What a winter that was. Here are some local collegiates who excelled during it.
In the same year his father, Everett, was inducted as a player into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Purdue legacy Kendall Stephens (St. Charles East) earned both coaches and media selection to the Big Ten all-freshman team. The 6-foot-6 guard started 16 of 32 games and led the Boilermakers with 64 three-point baskets, hitting 37 percent beyond the arc. Stephens averaged 8 points a game.
Old news but good news: College of DuPage freshman wide receiver Cole Childs (West Aurora) was a second-team selection in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference. He averaged 30.8 yards per catch with 5 touchdowns. His former Blackhawks teammate, Culver-Stockton sophomore lineman Austin Beebe, was an honorable-mention pick in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
Another former West Aurora footballer, Booker Ross, was the second-leading rusher at Wisconsin-Whitewater, which went 14-0 to win the Division III national championship over traditional power Mt. Union. Ross ran for 455 yards and 5 touchdowns last fall, and took a handoff in the Warhawks' 52-14 win.
In another sport with awards coming since the last time we did this, Augustana sophomore defensive specialist Kylie Siebert (Kaneland) was named most valuable player for the Vikings women's volleyball team. Her 567 digs amounted to 5.30 per game, which is Augie's fourth-best mark in history. She added 109 assists, third on the team, and her 5.95 digs per game in College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin matches led the league. Siebert was all-conference and academic all-conference in the CCIW.
Swimming in Michigan's 200-yard medley relay, senior Angela Chokran (St. Charles North) helped the Wolverines to honorable-mention All-America honors and 12th place overall at the NCAA meet March 21 in Minneapolis. The 2013 team MVP, Chokran helped set a program record in preliminaries, and also placed 20th in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Illinois Wesleyan senior guard Lexi Baltes (St. Charles East) was a second-team all-region pick by D3Hoops.com. A first-team pick in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin, Baltes averaged 14.2 points and 5.4 rebounds while leading the Titans in assists and steals. Recording the first triple-double in Wesleyan history with 14 points, 16 rebounds and a program-record 13 assists on Dec. 28, Baltes' .808 career free throw percentage ranks third at the school.
Anchoring Augustana's 1,600-meter relay, junior David Voland (Batavia) helped set a program finish in a runner-up finish at the Division III men's indoor track championships. Augie's time of 3 minutes, 14.61 seconds was more than two seconds faster than the prior record set last season, which included Voland and Marmion graduate Alex Rindone.
Also at the DIII nationals, North Central College junior Matt Muth (West Aurora) anchored the Cardinals' distance medley relay to an All-America eighth-place finish. Muth passed two runners in the final lap of his mile split, which he ran in 4:11.
A contemporary of Voland and Muth, at the CCIW meet Carthage College junior Mike Brown (St. Charles East) took second in the 60-meter dash. Brown's classmate, Ashley Gladis (Batavia), took second in the 100 breast stroke, third in the 100 butterfly and third in the 200 individual medley at the CCIW women's swimming meet.
At an indoor track meet at Northern Iowa on Feb. 1, Marquette freshman Oumaru Abdulahi (Mooseheart) set a freshman record in high jump of 6 feet, 10¾ inches. A four-time all-stater at Mooseheart and the 2011 Class 1A champion, Abdulahi's big leap ranks third all-time at Marquette.
Waubonsee Community College sophomore basketball player Ashley Wilk (Aurora Central Catholic) was named player of the year in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference as well as first-team all-region. The 5-foot-10 forward averaged 15.1 and 10.1 rebounds to lea the Chiefs to a 14-0 conference championship, posting 15 double-doubles on the season. She helped Waubonsie to a program-record 25 victories and its first national ranking in history. A playoff loss to Kishwaukee capped the 15-year Chiefs career of coach Dana Wagner, a 1992 Kaneland graduate named the ISCC coach of the year and also coach of the year spanning all ISCC sports in 2005-06.
Lisa Rodriguez (Aurora Central) won the 55 and 200 dashes (she already owns program records in both) and ran on a winning 1,600-meter relay to help Aurora University win the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference women's indoor track meet. Rodriguez was named freshman of the meet and co-track athlete of the meet. On the men's side, Aurora's Matt Meyers (Aurora Central) won the mile run and both Drew Schmitt (Batavia) and Kyle Kayzar (Aurora Christian) ran on a winning distance medley relay. Kayzar added an 800 victory to help the Spartans men to the title.
