Latest in Sports

The Mustangs Open CCHL Play With a 7-1 Win Over Fenwick!

fenwickjpeg The St Rita Varsity hockey team opened up Chicago Catholic Hockey League play on September 9th with a 7-1 win over Fenwick at SIA. Sophmore Tom Magnavite opened the scoring with 2 quick goals to stake the Mustangs to an early 2-0 lead. Before the end of the first period, the Mustangs would add goals Seniors Steve Meister, Kennedy Dowling and Tony Faron (twice) to take a 6-0 lead into the first intermission.  Steve Meister would re-deflect a Cody Gestes shot in the second to cap the scoring.

The Mustangs next skate on Saturday on the road vs. Benet at 7 Bridges Ice Arena at 5:10pm

 

Doyle Stadium Re-Dedication!

doyleA packed house and picture-perfect weather framed the night for the re-dedication of St. Rita High School’s Doyle Stadium on the South Side of Chicago at 77th and Western Avenue on Friday, September 26th. Over 30 Augustinian Friars attended St. Rita’s homecoming football game vs. Providence Catholic High School.  The Friars, along with Larry Doyle and family, St. Rita President Ernie Mrozek, and representatives from all St. Rita’s sports teams and clubs participated in the re-dedication of Doyle Stadium, including a pre-game Holy Water Blessing of the new turf field.

Eleven years ago, St. Rita High School was the first Chicago-area high school to install a new-generation turf field.  This year, with the help of generous donors, they become the first Chicago-area high school to replace the field with the same updated turf that the Indianapolis Colts use on their home field.

Doyle Stadium's new surface is ready for the 2014 season!

The final phase of work has begun on Doyle Stadium's new turf.

Work on Doyle Stadium's new turf is almost complete. The crew is entering the final phase of installation. Cryogenic rubber and silica sand are being added to the turf, in preparation of the first games on Friday, September 5 against Dunbar High School. Please join us at the games on September 5th for the first look at the new surface and to support the 2014 St. Rita Mustangs! panoramicsmall

Doyle Stadium Work Nears Completion!

Crews are hard at work adding the St. Rita High School logo and Augustinian crest to the new turf.   Once that work is complete, silica sand and premium cryogenic rubber infill will be added.  Doyle Stadium has never looked better.  We look forward to seeing everyone for the upcoming season!

Doyle SR Logo Doyle Aug logo

Doyle Stadium's Re-surfacing Continues On Schedule!

The first pice of turf has been placed on the perfectly-prepared surface of Doyle Stadium.  Thanks to the efforts of skilled workers, the project continues on schedule.  Soon St. Rita's red and blue will be on display for the upcoming season, as the Mustangs seek their third Illinois high school state championship.  Stay tuned to the website and follow us on Facebook for continued updates on the project. newturf

Re-surfacing of Doyle Stadium has begun!

Work crews are hard at work on the long-awaited re-surfacing of Doyle Stadium. Crews are taking advantage of the dry weather to remove the old surface, prepare the underlayment before laying down the new surface. If all goes according to plan, the field will be ready for opening day of fall camp where the Mustangs begin their quest for the third Illinois high school state championship. Stay tuned to the website and follow us on Facebook for periodic updates on the progress of the project.Doyle Stadium #1

St. Rita names new Varsity Volleyball Coach

St. Rita High School has announced a new Head Coach for its varsity volleyball program.  Mr. Brian Hagen ’04 joined the school for the 2013-14 school year as a full-time Guidance Counselor, and will take the reins of the volleyball program beginning next season.  Hagen has been involved in coaching at the high school level for several years, coaching both club and high school teams.  He coached at St. Rita in 2009 on the freshmen and varsity levels.  He has also worked as an IHSA referee for several years.  While a student at St. Rita, Hagen was a four-year volleyball player, and a two-year varsity standout.  While playing at St. Rita, the Mustangs were regularly among the best teams in the Chicago Catholic League.  His 2003 Mustangs reached the Elite 8 at the IHSA State Tournament.

