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Vote: CSM Fall Athletes of the Week, Sept. 11-17, 2023

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

The thick of the season is happening in every fall sport in the area and local athletes have definitely shaken off the rust by this point.

Multiple Peoria and Bloomington/Normal area-golfers have gotten into postseason form just before the playoffs roll around, girls swimming had dominant performances and offenses broke out in football and soccer.

The following athletes have been nominated for our CSM Fall Athletes of the Week, presented by Jake Weston State Farm.

There are polls for Girls Athlete of the Week and Boys Athlete of the Week. The nominees, along with a summary of their recent accomplishments, are listed below.

UPDATE: Taryn Ryan of Dee-Mack volleyball won Girls Athlete of the Week with 42 percent of the vote total and Nick Lansford of Dunlap boys soccer won Boys Athlete of the Week with 67 percent of the vote total. Voting closed at 5 PM Wednesday.

Girls Athlete of the Week nominees:

Ava Salverson, Dunlap girls swim and dive

Salverson stood out for the Eagles’ co-op at their trip to the Friars Invite at Oak Park (Fenwick) High School last Saturday, accounting for two of Dunlap’s four podium finishes. She won the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 53.96 and finished third in the 100-meter breaststroke with a 1:08.43 clocking, less than a second out of first place. Her solo performances gave Dunlap 36 of their 77.3 points and she also was a part of the Eagles’ 200-meter medley and 200-yard freestyle relay teams.

Taryn Ryan, Dee-Mack volleyball

Ryan was a key piece of a 3-0 week for the Chiefs where they beat Williamsville, Lexington and LeRoy to move to 10-7 overall and 4-1 in the Heart of Illinois Conference this year. She led Dee-Mack with seven kills apiece in their wins over Lexington and LeRoy, while adding a team-high six blocks in those contests. Ryan also got it done at the service line with two aces against LeRoy.

Natalie Ocheltree, Normal U-High girls golf

The sophomore shot a team-low 76 at the Mike Rusk Invite in Forsyth on Saturday to help the Pioneers finish second in a competitive 17-team field. Ocheltree shot a 36 on the front nine of Hickory Point Golf Club, the same course where the IHSA State Tournament for girls golf is held, to pace her round. Three other Normal U-High golfers –Ihnera Gerongay (77), Adrian Allen (79) and Paige Fischer (79) all shot sub-80 scores.

Avery Braker, Morton girls cross country

Braker led the Potters’ squad to a second-place finish, just behind Washington at the Mid-Illini Conference Pre-Meet on Tuesday with a time of 18:53.30, which was fourth overall. She followed it up with another top-five finish at the Dunlap Cross Country Invitational on Saturday with a personal best 18:36.0, good enough for fifth.

Amelia Kovalaske, Normal U-High girls swim and dive

Kovalaske was instrumental in multiple races for Normal U-High, who defeated Bloomington 103-79 in a dual match on Tuesday. Individually, she won the 100-meter breastroke in 1:23.05 and 200-meter individual medley in 2:41.66. The Pioneers winning relay teams in the 200-meter medley relay and 200-meter freestyle relay.

Boys nominees:

Andrew Perry, Eureka boys cross country

Perry’s race at the Dunlap Cross Country Invitational was a key reason why the Hornets were able to take the team title. The senior finished in second place with a 15:48.20, the fastest of any Peoria-area runner at the event.

Nick Lansford, Dunlap soccer

Dunlap’s offense exploded on the pitch last week, scoring 20 goals with many of them coming from Lansford. The senior forward scored four goals in the Eagles’ 6-0 win over Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin on Saturday. He also was one of seven different goal-scorers for Dunlap in its 9-0 win over East Peoria on Tuesday and had an assist in a 5-2 win over Rock Island on Thursday.

Owen Gruden, Pekin boys golf

Gruden simply could do no wrong in a trio of matches for the Dragons last week. Starting on Tuesday, he medaled in a conference triangular against Canton and Limestone with a 40 at Lick Creek Golf Course in Pekin, then tied for low scoring honors in an 18-hole match against Normal Community with a 78 the next day. To cap it off, he shot a 146 in the 36-hole Dragon Classic on Friday and Saturday –including a 69 at Parkview Golf Course– to finish fifth out of over 150 golfers at the tournament.

Kyle Beaty, Normal Community football

Beaty was the composer of Normal Community’s offensive symphony in a 63-42 win over the Class 5A No. 4 Peoria High Lions on Friday. The junior quarterback went 11/19 passing for 234 yards and four touchdowns, two each to Mar’Quan Gary and Ivoreon Austin. He only ran the ball three times, but scored on each attempt, ending with seven total touchdowns.

Jack Coulter, Peoria Notre Dame boys golf

Coulter didn’t shy away from the challenges presented by the 36-hole Pekin Dragon Invitational that included the ever-daunting Lick Creek Golf Course. The Irish golfer shot a 71 at Parkview and a 77 at Lick Creek to finish tied for sixth individually in the two-day event and lead Peoria Notre Dame to an eight-place finish out of 29 teams.

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