Latest news from The Southtown Star Online en-us Wed, 28 Jul 2010 14:10:16 PDT Southtown Star logo 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Auto Racing: Logan Love makes the turn back to victory circle ]]> Lead story image

Logan Love has his swagger back. The 2011 Grundy County Speedway street stock champion was absolutely dominant Friday, winning his heat and a feature for the first time in two years. He did it in impressive style, finding his way to the front via the outside groove and leading the last half of the main event. Welcome back to victory circle. “This was our fifth night in a brand new car,” the 26-year-old Plano native said. “We thought we would come out (this season) and this is what it would be like. But it took us a while to get … ]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 02:14:18 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Bowlers use summer leagues to hone skills, stay sharp ]]> Lead story image

One way to stay cool during the summer is to toss some games at the local air-conditioned bowling center. Kevin Kullman, of Lockport, does that twice a week for a minimum of two to three hours, and bowls in a league on another night at Strike ’N Spare II in Lockport. He isn’t necessarily trying to beat the heat. “I treat my game like racers do with their cars in the winter,” the top-average bowler in the Southland said. “I break every little piece down and go through it, get the kinks out. “My grandfather (area short-track stock car legend … ]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 02:13:59 -0500 <![CDATA[ Auto Racing: At Illiana, pure racing from pure stocks ]]> Lead story image

Something very cool happened at the end of a very frustrating Saturday at Illiana Speedway. The rainout, the fifth of the season, was the result of a combination of a downpour in the morning and a very unpromising forecast that made it difficult for both drivers and fans to decide whether to come out to the track. Illiana owner/promoter Mike Mikuly, watching the radar and seeing projections for a long break in between precipitation, decided at 1 p.m. to go for it. Word spread via social media, but by the start of practice at 4 p.m. it became apparent the … ]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 02:13:22 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Valen Manns ups her game on soccer field, volleyball court ]]> Lead story image

Between May 30 and June 23, Lincoln-Way North’s Valen Manns had one of the most excellent adventures a high school athlete possibly could imagine. During this time she: Played on Illinois’ biggest high school soccer stage, recording an assist in a Class 3A state semifinal. Traveled with her club volleyball team to Orlando, Florida, to play in the 2014 AAU Girls Junior Nationals. Competed against some of the best volleyball players in the nation at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex. Was one of just 14 girls to earn All-American honors in the 17 Premier Division. “I’m still in … ]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 02:14:25 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Division races taking shape at Grundy County Speedway ]]> Lead story image

Halfway home, let’s turn our focus to the goings on at Grundy County Speedway, where there are some hot points battles and one, well, not so much. It’s coming down to a four-man race in the late-model class. With his win Friday night, defending track champion Ricky Baker opened up his lead over Eddie Hoffman to a 689-654 margin. Larry Schuler is right there in third with 630 points, while Scott Koerner is within striking distance at 615. Baker, who broke a monthlong dry spell last week, has four feature wins to go along with four fast-qualifying times and one … ]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 00:47:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Heady times for Marist alums Colleen Biebel, Lauren Niemiera ]]> Lead story image

Catching up with former Marist ace pitcher Colleen Biebel isn’t easy. She was a pretty fast mover during a visit last week to her first summer softball camp as the first-year coach of the RedHawks. Biebel went from one station to another, working with outfielders, teaching batting techniques and instructing pitchers from first-graders through incoming freshmen. With Biebel patrolling the grounds, no kid went unnoticed. Denise Bromberek would have been pleased. Her protege has hit the ground running. “I’m very excited,” Biebel said. “Denise has been a great mentor. She built a great program over here. I’m looking forward to … ]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 15:56:15 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Give up? Not Illiana Speedway owner/promoter Mike Mikuly ]]> Lead story image

Let’s meander with Illiana Speedway owner/promoter Mike Mikuly. Saturday’s rainout was the fourth in the 11 scheduled dates so far in 2014, just one away, Mikuly said, from the most washouts he ever has had in a single season since taking over the track in 2000. The last of the street stocks had just taken a qualifying session when the skies opened up with a fury and created gigantic puddles on the quarter-mile. Meanwhile, not that many miles away at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, there was only a hint of rain and the Route 66 Nationals went on without … ]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 02:12:43 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Allie Quigley right at home with WNBA’s Sky ]]> Lead story image

Turkey. Hungary. Slovakia. Poland, Croatia. Romania. Phoenix, San Antonio, Indiana, Seattle. Allie Quigley has played basketball everywhere, man. But there’s no place like home, and to that end the 28-year-old Joliet native today is living the dream at Allstate Arena. Quigley, a former star at Joliet Catholic and DePaul, is putting up the biggest numbers of her seven-year WNBA career. Through 15 games she is averaging 22.1 minutes and 9.5 points per game for the Sky (7-8). “It’s a breakout season for her all around,” Sky media and communications coordinator (and Marist grad) Lauren Niemiera said. “She’s got career highs … ]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 02:13:26 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Never too early to start thinking ‘dome, sweet dome’ ]]> Lead story image

Looking back and ahead … some final softball thoughts. I wonder how many coaches are going to be quicker on their cellphones during the winter and schedule some early games for the Rosemont or McCook domes? Richards, Bremen, Lemont, Lincoln-Way Central, Homewood-Flossmoor and Sandburg were able to get in games in March while many others had to wait it out. I’d like to see Rosemont clear its schedule in March so some prime-time games can be played. There is something to be said for courage, but I’ve still got to award the WORST decision of the state playoffs to the … ]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 06:18:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ Auto Racing: Illiana clearing turbo stox/street stocks situation ]]> Lead story image

