Updated: Sep 12
Quite a few big-time high school sporting events took place in Peoria last week.
Thousands of cross country runners from around the state descended on Detweiller Park for the First to Finish Invitational, dozens of area boys golfers played in the 2-day, 36-hole Metamora Redbird Classic, and conference play began in a few local football conferences.
Those all led to many local athletes standing out, despite the crowded fields. 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: Josh Weeks of Morton boys cross country (38% of votes) and Sierra Sitter of Pekin girls golf (37% of votes) won CSM Fall Athletes of the Week. Voting closed at 4 PM Tuesday.
BOYS ATHLETE OF THE WEEK NOMINEES
Connor Watson, East Peoria boys golf
Watson has been a stud for the Raiders this year and further established that by winning the Metamora Redbird Classic with a 36-hole score of 137. The event, which was played at Metamora Fields and Weaverridge, featured over 150 golfers and Watson was tops amongst them, firing a four-under 68 at Metamora Fields on the first day and a three-under 69 at Weaverridge. Watson's score was an East Peoria school record for a two-day tournament and he finished four shots clear of runner-up Paul Azzarelli from Kankakee.
Kainon McQueary, Washington football
Washington was looking for a bounce-back against archrival Metamora, following a narrow loss to state-ranked Kankakee. McQueary made sure that didn't happen, rushing for four touchdowns in a 45-7 rout by Washington over Metamora. The senior running back had nearly 10 yards per carry (22 carries for 211 yards) and added a dazzling 35-yard reception along the sideline despite being blanketed by Redbird defenders.
Isaiah Hill, Elmwood boys cross country
Hill ran the fastest time of any local competitor in the Class 1A boys race at the First to Finish Invitational with a 15:12.40 mark, good enough for sixth place. The Trojan finished in just under 13 seconds away from winning the 549-participant race and helped Elmwood finish third out of 46 teams.
Parker Michels and Ian Henrichsmeyer Normal Community boys soccer
Both players are goalkeepers for Normal Community and were heroes in their team's wins against Quincy Notre Dame and Crystal Lake (Prairie Ridge) at the QND Shootout Saturday by saving penalty kicks to help the Ironmen win both games. Michels made two saves in a PK shootout win against Quincy Notre Dame and Henrichsmeyer made the winning save to give Prairie Ridge their first loss on the year. The duo combined to also posted shutouts against Bloomington and Manual last week, helping Normal Community win both of those games and advance to 7-2-1 this season.
Josh Weeks, Morton boys cross country
Weeks was the top local finisher in the boys Class 2A portion of the First to Finish Invitational, running a time of 15:08.60 which put him 10th out of 554 runners. His time was his fastest so far this season and assisted the Potters in finishing fourth out of 62 teams.
GIRLS ATHLETE OF THE WEEK NOMINEES
Izzy Vandeschraaf, Metamora volleyball
Vandeschraaf keyed an undefeated week for Metamora volleyball in which they took down conference rivals Washington and Morton before winning the Jacksonville Invite. The senior had team-highs in kills (10), digs (9), and blocks (6) in the Redbirds' tournament championship win over Morton. She also had 22 kills combined in three other matches for Metamora last week.
Natalie Bierbaum, Normal U-High girls cross country
Bierbaum finished second out of 477 runners in the girls Class 2A race at the First to Finish Invitational with a time of 17:05.70, just over four seconds behind Lincoln's Becca Heitzig. Bierbaum's performance helped the Pioneers to a sixth-place finish.
Melaina Humbles and Carolina Gusso, Dunlap girls tennis
The Dunlap doubles duo was the deciding factor in a wild 5-4 win over Normal U-High that was affected multiple times by rain delays. Humbles and Gusso came back from an early deficit to win 7-6 (6), 6-4 over a strong Pioneers team and give the Eagles the fifth point. Both players won in singles matches against Normal U-High, as well as against Peoria Notre Dame earlier in the week.
Sierra Sitter, Pekin girls golf
The Dragons have been on a tear this year and have typically been led by Sydney Hubner and Kami Jarvill, but it was Sitter who was especially key in a victory in a tri-meet that featured reigning Class 2A state finalist Peoria Notre Dame. Sitter shot a season-low 41, one stroke behind Hubner, on the front nine of Pekin's Lick Creek Golf Course, to help Pekin win the event with a score of 172, ahead of PND (188) and Bloomington Central Catholic (197). Sitter's round featured a birdie and four one-putts.
Meika Bender, Eureka girls cross country
Bender ran a 18:22.60 in the girls Class 1A race at the First to Finish Invitational at Detweiller Park, good enough for 16th and the best time among all local runners in the race. The junior's time helped the Hornets finish third in the 38-team event.