns. He ran for 818 yards and eight TDs. Boyle was Loyola’s third consecutive Lawless Award recipient, following Emmett Clifford (2015) and Jake Marwede (2016).
In the 12th game of his 12th season, Loyola head football coach John Holecek and the Ramblers beat Marist 30-10 on the road in the quarterfinals of the Class 8A state playoffs Nov. 11. It was Holecek’s 134th win, making him the all-time leader in career victories at Loyola, which started playing football in 1909. A graduate of Marian Catholic and former NFL linebacker, Holecek surpassed legendary head coach John Hoerster. Holecek captured the Class 8A state championship in 2015 and has won 83.3 percent of his games with the Ramblers.
Shannon Kearney made a splash in her final season on Loyola’s swimming and diving team. The North Carolina State-bound Kearney placed second in the 100-yard backstroke in a program-record time of 53.90 seconds Nov. 18 at the state meet at New Trier. She also took 10th in the 50 free in a personal-best time of 23.66. Kearney was named the MCAC’s swimmer of the year and owns the conference record in the 100 backstroke (55.46).
Diver Emily Rourke captured the MCAC championship Oct. 27 at Fenwick. It was Loyola’s first league diving title since Katie Rourke, Emily’s sister, finished first in 2014 as a senior. Emily placed 11th at the state meet to become the eighth diver in program history to qualify for the finals.
Head girls basketball coach Jeremy Schoenecker won his 200th career game in his 10th season at Loyola in the Ramblers’ 73-22 win over Phillips at home Nov. 26. Assistant coach Jon Wolfe has been with Schoenecker since the start.
Sean Cloherty won his 97th career match Dec. 16 at Glenbrook South’s invitational to tie Ryan Wosick (Class of 2015) for the Loyola wrestling program’s record for career wins. A four-year varsity wrestler, Cloherty also was awarded a Marine Corps Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship from The Citadel on the same day.
Lilly Wehman’s block in the first quarter in Loyola’s 55-44 win over Niles West on Dec. 22 at home was the 188th in her career and vaulted her into first place on the program’s all-time career list. The Georgetown-bound Wehman also owns the Loyola record for single-season blocks with 125.
Photo credit: Geoff Scott