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This Week in Sports - April 15-19, 2024

Articles courtesy of TOM KEEGAN sports@chestertontribune.com 

April 18, 2024

Two meet records fall at CHS Relays

Chesterton boys track coach Bryan Nallenweg has cobbled together quite a 4X400 relay team and not one of the runners is a senior and two came to the relay from the hurdles. Sophomore hurdlers Nathan Vaughan and Cal Wisniewski and 400-meter specialists Louis Raffin, a sophomore, and junior Aaron Resto combined to set a meet record at last Saturday’s Garry Nallenweg Chesterton Relays.

They ran a 3:24.63, breaking the meet record set by Crown Point in 2015. Vaughan also hurdled their way into the meet record book. They joined Kieran Barnewall and Brody Mehling in breaking the shuttle hurdle relay record with a 56.32.

Other first-place finishes for Chesterton: David McGrogan, Trevor Arlington, Oliver Wilgocki and Ray Hundt in the 4X1600 (19:16.14); Evan O’Connor (9:40.79), Oliver Wilgocki (10:19.00) and David McGrogan (10:35.31) in the 3X3200; Resto, Alex Zairis, Devin Throw and Raffin (1:31.74) in the 4X200; Barnewall (39.86), Wisniewski (42.89) and Mehling (47.69, fell) in the 3X300 hurdles; Joe Sandrick (14-0), Alex Drewes (12-0) and Maddox McKinney (11- 6) in the combined pole vault.

The Chesterton girls won the 4X1600. Lauren Kroft, Ali Sierazy, Allison Van Kley and Madison Trumbo combined for a 22:47.44. Lux Mountford, Harper Russell, Aubrey Pulsoni and Kristin McCoy won the 4X100 shuttle hurdle in 1:12.75. Autumn Spencer won the discus with a throw of 116-6.


Pittman at head of talented frosh softball class

Fresh off a tough, 4-3 loss at Portage on Monday night, Chesterton freshman Jilliene Pittman offer a prediction of sorts.

“We’re pretty good,” she said of the freshman class of softball players, a few of whom have earned permanent varsity status already. “I feel like if we practice a lot we’ll be able to come together and we’ll be super good.”

How soon?

“Let’s hope soon,” Pittman said. “Super soon.”

The very next night counts as super soon. In defeating Valparaiso, 18-10 Tuesday night at home, Chesterton banged out 11 hits and committed just one error. That’s four fewer errors than the previous day.

Pittman was more the exception than the rule for the Trojans at Portage in that she stood out defensively, making a couple of impressive plays with the glove after moving across the diamond in the late innings.

She started the season as the only fulltime freshman on the roster and others were promoted here and there for a game or two at the start.

Now two classmates, catcher/outfielder Olivia Milton and first baseman Maddie Nichols, have joined Pittman as permanent varsity Trojans.

Asked what she liked about what Milton brings to the team, Pittman said, “Dude, everything. She is so good. I don’t even know what to say. I haven’t played with her in forever, so it’s super fun I get to play with her. She has a super good energy too, so it’s fun to be around her.”

Pittman hits the ball hard, plays well defensively at both corners of the infield and even plays shortstop in travel ball, but third base is her favorite position and “super” appears to be her favorite word.

In the fall, Pittman played for the freshman volleyball team because she heard a lot of her friends were playing and thought it would be fun to join them, but at heart, she’s a ballplayer.

“I’ve been playing softball, baseball or T-Ball since I was 3,” she said.

Her father, Eric, taught her the game, she said. She wishes he could have been in the bleachers to watch her make those lateinning plays, but his job responsibilities for the Food and Drug Administration had him on a work trip to France.

“He was a multi-sport athlete in high school and he likes to brag about how he had the most aces for volleyball,” Pittman said. “He also played baseball and track. He keeps me going for sports. He’s awesome. He’s super cool.”

Nothing about the way Pittman approaches at bats and softballs hit hard in her direction reveals her freshman status, yet she didn’t head into high school expecting to be a four-year varsity athlete.

“I actually didn’t expect to make it this year,” she said. “I feel like I’m good at hitting sometimes, but I didn’t necessarily expect to make varsity, because I have so many friends who are really good. It’s a cool experience.”

