REGIONAL/REPORTER ATHLETES OF THE YEAR — Quite a quartet of area talent

 

BOYS TRACK: BEN FRIESEN, Chicago Christian

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Photo by Jeff Vorva

 

Trinity Christian College’s track team may have hit the jackpot.

Chicago Christian senior Ben Friesen committed to the Palos Heights NAIA school to play soccer and mentioned to the track coaches that he may walk on to their team.

If he can get some time off from soccer, theater and classroom work, the Trolls track team members are in for a treat. Friesen closed his prep career taking first place in the Illinois High School Association Class 1A state finals in the 400 meter run with a time of 48.65 seconds and took fourth in the long jump with a jump of 22 feet. He was named the Regional/Reporter’s Boys Track Athlete of the Year.

Don’t let the small-school class fool you – he would have won the Class 2A race and would have been third in the Class 3A race with that time. He also became the first track champ at Chicago Christian since Bob Warnke won the 200 in 1993.

Not bad for a kid who was once told he was too short to jump or run the 400.

“Between my freshman and sophomore year, I actually grew a little bit,’’ Friesen said. “By my junior year, the coaches were looking at me for the 400 and high jump and I wanted to see how far I could take it.’’

The Orland Park resident said he followed in his older brother, Noah’s, footsteps.

 “He is extremely competitive as a distance runner and was a mentor and inspiration to me,” Brian said. “When he graduated from middle school, I tried to get all of his records. But in high school, he was more of a shorter-distance runner and I trained with the long distance runners.”

 

GIRLS TRACK: APRIL VAN RYN, Chicago Christian

PAGE 1 GIRLS TRACK 6 22

 

Photo by Jeff Vorva

When April Van Ryn entered Chicago Christian High School four years ago, she thought her athletic future was in basketball.

Running? That wasn’t for her.

“I wanted to get out of running the gym mile whenever possible,” she said. “I had a stomach issue my freshman year and a lot of the time I was sick. But that’s obviously changed. I like it now.’’

Van Ryn had the best area showing at the Illinois High School Association state meet with a fifth-place finish in the Class 1A 3200 meter run with a time of 11 minutes, 25.40 seconds in May and was the leadoff runner on the 4×800 relay team with Allie Boss, Rebecca Falb and Jill VanDyk, which finished seventh.

Van Ryn has been named the Regional/Reporter Girls Track Athlete of the Year sixth month after being named the Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year after finishing fifth in the state cross country meet.

“I guess I like the No. 5,” she said of her bookend finishes.

When basketball wasn’t working out, she joined the track team her sophomore year and the cross country team her junior season.

VanRyn, a Tinley Park resident who is heading to Trinity Christian College in the fall, was an “incredibly dedicated” athlete according to Knights track coach Jim Kwastenient.

Not enough good things can be said about April,” he said. “She will go beyond the call of duty in order to improve herself as an athlete and to help her team. This season she sacrificed herself to help her team by running on the 4×800 relay team as well as the 3200 and the 1600. The break between the first two is minimal so it truly was a sacrifice on her part. The track team will surely miss April next year.’’

 

GIRLS SOCCER: KYLIE HASE, Sandburg

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Photo by Jeff Vorva

 

 

Kylie Hase came into her final season of high school soccer looking to have fun.

 

The sport has always been enjoyable for Hase, who started playing when she was three, but with her college plans at Purdue University set and the reality having set in that this would be her last go-round with girls she has played alongside for 15 years, she wanted an enjoyable experience.

 

“I knew I would be moving in early summer, so I wanted to make the most of while I’m here on the team, and just have fun and play my game,” said Hase, who has already left Orland Park for West Lafayette, Ind. “And that’s what I did. And I think it made it more fun, and made me better because I was just having fun.”

 

Hase certainly had fun scoring 14 goals and assisting on eight others in 18 games, and helped the Eagles advance to the Sweet 16 in the Class 3A playoffs and earned her the title of The Regional/Reporter Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year for a second consecutive season.

 

Despite her standout performance on the field, Hase was surprised by the honor.

 

“I was actually thinking about it at the end of the season, and I thought there was no way they’d pick me again because there are so many other great soccer players,” she said.

 

Hase’s 14 goals represented 37 percent of the 38 goals the Eagles scored this season. Factor in the eight assists, and she was involved in an astounding 58 percent of the team’s tallies.

 

“I just played like myself,” she said. “If I think about trying to prove something to someone or winning something – an award – it just freaks me out. So I just play my game.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 done, I don’t want to play this anymore.’ ”

 

 

 

Two years later, Wolan stepped back onto the court as a high school freshman, and his passion for tennis was rekindled.

 

“I missed it,” he said. “It was obviously a big part of my life.’’

 

Wolan qualified for the Illinois High School Association state tournament at singles the past two seasons by winning two straight sectional titles and earned the Regional/Reporter Boys’ Tennis Player of the Year accolades for the second straight year.

 

“It went pretty well,” he said of his junior season. “I was playing a lot better than last year. My goal was to win sectional, and I did that. I played really well.”

 

Wolan lost just three games in eight sets at the Stagg Sectional, and routed teammate Kevin Wacnik in straight sets for the title. Wolan didn’t have nearly the same success at state, going 1-2, but he has his eyes set on a return trip and better results in 2018.

 

“It did not go as planned,” Wolan said of the state tournament. “I played alright, but I could have played better. I’m hoping to come back fighting real strong my senior year, go out with a bang, see if I can get it done.”

 

 

 

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