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On Saturday May 17th District 10 Little League held the Aquafina Pitch, Hit, & Run district competition hosted by Elmhurst Little League as Mason Park was the host site. Competitors were divided into four different age brackets (7-8, 9-10, 11-12, & 13-14 year olds). Winners of each competition pitching, hitting, and running, & over-all champion advanced to the Sectionals held at Victory Field in Indianapolis, IN.
The Sectional Championships were held on Saturday, May 31st. One local competitor, John Dukarski, who plays for the Sports Center team in the Senior Division at Elmhurst, qualified at the district in running. All qualifiers advanced to Indianapolis to compete in all of the events. John competed against 21 other qualifiers from throughout the state. In the running event (a timed race from second base to home plate) John took first place with a time of 7.08 seconds, nosing out two others who were clocked at 7.11. In the pitching (6 throws at a target 46 feet away) John hit the target 3 out of 6 throws. Good enough for third place. It was in the hitting competition that John separated himself from the rest of the pack. In the hitting competition (3 swings at a ball on a t-ball stand) John made the most of his third and final swing. The ball hit measured 279 feet. With a first in running, third in pitching and second in hitting, John accumulated 1205 points out distancing his 2nd place competitor who had 1113 points.
At the awards ceremony John was crowned State Champion and awarded a blue ribbon and medal. After the event John was told if he scored in the top four competitors in the Midwest he would qualify to compete in the Team Championships held at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. Later in the week John was contacted by an Aquafina Pitch, Hit, & Run official telling him not only was he in the top four, but was ranked 2nd, putting him in the top 120 qualifiers in the nation.
On Saturday June 7th, John along with his brother Rob and father Andy traveled to Chicago for the team championships. Competing against three other 13 – 14 year olds, John almost pulled off another Championship. In the Pitching, John was the only competitor to hit 4 of the 6 targets taking 1st place. In the Running competition John proved to be one of the fastest runners in the Midwest capturing 1st place. With the overall Championship within his grasp, needing only a 200-foot hit, John could only line drive a 148-foot hit. Close, but not enough to beat out his 6’5″ 250 pound opponent from Calumet, Illinois. With 2 first places and a fourth in hitting, John was able to ensure a 2nd place in the Team Championship. A place in the top 60 competitors in the nation and a thought of … What if?
The competitors were rewarded with home plate sized plaques, official Pitch, Hit, & Run shirts and hats and received 3 tickets each to the Chicago White Sox – Minnesota Twins ball game that night, along with food vouchers.
When the contestants showed up that night, they were brought on the field to meet players and introduced to the crowd having their photos light up the Jumbo-Tron in Centerfield. It was quite an event and quite an experience for John Dukarski. Two years ago, he took 2nd place in the 11 – 12 year old division at the state level. This year he just missed qualifying for the national championship which will take place at the All-Star game July 15th in New York.

The Waynedale News Staff
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