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updated: 5/31/2012 6:48 PM

College achievers: Year-end edition

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One week left in our prep "season" -- but these local collegiates are done. We salute them.

North Central's Josh McLeod (Lisle), a three-year starting safety, was named to the National Football Foundation's Hampshire Honor Society, granted to starters or key contributors in their final year of eligibility who maintained at least a 3.20 GPA. All-College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin and academic all-conference, McLeod ranks second in Cardinals career interceptions with 13. An elementary education major, McLeod did his student teaching in Naperville but will delay that career for at least one year -- as he travels to Spain in June and then heads straight to Germany to play professionally with the Frankfurt Universe.

Mitch McGilliard (Neuqua Valley), a senior linebacker at Augustana, also earned Hampshire Society accolades. McGilliard had a 3.534 GPA in finance and made 21 solo tackles with 16 assists.

Ashley Steinhilber, a Valdosta State junior catcher out of Glenbard West, started all 63 games for the 58-5, Division II national championship Blazers. She hit .283 with 4 home runs, 33 runs batted in, 41 runs scored and a team-high 18 hit by pitches. Steinhilber and Co. lost their playoff opener to defending champ California-San Diego, won five straight games in the loser's bracket, then beat UC-San Diego 4-1 for the title.

Steinhilber's old Hilltoppers teammate, Lewis University junior outfielder Jayme Hefler, was selected to the Capital One Academic All-America NCAA Division II Second Team. She's a three-time winner of Lewis' Br. David Delahanty Award for academic excellence with a 3.62 grade-point average in athletics training. On the diamond Hefler was a Daktronics honorable-mention All-America after leading the Flyers with a .415 batting average, 35 stolen bases, 49 runs and a .493 on-base percentage. She earned all-Midwest Region and Great Lakes Valley Conference first-team honors.

Rebecca Randall (Waubonsie Valley) was named the most improved female athlete at Waubonsee Community College. A sophomore pitcher for the Chiefs, she won 8 games while allowing 30 fewer hits and 15 fewer earned runs than a year ago in the same number of innings. Randall drove in three times as many runs as in 2011 and her on-base percentage was 60 points higher.

Also named most improved was Justin Smith (Fenton), a junior on Augustana's track team. Smith moved into ninth-place on Augie's all-time 1,500-meter list with a time of 3 minutes, 51.76 seconds on his home track. Fellow distance man Brian Pollastrini (York), the CCIW 5,000-meter winner, was elected a co-captain for next season.

On May 15 North Central College inducted new members into the National College Athlete Honor Society, which requires athletes to have a 3.4 GPA after seven semesters and receive a varsity letter. Among North Central's new members was junior anthropology major-slash-linebacker Alex Pirela (West Chicago).

Twice the CCIW baseball "hitter of the week," Augustana junior shortstop Jeremy Juhl (Glenbard East) scored a team-high 42 runs and was second on the team in batting average at .368.

First-team all-conference in the CCIW was chockablock with locals: Elmhurst sophomore Dave Wolak (Glenbard North), North Park sophomore Mike Coduto (Wheaton North), Wheaton junior Trey Martin (Wheaton North) and Illinois Wesleyan sophomore Bobby Czarnowski (Naperville Central).

The CCIW all-conference softball team featured first-teamers Wheaton senior Jenna Lawrence (Wheaton North) and Elmhurst freshman Meg Griffin (Naperville Central).

On May 8 Wisconsin-Platteville bestowed junior volleyball player Amanda Fisch (Glenbard South) with the Pioneer Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Award, for courage against adversity. As a freshman, she suffered a severe ankle injury that didn't respond and was later identified as a break. Fisch came back to play just nine sets as a sophomore and returned to the 21-16 Pioneers' rotation this season.

Judson University's second-year men's lacrosse program drew all-Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference honors for the first time with sophomore attack Josh Elmore (York), who led the Eagles with 51 points and was second with 30 goals. Freshman Lucas Mackey (West Chicago) was an honorable-mention pick.

