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This Week in Sports - April 22-26, 2024

Articles courtesy of TOM KEEGAN sports@chestertontribune.com 

April 23, 2024

Ava Kontos gives Trojans solid No. 2 sprinter

The 200-meter dash seemed like such a long race to Chesterton sprinter Kenedi Bradley a year ago that she used a tactical approach more suited to the mile.

“I didn’t want to run the 200 last year,” said Bradley, a sophomore. “I would try to pace myself, even though it was a sprint. I think I didn’t know what I was doing. I would pace myself like it was a 400 and then book it. That’s not what you’re supposed to be doing. My endurance has gotten a lot better. I actually sprint the whole thing.”

Bradley opened the outdoor season with career bests in the 100 meters (12.68) and the 200 meters (26.60) in a home dual meet vs. Valparaiso, winning both events.

And then, last week in a double dual meet with Lake Central and Michigan City, she won both sprints again and shattered her best 200 time with a 25.49.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Bradley is much closer to Camryn Dunn’s record in the 200 meters (25.37) than her 100 mark (11.91).

Bradley said she thinks her work in the weight room has had “a lot” to do with her huge leap in the 200 meters.

“I’ve gained a lot more muscle this year because I’ve been taking lifting more seriously,” Bradley said.

Valpo won the 4X100 relay with a 49.74 and Chesterton ran a 50.33 with Ava Kontos, Gretta McCrovitz and Artie Haney joining Bradley.

“Our handoffs, you can tell it was our first meet,” Bradley said. “We have four really fast girls and we’re going to do really, really well.”

The Trojans did better at the double dual meet, running a 49.83 to finish second to Lake Central (49.33). Sydney Morris took McCrovitz’s place in that one.


Bradley twice the sprinter she was a year ago

The 200-meter dash seemed like such a long race to Chesterton sprinter Kenedi Bradley a year ago that she used a tactical approach more suited to the mile.

“I didn’t want to run the 200 last year,” said Bradley, a sophomore. “I would try to pace myself, even though it was a sprint. I think I didn’t know what I was doing. I would pace myself like it was a 400 and then book it. That’s not what you’re supposed to be doing. My endurance has gotten a lot better. I actually sprint the whole thing.”

Bradley opened the outdoor season with career bests in the 100 meters (12.68) and the 200 meters (26.60) in a home dual meet vs. Valparaiso, winning both events.

And then, last week in a double dual meet with Lake Central and Michigan City, she won both sprints again and shattered her best 200 time with a 25.49.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Bradley is much closer to Camryn Dunn’s record in the 200 meters (25.37) than her 100 mark (11.91).

Bradley said she thinks her work in the weight room has had “a lot” to do with her huge leap in the 200 meters.

“I’ve gained a lot more muscle this year because I’ve been taking lifting more seriously,” Bradley said.

Valpo won the 4X100 relay with a 49.74 and Chesterton ran a 50.33 with Ava Kontos, Gretta McCrovitz and Artie Haney joining Bradley.

“Our handoffs, you can tell it was our first meet,” Bradley said. “We have four really fast girls and we’re going to do really, really well.”

The Trojans did better at the double dual meet, running a 49.83 to finish second to Lake Central (49.33). Sydney Morris took McCrovitz’s place in that one.


Trojans doubles play in DAC opener a plus

Aside from the way experienced No. 1 singles player Aleksa Sorgic has dominated in the No. 2 singles slot, nothing has showcased Chesterton’s tennis depth better than the two doubles teams.

LaPorte visited Chesterton last Thursday for a DAC opener and the Trojans prevailed, 4-1.

“Real happy with doubles today,” coach Tom Bour said.

Senior Ava Komp and sophomore Ameila Smith, both singles players a year ago, won their No. 1 doubles match 6-2, 6-2 and did so in a way that pleased the coach because they did particularly well in the areas they had worked on in practice leading up to the match.

“Net play,” Bour said. “Ava and Amelia’s net play was outstanding today. Their energy was good, too. Did very well there, a lot of positive energy going. Once they got the lead, they kept their foot on the gas and that’s how you close them out. That was really good.”

Komp and Smith haven’t played together long enough to form the sort of ideal oncourt chemistry that makes for consistent sharp play, but they’re working on it.

“We’re still learning each other’s games,” Komp said. “It’s been a fun senior year playing with Millie.”

Three syllables is a mouthful for doubles, where quick communication is key, so Komp benefits from having given Smith a nickname a year ago, when they both were playing singles.

“Aves gave it to me,” Smith said. “‘My little freshman. We need a nickname for you.’ So she came up with Millie. And I call her Aves.”

No two players are exactly the same, which makes it interesting to ask what one player would steal from the other, if that were possible.

“Her ground strokes are so pretty, they’re so conistent,” Komp said of Smith. “They’re so aggressive. They’re so pretty.” Smith: “I would steal her backhand. She rips that thing.”

Komp has played in various spots in her four years as a varsity player.