Several times over the past few years we've written about Augustana soccer player Maggie Hoscheit (St. Charles East), a two-year captain, all-Midwest region defender and two-time Capital One Academic all-American. Over her four years Augustana finished a combined 52-20-10, while she was a regular participant in community service activities. On March 5 the biology major with a 3.88 grade-point average was awarded a $7,500 NCAA postgraduate scholarship, one of just 29 female athletes across all divisions to have been awarded.
In other soccer news since we last ran this type of article, senior Angelo Catalano (St. Charles North) shared both Illinois Wesleyan's offensive MVP and overall MVP awards. One of his prep teammates, Aurora University senior defender Corey Novotny, was a first-team Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference pick and second-team All-Region.
Taylor University junior guard Jesse Coffey was cited as an NAIA Daktronics Scholar-Athlete in men's basketball. On the court Coffey hit 79 three-pointers, making 38 percent beyond the arc, averaging 11.5 points and 92 percent from the foul line. Coffey was an honorable-mention pick in the Crossroads League this season. He made at least one 3-pointer in all but three of the Trojans' 30 games.
Let's wrap up with Michigan State senior volleyball player Lauren Wicinski (Geneva). She concluded her college career as both a second-team All-American by the Senior CLASS Award, which takes into account her academics, athletic accomplishments and off-the-court conduct; and second-team All-America honors by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
An AVCA second-team repeat who was third-team as a sophomore and honorable mention as a freshman, Wicinski also was unanimous all-Big Ten and first-team all-region. Her 2,424 kills rank 13th all-time in Division I women's volleyball, her 555 kills this season are fifth all-time at Michigan State. Her 5.20 points per game in 2013 ranked ninth nationally.
The Catawba Bulldog
They take their prep basketball seriously in North Carolina.
Culminating a season in which the Bandys High School girls sold out regular-season games, conducted autograph sessions in local restaurants and community members promised undying support "win or tie," that's one reason why accepting that unspoken third option is proving difficult for Tracy Wolfe.
The former Tracy Olszewski, as she was known on the court and in the halls at Batavia before graduating in 2002, ended her first season as varsity assistant, or "co-coach" with Bandys, who finished 31-1. The Trojans took their sole loss to T.W. Andrews in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A championship (of four classes), 61-56 at North Carolina State's Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, March 15.
"It's still a sore point. We led the entire game until two minutes left. They hit some NBA-length threes and we didn't," said Olszewski, who graduated from Benedictine University with majors in special education and English and teaches Occupational Prep at Bandys.
It was the 20th anniversary of the Bandys girls' last state title, so expectations were high. Learning how to manage the stress of those expectations was a big take-away.
"In my past experiences coaching I never really knew how to make coaching basketball fun," she said over the phone, about five minutes away from the high school in Catawba County.
Her road to Brandys was an interesting one.
Switching from Augustana to Benedictine to focus on special education studies, Wolfe played basketball her sophomore and junior years then in the first minute of her first game as a senior and team captain got undercut going to the hoop and suffered a torn ACL.
She remembers yelling, "It's my senior year!" as she writhed on the court. She's since found the silver lining.
"I always say it was a blessing in disguise because it led me to coaching, and at that point I had no thoughts about coaching," she said.
She got into it right quick. The former Bulldogs post player, also a flautist in Batavia's band, she coached Elgin's sophomore girls team in 2006-07 then became a varsity assistant the next season.
Wolfe -- then still Olszewski -- moved to North Carolina and taught special education and coached at South Iredell High School, the next county over.
She detoured to her second love, another favored sport in North Carolina -- professional auto racing. At 8 years old she'd started racing go-carts but eventually had to decide how best to spend her parents' money, racing or basketball.
Drawing on her English studies, Wolfe did public relations for three driving teams over four years, starting with an internship with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. She met her husband, Jon, four years ago, when he was a crew chief.
After getting married the couple quickly had their first child, Jayden. Thus ended the racing life
"Time to get off the road, time to settle down a little bit," she said.
Back to education and coaching basketball at Bandys. In addition to helping Kyle Moretz direct the varsity to a state championship appearance this season, Wolfe led the junior varsity to a 23-0 record.
"It's been great. Basketball has always been my first love. It was my entire life as long as I can remember, till I did the PR," she said.
"I've been extremely excited to get back into it, and then to be part of something that's really special. We're still feeling a little bit sour because that one (the title loss) hurt. But I know looking back it's going to be something special. And we'll go back for another state championship next year, that's what we say."
That's easier said than done, of course. If a return proves elusive, Wolfe can draw strength from her own team at home. She's due to deliver a second child on Aug. 2 -- on Monday she and Jon found out it's a girl. They'll raise her in appropriate fashion, following her sister.
"I'm pretty Jayden's going to be a basketball player," Tracy said. "She loves her basketball, so that makes me happy."