The year in Stateline sports began innocently enough, but 2020 turned into a nightmare for many athletes, coaches and fans due to COVD-19 and its far-reaching impact.
2020 wasn’t without some highlights, including the remarkable progress made by the Beloit Snappers franchise, which can look forward to moving into a tremendous new downtown stadium during the 2021 season.
For many, however, 2020 will be remembered for lost seasons and lost opportunities. Here were some of its more memorable moments:
4: Beloit Memorial’s boys basketball game with Middleton finished two seconds early after a fracas between middle school students in the bleachers caused AD Joel Beard to clear the gym and call the game. The Purple Knights fell, 58-56.
...The Beloit Youth Hockey Association hosted the 15th annual Chix with Stix Tournament at Edwards Ice Arena and the two girls teams it co-sponsors with Janesville Youth Hockey both captured titles in their respective tournaments.
15: Beloit native Jeff Hanson, 70, announced his retirement from college football coaching after a career spanning four decades. A member of the Beloit Historical Society’s Sports Hall of Fame who starred at Beloit Memorial and Richmond, he finished up as the defensive line coach at East Carolina University.
16: Beloit Memorial’s boys basketball team broke into the Big Eight win column by downing Verona, 71-55.
20: Both Hononegah’s and South Beloit’s boys teams salvaged finales in their respective Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Tournaments. HCHS dispatched Normal West, 69-65, as Chris Akelaitis and Brandon Beck combined for a dozen 3-pointers and South Beloit downed Ashton-Franklin Center, 62-53.
23: Beloit Memorial’s hockey team fell to winless Madison East/La Follette in its previous game, but regrouped to down rival Janesville, 5-2, at Edwards Ice Arena. Beloit goalie Aidan Wright stopped 43 shots.
...The Beloit Snappers introduced plans for their new $32 million downtown stadium along the Rock River.
1: Beloit College junior Evan Laun-Smith climbed into the top 10 nationally in a pair of events, leading the Buccaneers in the Warhawk Classic at UW-Whitewater. Laun-Smith was second in both the 60-meter hurdles and triple jump.
...Beloit College’s men’s basketball team won its fourth straight game, 73-70, over Illinois College at Flood Arena.
...Hononegah finished second and Beloit Memorial third in the Battle on the Rock swimming meet at the BMHS Natatorium. Beloit junior Anthony Jacobson took two individual firsts and swam a leg of two first-place relays.
...Former Hononegah and Beloit College multi-sport athlete Shelby Kline, competing for Clarke University in a fifth season of eligibility in track, set the school record in the 3K, 11:07, to win the event at the UW-Platteville Select Meet.
2: The BYHA 18U Rock County Raptors defeated the Verona/Southwest Eagles, 9-2, to clinch a trip to the WAHA State Tournament.
4: Turner QB Kenny Draeving signed a letter-of-intent with NCAA D-II Upper Iowa.
5: Beloit Memorial grad Aniah Williams reached the 1,000-point career plateau at Madison College, scoring 25 in an 81-47 rout of Wilbur Wright College.
8: Beloit Memorial finished sixth in the Big Eight Conference Swimming Championships in Beloit.
...Turner senior Jordan Majeed reached 1,000 career points in a 72-50 rout of Jefferson in Beloit.
...Turner’s wrestlers finished second in the RVC Championships at Whitewater.
10: Hononegah downed Beloit Memorial, 83-69, in a boys basketball border duel at the Barkin Arena. Chris Akelaitis had 27 points for the winners.
11: Rock County Fury standout Haley Knauf, from Albany, announced she would play hockey for Division III Aurora University.
13: In a battle of the RVC’s best teams, East Troy’s boys knocked off Turner, 59-51.
14: Ben Saladar won the 100 freestyle in a school record 46.87 seconds and was second in the 100 backstroke in a record 52.50 at the WIAA sectional hosted by Beloit Memorial. He also combined with Anthony Jacobson, Kana Wong and CJ Light to finish second in the 200 medley in a school-record 1:39.49.
...Hononegah’s swimming team made it 10 straight NIC-10 titles.
...The Rock County Fury clinched their third straight Badger Conference crown with a 4-0 shutout of Viroqua. The Fury shared the title with the Metro Lynx and Cap City Cougars.
17: Front-running Evansville downed host Clinton, 56-42, in an RVC girls basketball showdown.
18: Grinnell used a final surge to top Beloit College’s men, 101-94, in a shootout at Flood Arena.
20: Jaden Bell scored 18 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to help Beloit Memorial trip Janesville Parker, 74-66.
...Huntley shut down Hononegah’s offense in a 34-30 IHSA 4A girls regional basketball title victory.