 Hagen will look to get the Mustangs down state on a regular basis and add a 7th appearance at the IHSA tournament for the program.  The teams’ most recent appearances were 2011 and 2012.

 "I am humbled and honored to be the new head volleyball coach at my alma mater,” Hagen stated.  “I am very excited to start working with the great athletes at St. Rita and build on this programs’ long history of winning volleyball."

Hagen will be holding a grade school Volleyball Camp for students in grades 4-8 from July 14-17 at St. Rita High School from 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

 

Mustangs Class 4A state runner-up

BAS4astate2-CST-061414-7.JPG The St. Rita Mustangs baseball team finished their season Saturday night, coming up on the short end of a 4-1 decision against Chicago Catholic League Blue foe Providence Catholic. Jake Shepski battled

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LSU-bound Jake Godfrey in a classic pitcher's duel until the very end. The Mustangs finished their season with a 37-5 record. Stay tuned to Mustang baseball as they defend their 2013 Summer State Championship beginning later this month.

 

St. Rita Seniors and Coaches Awarded Prestigious Tony Lawless Awards

Classic SR

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St. Rita, Purdue Alum Bruce Gaston Heads to Arizona as Free Agent

By Justin Breen on May 13, 2014 9:19am larger

@dnainfo_breen

ASHBURN — Bruce Gaston didn't start until the seventh game of his junior season at St. Rita High School.

Now,

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the former Mustangs and Purdue University standout defensive tackle is heading to the NFL after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals over the weekend.

"I feel like this is where I wanted to end up, and I'm here because of my hard work," Gaston said late Monday from Arizona. "And I'm going to stay here because of the work I'm going to put in."

St. Rita coach Todd Kuska wasn't surprised Gaston, who was considered a possible late-round draft pick, was picked up by the Cardinals as a free agent.

"I knew since his junior year that he was a very special player and that he possessed the size, speed and athleticism that they looked for in the NFL," Kuska said of the 6-foot-2, 316-pound Gaston. "He began to use technique, along with his size and strength — that is what made him special that year.

"I believe he will be successful because of his desire to succeed," Kuska added. "Bruce has the physical tools to succeed, but he also has the determination to play at the highest level."

Gaston, a West Pullman native, said being bypassed in the draft is going to be a huge motivating factor as his NFL career begins.

"Of course I was disappointed not getting drafted," he said. "It was a great disappointment, but now I have a chip on my shoulder — a huge chip. I'm going to use it every day for motivation. It will fuel my drive and hunger to be even more successful."

FOR THE FULL STORY CLICK HERE

St. Rita ace Mike Constanzo battles through against Brother Rice

Costanzo
05/10/2014, 9:20pm CDT
By Pat Disabato | pdisabato@southtownstar.com
..
The mark of an ace pitcher is to find a way to keep his team in the game without the benefit of his best arsenal. St. Rita ace Mike Costanzo didn’t have his best stuff Saturday against Brother Rice. But the senior lefty battled and gave the top-ranked Mustangs a chance to win. Which they did 7-2 over the host Crusaders in a Catholic League Blue contest.
..
Costanzo allowed just one hit over five innings of work. But he walked eight, committed a pair of errors and struck out six over a 91-pitch performance. “He’s a great competitor,” St. Rita coach Mike Zunica said of Costanzo. “Any time he’s out there, I feel like he’s going to give 150 percent. We could have been down 5-0, but he battled through it.” Instead, the Mustangs (27-1, 12-1) trailed only 2-0, despite Costanzo walking four batters in the first inning.
..
The Crusaders managed to score on a fielder’s choice by Kevin Biondic and bases loaded walk to Jake Barry. Costanzo wiggled out of jams in the second and third innings as well. Rice (20-8, 9-4) stranded seven runners over the first three innings. “We had opportunities; we didn’t capitalize,” Rice coach Johnny McCarthy said. “Got to tip your cap to Mike [Costanzo]. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled. That’s what great pitchers do.”
..
A sacrifice fly by Tyler Halas in the third inning cut the deficit to 2-1 before St. Rita took the lead for good in the fourth with a two-spot. Danny Gleaves’ double plated pinch-runner Mateo Zunica and tied the game 2-2. Shane Peisker (3-for-4) followed with a single, putting runners on the corners with two outs. Mike Zunica called for a double steal, with the speedy Gleaves crossing home plate for a 3-2 advantage.
..

