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2023 Endurance 24 scholarship winners announced at TFN – local scores

TF NorthLANSING, Ill. (May 8, 2023) – A couple years ago, TF North teachers and baseball coaches Chris Russo and Aaron Altenburg saw on a daily basis how the pandemic was making life hard for their students.

“We wanted to try to help our kids with something extra,” Altenburg said, to let them know “your efforts, your hard work has not gone unnoticed.”

Thus was born Endurance 24, an annual scholarship for TF North seniors going on to college, trade school or the military. In 2021 and 2022, Altenburg and Russo — who also are running buddies — organized endurance races to raise money and awareness for the cause.

The first event, which covered 24 miles over 24 hours, started in Cedar Lake and finished at the TF North track. Four members of the Meteors boys cross country team were along for the entire distance.

That race, and a 50-mile, 50-hour version last year that included legs along the Chicago lakeshore and in southwest suburban Palos Heights, surpassed all of the founders’ expectations in terms of money raised.

Part of that, Russo said last Wednesday at this year’s awards ceremony at TF North, was because of big contributions from Calumet City police and firefighters.

There was no fundraiser this spring, as Russo worked to organize another scholarship fund dedicated to his late father Vincent, a former Chicago police officer who later headed the criminal justice department at Daley College in Chicago.

But there may be other events in the future, and with ample funds remaining, Russo and Altenburg have no plans to stop giving out the Endurance 24 scholarships every year.

This year’s Endurance 24 scholarship recipients

This year’s winners of $1,000 scholarships are Paradise Mack and Anastasia Garcia.

“This scholarship means a lot,” Mack said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do after (high school), I was very unsure. But this just made a walkway for me.”

Mack plans to attend South Suburban College and study photography.

Her interest “started when I was in eighth grade, I realized I like art a lot. … And I’ve just been sticking with it for years.”

Mack hopes to parlay that interest into a career as a photographer, with the goal of starting her own business. “I like entrepreneurship,” she said.

Mack’s mother, Brandi Williams, was elated when she found out her daughter was getting the scholarship.

“I am proud of her,” Williams said. “She’s always been a bright girl and she always had a good head on her shoulders. … She always had that go-getter attitude and she never gave up.”

And that embodies the idea behind the Endurance 24 scholarship.

TF South

TF South


Three Red Wolves will be heading to DeKalb this Friday for the two-day IHSA state finals after qualifying out of last Thursday’s Hinsdale Central Sectional.

Junior Glory Ike finished fourth in singles, while the team of seniors Kailey Klausner and Breanna Lopez took fourth in doubles.

South finished second in the six-team field with 11 points. Host Hinsdale Central took first with 18 points.

Girls track and field

The Red Wolves finished third among seven teams in Wednesday’s South Suburban Blue Meet at Hillcrest with 116 points, 17 behind first-place Lemont. TF North was seventh with 12 points.

South’s Janiya Lucas won the 100 in 12.71, was runner-up in the 200 (26.44), joined Taylor Poole, Laniya Porter and Nyrobi Moore on the second-place 400 relay team (50.10) and was on the runner-up 800 relay team with Poole, Jayla McCarter and Porter (1:49.31).
Red Wolves shot putter Gabrielle Arnold was first at 10.71m, 35-1.5). Moore also was second in the 400 (1:04.41).

For TF North, pole vaulters Cha’Anna Kassim and Jamia Pearson were part of a three-way tie for second at 1.68m, 5-6.


The Red Wolves (16-11, 8-5 South Suburban Blue) have won eight in a row after beating Washington 13-3 on Saturday, Bishop McNamara 14-2 on Friday, Calumet Christian 11-1 on Thursday, and Hammond Central 18-3 on Wednesday.

Leading the way against Washington were Tyler Earmsmuth (3-for-4, double, homer, 3 runs, 4 RBI), Ethan Modjeski (2-for-3, triple, steal, 2 runs), Jayden Armstrong (homer) and winning pitcher Rodrigo Arceo (5 strikeouts).

South broke open the McNamara game with a 13-run first inning. Jayden Spann was 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs and four RBI. Earmsmuth allowed one run and struck out four over four innings for the win, Jack Starcevich was 2-for-2 with a triple and three runs and Rakim Ali drove in three runs.

Drew Danehl fanned six and allowed three hits and two walks to earn the win vs. Calumet Christian. Pacing the offense were Starcevich (2-for-3, 2 runs, 4 RBI), Jake Stachelski (3-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI) and Khanon Gresham (2-for-4, 2 runs, 2 steals).

Earmsmuth hit for the cycle — including a grand slam — against Hammond Central. Stachelski was 2-for-3 with three runs and three RBI.


South (12-13, 5-7 South Suburban Blue) lost 10-0 to Kankakee on Friday and blanked Hillcrest 20-0 on Tuesday.

Morgan Kleidon was 2-for-3 with two doubles and four runs against Hillcrest. Emily Dominiak earned the win.

