Kankakee Westview High School “Kayhawks”

The History of Kankakee Westview High School

Kankakee (population 27,491) is located in northeastern Illinois in central Kankakee County. It is the county seat of Kankakee County as well.  The town was established in the mid-1800’s and prospered when the Illinois Central Railroad laid tracks through the area. By the year 1900, Kankakee had a population of 13,500, quite large for that time period. Kankakee is approximately 15 miles west of the Indiana state border. The following roadways now lead to and from this busy metropolis: Interstate Highway 57, U.S. Route 45, Illinois Routes 17, 50, 102, 113, and 115. The Kankakee River flows through the middle of town and is joined at some point by the following creeks that also flow through Kankakee: Gar Creek, Soldier Creek, and Baker Creek. Three railroads also lay tracks which pass through town: The Illinois Central Gulf, the KBSR, and the CR.

Kankakee’s quick early growth included the building of several schools by the late 1800’s. Kankakee High School was certainly in place during that time period. Kankakee High School was the only public high school in town for over six decades. The ever-growing student population in the 1950’s and 1960’s forced the town’s people to divide the high school into two high schools in 1966. The schools were named Kankakee Westview and Kankakee Eastridge, & operated independently for 17 years. The now-declining student enrollment of the early 1980’s forced the school district to revert back to one high school. Hence, Eastridge and Westview were dissolved with all students returning to Kankakee Senior High School.

New buildings were built to house the Westview and Eastridge High School students. The Westview school is still standing, still used by the Kankakee School District today.

Kankakee Westview High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                           1966

Year closed:                            1983

Reverted to:                             Kankakee Senior High School

Westview HS team nickname:   the “Kayhawks”

Westview HS team colors:        Columbia (Light) Blue & Old Gold

Westview HS Fight Song:         “We Are The Kayhawks”

                                                             Submitted by Nan Cogburn

We are the Kayhawks of Westview High,

                                              Gold, White, and Blue.

                                              Our colors do fly,

                                              We bring fame to our name

                                              For our loyalty,

                                              Pride and might.

                                              Westview Kayhawks,

                                              FIGHT!  FIGHT!  FIGHT!

                                              We’ll be loyal, tried, and true

                                              To our colors, gold, white, and blue.

                                              And when our high school days are through

                                              Westview, we’ll always remember you!

                                              W, W, W, E, E, E, S, T!!


Like most larger schools, Kankakee Westview offered many different sports to its students. Boys competed in baseball, basketball, football, swimming and track, while the girls were offered basketball, bowling, softball, swimming, track, and volleyball. It is possible the boys competed in cross country, golf and wrestling, and the girls in cross country and golf; however, this information is currently not available. The “Kayhawks” won a measure of state recognition in most sports that they competed in.

One great story about the Westview High School athletic rivalry with Eastridge was shared by a local fan:

“Kankakee Westview had a large “W” on top of the school which lit up when Westview won that night in sports. One autumn night they beat Eastridge and when they got to school the following Monday, the “W” was laying in pieces on the ground. About 2 weeks later, Eastridge won a game. Eastridge had a big “E” on top of their school that lit up when they won in sports. When they got back to school that (following) Monday, the “E” was turned to where it looked like the letter “W”.”

Boys Baseball

The Kayhawks team records and coach’s names are not currently available. If you have this information on any of the better Westview High diamond teams please forward it to us.

Boys Basketball

A complete season summary is available for all 17 seasons the KWHS boys competed in basketball on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org).  The teams won a total of three District titles, three Regional titles, and one Sectional title.  The better team records and coach’s names are listed below.

1966-67    8-10 IHSA District Champions        Coach Bob Kemp

                          District Scores Needed

                          Kankakee Regional Tourney

                          1st Rd lost to Rich East 81-79 (O/T)

1967-68             Kankakee Dist. Runner-Up     Coach Carl Koch

                          Season Record Needed

                          Kankakee District Scores

                          1st Rd Beat Momence 47-31

                          Semi-final Beat Peotone 49-48

                          Title Game lost to Bishop McNamara 50-47 (O/T)