The victory over the Vikings improved Chesterton’s record to 3-10 overall and 2-4 in the DAC.

“We’re definitely coming together,” Pittman said. “The more we work on it in practice, the more it comes alive in games.”


Kania squeaks out win in No. 1 challenge

When two tennis players of similar abilities both are worthy of the No. 1 singles spot, the only fair way to settle it is with a series of challenge matches.

That’s how Chesterton coach Tom Bour had junior Aleksa Sorgic, last season’s No. 1 singles player, and sophomore Kenzie Kania, half of the Trojans’ No. 1 doubles team in 2023, determine the order.

One of those challenge matches at The Courts proved just how closely the players for the defending DAC and sectional champions match up.

The hour was paid for and when the time expired, the score was 8-8, so that didn’t settle anything.

“We went to deuce several times,” Kania said. “It was really fun.”

At a later date, Kania won to clinch the challenge. Score it 3-1-1.

“Once we get on the court we’re going to be fighting for it, but then the right off the court we’re back to being friends again, so it’s a really nice dynamic,” Kania said. “We’re pretty evenly matched.”

Bour – his name is pronounced like Chicago’s NFL entry that hasn’t had a winning record since 2018 – chuckled when he learned that one of the matches at The Courts ended in an 8-8 deadlock. Neither that outcome nor the drama-free aftermath once the order was settled shocked him.

“I figured it was going to be a coin flip. Kenzie edged out Aleksa at the end,” Bour said. “It’s a good problem to have as coaches. We couldn’t be happier with Aleksa and her attitude with everything going down. She’s been great ever since. Great attitude. They get along.”

It wasn’t a case of Sorgic not improving enough.

“Our whole team worked extremely hard in the offseason,” Bour said. “Everyone showed up a lot better than they were last year. Kenzie’s still got some things to work on mechanically, but she’s stronger mentally, she’s got a good grasp on singles strategy, how to adjust during a singles match.”

Kania said that she is a better singles player as a sophomore for having played doubles as a freshman. Playing doubles, she said, made her more aggressive and taught her how to fire right at the opponent when that’s the right play.

Bour explained how the mentality in the two roles differs.

“We talk a lot about boxing is a lot like singles. You and I are boxing and your left eye is cut, I’m going to keep going at your left eye,” he said. “We talk a lot about singles you find weaknesses, you’ve got to keep pounding those weaknesses. She’s so mentally tough. She’s thinking out there, she’s not just reacting off the ball, which a lot of high school kids do, they’re just reacting off the ball. Kenzie, when she’s serving she’s got a purpose. That’s what sets her apart from some girls. She can out-think them, outwork them.”

Being the best player doesn’t necessarily mean having the loudest tools.

“There are girls on this team who can hit it harder and spin it harder and all this,” Bour said. “They just don’t have the overall game that Kenzie does from the mental side, the strategy side, the fitness side. She can run all day out there. She’s in a lot better shape than she was last year. That’s something she said she worked on in the offseason as well, and you can tell. She’s moving well. She’s healthy.”

The Trojans opened the season with a clean sweep of all five positions in in the Logan Invitational. And they followed that by winning the East Noble Invitational, finishing second in the No. 1 doubles and winning every other spot.

So far, the singles lineup has had Kania at No. 1, Sorgic at No. 2 and Lauren Pilarski at No. 3. Doubles: Ava Komp and Ameilia Smith at No. 1, Ellery Denny and Anisa Faroh at No. 2.

The Trojans are scheduled to play at Culver Academies on Friday night.

“I’m excited to see it,” Kania said. “Everyone talks about how beautiful their campus is, so I’m excited to see it.”


Winning friends more important than winning races

Every day at the end of school, as Brennan Olson made his way from Door 31 to his car in the parking lot, there was no avoiding the distance runners hanging out, preparing for that day’s practice.

The daily ritual started with Olson’s friends Tyler Herzog and David McGrogan and “then it spread throughout the team,” Olson said. “Every time I was walking out to the car, they were all messing with me: ‘Hey, come on out, come on out and run. When are you going to come out for the team and run?’”

Distance coach Tom Moeller, who has an affinity for underdogs, wasn’t about to do anything to stop the recruiting effort.