Disabato: St. Rita riding high at 17-0

BaseballStateChamps

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsBy Pat Disabato pdisabato@southtownstar.com Twitter: @disabato April 16, 2014 8:40PM It’s difficult to determine what’s more impressive about St. Rita’s 17-0 baseball record: that the Mustangs have played 17 games during this hazardous spring or that they’ve won all 17 games.

Knowing that Mustangs coach Mike Zunica would be willing to play in an oversized igloo if allowed, I’m more impressed with his team’s 17-game winning streak.

That St. Rita is perfect through Wednesday (after a 7-0 win over Gordon Tech) isn’t a total shocker. The Mustangs were the preseason No. 2 team before unseating No. 1 Mount Carmel two weeks ago and are coming off the summer league state championship.

That St. Rita is perfect through Wednesday (after a 7-0 win over Gordon Tech) isn’t a total shocker. The Mustangs were the preseason No. 2 team before unseating No. 1 Mount Carmel two weeks ago and are coming off the summer league state championship.

Additionally, this is a program that’s won 30 games nine times and advanced to four state finals in the past 17 seasons.

Still, 17-0?

“I’m not surprised,” Zunica said of his team’s streak. “This team has a great mind-set every day. They don’t feel like they won anything except for a bunch of preseason games.”

In reality, that’s all the Mustangs have won. Plaques and trophies aren’t awarded for winning a bunch of nonconference games.

However, the Mustangs have exhibited an air of dominance during their impressive run. The team batting average is a robust .352. The team ERA a minuscule 1.08. They’ve outscored opponents 155-19.

That’s borderline cruelty.

“I’m not surprised at all,” St. Rita senior Jake Shepski said. “We knew going into the season we had a real good team.

“Everyone worked hard during the offseason.”

It’s showed during the first three weeks of the season. The pitching staff has been a pleasant surprise. Mike Costanzo, an Austin Peay recruit, has been dominant on the bump — that’s not a surprise —boasting a 5-0 mark and 0.56 ERA. Junior Tyler Halas, already committed to Tennessee, has stepped up his game and is 4-0 with a 1.02 ERA.

Junior Matt Lenzen and senior C.J. Santoyo (Utah) are vying for the No. 3 spot in the rotation and each is 3-0.

At the plate, Halas, Shepski, Nick Goldsmith, Nate Soria and Mateo Zunica have been feasting on the competition.

“I like our approach and the way we’re swinging the bats,” Mike Zunica said. “But there’s room for improvement.”

Now that’s scary.

FOR THE FULL STORY CLICK HERE

Disabato: A.J. Avery '12 getting firsthand NCAA tourney experience with Western Michigan

AJ AveryBy Pat Disabato pdisabato@southtownstar.com Twitter: @disabato March 19, 2014 8:20PM Like most basketball players, A.J. Avery grew up dreaming of hitting the game-winning shot that led his team to the NCAA national championship.

“Oh, yeah, of course I would,” said Avery, who grew up on Chicago’s South Side. “I’d be in the back yard and start counting down: three, two, one, and then I’d shoot the basket that won the game for my team.”

That childhood dream of competing in March Madness has turned into reality for Avery, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward at Western Michigan. The Broncos are one of 68 squads invited to the Big Dance.

