It's been a long while since this column produced a stream of college athletic achievements by local high school grads. Here we go.
Way back when she was wrapping up her career at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Rosary graduate Ali Sikic was named the Pioneers female athlete of the year. She ended as the program's all-time assists leader, with 5,487 over 2008-11. She also received the school's Pat Doyle Scholar-Athlete award a second straight year. During the season, the physical education-business double major had earned the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference scholar-athlete award for women's volleyball.
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Matt Bowman (Geneva), a track and cross country athlete from Augustana, was named to the Academic All-District Team in track his final semester. A week or so later he was named to the Division III Academic All-America's second team, his second All-America notice. Augie's two-time cross country MVP graduated with a degree in art history with a 3.74 grade-point average. Upon graduation, he was one of 29 male spring athlete nationwide, the only in Illinois, to receive a $7,500 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. He planned on working on his master's degree at the University of Connecticut.
At Illinois Wesleyan, Mackenzie Astling (Rosary) was awarded the softball program's Gwen Meyer Spirit Award saluting self-motivation, effort and team support.
Also earning respect, Kaitlyn Czerwonka (Batavia) was named the most valuable freshman on the Augustana women's golf team. So far as a sophomore she's already cut 7 strokes from her low round last season.
It was a great year for frosh. Waubonsee Community College's Brooke Nelson (Batavia) was named to the All-Region First Team and earned player of the year in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference. At the plate she hit .446 with 47 runs batted-in and 66 runs scored; on the mound she won 15 games with a 1.82 earned-run average. Another freshman, Alyssa Reimers (West Aurora), and sophomore Brittany Davis (Kaneland) were ISCC first-team selections, helping Waubonsee go 13-1 in league play.
Over the 2011-12 school year at Carthage College, Ashley Gladis (Batavia) was the school's sole freshman to earn most valuable honors for an athletic programs, the co-winner with Ember McCoy of Waubonsie Valley. Gladis earned Division III Academic All-America honorable mention honors by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, won three individual events and was on a winning relay at the Wisconsin Private College Swimming Championship, and was Carthage's only individual winner, in the 200 individual medley, at the CCIW Chamipionship.
Back at Waubonsee, Kelsey VandenBorn (Batavia), then a sophomore, was a co-winner of the ISCC's Dick Durrant Academic Athlete of the Year award for 2011-12. The nursing student earned a perfect. 4.0 GPA while making first-team all-conference in volleyball. A middle blocker, VandenBorn led the Lady Chiefs with 88 blocks and was second with 222 kills.
Now a Loras College junior golfer, Kathryn Belanger (St. Charles East) earned notice on the 2011-12 National Golf Coaches Association All-American Golf Team. The minimum to make that cut was a 3.5 GPA, which Belanger did in her sports management major.
Basheeba Mays (Mooseheart) and Brooke Patterson (Kaneland), now a senior and a sophomore respectively at North Central College, earned Division III All-Academic honors in women's track and field for the first time last school year. Mays, an organizational communications major, got there with a nationally 27th ranked indoor triple jump of 37 feet, 1¾ inches, second on the Cardinals' all-time indoor list. Patterson, a sociology major, set North Central's all-time triple jump record with her outdoor mark of 37-11¼. That ranked 30th in Division III while her 12-foot pole vault placed 23rd. All-Academic honorees needed to be ranked among the nation's top 35 in their events, and also pull good grades.
Now, more current news ...
In September, Valparaiso junior goaltender Kristen Manski (St. Charles North) was named the Horizon League defensive player of the week for a pair of shutouts against Western Michigan and Bowling Green. The Horizon League leader in shutouts (6) and goals-against (. 65) as of Wednesday, Manski now has 18 career shutouts. Incidentally, Wisconsin-Milwaukee senior keeper Jamie Forbes (St. Charles North) was a prior Horizon League defensive player of the week. She's tied for second with 4 shutouts and is alone in second in saves (54).
Aurora University senior Drew Schmitt (Batavia) was named Northern Athletics Conference cross country male athlete of the week three straight weeks. He was the conference's fastest runner in Aurora's own 8-kilometer Spartan Classic, followed that with a third-place finish at Concordia (Wis.), then was the NAC's top runner at Augustana.
Another athlete of the week, Wheaton College junior soccer player Leah DeMoss (St. Charles North) earned the honor after scoring 4 goals, including 2 game-winners, at the Whitworth (Wash.) Invitational. DeMoss, an elementary education major, also notched an assist.
Quoting Loyola-Chicago assistant sports information director Leo Krause, freshman Stephanie Kinane (Batavia) earned the Ramblers' starting libero spot and has not looked back. Kinane has played in all 59 sets thus far, helping Loyola to an 11-6 record after it went 4-22 all last season. Entering Friday's match she has 298 digs and her 5.05 digs per set rank 45th in Division I.
Wisconsin-Platteville receiver Ryley Bailey (Kaneland) was named WIAC offensive player of the week after a huge game in the Pioneers' 49-19 win over Eau Claire. Bailey caught a collegiate-high 11 passes for 191 yards with 2 touchdown receptions. The junior's receptions and yardage were Platteville's highest totals in two years, and he was named to D3football.com's Scoutware Team of the Week.
Through five games, Taylor University freshman kicker Alec Eickert (Aurora Christian) ranked fourth in the Mid-States Football Association in scoring by kickers. He's 15-of-16 on extra points and among his 5 field goals are boots of 42, 46 and 48 yards.
Another freshman kicker, Danny Muzzalupo (St. Charles East) debuted with a bang for Monmouth. Assigned kickoff chores, he earned the Fighting Scots' special teams' "Brick" award for making an open-field, touchdown-saving tackle in Monmouth's 31-14 victory. Muzzalupo is averaging 57 yards a kick thus far for the 3-1 Scots.
Another ex-Saint, Zoie Saaman (St. Charles East) of Illinois Wesleyan was the CCIW's female soccer defensive player of the week after a 3-0 week in goal. The junior business-marketing major gave up no goals in two games and the first half of a third, spanning 225 minutes of play.
Finally, on Wednesday South Dakota State redshirt freshman linebacker T.J. Lally (Marmion) was selected to the watch list for the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision. The 225-pounder is second on the Jackrabbits in tackles with 41, has forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. Lally has already earned Missouri Valley Football Conference defensive player of the week and twice has been named conference newcomer of the week. Once came after he made 10 tackles and 4 sacks for minus-31 yards in a 12-8 win over University of California-Davis. According to the Argus Leader, Lally's 4 sacks were the most by a South Dakota State player in 15 years.