“One day, I had enough, so I said, ‘All right,’ and I joined the team,” said Olson, who has been running the 3,200 meters this spring.

He joined the track team as a junior and the cross country squad as a senior.

He did so knowing that he never will compete in a varsity conference meet or a sectional, a regional meet or a state competition. He knows he won’t win a race or earn any second-place or third-place points.

And he loves it.

Born nine weeks early, Olson has a number of health issues that add challenges to the many that already exist for distance runners.

“I power through it,” Olson said. “At least I try to.”

He shared some of what restricts him athletically.

“I have hydrocephalus, so I have issues with my brain draining fluid,” Olson said. “So, I have two medical devices, one in my head and one under my arm. So, I couldn’t play soccer and I couldn’t play baseball because when you’re in your batting stance your arm is left open and the baseball can hit it. And in soccer, they expect you to head the ball, so I wasn’t able to do either of those. And tennis, I more did it for a leisure sport than competitive reasons, so I didn’t make the team my freshman year.”

Olson said the medical devices are called shunts and described them as “a connection of tubes going from my brain into my spine and then back into other spots of my body. There’s a cavity in my stomach that distributes it, too. If not, my brain swells up with food.”

Olson also battles asthma.

“I have really poor lungs, so it’s kind of difficult for me to get out and run when sometimes I have trouble breathing when I’m trying to run,” Olson said.

At this point, if Olson’s words had shoulders they would be shrugging.

“I’m not the only person on the team who deals with it,” he said. “There are other people on the team who have asthma or other such things.”

As for why he runs track, Olson said, “A lot of it comes down to the teamwork, being able to hang out and see all the guys on the team every day when we go out. We’re a distance team, so obviously we’re out and about for long periods of time and the only thing to really pass the time is talking. We’ve all formed real close bonds with each other. We can just talk for however long we’re running.”

Distance runners tend to have a difficult time forgetting that first workout, as well as the day after, no matter how short the distance might sound when looking back at it.

“Winter weather, some time in February,” Olson said. “It was bad. It was really, really cold out and I was not used to running, so I only ran two miles and it was really, really bad because all the cold air in my legs made it hard to breathe. It was exciting after that. I think I got a lot better, a lot faster after that, but the first time was rough.”

Sleeping off a first run like that only accentuates the aches.

“The day after, my whole body was sore,” Olson said. “My legs felt demolished. I wasn’t sure I was able to do it at that point, but I kept with it and it worked itself out. After a week or so, it wasn’t as bad.”

Except for the morning after another, considerably longer workout, later in his running life.

“I was with one of the other guys on the team and I didn’t have my watch that day,” he said. “We were going to go eight miles and he kept saying, ‘Oh yeah, we’re almost to eight miles.’ He was lying the whole time and I didn’t realize that we were going 13.”

That’s just the sort of prank that makes teammates grow closer.

There are times that the shunts need to be adjusted, Olson said, which can lead to missing practice.

“From time to time, It’s affected by magnets. There are magnets in everything because of all the devices and technology we have today,” he said. “It’s all controlled by a little ball bearing system with magnets, so if I go near a magnet, it could mess with a setting and then I have to go to Chicago to get it corrected.”

Olson must stay on the lookout for so many things that most take for granted.

“I can’t sit super close to white boards. I can’t go by the smart TVs. I’m supposed to be weary when I walk around in the hallways. I can’t be too close to the lockers because people put up magnetic fixtures on the doors,” he said.

“I just have to watch it. Like in my house, anything we have on the fridge is one one side, so I just don’t go by that side. When I talk on the phone, I have to call on the left side because the device is on the right side of my head.”

When he talks to teammates during their long runs in the fresh air, Olson need not worry about avoiding such things.

“They’re a really a nice group to be around, so it makes it worthwhile to run,” Olson said. “The only thing I’d change is I would have started a little bit earlier.”


April 16, 202

This pitcher’s got a rubber arm

Little League ballplayers hurl that time-honored taunt, “Pitcher’s got a rubber arm!” at the boy on the mound because they think they are insulting him.

It’s not until they grow older that they realize that in baseball parlance, a pitcher with a “rubber arm” is a valuable member of a team who has a positive ripple effect on the rest of the pitching staff. It’s not an insult. It’s a compliment.

