With basketball season just around the corner, the North Central College men's team will enter it with a bull's-eye on its back.
In the just released NCAA Division III national rankings, the Cardinals came in at No. 3.
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The annual preseason rankings are released by D-III News, a monthly newsletter that covers Division III basketball. The team tied its single-season record for victories in a season with its 22-8 mark and won both the CCIW regular and postseason championships.
Last year's team reached the round of 16 in the NCAA Division III tournament before being knocked out.
This year's team will be fronted by Landon Gamble, a 6-foot-6 junior forward from Joliet. Gamble is expected by many to be one of the best players in the Midwest Region. As a sophomore he led the team in scoring at 13.7 points a game and received numerous conference and regional accolades.
The schedule will kick off Nov. 16-17 when the Cardinals will play host to the Illinois Institute of Technology and Hope College (Mich.) in the Chicago Marriott Naperville Tip-Off Tournament.
Cross country: The North Central College men's cross country team returned to the same course where it was crowned the 2011 NCAA Division III champion, but when it finished Saturday's 8,000-meter race at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Brooks Invitational, it was with an unfamiliar feeling.
For the first time all year the Cardinals failed to finish in first place overall at a meet. The team finished in second place in a hotly contested race to Calvin College (Mich.), only losing by 6 points. The regionally and nationally top-ranked North Central men all placed in the top 20 finishers of the deep, 500-runner field.
However, Calvin was able to one-up them, with all of its runners finishing within the top 15.
Senior Daniel Kerly was North Central's top finisher, coming in fifth place overall with a time of 25:08.66, closely followed by teammate Yonatan Mascote. Following Kerly's impressive finish, he was named the College conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Men's Cross Country runner of the Week.
This is Kerly's second time winning the award this year, both coming within the last three weeks. Kerly is a two-time all-CCIW and all-Midwest runner who has competed in the last two national championship meets.
Despite its second-place finish, North Central kept its Herculean grip on the top spot of the Midwest Region rankings, according to the most recent United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll released on Tuesday. The team will stay idle until Oct. 27 when they will take part in the CCIW Championships. North Central will be looking for its 39th consecutive conference title.
Elmhurst: Homecoming week almost always gives an extra boost to the home team, and the Elmhurst College football team needed every push it could get to hold off No. 20 Wheaton College Saturday.
The Bluejays fought back a ferocious second-half rally by the Thunder to hang on and win 35-30. Elmhurst was led in a shootout by senior running back Scottie Williams, who rushed for 179 yards on 31 carries and reached the end zone twice. Williams, the school's all-time leading rusher, scored his second touchdown from 9 yards out to give his team a 21-10 lead going into halftime.
Wheaton came back from the break with an impressive offensive display of their own. The Thunder racked up nearly 400 yards of offense just in the second half, mostly through the air. However, despite the gaudy numbers it was the Bluejays defense that came up big when the team needed them the most. Two plays by senior linebacker Wayne Tuckson sealed the victory for the home team.
Late in the third quarter Tuckson intercepted Wheaton's Jordan Roberts and took the ball 57 yards for a Bluejays touchdown, giving his team a 35-24 lead. Wheaton rallied, and with less than five minutes remaining in the game and only trailing by 5 points it had reached the Elmhurst 3-yard line. After stopping the offense three consecutive times, Tuckson and teammate Brian Bonds flew into the backfield, tackling the Wheaton running back and sealing the game for the Bluejays.
Williams and Tuckson were honored with the offensive and defensive CCIW player of the week award.
Wheaton College: Wheaton College women's volleyball finished the Tiffany Robinson Memorial Tournament over the weekend with a perfect 4-0 mark and the tournament championship. The Thunder was the only team to finish with an undefeated record.
The women were led by CCIW players of the week winners Emily Buyse and Kelli Manning. Buyse received the offensive award after the junior middle hitter averaged 2.53 kills a game and a total of 32 kills on the weekend.
Manning, only a freshman, was given the defensive award. The Thunder libero set a career high with 31 digs while beating Wisconsin-Platteville on Friday, then topped her mark with 34 Sunday against Wisconsin-Oshkosh.