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Auto Racing: At Illiana, pure racing from pure stocks

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 …

Baranek: Valen Manns ups her game on soccer field, volleyball court

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. …

Baranek: Division races taking shape at Grundy County Speedway

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 …

Baranek: Heady times for Marist alums Colleen Biebel, Lauren Niemiera

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, …

Baranek: Give up? Not Illiana Speedway owner/promoter Mike Mikuly

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 …

Baranek: Allie Quigley right at home with WNBA’s Sky

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 …

Baranek: Never too early to start thinking ‘dome, sweet dome’

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 …

Auto Racing: Illiana clearing turbo stox/street stocks situation

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 …

Baranek: Final run caps memorable 2014 softball season in Southland

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. …

  • Baranek: Sandburg content as 2nd place, not 2nd best

    If, if and if, perhaps Sandburg’s postseason fairy-tale story would have had a fairy-tale ending Saturday at EastSide Centre.

  • Baranek: Way cool: Sandburg doesn’t lose composure

    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 …Read More

  • Baranek: 19-year-old driver’s pursuits take flight

    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 …Read More

  • Auto Racing: Tire error leads to Eddie Hoffman’s DQ at Grundy County Speedway

    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 …

    BARANEK: Coach’s pep talk draws inspiration

    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 …

    Auto Racing: Tom Crawford’s Turbo Cluck a big hit at Illiana Speedway

    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 …

    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 …

    Baranek: GSU the right move for former JCA coach Schodrof

    To say that Ed Schodrof is a content guy as he leaves Joliet Catholic after six years as the head girls basketball coach would not be an overstatement. Truly, he’s content in all aspects. For one thing, he leaves having successfully rebuilt a program at …