The 2017-2018 Geneseo year-in-review.
The 2017-2018 season had a shade of every emotion for Geneseo athletics.
While some didn’t achieve everything they strived for, their passion left no doubt that they gave every bit of themselves in the pursuit of getting better.
In the final game of the regular season, Geneseo rallied in the second half to defeat state-ranked Morris 21-17, at Bob Reade Field and secure its 55th-winning season.
Trailing 17-14 with less than a minute remaining, Geneseo quarterback Isaiah Rivera fired a strike to Jaren Brucher streaking down the sideline.
Brucher dove into the end zone after a near shoestring tackle inside the five-yard line.
With time running out, a Morris sideline throw was intercepted by Zac Olson to seal Geneseo’s comeback win with 18 seconds remaining.
A pair of Hail Mary throws in the final seconds of the Class 4A first-round playoff game went unanswered, and the Green Machine was defeated by Dixon in a shootout 40-35.
The Lady Leafs made sure the trophy for their invite was staying in Geneseo after the Geneseo Invitational.
The Leafs’ Jenna Cheek was the individual medalist with an 81, and
Geneseo won the team title at Sugar Maple Golf Club.
The Lady Leafs won the Northern Illinois Big 12 Invite crown for the eighth-consecutive season.
A junior, the Lady Leafs’ Cheek was runner-up carding a personal best 77.
The Lady Leafs shot a 360 team score to earn the Class 1A Putnam Country Regional title by 24 strokes.
It was the fifth regional title in school history since 2007, and the Lady Leafs’ first regional victory since 2015.
Geneseo’s Cheek finished runner-up individually with an 84.
At sectionals, the Lady Leafs proved they were peaking at the right time.
Geneseo shot a season-best team score of 336 finishing third and realized their goal of reaching state as a team.
The Leafs’ Cheek fired an 80 to tie for sixth individually, and Lauren Murray tied for 10th with an 81.
The Geneseo girls’ golf team made school history with the lowest team score at the state meet.
The Lady Leafs finished in ninth place among a 12-team field with a two-day total of 733 strokes.
Geneseo’s Murray finished tied for 48th with a 175 (89+86), and Jenna Cheek finished tied for 55th with a 177 (93+84).
Geneseo won the Northern Illinois Big 12 West title and finished third overall.
A sophomore, Seth Winchell shot the low round for the Leafs with an 80 to finish tied for ninth overall.
Geneseo’s Mick Haverland fired an 83 to finish tied for 15th, and Will Pace and Danny Ford each finished with an 87 to tie for 22nd place.
The Maple Leafs finished runner-up at the Class 2A Mendota Regional.
Geneseo’s Haverland fired an 84 to finish fifth individually.
The Leafs finished in ninth in the team competition at sectionals, and Winchell finished two strokes away from reaching state finishing with an 86.
The Maple Leafs’ victory over the Silver Streaks in the Class 2A Galesburg Regional reinforced how much this team had improved this season.
On a free kick from Brandon Gallagher, the Maple Leafs’ Reed Adams saw the keeper come protect the left side post, and he was able to blast a header into the right back corner of the net.
In the regional championship, the Leafs’ defense was stellar, but a relentless Peoria Notre Dame offensive attack was enough for the Irish to sneak past Geneseo 1-0.
The Maple Leafs’ Zach Bauer finished with 13 saves.
The Lady Leafs defeated Kewanee 25-18, 25-19 in the first round of the Class 3A Geneseo Regional.
With Geneseo improving to 17-12-2 on the season, the Lady Leafs tallied the most wins since the 2009 season (21-10-1).
Hannah Himmelman finished with six kills and was the team leader in blocks, and Elli Weller notched a team-high 16 digs and two aces.
Second-seeded Sterling got the best of the Lady Leafs 25-14, 25-15 in the regional semifinal.
The Lady Leafs finished runner-up at the Geneseo Invitational finishing the tournament with a 3-1 record.
Geneseo’s Jane Thomas and Madi Miller made school history becoming the first doubles team to reach the second day of the Class 1A State Tennis Tournament.
The duo became the first Geneseo doubles team to finish among the elite 16-32 at state after earning a pair of victories.