“It’s fun playing at a faster pace at 1 dubs with fast-paced volleys, fast-paced ground strokes. It’s fun,” Komp said. “Millie keeps it going with her ground strokes and her rallies, that’s what keeps the pace going.” At No. 2 doubles, senior Ellery Denny and junior Anisa Faroh won their match 6-1, 6-1.

“They’re rolling,” Bour said. “They’re 8-0 now. They’re playing great. They’re just steady. They won’t make a lot of errors. They won’t overpower you, but they won’t make errors. They won’t give their opponents a lot of easy points. They make them work for everything. They’re very smart too. They’re starting to grasp basic doubles strategy.”

Komp and Smith said they can learn from watching Denny and Faroh.

“The one thing I love about them is they have great communication,” Smith said. Added Komp: “Yes. Each knows where the other is on the court at all times. They have so much trust in each other. They have the same vibe going. I love watching them play. I love playing them in practice.”

Culver Academies 4, Chesterton 1: The Trojans suffered their first loss when they went on the road for a chilly Friday night competition.

Sorgic improved to 8-0, holding off a late charge to win 6-2, 6-4, securing the Trojans’ only point.

Culver won all three of the matches that went to three sets.

“I thought Culver’s net play and energy was a little better than us tonight,” Bour said. “But I love the effort our girls put out and was very impressed with Denny and Faroh to come back to force a third set after only winning one game in the first set. We have a bunch of singles players playing doubles, but we’re seeing improvements every match, and we’re happy with what they’ve been doing so far this season.”


The son shining for Trojans baseball

The move to Chesterton High from Highland for his senior year made sense academically for Jason Bogner because his new school offered calculus.

But there always is more at play for a high school student dropping into a school surrounded by strangers, no matter how equipped he might academically and athletically.

“Before the first few days of school, I was always thinking of what could happen,” said Bogner, the baseball team’s third baseman and the son of first-year head coach John Bogner. “Who am I going to meet. Will I be lonely? Will I sit by myself at lunch? But during the summer, I came to a few workouts, I started talking to these guys.”

Ask a boy or girl who switched schools late to name the first people to welcome them with kindness and they’re likely to remember.

“Zach Fender and Matt Sandrick, they were very open with me, those were the first two guys I met here and they were great and they made me very comfortable here,” Jason said. “When I first came here, Zach Fender was the first to ever walk up to me and said, ‘Hey, who are you?’ ‘I’m Jason. Nice to meet you.’ Then right after that, Matt did the same thing. Then we did stations and Matt said, ‘We’ll be in a group, the three of us, just stay with us.’ It was very welcoming, and I love it here.”

As for any suspicion that as the coach’s son might benefit from favoritism, he has buried any such thought with his play.

Bogner has a .458 batting average and a .667 on-base percentage.

According to teammates and coaches, the younger Bogner already has taken on a leadership role for the Trojans.

“My biggest fear is when he’s gone because he leads everything,” John Bogner said. “He leads cals, he leads stretches because he knows the things that will infuriate me if the guys don’t do it.

“If that’s their way of accepting him, because he knows what’s going to keep them from running here until the lightbulbs burn out, that’s all right.”

The coach said he would not have put his son in the uncomfortable position of joining a new team “if he were below average. I wouldn’t have come here and done that to him. Our main focus was for him to come here and get calculus, the fact that he could come here and hold his own in baseball is because he’s worked his butt off.”

Jason has walked 16 times in 11 games.

“He has good selection. He was our leadoff last year (at Highland) for a reason. I trust him to know the strike zone and I trust him to put the ball in play hard,” John Bogner said. “And again, not because he lives with me. He had two years before he came here to buy into that mentality. Am I going to use him as an example? Yeah.”

John Bogner spent 12 seasons as an assistant coach to Dan Miller at Highland and then was head coach for nine seasons, compiling a 152-87 record.

“People used to joke about Daddy Ball. Well, if Daddy Ball means an on-base percentage of .700 and being able to get a 4.0 GPA, maybe everybody should live with me,” he joked. “But no, it’s just because he works his butt off and he’s bought into it.”

Jason Bogner said he is not bashful about sharing with teammates what will annoy his father.

“Laziness,” Jason said. “He hates lazy people. He hates walking on the field. He believes we should always be hustling. It’s just a mindset that we should all have. And what makes him happy means we’re all going to be happy. So I just try to keep us all happy.”

Jason said if he spots something he knows will set off the coach before the coach sees it, he’s on it with the teammate immediately.

“He hates when people try to cut drills or if they’re unfocused, so I try to reel guys back in and let them know we’re going to face consequences if they don’t straighten up,” Jason said.

He added that he thinks his outrageous walk total has as much to do with the pitchers he has faced thus far than anything.

“I think I’ve always been pretty good at seeing the ball, and this year I haven’t seen a lot of good pitches and I let them go,” he said. “Next thing you know I’m on first base. I struggled at first for a little bit, went 0 for my first 7, but I think I found it and I’m good to go.”

John Bogner works with the hitters and said that he and hitting coach Toby Gentry “teach about 99% of the same things.”

