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Annual H-F senior sports banquet caps a stellar athletic year

Dozens of awards were handed out to graduating athletes at the 39th Annual Homewood-Flossmoor Senior Athletic Banquet but it was a mass celebration June 1 at Idlewild Country Club in Flossmoor.

  H-F softball player Emily Montalvo  receives the
  Nikki Navarette Memorial Softball Scholarship from
  friends and family of the late Lady Vikings softball
  player.
(Photos by R.L. Anderson/H-F Chronicle)
 

Dozens of awards were handed out to graduating athletes at the 39th Annual Homewood-Flossmoor Senior Athletic Banquet but it was a mass celebration.

 
“This night itself is really one big award, one big celebration,” said H-F Athletic Director Dan Vosnos as the festivities got underway June 1 at Idlewild Country Club in Flossmoor.  “It’s our version of prom and graduation wrapped into one nice dinner.”
 
  H-F High Superintendent
  Von Mansfield presented  
  Jamie Robinson with a
  plaque recognizing her
  selection to the SWSC
  All-Academic Athletic
  team. She also won three
  events at the Girls track
  and field state finals.
 
 

A highlight each year is the awarding of the Calvin Mall Award, which Vosnos characterized as “the most prestigious and longest running award” that H-F bestows on male athletes. The award memorializes one of the school’s earliest star athletes who was killed in an auto accident a few months before graduation in 1963.

 
The Mall winner must have participated in at least two sports as a senior, display “a wholesome attitude toward athletics, team members and coaches,” and be in good academic standing.
 
Michael Bonthron was announced as this year’s Calvin Mall Award winner. He was on the boys swimming and water polo teams.
 
The equivalent female athlete designation is the Jan Nolting Award named for H-F’s first girls golf coach. Nolting started the program in 1974 just as girls sports were being organized at high schools around the state. Nolting’s teams won four state titles 
― in 1979, 1981, 1984 and 1985. She died at age 51 and, since then, H-F’s top female athlete has been named in her honor.
 
Samantha Klupchak, a member of the girls swimming and water polo squads, was named this year’s winner of the Nolting Award.
 
Several other H-F athletes were honored.
 
Another member of the girls swimming and water polo teams, Kacy Kirk, was presented with the Female Athlete 110 Percent Award. Among other attributes, Kirk was described as being “the embodiment of toughness and love.” It was noted that she was almost cut from the Junior Varsity swimming team as a sophomore and then tried out for the water polo squad. Against the odds, she started every game this year for the water polo team and emerged as one of the team’s best defensive players.
 
A football and track and field athlete, Trevor Eckols was named winner of the Male Athlete 110 Percent Award.
 
Track and field coach Nate Beebe described Eckols as “one of those rare athletes that a coach can ask to lead a workout or fill in at a position of need and know that everything will be done with attention to detail and at maximum effort.”
 
The Karen Roseberry Memorial School Spirit Award winner was Will Knox of the boys tennis squad.
 
Several scholarships were presented.
 
Justin Correll and Kayla Lewis won $1,000 scholarships in the memory of former H-F Athletic Director Alec Anderson. Correll plays football and baseball and plans to pursue both sports at Illinois Wesleyan University. Lewis was a member of the girls badminton team.
 
Emily Montalvo was awarded the Nikki Navarette Memorial Softball Scholarship. Montalvo was a star on this year’s H-F softball squad. The scholarship was created by many teammates and friends, several of whom were in attendance, in memory of Navarette, who once played for the Lady Vikings Softball program.
 
Girls tennis player Jane Wenckus and SeVonn Jordan of the boys gymnastics team were awarded the Daniel H. Murray Memorial Scholarships. This scholarship is awarded to H-F athletes who “demonstrate athleticism as well as courage, desire and dedication.”  The award is named for the son of former Homewood-Flossmoor Superintendent Dr. Laura Murray.
 
Throughout the banquet three VSPY’s, Viking Sports Performances of the Year, were revealed to the audience.
 
The VSPY for “Best Contest/Game” went to the boys track and field team as the Viking varsity team responsible for the single game or contest deemed the best of the year. The team won the 2017 Combined State Championship, qualified in 11 events at the state finals, won the state title in the 4X100 relay and were led by Aaron Holiday’s three medals.
 
Girls track and field star Jamie Robinson was cited for the VSPY “Best Moment Award.” Robinson’s “remarkable, compelling or entertaining” series of moments included three championships in the Class 3A state finals in the triple jump (setting a new Illinois High School Association state record), long jump and 200-meter dash.  She also placed fourth in the 100-meter dash.
 
The VSPY “Outstanding Team Award” honored the boys track and field team for its IHSA Combined State Championship, 12 all-state athletes, a first place finish in four of six major invitationals, Southwest Suburban Conference championship, IHSA Sectional championship and qualifying in 11 state final events.
 
Several H-F teams brought home trophies this school year. In addition to the boys track and field team, the football and girls basketball squads were also Southwest Suburban Conference champs. More than 80 Viking athletes were named to All-Conference teams.
 
Other team championships at the state level included the girls basketball sectional, girls track and field sectional and boys track and field sectional championships. The girls track and field team placed second in the state final meet.
 
Superintendent Von Mansfield presented 40 athletes with plaques for being named to the Southwest Suburban Conference All-Academic Athlete Team. Other plaques were presented to the athletes who earned at least one varsity letter during their senior year.
 
“What great examples of success these students are, for all they achieved,” Mansfield said. “These sports have been the ‘big leagues’ to them after years of youth and middle school sports. This shows what happens when the community and parents and teachers do things the right way.”

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