A pitcher with a rubber arm has unusually strong flexibility and durability. He can continue to pitch when most others need rest. That goes for practices as well as games.

Chesterton senior left-hander Caysen Bontrager’s fastball might not even get a verbal warning on I-94, much less a written one. Yet, he’s been a valuable member of the Trojans’ bullpen. Why? In part because this pitcher has a rubber arm.

Plus, he’s easy to catch and play defense behind because he throws strikes and lets the hitters put the ball in play, which keeps fielders forever alert.

In 16-1/3 varsity innings this season and last combined, Bontrager has walked three batters and struck out 14.

Nobody can say he’s afraid of hitters because he not only threw strikes against DAC competition last season but vs. top Indy area teams this season as well.

Chesterton opened the season with road losses against Hamilton Southeastern, 6-5, and Carmel, 5-0 on back-to-back days. Bontrager pitched in both. In the opener, he retired five batters without allowing a hit and walked one. Against Carmel, the No. 2 team in the state as of poll released April 8, Bontrager pitched 4-1/3 innings, allowed six hits, one run, didn’t walk anybody and struck out three batters.

He didn’t do it by pumping fastballs by them.

How hard does he throw?

“Probably 74 mph,” Bontrager said. “I keep the hitters off balance, mix speeds and throw strikes.”

He doesn’t just throw. He pitches. He throws two fastballs, one of which has a sink to it that tails away from right-handed hitters. He also throws a curveball and a forkball.

“Then I also drop down sidearm and throw all my pitches sidearm,” he said.

Different looks, different speeds, different dips, different dives. And always available.

“Wow, he could throw every day,” first-year Chesterton baseball coach John Bogner said. “He’s a great tool to have.”

Bontrager didn’t pitch in Chesterton’s next two games because the Barrett brothers, first sophomore left-hander Troy in a two-hit shutout of Boone Grove, and then senior right-hander Brayden in a 5-3 loss at Valparaiso, both pitched complete games.

Bontrager got the start later in the week and was hit hard, taking the loss against Valpo. Looking back on how he opened the season, Bogner said:

“He was very effective. He’s crafty. He’s as crafty as they come. Fancy curveballs, changeups, whatever. He’ll reach back if he has to. He shut Carmel down. He did some very good things against Carmel, and even against Hamilton Southeastern, but we booted the ball around a little.”

If other pitchers have reached their limit throwing batting practice, Bontrager routinely volunteers to take over, according to Bogner.

“He loves it,” Bogner said. “He loves throwing.”

And pitching.

“I’ve never had arm pain since I’ve been in high school,” Bontrager said after his back-to-back days of work in Indy. “My arm hasn’t been hurting at all. I’ve just been able to throw every day. I never feel sore, and if I have a little bit of fatigue or whatever, I just stop throwing for the day or take it easy and the next day it feels back to normal, like I haven’t thrown for a few days.”

So, if any opponent feels the urge to revert to childhood and yell, “Pitcher’s got a rubber arm!” at Bontrager, his only appropriate response would be “Thanks!”


Troy Barrett’s gem: No-hitter, 18 Ks

The mind-blowing numbers Chesterton sophomore left-hander Troy Barrett compiled from the mound at Merrillville didn’t blow his mind. He practically yawned talking about it the the day after.

Barrett threw a seven-inning, no-hit shutout with 18 strikeouts and two walks in Chesterton’s 10-0 victory over the winless Pirates.

“I got the Hard Hat Player of the Game, but it was nothing, really,” Barrett said.

He said he had pitched multiple no-hitters of four innings and five innings but never one for seven innings. His outlandish strikeout total surpassed his previous best of 15 in a JV game during his freshman season.

“I threw fastballs, and they had trouble catching up,” Barrett deadpanned. “I thought I would do pretty well, get a couple of strikeouts, but not that many.”

Neither team scored until Chesterton busted out with four runs in the fifth, four in the sixth and two in the seventh.

“He was just pumping,” first-year Trojans coach John Bogner said of the younger Barrett brother. “He was grooving. He has a ball that tails and he’s effective. He is something special, and he’s going to continue to be something special.”