“It’s very exciting,” Avery said, “especially since I’m only in my sophomore year. When we were freshmen, this was our goal.”

While winning the national championship is a long shot — the Broncos are a 14 seed in the South Region — Avery, a 2012 St. Rita graduate, is thrilled and proud to be among several local players who’ll be participating in March Madness.

“There’s a lot of talent on the South Side,” Avery said. “To have an opportunity like this is amazing.”

Avery and the Broncos (23-9) begin their March Madness experience Thursday against No. 3 seed Syracuse (27-5) in Buffalo, N.Y. The Orange, at one point, was ranked the No. 1 team in the country.

“It’s very exciting to have a chance to play against one of the best,” Avery said. “As a competitor, you want the challenge of playing against one of the top teams in the country.”

Avery is averaging 2 points, 2 rebounds and 10 minutes of playing time for Western Michigan.

Of course, he’d like to see more time on the court, as anyone with a competitive bone in his or her body.

Ironically, it was a bone in Avery’s right wrist that prevented him from playing his junior and senior seasons at St. Rita. Avery broke the same wrist on two separate occasions. All he could do was watch from the sidelines.

“It was tough,” he said. “My mom said to me the other day that with all I’ve been through, to be able to play in the NCAA Tournament is really something special. It’s surreal.”

While losing two seasons of playing time certainly hindered Avery’s development as a player, it didn’t prevent Western Michigan from offering a scholarship. Much of that had to do with Avery showcasing his skills while playing for Meanstreets during the AAU season.

However, Avery is well aware of the influence St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare had on Avery’s playing at Western Michigan.

DeCesare, along with Avery’s mother, father and brother, will be in attendance for Thursday’s game.

“Coach DeCesare coming to the game is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” Avery said. “That really touched me. I never expected him to do this.”

The Broncos earned an automatic bid to the tourney — their first since 2004 — by knocking off Toledo on Saturday in the Mid-American Conference championship. In doing so, it denied Hillcrest great Julius Brown, Toledo’s leading scorer, of experiencing a March Madness moment.

FOR THE FULL STORY CLICK HERE

Hockey: Chilly and charitable a good mix

HockeyPolarPlunge

HockeyPolarPlungeBY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent March 19, 2014 4:18PM St. Rita High School hockey team members recently were “Freezin’ for a Reason,” but not on the ice.

Nearly 20 players from St. Rita’s junior-varsity and varsity hockey teams recently took a “polar plunge” into frigid Lake Michigan to benefit Special Olympics Chicago, in large part due to the efforts of St. Rita hockey player Scott Knusta.

Knusta, 16, of Chicago, was instrumental in getting his teammates off the ice and into the icy water.

“It’s just for a great cause, and it helps out so much,” Knusta said. “I want kids that have special needs to be able to participate in things that I can participate in.”

Knusta said he and three friends became plungers after having a memorable experience at the Chicago Polar Plunge in his freshman year.

“We had a blast,” Knusta said of their time in 2011 earning service hours, a mandate for all St. Rita High School students.

As volunteers, Knusta and his friends helped wherever needed during the event, but they realized they could do even more through fundraising.

“We totally thought of ... doing (the Chicago Polar Plunge) the next year, and we did,” Knusta said.

The efforts of Knusta and six friends in 2012 yielded about $1,000.

“We just had tons of fun, and the atmosphere was great,” Knusta said.

Kathy Knusta said her son “got the fever” and wanted to raise even more money in 2013. With the blessing of head hockey coach Brian Coleman, Knusta got members of the junior-varsity and varsity St. Rita hockey teams on board.

Taking their fundraising efforts to a new level, 20 plungers — 18 hockey players, one player’s dad, and a former player, Conor Alfirevic — raised $7,175 for Special Olympics Chicago.

Although the Special Olympics is Knusta’s charity of choice, the Polar Plunge is not the only event at which he has volunteered. Knusta has earned service hours at other Special Olympics Chicago events such as the Chi-Town Race and The Electric Run.

