Spring took a long time getting here. So did this column highlighting area collegiates' winter athletic achievements. So here it is.
Jeremy D'Amico, a Geneva graduate, finished his college basketball career in style with a men's NAIA Division II national championship at 35-3 Cardinal Stritch, out of Milwaukee. During the Wolves' playoff run the 6-foot-6 senior starting forward averaged 9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and made 50 percent of his 3-point shots, with 12 points in Stritch's 73-59 win over previously No. 1-ranked William Penn.
Shanice Andrews (West Aurora) helped Wichita State to the Missouri Valley Conference women's indoor track title for the third time in four seasons. Her time of 8.56 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles earned her first all-conference honor and a third-place finish. Last year as a freshman she broke into the Shockers' all-time top 10 in the 100 hurdles.
In a nice salute to teamwork, Aurora University men's basketball coach James Lancaster announced that the 2012-13 team MVP would be the "Wave Train," the nickname he gave for the depth that earned the Spartans a 22-7 record. Thirteen Aurora University players saw action in at least 19 of the team's 29 games, including: Mark Adams (Aurora Central Catholic), C.J. Schutt (Aurora Christian) and Kyle Pilmer (West Aurora).
Her junior tennis season at Augustana isn't over, but we've had Augustana's Kim Sawyer (Batavia) in here several times as she's approached the program victories record for singles play. She got it on March 25, in a win at No. 1 singles against former Johnsburg player Heather Matejka of St. Ambrose, 6-2, 6-2. Sawyer moved go 77-17 in singles play at Augustana, moving past the 76 victories recorded by Kristen Pence from 2001-04. Sawyer's career winning percentage of .819 is also a school record.
Another Augustana gal, Annie Martines (St. Charles East) was named the Vikings' most valuable freshman for her work during the indoor track season. She won the 300-meter hurdles at the Midwest Invitational and ran a leg of the Vikings' 1,600 relay that won at Augustana's own invitational. She also was academic all-conference in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin.
Augustana's associate director of athletics, media and alumni relations Dave Wrath does a fantastic job sending us releases, many of which arrive via email on Sundays. In another example, he tells us Augie sophomore swimmer Michael Duy (Marmion) splashed down at No. 3 on the list of the school's all-time leaders in the 500 freestyle. Duy, another academic all-conference athlete, also helped the Vikings earn program records this winter in the 400 and 800 freestyle relays. On the women's side of Augustana swimming, academic all-conference senior Emily Timmons (West Aurora) entered the top 10 in the 1,650 freestyle at No. 6.
Helping her team to a third-place finish at the Eastern College Athletic Conference and rebounding from a partially torn Achilles tendon, William and Mary sophomore gymnast Maggie Lundeen (St. Charles East) was the ECAC champion in floor exercise. Her score of 9.925 equaled her collegiate-best set eight days earlier in a first-place routine against Yale. She also won floor against Temple, and will advance to the NCAA Southwest Regionals in Gainesville, Fla., on April 6. Also performing on bars, three times this season Lundeen hit her routines to the tune of a 9.700 score.
OK, this area graduate did his stuff well before any of these others were born, but so what. Waubonsee Community College men's basketball coach Dave Heiss, a 1980 graduate of West Aurora and key member of the Blackhawks' Class AA third-place team that year, has been inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame -- the fifth hall of fame honor he's received. Over 28 years at Waubonsee (where he's also the golf coach), Heise has won 552 games and has led the Chiefs to the national tournament five times with 11 Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference titles. In 2008 Heiss became the ISCC's all-time victories leader with 191, and now he has 249 and counting.
Elmhurst College sophomore forward Fiona McMahon, a St. Charles resident who attended St. Francis, was named to the CCIW all-conference second-team after averaging a team-high 14 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks for the Bluejays. She scored 36 points in a game against North Central College and grabbed 21 rebounds in another win over Augustana.
At the Chicagoland Indoor Championships, Aurora University freshman Andrew Duncan (Aurora Central Catholic) set a school record in the 800-meter run and returned on the 1,600 relay to help set another, along with junior Kyle Kayzar (Aurora Christian). Duncan got a Northern Athletics Conference track athlete of the week award for it. A couple of Batavia grads recorded season highs in their events for the Spartans -- senior Drew Schmitt in the 5,000 and as part of the distance medley relay with Kayzar. Former Bulldog Loren Iwanicki turned in the best high jump at 6 feet, 6¾ inches.
Here's one we missed from all the way back in football season. Kaneland graduate Eric Dratnol, a junior offensive lineman at -- yes -- Augustana, was named to the Capital One Academic All-District Team. The 6-foot-1, 250-pound accounting and applied math major had a 3.83 grade-point average.
Freshman of the year for the Augustana women's volleyball team was another Kaneland graduate, Kyle Siebert. She played in all but three of the Vikings' 110 sets, leading the club with 475 digs.
North Central College sophomore (where does the time go?) Matt Souvannasing (West Aurora) earned CCIW men's track athlete of the week honors after finishing second in long jump, fourth in the 60 dash and seventh in triple jump at the Chicagoland Indoor Championships. Souvannasing later went 23 feet, 7½ inches in long jump to reach the NCAA DIII Indoor Championships, placing 12th overall.
We had some live coverage of that DIII Indoor meet at North Central College. There, Illinois College senior Melissa "Missy" Norville won national titles each of the three events she was entered. She set a new women's standard at the Al B. Carius Track in triple jump at 41 feet, ¼ inch, set another facility record in long jump at 19-8¾ and lowered the DIII record in the 60-meter hurdles to 8.52 seconds. Norville was a co-winner of both the Midwest Conference women's track athlete and field athlete of the year.
The person Norville shared that field award with, Monmouth senior Allison Devor (St. Charles East), earned two All-America awards at the DIII meet. She finished second in the weight throw and seventh in shot put, helping the Fighting Scots to sixth place overall, their highest national finish in history. Devor's four total All-America honors are the most in Monmouth history as well.
In a blazing men's 400-meter final, Augustana senior Alex Rindone (Marmion) finished second by .01 yet at 48.21 seconds still ran faster than the prior standard at Carius Track. He also reset his own school record in the event from the prior day's preliminaries, and established a new Vikings 300-meter record as well. Along with sophomore David Voland (Batavia), Rindone helped Augie set a new indoor record of 3:16.88 in the 1,600 relay.
Considering Voland already has won a CCIW track athlete of the week honor, the third of his career, for the outdoor season, they'll undoubtedly be back.
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