College achievers: We heard what you did this summer
There's a period between when our local coverage ends in the spring and picks up in late summer where college news may trickle in, but it doesn't get out much. Let us make up for it ...
Three Naperville Central girls water polo players were in limbo themselves, having graduated but not yet competing for their Division I college programs — Abbey Kerth, Julia Campbell and Emily Sejna. Each of these members of coach Jeff Plackett's state runner-up 2012 Redhawks were named All-America by the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association. Kerth, also Illinois' player of the year, is continuing her career at Arizona State. Sejna and Campbell are teammates at Michigan.
University of Portland (Ore.) junior goalkeeper Erin Dees, a Downers Grove North graduate, made 4 saves to help the Pilots beat North Carolina 1-0 on Aug. 17. It was the first time in 9 meetings Portland had defeated the Tar Heels. For her effort, Dees was named Top Drawer Soccer's goaltender of the week.
In August the Illinois State women's gymnastics team drew Scholastic All-America Award honors as a team, by the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women. Six Redbirds also were recognized individually including current junior Jenna Bossle (West Chicago), who had a 3.8 grade-point average. Bossle also was voted by her teammates to be a 2013 team captain.
The Redbird women's swimmers earned similar honors by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America for a program-record cumulative 3.46 grade-point average. Raising the curve with a 4.0 GPA was the since-graduated Lauren Pojman (Neuqua Valley), named to the Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete Team.
Academic honors were big. Aurora University sophomore lacrosse midfielder Jack Meachum (Naperville North) made the 2012 Midwest Lacrosse Conference All-Academic team, logging better than a 3.50 GPA while scoring 25 goals with 14 assists.
In a June 17 exhibition game against Spain's national football team, North Central College won 36-3 in Barcelona. Nick Kukuc (Naperville Central) started the scoring with a pair of first-quarter touchdowns, Ryan Kent (York) adding a 2-point conversion run.
Among 429 student-athletes nominated from Division I-III schools, several locals are up for the 22nd annual NCAA Woman of the Year award, which is still in play: seniors Colleen Ward (Naperville North), a University of Illinois All-America volleyball player; Illinois state soccer player Jessica Carlson (Hinsdale South); Wheaton College two-time All-America soccer player and track athlete Jaime Orewiler (Wheaton North); and four-year starting Augustana soccer keeper Kayla Radloff (West Chicago). Nine finalists will be chosen in September with a national winner will be announced at a ceremony in Indianapolis on Oct. 14.
Kristen Kelsay (St. Francis), now a junior setter for the Michigan State women's volleyball team and the daughter of Addison Trail boys track coach Bruce Kelsay, earned the university's Provost Award for athletics, community service, leadership and academics. Her cumulative 3.77 GPA made her Academic all-Big Ten and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. On the court last season she led the Spartans with 726 assists and 6.10 assists per set. Kristen's younger sister, McKenna, joined with Sports Performance teammates such as Carly Warner (St. Francis) to win the AAU 18-Under Club National Championship on June 27 in Orlando.
Augustana junior pre-medicine and biochemistry major — and golfer — Dena Capitani (Hinsdale Central) was named to the 2011-12 All-America Scholar team by the National Golf Coaches Association. She boasted a 3.50 GPA and on the links carded the Vikings' lowest single round of the year, an 82 at the Benedictine Invitational. One of Capitani's prep adversaries, Mary Kate Rohn (York), earned the same honor at North Central College, bagging All-America Scholar both years in college thus far. She carded a season-low 76 at Washington University in St. Louis.
At the end of her junior year at Illinois State, Kelly Healy (Neuqua Valley), a swimmer studying elementary education, received the swimming program's Dede Woytowych Endowed Scholarship for this academic year. The scholarship is awarded to the female Redbird swimmer whose teamwork, work ethic and passion for swimming echoes that of the late Woytowych, who passed away unexpectedly in 2005. Of particular poignancy, Woytowych was a Neuqua Valley graduate as well. Healy, whose personal-best 500 yard freestyle time came last spring at the Missouri Valley Conference championships, was named Illinois State's most improved swimmer at the team banquet, and selected as team captain of this year's squad. She also improved in the classroom last spring with a GPA of 3.82.
Last spring Amanda Fazzari (Glenbard South), then a sophomore second baseman, was named Illinois Wesleyan's most improved player after starting 21 games for a club that went 39-8 overall and won the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin title.
In 2012 two Waubonsee Community College freshmen, each from Waubonsie Valley, made the National Junior College Athletic Association Region IV second team. Harry Vickers had a .424 on-base percentage and led his team in stolen bases, runs and hits. Kyle Limanowski batted .333 with 23 runs batted in and 9 doubles.
This happened a long time ago but didn't get to us till June: Then a freshman, Augustana lacrosse player Kelly Stelzer (Wheaton Warrenville South) scored the first goal at the Vikings' home facility, Thorson-Lucken Field. Another freshman, Christina Letmanski, finished second on the team with 59 goals.
David McWilliams (Naperville North), a senior youth ministry major at Oklahoma Christian University, was named to the first team of the Capital One Academic All-America Track and Field/Cross Country Team, College Division. First-teamers required a 3.55 GPA, but McWilliams logged a perfect 4.0. He also ran All-America performances in cross country — in which Oklahoma Christian won the NAIA title — indoor track and outdoor track last academic year, and helped Oklahoma Christian set a 6,400-meter relay record.
The 2012 Capital One Academic All-America Division III Baseball Team included two local graduates, both catchers. Senior Mike Nodzenski, a biology major out of Naperville North who led Grinnell in several offensive categories including slugging percentage, was a First Team selection. Ryan Javech (Wheaton North), a North Park University senior who graduated with a 3.97 GPA in business and economics, earned Second Team merit. Javech, who led his team to the most wins in a season since 1983, was the first North Park student-athlete to be named Academic All-District and Academic All-America.
Carroll University's softball team earned a Midwest Conference Sportsmanship Award for its actions during the league championship game at Lake Forest College on May 6. Rain had soaked the field and delayed the title game against St. Norbert. Rather than sit tight, the Carroll women — who included freshman Taylor Steinhilber (Glenbard West), the Pioneers' top pitcher and second-leading hitter whose older sister Ashley helped Valdosta State win the Division II title — got off their duff to assist the grounds crew. They helped with the tarp, raked the field and got it ready for play. Perhaps a little weary, Carroll lost that title game 2-1 in 8 innings.
But we think they're winners.
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