Last Friday's Kick-A-Thon before the football game between St. Charles East and host St. Charles North came early this year. But the kickers were in late-season form.
The 19th annual event, presented by the drill teams of the two high schools as a fundraiser for the Fox Valley Chapter of the American Cancer Society and the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva, drew a record 150 kickers extending along the home sideline into the end zones.
Unlike last year's event, which came on the last Friday of the regular season, St. Charles North co-chairs Shirley Wehking and Diana Artman and St. Charles East co-chairs Molly Craney and Rosanne Grenfell had to get everything done for the Cross-Town Classic in Week 3.
"It was definitely much sooner, so it was harder to kind of get the word out, but we're hoping that it did," said Craney, whose daughter, MacKenzie, is a sophomore on the Saints' varsity drill team.
Evidenced by the number of kickers enlisted it did, surpassing even the 144 kickers at last year's event, which was then the record. Seven people even signed up as a team, a Kick-A-Thon first.
Molly Craney said the pregame kicking line included retired coach Buck Drach (whose late wife, Rose, was the inspiration), Kick-A-Thon originator Kari Batka, principals Kim Zupec and Charlie Kyle, District 303 Superintendent Dr. Donald Schlomann and St. Charles Mayor Donald DeWitte. American Cancer Society regional vice president Chris Hensley and LivingWell executive director Nancy Vance were also among the distinguished guests.
"We had Chris Hensley from the American Cancer Society, and he spoke," Craney said. "The LivingWell folks came, and we won the game, it was great. You can tell which side I'm on."
With the Kick-A-Thon there's no loser. It has raised more than $600,000 for the two charities. The amount of this year's donations will be revealed at halftime of the East-North boys basketball game of Jan. 18, 2013, and since this year's Kick-A-Thon came so soon, donations may be made until then. Visit kickathon.org to do that and learn everything you'd ever want to know about the event.
"It's a big night for the girls because they've heard the stories of the people cancer has affected and they've been touched by it, and then they know why it's so important to raise money for the Cancer Society and LivingWell," said Diana Artman, whose junior daughter Lexi did her 100 kicks for a third time. "There's a lot of them who have lost friends and relatives to cancer, and it hits home."
The century club
For the fourth time in her college tennis career, Augustana junior Kim Sawyer, a Batavia grad, won the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin's player of the week award for women's tennis.
Playing at both No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, Sawyer went unbeaten in eight matches last week to improve her wins total to 101 -- 61 in singles play, 40 in doubles.
Sawyer, Augie's single-season wins leader, was the second Vikings player to reach 100 career victories this fall season. Senior Krista Panko (Geneva) got there first on Sept. 3. Panko is now 104-78 overall and ranks 17th all-time on the Augie wins list.
She and Saywer became the 19th and 20th players to hit the century mark at Augustana. With nearly two full seasons left, Sawyer has a shot at the record of 158 combined victories set by Sarah Ainsworth from 1993-98.
We'll detail more local grads' achievements in a subsequent edition.
Props to the boss
Aaron Gabriel is not only the Daily Herald's prep sports coordinator, he's also a graduate of St. Charles High School, Class of 1983.
His picture hangs in the hallway adjoining St. Charles East's competition gym (over the entrance, just down from a photo of Kaneland track coach Eric Baron) due to his multiple all-state swimming finishes.
Gabriel placed second in the 500-yard freestyle as a junior and mirrored that as a senior, also placing third in the 200 free in 1983. He anchored Saints third-place 400 freestyle relays both as a junior and senior. Aaron's brother, Eric, now a Chicago architect, was state runner-up in the 500 free in 1981.
Aaron has continued to swim competitively. Last Saturday in a choppy Lake Michigan along the Ohio Street Beach he placed first in his age group and 11th overall out of 634 swimmers at the Big Shoulders Open Water Swim.
Entering the competition a 10th straight year, he completed the 5 kilometers in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 20 seconds. That was just a little more than five minutes behind the overall winner, a man nine years his junior.
Incidentally, one of the many swimmers Gabriel beat was one George Wendt -- not the actor, but actually a close relative of the "Cheers" cast member.
Calling all Chiefs
Waubonsee Community College is hosting an alumni baseball game on Saturday, Sept. 22, in Sugar Grove. All former Chiefs ballplayers are invited.
The current squad will play an intersquad game at 9 a.m., and the old-timers are invited to take BP at 11 a.m. in preparation for the noon game. The traditional postgame social will take place at about 3 p.m.
For details or to reserve a position in the order call Waubonsee head coach Dave Randall at (630) 466-2527.