“There was one little adjustment Coach Gentry helped me with,” Jason Bogner said. “There was something with my back foot, and he said I should twist it a little bit more to get more power. It feels better and I’ve been hitting ever since he made that adjustment.”

Bogner went 3 for 5 in the second game of the Michigan City sweep and one of the outs was as hard hit a ball as there was all game. It smacked City third baseman Eugene Bradford in the face and the ball ricocheted off him to the shortstop, who threw to second for the force.

“I went over there and checked on him after the inning ended to make sure he was all good,” Jason said. “It hit him below the nose and he was bleeding, but he said he was all good. Coach Bogner said it was one of the hardest-hit fielder’s choices ever.”

The son’s play has made the coach’s choice of putting his name one lineup card an easy one that leaves no room for Daddy Ball charges.


Barrett brothers dominate Michigan City

Disregard the scores that the Chesterton baseball team produced in an 13-0, 10-0 sweep of Michigan City and listen to the words of its first-year coach, John Bogner.

“Discipline is discipline and I’d give us about a C-minus on it the last two days,” Bogner said after his players sprinted the bases multiple times in the wake of the sweep. “We were yanking our heads, popping up balls. The wind blowing out, we have a bunch of guys swinging like they’ve hit 500 home runs.”

Bogner also said he would have liked to see a greater sense of urgency on a groundball that resulted in an infield single and was the only hit Brayden Barrett allowed in pitching a six-inning shutout in the second game of the series, played at Chesterton.

“There is a difference between showing up and wanting to put people away and actually showing up and getting it done,” Bogner said. “We were kind of along for the ride the last two days. … We’ve got some dogs with bigger fangs coming after us.” As Chesterton heads into the meatier section of its DAC schedule, starting with a two-game series vs. LaPorte, Tuesday at home and Wednesday on the road, Bogner would like to see tighter defense on a consistent basis to support the premium pitching from the Barrett brothers, Troy and Brayden, who dominated in many ways in the City series.

The brothers’ combined pitching numbers vs. Michigan City: 11 shutout innings, two hits, no walks, 23 strikeouts. At the plate, they combined to go 6 for 11 with 10 RBI and a home run.

Chesterton 13, Michigan City 0, 5 innings: Sophomore left-hander Troy Barrett (3-0) faced 17 hitters and struck out 12 during a one-hit, five-inning shutout.

He also hit a grand slam, drove in six runs, reached base on a walk and was hit by a pitch.

Bogner expressed confidence that as the competition stiffens, the younger Barrett’s stuff will translate well.

“It will. He’s always around the plate. He’s got great command of his offspeed pitches. And good pitching stops good hitting,” Bogner said. “He’s not going to onehit and no-hit everyone, but the fact that his first outing was against Boone Grove, that’s a pretty good team historically, and you can get away with one bunt hit and one pretty hard hit ball and then he shut them down the rest of the way, he’s going to be something special. He’s going to continue to be good for us.”

Three appearances into his varsity career, all shutouts, Barrett is 3-0 and is working on a 19-inning scoreless streak. He has allowed three hits. One was a bunt single, another a bloop single. He has allowed three walks and struck out 41 batters. The opposition is hitting .049 against him. He pitched a no-hitter with 18 strikeouts vs. Merrillville and tossed a two-hitter vs. Hanover Central, which has talented bats at the top of its order.

Chesterton 10, Michigan City 0, 6 innings: Brayden Barrett, a senior right-hander, didn’t walk a single batter in his one-hit shutout of Michigan City and struck out 11.

“Brayden was great today,” Bogner said of the player who also delivered three hits and drove in two runs.

Barrett’s catcher, freshman Caden Hackett, had another big day. He went 2 for 2, doubled, drove in two runs, was hit by a pitch and hit a sacrifice fly. Vinny Fox scored two runs and drove in two. Greg Guernsey went 2 for 4, doubled and scored three runs, and Jason Bogner went 3 for 5 and drove in a run.

Chesterton 15, Morton 0, 5 innings: Sophomore Rob Czarniecki pitched three no-hit innings with no walks and seven strikeouts. Senior left-hander Caysen Bontrager finished the five-inning no-hitter, didn’t walk anybody and struck out three. Troy Barrett had three hits and Brayden Barrett, Czarniecki, Jason Bogner and Brady McCormack had two hits apiece.

Chesterton 14, Morton 1, 6 innings: Czarniecki hit his third home run and drove in six runs and had three hits, lifting his batting average to .500. Jake Pacilio drove in three runs and Bogner, Kaden Hawksworth and Bontrager combined to limit Morton to one unearned run and two hits, walked one and struck out 10.

The Trojans (7-4 overall, 4-2 in the DAC) take a six-game winning streak into the LaPorte series after sweeping two games apiece from Merrillville, Michigan City and Morton, the easiest stretch on the schedule, winning by a combined margin of 75-3.

“I don’t want to be the bully on the playground where we’re pushing people around and we know there is somebody bigger and badder than us waiting, and he hasn’t come outside to play yet,” John Bogner said after the City series. “Even though we’re winning, there are still a lot of things that I’m going to nitpick and not be happy about.”