| Location: |
|Coaches||Kevin Palmer, Christopher Grattoni, Laura Marsh|
|State Championships||2006 IHSA; 2005 Masonic, 2006 Masonic|
William Fremd High School is a public high school located in Palatine, Illinois, a northwestern suburb of Chicago. It currently competes as a member of the Mid-Suburban League (MSL). It also competes in Class AA, the "large school" division, of the Illinois High School Association's (IHSA) State Championship Series. The head coach, since 1994, is Kevin Palmer.
The One That Got Away ...
By all reasonable estimation, 2005 was the season that the Vikings had long awaited. The Vikings were a truly great team, led by their pair of First Team All-State players: Alex Beata and Alex Inman. The "Alex Brothers" had become the first teammates to both place in the top five at the New Trier Scobol Solo Tournament, immediately establishing championship credentials from the beginning of the year. As the year progressed, the Vikings kept picking up championship after championship at tournaments, no matter how tough the competition. The polls showed a strong concensus: the Vikings were going down to Peoria to claim their first state title.
One irregular blip which popped up on the radar was the figurative slap-in-the-face given the program by the coaches of the sectional. When All-Sectional voting took place, Alex Inman had been voted very low on a number of ballots, particularly those of coaches who did not participate in tournaments and had never seen Fremd play. As a result, one of the state's clear cut best players was not even ranked in the top five players of his sectional, and was denied an opportunity to be considered for All-State honors. Following the rules set down years earlier, Fremd formally protested the vote to the All-Sectional Committee of the IHSSBCA who ruled to override the Sectional vote, and awarded Alex Inman All-Sectional honors, and a pass to All-State consideration. The independent panel of coaches from across the state named both Alexes to the first team, marking only the second time two players from one team had been so honored. It also marked the first time that a player had been named All-State after the disapproval of the local coaches.
Though the Fremd players and coaches never acted like it, this was for all intents and purposes as locked a championship season as there could be. The scepter seemed to be handed to them when they claimed their first Masonic State Title the week before the opening of the IHSA State Series.
After rushing through their IHSA Regional, their last hurdle would lie in Lincolnshire, as the Vikings would once again do battle with one of their arch nemeses: the Patriots of host Stevenson.
In a close match, noted for some questions that produced many upsets across the state, Stevenson managed to win, stopping the Viking march to Peoria. The next week, Stevenson claimed its second IHSA state title. Fremd had to face a cold reality: with some great talent coming up, they would be losing Alex Inman to graduation. To make another run at a state title would require a great deal of work to cover for the loss of the graduating seniors.
In respect for the team's many accomplishments, and given that a single loss seemed to have kept them from a State Title, the coaches of the state voted in a split decision to rank Fremd #1 in State in the final balloting of the year, marking this as the first time that the IHSA State Champion was not afforded the honor.
... And The One That Didn't
Where 2005 had been more or less annointed as "The Year of Fremd" by the Illinois Scholastic Bowl community from the very beginning, the 2006 season opened under murkier circumstances. Now, there was a crowded field of teams ready to jockey for the State Title: Wheaton North was back along with New Trier. Auburn was now a fully realized power. While these teams were certain to mount great campaigns in 2006, Fremd remained more of a question mark after the loss of Alex Inman. While Fremd was hardly forgotten, they were far from being the annointed champion.
In fact, while many things needed to go right for Fremd, everything started to roll their way. Alex Beata was back and better than ever, and the rest of the team had stepped up to fill the huge gap. As the season progressed, Fremd made it clear that they were not down, and that they were ready to take the steps needed to go further than the 2005 team.
Another Masonic State Crown validated their season accomplishments. Another IHSA regional advanced them to the Sectional Tournament, this time to be played on their home turf. This time, there would be no narrow loss. For the third time in history, the Vikings were state bound!
The IHSA did no favors to Fremd in the random pool assignment. To reach the finals, Fremd would have to fight through an up-and-coming New Trier team, an always difficult to fathom Homewood-Flossmoor squad (known for creating unexpected upsets in Peoria) and an 83-4 Auburn team bent on winning their own state title after narrowly losing it the year before with a young team. The overall odds seemed to favor Auburn claiming the top prize over the 58-4 Vikings.
The opening match of pool play would be, for many, the State Title match as Auburn squared off with Fremd. While Auburn was uncharacteristically slow, Fremd was ready: 379-285. Fremd dispatched New Trier (294-169), and made sure there would be no H-F miracle (293-113), even getting to play reserves after H-F inserted their own at the half.
Carbondale had been the shock of the day, pulling off upsets over Wheaton North and favored Bloomington to reach the finals. Again, Fremd played solid, fast, and without pretention, ending the match 228-135 to claim the state title that, as many would say, should have been theirs a year ago.
After the Title
In the years since the 2006 state title, Fremd experience a significant drop-off in success. Though the 2006-07 season recruited sophomores Maxwell Meigel and Leslie Chan, as well as a large class of freshmen, including Arjun Puranik, Sarah Gallo, and Claire Lee, it was a "rebuilding" year for the former champions. The 2007 IHSA Regional Championship title eluded the varsity team, though they would go on to reclaim it when Puranik and Meigel joined Sam Stejskal, Rossen Rashkov, and Jake How in the 2008 state tournament. The 2007 season gave hope for the team's future when the junior varsity team, playing as Fremd C, advanced to the afternoon rounds in the 2007 Fremd Varsity Invitational, the only Fremd team to do so that day. The junior varsity team, captained by Puranik, claimed the Mid-Suburban League (MSL) Frosh-Soph Conference title that year as well.
