Lions IHSA Class 1-A Track and Field Results

By Dan McGrath

Leo’s 4-x-100 relay team placed ninth and earned two points for the Lions in the IHSA Class 1-A State Track and Field Championships at Eastern Illinois University on Thursday, May 25 and Saturday, May 27.

Freshman Chase Jordan anchored the team, which also included seniors Isiah Knox, Ja’Mari Winters and Kevin Jackson. A ninth-place showing in preliminaries (:43.60) got the Lions through to the finals, where they moved up one spot to eighth despite posting a slightly slower time (:43.85).

Forreston won the event in :42.91, followed by Decatur St. Theresa (:42.98).

Leo’s 4-x-100 and 4-x-200 relay teams qualified for the state meet by virtue of first-place finishes at the Hope Academy Sectional one week previous, The 4-x-200 team (Knox, Jackson, Tim Durr, Jordan) could not get past the preliminaries, placing 13th in 1:31.52.

With a third-place finish at Hope (:11.33), Jordan was an individual state qualifier in the 100 meters. He finished 24th in the preliminaries at :11.35. Peyton Locke of Taylor Ridge Rockridge won the event in :10.86. Brady Anderson of Morrison (5th, :11.01) was the only freshman to finish higher than Jordan.

Catlin Salt Fork won the Class 1-A state championship with 45 points, followed by Shelbyville (30.5), Newton (30), Tuscola (29) and Auburn (25).

Leo Sophomore Nick Armour didn’t qualify for the shot-put finals after finishing 30th (37, feet 6 inches) in preliminaries. Garrett Taylor of Catlin Salt Fork won the event with a best effort of 50 feet, 6 inches. Evan Sanders of Johnson City (25th, 42 feet, 7 inches) and Brynner Inman of Nashville (29th, 39-8) were the only sophomores to place higher than Armour, who was making a return trip to the state meet, qualified by finishing second in the Hope Sectional with a heave of 39-8.

Junior Joshua Ball, another repeat participant, was eliminated from triple-jump competition in the preliminaries, topping out at 40 feet, ½ inch. Junior Max Mibreth of Pecatonica was the winner at 44 feet, 8 inches. Ball was first in the Hope Sectional with a best effort of 41-8.

Lions Baseball Season Comes to an End

By Dan McGrath

In the sixth inning, the scoreboard at Joliet Catholic Academy’s Gillespie Field  showed the Leo baseball team with one run and five hits. 

A third column told the real story of the Lions’ 10-1 loss to JCA in an IHSA Class 2-A Sectional semifinal on Thursday, May 25: seven errors.

Two fielding bobbles, four errant throws and a catcher’s interference call accounted for six unearned runs, gifts the talented and fundamentally skilled Hillmen hardly needed in improving to 22-8 for the season and earning a date with Chicago Christian in Saturday’s sectional title game.

Leo closed the books on a 12-18 season, its highest victory total in 10 years.

“You hate to see it end like this, in a game where we didn’t play our best, but I’m proud of the season we had,” Coach Mike Anderson said. “I want to thank the seniors, who left it all on the field every day. And I want the younger guys to keep working hard, keep improving.

“This is definitely something to build on.”

Starter Matthew Hernandez struggled with his control early and issued two first-inning walks, both of which came around to score. The Lions were inches away from getting out of the inning, but couldn’t quite turn a double play, and the Hillmen’s 2-0 lead grew to 4-0 when  Zach Pomatto banged a two-out, two-out double into the left-field corner.

Leo broke through with a run against Michael Tuman in the fourth inning, but ran themselves out of a chance for more. Amar’e Hall stole second after delivering an RBI single that scored Hernandez. He took third on Mitchell Hall’s tap to the mound, but made too wide a turn and was thrown out scrambling back after Tuman threw behind him rather than go for the out at first. The inning ended when Mitchell Hall was cut down trying to steal second.

The Lions’ bats went silent at that point, and a parade of fielding miscues helped the Hillmen tack on two runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth. A disappointing end to a season that featured, in addition to a 10-year high for victories, these highlights:

* Senior Kyrent Cole, who played shortstop and center field and pitched, was named co-Player of the Year in the Catholic League White Division

* Fellow senior Matt Hernandez, who played third base and pitched, joined Cole on the CCL White Division all-conference team

* Leo was honored with the White Division Sportsmanship Award in a vote of conference coaches.