At sectionals, Miller and Thomas punched their tickets to state after finishing runner-up at the Class 1A Galesburg Sectional.
Geneseo’s Miller and Thomas finished runner-up in the No. 1 doubles bracket at the Northern Illinois Big 12 tournament, and the Lady Leafs finished third in the team standings.
The Leafs’ Bryann Brophy finished third in No. 1 singles with a 6-2, 6-3 win in the third-place match.
Boys’ cross country
The Geneseo boys’ cross country team had every member finish in the top 25 at the Class 2A Peoria Notre Dame Regional.
Blake Duncan paced Geneseo with a third-place finish in 17:32, and the Maple Leafs finished third in the team standings.
Geneseo finished the season 10th at the Class 2A Normal U-High Sectional.
Duncan paced Geneseo with a 31st-place finish in 16:15, and he was just 14 seconds away from landing the final individual qualifying spot for state.
Girls’ cross country
The Geneseo girls’ cross country team finished fourth at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Meet with three members earning All-Conference honors.
Geneseo’s Josie Brown, Anna Girten and Lauren Belvel each earned All-Conference after finishing in the top 16.
Brown paced the Lady Leafs with a sixth-place finish in 19:07, Belvel finished 13th in 19:48 and Girten raced to a 16th-place finish in 20:08.
The Lady Leafs’ cross country team finished fourth, and Brown finished fifth (20:20) individually at the Class 2A Peoria Notre Dame Regional.
Geneseo had its season end with an 11th-place finish at the Class 2A Normal U-High Sectional.
Brown paced the Lady Leafs with a 27th place finish in 18:53, and she finished 18 seconds away from earning a qualifying spot at state.
Billy Blaser’s fourth-place finish at state tied the highest finish for a Geneseo wrestler in the 285-pound weight class.
It was a special season for Blaser who earned the Geneseo Bi-State 285-pound title with a 3-1 decision in the championship match.
A week later, Blaser was the Northern Illinois Big 12 champion of the 285-pound bracket with a 1-0 win by decision in the title match in front of a home crowd in Geneseo.
The Leafs’ Heath Henderson had his highest finish of the season taking third in the 170-pound bracket with a victory by pin in 1:57 in the third-place bout, and Luke Henkhaus battled his way back to take third.
Blaser added another first to his resume, winning the Class 2A Rock Falls Regional with a 9-0 victory in the championship match.
The Maple Leafs’ Andrew Rizzo returned from a knee injury and finished second in the 138-pound bracket, and Josh Decker fought his way through a tough 160-pound bracket to take third.
Henderson earned his first sectional berth with a victory by pin finish third, and Joe Stohl earned a return ticket to sectionals with a 5-4 win by decision in the third-place match of the 220-pounds.
At sectionals, Blaser and Rizzo each earned their first taste of state.
Blaser earned an exciting overtime win in the 285-pound Class 2A Sycamore Sectional championship match, and Rizzo finished runner-up in the 138-pound bracket.
The Lady Leafs went on a 13-game winning streak, won the NIB 12 West title and finished with a 20 win season for the first time since 2012.
During their 13-game win streak, Geneseo won a majority of the games in blowout fashion.
However, the Lady Leafs needed everyone to clinch the conference title with a 43-33 victory over runner-up Ottawa.
Tori Verbeck finished with 12 points, and Hannah Himmelman finished with nine points.
Kaitlyn Webster scored four points and played lockdown defense in the second half, and Anna McAvoy scored on a pair of offensive rebounds to help build a cushion late in the game.
Geneseo’s win streak began with a sweep of the field at the Kewanee MLK Tournament with victories over Peoria Manual, Mundelein, Kewanee and Orion.
In a back-and-forth regional semifinal game, the host Irish defeated Geneseo 63-57 to bring the season to a close.
Jacob McConnell’s buzzer-beater was perhaps the perfect culmination of the Maple Leafs’ first game on the basketball court.
It wasn’t expected, it wasn’t always pretty, but it was enough for a 46-45 victory in the season opener against Rockridge in the Central Bank Thanksgiving Tournament.
Isaiah Rivera scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Jarron Nordstrom finished with 10 points and three boards.
