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HomeSportsPaul Johnson's top 10 girls sports stories for Aurora, Elgin

Paul Johnson’s top 10 girls sports stories for Aurora, Elgin

St. Charles North’s Auburn Roberson, Meghan Nicastro and Morgan Lahner, left to right, hold up the trophy after beating Marist the Class 4A state championship game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Saturday, June 11, 2022. (Vincent D. Johnson / The Beacon-News)
Three programs won state championships. Two brought home state runner-up trophies. Four more won sectional titles, finishing one win away from the state finals.
That’s a banner year by a long mile.
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Numerous local athletes also signed to play major college sports, headlined by Metea Valley senior Kira Hutson, who is headed to Florida for volleyball.
Here are the Aurora and Elgin area’s top 10 stories of the year in girls sports:
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St Charles East’s Grace Williams (4) moves the ball up the field against St. Charles North during the Class 3A St. Charles East Sectional championship game on Friday, May 27, 2022. (H. Rick Bamman / The Beacon-News)
10. St. Charles East repeats in sectional
After securing an eighth straight regional title, St. Charles East’s soccer team repeated as sectional champions with a 3-1 victory over St. Charles North. Grace Williams scored the go-ahead goal and Ella Stehman scored the other two. The Saints lost to Barrington in the supersectional for a second straight season.
Kaneland’s Emily Olp, center, gets swarmed by teammates Jenna Harper, left, and Abby Latka (21) after hitting a three-run homer against Rochelle during an Interstate Eight Conference game on Wednesday, April 27, 2022. (H. Rick Bamman / The Beacon-News)
9. Kaneland softball wins sectional title
The Knights entered the postseason under .500 but made a run to a supersectional before losing to Antioch. Kaneland had a young team, however. Angelina Campise, Morgan Iwanski, Kyra Johnson, Emily Olp, Kailey Plank, Corrine Pugh, Izzy Stombres and Lexi Workman all return in 2023.
West Aurora’s Riley Mont watches the ball’s flight after connecting for a leadoff home run against Neuqua Valley in a Class 3A sectional championship game on Friday, June 3, 2022. (H. Rick Bamman / The Beacon-News)
8. West Aurora softball takes sectional title
Riley Mont, the Beacon-News/Courier-News’ player of the year, returned after a two-season layoff due to the pandemic and injury to lead the Blackhawks to a sectional title. The Blackhawks upset teams along the way as a sixth seed. Keira Hayton, Callie Meinel and Alyssa Perkins also were key cogs.
St. Charles East’s Lexi DiOrio, center, drives between Wheaton North’s Lindsey Shanahan and Caroline Gaither (2) during the Class 4A Bartlett Sectional championship game on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (H. Rick Bamman / The Beacon-News)
7. St. Charles East basketball wins sectional
Following a midseason coaching change and fighting their way through the bracket as a fourth seed, the Saints made an improbable run to a supersectional. Behind Lexi DiOrio, Torrie Kortan, Cali Papez and Emma Yakey, the Saints rallied to win only the program’s second sectional title.
Metea Valley’s Kira Hutson, right, spikes the ball against Naperville Central’s Rachel Chalkey during a DuPage Valley Conference match in Naperville on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Mike Mantucca / The Beacon-News)
6. Kira Hutson plays for Team USA
Florida-bound senior outside hitter Kira Hutson followed up leading Metea Valley to the first state title of any kind in school history with an impressive summer. Playing for Team USA’s U-19 team, she won a gold medal at the Pan Am Cup. Her senior season was cut short due to injury.
Kodi Rizzo fires a pitch against Heyworth during the Class 1A Illinois Wesleyan Supersectional in Bloomington on Monday. May 30, 2022 (Daryl Wilson / The Beacon-News)
5. Newark softball wins first state trophy
Newark put together the best season in program history to take fourth place in Class 1A. Most teams don’t have more than one quality pitcher, but the Norsemen relied on three arms to get them to state. Taylor Kruser, Kodi Rizzo and Kaitlyn Schofield split time in the circle.
St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull and her players celebrate the final point in a win over Downers Grove North on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. (Mark Black / The Beacon-News)
4. Saints give veteran coach proper send-off
Legendary volleyball coach Jennie Kull announced she was retiring from St. Charles East before the season. The team made it one to remember, taking fourth place in Class 4A. Libero Lia Schneider was all over the court and outside hitter Kate Goudreau played the best volleyball of her career to help make that happen.
Genoa-Kingston’s Alayna Pierce (16) hits the ball past the block of IC Catholic’s Lucy Russ (8) during the Class 2A state championship match at Redbird Arena in Normal on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (Rob Dicker / The Beacon-News)
3. Genoa-Kingston volleyball wins Class 2A title
Backed by the dominant performance of Alayna Pierce, the Beacon-News/Courier-News’ player of the year, the Cogs rolled to the championship in their first state appearance. Setter Alivia Keegan ran the offense, while libero Hannah Langton spearheaded a stingy defense. Keegan, Langton and Pierce all return next season.
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Metea Valley’s Jordan Lange (22), Jocelyn Grabow (16), Kyleigh Jannisch, (11) and Leanne Barrett (9) celebrate after beating Barrington in the shootout in the Class 3A state championship game at North Central College’s Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium in Naperville on Saturday, June 4, 2022 (H. Rick Bamman / Naperville Sun)
2. Metea Valley soccer wins Class 3A title
Months after the volleyball team won Metea Valley’s first state title, the soccer team followed suit. Jordan Lange, the Beacon-News/Courier-News’ player of the year, led the way. Along with fellow underclassmen Lucy Burk and Tyra King, the Lange-led Mustangs should be a force again in 2023.
Maddie Hernandez reacts at first base after driving in a run to give St. Charles North the lead against Marist in the top of the seventh inning of the Class 4A state championship game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Saturday, June 11, 2022. (Vincent D. Johnson / The Beacon-News)
1. St. Charles North softball wins first state title
Maddie Hernandez put her name into program lore, delivering the winning two-run single against Marist in the Class 4A state championship game. Reliever Paige Murray made it stand in a 3-2 victory. Ashlee Chantos, Ava Goettel, Julia Larson, Sophia Olman and Leigh VandeHei also played a huge role in winning the title.
Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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