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updated: 10/23/2012 10:18 PM

North Central ninth in national rankings

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By Kyle Thele

The North Central College football team stayed strong with the No. 9 ranking in this week's American Football Coaches Association poll after a dominating performance Saturday against conference rival Carthage.

The Cardinals won 42-10, marking their sixth straight win this season following an opening-game loss to the Univerity of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Despite the team's impressive streak in conference play, the most difficult stretch of the season is still to come.

Saturday will be Homecoming weekend for North Central when it plays host to Illinois Wesleyan, the only other team in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin ranked in the top 25 and one of three teams tied for second place behind the Cardinals.

The 21st-ranked Titans are only a game behind North Central in the CCIW standings and may be the toughest test remaining for the Cardinals, who have won each conference game this year by at least 20 points.

The game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium in Naperville. A victory for the Cardinals could prove a crucial tiebreaker with only three games remaining in the regular season.

Elmhurst: The Elmhurst College women's volleyball team clinched the CCIW title Tuesday night after defeating North Central 25-16, 25-22, 25-12. With the victory the Bluejays completed a perfect conference season.

The conference win came after a weekend that saw Elmhurst defeat two top-20 opponents in its own tournament and move up one spot in the national rankings from 10 to 9. Following the successful weekend, junior libero Hannah Lessen was named the conferences Defensive Player of the Week.

The women clinched at least a share of the title after the weekend, but by beating North Central the Bluejays have won it outright. This is the first conference championship for Elmhurst since 2004 and it now owns the top spot in the upcoming CCIW Tournament.

Tennis: Despite not participating in a competitive match in two years, Annie Duggan was the clear leader of the Elmhurst College women's tennis team and Monday was named the CCIW Newcomer of the Year.

Duggan, who transferred from Harper Community College, was also named to the all-conference team after a season where she finished third at the No. 1 singles at the CCIW championship. Coach Anthony McPherson said the sky is the limit for Duggan, who is only a sophomore this year.

"Not only was she the best player on the team but just a true leader on and off the court," McPherson said of his young star.

While she is already in the top three in the CCIW, McPherson said he believes with some hard work Duggan can crack the top two next year and even be ranked among the top 20 women in the region.

Wheaton: Wheaton College has been listed as one of the top 100 schools across the country in a comprehensive study of academics and athletics. The rankings are calculated by using the average of each schools Learfield Sports Directors' Cup ranking, the NCAA student-athlete graduation rate and the U.S. News & World Report ranking.

The Thunder was one of nine schools from Illinois to make the list that was compiled by the National Collegiate Scouting Association. Wheaton College came in 66th overall and was the 21st-ranked Division III school.

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