We're nearing the end of our school year and many local graduates are done with theirs. Here are some of their athletic accomplishments ...
George Fisher (Marmion), a redshirt freshman at Michigan this past season, qualified for this weekend's U.S. World Team Trials in Madison with his third-place finish at 60 kilograms (132 pounds) Vegas Open April 17-19. Fisher went 7-1 including a pin and four technical falls, winning six straight matches in wrestlebacks.
Former Tri-Cities foes Jay Graffagna (Geneva) and David Voland (Batavia) helped Augustana men's track to a fifth-place finish at the Division III nationals. Graffagna ran third on a fourth-place 400-meter relay while Voland set a program record in the 400 hurdles, finishing second at 50.36 seconds. Voland then anchored a second-place 1,600 relay. It was Augie's highest team finish since 1996. At the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin meet, Graffagna helped the 400 relay set a meet record at 41.30.
Benedictine University sophomore Megan Malone (Geneva) has only improved after being named the track program's top freshman and field events MVP as a freshman. A team captain this season, she scored 30 of her team's 97.5 points at the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference women's outdoor meet. Earning field event athlete of the meet, Malone won shot put, discus and the hammer throw, the latter by more than 20 feet. Not just a track athlete, Malone is a two-year member of Benedictine's Student Council, voted vice president entering her sophomore year. In fact, this year her work on the council earned her the title of Senator of the Year.
Also at that meet, Aurora University freshman Lisa Rodriguez (Aurora Central) was named overall athlete of the meet as she led the Spartans to their third straight outdoor title. Duplicating the honor from the NACC indoor meet, Rodriguez won the 200 and 400 -- setting a school record at 57.10 in her first 400 of the outdoor season -- led off a winning 400 relay and took fifth in the 100. Sophomore Christina Luptak (St. Charles North) took second in both the 10,000 and 5,000, on back-to-back days.
Junior Kaitlyn Czerwonka (Batavia) was named captain of Augustana women's golf team for the 2014-15 season.
Bradley freshman Paige Jordan (St. Charles East) helped the Braves place fifth at the Missouri Valley Conference Women's Golf Championship. On the opening day of the tournament she contributed to a school-record round of 293, one shot less than the 294 the Braves carded when Jordan debuted with a 74 in her first college round at the Redbird Invitational in September. Jordan played in all 11 tournaments her freshman year, all while making the dean's list.
Interesting story: Montana is joining Division I in women's softball starting in the 2014-15 academic year. The Grizzlies coaches held a four-day tryout for current students, and at the end of it one of the two players added to the roster was Maddie Merritt (Rosary). A slap-hitting left-handed outfielder with speed (she played shortstop at Rosary), she'll be listed as a redshirt sophomore when the Griz play their first season. In a Montana release, head coach Jamie Pinkerton called her "by far the fastest player at the camp" and added: "speed doesn't ever slump."
Illinois junior Mariah Smith (West Aurora) is bound for the NCAA Division I Track and Field Preliminaries this weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She's seeded 47th in discus with a throw of 166 feet, fourth all-time at Illinois. At the Big Ten meet she placed ninth at 150-9.
Earning North Central College's eighth All-American honor in pole vault, junior Brooke Patterson (Kaneland) cleared a personal-best height of 12 feet, 3½ inches to place sixth overall at the DIII women's outdoor track championships at Ohio Wesleyan. It was her first qualification for the outdoor championships.
On the boys side, North Central freshman Zach Kirby (St. Charles North) helped the Cardinals qualify for nationals with a 1,600-meter relay time of 3 minutes, 12.77 seconds at the Drake Relays, good for fifth in the country at the time. A month later that's how it stood as Kirby and Co. placed fifth at the outdoor meet. Kirby also was all-Academic in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin.
Augustana senior tennis player Kim Sawyer (Batavia) capped her collegiate career with her third straight MVP award. The program's all-time victories leader with 106 singles wins and 178 combined wins, Sawyer went 24-5 this season at No. 1 singles and repeated as CCIW champion. Each of Sawyer's seasons (a record 29 wins, 27, 26, 24) ranked among Augie's top 10 in singles victories. She also teamed with Mundelein's Aileen MacDonald to go 15-6 in doubles as the duo won the CCIW No. 2 doubles title. Sawyer also leaves with the top singles winning percentage in Augustana history, of .822 (106-23).
May 19 was a big day for local baseball players in the Big Ten. Player of the week was Michigan State junior shortstop Ryan Richardson (St. Charles North), who hit .500 the prior week and in a series sweep over Penn State stole 4 bases, scored 5 runs and drove in three. Named as freshman of the week was Northwestern's Joe Hoscheit (St. Charles East), a pitcher and outfielder. Joltin' Joe hit .419 with 2 doubles and 2 saves, his first, to help the Wildcats take two of three at Ohio State. He went on to earn a spot on the Big Ten's All-Freshman Team.
The Aurora University men's track team won the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference outdoor meet for the first time with a lineup reading like one of our boys track honor rolls of a year or two ago. Matt Meyers, Kyle Kayzar, Alex Duncan (all of Aurora Central Catholic) and 1,500-meter record holder Calvin Robinson (West Aurora) helped the distance squad score 53 out of a possible 78 points in the middle distance. Drew Schmitt (Batavia) anchored the distance events while Batavia grads Brian Rudelich Loren Iwanicki placed top-three in high jump. C.J. Shutt (Aurora Christian) was a yeoman, the only athlete to score in discus, javelin, hammer and shot put. Incidentally, Iwanicki was Aurora U's men's track representative on the NACC All-Sportsmanship Team.
Wheaton College junior Noah Anthony (St. Charles North) finished eighth in the CCIW men's golf tournament. A transfer from Ohio State, he played in five tournaments for the Thunder, finishing second at the Embry-Riddle Spring Invitational -- after finishing as the soccer team's third-leading scorer last fall.