“I think it suggests we competed hard and respected the game, and we can be proud of that,” Anderson said.

MASSIVE COMEBACK! Lions Score 4 in the Bottom of the Seventh to Win 9-8!

By Dan McGrath

Matthew Hernandez could see the game of his life slipping away when his Leo Lions went to the bottom of the seventh inning trailing University High 8-5 in the IHSA Class 2-A regional title decider in Palos Heights on Saturday, May 20.

Hernandez, a senior, held the Maroons to one earned run over five innings of stellar pitching. He doubled and scored in the first inning, delivered a sacrifice fly in the third and gave the Lions a 5-4 lead with a clutch two-out, two-run single in the fifth.

But after Hernandez left the mound, Nathan Kilkus’ two-run double put U-High up 6-5 in the sixth inning, and the Maroons pushed two more runs across in the top of the seventh to lead 8-5. With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the seventh, the Lions were looking at the end of their season.

But they simply refused to lose. A walk, a Joaquin Huerta single and an RBI single by Hernandez–who else?—got Leo within 8-6. After Kyrent Cole was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Mitchell Hall’s single scored Huerta for 8-7 and left the bases full.

Nate Sims popped up the first pitch he saw, but the U-High shortstop had trouble tracking the ball in the late-afternoon sun. As it glanced off his glove, Hernandez crossed the plate with the tying run. Cole, running with two outs, never stopped and beat a hurried throw home with a headfirst slide to score the winner.

Leo 9, U-High 8. Pretty amazing.

“I know we got some breaks, but what stands out to me is we kept fighting, kept battling and never got down on ourselves when we fell behind,” Coach Mike Anderson said. “When you do that, you give yourself a chance.”


By securing the regional title, the Lions gave themselves a chance to face host Joliet Catholic in a semifinal of the Joliet Catholic Sectional on Thursday, May 25 at 4:30 p.m. The Hilltoppers are 19-8 overall, they finished third in the tough East Suburban Catholic Conference at 8-4 and they claimed their regional title with a 5-3 win over Wilmington.

On paper, they’d be favored. But after Saturday, Leo is of a mind that anything is possible.  

Lions Track Schedule

Lions Track Schedule

Thurs. May 25: IHSA 1A State Final Prelims, Eastern Illinois Univ., Noon
Sat. May 27: IHSA 1A State Finals  Eastern Illinois Univ., 11:00 A.M

Lions Track Team Finishes Third in the IHSA Sectional

By Dan McGrath

Three first-place efforts and a remarkable performance by freshman Chase Jordan carried Leo’s track team to a third-place finish in the IHSA Class 1-A Sectional held at Hope Academy on Wednesday, May 17.

As a result, the Lions will send two relay teams and three individual qualifiers to Charleston for the IHSA state meet at Eastern Illinois University on May 25-27.

Leo earned 66 points in the sectional, which left the Lions third behind host Hope Academy (104 points) and the Chicago Latin School (91). But Jordan was one of the meet’s top individual performers, anchoring the 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams to first-place finishes and placing third in the 100 meters. His time of 11.33 seconds bettered the state-meet qualifying standard of 11.35 and sends him on to Eastern.

Seniors Isiah Knox, Ja’mari Winters and Kevin Jackson joined Jordan on the victorious 4×100 team, turning in a time of 43.96 seconds to beat out runner-up North Lawndale (44.35) and host Hope (44.52).

Knox, Winters and Jackson set up Jordan’s anchor leg in the 4×200, and he brought the Lions home in 1:33.20, ahead of North Lawndale (1:33.40) and Hope (1:34.98).

Leo’s 4×400 relay team placed third and missed qualifying as Knox, Winters, junior Lordan Black and senior Tim Durr came in at 3:40.62, behind Latin (3:38.57) and Beacon Academy (3:39.48). They needed to better 3:35.17.

Junior Joshua Ball will make a return trip to the state meet after winning the triple jump with a 41 feet, 8 inch effort. Ball also placed eighth in the high jump, two spots behind sophomore teammate Neil Anderson. Both cleared 5 feet 5 inches, but Anderson had fewer misses. Kejuan Williams of Clark won the event with a leap of 5-11.

