One last time before summer, let's celebrate the athletic achievements of some local collegiates ...
St. Charles North graduate Russ Lavaja, a 6-foot-7 middle blocker, helped lead Brigham Young to a 26-5 record and a No. 1 ranking until losing in the NCAA championship to California-Irvine. An American Volleyball Coaches Association Second-Team All-America honoree and First-Team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation selection, Lavaja finished his career as Brigham Young's rally-scoring era leader in games played with 426 and second in total blocks with 584. This season he led the Cougars with 166 kills and a .427 hitting percentage; his 113 total blocks made him one of three Brigham Young players to surpass 100 kills in four seasons.
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Arizona sophomore Ben Kanute (Marmion) pulled off a double victory at the USA Triathlon College Nationals in Tempe in April. Coached by Elburn resident Adam Zucco, on the Friday of nationals Kanute won the first Draft-Legal Sprint Championship out of 44 competitors, winning both the swimming and running portions. He returned the next day to win the Olympic-distance national title, best out of 605 men. The Geneva resident finished the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10K run in 1 hour, 46 minutes, 36 seconds, dominating the initial swim leg by more than a minute.
Rae Anne Payleitner (St. Charles East), a sophomore catcher for Army, smashed a 3-run home run to left-center field to pace the Black Knights in a 5-0 win over top-seeded Lehigh to win the Patriot League softball title, their first since 2002. Payleitner, who belted 3 home runs on the season despite an injured left foot, was named to the Patriot League All-Tournament Team.
Finishing her collegiate career at the NCAA Division III national track and field championships, Illinois College senior Melissa "Missy" Norville (Batavia) won the 100-meter hurdles, the long jump and triple jump. Between indoor and outdoor track Norville captured nine individual NCAA titles.
At the Drake Relays, the Augustana men's 1,600-meter relay including senior Alex Rindone (Marmion) and sophomore David Voland (Batavia) set two program records in 24 hours. They ran 3:10.03 in Friday's preliminaries and followed Saturday in 3:09.48 to finish third in the college division. In the 400 hurdles, Voland finished ninth among college men, and Augie's distance medley featuring junior Edgar Valle (Kaneland) took 10th.
(Also at Drake, the North Central College/West Aurora trio of Matt Souvannasing, Matt Muth and Ryan Bartel finished top-seven in three separate relays.)
At the Division III national championship, Rindone ran an anchor leg of 46.5 seconds to follow Voland's 46.9-second split to place second in the 1,600 relay. Rindone also ran on an eighth-place 400 relay. Individually, Rindone ran an All-American seventh-place in the 400 dash, matched by Voland's finish in the 400 hurdles. At the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin meet Rindone was named male athlete of the meet after winning the 100, 200, 1,600 relay and 400 relay, which also featured junior Jay Graffagna (Geneva). At a home meet April 20, Rindone's 400 time of 47.76 seconds broke a 33-year school record.
Also at the DIII nationals, Illinois Wesleyan senior Jenna Loynachan (St. Charles North) led off the Titans' fourth-place 1,600 relay. Monmouth's Allison Devor (St. Charles East) earned an All-American seventh-place finish in shot put and second in the hammer throw, in which she holds the school record. Devor won both those events at the Midwest Conference outdoor championships, helping Monmouth to the team title -- as did the men's side aided by her brother, Nick 400 hurdles winner.
At the CCIW outdoor meet area graduates joining Voland and Rindone with multiple all-conference honors were: Augustana sophomore Jake Benner (Batavia) and freshman Annie Martines (St. Charles East); Carthage College sophomore Mike Brown (St. Charles East); and Illinois Wesleyan's Loynachan, who finished top-four in two individual events and top-three in two relays.
Going 5-1 with 3 saves in the CCIW, Illinois Wesleyan sophomore Jon Munyon (St. Charles North) was named the league's pitcher of the year. Named to the D3baseball.com Central Region First Team, overall Munyon went 8-2 with a 2.33 earned-run average and 4 saves, striking out 53 batters and walking just 10 in 58 innings.
Managed by Kaneland High graduate Dave Randall, the Waubonsee Community College baseball team (38-24-1) finished third in the country, ending its season at the National Junior College Athletic Association DIII World Series Tournament with an all-time best victories mark. The Chiefs' result in baseball helped Waubonsee earn the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference All-Sports Trophy for the third time in four years. Waubonsee's baseball team includes Geno Cabral (Aurora Central Catholic), Jordan Jones and Tyler Heinle (Kaneland), Pete Bowe (Marmion), Omar Fernandez and Chris Richter (West Aurora), Kyle Bender (Geneva) and Jarret Clark (Batavia).
Waubonsee softball chipped in mightily toward that Trophy. The team won the ISCC for a third straight year, sweeping a doubleheader against Elgin to clinch it behind performances on the mound and at the plate by sophomore Brooke Nelson (Batavia). Alyssa Reimers (West Aurora) earned the win in Game Two with offensive support from Casey Basic (St. Charles East) and Christine Lynam (Batavia).
Aurora University senior designated hitter Cory Walden (West Aurora) was an honorable-mention choice for D3baseball.com's All-America team. The repeat all-regional selection hit .347 with 9 home runs, 45 runs batted-in and 31 scored. The Spartans went 17-5 in the Northern Athletics Conference to help Aurora take that league's All-Sports Award, which it did for both men and women.
Wheaton College junior catcher and designated player Stacey Cladis (Geneva) earned a First-Team nod in the CCIW after hitting .327 with 12 runs batted-in.
Augustana sophomore midfielder Jesse Nagelberg (St. Charles East) was a first-team pick in the Midwest Lacrosse Conference. He scored 38 goals with 10 assists and when the 11-6 Vikings' season ended he was 10th best in the MLC in goals per game. Sophomore attack Colin Haley (St. Charles East) scored 13 goals with 15 assists.
Taylor University redshirt junior Jordan Coffey (Batavia) was a first-team pick in the Crossroads Conference. Winning one conference player of the week award for hitting and another for pitching, he earned a save in the conference tournament championship game for the 35-14 Trojans. A veteran of four surgeries since high school, Coffey started all of Taylor's 49 games, going 4-0 on the mound while batting .325 with a .552 slugging percentage and team highs of 8 home runs and 35 RBI. A Capital One Academic All-District III First-team pick, Coffey was Third-Team Academic All-America.
On the final day of the Mid-American Conference men's golf championship on May 5 in Ohio, Northern Illinois senior Bryce Emory (Marmion) used 6 birdies and shot a 69 to move from 27th to a tie for 14th. He led the field over the tournament with 16 birdies. Emory was the Huskies' sole tourney winner on the season -- and first since October 2010 -- winning the Jim West Invitational in Texas on a third playoff hole. Twice MAC player of the week, Emory averaged a 76.4 score in 9 tournaments; senior Kurtis Luedtke (West Aurora) averaged 78.8 in 10 rounds, with a low round of 70.
The weekend of April 27-28 was a big one for Monmouth junior tennis player David Johnson (St. Charles North). On Saturday Johnson successfully defended his Midwest Conference title at No. 2 singles, and on Sunday he partnered with David Stewart to win the title at No. 1 doubles. It was Monmouth's first doubles title since 2006. "The Davids" finished with an 18-3 record in doubles.
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