22: Turner’s Tre Bivens captured first place in a WIAA wrestling sectional at Evansville while teammates Drew Ries, Devon Harbison and Trey Griinke also qualified for the state meet.
...Beloit Memorial junior Ben Saladar finished 10th in the 100 freestyle at the WIAA State Swimming Championships in Madison.
28: Beloit native Jaliyah Elliott, a Youngstown State University senior, was named the Horizon League’s Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Elliott captured her third consecutive 60-meter dash title and shattered her own school record in winning the 200.
29: Jennifer Njoo’s 3-pointer capped a 13-point second-half rally to lift Turner to a 43-41 win over Clinton in a WIAA Division 3 regional title game in Clinton.
...Parkview’s Kornen Brown finished third at 152 pounds in the WIAA Division 3 State Meet in Madison. Turner’s Drew Ries finished fifth at 195 in Division 2. Teammate Tre’Veon Bivens was sixth.
...Beloit College junior Eva Laun-Smith earned her third straight MWC Field Performer of the Meet. She won the long jump, the 60-meter hurdles and took second in the triple jump.
...Hononegah grad Marissa Keershner dropped in 25 points and Rock Valley College thumped Columbus State College, 86-70, in the NJCAA D-III District Tournament in Rockford.
...The Rock County Fury downed host Fond du Lac, 4-2, in a sectional final.
3: The eighth-seeded Hononegah Indians (13-19) converted 14-of-16 free throws in the fourth quarter and 25-of-29 overall as they upset top-seeded DeKalb, 78-68, in an IHSA Class 4A Rockford Guilford Sectional semifinal. Isaiah Zawlocki led the way with 22 points.
5: A 5-2 loss to the Middleton Co-op Lynx in the WIAA state semifinals in Madison, ended the Rock County Fury’s 18-9 season.
...Turner’s girls fell to Martin Luther, 62-46, in a WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal in East Troy.
7: Hononegah sophomore Owen Hart hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to defeat Rockford East, 54-51, in the finals of the Guilford 4A regional. In Wisconsin, Turner blasted River Valley, 55-29, in a Division 3 regional final, but Beloit Memorial fell to Madison East, 85-42.
...Three members of the Rock County Fury helped Team Wisconsin U19 capture the State Tier 1 championship: Albany’s Haley and Alyssa Knauf and Monroe’s Anika Einbeck.
11: The Hononegah boys basketball team saw its season come to a close with a 56-49 loss to St. Charles North in an IHSA 4A sectional semifinal in McHenry.
12: Turner’s boys basketball team advanced to the finals of the WIAA Division 3 sectionals with a 68-52 win over Edgerton at Janesville Craig. The crowd was limited to 88 fans per side because of restrictions placed on the game by the WIAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
...With the NCAA D-III Track and Field Championships postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Beloit College’s Eva Laun Smith missed out on a chance to compete in two events, the 60-meter hurdles and long jump, in which she was seeded No. 2.
13: Beloit College’s baseball team finished its trip to Florida with an 8-1 record, but learned that COVID-19 had forced the college to pull the plug on the spring sports season.
...The WIAA canceled the remainder of the basketball season. No team was hurt more than senior-dominated Beloit Turner, 21-4, which liked its chances of being the first team in school history to reach the state tournament.
14: Rock Valley College’s women’s basketball team fell to Western Technical College, 83-74, in the semifinals of the NJCAA Division III National Championships in Rockford. Hannah Malcomson of the Golden Eagles was named to the all-tournament team.
16: Turner placed two players on the All-RVC Boys Basketball First Team: Jordan Majeed and Dai’Vontrelle Strong. DJ Wash landed on the Second Team. Olivia Tinder was a First Team selection on the girls squad.
18: Former Beloit College basketball great John Erickson, a Class of 1949 graduate who went on to coach at Wisconsin, passed away at 92 in Tulsa, Okla.
19: Beloit Turner senior Drew Ries is the Wrestler of the Year on the 2019-20 BDN All-Area Wrestling Team. Parkview’s Joel Steinmann is Coach of the Year.
20: Hononegah’s Chris Akelaitis headed up the 2019-20 BDN All-Area Boys Basketball Team as Player of the Year. Joining him on the First Team are Beloit Turner’s Jordan Majeed and Dai’Vontrelle Strong, Beloit Memorial’s Jaden Bell and Parkview’s Tyler Oswald. Turner’s Ken Watkins is Coach of the Year.
