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Kaneland Connection: Kaneland chess players sparkle at state

MAPLE PARK – Whenever a Kaneland High School chess player can pick up a medal at the IHSA State Tournament, coach Ken Dentino said, it’s a reason to celebrate.

Kaneland sophomore Spencer Serwin came away with a ninth-place medal this month at the tournament, which took place at the Peoria Civic Center.

He lost his first match, but he then won the next six. Dentino said that’s a good feat, considering some of the best players in the state are in the event.

“It’s not easy to do,” Dentino said, adding that players cannot lose more than one match if they want to earn a state medal. “Somewhere, you’re guaranteed to play against someone really, really good.”

There were nine Kaneland players assigned to eight total boards. Two players shared the eighth board duties. Serwin was on the fifth board. Others were Nic Likeum (first board), Matt Kalinowski (second board), Drew Doyle (third board), Stephen Jennings (fourth board), J.P. Heineckie (sixth board), Duncan Kriedler (seventh board) and Cole Hookham and Brendan Madziarczyk (eighth board).

Dentino said there are 17 players on the roster, which he said was a good turnout.

“Any time I’m over 10, I’m happy,” he said. Dentino added that he knows of more potential players hoping to join the team next year, and he’s “pretty confident we’ll be able to maintain our numbers, and that’s always an important thing.”

Scholastic Bowl news

Kaneland’s Scholastic Bowl team also has a reason to celebrate after winning the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference. Dentino, who also coaches the Scholastic Bowl team, said the squad then went to a statewide tournament, sponsored by the National Academic Quiz Tournaments, in which Kaneland finished 5-4.

Dentino said it was a good result, saying that the team members went in thinking it would be a positive experience.

“To go 5-4 in nine matches … the fact that we were able to hang in there with the best in the state and come out .500 was a positive thing,” he said.

Two key dates are approaching. Kaneland hosts a regional tournament March 10. If Kaneland advances out of that tournament, it would head to the March 15 sectional event.

Varsity team members include Ethan Witt, Muneeb Rehman, Nic Likeum, Matt Kalinwoski and Anna Piazza. Dentino had praise for Witt in particular.

“He has worked extraordinarily hard over the last two years,” Dentino said. “I don’t think we’ve had any other kid who has worked that hard.”

Middle school students’
science success

Thirty-seven Kaneland Harter Middle School students will advance to the regional competition of the Illinois Junior Academy of Science Fair at Northern Illinois University, according to a Kaneland news release.

They are Alex Montalbano, Kaitlyn Becker, Ian Stoll, Rachel Wozniak, Robbie Dudzinski, Jessica Tiv, Jessica Shell, Zach Farris, Bella Vargas, Ysabelle Simbol, Amanda Eckstrom, Jeff Wachter, Augumn Georgi, Katie Moore, Ava Mandele, Brennan Hare, Olivia Goodenough, Drew Gould, Tim Rosko, Lexi Abruzzo, Sam Webster, Trevor Cannon, Bryce Burton, Hunter Smith, Carson Wallace, Bridget McCracken, Alyssa Lech, Gabrielle Faletto, Peyton Haiser, Trevor Jones, Nicholas Rauwolf, Brian Bartholomew, Ben Purcell, Grand Schaaf, Robert Berrios, Sandra Gale and Tiffany Castracion.

• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at

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