The fall sports season is beginning to wind down with the postseason already here, or just around the corner for every sport except golf, which concluded just over a week ago.
The girls tennis postseason began last weekend and concludes at state this Thursday through Saturday, while cross country and boys soccer playoffs heat up simultaneously. Friday is the final day of the regular season for football with brackets being announced on Saturday. Area volleyball teams are gearing up for regionals, which start next week.
Athletes’ performances become even more important in this time of the year and there are a few recognizable stars, and some new faces, that stood out in last week’s action.
The following athletes are our nominees for CSM Fall Athletes of the Week, presented by Jake Weston State Farm, with information on their standout performances. There are polls for Boys Athlete of the Week and Girls Athlete of the Week.
UPDATE: GB Kruzick of Morton boys football won Boys Athlete of the Week with 61 percent of the vote total and Julie Bach of Normal West girls cross country won Girls Athlete of the Week with 52 percent of the vote total. Stay tuned for a story soon about both of our winners!
Boys Athlete of the Week nominees
Mason Boles, Eureka football
Boles’ performance on Friday was nothing short of jaw-dropping: 434 yards and seven touchdowns (both school records) on 27 carries. The senior running back’s effort helped Eureka become playoff eligible with a 54-20 win over Ridgeview/Lexington. Boles has 968 yards on the year, averaging 7.3 yards per carry, with 16 touchdowns, along with 50 tackles on defense.
Where are the Hornets and other area football teams likely to be seeded?: IHSA Football Bracketology: Full bracket projections for all 8 classes with one week left
Joey Yaros, Normal Community boys cross country
Yaros won the Big 12 Conference Championship at Detweiller Park in Peoria on Saturday in 15:88.80, his fastest 3-mile time of the year. The junior helped Normal Community defeated Peoria Notre Dame for the team title as well.
Kayden Hudson, Peoria Notre Dame boys soccer
Hudson netted a hat trick in PND’s 5-0 win over Bloomington last week and continues to be a leading force for the 16-1-3 Irish heading into the postseason. The junior forward has netted a team-high 30 goals on the season, along with 10 assists.
More on PND soccer: PND boys soccer finds success in tradition, consistency
Devon Hayes, Pekin boys cross country
Hayes finished second at the Mid-Illini Conference Championship at Detweiller Park on Friday with a time of 15:36.70. The junior has now finished either first or second at three different meets this season and is a name to watch in the upcoming postseason.
GB Kruzick, Morton football
Kruzick was instrumental on both sides of the ball in Morton’s 10-6 win over Dunlap to stay undefeated on Friday. The senior receiver/cornerback caught the Potters’ only touchdown of the game and had an interception, along with the game-winning pass breakup on a Dunlap fourth down in Morton territory.
Girls Athlete of the Week nominees
Gabby Runyan, Bloomington girls tennis
Runyan won the singles tournament at the Class 2A Richwoods Sectional on Saturday to earn a state berth. The senior handily defeated Moline’s Calla Graham 6-2, 6-2 in the championship match after three wins previously in the day.
Izzy Vandeschraaf, Metamora volleyball
Vandeschraaf helped the Redbirds volleyball squad pick up momentum at the right time, as they went 7-0 last week and won in a loaded field at the Bloomington Central Catholic Saints Shootout. The senior outside hitter came up big in Metamora’s semifinal match against Morton with 13 kills and 17 digs and earned all-tournament honors. Vandeschraaf also led the team in kills in conference wins against Limestone (7) and Pekin (9, with 9 digs) earlier in the week.
Metamora and U-High volleyball looking like state contenders: U-High, Metamora volleyball primed for deep postseason runs yet again after series split
Ava Salverson, Dunlap girls swimming
Salverson continued to shine in the pool for the Eagles with four total wins at a meet with Washington and Monmouth-Roseville. Along with winning the 100 yard butterfly and 200 yard freestyle, she swam the fastest leg on Dunlap’s winning 200 yard and 400 yard freestyle relay teams.
Julie Bach, Normal West girls cross country
Bach won the Big 12 title at the conference’s championship meet at Detweiller Park with a time of 18:09.30. Not only did she get the individual top spot, her performance came in clutch to help Normal West narrowly defeat Peoria Notre Dame for the team title.
Kami Barth, Washington volleyball
Barth and the Panthers are on a surge as of late with four straight wins and the sophomore came up big in two conference wins last week with 12 digs each in two-set wins over East Peoria and Dunlap.