Here are highlights, in semi-chronological order, from the Loyola sports scene for the 2018 year.

For the second consecutive season, both the Loyola boys and girls basketball teams won Class 4A regional championships. The boys never trailed in a 48-29 win over Maine South in Park Ridge. Connor Barrett had 18 points, five rebounds and two steals. Kevin Cunningham added 12 points, while Pete Mangan totaled three points, three assists and two steals. Julia Martinez scored 17 of her 26 points in the second half to lead the girls to a 47-31 win over Evanston at Lane Tech. She also contributed 10 rebounds, five steals and three assists. Lilly Wehman had nine points, nine rebounds and four blocks against the Wildkits, who beat the Ramblers in the state tournament three of the previous four seasons. The girls finished 25-6, and the boys were 24-7.

Three basketball players earned all-state honors from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. Martinez was selected to the first team, while Wehman and Cunningham, a freshman on the basketball at University of St. Thomas, both were named to the third team. Wehman graduated with the most career blocks for the girls program.

Sean Cloherty graduated as wrestling program’s all-time leader in career wins (110) and career pins (70). Senior Aidan McKeag tied Cloherty for first in wins Dec. 15 at Glenbrook South’s tournament.

Tommy Barr and Alex O’Toole left their mark on the boys swimming and diving program during their senior seasons. Barr won three state medals at Evanston, while O’Toole became the eighth Loyola diver to win a state medal. Luke Maurer matched Barr with three medals at the state meet. He finished third in the 100 free and fourth in the 200 free. The two swam with Everet Andrew and Ben Dukes on the 400 free relay team that took 12th.

Nick Liebers, off an assist from Eamon O’Brien, scored the go-ahead goal with less than five minutes remaining in the third period to lead the Loyola Gold hockey team to a 4-2 win over Stevenson at the United Center and the program’s first state title since 1996. Aidan Finegan and Declan Darcy each scored one goal. Timothy Hackett added scored on an empty net for the final margin. The Ramblers finished 53-10-2.

The women’s Varsity 1 boat finished fourth at the Grand Final, the Scholastic Rowing Association of America’s national regatta on the Cooper River in Camden, New Jersey. The crew included senior coxswain Jane Harris and seniors Maddie Ball, Jacqueline Bigus, Haley Flanagan, Eleanor Funck, Mary McDermott, Emily Molins, Madeline Quackenbush, Kate Schumacher. Based on their strong showing, the Ramblers received an invite to the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships on Lake Natoma in Gold River, California.

Led by captains Nicole Kielba, Sarah Pinkerton and Lauren Voss, the girls water polo team finished fourth in state, tying the program’s best finish. The Ramblers earned their first trip to the state tournament since 2013 by beating New Trier 5-3 at Glenbrook South’s sectional. Kielba, a junior, and Voss, a senior, both scored two goals. Loyola finished 20-14.

After 10 seasons as head coach of the boys water polo team, Loyola graduate Dan Hengelmann (Class of 1997) resigned his post. Under his leadership, the Ramblers enjoyed the most success in program history, highlighted by a state title in 2014. Hengelmann, who compiled a 229-102-4 record and never had a losing season with the Ramblers, also finished second once and took third once. He was the state’s coach of the year in 2014. Mike Cashman, a 1999 graduate of St. Rita, takes over the program. He was the girls head coach at St. Ignatius from 2006-2017. The Wolfpack won the state title in 2013 and finished third or better in seven of his 11 seasons.

The Ramblers sent Hengelmann out in style. Loyola finished 26-7 and captured the program’s first MCAC championship since 2014. Tony Spallone was named the league’s Lawless Award winner. He and John Merucci both were selected to the all-state team.

O’Shaughnessy Pool hosted its final event April 30 before it was demolished as part of the school’s capital projects initiative, the Second Century Campaign. Built in 1957, the facility was home to a successful aquatics program. The girls swimming and diving team won one state title and took second twice. The boys water polo team captured one state championship and finished second once. One of the many standouts who competed in the pool was Olympic Gold medalist Conor Dwyer (Class of 2007). The John D. Norcoss Aquatic Center is scheduled to open in the second half of 2019.

Headlined by its defense, the Loyola girls soccer team won its 10th consecutive regional championship. The GCAC Red champion Ramblers shut out their first three opponents in the Class 3A state tournament before losing to New Trier 2-1 in the sectional final at Glenbrook South. With Maggie Avery in goal, Loyola (19-2-4) posted 13 shutouts.

Declan Ritzenthaler’s third-place medal in pole vault at the Class 3A state track and field meet was the best finish in program history. Ritzenthaler and Tim Reynolds, who took seventh at the Class AA state meet in 1978, are the only Ramblers with state medals in pole vault. Ritzenthaler finished first at the sectional meet and captured the Catholic League championship in the event.

The Ramblers received contributions from a collection of seniors to defeat Deerfield 25-19, 25-18 and capture the volleyball sectional championship at Evanston. Seniors Rees Gray (12 assists), Drake Johnson (5 kills), Matt Wiertel (3 kills, 7 digs) and Clark Winkler (2 kills, 1 block) all played roles in the program’s first regional title since 2015. Jack Howard led Loyola with 11 kills and two blocks. The Ramblers finished 27-13 to run its streak of at least 20 wins to 10 seasons in a row. The regional championship was the seventh for head coach Lionel Ebeling (Class of 1993) in his 14 seasons.

After sitting out the high school tennis season as a junior, Alan Arocho returned to the Ramblers and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state tournament. Arocho, now a freshman player at Brown University, finished first at No. 1 singles at the Catholic League tournament and captured the sectional championship at Niles North. Arocho qualified for the state tournament in doubles as a freshman and sophomore.