Two appearances into his varsity career, both shutouts, Barrett is 2-0, has pitched 14 innings, allowed two hits (one a bunt single), walked three and struck out 29.

His outfield defense has stood out, and he’s the Trojans’ second-leading hitter with a .357 batting average and three of his five hits are doubles.

In support of Troy Barrett, Brady McCormack drove in three runs without making an out and Jason Bogner drove in two runs without making an out.

Chesterton 13, Merrillville 2, 5 five innings: If the ball Trojans sophomore Rob Czarniecki had soared much higher, a pack of UFO conspiracy theorists wearing tinfoil hats would have flocked to Chesterton in search of aliens.

Czarniecki didn’t hit the sweet spot of the barrel, caught it more toward the end of the bat than is ideal. He seemingly hit it too high for it to go out, but it easily cleared the fence in left for Czarniecki’s second home run of the season.

“He comes back (to the dugout) and says, ‘Man, I didn’t even get all of it,’” John Bogner said. “And it did hop off the end of the bat. Strong kid. Strong kid. Good thing the wind wasn’t blowing out or we’d have to board up some windows.”

A pull hitter, Czarniecki showed he can go with a pitch too when he hit a double the other way.

In helping the Trojans improve to 3-4, with a 3-for-4 day that featured the home run, two doubles and 4 RBI, Czarniecki improved his batting average to .522 with nine RBI. Seven of his 12 hits are extra-base hits and his OPS is an outrageous 1.636.

“He has a lot of fun, and he makes me have a little bit more fun,” the head coach said. “The way he’s seeing the ball it probably looks bigger than me right now.”

A day after Troy Barrett’s 18-strikeout, no-hitter, his brother, senior Brayden, allowed a home run to Tre’Von Stephens on the first pitch of the game. Barrett allowed two runs in the first and then shut out the Pirates the rest of the way. He allowed two hits, two earned runs and two walks and struck out 10, giving the Barrett Brothers a combined 28 strikeouts in 12 innings in the two-game sweep.

In addition to Czarniecki, Nick Foust (3 for 4, RBI), Jason Bogner (2 for 2, RBI, .667 OBP) and Greg Guernsey (2 for 3, RBI) had big days at the plate.


Tosseng taking shot at two sports in college

One-sport zealots, cover your ears. Chesterton senior Riley Tosseng is talking about her college plans and you aren’t going to like hearing what she has to say.

In the fall, Tosseng played a key role on Chesterton’s best volleyball team in years as a middle blocker. This spring, she is juggling throwing the shot put with playing for her club volleyball team.

Now, here’s the information that’s going to turn the one-sport zealots apoplectic: She plans to both play volleyball and throw the shot put next year at Franklin Pierce College, an NCAA Division II school in Rindge, New Hampshire.

Ee gads!

She said she realizes it won’t be easy, and even now her schedule is complicated.

“It’s difficult to keep up with both, especially with volleyball, because our club season goes on right now,” Tosseng said.

She left for “nationals” in volleyball Thursday and missed Saturday’s Chesterton Relays.

“It’s really hard to keep the schedules aligned,” she said.

So why, then, do both?

“I love it,” she said. “I love my sports. You have to have a passion for the sport or it’s not worth playing, and I love both. I’m committed for both in college right now. I’m super excited.”

The shot put’s going well for Tosseng, who won the event in the outdoor opener, a home dual meet vs. Valparaiso.

Nine points are awarded in each individual event at dual meets, five for first place, three for second and one for third. Chesterton lost the dual 84-48, but won 17 of the 18 points awarded in the two throwing events.

“That was me because I got fourth instead of third (in the discus). I’m the one who messed it up,” Tosseng said. “The girl who threw right before me, she threw out three times and I thought I was fine and I was in third, then the last one she got it out there. I was like ‘Dang!’”

Tosseng threw the shot 32 feet, 3 inches, a personal record. Her discus distance was 87 feet in an event Autumn Spencer won with a 107-3.5. Spencer is not throwing the shot this year.

What is that makes Tosseng better than Spencer in the shot and Spencer better than Tosseng in the discus?

