Victoria Ito, one of one of the top liberos in the state this season for Buffalo Grove, has been rewarded by signing a letter of intent on May 4 to play Division I volleyball at Wisconsin.
"Playing Division I volleyball has definitely been a dream of mine since I started playing," Ito said. "I knew I had the capabilities to play D-I but finding the right school was the true challenge. Things just seemed to work out perfectly with Wisconsin and I am so thankful for the opportunity.
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"I chose Wisconsin because it is a highly-competitive school academically and athletically. And it gave me the opportunity to continue my volleyball career at an even higher level."
Ito started playing volleyball when she was 12 years old.
With the encouragement of her mother, Ito went out for the sixth grade team at St. Mary in Buffalo Grove.
"I owe thanks to my mom who encouraged me to participate so I could experience the team atmosphere and see if I enjoyed the sport," Ito said. "My parents have been so supportive of me and allowing me to play season after season.
"Every single coach I have had at my high school and with Rolling Thunder Volleyball Club has been inspiration to me. They are always pushing me to better my skills and to get me to the next level."
Ito served as a libero for Rolling Thunder for four consecutive seasons and played three years on retiring coach Marianne Mendoza's varsity volleyball team at BG.
Ito can't think of any position she'd rather play than libero.
"I love it so much because it gives me an opportunity to take control of the back row and the defensive aspect of the game," Ito said. "Passing is the heart of the game and being a key part of that is something that I can't get enough of. I love it for the unbelievable saves that make hitters frustrated."
And Ito made more than her share of incredible saves in the Bison back row.
She has also done her share in the classroom, serving as a National Honor Society student, Spanish Honor Society member and All-Academic student athlete for 2012.
Ito has been an honor-roll student all four years and plans to major in kinesiology and eventually go into pre-occupational therapy.
This is for Rosie
Three-sport standout and current Conant shortstop Allie Bauch will be a preferred walk-on for the University of Illinois softball team.
Allie lost her grandmother Rosie this past winter.
"She loved hearing about all my sports and school activities, although she would always get nervous when she watched any of her grandchildren play," Allie said. "I know how proud she would be to know that I am continuing my passion for playing softball at the University of Illinois."
Bauch said academics played a major role in her decision to join the Illini program.
"Academically, I have always wanted to go to Illinois," said Bauch, a .396 hitter (team-high 43 runs) who bats second for coach Cathyann Smith's two-time Mid-Suburban League softball champs. "My sister just graduated from there and I saw how they prepared her for the working world. They have such a strong academic reputation and to be able to play softball there is a dream come true."
Bauch, who also played basketball and volleyball at Conant, attended a softball camp at Illinois in December.
"I feel it is a great fit," she added. "I loved the atmosphere and campus and it was still close to home. It's pretty cool that my family will be able to go to some of the games. Also, the coaches from Illinois have been very encouraging and have welcomed me onto the team."
Bauch added that she was fortunate to have her Schaumburg Sluggers coaches Frank Hill and Jeff Jacobson and Conant coaches Smith and assistant Kelly Wolff help prepare her for a Big Ten school.
"I was also very fortunate to have coaches from other schools in our conference looking out for me," Bauch added. "Coach (Lindsey) Hamma (former Buffalo Grove and Illini standout shortstop who is now Hoffman Estates' softball coach) played a huge role in helping Illinois notice me as a player and student and I am very thankful for that."
Helping the cure
The 12 Mid-Suburban League softball programs raised $5,262.84 to help the cure for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Dennis Lynch, the father-in-law of Fremd coach Jim Weaver and Palatine coach Jeff Manz, died March 9 after battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma for 10 years.
The Fremd and Palatine programs raised $2,818.74 of the total amount.
"We thank everyone so much for the amazing support of this very important cause, and a special thanks to Brenda Schwantz for heading up this event for us," Weaver said. "It was an amazing job."
Notre Dame freshman Maddie Conlin was part of the Irish rowing team that claimed its ninth consecutive Big East championship, winning five of six grand finals on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. The Irish finished with 111 team points to secure a 14-point victory.
Conlin, the 2011 Daily Herald Athlete of the Year (swimming, basketball, soccer) was part of the Irish crew of coxswain Mikaela Prego, Kathryn Monahan, Stephanie Winsch and Anna Sliwinski, which qualified for the grand final in the top spot after posting a 7:30.76 in the prelims. In the final heat, the Irish pulled away for an open-water victory after crossing in 7:44.378.
For just the fifth time in program history and the first time since the 2007 season, the Notre Dame rowing team has been selected to race at the NCAA Championships May 25-27.
Wheeling's new girls gymnastics head coach is former Fremd gymnast Nicole Maila, currently a para professional at Hoffman Estates High School.
Maila will teach math at Wheeling.
"We are very excited to add her to our athletic program and have a head coach who will teach in our building," said Wheeling assistant principal for student activities Steve May. "Nicole will be a very dynamic coach who will bring a lot of energy to our gymnastics program. I am very excited for her to lead our gymnastics program."
Maila is looking forward to the opportunity.
"I am very excited to become a Wheeling Wildcat," she said "I am looking forward to getting into the gym and working with the girls. It's going to be a great season."
Women's track and field
Illinois State senior Becky Anderson (Prospect) finished her career with a personal best 5-8¾ high jump and third-place finish at the Missouri Valley Conference outdoor meet.
She qualified for the NCAA west regional track meet later this month. Last fall, Anderson received the athletic department and State Farm's Good Neighbor Award as the most supportive teammate from all sports programs at ISU.
• Notre Dame junior Rebecca Tracy (Barrington) won the Big East Conference 1,500 meters in 4:22.71.
• Indiana State junior Kalli Dalton (Conant) finished third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 10:47.31 and ninth in the 1,500 meters in 4:41.35.
Carthage junior pitcher Krystina Leazer (Elk Grove) was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Great Lakes Region first team.
Leazer was 28-7 with a 2.00 ERA, .234 opponent-batting average, 1.25 walks per seven innings and 6.48 strikeouts per seven innings.
Schaumburg senior Jordan Grubb, a two-year starting centerfielder, has committed to play baseball for coach Greg Wallace at Augustana.
Grubb is hitting close to .300 with a home run, triple and 8 doubles. He has not committed an error and thrown out two runners from center field.
• Knox College sophomore outfielder Erik Smoy (Hoffman Estates) was among the 14 players named to the Midwest Conference South Division First Team.
Smoy had a .346 batting average with 37 hits, 22 runs and 21 RBI. His 2 triples tied for team-high honors.
Knox finished second in the MWC South Division with a 7-5 record to advance to the Midwest Conference Tournament for the first time since 2008.
• Oakton Community College shortstop Ryan Tuntland (Maine West) was named to the 2012 Division II All-North Central Region IV First Team.
Men's track and field
Illinois State senior Mat Smoody (Palatine) won the Missouri Valley Conference 800 meters in a time of 1:51.63 on May 12th.
• Illinois State senior Jon Roberts (Schaumburg) finished sixth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a time of 9:21.59.
• Ripon's Adam Sellner (Barrington) qualified for this weekend's 2012 Division-III national meet, hosted by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in Claremont, Calif. He will compete in the hammer throw on Friday at 2:05 p.m.
Sellner qualified with a hammer throw of 192-01.5 at the UW-Oshkosh "Last Chance" Meet, which is the 10th-best distance in Division-III.
That throw also shattered his own school record, which he set earlier this season, by 3½ inches.
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