Leo’s other individual state qualifier is sophomore Nick Armour, who placed second in the shot put at 39 feet 8 inches, behind only Sam Forst of Francis Parker, who won the event with a heave of 40-5. Junior teammate Joshua Burke was fourth at 36-4. 

Junior Garry Brown gave the Lions third-place points in the discus (102 feet, 5 inches), where Christ the King’s Patrick Walker dominated with a throw of 141-6. Leo’s Xavier Robinson placed sixth at 96-6. Sophomore Marshawn Durr accounted for a fifth-place finish in the long jump at 19 feet, 5 inches, while junior teammate Lawrence Lee was sixth at 19-2. 

Jordan seems ready to take his place among Ryan Shields, Chris Watkins, Keith Harris and Theo Hopkins in the pantheon of great Leo sprinters. That can only bode well for the Lions’ track-and-field future. 

Graduation Day 2023

By Dan McGrath

The weather was cool, damp and threatening, but it couldn’t dim the spirit in and around the church as Leo High School held its 94th commencement celebration for the Class of 2023 at St. Margaret of Scotland on Sunday, May 14 – Mother’s Day.

Forty-two seniors received diplomas before a packed house of family, friends and relatives. The sheer joy and exultation that greeted the announcement of each graduate’s name was a reminder of what a truly special occasion this was.

Mrs. Tiffany Harston, Leo’s guidance counselor, did a splendid job as MC for the program. President Dan McGrath and Principal Shaka Rawls commended the class for dealing with COVID’s many challenges as effectively as they did in making it through to graduation. The world-renowned Leo Choir performed. Each senior presented his mother with a Mother’s Day poem he had composed as a Senior English writing project for Mr. Redmond’s class.

But, in an unusual twist,  the highlight of the day was the speeches.

Matthew Hernandez displayed the poise and confidence he said he was grateful for acquiring during his Leo journey, one that saw him become an honor student, class Salutatorian, National Honor Society member and all-conference baseball player.

Esai Jacinto said he never would have had the nerve to deliver a speech to a packed house when he entered Leo as a nervous little freshman, not knowing anyone and not sure he belonged. But he not only was accepted, he was challenged to become all he could be at Leo: Valedictorian, honor roll, National Honor Society, varsity wrestler, four-year baseball starter. 

Esai grew emotional as he thanked his family, his friends, his teachers, his classmates and his coaches—especially Coach Mike Anderson—for helping him find the path to success at Leo. Several people were seen dabbing at their eyes as he went down the list.

In an amazing display of personal connection, Principal Rawls used his speech to recall an interaction or an anecdote about each senior in the graduating class. Nothing pro forma; every message was personalized to let the young man know he’d been recognized and appreciated as a Leo student.

“And now you’re going out into the world as a Leo Man,” Mr. Rawls said. “Make us proud.”

Jacinto and Tim Durr took home two gold medals apiece as Senior Award recipients. The complete list:

• William J. Koloseike Gold Medal for Athletics: Kevin Jackson
• Bishop John R. Gorman Gold Medal for Religion: Jonathan Agee
• Michael L. Thompson Gold Medal for Music: Timothy Durr
• Donald F. Flynn Gold Medal for History: Matthew Hernandez
• Dr. James J. Ahern Gold Medal for Science: Timothy Durr
• Thomas and Mary Owens Gold Medal for Mathematics: Thomas Sims
• Stafford L. Hood Gold Medal for English: Esai Jacinto
• Br. James Glos Gold Medal for Foreign Language: Dorion Woods
• Frank W. Considine Gold Medal for Social Justice: Christopher Robinson
• Andrew J. McKenna Gold Medal for Leadership: Esai Jacinto 

Congratulations to all the members of the Class of 2023 and their families.

And many thanks to the faculty, staff and parent volunteers who put together a spectacular day for Leo.

We’ll do it again next year … and for many years to come.  

Baseball Lions Wallop King in IHSA Playoff Game: 26-0

By Dan McGrath

As expected, the rigors of Catholic League competition prepared the Leo baseball team for postseason play, and the Lions find themselves one victory away from claiming an IHSA Class 2-A regional title.