24: Hononegah senior Julia Burns is the Player of the Year on the 2019-20 BDN All-Area Girls Basketball Team. Joining her on the First Team are HCHS teammate Alison Murdoch, Turner’s Olivia Tinder, Clinton’s Liz Kalk and Brodhead’s Abbie Dix. Turner’s Nick Faralli is Coach of the Year.
...Tyler Frederick, 29, who starred at Big Foot High and Wisconsin, announced he was retiring from the Dallas Cowboys. He had returned to Pro Bowl form after sitting out the previous season to fight a neurological disorder.
30: Hononegah seniors McKenzie and McKaylee Kidd will attend Waldorf University and play volleyball.
2: Former Beloit Snappers manager Webster Garrison, who had been hospitalized and on a ventilator battling COVID-19, showed marked progress.
...South Beloit High graduate Shian Galbreath, who attended Sauk Valley Community College, will play basketball for NAIA St. Mary’s in Kansas.
10: Hononegah senior Chris Akelaitis announced he would play basketball at Rock Valley College.
13: Turner graduate and Rock Valley College star Carson Nitz announced she would play basketball at Lake Superior State University in Michigan.
16: Turner senior DJ Wash announced he would attend Rock Valley College and play basketball there. He joins teammate Alden Tinder and Hononegah’s Chris Akelaitis.
17: Cam’ron Boyd of Beloit Memorial announced he would play basketball at Cerro Coso Community College in Ridgefield, Calif.
20: Parkview senior Taylor Burrell announced she would play volleyball and basketball at Beloit College.
21: Turner senior Alden Tinder announced he would play basketball at Rock Valley College.
24: Clinton seniors Liz Kalk, Hannah Welte and Addy Ciochon all will attend Beloit College and play basketball.
30: Beloit Memorial senior Meghan Drucker will play volleyball at Rock Valley College.
1: Turner multi-sport standout Drew Ries announced he would play baseball at UW-Stout.
4: Turner senior Jackson Carter announced he would play basketball at Rockford University.
5: Beloit College baseball coach Dave DeGeorge has been named the new Director of Athletics and Activities, succeeding Tim Schmiechen, who transitioned to a fundraising role in Development.
...Shelvin Garrett II announced he would attend Division II Upper Iowa University and play football.
7: South Beloit senior Madison Pasiecznik announced she would play basketball and soccer at St. Xavier University in Chicago. Hononegah’s Olivia Taylor will play volleyball at Tennessee Tech and Emma Topham will bowl at Carthage College.
11: Beloit Memorial senior Azeez Ganiyu announced he would play basketball at Beloit College.
...The Beloit-Janesville American Legion baseball co-op team, the Rock County River Monsters, canceled the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
12: Hononegah graduate Samantha Harris parlayed two solid seasons playing basketball at Rock Valley College into a spot on the NAIA University of Northwestern Ohio. Parkview ace pitcher Remington Stark announced she would play for D-III Westminster College in Fulton, Mo.
14: Bryanth Farr of Beloit played at Holy Family College in Manitowoc, Wis., as a junior, but when that college dropped its basketball program he transferred to Rio Grande University (Ohio).
15: Assistant coach Jason Brunke was named head girls basketball coach at Hononegah, replacing retiring Randy Weibel.
...Danny Belling and Nicole Dolcimascolo received the top awards presented to seniors and both received “B” Blankets for being the top athletes in their respective sports at Beloit College. Belling received the Pat Dawson Award as the Top Senior Male Athlete and Dolcimascolo earned the Ruth Peterson Award as Top Senior Female Athlete.
20: Beloit College junior Eva Laun-Smith earned All-American honors in D-III track and field. She is the first three-time indoor track and field All-American in program history.
...The Beloit Historical Society Elliott-Perring Sports Hall of Fame Banquet was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. The induction of Kristen Witting, Jay McGregory, Barry Upshaw, Duane Vance and Bill Houck will be delayed until 2021.
22: Beloit Memorial senior Jaden Bell announced he would play basketball at Rockford University.
24: Former Big Foot High volleyball standout Mackenzie Long, who played at Saint Louis University, has joined the University of Wisconsin volleyball program as a volunteer coach.
25: Future Beloit Snappers owner Quint Studer said that while there would be no minor league baseball in 2020, he expected no issues in his ownership being approved by MLB and MiLB.
30: Beloit Memorial head basketball coach Dondre Bell and his assistant coaching staff were let go due to a policy shift. The school district is no longer allowing hourly staff members to fulfill coaching assignments due to the overtime rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
1: Minor League Baseball announced it was cancelling the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
...Big Foot’s Mike Weldon and Bailey Racky are splitting the AD duties for the 2020-21 school season.
