Milestones pile up for SJ-O's Wolken
ST. JOSEPH — Randy Wolken’s week of celebrations could start Wednesday, when his state-ranked high school softball team plays at Mount Zion.
The next St. Joseph-Ogden victory will be No. 900 in Wolken’s illustrious career.
“You have to be old to get there,” Wolken said.
On Friday, the coach will turn 64.
One day after that, SJ-O will honor the state’s top career softball-coaching winner by dedicating Randy Wolken Field. Dozens of his former players are expected back for a ceremony that will follow an 11 a.m. doubleheader against Momence.
“They will make it a special day,” Wolken said.
SJ-O is 10-2 this season. The Spartans already have provided Wolken a memory that’s unique. Molly McElwee last week became the first SJ-O player to hit for the cycle in a game.
“Her last hit was a single,” Wolken said.
The Spartans were ranked 20th in the most recent Class 2A state poll.
“When I got to 400 (wins), I thought that was a pretty big deal,” Wolken said. “When I got to 600, I never thought I’d get to the next level.”
Now the person who extends his IHSA record for wins with every victory is thinking a little further ahead.
“I want to do it as long as I enjoy it,” Wolken said. “We have some good young girls coming up.”
While the milestone victories are enjoyable, they’re not the ones Wolken treasures most.
“They’re not as big as winning a regional, a sectional or going to state,” he said.
The 900 club
Randy Wolken soon will become the ninth coach in state history with at least 900 career wins in a single sport. The all-time list, according to the IHSA:
NAME SCHOOL SPORT RECORD
Peg Kopec Wheaton St. Francis Volleyball 1,159-222-2
Fred Rakers Breese Mater Dei Volleyball 1,046-200
Donna Dulle Mount Pulaski Volleyball 1,001-274
Dorothy Gaters Chicago Marshall Girls’ bkb. 999-179
Dave Swisegood Augusta SE Baseball 949-580
Gene Pingatore Westchester St. Joe Boys’ bkb. 933-327
Helen Dulle Sacred Heart-Griffin Volleyball 921-255-2
Nan Airola Prov. New Lenox Volleyball 919-349-1
Randy Wolken St. Joseph-Ogden Softball 899-214