“Shot you need to have more strength, and usually it’s taller girls or people who lift a little bit more, whereas disc is about technique and the way you glide through the ring and how it releases off your hand, so you don’t exactly have to be super strong to get it farther out there,” Tosseng said. “So Autumn’s really good with her technique and how she rotates her feet and gets around, but that’s kind of the difference, technique vs. strength I guess.”

And Tosseng is stronger than she is technically refined.

“I like to bounce around, instead of spin fully. It’s just more awkward,” Tosseng said. “I try to be more aggressive like I am with shot and try to muscle it out there. So that’s not exactly how you’re supposed to do disc. I just need more work with my foot technique.”

That won’t be easy for her to find the time between throwing the shot and playing club volleyball.

“If the coaches see that you’re trying, they’ll definitely help you with your schedule and they understand if you have to skip practice for a tournament they’ll definitely understand what you’re doing as long as you’re communicating and trying your best,” she said.

The idea of playing both sports in college actually originated within the Franklin Pierce athletic department.

She initially accepted a scholarship offer to play volleyball.

“They saw it (her track history) on my application for the school and then their track coach reached out to me,” Tosseng said. “They’re super excited. They’ve never had someone do volleyball and another sport, so working out the schedules is something we’re going to have to do.”

She said that after seeing volleyball film of her, Franklin Pierce reached out to the recruiting coordinator of her club volleyball squad, Ignite, and asked if Tosseng planed to play in college.

She was contacted by Franklin Pierce’s coach and took a campus visit in the winter and then committed to the school that’s in the mountains of New Hampshire, near Vermont.

Even before having any idea she would plan to play two sports in college, she was a big advocate of playing multiple sports in high school.

“I played basketball here for two years too,” she said. “You get to know a lot of people and I think it’s a great way to get connected with your school and have a lot of school spirit.”

Other standouts for the Trojans in the dual vs. Valpo: Kennedi Bradley won the 100 (12.68) and 200 (26.20) and Ava Kontos took second in both sprints (12.80; 26.57); Kaylee Dade won the 400 and Aubrey Bamber was second. Losing to Valp by less than a second in the 4X100, Kontos, Bradley, Gretta McCrovitz and Arite Haney ran a 50.33.


One record down, one to go for Barnewall

In track, there never is any rest for the driven. As soon as a runner attains a personal record, the immediate goal is to break it. Multiply the intensity when that PR also is a school record.

On a beautiful night to run on Valparaiso High’s fast track, Chesterton High junior Kieran Barnewall ran a 14.11 in the 110-meter high hurdles.

That broke Chance Nelson’s record of 14.14, which had been standing since 1990.

On the same April 9 night, Barnewall fell short of the 300-meter hurdles record of 39.49, set by Matt Raffin in 2010. Barnewall was clocked in 39.55, six-tenths of a second off the record.

“I knew I was going to run well because I’ve been working hard in practice with the hurdle crew,” Barnewall said of the 110 record. “I didn’t doubt I could break the record early this season, but I’m super stoked about it.”

Chesterton boys track coach Bryan Nallenweg said that his stopwatch times usually are about four-tenths of a second faster than the electronic times. Based on his hand time, he said he thought he probably Barnewall took down the record by a little but wasn’t sure until Valpo sent him the official results at about 9 p.m.

Barnewall said he entered the night confident of his chances of breaking the 110 hurdles record and nothing that happened changed that mindset.

“It was not very windy, it wasn’t too warm, it wasn’t too cold,” Barnewall said. “They have a nice track over there and I had the adrenaline. I knew I was going to run well that night. Once you get out of the blocks, you know if you’re going to have a good or bad race. First two steps, you know.”

Barnewall and Nallenweg both expressed confidence that the junior can take down the 300 record soon.

“I just have to get in better shape. I go out real hard and that’s good, but I have to get in better shape to be able to hold that pace,” Barnewall said. “If I can go out hard and break the stagger immediately, before the first hurdle but then not burn out at the end, I can break it.”

Barnewall was one of three Trojans to set a PR in the 110 hurdles at Valpo.

On the same night sophomore Nathan Vaughan won the long jump by destroying his PR with leap of 22-4, he also won the 200 meters in 22.7 and ran a 15.7 in the 110 hurdles. Brody Mehling ran a 16.34 for third place to complete the sweep. Sophomore Cal Wisniewski impressed with a 42.08 in the 300 hurdles, good for third place. Wisniewski also joined Barnewall, Aaron Resto and Louis Raffin on the winning 4X400 relay.