TF United (TF South/TF North coop)

Girls soccer

United won its sixth straight match overall and 10 in a row in conference play, blanking Oak Forest 5-0 on Thursday.

Berenice Zepeda had two goals and an assist for United (12-4, 10-1 South Suburban Blue) and her sister Karen Zepeda also scored twice. Alanis Gonzalez added a goal and three assists, Katie Jaurez had one assist and goalkeepers Angie Mendez and Mallak Ghnaim each had one save.

Boys tennis

United lost 5-0 to Oak Forest on Thursday, shut out Rich Township 5-0 on Wednesday and edged Hillcrest 3-2 on Tuesday.

Against Rich, South’s Angel Urquizo and Erick Ochoa each won in straight sets at No. 1 and 2 singles. Picking up forfeit wins in doubles were the teams of Gabe Morales-Erik Acosta, Louis Rocano-Leandro Morales and Angel Ruiz-Sijuade Bello.

Against Hillcrest, Urquizo won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, Acosta and Morales won 6-7, 7-6, 10-8 at No. 1 doubles and Ruiz and Bello won by forfeit at No. 3 doubles.

Boys volleyball

United fell 25-16, 25-16 to Oak Forest on Thursday.

Illiana Christian

Girls tennis

The Vikings swept all three singles and both doubles flights en route to winning Saturday’s Kankakee Valley Invitational with 25 points.

Gianna Vukas, Sabri Lopez, and Avery Olthof won singles titles, while the teams of Maddy Smith-Josie Plank and Ava Lindemulder-Sophie Plank were doubles champs.

Illiana blanked Highland 5-0 on Wednesday. Vukas, Lopez, and Olthof all won in straight sets in singles. Smith-Josie Plank won in straight sets at No. 1 doubles, while Lindemulder-Sophie Plank rallied from a set down to win 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 at No. 2 doubles.

Boys golf

Illiana suffered its first dual loss of the season, 168-169 to Highland on Wednesday.
Scoring for the Vikings were Zach Davids (41), Isaac Sherwood (42), Van Corcoran (42) and Donny Woo (44).

Boys volleyball

The Vikings swept McCutcheon 25-4, 27-25, 25-12 on Friday to improve to 20-6.


Illiana (11-5) fell 2-0 to West Lafayette Harrison on Friday despite an impressive outing from Mikayla Derks, who pitched a two-hitter with five strikeouts, two walks, and one earned run. Maya Wondaal was 2-for-3 with a steal.

The Vikings lost 6-3 to Lowell on Thursday. Cheyenne DeJong was 1-for-1 with two walks, while Wondaal went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Illiana lost 3-2 to Greater South Shore rival Hanover Central on May 1, splitting the season series. Derks pitched a seven-hitter and struck out five, Wondaal was 1-for-2 with a triple and an RBI.

Marian Catholic

Marian Catholic

Girls track and field

The Spartans finished second in Wednesday’s East Suburban Catholic Conference Meet at Carmel with 86 points, Benet finished first in the seven-team field with 187 points.

Winning titles for Marian were Mia Rodriguez (200, 25.91), the 400 relay team of Autumn Price, Brooklyn Holmes, Bethany Peoples and Rodriguez (49.75), and Kayden Porter (shot put, 11.42m, 36-5.75).

Runner-up finishers for the Spartans were Rodriguez (100, 12.69), the 800 relay squad of Kayla Robinson, McKenzie Mixson, Price and Peoples (1:47.12), and Antonette Baker (triple jump, 10.34m, 33-11).


The Spartans (13-12, 4-6 East Suburban Catholic) fell 9-2 to conference rival Benet on Saturday. Jonah Weathers was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored for Marian.

The Spartans also beat Shepard 11-1 on Friday, edged Niles Notre Dame 4-3 on Thursday in East Suburban Catholic play, and beat Bradley-Bourbonnais 7-5 on Wednesday.

Mitchel Stanton pitched a two-hitter to beat Notre Dame, striking out five and allowing no earned runs. Parker Engel was 2-for-2 with a walk and a run for the Spartans and Ezra Essex went 2-for-4 with two runs and a steal.

Nick Mangano homered, walked and drove in two runs against Bradley and Stanton was 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Jack Markos saved the win for Josh Davis.

Boys volleyball

Marian beat Illiana Christian 25-21, 25-23 on Thursday as Justin McGary contributed 31 assists for the Spartans (21-5). Brandon Painter and Phoenix McGruder paced the offense with 12 and 10 kills respectively, Joe Staack had seven blocks and Seb Jaculbe added eight digs.

Marian won 26-24, 25-17 over Niles Notre Dame in ESCC play on Monday. McGary contributed 23 assists, McGruder had seven kills and Jaculbe added six digs.


Mike Clark
Mike Clark
Mike Clark is a veteran journalist who has been covering sports in the Chicago area and beyond, from preps to pros, for more than four decades.
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