BY ANDREW ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS — Springfield honored its cheerleading, cross country, football and girls tennis teams during the second half of the fall sports awards program on November 7. As he had done during the first half of the program on October 30, Springfield athletic director Robb Brown acted as master of ceremonies for the event. “It is awesome to be able to celebrate these kids and their accomplishments,” he said. “Tonight is another one of those nights where we get to do that and congratulate young people for all their efforts.” After introducing school board members Ev Harris and Sherri Koback, assistant superintendent Mike O’Shea, principal Steve Gwin, assistant athletic director Frank Kohlhoffer and athletic booster secretary Cathy Quinto, Brown spoke briefly about what competition and athletics do for kids. “Each of these kids learns about being tested,” he said. “They learn what it takes to make it through a pressure situation. They learn what it means to set goals, to overcome obstacles, to change their perspective – that in the face of defeat to pick themselves back up and go out there and work hard again. I think these things are very valuable to young people. I think it does them well in the real world.” Brown then introduced 40 seniors and their parents before narrowing the group down to 24 who earned their senior all-academic awards by maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA up until this point. With the help of O’Shea and Gwin, Brown brought up Chloe Chochard, Melina Esquivel, Tiffany Osborn and Emma Sweatt (cheerleading), Lawrence Gardner, Nicolette Hersch, Tai Hofmann, Kurt Metz, Chris Park, Parth Patel, Kohl Taberner, Valerie Thigpen, Samantha White, Adam Whitehead, Emily Wood, Joe Wood and Mariya Zhalkovsky (cross country), Brian Chamberlain, Ross Lonsway, Navada Parker, Joey Wurzelbacher and Kyle Young (football) and Kelsey Escue and Miranda Spillett (tennis). “Obviously, that’s an outstanding group,” Brown said. “There is a lot of senior leadership in there that has really helped our teams grow. I think that’s part of the reason we had such nice successes this year and I can’t say thank you enough to those older kids that chose to stake this lifestyle out.” In between the seniors and their parents and the senior all-academic presentations, Koback and Quinto joined Brown to present cheerleader Alyssa Douglas, cross country runners Phil Wood and Karina Zielinski, football player Elijah Todd and tennis player Macey Mauriello with Outstanding Performance Awards. During this part of the program, the five athletes were presented with the plaques that hung in several area businesses throughout the season and read their coaches’ thoughts on what had made them outstanding performers. From there, Brown called up cross country coaches Marty Perlaky and Michelle Bryan and tennis coach Gina Ciminillo separately to help him present their all-Northern Lakes League awards before the four squads shuffled off to their own rooms for individual team awards (football voting had yet to take place at the time of the program). Before the large crowd broke up for individual team awards, Brown called the boys cross country team to the front of the auditorium to celebrate Springfield’s first NLL championship in school history. During the special recognition, the runners were given a standing ovation for their efforts. Cheerleading Coach Jennifer Harter’s 2013 varsity cheerleading squad included a trio of second-year members in Chloe Chochard, Melina Esquivel and Emma Sweatt. Remaining members included 16 first-year members in Dashayla Austin, Allison Campbell, Mackenzie Cupp, Alyssa Douglas, Tatyanna Gardner, Samantha Garza, Kristen Gordon and Breona Johnson. Additional first-year members included Essence Johnson, Alyssa Keeler, Brianna Mekus, Kenzie Merill, Tiffany Osborn, Maya Prince, Mariah Shipman and Taylor Worden. Boys Cross Country It was a historical year for the boys cross country team as the Blue Devils bettered a record 94 opponents, won their first NLL title since 1970 and placed fourth at districts to qualify for regionals for the first time since 1976. Senior captain Kohl Taberner capped an outstanding high school career with Springfield’s second-fastest time in school history at 16:13. He led the Blue Devils 43 times throughout his career, was named Most Valuable Runner this year for the third time, earned first-team all-league