1968-69  15-11 Kankakee District Champs      Coach Carl Koch

                          1st Rd Beat Peotone 60-45

                          Semi-final Beat Beecher 71-56

                          Title Game Beat Grant Park 44-36

                          Crete-Monee Regional Tourney

                          1st Rd lost to Maron Catholic 54-53

Marion Catholic lost to Bloom in the semi-final

Bloom beat Homewood-Flossmoor in title game


1969-70  20-  9 Kankakee District Champions Coach Denny Lehnus

                          1st Rd Beat Peotone 53-46

                          Semi-Final Beat Grant Park 58-46

                          Title Game Beat Kankakee Eastridge 40-32

                          Bloom Regional Tournament

                          1st Rd Beat Bradley-Bourbonnais 62-53

                          Semi-final lost to Bloom 63-47

Bloom beat Homewood-Flossmoor in title game

1970-71             Kankakee District Tourney        Coach Denny Lehnus

Season Record Needed

                          District Tourney Scores

1st Rd Beat Beecher 57-50

Semi-final lost to Eastridge 68-53

Eastridge beat McNamara in title game

1971-72  16-  8  Kankakee Class AA Regional   Coach Denny Lehnus

                          Semi-final lost to Eastridge 60-41

Eastridge beat Bradley-Bourbonnais in title game

1972-73  18-  8  Postseason scores needed      Coach Denny Lehnus


1973-74  20-  8 IHSA Regional Champions     Coach Denny Lehnus

                          Regional Scores Needed

                          Kankakee Sectional Tourney

                          Semi-final lost to Bloomington 78-71

Bloomington lost to Danville in title game

BLOOMINGTON (78): Pavlik 20, Rutledge 19, Bender 19, Jones 12, Jordan 8

KANKAKEE WESTVIEW (71): Groesbeck 22, Sykes 22, Brooks 15, Pa. Link 8, Tetwiler 2, Ph. Link 2.

1974-75  17-  7  Postseason scores needed      Coach Vern Sloan

1975-76   Postseason scores & record needed  Coach Vern Sloan

1976-77  13-13  Postseason scores needed      Coach Vern Sloan

1977-78  18-10  Postseason scores needed      Coach Vern Sloan

1978-79  25-  2
  Postseason scores needed      Coach Vern Sloan

                          Great Record!


1979-80  13 – 12 IHSA Regional Runner-Up      Coach Vern Sloan

Kankakee Holiday Tourney Runner-Up

Mt. Vernon Holiday Tourney 4th Place


1980-81  25-  5 Sweet 16 Finalist Class AA     Coach Vern Sloan

                          IHSA Regional Champs

                          Regional Scores Needed

                          Normal Sectional Champions

                          Semi-final Beat Danville 50-49

                          Title Game Beat Joliet Catholic 57-43

                          IHSA Super-Sectional Finalist

                          Lost to Quincy 72-44 in Super-Sectional

Quincy eventual State Champs!

1981-82  25-  3 Regional Champs                    Coach  Vern Sloan

                          IHSA Regional Champs

                          Regional Scores Needed

                          Normal Sectional Champions

Semi-final lost to Danville 73-61

Danville beat Lockport in title game

Danville lost tin Sweet 16 round

1982-83           School’s Last Season                 Coach Al Brown

Postseason scores & record needed

Girls Basketball

The Lady Kayhawks won a Regional Championship of their own!  The team records and coach’s name of this and other great KWHS girls basketball teams are not available

1979-80   11 – 12                                                 Coach Dana Parker

                         Regional Beat Eastridge in 1st Rd

                         Lost to Minooka in 2nd Rd

1980-81              Regional Champions   Coach’s Name Needed

Girls Bowling

The KWHS lady’s bowling team won two district titles and qualified for the IHSA State meet.

1973-74      District Champions          Coach Cheryl (Robertson) Vonch

1978-79      District Champions          Coach Cheryl (Robertson) Vonch

Cross Country

We currently have no information on the girls or boys cross country program at Kankakee Westview High. If you have any information, please contact us via the means listed below.

Boys Football

The boys of the gridiron had a couple of nice seasons during their seventeen year run. One team even quaified for the IHSA State football playoffs. We are told that on the last play of the State Playoff game, all-state halfback Jimmy Smith was drug down after a long gain at the Rich South 11-yard line with no time left on the clock.

J.R. Black and Bill Wendling were two of the more notable coaches in Westview High gridiron history.