13: Shane Bautch is back as head boys basketball coach at Beloit Memorial. Bautch was hired in 2000 to coach the Knights and led the team for four years. He will guide the team again, becoming Beloit’s fourth head coach since 2017, following Jay Bryant, Tim Richert and Dondre Bell.
...Sheridan Michels has been hired to guide the girls tennis program at Beloit Memorial.
14: Former Clinton High AD Jeff Spiwak was named the AD at Milton High School.
15: Members of the Gjilbare Cup—a fundraising golf outing held annually in Florida—met in Beloit to celebrate donating over $60,000 over the past 20 years.
18: Beloit teen Tyler Vincetich collected his first victory in just his fourth race at the Rockford Speedway, competing in the high school league.
20: Former Beloit Memorial basketball star Terrell Parks announced he had signed a pro contract with Cholet, a team that plays in the Champions League in France.
21: The Big Eight Conference announced it will not hold athletic competitions in the fall due to COVID-19 concerns.
22: Beloit native Jim Caldwell announced he was sitting out the 2020 NFL season. He had taken a leave of absence in 2019 from the Miami Dolphins due to health concerns, but had since been declared fit for duty. COVID-19 concerns were a motivation for taking another season off.
...The Beloit College men’s and women’s track and field programs were recognized as an NCAA All-Academic Team by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Eva Laun-Smith was recognized individually for NCAA All-Academic honors.
...Beloit native TJ Polglaze, a Michigan Tech sophomore, was named an All-American Scholar by the American Hockey Coaches Association.
24: Beloit Memorial swimmer Faith Sill announced she would accept a scholarship offer from Northern Michigan University.
28: The Midwest Conference joined a wave of NCAA D-III conferences across the nation suspending league competition through Dec. 31 amid concern over the spread of COID-19.
31: Rock Valley Conference officials announced they were postponing all fall sports until the spring season.
2: Tim Johnson repeated as Beloit City Golf Champion with a two-stroke victory over Andy Hagen and Collin Brockwell at The Beloit Club.
11: Kelsie Packard’s journey as a collegiate pitcher will have a final stop: the University of Illinois. The former Turner star, who helped lead Rock Valley College to an NJCAA Division III National Championship, and went 20-16 with a 2.76 ERA at Valparaiso, will finish as an Illini.
13: With his senior baseball season at UW-Stout eliminated by COVID-19, Hononegah graduate Kyle Hamilton enjoyed the opportunity to play for the Rockford Rivets in the Northwoods League.
17: Kurt Buchs stepped down as Beloit Memorial boys hockey coach due to health concerns and longtime assistant James Hoey was named his replacement.
18: The Clinton School Board approved the hiring of Tyree Gamble as the new athletic director at Clinton High School. He was a former Beloit Memorial baseball coach and an assistant dean.
19: Beloit native Ty Evans was announced as the new head women’s basketball coach at NCAA Division I Tennessee State University. Evans, a former Beloit Memorial All-State player and All-American at UW-Whitewater, has 17 years of collegiate coaching experience.
3: Beloit’s Carlos Harris announced he was accepting a scholarship to attend Hillcrest Prep, one of the top basketball private academies in the U.S.
8: Hononegah senior Alison Murdoch announced she will play basketball at UW-Stout.
9: Ben Witkins begins an online petition drive to keep the Beloit Snappers nickname after team officials announced the name would be changed during the 2021 season.
...With the closing of Beloit bowling establishment Diamond Lanes, South Beloit’s Viking Lanes was prepared to open for league bowling as the lone Beloit-South Beloit center still in operation. Dave Cliffe said the center had undergone a remodel while closed due to COVID and had a new scoring system installed.
10: While the finals of ABC-TV’s “Holey Moley—The Sequel” were shot in March, they didn’t air until this date. That’s how long Roscoe native Chelsea (Bach) Kinard had to keep her silence. The contestant in the miniature golf competition with $250,000 at stake advanced to the finals and narrowly missed winning the ultimate prize.
11: Beloit native Alex Polizzi won his first bout as a member of Bellator MMA, defeating Rafael Carvalho of Brazil in an unanimous decision at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncassville, Conn. The former Beloit Memorial and Northwestern wrestler improved to 7-0 as a professional in MMA.
21: Parkview High shut down its fall athletic teams temporarily after a student was diagnosed with COVID-19.
2: Parkview cross country runners Avery Crane and Paige Valley both excelled in the Baertschi Cross Country Meet at Albany. Crane won the boys race and Valley finished second for the girls.
4: Michael Bilderback of South Beloit had a big day at Rockford Speedway, winning the 108-lap race for the Big 8 Series and finishing second in the 200-lap Super Late Models event. Both events were held during the National Short Track Championships.