honors by winning the NLL championships and placed 21st at regionals. Senior Phil Wood next climbed to sixth on the Blue Devils all-time list with a 16:41. He was named co-Most Valuable Runner along with Taberner, earned first-team league honors and placed 53rd at regionals. Junior Kyle Shively also earned first-team NLL honors, moved up to seventh on Springfield’s all-time list with a 16:42 and placed 60th at regionals. Senior Joe Wood turned in the Blue Devils’ 10th-best time with a 16:53, earned this year’s Harrier Award in the process and placed 108th at regionals. Junior Andrew Messer next ran a 17:01 (11th all-time) and placed 87th at regionals, classmate Derek Messer recorded a 18:20 (31st all time), earned Most Improved honors and placed 123rd at regionals and sophomore Dallas Giesige finished with a best time of 18:21 (32nd all-time), earned Rookie of the Year honors and placed 124th at regionals. Freshman Adam Chamber-lain’s 18:24 was good enough for 34th on Springfield’s all-time list and was the fifth-best freshman time in school history. Junior Jake Reynolds followed Chamberlain with an 18:25 (35th all-time), senior Adam Whitehead turned in an 18:41 (43rd all time), classmate Ben Bucher ran an 18:48 (already 28th all time) and freshman Ben Brandon set a personal record time of 18:49 (44th all time and 10th-best freshman time). Freshman Tysir Baksh (19:17), senior Lawrence Gardner (19:25), freshman C.J. Leffler (19:37), juniors Kevin Upham (19:46) and Kyle Quinto (19:49), freshmen Mason Jordan (19:49) and Noah Fox (19:52) and junior Matt Krueckeberg (19:53) also broke the 20-minute mark for the Blue Devils this year. The team also included junior Mike Nielson (20:30), freshmen Chase Brown (20:35) and Dale Lorenzen (20:54), sophomore Kyle Brooks (21:05) and senior Tai Hofmann (21:06). Seniors Ryan Small (23:07), Chris Park (23:11), Parth Patel (23:33) and Kurt Metz (25:54) and junior Mike Grindle (26:48) were also part of Springfield’s amazing 2013 season. Girls Cross Country This year’s girls team ended up bettering 42 opponents, placed seventh in the league and took eighth at districts. Freshman Abby Yeager split her time between cross county and soccer in 2013, but still finished with Springfield’s best time of 20:26 (seventh all-time, second-best freshman time) – earning her Rookie of the Year honors. Already sitting at No. 15 on the Blue Devils all-time list, junior Karina Zielinski next turned in a 21:17 (eighth-best junior time) and was named the team’s Most Valuable Runner this year. Senior Nicolette Hersch followed with a 21:28 (17th all time, seventh best senior time) and classmate and captain Valerie Thigpen – who owns the No. 15 all-time mark – ran the eighth-best senior time in school history at 21:40 and ended up leading the Blue Devils 25 times throughout her career. Kinsey Zdunczyk was named Most Improved after she moved her way up to No. 25 with a 22:06, fellow sophomore Kayla Evanoff took the No. 30 spot with a 22:41 and classmate Jordan Dascani’s 22:46 put her at No. 31 and earned her this year’s Harrier Award. Eight more Blue Devils made their way onto the all-time list, including sophomore Hannah Robbins with a 22:49 (32nd), freshman Bethany Hersch with a 23:01 (34th), senior Mariya Zhalkovsky with a 23:02 (36th) and junior Sydney Powhida with a 23:04 (37th). Already sitting at Nos. 28 and 38, sophomore Katie Luppino and senior Samantha White turned in a 23:13, and a 23:46 this year, freshman Amber Ruelke is now 42nd with a 23:18 and junior Natalie Yoder holds the 45th-best time of 23:32. This year’s team also included freshmen Liliana Esquivel (24:52) and Alicia Smith (24:57), senior Emily Wood (24:58), sophomore Jamie Keller (26:12), freshman Gabby O’Donnell (27:27) and junior Cassedi Shy (35:59). Football Springfield’s football team won three of its final five games to push its season record to 5-5 (3-4 in league play) this year. The Blue Devils outscored their opponents 275-209 and ended up ranked 16th in Region 4 of Division II. Springfield finished the year with a trio of first-team all-league selections, including running back Elijah Todd, fellow senior and wide receiver Navada Parker and classmate and defensive back Terrance Cole. Todd, who also recorded 23 tackles and a sack on the defensive side of the ball, carried the ball 160 times for a league high of 1,120 yards (7.0 average), caught seven passes for 100 more yards and scored 15 touchdowns. The league’s