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updated: 5/29/2013 8:31 PM

Book it: This is a tough team to make

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Rounding third and heading home in this 2012-13 prep calendar year, let's salute a few student-athletes who excelled on both those fronts.

The Illinois High School Association annually releases an All-State Academic Team. This year's 26 members, 13 each boys and girls, came from more than 450 nominations statewide. DuPage County's honorees follow alphabetically.

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Alex Alcantara is St. Francis' male athlete of the year. The three-sport athlete -- football, wrestling, baseball -- had a 4.88 grade-point average on a 4-point scale when he was nominated for the IHSA award in February. Student Council, Student Mentor, Eucharistic Minister, he did it all. Included in his IHSA credentials were comments from three teachers who commented individually on Alcantara's math, writing and Spanish-speaking abilities. He's as well rounded off the field as on -- and though not a tall person, he packed a wallop and would run through a wall.

York's Emma Fisher can run through most anything -- namely pain and doubt. The Stanford commit's recently concluded prep track tenure includes third- and fifth-place finishes in the 3,200-meter run, and she doubled up all-state finishes May 18 with a sixth-place 1,600. Last fall she placed second in Class 3A cross country, her third straight all-state result, improving each time. A National Honor Society member, she had a 4.89 GPA, a 35 ACT score and was a constant presence in York's symphonic, marching and pep bands. A state medalist on the Math Team, Fisher is a peer tutor.

Another track and cross country athlete, Glenbard South's Erik Greenwell was a top-seven runner on the Raiders' second-place team in 2011 and fifth-place squad last fall. He was a captain both times. A Wendy's High School Heisman winner at Glenbard South, he scored a 33 on his ACT, held a 5.75 GPA on a 5-point scale at the time of his nomination and was a two-year National Honor Society member.

The insurance gets paid

On May 16 we ran an item about Naperville resident Cheryl Gudinas competing at USA Racquetball's Ektelon National Singles Championship in California.

"It went fairly successfully," she reported. "I knew I could still play."

Gudinas competed in two different brackets. She finished third in both the professional division and in U.S. Team singles qualifying.

She was concerned about the latter since her insurance is under USA Racquetball. She set herself up for another year.

Lacrosse all-stars

Several area lacrosse players made the cut at a Midwest regional tryout and have been selected as Brine National All-Stars. They're eligible to represent Illinois on the Midwest team at the sixth annual Brine National Lacrosse Academy and National Classic. The event will be held June 30-July 3 at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds, Md.

All-Stars include Benet's Jack Moran, Wheaton Warrenville South's Joe Kazar, Naperville North's Tom Bleifuss and Neuqua Valley's Austin Jordan and Sammy Sanko. From Glenbard West Joel Mayo made it as did Hinsdale Central defenseman Jack Bush-Joseph.

Sanko, a goaltender and captain at Neuqua Valley, is the youngest son of Lisle football coach Dan Sanko. Sammy once considered football, as well as wrestling, but lacrosse won out. A junior, Sammy has already committed to play for Binghamton University in New York.

"I know it's a short (Brine) list from around here, and I'm proud that he made it," Dan Sanko said. "He's supposedly one of the better goalies from around here, and I'm proud of him. He works hard."

Brine also has girls All-Star teams. Joining the Midwest team are a pair of Hinsdale Central players, Honour Mullaney and Anna Santulli. All-Star midfielder Leah Neumann plays for Neuqua Valley.

A writer's muse

Way back in basketball season we wrote of Hinsdale Central assistant boys basketball coach Andy Jones, whose 478-page book detailed his unique experiences teaching and coaching high school basketball in Sofia, Bulgaria.

"Two Seasons in the Bubble: Living and Coaching Basketball in Bulgaria" has been out a few months now. From Granny Apple Publishing, it's available on Amazon and Jones said he's sold somewhere around 200 copies.

"We're holding steady selling a couple copies of the book a week lately," he said.

Big sales aren't important to Jones; an English teacher, he didn't write "Two Seasons" to get rich.

"(T) he most important thing for me has been to remember that I wrote the book because I felt like I had a story to tell," he wrote in response to our check-in email.

He said the most satisfying element is when readers say his writing served to inspire them, or "resonated" within them. It's no wonder, then, that he aims to write more.

"I've had people tell me that the book makes them want to do something adventurous or courageous with their lives," he reports, "and to think that the words I've written down on a page can have that kind of impact makes the whole process worth it -- and then some."

All-around champ

Congratulations to longtime Glenbard West sophomore gymnastics coach Jeff Levin for being named this year's inductee into the Illinois High School Gymnastics Coaches Association Hall of Fame -- a group he founded in 1979 as IHSGCA president.

A star at Niles West and Iowa State, Levin has coached or assisted 75 gymnasts who placed at the state meet. One of them is his own son, 1996 Hilltoppers graduate Josh Levin, who owns Illinois' top two marks in pommel horse including the only perfect 10.00 in state finals history.

A nine-time coach of the year in the West Suburban Conference or West Suburban Silver, Jeff Levin announced at the state meet for nine years, was the IHSGCA's first head of publicity, received the group's Service Award and served as a judge for USA Gymnastics. He was nominated by former Hilltoppers head coach and athletic director, Blaise Blasko.

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1

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