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Or at least a meeting of the minds. The latter happened Saturday at Illiana Speedway, where several turbo stox/street stocks competitors answered an SOS from track owner Mike Mikuly regarding low car counts. The week before there were just six turbos in the feature — this in a division that just three years ago averaged 18 to 20 cars. The reasons for the dearth of cars is a combination of, I believe, the expense to build cars vs. payoff, rules not being the same between Illiana and Grundy County Speedway, drivers complaining that rules … ]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:05:52 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Final run caps memorable 2014 softball season in Southland ]]> Lead story image

Sandburg vs. Lincoln-Way East in a Class 4A state softball semifinal. Who saw THAT coming? Have to admit, not yours truly. At least not on March 24. In our preseason Top 10 we had Sandburg fourth. Lincoln-Way East was, umm ... cough, cough ... No. 10. At least I had them in there. I passed on Beecher, although I certainly came to appreciate the talent of Sarah Crews, Emily Landis and freshman Taylor Johnson well before the Bobcats’ 2A playoff run to state. Anyway, Griffins coach Elizabeth Pawlicki made me feel a little less dumb during one of our interviews … ]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 06:20:20 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Sandburg content as 2nd place, not 2nd best ]]> Lead story image

If, if and if, perhaps Sandburg’s postseason fairy-tale story would have had a fairy-tale ending Saturday at EastSide Centre. ]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:48:40 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Way cool: Sandburg doesn’t lose composure ]]> Lead story image

EAST PEORIA — Sandburg had a lot of things go right in its Class 4A state semifinal game Friday against Lincoln-Way East at EastSide Centre. The Eagles had some aggressive hitting by Bri Soltis, Sarah Herold, Katie Krzus and Karli McLaughlin that led to early runs. They had three highlight-reel catches by Maddie Hanley, Kristen Zarate and Soltis. But if there was one important thing that carried the Eagles over the top in the 5-1 victory, it was keeping their cool. There were several points where they could have cracked and didn’t. Let us count the ways. Keeping their cool … ]]> Sat, 14 Jun 2014 15:16:30 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: 19-year-old driver’s pursuits take flight ]]> Lead story image

The first time Danielle Dobczyk climbed into a pure stock on opening night at Grundy County Speedway last season, the instructions from her dad didn’t come with much detail. “He just kind of threw me out there,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I was like, ‘Dad, are you going to give me any advice or anything?’ He said, ‘Well, go fast and turn left.’ I said, ‘Thanks.” She finished third in the heat. “That was a good night,” she said, smiling. “That when I knew what I wanted to do.” What happened the rest of the … ]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 06:38:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ Auto Racing: Tire error leads to Eddie Hoffman’s DQ at Grundy County Speedway ]]> Lead story image

Tales from the pits ... Typically, drivers are disqualified after races for doing something illegal in order to improve their chances to win. Veteran late-model driver Eddie Hoffman was DQ’d after Friday’s feature at Grundy County Speedway for doing something quite the opposite. According to the rules, drivers must compete in the feature race on the same tires on which they qualified. The tires are marked with a color marker by a track official. Drivers are allowed, however, to use older tires for the heat if they desire in order to save some tread. So it was with Hoffman, who … ]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 06:36:39 -0500 <![CDATA[ BARANEK: Coach’s pep talk draws inspiration ]]> Lead story image

Sarah Crews’ pitches were all over the place, and she looked a bit unsettled throwing them. Saturday’s Class 2A sectional final against host Reed-Custer was not the best time and place for loading the bases with nobody out and giving an underdog team a chance to draw first blood. It was the very best time for Beecher coach Kevin Hayhurst to make a visit to the circle. Hayhurst spent the better part of a minute talking with Crews, her catcher and her infielders. “I tried to just be a calming effect on her,” Hayhurst said. “It was a big game, … ]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 06:21:29 -0500 <![CDATA[ Auto Racing: Tom Crawford’s Turbo Cluck a big hit at Illiana Speedway ]]> Lead story image

One of the most popular figures during a trackside autograph session Monday at Illiana Speedway wasn’t signing. Turbo Cluck was more interested in getting some chicken scratch than providing it. Pure stocks competitor Tom Crawford’s pet hen has been quite the cause celebre in the pit area at Illiana this season. Her name prominently is displayed on the side of Crawford’s No. 73, and she’s got a nice spot on the trailer where she does whatever it is that hens do while Crawford is turning circles around the quarter-mile. Crawford has been in victory lane in 2014, recording his first … ]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 06:24:59 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: 19-year-old driver’s pursuits take flight ]]> Lead story image

The first time Danielle Dobczyk climbed into a pure stock on opening night at Grundy County Speedway last season, the instructions from her dad didn’t come with much detail. “He just kind of threw me out there,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I was like, ‘Dad, are you going to give me any advice or anything?’ He said, ‘Well, go fast and turn left.’ I said, ‘Thanks.” She finished third in the heat. “That was a good night,” she said, smiling. “That when I knew what I wanted to do.” What happened the rest of the … ]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 06:38:56 -0500