Kimmel, Lake Park have high hopes for state meet

  • Lake Park's Benjamin Kimmel swims in the 100-yard butterfly during boys state swimming finals at Evanston High School Saturday.

      Lake Park's Benjamin Kimmel swims in the 100-yard butterfly during boys state swimming finals at Evanston High School Saturday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Ben Kimmel

    Ben Kimmel

Updated 2/26/2020 10:40 PM

Diamonds in the rough, Lake Park swimming coach Dan Witteveen calls his guys.

"They've got a little bit extra," he said.


Like all programs lacking a pool on campus, off-site training demands a little extra.

Regardless, Lancers senior Ben Kimmel -- a multiple all-stater who will go from a Schaumburg YMCA pool to a former Olympic Trials site at IUPUI in Indianapolis -- rejoins the likes of Neuqua Valley junior Connor Boyle and Waubonsie Valley senior Aayush Deshpande at this weekend's boys swimming and diving state finals at New Trier.

Neuqua and Waubonsie finished second and third, respectively, in 2019, behind St. Charles North.

"Obviously, both our goals are for him to swim on Saturday," said Witteveen, whose son, Luke, just finished his first season coaching the Glenbard East/Glenbard North boys co-op.

"We want to get top-six," Dan Witteveen said. "Anything from first place to sixth place in the state of Illinois is really, really good. And seventh through 12th is not far away from first through sixth in Illinois."

At the Lyons Twp. sectional Kimmel won the 100-yard butterfly and the 100 backstroke. He's placed 11th, sixth and fifth in the backstroke the last three years in the state finals and fifth and eighth in the butterfly as a sophomore and junior.

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Witteveen is hyped that after a midseason lull the Lancers increased their qualifiers from last year. Freshman Jacob Drozd and junior Ernie Berdychowski helped qualify seven events.

They are among the boys Witteveen counts on to lead Lake Park in the wake of Kimmel's four-year run.

"Just coming back to swim on Saturday is a huge accomplishment, and for him to do it four years in a row would be really kind of cool," the coach said. "We're definitely going to miss him. The team's going to miss him, I'm going to miss him. Hopefully, he misses us."

Cash dash

In a very short time Naperville North basketball player Josh Kaufman recently raised buckets of money for charity.

The junior guard raised nearly $700 for the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Edward Hospital in Naperville during halftime of the Huskies' boys basketball game against DeKalb on Feb. 21.

"We put one minute on the clock and tried to collect as much money as we could," said Kaufman, who distributed buckets to 10 players representing both teams to roam the stands and collect donations.


He felt personally invested.

Kaufman explained that as a baby his older brother, Jake, required a hospital stay to correct a heart defect. Parents Steve and Kathy stayed in a nearby Ronald McDonald House Family Room. (Jake Kaufman is healthy and attends Marquette, Josh said.)

The Family Room at Edward Hospital provides families a space to rest and refresh while a child undergoes medical care. Kaufman invited a volunteer there, Anne Sobota, to speak with both teams before the game. He took the microphone at halftime, adding his take and requesting donations.

"It was a success," said Kaufman, who collects tabs from soda cans for Ronald McDonald House, which uses the proceeds from recycling the tabs.

"I felt happy afterward because I realized that I was helping a lot more people than I could have just by myself," he said.

Matozzi's March

Being a Grand Marshal for the Illinois High School Association wrestling finals is a huge deal.

Retired Hinsdale South coach, teacher and dean Mike Matozzi drew the honor last Saturday, one of four tabbed to lead the Grand March of Finalists onto the floor of the State Farm Center in Champaign.

He has a unique, inspiring story.

Initially drawn into park district wrestling to help coach his youngest brother, Al, who is hearing-impaired, Mike Matozzi went on to graduate from MacMurray College with high honors in three years, studying to teach deaf and hearing-impaired students.

At Hinsdale South, Matozzi encouraged his brother and other hearing-impaired students to join the wrestling program. He instructed them by sign language.

Mike Matozzi coached wrestling 32 years, 25 years as head coach. He won 390 dual meets and led the Hornets to five conference titles, their only to date. Another brother, Steve, served as an assistant and is now the head coach.

Named Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association "Man of the Year" the year he retired in 2013, Mike Matozzi was a 2011 IWCOA Hall of Fame inductee and entered Hinsdale South's hall of fame in 2018.


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