It's been awhile since we listed local athletes' college successes, but better late than never ...
Former Neuqua Valley swimmer Kevin Cordes, a freshman at Arizona, piled up four All-America performances at the NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships March 22-24, helping the Wildcats take fourth place in team standings.
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Cordes swam the breaststroke in 50.62 seconds as part of a runner-up finish in the 400 medley relay on the first day. He came back the next day to help set a school and American record in the 200 medley relay, of 1:23.55. Also that day, Cordes won the 100 breast to become Arizona's first freshman national champion since 2003 -- and his preliminary time of 51.32 set American and Arizona records. In the meet's third day Cordes finished third in the 200 breast for his fourth All-America swim.
Tony Ramos, a Glenbard North graduate who is a redshirt sophomore wrestler at Iowa, finished third in the 133-pound class at the NCAA Division I championships. Ramos, seeded third in the class, was defeated in the semifinals but in wrestlebacks earned a decision over Virgina Tech's Devin Carter and then pinned Minnesota's Chris Dardanes, out of Oak Park, for third place.
Christine Wu (Naperville North), a senior Harvard libero, set the school single-season record for digs with 523, second in digs per set at 5.56. That first figure helped her set Harvard's career digs record of 1,841, which ranks second all-time in the Ivy League. Wu capped her season by being named All-Ivy a fourth straight season, to go with Academic All-Ivy and Capital One Academic All-District.
Nathan Fitzenreider (Wheaton North), a junior at North Central College, was the nation's Division III runner-up at 125 pounds, after which the math major was named to the Scholar All-America Team. A two-time all-American, Fitzenreider went 35-4 this season and ranks in North Central's top seven mat men in victories (121) and pins (31).
North Central senior Alicia Zimmerman and Illinois Wesleyan junior Elise Anderson -- once teammates at Wheaton Warrenville South -- each earned United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division III All-Academic honors for cross country. Both received the honor for the second time. Anderson also shared the women's cross country MVP award, and Titans senior T.J. Luby (Wheaton North) got it on the men's side.
Another smartie, Indiana Wesleyan senior defender Kristin Perrine (Wheaton North) was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America Team, first team in the College Division. On three different honor rolls in high school, Perrine has a 3.73 grade-point average in nursing.
Alexa Sharkey (Wheaton Academy), a redshirt freshman defender at John Brown University, was named the Sooner Athletic Conference's newcomer of the year in women's soccer. A second-team defender, Sharkey started all 18 games for the 8-8-2 Golden Eagles after transferring from Elmhurst College to join former Wheaton Academy coach Scott Marksberry at John Brown.
Western Illinois freshman shortstop Sammy Marshall (Naperville Central) was just named the Summit League player of the week after setting Leatherneck and league single-season records for stolen bases with 43. Marshall, also on the trail of Western's season runs record of 50, is 44-for-44 stealing through April 1, and was hitting .417 with 50 runs scored.
Marshall's former DuPage Valley Conference rival, Georgia freshman shortstop Paige Wilson (Wheaton North), recently earned her second Southeast Conference player of the week award after hitting .500 to help the Bulldogs improve to 27-5. Through games of April 1, Wilson was hitting .351 with 29 runs batted in and a .546 slugging percentage.
In his first indoor track meet this season, the Hoosier Hills Invitational of Feb. 11, Miami of Ohio sophomore Rob Stein (Timothy Christian) threw the shot put 58 feet 2 inches to set the school indoor record. As a freshman in 2011, the former prep all-stater sent the discus 170 feet, 6 inches to rank 10th in school history.
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater senior forward Kevin Kron (Benet) was named to the All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference first team. He led the Warhawks in points, goals, shots, shots on goal, game-winning goals and was second in assists.
Colleen Ward (Naperville North), a senior outside hitter for Illinois' women's volleyball team, was an NCAA Division I first-team All-America. She was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and the most outstanding player at the Gainesville regional after 44 kills and 35 digs against USC and UCLA. Second-team All-America as a junior, Ward finished with 1,051 kills and 714 digs in two seasons at Illinois after transferring from Florida.
Tennessee sophomore outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (St. Francis) made the second team. West Florida sophomore Lindsay Homme (Hinsdale Central) earned third-team Division II honors; Carthage senior Michelle Madeja (Neuqua Valley) made the Division III third-team All-America list.
Evan Thayer (Naperville Central), a senior at Cedarville (Ohio) University, set a record for the men's indoor mile at the National Christian College Athletic Association Indoor Track & Field Championship on Feb. 18. Thayer's time of 4 minutes, 12.65 seconds also set the record at Cedarville's Doden Field House and, naturally, earned him the NCCAA athlete of the week award in men's track.
Corey Burke (Wheaton Academy) and his father, Steve, had an eventful soccer season at Judson University. Even before placing fourth at the NCCAA national tournament, the senior midfielder was named the NCCAA national player of the year, and also was picked to the NAIA Academic All-America first team. Burke had a 3.9 GPA in biology, headed to medical school. Later, Steve Burke won the NCCAA's Frank Jewel Award for his coaching ability and character on the field. Steve Burke's 498 career wins are the NCCAA and NAIA record.
Lee (Tenn.) University sophomore midfielder Leah Fortune (Wheaton Academy) was named to the NAIA First-Team All-America squad. Scoring 4 goals with 4 assists in the NAIA tournament, she earned outstanding offensive player honors while helping the 23-2-0 Flames become the first women's soccer program to win four straight NAIA national titles. Overall, Fortune scored 18 goals with 24 assists for 60 points.
Carthage College senior Kyle Drake (Waubonsie Valley) qualified in three events at the Division III Swimming Championships in Indianapolis. He placed 16th in the 400-yard individual medley and ninth in the 200 backstroke to earn honorable-mention All-America honors.
Alison Seberger (Montini), a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard at Illinois State, earned the program's "Best Teammate" award for a non-starter. Seeing action in 26 of 32 games, Seberger averaged 1.1 points and 1 rebound.
Perhaps at a Redbird athlete training table Seberger has bumped into James O'Shaughnessy (Naperville North). The redshirt freshman was the tight end on the 2011 College Sports Journal All-Freshman football team. Also an All-Newcomer selection in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, O'Schaughnessey caught 2 touchdown passes and was part of an offensive line that improved its rushing output by 50 yards per game.
For a second straight football season, senior linebacker Ryan Gresko (Downers Grove North) won Illinois Wesleyan's "Best Big Skill" award after leading the Titans in total tackles and solos. He ended his college career 20th in school history with 225 tackles and sixth with 138 solo tackles.
Speaking of the Titans, the women's basketball team won the NCAA Division III national championship, 57-48 over George Fox on March 17. Helping get them there were the Reaber sisters, Kasey (Montini) and Taylor (Immaculate Conception) and Glenbard West's Abbey White.
Keep those emails and faxes coming!