Rivera proved he was capable of big things scoring 40 points against Rock Falls a few games later in the tournament.
A sophomore, Rivera earned the PrepHoopsIllinois Player of the Week honor on Jan. 26.
He garnered 50.1 percent of the vote online after he scored 33 points in Geneseo’s game against Ottawa.
Geneseo battled to come back and tie the game in the fourth quarter, but the Maple Leafs’ mistakes proved costly in the regional quarterfinal against Chillicothe.
IVC defeated the Maple Leafs 49-45 in the first-round game to end Geneseo’s season with a 9-18 record.
Geneseo’s Brynn Johnson finished fourth in the all-around with a score of 29.7 at the Geneseo Invitational, and the Leafs’ Alexys Johnson finished fifth in the all-around with a score of 28.6.
The Lady Leafs’ Caylie Hessler finished 10th in the all-around (29.0), and she finished with a team-best 13th-place finish on the balance beam (7.5) at the Lincoln-Way East Regional.
Geneseo’s Kyler Rusk had his postseason run end at the DeKalb Sectional tournament.
Rusk finished 43 pins shy of becoming the first Geneseo bowler to reach the state meet with a 1272 six-game series at Mardi Gras Lanes, in DeKalb.
Rusk rolled his way to a 16th-place finish at regionals with an 1187 six-game series.
The Lady Leafs’ Emily Pobanz qualified for the LaSalle-Peru Sectional as the Geneseo bowling team began postseason competition, and Rachel Clementz became the first Geneseo bowler to earn NIB 12 All-Conference honors.
Clementz rolled a team-best 1182 six-game series to finish in 11th place at the NIB 12 tournament, and Pobanz finished one pin shy of becoming the first Geneseo bowler to reach the state tournament.
A junior, Pobanz rolled a 1251 six-game series to finish ninth at the LaSalle-Peru Sectional tournament.
Clementz was the top individual finisher at the Geneseo Holiday Classic at Lee’s Lanes rolling her way to top individual honors with a six-game series of 1274, and she finished the tournament with a single-game high of 256.
In just her second jump of the season, Erika Furbeck dazzled with a long jump distance of 20’1.5” which tied her for the second-best current long jump mark in the nation.
It was only the beginning for Furbeck who earned the state long jump title with a state record distance of 19’11.25”.
At sectionals, Furbeck set a new school record with a jaw-dropping jump of 20’7”.
Furbeck added individual sectional titles in the 100-meter dash (12.78), 200 (26.05) and 400 (59.25).
The Lady Leafs cleaned up at the Plano 2A Sectional winning the team title for the first time in five years and sending athletes to state in 11 total events.
Tori Verbeck won the shot put with a PR throw of 35’5”, and she was able to compete in the 300 hurdles finishing third in 50.29.
Rebekah Beard earned her first state trip finishing runner-up in the triple jump with a distance of 35’3.50”.
Abby Reakes won the high jump title clearing 5’2”, and she’s seeded fifth in the event going into state.
Maddi Barickman earned a state ticket in her freshman season with a throw of 106’1” in the discus.
Reece Bodeen punched a return ticket to state finishing runner-up in the 300 hurdles in 48.88, and she finished fourth in the 100 hurdles in 17.12.
Josie Brown earned a return trip to state in the 800 with a runner-up finish in 2:24.18.
Geneseo’s 4x200-relay team of Julia Poel, Alex Horne, Beard and Alison Bowers finished runner-up for a state berth in 1:50.11.
Geneseo finished 11th in the team standings at state, which is the second-best finish in school history. Geneseo finished ninth in 2011.
Reakes finished 12th in the high jump, and Geneseo’s Brown reached the state finals for the first time, finishing 12th in the 800 in 2:23.32.
Geneseo’s Nick Swartzendruber won the state title in the 400-meter dash pulling ahead of defending state champion VanHarvey Vance from Rich Central in the final 10 meters.
Swartzendruber shattered the school record in the 400 finishing in 48.49.
During Swartzendruber and Reed Vanderheyden’s four years, Geneseo has finished in 11th place, second place, fourth place and fifth place as a team.
Swartzendruber finished fourth in the 800 setting a new school record in 1:54.66.