6: Hononegah’s golfers pulled out a victory in the IHSA Class 3A regional at Elliot Golf Course. Tied with Rockford Guilford heading into the final hole, No. 1 golfer Cade Bastian made par while his Guilford counterpart had a bogey. Bastian finished with a team-leading 79.
8: Beloit Memorial announced Dilonna Johnson was hired as the new head girls basketball coach. A former All-State player at Whitefish Bay Dominican, she starred at point guard for D-II Southwest Baptist University.
14: Hononegah’s girls swimming team knocked off Boylan in a dual meet to wrap up its first NIC-10 championship. The title was decided by head-to-head matchups with the traditional conference meet canceled due to COVID-19.
15: Clinton High School named Brad Farrell as the new varsity head baseball coach.
26: Hononegah’s cross country teams both qualified for sectional competition in Loves Park. The girls placed second in the 11-team regional meet while the boys placed fourth.
28: The Beloit Youth Hockey Association did not receive clearance by the city to play its games at the Edwards Ice Arena due to COVID-19 concerns so it will play at the Janesville Ice Arena.
...The University of Memphis landed Hononegah volleyball player Lexi Lewis.
31: Parkview runner Avery Crane finished 31st in the WIAA Division 3 state meet, held in West Salem. In Illinois, Hononegah competed in the IHSA Class 3A sectional meet at LaGrange. The girls placed 11th while the boys were 14th.
5: Hononegah slugger Braden Sayles committed to Wabash Valley Community College, a junior college powerhouse with a reputation of sending players to D-I colleges.
... Rockton fighter Corey Anderson won his debut in Bellator MMA, posting a second-round TKO over Melvin Manhoef in an event at the Mohegan Sun Arena telecast on the CBS Sports Network. Alex Polizzi of Beloit saw his pro career slip to 7-1 with a 30-27 unanimous decision won by Julius Anglickas.
10: Clinton senior Felicia Teubert committed to Rock Valley College to play softball.
12: The Turner School Board voted to allow winter sports with several restrictions due to COVID-19, including all athletes and coaches wearing masks at all times and no fans in attendance.
16: Hononegh senior Trent DeVries, expected to be one of the top basketball players in the NIC-10, relocated to Barea, Ky., where he will finish off his prep career at Madison Southern High School.
17: Pitcher Kailyn Packard, a Turner graduate, announced she was transferring from Kansas City University to the University of Northern Iowa.
24: Hononegah senior Noah Goddard announced he would play baseball at McHenry Junior College.
26: The Town Club topped Turtle Tap, 38-18, in the annual Turkey Bowl football game at the Beloit Boys & Girls Club field..
29: Hononegah graduate Jordan King started off her sophomore season by scoring a career-high 20 points for Marquette in a 90-82 win at North Dakota.
3: The Midwest Conference announced that it would not sponsor fall or winter sport competition including championships for the 2020-21 academic year.
...The Clinton School Board voted to go ahead with winter sports at the varsity level.
4: Sophomore Donavhan Cain scored 19 points, but Turner’s boys dropped their season opener, 77-45, to visiting Edgerton.
8: Olivia Tinder of Turner announced she would play basketball for NCAA Division III UW-Whitewater.
9: The Miami Marlins invited the Beloit Snappers to become their High Level-A affiliate for the 2021 season and the franchise will move up a level to Advanced Class A ball.
10: Larry Weber, who brought baseball back to Hononegah and coached the sport for 20 years, passed away at the age of 79 from complications of Alzheimers. Weber, who also served as Athletic Director, was inducted into the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
14: Longtime Janesville sports broadcaster Al Fagerli, who spent four decades calling play-by-play and talking sports on WCLO and WJVL, passed away at the age of 67 after a bout with pancreatic cancer.
16: Major League Baseball announced that the Negro Leagues ballplayers from 1920-1948 would be considered MLB players and their statistics would require a recalibration of the record book. Beloit native Bill “Youngblood” McCrary, a member of the Beloit Sports Hall of Fame, was one of the Negro Leagues veterans impacted by the ruling.
17: Beloit’s YMCA Youth Sports Complex was announced as one of six youth baseball sites for the 2021 Baseball Players Association Dairyland Series. The tournament July 16-18 will include play for 10U, 11U and 12U teams.
18: Turner senior Olivia Tinder scored her 1,000th career point in a 56-34 win over visiting Williams Bay in girls non-conference basketball.
23: COVID-19 had closed Viking Lanes, the venue for the BDN Holiday Bowling Tournament, but officials did not want to see it cancelled. Tournament Director Mike Townsend announced the event would be pushed back to two weekends in January after Viking re-opens.