Aurora University men's lacrosse also is in Year 2. Spartans freshman attack Danny Loyall (Naperville Central) earned kudos as Midwest Lacrosse Conference newcomer of the year. Loyall led 13-4 Aurora with 37 goals and 50 points.

Augustana women's lacrosse completed its first season. Celebrating grand debuts were freshman Christian Letmanski (Glenbard West) with 59 goals and 22 assists, Kelly Stelzer (Wheaton Warrenville South) with 34 and goalkeeper Sarah Osier (Naperville Central) with a goals-against average of 8.28 and a save percentage of .491.

The North Central women have played four seasons. Senior defender Shannon Prince (Montini) and junior attack Danielle Fiala (Naperville North) each were named first-team all-Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference, Prince also netting defensive player of the year honors while starting all 56 games in program history. Fiala set a North Central record with 51 goals this season, and became the first Cardinal with 100 in a career.

North Central junior Kalen Petty (Naperville Central) and sophomore Kyle Pembrook helped set a program record in the 110-meter hurdles shuttle relay of 1 minute, 1.15 seconds at the Drake Relays.

More Augustana: Senior tennis player Brittany Reese (Neuqua Valley) shared the team's "hardest worker" award. A two-time CCIW player of the week and an elementary education major, Reece finished 15th in program history in combined victories with 108.

Judson fresh-grad and soccer player Corey Burke (Wheaton Academy) added another honor to his resume: the National Christian College Athletic Association Game Plan 4 Life male winner for efforts in service, academics and athletics. That's on top of his 2011 A.O. Durr award as the NAIA's top player, this season's Kyle Rote Jr. award, Judson's first male Academic all-American and NCCAA All-America honors.

Ashley Zozokos (Glenbard North), a junior swimmer at Millikin, was named to the CCIW Academic All-Conference team after her season, which means she had to carry at least a 3.30 GPA. Zozokos is a music education major. Carthage senior Kyle Drake (Waubonsie Valley) earned his second straight CCIW men's swimmer of the year award.

Jay Petty (Downers Grove North), a Lewis University junior outside hitter, is a second-team American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I-II all-American. The two-time all-MIVA first teamer ranked sixth in Division I in kills per set, 14th in aces per set, 15th in hitting percentage. Kyle Schwetz (Glenbard North), a junior outside hitter at St. Ambrose, earned NAIA All-America honors. While we're at it, George Mason junior middle blocker Piotr Dabrowski (Glenbard East) finished fourth in Division I in blocks per game at 1.48 and Carthage senior middle blocker Matt Yanz (Naperville Central) earned AVCA Division III second-team All-America honors.

It happened way back in February in the DePaul softball team's first game in Hawaii, but it's still cool: Freshman Mary Connolly (West Chicago) belted a pinch-hit, game-winning, 3-run home run in her first collegiate at-bat. Fifty-seven games later, senior second baseman Lynsey Ciezki (Lake Park) ended her Blue Demons career with a team-high 34 runs and a second straight berth on the Big East Championship All-Tournament Team.

Seth Fuller (WW South), a freshman lacrosse player at Norwich University, was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference rookie of the week three times this season. The 170-pound attack led the 11-7 Cadets with 17 assists and tied for second place with 32 points.

Freshman Paige Evangelista (Wheaton North) played four positions for Wisconsin-Whitewater this softball season, hit .339 with a robust .521 slugging percentage and 31 RBI. She thus earned first-team Wisconsin Collegiate Athletic Conference honors as well as second-team Division III Great Lakes All-Region.

At the Big Ten outdoor track championships, Wisconsin sophomore Dan Block (Lake Park) won the discus with a mark of 195 feet, 8 inches, helping the Badgers take the title. Wisconsin freshman Garret Payne (Glenbard South) ran on a second-place 1,600 relay team. On the women's side, Michigan freshman Tori Franklin (Downers Grove South) and Wisconsin senior Monica Jakutyte (Neuqua Valley) placed third in triple jump and high jump, respectively.

Until 2012-13, continued success!

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