They’ll face the University of Chicago Lab School—better known as U-High–at Chicago Christian’s Schaffer Athletics Complex, 6100 Cal Sag Road in Palos Heights, at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 20. The winner advances to next week’s 2-A Sectional at Joliet Catholic.

Both Leo and U-High sailed through the first round of the regional with mercy-rule victories over Public League opponents, the Lions besting King and the Maroons polishing off South Shore. U-High is 11-8 overall and finished second in the Independent Schools league with a 10-2 record.

A split with perennial Catholic League contender Montini and a Senior Night victory over Horizon Charter gave Leo some momentum headed into the postseason. A 5-4, nine-inning victory over Montini on May 9 was probably the Lions’ most impressive win since they knocked off Brother Rice in their Catholic League opener back in March.

They took a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning, only to have Montini tie things with a three-spot. It remained 4-4 through the seventh and eighth, but Mitchell Hall led off the bottom of the ninth with a booming triple to right-center field. Esai Jacinto scored him with a sharp single to left, and a 5-4 Leo victory went into the books. 

Montini got even with a 12-5 victory in Lombard two days later, but it was a close, competitive game until the Broncos pushed four runs across in the bottom of the sixth.

“I think we’ve proved we can be competitive with the good teams in the Catholic League,” Coach Mike Anderson said. “That’s something to build on.” 

Seniors Mitchell Hall, Amar’e Hall, Kyrent Cole, Matthew Hernandez, Joaquin Huerta, Esai Jacinto and Nate Sims were recognized in a pre-game ceremony before the Horizon game. Baseball is fairly new to the near-West Side charter school, and not until gametime did Anderson realize he had scheduled a mismatch.

“Games like this really don’t do us any good,” he said. 

The regional first-rounder was a mismatch as well. But it gave the Lions a chance to rest their regulars, play their youngsters and line up their pitching so they’ll be at full strength for Saturday.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” Anderson said. “A regional title would be a great thing for these kids who have put so much into this.”  

Stankiewicz ’66, Malec ’46, Spivy ’92 to be Honored at the Alumni Banquet

Jim Stankiewicz, Man of the Year 

Dr. Jim Stankiewicz ’66 has been selected as Leo Alumni Association Man of the Year and will be recognized at Leo’s annual Alumni Banquet on Friday, April 28 at Chateau Del Mar in Hickory Hills.

Ron Malec ’46 (Doc Driscoll Award) and Antwayne “Tony” Spivy ’92 (Community Service) are this year’s other award recipients. The six-member Hall of Fame class includes Renardo “Rick” Hall ’72, the late Bill Holland ’73, Fred Nelson III ’77 and three of the eight Marks Brothers to attend Leo: Albert ’64, William ’66 and Daniel ’67.

Jim Stankiewicz was an honor-roll student, a class officer and a starter on the Lions’ 1966 Catholic League lightweight basketball champions at Leo. He earned undergrad and medical degrees from the University of Chicago. An ear, nose and throat specialist, he is renowned in the medical community not only as an accomplished surgeon but as a professor at the Loyola University School of Medicine, where he helps train the next generation of physicians and surgeons.

Jim is also a generous and engaged supporter of Leo, a regular at Alumni events and the primary underwriter of the Class of ’66 Scholarship, which provides full tuition assistant to a deserving student-athlete in memory of Coe Francis, a standout football player from the Class of ’66 who died in a drowning accident the summer after graduation.

“Terrific honor for a terrific guy,” Leo President Dan McGrath said. “Jim Stankiewicz is the embodiment of a Leo Man.”

Doc Driscoll Award to Ron Malec 

Ron Malec was one of the lead developers of the Maple Park Subdivision, which featured affordable, single-family homes on the city’s Southwest Side. Ron later became a full-time Florida resident, but he never forgot his Leo roots. In conjunction with Maple Park’s 60th anniversary, Ron has started a scholarship program to make it possible for students from Whistler and Higgins, the two elementary schools serving Maple Park, to attend Leo.

So far, six graduating eighth-graders from the two schools are enrolled and registered to attend Leo as Malec Scholars beginning this fall. The principals and counselors at Whistler and Higgins have endorsed the program, embracing Leo as a better option for their students than their district public schools.

“Mr. Malec’s support means a great deal to Leo,” Principal Shaka Rawls said, “and it will mean even more going forward as more Maple Park kids take advantage of this great opportunity.”

Community Service 

If Leo were to present an MVP Award to its staff, Tony Spivy would have been a candidate in each of the three years he has worked at the school.  

Mr. Spivy is a jack of all trades as an on-line class monitor, assistant dean, lunch-room supervisor, bus driver, field-trip chaperone, etc. And he’s a master of all of them, engaging the students with a firm but cheerful demeanor that lets them know he’s looking out for them, but he expects them to be their best selves in return.

“Mr. Spivy has been a great addition to the staff and a big help to me,” Principal Rawls said of his former Leo football teammate. “I appreciate the Alumni Association recognizing him for the great work he has done.”

2023 Leo Hall of Fame Inductees

Renardo “Rick” Anthony Hall ’72 was the first Black student to serve as Leo’s student body president. In keeping with his penchant for bringing people together, he was heavily involved with the planning of his class of ’72 50-year reunion last year, but he suffered a sudden, fatal heart attack mere weeks before the event. Rick had a positive impact on thousands of lives throughout his career in higher education. His widow Alisha and family have been invited to this year’s banquet to accept Rick’s Hall of Fame plaque.

Fred Nelson III ’77 got his start in music long before he arrived at Leo—his dad, Fred Nelson Jr., was a popular keyboardist, and Little Fred was first exposed to the instrument while sitting in his dad’s lap. After leaving Leo he embarked on a career as a performer, later branching out into arranging and producing for such legends as Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Jennifer Hudson and Celine Dion. On the side, Fred worked for several ad agencies, writing and producing commercials for, among others, McDonald’s, Polaroid, Coca-Cola and United Airlines. The give-back gene is active within Fred; in addition to his musical pursuits, he serves as Artistic Director to the students of School District 162 in Matteson, IL. Like Principal Rawls, he has been recognized as a Chicago Defender Man of Excellence. 

Bill Holland ’73, Leo football standout and student body president, left us last June. He remained a Leo Man long after graduation, engaged and active with the Alumni Association, a regular at Leo events, a member of the school’s advisory board. And his family kept Bill’s Leo Spirit alive after his death, requesting donations to the Leo Scholarship Fund in lieu of flowers. The response was so generous that one sophomore—a former student of Bill’s teacher/daughter Mary Kate—is attending Leo on scholarship. And a second student will be selected for another Bill Holland Scholarship this fall, a life-changing experience for two deserving young men who might have been hard-pressed to attend Leo were it not for the generosity of Bill’s family and his countless friends. Facta non Verba indeed. 

The Marks Brothers Will Be Welcomed into the Hall of Fame

Albert ’64, Bill ’66 and Daniel ’67 Marks

Albert Marks was the first of the eight Marks brothers to attend Leo, and while he took great pride in those who followed, he was an accomplished man in his own right, a combat veteran of the Vietnam war who enjoyed a prosperous career in sales after his military service. Albert’s family was the center of his life; he was married to Kathy for 52 years, he coached son Tom and daughter Michelle in youth sports, and he eagerly found time for his four grandchildren. Al died in January 2022.

Bill Marks was a multi-faceted man at Leo, a Glee Club officer, a Drama Club mainstay and a starting lineman on the ’65 Lions football team, which sent eight players on to Division I colleges and is regarded as one of the best teams in school history despite its loss to Loyola Academy in the Catholic League championship game. Bill served 14 months in Vietnam as a military policeman with the U.S. Army and later graduated from DePaul, which set him up for a long career in sales. He was honored to take part with other Vietnam vets in a 2018 Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., one year before his death.

Daniel Marks served with the U.S. Army in the demilitarized zone in Korea after graduating from Leo. He and Christine, his wife of 36 years, had two children and two grandchildren, and he has good things to say about his time at Leo.“My favorite memories are of the people I met in high school,” he says. “They have become lifelong friends.” Dan believes his Leo experience prepared him to take on the world. “My time at Leo showed me how a solid education can better prepare you for future endeavors. Supporting Leo is important to my brothers and me. The Leo kids deserve an opportunity to succeed in life.”