Vaughan joined Devin Throw, Michael Handley and Owen Richardson on the victorious 4X100 relay team.

Joe Sandrick set a PR, winning the pole vault with a 13-9 and Maddox McKinney and Alex Drewes completed the sweep by clearing 11 feet. AJ Brandon won the high jump in 6-2. Throwin’ Owen Edlen won the shot put and the discus.

Chesterton ended a 12-year drought by winning the sectional last spring and the title defense season is off to a terrific start.

“Hopefully, we can win sectionals again,” Barnewall said. “We have some special talent on this team, I think. Owen’s getting back to where he was. He’s doing great. Sandrick’s doing great in the pole vault, AJ in the high jump, Nate in the long jump.”

And nobody is doing better than Barnewall in both hurdles events.


Tyler Parrish an Indiana All-Star

Aside from earning the title Indiana Mr. Basketball, the greatest individual honor a player from this basketball-crazed state can earn is being named an Indiana All-Star.

For the second time in three years and the fifth time in history, one of this year’s 13 Indiana All-Stars played his high school basketball for Chesterton.

Tyler Parrish learned last week that he had received the honor in a phone call from Mike Broughton, director of the Indiana All-Stars.

“I knew I wasn’t a lock, but I knew I had a chance, so it was pretty exciting news,” Parrish said.

The game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse vs. the Kentucky All-Stars takes place Saturday, June 8. The girls game tips off at 6 p.m. Eastern time and the boys game follows it, tipping off at roughly 7:30.

The first boys game in the series was played in 1939, the first girls game in 1976.

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com by typing Indiana vs. Kentucky.

“The game will survive as long as people buy tickets,” Broughton said.

An oversized replica of Tyler Parrish’s Indiana All-Stars jersey will go on the wall of Chesterton’s gymnasium, alongside those of Matt Nover (1988), Brett Buscher (2000), Zack Novak (2008) and Travis Grayson (2022). TOM KEEGAN/photo
An oversized replica of Tyler Parrish’s Indiana All-Stars jersey will go on the wall of Chesterton’s gymnasium, alongside those of Matt Nover (1988), Brett Buscher (2000), Zack Novak (2008) and Travis Grayson (2022). TOM KEEGAN/photo

The Indiana All-Stars kick off their game schedule facing the Indiana Junior All-Stars on June 5 at Kokomo High and then travel to Lexington Kentucky to face the Kentucky All-tars on Friday, June 7, following the girls 5:30 tipoff time.

An oversized replica of Parrish’s Indiana All-Stars jersey will go high on the East wall of Chesterton’s gymnasium, alongside those of Matt Nover (1988), Brett Buscher (2000), Zack Novak (2008) and Travis Grayson (2022).

Once he learned of the honor, there was no way Parrish was going to let any scheduling conflict stand in his way of playing, not even Chesterton’s graduation ceremony.

“I’m missing graduation to play in it,” Parrish said. “That’s fine. This has been one of my goals since my freshman year, I’d say, so I’m excited to play in it.”

The other players: Isaac Andrews (Wapahani), Jack Benter (Brownstown Cenral), Flory Bidunga (Kokomo), Trey Buchanan (Westfield), Micah Davis (Franklin Community), Aaron Fine (Noblesville), Keenan Garner (Fishers), Evan Haywood (Brebeuf Jesuit), Jack Miller (Scottsburg), Karson Rogers (Kokomo), Tucker Tornatta (Evansville Memorial), KJ Windham (Ben Davis).

John Peckinpaugh of Kokomo is the head coach and will be assisted by Brandon Hoffman (Silver Creek) and Josh Thompson (Barr-Reeve).

“Some of those guys could be playing in the national championship game next year and I’m on the same team as them,” Parrish said. “It’s crazy to think that. It’s really cool.”

Chesterton coach Marc Urban called the news, “Great. This is huge. I’m very happy for him. For him to be selected as one of the 13 Indiana All-Stars is big-time.”