The 2008 IHSA state tournament saw Fremd reclaim its Regional title, though a quick defeat at Sectionals dashed hopes of another state run. Freshman Alwina Liu joined the junior varsity team this year, and Meigel advanced to the varsity team. Puranik also joined the varsity team for the state tournament. The junior varsity team, again led by Puranik, won a second Conference title, while the varsity team, captained by Stejskal, were Runners-Up for the conference.
The varsity team graduated All-Sectional honoree Sam Stejskal in 2008, but he, Rashkov, and How were replaced by a strong group of new juniors, including Sarah Gallo, Claire Lee, Kelsey Loden, and Natasha Mitrev, to join Arjun Puranik and Maxwell Meigel. Puranik captained the varsity team to Conference and Regional Champion titles in 2009. The Sectional tournament saw a strong Fremd team compete against conference rivals, Buffalo Grove, as well as Deerfield and Stevenson High Schools. Though the starting five for Fremd included only one senior, Meigel, they managed to battle fiercely for control in their match against Stevenson, eventually succumbing to a loss by one point. A defeated Fremd team then lost to Buffalo Grove, but recomposed themselves to manage a victory over Deerfield.
Hopes were high for the Fremd team, as they opened the 2009-10 season. Graduating only one starting player, Meigel, the team looked ready to claim the Sectional title that had eluded them the year previous. After successfully grabbing the Conference and Regional titles again, the team, starting a rotation of Gallo, Mitrev, Lee, Loden, Liu, and Puranik (captain), set to face off against Deerfield, Stevenson, and Warren in the Sectional tournament. However, the team's hopes would take a hit when Arjun Puranik was selected as a national finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, culminating in a week-long event in the nation's capital. As this event overlapped with the scheduled Sectional matches, Puranik was unable to attend the tournament. After each defeating Warren and Deerfield, Fremd, captained in the tournament by Gallo, and Stevenson squared off to earn a bid to the State tournament. Fremd lost a heated battle to Stevenson, a strong ending to a successful season. The 2009-10 team racked up more overall wins for the season than any previous Fremd team.
At the Masonic State tournament, the Fremd team managed to place second in their pool after Auburn. They narrowly beat Stevenson by 10 points in the semifinal match, and ultimately placed second overall at the tournament, behind IMSA.
At Masonic Sectionals, all Rockford schools were assigned to the Fremd sectional. Fremd managed to beat Auburn to win the sectional championship and advance to the state tournament. At Masonic State, Fremd narrowly defeated Stevenson in the third-fourth place game to place third overall. The Fremd team emerged from its IHSA sectional and placed second in its preliminary pool behind Auburn at the State tournament. Fremd beat IMSA on the last tossup of the third-fourth place game to claim third overall.
Noted Team Accomplishments
- IHSA Regional Titles (4): 2003, 05-06, 08-10, 12-15
- IHSA Sectional Titles (3): 1989, 1994, 2006, 2013, 2015
- IHSA State Championship Tournament Placements: 2006 (1st), 2015 (3rd)
IHSSBCA Individual Awards
The following were honored by the Illinois High School Scholastic Bowl Coaches Association (IHSSBCA) for outstanding play through their All-Sectional/All-State Program. Each sectional comprises roughly 24 geographically concentrated teams, and thus roughly 125 starting players. Through the 2006-07 season, the top ten players were recognized in each sectional,(starting with 2007-08, the number was raised to 15) with teams restricted to no more than two nominations (three nominations starting in 2007-08). There are twenty All-State awards given each year (10 First Team, 10 Second Team) in each of Illinois' two classes.
- 2001-02: Aaron Mertz, Jacob Straub
- 2002-03: James Lee
- 2003-04: Alex Inman, Kristin Maki
- 2004-05: Alex Beata, Alex Inman
- 2005-06: Alex Beata, Andy Wilson
- 2006-07: Brian Greetis
- 2007-08: Sam Stejskal
- 2008-09: Arjun Puranik
- 2009-10: Natasha Mitrev, Arjun Puranik
- 2010-11: Alwina Liu, Jason Liang
- 2011-12: Jason Liang, Rebecca Wight
- 2012-13: Ben Lewis
- 2013-14: Phillip Shih, Jennie Yang
- 2014-15: Daniel Tokarz, Jennie Yang
- 2001-02: Jacob Straub (2nd Team)
- 2002-03: James Lee (2nd Team)
- 2004-05: Alex Beata (1st Team), Alex Inman (1st Team)
- 2005-06: Alex Beata (1st Team)
- 2008-09: Arjun Puranik (2nd Team)
- 2009-10: Arjun Puranik (2nd Team)
- 2012-13: Ben Lewis (2nd Team)
- 2013-14: Jennie Yang (1st Team)
- 2014-15: Jennie Yang (1st Team)
Playing for Team Illinois
- Tim Werner (1997)
- Vagish Hemmige (1998)
Other Notable Alumni
- Maxwell Meigel (2009)
- Arjun Puranik (2010)