We're near the end of our school year, and many local graduates are done with theirs. Here are some of their collegiate accomplishments...
The last athlete to earn an all-state honor at since-closed Driscoll Catholic, Jeremy Wilk, finished his collegiate career with a sixth-place finish in the 800-meter run at the Division II men's outdoor track and field meet. Wilk ran it in 1 minute, 49.60 seconds, second best in Grand Valley State history. In 2009 as a Driscoll senior, the Academic All-American and prospective college coach placed fourth in the Class 1A 800 at 1:56.93.
It's a football award but just came to us in April -- Darmouth senior linebacker Michael Runger (Benet) earned the program's Alan Hewitt and Robert Hewitt Award as the player who best epitomizes athletic and academic performance. Twice named all-Ivy League and all-New England, Runger led Dartmouth with 85 tackles while being named to the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team and an FCS Academic All-Star with a 3.73 grade-point average.
Naperville Central product Kevin Bauman ended his Eastern Illinois tennis career 32-26 in singles and 28-25 in doubles. He helped the Panthers reach the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament for the first time since 2009. "K-Bomb" led the Panthers in singles play at 11-5 including 6-2 in the OVC.
We'd seen Kevin Spejcher (Lake Park) high jump 6 feet, 11 inches at Downers Grove South, but it wasn't until May 3 at the University of Iowa's own Musco Invite that the Hawkeyes sophomore cleared 7 feet. Spejcher went 7-2½ that meet, fourth all-time at Iowa. Proving it was no fluke, on May 17 at the Big Ten outdoor meet Spejcher went 7-0¼ to take second place.
Headed for the Division national series, Spejcher will meet a pair of prep teammates. Wisconsin junior Zach Ziemek repeated at the Big Ten champion in decathlon. In an earlier meet at Georgia, Ziemek scored 7,860 points to place fourth all-time at Wisconsin and, for now, in the country for 2014. Former Lake Park throws ace Danny Block of Wisconsin heads to nationals in both shot put and discus.
Also on the way to nationals, women's side, is Texas sophomore Morolake Akinosun (Waubonsie Valley). Her 100-meter time of 10.99, at the Big 12 Championships, ranks second in the nation and she's right up there in the 200.
We could read entry lists for hours but don't have the time -- just enough to notice Air Force's Annette Eichenberger (West Chicago) has the 17th-best 800-meter qualifying time in the country and, on the men's side, Illinois senior Jordan Hebert is going after a personal-best 10,000-meter time of 29:31.55 at the Big Ten Championships. Illinois State's Kelly McShea (St. Francis) comes in with the 28th seed in steeplechase after breaking the Redbirds' program record. She also won the Missouri Valley Conference 5,000-meter title.
Drake senior Jeffery Foreman (West Chicago) entered the Missouri Valley Conference men's outdoor meet unseeded in decathlon but came away with fifth place. He won the 1,500 portion, took second in high jump and third in the 400.
In her final ballgame at Texas-El Paso, Colleen Hohman (Neuqua Valley) threw a 4-hitter in a 4-1 win over East Carolina to earn her sixth win of the season and 17th of her career, tied for fourth all-time at UTEP. She won two games at Louisiana Tech to propel the Miners' first conference road sweep in history. Named to the all-South Region third team by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, Hohman set personal highs in seven offensive categories, leading the Miners with 11 home runs and a .684 slugging percentage. Plus, the bilingual elementary education major's 3.73 grade-point average had her on the Conference USA All-Academic Team to cap a third year on the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll.
Junior outfielder Laura Behnke (St. Francis) was named Augustana softball's best offensive player. Hitting leadoff, she tore it up. All-regional and all-conference in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin, Behnke hit a team-high .386 and led the Vikings in nine other categories including runs and runs batted-in. Classmate Chelsea Lavin (Downers Grove South), center fielder, shared Augie's top defensive player award.