But it was the very first event, when he was an eighth-grader at Bridgeport Catholic Academy, that got him hooked, Knusta said, as special-needs students visited his school and interacted with the students.

“It’s just great seeing all the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Knusta said. “Watching them have fun was just great.”

FOR THE FULL STORY CLICK HERE

Baseball: St. Rita Ranked Preseason #4 by Prep Baseball Report

baseball team celebrating 2

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the top 75 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:

Team: St. Rita
Preseason Rank:
4
2013 Record:
31-8
Conference:
Chicago Catholic Blue
IHSA Class:
4A
Head Coach:
Mike Zunica
Playoff Run: Lost in Sectional Final (Mount Carmel)
2013 Final Rank: 5

Returning Starters: 5
Returning Pitchers:
5

TOP PLAYERS
Mike Costanzo, LHP, 2014 (Austin Peay)
Jake Shepski, INF/RHP, 2014 (Notre Dame)
Nate Soria, C, 2014 (Xavier)
Jake Drada, 3B/OF, 2014 (Western Michigan)
Tyler Halas, INF/RHP, 2015 (Tennessee)
C.J. Santoyo, LHP, 2014 (Utah)
Marty Bechina, MIF, 2015
Shane Peisker, OF, 2015
Chris Delgadillo, INF/OF, 2014 (IPFW)
Aaron Fuller, OF, 2014 (John A. Logan JC)

X-FACTOR
Jake Shepski.
The Notre Dame recruit is a two-way standout. Shepski earned MVP honors of the IHSBCA summer state tournament in leading the Mustangs to the championship.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Marty Bechina
. The junior middle infielder is another Division 1 prospect for the Mustangs.

KEY PLAYER LOST
Anthony Ray
, OF (Drafted, St. Louis Cardinals)

STAT RAT
LHP Mike Costanzo served as St. Rita’s workhorse last spring. Pitching against all the top teams in the state, Costanzo racked up 96 strikeouts, 41 walks, and five complete games. He finished with a 9-3 record – his three losses were to 4A champion Mount Carmel, 3A champion Joliet Catholic and Chicago Catholic Blue champion St. Laurence. Costanzo earned third-team All-State honors last spring.

OUTLOOK
Over the last decade,

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few, if any program in the state, has been in the state-title contending mix more than St. Rita. Every year, it seems, coach Mike Zunica has a loaded 30-plus win squad, one that is equipped to win not only the Chicago Catholic Blue, but a state championship. The Mustangs are a perennial top 10 program, and this year is no exception. St. Rita is fresh off winning the IHSBCA summer state championship, defeating Lyons Township in the championship game. The Mustangs are hoping to carry that same mojo into the spring. They certainly have the horses to so. St. Rita has arguably the most potent offense in the state, and have remarkable positional depth all over the field, especially in the infield. SS/RHP Jake Shepski, a Notre Dame recruit, is a three-year starter. Juniors Marty Bechina, Tyler Halas and Shane Peisker are all Division 1-caliber prospects, with Halas already committed to Tennessee, and INF/OF Chris Delgadillo is also a D1 signee at IPFW. The Mustangs also return their ace from last season, Costanzo, who pitched all the big games. After Costanzo, LHP C.J. Santoyo, Shepski and Halas are all very capable arms. Zunica also has several more untested options on the mound, as well. Catcher Nate Soria is a top-level defensive backstop that will limit opponents’ running games.

BOTTOM LINE
To be clear, St. Rita has the across-the-board talent to be No. 1. More importantly, it has the talent to win the Chicago Catholic Blue and, ultimately, be the last team standing in Joliet come June. Scoring runs shouldn’t be a problem for the Mustangs. If the pitching staff after Costanzo can consistently deliver against their rigorous competition, then the Mustangs very well may be putting another state trophy in their case.