top receiver, Parker reeled in 41 catches for 667 yards and four touchdowns and Cole made 59 tackles, broke up five passes, recorded four interceptions and forced three fumbles. Junior tackle London Edwards, classmate and receiver/defensive back A.J. Harrison and seniors Shaun Davis (interior lineman), Ross Lonsway (inside linebacker), Louis Fuller (outside linebacker), Kory Petiniot (outside linebacker) and Connor Crayne (secondary) followed with second-team honors. Harrison earned his accolades as a utility player after running the ball three times for 49 yards (16.3 average) and catching 15 passes for 203 more yards. Davis totaled 84 tackles (14 for losses), five sacks and a forced fumble, Lonsway recorded 109 tackles (11 for losses), four sacks and a fumble recovery and Fuller had 61 tackles (nine for losses), three sacks and an interception. Petiniot totaled 75 tackles (five for losses), two sacks and an interception, Cole recorded 59 tackles, forced three fumbles, intercepted four passes and broke up five more and Crayne finished with 64 tackles, broke three passes up, scored two defensive touchdowns and had an interception. Four more Blue Devils earned third-team league honors, including sophomore quarterback Scott Seymour, junior wide receiver Tevin Stuart, junior guard Kelsey Brown and junior outside linebacker Aren Harris. Statistically the league’s top passer, Seymour completed 106-of-235 passes for 1,691 yards and 10 touchdowns and ran the ball 72 times for 359 more yards (5.0 average). Stuart, who also recorded 38 tackles, caught 23 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns and Harris – in addition to running the ball 36 times for 332 yards (9.2 average) – recorded 43 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Along with Lonsway and Todd, senior lineman Kamal Smith also earned his third varsity letter this year and senior lineman Joey Wurzelbacher joined Cole, Crayne, Parker, Petiniot, Seymour and Stuart with a second-year varsity award. First-year awards went to junior receiver Anthony Bronaugh (15 catches for 271 yards), senior kicker Brian Chamberlain (30 extra points, three field goals), senior receiver/defensive back Christian Cooper, senior lineman Markez Cunning-ham, junior lineman Alex Engelhardt, senior tight end/defensive end Devon Gant (three catches for 54 yards, 21 tackles, blocked punt) and junior receiver/ defensive back Treshawn Jones (18 tackles). Additional first-year team members included freshman running back/defensive back Bryant Koback (68 rushing yards, touchdown), senior tight end/FB/linebacker A.J. Myers, junior tight end/LB Jesse Ochoa (21 tackles, sack), sophomore running back/DB Stephan Robinson (70 rushing yards, 16 tackles), freshman lineman/LB Bryan Rogers (16 tackles, sack), sophomore lineman Justin Welch and senior FB/LB Kyle Young (seven tackles). As for team awards, Cole was named Defensive Back of the Year, Davis was named Defensive Lineman of the Year, Edwards received the Pancake Award and Fuller was named Defensive Most Valuable Player. Lonsway was named both Team Most Valuable Player and Linebacker of the Year and also took home the Dick Siegel Award, Smith was named the Offensive Lineman of the Year and Todd was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player. Girls Tennis Springfield’s girls tennis team turned in a successful 2013 campaign by going 9-7 (2-5 in conference play) and finishing fourth at the NLL tournament. Junior Silvia Caniglia played mostly at first singles for the Blue Devils and finished the year with five wins from the toughest spot. Fellow junior Nikki Geiser earned 10 wins while playing mainly at second singles, classmate Macey Mauriello earned third-team all-league honors while going 14-9 – mostly at third singles – and sophomore Hannah Jewell finished with nine wins. Senior Richelle January led Springfield’s doubles players with a 14-9 mark, junior Haley Baxter and freshman Sulli Sanders added 13 victories apiece and junior Abby Hollingsworth finished with 11 wins. Four more Blue Devils earned their varsity letters while splitting time with the junior varsity squad. These players included senior Miranda Spillett (17-0 combined record), juniors Mallory Mason (14-0) and Paige Langenderfer (14-1) and senior Kelsey Escue (13-1). Mauriello ended up topping the team awards by being named Most Valuable Player. Hollingsworth was pegged Most Improved and Baxter took home the Coaches’ Award.