Parrish scored more than 1,300 points during his Chesterton career and along with classmate Justin Sims, another member of the school’s 1,000-point club, was a three-year starter. Sims was a Junior All-Star but was not selected to the team this year. Both players verbally committed to Marian University, then coached by Scott Heady, who recently left to coach UIndy. Heady offered both players scholarships at his new school and they are in the midst of scheduling campus visits.

Parrish led the Trojans (16-10) this season with 20.8 points per game and 114 assists (83 turnovers), had 44 steals, shot .846 from the line and .374 from 3-point range.

“This year was by far the hardest year to pick the All-Stars,” Broughton said. “There weren’t a lot of Division I players and there were a lot of players with kind of the same ability level. So, hopefully my goal, the way we look at the All-Star team, it would be like developing a college team. We need shooters, defenders. We need passers. We need shot-blockers. You have to put a team together. It’s usually not the 12 leading scorers in the state. You try to make a team for one week, so hopefully we did that.”

The All-Stars become part of a tradition born months before World War II broke out.

“As I told these kids, 85 years is the longest living All-Star Game,” Broughton said. “It’s the longest living anything connected to the past here in Indiana. I hope Chesterton brings a big crowd to this, because we need bodies in the seats to pay the bills.”

Broughton is hoping for big fan support from Chesterton and the other communities where the All- Stars are from for reasons that extend beyond finances. Every ounce of energy the fans can supply the players for the home team in the game at Gainbridge will be appreciated because of how competitive the matchup projects to be this year.

“Kentucky’s better this year than they’ve ever been,” Broughton said.

The Indiana All-Stars are led by Bidunga, the prohibitive favorite for Indiana Mr. Basketball honors and a 6-foot-9 Kansas recruit. The sharp-shooting Benter is headed to Purdue, Windham to Northwestern and Haywood to Butler.

Parrish played with several of his Indiana All-Star teammates as a Junior All- Star last year and was an AAU teammate last summer with players from both the Kentucky and Indiana All-Stars.

Broughton shared why Parrish made the cut.

“I’ve seen him play probably five or six games (in his career) and except for one game (his last, vs. Crown Point) where I didn’t think he played very well, the rest of the time I thought he hit some big shots,” Broughton said. “He can hit the big shot and he can also jump over people. With the size we have this year, Kentucky’s going to double us probably some, so when the ball gets kicked back, I just think we need shooters, and I thought he was one of the better shooters in the state.”

Broughton said he liked the game Parrish had in a close loss to Valparaiso this past season.

“One of the other things I thought was good, he has size and he also had 114 assists for the year, so it wasn’t just him shooting the ball,” Broughton said. “He also passed it, and his ratio of assists to turnovers was better than one. When you have a wing type player, that’s pretty good. We’re glad to have him on the team.”

One of the things Broughton said he enjoys about his job is seeing players get that first taste of what playing in college is going to be like for them.

“It’s like a bridge from high school to the All-Star Game and then they leave for college,” Broughton said. “The All-Star experience that week, bigger floor, wider lane, more physical, Missouri Valley officials, it’s a different deal than high school. So, over the years I’ve had a lot of kids write me back and say that week really helped me get my foot in the door when they went to whatever college they went to.”

Broughton shared that he has heard from multiple widows of former Indiana All-Stars, driving home the point of just how meaningful the experience was to them.

“Maybe the wives call me and say, ‘I want you to know my husband passed away and he was a 1964 All-Star,’” Broughton said. “These people might have done great things in their lives, but then their obituaries start, ‘1964 All-Star.’ Mr. Basketball is one thing, but even to be an All-Star, it never goes away. It’s always kind of there.”

Broughton didn’t need a program to identify many of the players in the layup lines before the Purdue- North Carolina State Final Four game.

“There were seven kids on the teams that I picked in the past four years, so out of the 24 men on the Final Four game rosters, seven were Indiana All- Stars,” he said. “The kid from North Carolina State who was guarding (Braden) Smith when he had those over-and-back (violations), that was Jayden Taylor. He played at Perry Meridian.”

And Parrish played at Chesterton. He joined Grayson in the starting lineup for the 29-1 Trojans. Two Indiana All-Stars in a three-year period.

“Obviously, that’s a good thing,” Parrish said. “Urban does a lot of good things for the program, for us, for the community.”