By Bob Balgemann


It never happened before and may never happen again.

Harlem typically has a three-season sports program: fall, winter and spring. But this year had a summer sports season because of problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That competition involving eight boys and girls teams wound down last week, with losses in Illinois High School Association (IHSA) postseason tournaments.

Both the baseball and softball teams were defeated by representatives of suburban Huntley.

The Lady Red Raiders (33-6) defeated Harlem, 7-1, in the sectional softball championship to end the Lady Huskies’ summer at 26-2. Makayla Howard homered for Harlem’s only run of the day.

Huntley had a date with Barrington (33-1) earlier this week in the supersectional, hosted by the Fillies.

Huntley was a No. 3 seed in softball and knocked off two top seeds, Algonquin Jacobs and Harlem, to win the sectional. In Barrington, they faced yet another No. 1 seed.

On the baseball diamond Harlem (16-12) ran into a No. 1 seed, Huntley (31-2), and dropped an 11-1 decision.

Top pitching kept Huskie hitters at bay, allowing just one base hit, a two-out, RBI double by senior Eli Barefield in the top of the fifth inning. His hit scored James Cooper Jr., who reached on an error, with Harlem’s only run.

Boys track 

Harlem competed in the 3A Huntley boys sectional track and field meet this year and didn’t qualify anyone for state. Getting to state is more difficult, because of the pandemic. The first and second-place winners in each event advance, as do those who meet or exceed qualifying times, heights and distances in the various events.

Host Huntley won the 14-team sectional, amassing 107 points to 67 for runner-up Rockford East. Belvidere North and historic Crystal Lake Central tied for third, scoring 60 points each. Harlem finished 14th, with 14 points.

The Huskies were led by junior Riley Lundgren, who was third in the discus with a toss of 150 feet, 4 inches, one inch under his personal best this season. The state-qualifying distance was 153 feet, 3 inches. In addition, senior Aiden Gruner, placed third in the 3,200-meter run, with a time of 10:13.82.

In the sprints, Huskies earning places at sectional were junior Adam Gault and freshman Trey Smith in the 100-meter dash; and junior Ethan Taylor and junior Austin Durnil in the 200.

Distance events saw junior Aktanay Kwazdran finish 10th in the 800-meter run, timed at 2:07.48. Tyler Wehde also placed. Gruner placed in the 1,600-meter run as did senior Nick Greenland. And senior Carter Moski placed in the 3,200.

Harlem finished 10th in each of the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200-meter relay races; and 11th in the 4-by-400-meter field.

In field events, junior Lathan Lewis was fifth in the triple jump; Lundgren finished seventh in the shot put while senior Kaedon Tijerina also placed. Freshman Sora Anucauskas came in ninth in the discus. In the high jump, junior Devan Ortiz tied for ninth; brothers Ean (sophomore) and Brandon (senior) Singmouangthong were seventh and eighth, respectively, in the pole vault.

The Huskies should have a solid core of returning competitors in both track and field events during the 2022 season, whenever it is held.


Like other summer sports at Harlem, wrestling and its competitors and coaches were in unchartered territory.

With only 17 on the mat among the 12 weight classes, the Huskies still managed to put together an exemplary 6-2 record in NIC-10 dual matches. That put them in a tie for second place with Rockford East. Freeport was the champion, posting an 8-0 record.

During the shortened season, one of the highlights for Harlem was defeating rival Hononegah, 31-26. The Indians have been perennial conference champions and usually represented the NIC-10 each year in the annual team state competition.

During 2021, Harlem’s schedule was a tough one and included some of the best small school wrestling programs in the state, all three from northern Illinois. They were Lena-Winslow, Dakota and Marian Catholic Woodstock.

The Huskies closed out the season by splitting a conference double-dual, defeating Guilford, 42-6, while losing to East, 48-24. 

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