Milestones pile up for SJ-O's Wolken

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:

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