A strong finish for college achievers

Hard to believe another school year is nearly over. These DuPage County college achievers finished strong ...

Jeff Jendryk of St. Francis is Loyola University's first men's volleyball player to be named American Volleyball Coaches Association first- or second-team Division I-II All-America three times. The 6-foot-10 junior middle blocker (6-1 as a high school freshman) earned first-team AYCA honors this season and in 2015, second team in 2016. A finalist for the Ryan Millar Award honoring the top middle attacker in Division I-II, on May 16 he earned Volleyball Magazine first-team honors after his .431 kills percentage ranked fourth in the country and his 1.16 blocks per set ranked seventh. Named Most Outstanding Player during the Ramblers' 2015 national championship run, Jendryk is on the National Team training roster for 2017 FIVB World League competition.

Playing for Jendryk's in-state rival, Lewis University redshirt sophomore libero Michael Simmons (Waubonsie Valley) earned Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association first-team honors and was an AVCA honorable-mention pick. Pairing his league-leading 257 digs with a 3.83 grade-point average in business administration, Simmons made College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District.

At the Division III level two former Neuqua Valley classmates made first-team AVCA All-America: Dominican University junior setter Alex Coyne and Carthage College right-side hitter Griffin Shields. Playing for a 26-2 team, Coyne made the AVCA second team in 2015; Shields is a repeat first-team pick for the 21-3 Red Men and earned second-team honors as a freshman.

Regarding CoSIDA Academic All-District, St. Cloud State hockey defenseman Nate Widman (Naperville Central) earned a nod. The Huskies' two-time assistant captain earned a bachelor's degree in finance in 2016 and a master's in business administration this month, twice nailing a perfect 4.0 GPA. Widman received St. Cloud State hockey's award for top academic player and, on the ice, ended his 100-game career at plus-23.

Vicki Andonova (Downers Grove South) helped Augustana to its most successful women's tennis season ever, first in the CCIW with a school-record 25 dual-meet victories. The senior's 123 total wins combining singles and doubles rank 15th in program history, her 69 singles wins ranking 10th. Augie teammate Zeana Badawi (Hinsdale Central) racked up a 27-8 overall record primarily at No. 4 singles.

Illinois Wesleyan junior catcher Pat Mollo (Naperville North) earned College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin first-team all-conference honors for the second time, hitting .370 with 7 home runs to tie for the league lead. He also ranked second in doubles and fifth in runs batted in, was selected the Titans' MVP and made's first-team all-Central Region.

Also CCIW All-Conference first-team: Augustana senior designated hitter Peter Doughty (York) and junior pitcher Brad Dubow (Naperville Central); and Wheaton College sophomore infielder Brett Albaugh (Wheaton Academy), whose 7 home runs in CCIW play tied Mollo.

Concordia (Chicago) University junior catcher Kevin Coppin (Lisle) earned first-team honors in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. Hitting .313 on the season, Coppin hit a double and his fourth home run of the season in Monday's 17-3 win over Wisconsin-Lacrosse to help the Cougars to the Division III World Series, starting Friday.

A three-year player for the University of Illinois-Springfield, through May 23 junior first baseman Michael Rothmund (Willowbrook) led all of Division II with 24 home runs. The Prairie Stars' male athlete of the year and a first-team pick in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, Rothmund hit .343 with a .789 slugging percentage (sixth in the nation) on 11 doubles, 4 triples and all those homers. He scored 56 runs and drove in 68 others, ninth in Division II, and his 161 total bases tied for seventh best.

She went to Trinity High School but Illinois senior outfielder Nicole Evans is from Glen Ellyn. Leading the Illini in eight offensive categories this spring, she was a unanimous all-Big Ten softball pick, a repeat first-team choice, and all-Defensive. On April 6 Evans was selected from more than 1,200 nominees to win the Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine's 2017 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sports Scholar of the Year. She owns a 3.8 GPA in kinesiology, is a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten. Illinois' all-time leader in RBI and home runs, Evans on April 24 won Illinois' 2017 Big Ten Medal of Honor. Yowza.

Freshman outfielder Kailey Lyons (Glenbard East) was Millikin's first softball player since 1995 to win CCIW player of the year honors after hitting .414 with 13 runs and 6 RBI, 2 doubles and six walks in 16 conference games. Leading the Big Blue to its first CCIW title since 2011, overall Lyons hit .427 with 37 runs, 75 total bases a .469 on-base percentage and 15 stolen bases in 16 attempts.

Also named to the CCIW first team was Elmhurst sophomore catcher Rebekah Ondracek (Downers Grove South) and sophomore first baseman Kelly Thornton (Wheaton North). Ondracek hit .319 overall but .340 against CCIW foes; Thornton, a three-sport athlete, was the CCIW batting champ at .458, with a .729 slugging percentage and 10 RBI.

Leading Southwest Missouri to its second straight Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championship title, junior Zach Gordon (Wheaton North) was named men's MVP. Contributing 30 points, Gordon finished first in the 200 meters at 20.70 seconds, second in the 100 at 10.41, ran on a second-place 400-meter relay and placed fifth in long jump at 22 feet, 11¾ inches. Gordon, whose 200 time ranks third in Redhawks history, will compete in the NCAA Division I West Preliminaries in Texas starting Thursday.

Also headed to Austin is Northern Illinois senior Hope Schmelzle (Wheaton Warrenville South), her school-record time of 10 minutes, 4.17 seconds in the 3,000-meter steeplechase No. 5 in the region. On May 9 she was named the Mid-American Conference track athlete of the week after setting a school record a third straight week in the 800 run, following the 1,500 and steeplechase (plus the distance medley relay). Counting indoor track in 2016-17 she's set seven school records, gained four weekly MAC honors and two scholar-athlete notices. At the MAC outdoor meet Schmelzle was named most outstanding track performer for winning the steeplechase and the 1,500.

The Midwest Conference presents an Elite 20 Award in which schools commend a student-athlete with the highest GPA who competed in their respective sport's championship. In women's track the Elite 20 went to St. Norbert College sophomore Kelly Heniff (Glenbard East), an education major who placed sixth in the 10,000 meters at the MWC Championship May 12.

Redshirt junior Gabrielle Hesslau (Downers Grove North) scored the University of Miami's first point at the Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Championships, in the 10,000. During this outdoor season she set a school record in the 5,000, ran the Hurricanes' second-fastest 3,000, and clocked the fourth-fastest 5,000.

DePaul junior Simone Carr (Glenbard North) earned all-conference honors at the Big East Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 1,600 relay while on the men's side Jarvis Hill (York) helped the Blue Demons to the conference title with all-conference turns on the 1,600 relay and the 400 hurdles. And a week before her alma mater captured the Class 3A girls track title, Georgetown junior Madeline Perez (Glenbard West) took third in the women's 10,000-meter run.

Next week: More!

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Jeff Jendryk
Photo courtesy of Dominican UniversityAlex Coyne
Alex Coyne
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