1966  7-2  First team                                                 Coach Frank Duchon

First win in school history–13-7 over Kankakee Eastridge

1967  4-4-1                                                                Coach Frank Duchon

1968  6-1-1                                                                Coach J.R. Black

1969  4-4                                                                   Coach J.R. Black

1970  5-4                                                                   Coach J.R. Black

1971  4-4-1                                                                Coach J.R Black

1972  6-3                                                                   Coach J.R. Black

1975  5-4  2nd place SICA South                             Coach J.R. Black

1976  5-4  2nd place (tie) SICA South                      Coach J.R. Black


1978  7-3  QHSA Class 4A Playoffs                       Coach Bill Wendling

                   Sweet 16 Qualifier

                   Lost to Rich Central 40-34

Rich Central lost in Elite 8 round to JCA

Joliet Catholic won state title

1979  4-5   Conference Record 3-4                          Coach Bill Wendling

Westview last fielded a team in 1982. The last win in school history was a 14-7 OT win over Andrew on the final week of the 1981 season

Girls Softball

If you have any further information regarding the successes of the Lady Kayhawks’ softball program, please forward it to us. We currently have no information available to add.

Boys Swimming

One member of the boys swim team at Westview High brought home a medal from the IHSA State Meet. There is no current information available for the girls swim team.

1972     Gary Crow      200 IM       6TH Place

Boys Track & Field

Several boys won medals at the IHSA State Class AA Track Meet, including three individual gold medals!!The team of 1978-79 even managed enough points to finish EIGHTH at the IHSA State Meet!!

1975-76  Individual Medalist–                                                           Head Coach Bill Farley

                 Mike Graves        330 Yd Hurdles   5TH Place                Assistant Coach Joe Rockett


1976-77  Individual Medalists–

                 Mike Graves        330 Yd Hurdles   3RD Place                Head Coach Bill Farley

                 Glenn Davidson   Long Jump         6TH Place                Assistant Coach Joe Rockett


1977-78  Individual Medalists–

                 Jim Smith            220 Yd Dash     STATE CHAMPION!!  Head Coach Bill Farley

                 Glenn Davidson   Long Jump      3RD Place                   Assistant Coach Joe Rockett

                 Team finished 2nd in IHSA Sectional Meet

                 Team won SICA South Conference Meet


1978-79   Team Finished EIGHTH in STATE MEET Competition!! Head Coach Bill Farley

                Individual Medalists                                                           Assistant Coach Joe Rockett

Jim Smith            220 Yd Dash    STATE CHAMPION!!

                 Jim Smith            100 Yd Dash     4TH Place

Jimmy Smith – Westview State Champion!
A person smiling for the camera

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Courtesy of Tim Yonke

                 Relay Team         2 Mile Relay      4TH Place                  

                    Final Team Standings

                    1.)  Evanston (Twp.)                               51

2.)  East St. Louis (Sr.)                          44½

3.)  Chicago (Phillips)                             37

4.)  Palatine (Fremd)                              29

5.)  Moline (H.S.)                                   27

6.)  Aurora (West)                                  23

7.)  Deerfield                                          21

8.)  Naperville (North)                              20

                    8.)  KANKAKEE WESTVIEW HS            20

                  10.)  Chicago (Tilden)                               17

1979-80                                                                                                Head Coach Bill Farley

                                                                                                             Assistant Coach Joe Rockett


1980-81    Individual Medalist–

                 Melvin Keys     Long Jump               2ND Place

1981-82    Individual Medalist–

                 John Elliott      100 M. Hurdles         2ND Place

1982-83    Individual Medalist–

                 John Elliott      100 M. Hurdles         STATE CHAMPION!!

John Elliott – Westview State Champion!
A picture containing person, posing

Description automatically generated
Submitted by Tim Yonke

              **John Elliott’s effort of :13.8 in the 100 M High Hurdles is tied for

                  the SIXTH best time in IHSA History!

*Memories from Coach Bill Farley:

I served as the Head Track Coach and Asst Football Coach (under Bill Wendling) during the run of success that led all the way until John Elliott was a sophomore – then I left.

A college roommate of Mike Shanahan from East Leyden H S and Eastern Illinois Univ., my career took me to jobs with the Oakland Raiders, Oklahoma Sooners and Alabama Crimson Tide where I served 25 years in Higher Education.

Even though I was Head Track Coach,  Joe Rockett and I were inseparable as Coaches, so if you do mention Coaches from those years please add his alongside my name. Joe was a great tailback at Westview in 1967 – 68 who went on to Northern Illinois where he played college football for 4 years – an incredible man and mentor who came back to his alma mater to teach and Coach.

I would say our investment and success was without a doubt  50 – 50.