Vanderheyden’s leap to the finish line in the 300 hurdles earned him a runner-up (38.28) finish separated from champion Steven Migut (38.20) of Tolono by just .08 seconds.
At sectionals, Geneseo won the team title with Swartzendruber and Vanderheyden combined to qualify for five state berths.
Vanderheyden won titles in the 110 hurdles (15.09) and the 300 hurdles (39.18).
A senior, Vanderheyden qualified for state in the 300 hurdles all four years and qualified in the 110 hurdles three consecutive years.
Swartzendruber earned titles in the 400 and 800.
Geneseo’s 4x400 relay of Vanderheyden, Kaden Rink, Colton Pischke and Swartzendruber earned a state berth finishing second in 3:25.45.
The Leafs’ Blake Duncan ran inspired finishing runner-up in the 1600 in 4:33.54 to earn a state trip.
In the 4x800 relay, Geneseo’s relay team of Spencer Lindstrom, Neo Colter, Duncan and Rink were the surprise of the meet winning the event in 8:18.33.
Geneseo’s Brandon Gallagher and Mick Haverland were paired together late in the season but that didn’t stop the duo from qualifying for the state meet in doubles.
At sectionals, Gallagher and Haverland finished runner-up in doubles, and Mason Miller earning a spot at state in singles as a freshman.
Miller became the first Geneseo player to earn a win at state in his freshman season.
Haverland and Gallagher earned a win at state, and they captured the NIB 12 Conference tournament title.
Geneseo made it an even 10 regional titles in the past 11 years.
Geneseo scored a pair of goals in the opening 20 minutes and finished with a 4-0 victory over Streator to claim their fifth-consecutive regional title.
Rachel Daniels scored in the seventh minute to give the Leafs the lead, and Taylor DeSplinter found the back of the net in the 10th minute.
Keeli Frerichs scored on a penalty kick just seven minutes into the second half, and Heather Dietrich bullied her way to a goal in the 63rd minute.
The Lady Leafs defense posted seven-consecutive shutouts leading up to the regional championship game.
The Lady Leafs were defeated 3-0 in the sectional semifinal match against Peoria Notre Dame.
Geneseo finished with a 17-4 record and finished undefeated in the NIB12 conference and won the DeKalb Tournament.
After being in the championship game the past two years, the Lady Leafs won the Washington Invite title for the first time.
The Lady Leafs earned a dramatic win over ranked Barrington at the Washington Tournament.
Geneseo’s Allison Yager drove in the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth to push Geneseo past Barrington 2-1 in the eighth.
Geneseo’s Jane Thomas pitched six no-hit innings with no walks and five strikeouts, and Ostrowski earned the save pitching the final two innings limiting Barrington to one run on three hits.
In the championship game of the Washington Tournament, the Lady Leafs scored four runs in the fourth inning to earn a 5-1 victory in the championship game against Kaneland.
Ostrowski hit a two-run double in the fourth inning, and Elli Weller hit a two-run single to cap the four-run fourth.
In the regional semifinal game, the Lady Leafs’ Thomas and Ostrowski combined to pitch a shutout and Geneseo’s offense did enough to earn a 3-0 victory over IVC, in Pontiac, on May 24.
Thomas earned the win in the circle pitching three innings scattering a pair of hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
A junior, Ostrowski pitched lights out in relief throwing four hitless innings with no walks and six strikeouts to earn her third save of the season.
Ostrowski hit an RBI single in the third inning to drive in Ava Bieneman to earn Geneseo a 1-0 advantage.
In the fourth inning, Bailey Mitchell clubbed a two-run home run to extend Geneseo’s advantage to 3-0.
A pair of home runs earned Pontiac a 2-0 victory over Geneseo in the regional championship game.
Geneseo’s Jaren Brucher made a triumphant return to the mound pitching a shutout to push Geneseo past IVC 1-0 in the first-round regional game.
Brucher allowed just one hit and pitched a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
A junior, he finished with 12 strikeouts, no walks and one batter hit by a pitch.
Kyle Wise hit a sacrifice fly to score Cole Hartman and give Geneseo the lead in the fifth inning.
In the regional semifinal, No. 1 seeded Dunlap defeated Geneseo 10-0 in six innings.