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updated: 4/5/2012 10:59 PM

Time to catch up with college achievers

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  • Alyssa Galvan

    Alyssa Galvan

  • Jay Graffagna

    Jay Graffagna

  • Alex Rindone

    Alex Rindone


It's been awhile since we listed local athletes' college successes, but better late than never ...

Illinois College finished fifth in the team standings at the NCAA Division III women's indoor track and field championships in Grinnell, Iowa. Junior Melissa Norville (Batavia) scored all 20 points for the Lady Blues. Norville placed third in the 60-meter hurdles at 8.65 seconds, took fifth in long jump at 18 feet, 9 inches, and won triple jump at 41-3.

Illinois Wesleyan's women's basketball team completed its run to the NCAA Division II national championship with a 57-48 victory over George Fox University on March 17. Sophomore guard Lexi Baltes (St. Charles East) was first off the bench and played a team-high 36 minutes for the Titans, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and scoring 8 points to go with 7 rebounds and 2 steals to help Wesleyan improve over its fourth-place finish of 2010-11.

Baltes ended the season playing the fourth-most minutes, in all 33 games, for the 28-5 Titans. She averaged 5 points (making 81 percent from the foul line), 3.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals. She led the Titans with 47 offensive rebounds.

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.

Tennessee sophomore outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (St. Francis) was a second-team Division I All-America selection by both the American Volleyball Coaches Association and Volleyball Magazine. Tennessee's first Southeast Conference player of the year finished the regular season with 21 double-doubles, ranked 10th nationally in points and 15th in kills. Robinson's 561 kills were the fourth-highest total in Volunteers history.

Becky Bartos (Batavia), a sophomore midfielder at Waubonsee Community College, earned all-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference and National Junior College Athletic Association all-region honors, both first team. The Lady Chiefs co-captain finished her Waubonsee career with 20 assists, fourth in program history. Teammate Priscilla Diaz (West Aurora) was voted the top defensive player in Region IV, earning the same awards as Bartos.

Augustana sophomore Jay Graffagna (Geneva), junior Floyd Mays (Mooseheart) and freshman David Voland (Batavia), helped set a new indoor school record in the 800-meter relay at the Dubuque Invitational.

Now running outside, just this week Voland was named the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin's men's track athlete of the week after he won three events and placed eighth in another at last weekend's Viking Olympics. Voland's times in the 400 and as part of the 1,600 relay were among the top five in Division III, and he helped Augie's shuttle hurdle relay set a new program record.

The prior week, Graffagna and junior Alex Rindone (Marmion) joined two 400 relay teammates all acknowledged as the CCIW's men's "runner of the week" after logging a time of 41.66 seconds on March 24, which was the third fastest DIII time in the nation and now 10th. Meanwhile, as of April 3 Rindone's 200 time of 21.52 seconds ranked third in the country and his 100 time of 10.89 ranked 12th.

Another Augustana athlete, freshman swimmer Michael Duy (Marmion), helped set a new program record in the 400 freestyle relay at the CCIW men's swimming and diving championships in Kenosha, Wis.

Through men's volleyball matches of April 1, Brigham Young junior Russ Lavaja (St. Charles North) ranked fifth in all of DI men's volleyball in blocks per game. The 6-foot-7 middle blocker had 11 solos and 136 block assists for 1.50 blocks per game.

This is old, old news, but still deserves mention: reflective of the 2011 outdoor track season, North Central College's men's 800 relay team, which included Bai Kabba (Batavia), was honored at the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for running the fastest time in all of Division III over the 2011 outdoor season. At the Drake Relays the Cardinals ran the 800 relay in 1:26.06.

This indoor season, North Central won its third straight NCAA DIII indoor men's track title. On the first day of the competition at Grinnell College's Bear Recreation and Athletic Center, Kabba, a junior, helped end the day with an all-American finish in the distance medley relay. The Cardinals ended the two day championships with Kabba aboard a victorious 1,600 relay that set a new facility record time of 3:16.11.

On the Cardinals women's side, Brooke Patterson (Kaneland) just set a North Central freshman triple jump record of 36 feet, 10 inches in a winning leap Saturday in Naperville. When she was still indoors, at the CCIW indoor championships Patterson finished second in pole vault and fourth in triple jump.

Corey Burke (Wheaton Academy) and his father, Steve, had an eventful soccer season at Judson University. Even before placing fourth at the National Christian College Athletic Association national tournament, the senior midfielder was named the NCCAA national player of the year, and also was picked to the NAIA Academic all-American first team. Burke has 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.

Alyssa Galvan (Kaneland), a junior center on the University of Wisconsin-Platteville women's basketball team, was named to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's nine-member All-Sportsmanship Team.

A four-time boys golf MVP while at Marmion, Northern Illinois junior Bryce Emory earned the third top-10 tourney finish of his collegiate career at the UCF Rio Pinar Invitational in Orlando on March 19-20. Emory flew to a 5-under-par 67 on his final round to finish tied for sixth place. He'd entered the final round tied for 19th and made hay with his lowest individual round as a Huskie. Joining the squad in Orlando was none other than West Aurora graduate Kurtis Luedtke, who started the tournament with his best 54-hole total of the season.

A fellow Huskie capped an accomplished women's volleyball career with another honor. Senior setter Kristin Hoffman (Batavia) was one of 58 student-athletes from the 2011 fall season to receive an NCAA postgraduate scholarship. A history major with a 3.97 grade-point average, Hoffman has been accepted into law school at Valparaiso University.

The Mid-American Conference setter of the year and an honorable-mention American Volleyball Coaches Association all-American, Hoffman earned Academic all-American honors in 2010 and 2011. She ended her season as the NCAA's statistical leader in assists with 12.27 per set, and Northern's second all-time assist leader with 4,392.

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 Lady 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.

Players of the week: Carroll University basketball player Breann Maryanski (Rosary); Monmouth track and field athlete Allison Devor (St. Charles East), tennis player David Johnson (St. Charles North); Judson University tennis player John Mittvick (St. Charles North); Aurora University baseball player Cory Walden (West Aurora).

Three for the future: St. Charles East junior volleyball player Nicole Woods has verbally committed to play at Memphis. Saints all-state track runner Jake Mazanke is headed for Loyola-Chicago. And Aurora Christian all-state senior cross country runner Sarina Oleson will run at Taylor University.

Keep those emails and faxes coming!

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