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updated: 4/18/2011 9:08 PM

NIU's Wulbecker stars on diamond and in classroom

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  • ED LEE/ Hoffman Estates 21 Alex Wulbecker with the tight defense on Lake Parks 40 Kristen Danek. Lake Park vs Hoffman Estates girls basketball.

    ED LEE/ Hoffman Estates 21 Alex Wulbecker with the tight defense on Lake Parks 40 Kristen Danek. Lake Park vs Hoffman Estates girls basketball.


With a 3.6 grade-point average, pre-physical therapy major Alex Wulbecker is putting out a big effort in the classroom.

But the Northern Illinois sophomore has also managed to dedicate a lot of time to her softball skills.

She was recently honored for both when she was named NIU's female scholar athlete of the week.

"With a year of experience under my belt, I was very excited for this season since I knew what to expect being a Division I athlete," she said. "And I understood how much hard work and dedication it was going to take to get our whole team to strive for one goal -- a Mid-American (Conference) championship."

The former Hoffman Estates female athlete of the year sure has done her part to make the Huskies a contender for that MAC crown.

During the week she was honored as the scholar athlete, Wulbecker batted .313 (5-for-16), collected 3 RBI, scored 3 runs, had 3 walks, 2 doubles, a steal, a home run and went 3-for-6 against Buffalo.

The Huskies (16-19) are 6-3 in conference.

"So far our team is having a great beginning of the season in the MAC conference and really showing off all of our hard work we've been putting in day in and day out at practice," Wulbecker said. "I think because of our good start it's not just us believing what we're capable of, but other people and teams are starting to take notice and realize we're not going down without a fight."

Area fans saw Wulbecker's "fight" all four years at Hoffman when she lettered in volleyball, basketball and softball.

She played four years for coach Lindsey Hamma, who played Division I softball for Illinois after a stellar career at Buffalo Grove.

"When Alex walked in as a freshman, I knew that she was a special player," said Hamma, a four-year Daily Herald All-Area shortstop for Buffalo Grove. "Her work ethic, willingness to put in the extra effort and sheer determination to succeed made her a player that I knew would have success at the next level."

Serving as the Huskies' designated hitter, Wulbecker is the team's third-leading hitter at .345, with 18 RBI, 3 homers and 6 doubles.

"I am extremely proud of her for persevering to earn a spot as the designated hitter this year," Hamma said. "I know that she is continuing to work hard at her first-base fundamentals as well. I commend her for living 'in the moment' and taking control of her mental game to earn that starting spot in the lineup.

"Alex's consistency at the plate and ability to come through in big situations are always things I counted on from her here at Hoffman."

Now the Huskies have been able to count on Wulbecker, both at the plate and in the classroom.

"It can be overwhelming at times with staying on top of academics and still putting in an immense amount of time for softball," Wulbecker said. "But when you have such supportive parents and coaches like coach Hamma and coach (John) Poehlmann (Schaumburg Sluggers travel team) in your life, it really helps put things in perspective and helps show me how lucky I am to be given such an opportunity like this."

IBCA Hall of Fame

Mount Prospect resident Jim Chengary, who was named to the Chicago Public League Hall of Fame in 2010, will be adding another hall to his resume April 30.

The former Chicago Bowen High School standout will be inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Chengary spent one season as a member of the Philadelphia Spha, a team that played against the Harlem Globetrotters in 1959.

Playing on a sprained ankle and seeing action for three quarters, Chengary set a single-game Bowen record when he scored 57 points against Westcott Vocational.

He was an all-city (1953-54) and all-state (1954) guard, averaging 29 points during his senior season.

Chengary played varsity basketball at the University of Illinois from 1954-58 under legendary coach Harry Combes.

He spent a year playing against the Globetrotters, touring the United States, Canada and Mexico -- Meadowlark Lemon's first year with the Globetrotters.

Men's track and field

Winning over half the events contested, North Central College cruised to the team title at the Wheaton College Twilight Invitational.

The Cardinals' team score of 295 points tripled the next closest competitor's score.

Michael Spain (Schaumburg) claimed a pair of events, winning the 1,500-meter run in 3:55.12 and capturing the 5,000-meters in an NCAA Division III provisional qualifying effort of 14:34.79. Matthew Perez (Hoffman Estates) won the 3,000-meter run, stopping the clock in 8:50.23.

Michael Varela (Fremd) ran second in the 110-meter hurdles in 16.01 seconds.

Three Cardinals hit the provisional standard in the pole vault, with John Wood (Fremd) claiming the event after clearing 16 feet, 1¾ inches.

• Harper sophomore Pablo Ramirez (Conant) clocked the school's all-time fastest time in the 5,000 meters, placing first at the First Chance Invitational at North Central College.

Women's golf

Northern Illinois senior Michelle Caporusso (Prospect) finished in a tie for fourth place (76, 81) in the 10-team Loyola Invitational held at Evanston Country Club.

Caporusso will complete her college golf career playing in the Mid-American Conference tournament at the Longaberger Golf Course in Nashport, Ohio, April 22-24.


Junior Gino Prestia (Conant) got the Arlington Stallions' weekend off to a rousing start with a 4-try, 2-assist performance to pace the varsity to a 74-0 victory over the visiting Rockford Ravens.

The Stallions' performance was characterized by hard running, which opened up lanes for a variety of Stallions' players to score tries including first-time varsity players Kenny Engleson (Hersey) and Pat O'Malley (St, Viator).

For his efforts in making the plays to open scoring opportunities for his teammates, Prestia was named that day's man of the match. The side has a 2-0 record and is first in the IYRA Tier II/North Division.

"Play for a Cure"

The Stevenson and Lake Forest softball programs are joining forces for their second annual "Play for a Cure®" game to be played Wednesday at Lake Forest.

The teams are raising money for breast cancer research, with all proceeds going to The Chicagoland Affilliate Susan G. Komen For The Cure.

The pregame ceremony will be held on the varsity field at 4:15 p.m., with all three levels of softball competing on their respective fields beginning at 4:45 p.m. at the Lake Forest West campus (Illinois routes 60 and 43 in Lake Forest).

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