Behind a complete game from Ben Wagner, the Ramblers beat Evanston 9-3 to capture the Class 4A sectional championship at Loyola. It was the program’s first since 2008 and second overall. Down 2-0, the Ramblers rallied with six runs in the fourth to assume the lead for good. Jake Novak, an all-Catholic Blue selection, had two hits, two RBIs and scored one run. All nine players in the starting lineup reached base at least once. Wagner, who graduated in 2018, won both of his postseason starts. Loyola finished 23-10-1, the most wins in six seasons under head coach Nick Bridich and third year in a row with at least 21 victories.

Loyola’s boys lacrosse team (pictured above) captured the first state championship in IHSA history with its 7-2 win over New Trier at Hinsdale Central. All-state selections Quinn Cashion and Timothy Hackett both totaled three points, while Dom Urukalo, another all-stater, made 14 saves in the victory. Andrew Forsyth, Luca Lazzaretto and Najee Taylor also were named to the all-state team following the Ramblers’ 22-3 season. Loyola won 11 state titles as a club team.

Three Loyola athletes — Louisa Edwards, Emily Molins and Jason Vrbancic — earned National Merit Scholarships, which rewards students who exhibit exceptional academic ability. In 2018, 7,500 seniors nationwide were awarded the prestigious honor. Edwards, now at University of Virginia, was a four-year member of both the cross country and track and field teams and played basketball for three seasons. Molins rowed three seasons for the Ramblers. She’s on the crew team at Stanford University. Vrbancic was a starting catcher for the baseball team, which won a Class 4A sectional title. An all-Catholic Blue selection, he hit .333 and had a team-best 37 RBIs. He’s on the baseball team at University of Chicago.

Senior Peter Radler became the first player in program history to earn two medals at the state tournament. A Holy Cross commit, he tied for fifth in Class 3A this season after tying for eighth in Class 3A as a junior. The Ramblers finished fifth as a team this year. For the second season in a row, Loyola took first at both the regional and sectional tournaments. Christopher Lee was medalist at the sectional, while Kent State recruit Jack Crawshaw was medalist at the regional. The Ramblers also won the Catholic League championship.

Senior golfer Lilly Gentzkow played her best when it mattered most. A University of Iowa recruit, she tied for 13th at the Class 2A state tournament to lead Loyola to sixth place as a team. Gentzkow earned medalist honors at the GCAC tournament as the Ramblers finished first overall. She finished fourth at the regional and seventh at the sectional. Junior Mary Boesen made headlines by shooting 75 to win the regional tournament at Glencoe Golf Club. Her score was seven strokes better than the second-place finishers and 14 lower than those who tied for 10th.

Senior tennis player Lizzy Witkowski capped her career by qualifying for her third consecutive Class 2A state tournament in doubles. Witkowski teamed up with senior Catherine Power this year, her third partner in three seasons. The two finished first at No. 1 doubles at the GCAC Red tournament, helping the Ramblers to the team title.

Behind a strong senior class, Loyola girls volleyball team enjoyed a banner season. In front of a home crowd, the Ramblers captured a Class 4A sectional championship with their 25-19, 25-18 win over Fremd. Senior Lizzie Walker (6 kills, 1 block), senior Elizabeth Ford (5 kills, 2 blocks), senior Mary Kate Lopez (5 kills, 1 ace), senior Anne Martinson (3 kills, 1 block, 1 ace), and senior Julia Martinez (2 kills, 2 blocks) all contributed to the program’s first sectional title since 2015. The Ramblers finished 30-9.

Loyola’s football team beat Brother Rice 13-3 at University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium to capture the Class 8A state championship. It was the Ramblers’ eighth win in a row after starting the season 3-3. Senior running back Michael Gavric scored one touchdown, and sophomore Nate Van Zelst kicked two field goals. Defensively, senior lineman Eddie Eastman had two sacks, and senior cornerback Michael Byrne had one interception. Loyola (11-3) allowed 6.6 points a game in the playoffs on its way to a second Class 8A state title in four seasons and third in program history. John Holecek said this year was the most rewarding in his 12 seasons as Loyola’s head coach.

Senior safety and Class 8A all-state selection Jake Gonzalez led the Ramblers with 135 tackles to finish his career as the program’s all-time leader with 355. The Catholic Blue’s defensive player of the year, Gonzalez totaled two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. In his three seasons as a starter, the Ramblers were 36-6 and played in three Class 8A state finals. Gonzalez will play football at University of Pennsylvania.

Senior guard Celia Satter had a game to remember at the Naples Holiday Shootout at Gulf Coast High School in Naples, Florida. A University of Richmond recruit, Satter scored a career-high 35 points, thanks to a career-best nine 3-pointers, in Loyola’s 74-41 win over Lehigh (Lehigh Acres, Florida). Her nine 3s are the most in program history for one game as well as a Naples Holiday Shootout record. Satter’s 35 points rank second on Loyola’s all-time list behind the 39 scored by Hall of Fame member Beth Schillen (Class of 1996).

The Loyola boys basketball team used a record-setting defensive performance to win the Kelleher Firm Gulfshore Holiday Hoopfest for the third consecutive year. The Ramblers beat Kentucky’s defending state champion Covington Catholic 48-28 in the final. Loyola allowed an average of 27.5 points per game, the fewest in the last six tournaments. Senior guard Quinn Pemberton was selected MVP. Senior guard Connor Barrett earned all-tournament first team for the second year in a row, and junior forward Bennett Kwiecinski was named to the all-tournament second team.

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola