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HIGH-SCHOOL

'It is a perfect situation': Hononegah wins 14th consecutive NIC-10 All-Sports trophy

Matt Trowbridge
Rockford Register Star

The one NIC-10 traveling trophy that never seems to travel will stay put again. Hononegah has won the league’s All-Sports trophy for a record-tying 14th year in a row. From threatening league scoring records in football in the fall to finishing the school year by dominating the baseball and softball diamonds, Hononegah excelled from start to finish.

Guilford also won the title 14 years in a row, from 1981 to 1994, although one of those years was a tie, with East in 1987. Hononegah has won all of its titles outright.

It speaks to the students as well as the coaches,” Hononegah baseball coach and assistant girls basketball coach Matt Simpson said. “I just got home from basketball practice.

“Our field house is filled with kids every day and our weight room is filled with kids," Hononegah baseball coach and assistant girls basketball coach Matt Simpson said. "Coaches are putting in the time. Athletes are putting in the time to get better and stronger. It is a perfect situation; we have dedicated coaches but we also have students who are willing to put in the time to get better.”

Hononegah’s first title came in 1995, the year it ended Guilford’s streak. Hononegah has now won the trophy created by the Rockford Register Star in 1972 for all-around sports excellence 21 times. Other schools to win it are Guilford (19 times), Boylan (6), East (4), Freeport (3) and Harlem (2).

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Hononegah finished with 191 points, with teams earning from 1 to 10 points in each of the league’s 24 sports. Guilford was second for the second year in a row with 153 points, followed by Harlem (148), Belvidere North (141) and Boylan (134.5).

Those five schools dominated the conference year-round, combining to win 23 of the 24 league titles. The lone exception was Freeport earning its first boys tennis title in 26 years.

Auburn (111.5), Freeport (107.5), Belvidere (78.5), East (77.5) and Jefferson (70.5) rounded out the standings.

The last two years have been Guilford's highest finishes in more than two decades.

"It's been real exciting around Guilford," said Chris Dixon, who has coached the Vikings to back-to-back conference boys basketball titles. "The buzz was in the air after we got second in the all-sports thing last year. We were determined to go for it this year. Even though we finished a little short and took second again, it was exciting, especially in the sports we excelled in. When you are going to school, you can see the work that is being put in during the season and the offseason to make the sports better. There's definteily been a change, not only in the sports but in the atmosphere of the whole school."

Among Hononegah’s notable achievements was winning the undisputed boys swimming title for the 14th year in a row. That passed Guilford’s streaks of 13 consecutive outright boys tennis titles (1982 to 1994) and 13 straight boys golf crowns (1977-89) and now ranks second only to Guilford’s 19 straight boys swimming titles from 1980-98.

Hononegah won eight conference championships this school year, including five boys sports (baseball, football, cross country, swimming and wrestling) and three girls sports (basketball, softball and swimming).

More:Everything to know about Hononegah, Belvidere North taking on state football powers

Boylan tied Hononegah with three girls champions (cross country, golf and soccer) but won only one boys title (soccer).

Guilford won in boys basketball, boys volleyball, girls tennis and girls track.

Belvidere North won in boys golf, boys track, girls volleyball and cheerleading.

Harlem won in boys and girls bowling and dance.

Of the four schools that did not win a league title in any of the 24 sports this year, all excelled last in one of the league’s highest-profile sports, breaking through in boys basketball.

Auburn won the 2022 boys basketball title and also won the last of its four straight girls tennis titles in the fall of the 2021-22 school year.

East won the boys basketball title in 2021. Jefferson shared the boys basketball title with Boylan in 2018 when it won a school-record 26 games. Belvidere won its only conference boys basketball title in 2013. Although the Bucs have won a couple of titles as a co-op since, most recently the 2023 wrestling title with Belvidere North, their last title representing their school alone came 11 years ago on the basketball court.