Carthage College's Craig Deaton Award for excellence in athletics, academics, leadership and community support is awarded annually to one male and one female. The female was senior swimmer and water polo player Amber McCoy (Waubonsie Valley). Named to the dean's list seven straight semesters, the environmental science major scored 8 goals and led Carthage with 24 assists and 45 steals to help the Lady Reds to third place in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Division III tournament. Coming off an MVP swimming season, McCoy won the team's Lady Red award.
Webster University freshman shortstop Matt Wollnik (Neuqua Valley) became the first Gorlok player, and first from the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, to earn an American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Gold Glove Award. In 223 chances Wollnik had 151 assists and 66 putouts and a .973 fielding percentage, turning 34 double plays. Overall the Gorloks went 37-7, tying the school record for victories. Pitching in were Johnny Lord (Neuqua Valley), Brett Jungles (St. Francis), Brett Buchanan (Willowbrook), Mitch Stefani (Waubonsie Valley) and freshman pitcher C.J. Lee (Waubonsie Valley), who went 4-1 with a 1.90 earned-run average and was named SLIA newcomer of the year and first-team Central Region.
Also at Ohio Wesleyan for those Division III championships, Macalester freshman Kimber Meyer (Naperville North) joined a bunch of women running below the course record with a fourth-place finish in the 1,500-meter run. Illinois Wesleyan sophomore Nia Joiner (Glenbard East) ran an All-America sixth in the 100. Nia is her middle name; her first name is Netherland. That's awesome.
Senior outfielder Bobby Czarnowski (Naperville Central), a first-team Central Region pick by D3baseball.com, was Illinois Wesleyan's co-MVP with Warren graduate Jon Frericks. Czarnowski tied for the team lead in batting average, .353, and led the Titans in home runs, runs, walks and slugging percentage. He finished in the top 10 in six career categories.
Aurora University junior midfielder Max Obriecht (Naperville North) repeated as an honorable-mention All-American, named by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. Leading the Spartans to their most victories (16), a Division II Sweet Sixteen berth and an unbeaten record in the Midwest Lacrosse Conference, the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder led Aurora with 60 goals and added 37 assists.
Concordia pitcher Steve Cox (Willowbrook) was named second-team All-Midwest by D3baseball.com. In 22-⅔ innings the 6-foot-2 senior righty allowed 12 hits and .150 batting average, gave up just 3 unearned runs and zero earned, struck out 16 batters and recorded 9 saves. Concordia's career leader in saves, Cox converted his last 22 save opportunities the last two seasons while not allowing an earned run. Who was first team, Aroldis Chapman?
Sporting a 4.0 GPA, Southern Illinois sophomore infielder Kelsey Gonzalez (Naperville Central) bagged her first Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete honor. Fourth nationally in sacrifice flies and leading the MVC with a .500 batting average against left-handed pitchers, the marketing major ranked among her team's top three in hits, slugging percentage, batting average, multi-hit games and multi-RBI games. Salukis junior pitcher Alyssa Wunderlich (Naperville Central) also had a spotless 4.0 GPA to earn her second straight honorable-mention MVC Scholar-Athlete nod.
Junior catcher Nick Tenerelli (Downers Grove South) is leaving Augustana for Illinois to pursue an engineering degree, and padded his resume with a D3baseball.com Central Region second-team berth. While hitting .356 and driving in 31 runs, in 38 games Tenerelli made just 2 errors for a .993 fielding percentage as the Vikings won their first conference title since 1974.
More Augustana, thanks to all-star media guy Dave Wrath: Two Wheaton Warrenville South products, Nattali Shelton and Kelly Stelzer, earned first-team honors in the Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference. Helping Augie go 19-1 with its sole loss against defending national champ Salisbury in the Division III Sweet Sixteen, all-Great Lakes Region awardee Stelzer scored 44 goals with 22 assists while owning the Vikings' record for minutes played in a career. Kendall Maduro (Neuqua Valley) extended her program record for career turnovers per game.
Next week: More where that came from.