I was also Head Freshman Football Coach when Jimmy Smith came to Westview as a freshman in the fall of 1975 – so to have him from day 1 of his Westview career was quite an honor. He had an amazing HS career and was considered by most prognosticators as the 3rd best running back prospect in the country in the fall of 1978. He had offers from all over, including Oklahoma, Nebraska and Southern Cal. However, others were in his class (Alonzo CephusMichael Morris, James Moore, Billy Warren, Carl and  Michael Springer) and they helped make up the bulk of the class that would have tremendous football and track success. In Track we went from 12 athletes in the spring of 1975 before my first year to 77 athletes by the spring of 1977, so as you can tell Track became very contagious at Westview. Kankakee Eastridge also began enjoying success in Track and as a result there were some epic rivalry meets throughout the late seventies – especially the Mile Relay where Paul McKinney’s Eastridge teams were always among the very best in the State of Illinois.

I read your information and it looks to be very exact. While Michael Graves in 1976 and 1977 could not quite catch world class hurdler Greg Foster from Proviso East, he did have the top time in the state all year long and did very well in the State meet, and this began the momentum to lead others. Glenn Davidson the next year(‘78) went to Northern Illinois for long jump and triple jumps, 2 time state champ and Football All American Jimmy Smith to Purdue in 79, then Melvin Key’s and John Elliott had outstanding careers for the Fighting Illini. It was truly the glory years, and, the girls programs began to take off as well, as they wanted to be near the guys at practice and at meets.

Although the ‘79 team was great, the ‘78 team won the SICA South title and finished one point from winning a second title in 79. There is no doubt in my mind that had Eastridge and Westview merged by 1976, that Kankakee would have given East St Louis and the Chicago schools all they wanted towards capturing the overall Illinois team title.

It was a real honor and privilege to be part of this great era in Kankakee Westview sports. The people and administration in Kankakee were committed to success and doing things right. At 62 yrs. now, it was a piece of my career that I will always cherish. Mostly the memories of the wonderful Coaches / teachers / administrators / and great athletes.

The people in Kankakee, Illinois are still in my heart to this very day.”

Girls Cross Country. Golf, Track, and Volleyball

Though we are very confident that the Lady Kayhawks competed in these sports, we currently have no information available regarding their successes.

Boys Cross Country, Golf, and Wrestling

We know these sports were offered at Westview High, however we have no information on any of them at this time. Please contact us if you would like to add ANY information on any one of these boys sports.

Speech Individual Events

Two individuals brought home medals for the English Department from IHSA State Competition. One team even won a District title in this competition.

1972           Individual Medalist–
Margie Hiles    After Dinner Competition            4TH Place

1981           Individual Medalist–

                  Viril Hill           Prose Competition                      3RD Place

1979-80      Team Won Regional Championship

                  Placed Second in the Sectional Competition

                  (Had Finalists in 10 of 11 Events in the Sectional)

1981-82      Team Won District Championship


The Illinois Theatre Festival is the largest, non-competetive high school theatre festival in the world. It was organized in 1976 by teachers from the Chicago suburbs. This festival is still going strong as they perform at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and Illinois State University every other January. Kankakee Westview High school participated in this festival from 1976-77 and again in 1979, 1981 and 1983.

Great Athlete

Jimmy Smith was an all-state selection in football to along with his two gold medals in the 220 Yard Dash. Jimmy received a scholarship to continue his football playing career at Purdue University. According to Chris Breach and Mike Frey, Jimmy Smith continued his football career to the professional ranks.  This included playing with the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins!!

Notable Teacher-Athlete

John Craft was a resident of Kankakee until he turned 16. His family then moved to Momence, Illinois where he completed his Junior and Senior years of high school. Craft was an excellent athlete and became one of the top triple-jump athletes in the world. He taught at Kankakee Westview in 1970-71 while preparing for the Olympic trials. John Craft made the United States Olympic team and would compete in the Olympic Games held in Munich, Germany in the summer of 1972. John Craft would finish in 5th place, just missing out on a medal. Craft would return to coach at Eastern Illinois University in 1974 where he remained until his retirement in 2002. He was inducted into the Eastern Illinois University Hall of Fame in 2011.


If You Have Any More Information Regarding KWHS…

…please contact us via e-mail at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net. We are interested in all facets of Kankakee Westview High School, not just athletics. We are especially interested in a photo of the school building. You can also write to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.   60631

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