Another week of the winter high school sports season has come and gone, with plenty of the best athletes around the area showcasing their talent and earning nominations for Clutch Sports Media Winter Athletes of the Week.
The following athletes are our nominees for CSM Winter Athletes of the Week with information on their standout performances. There are polls for Boys Athlete of the Week and Girls Athlete of the Week below.
Update: Connor Reichman of Fieldcrest boys basketball won CSM Boys Athlete of the Week with 60 percent of the vote total and Julia Sollberger of Dunlap girls basketball won CSM Girls Athlete of the Week with 59 percent of the vote total.
Boys Athlete of the Week nominees
Connor Reichman, Fieldcrest boys basketball
Reichman has helped Fieldcrest put together an undefeated 6-0 start to the season and win the Colmone Classic tournament last week with wins over Putnam County, LaSalle-Peru and Rock Falls. The senior guard led the Knights with 21 in the tournament title game against Rock Falls on Saturday, which Fieldcrest won 62-42, and put up the same point total in a 74-47 win over LaSalle-Peru. Earlier in the week, he was one of four Knights in double figures with 10 in a 64-52 quarterfinal win over Putnam County. Reichman, along with Brady Ruestman, were selected to the Colmone Classic All-Tournament team.
Gus Rugaard, Morton boys basketball
Rugaard captained the ship for Morton in all three of the Potters’ games last week, most notably a 51-44 win over Metamora on Friday to break the Redbirds’ 23-game conference winning streak in which Rugaard scored 16. One day later, the senior hit a pair of free throws to force overtime against Champaign Central and he finished with 20 points in a 61-58 win. The Potters suffered their lone loss of the season so far on Tuesday against Peoria High, but Rugaard paced the team with 15.
Wade Pyle, Normal Community boys swimming
Pyle lived up to his name by piling up eight wins in the pool last week at the Peoria Notre Dame Irish Invitational, as well as a meet against Champaign Central and Champaign Centennial. Pyle took first at the PND Invite in the 100-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and 50-yard freestyle, the latter which he also won in Normal Community’s tri-meet on Tuesday. He swam legs on Normal Community’s 400-yard freestyle relay team that took first at both events and helped the Ironmen to a win against Central and Centennial by winning the 100-yard butterfly and swimming a leg on the winning 200-yard medley relay team as well.
Jonah Funk, El Paso-Gridley boys basketball
Funk came painstakingly close to a triple-double in a big 62-42 win over Prairie Central on Friday night with 16 points, 10 blocks and nine rebounds. The senior forward continued to protect the rim and pour in points with 14 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks in a 52-43 win over Delavan on Saturday.
Leshawn Stowers, Peoria High boys basketball
Stowers led a big week for Peoria High boys basketball that featured wins over Morton and Danville. The junior scored a team-high 23 in the Lions’ 57-52 win over the Potters on Tuesday, then followed it up with 28 in a 61-51 triumph over Danville on Friday.
Girls Athlete of the Week nominees
Janessa Wallace, Peoria Heights girls basketball
Peoria Heights girls basketball is off to its best start in program history and Wallace provided a big assist to the Patriots in a pair of wins last week. She sank three of her team’s eight 3-pointers and finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and six steals in a 49-24 win over Clinton on Monday before eclipsing that mark with 18 in Peoria Heights’ 54-28 win over Farmington on Wednesday. Wallace is currently tied with teammate Emily Dana for the team high in points per game with 11.5 and her four assists and 3.8 rebounds per game lead the Patriots.
Dalia DeJesus, Dee-Mack girls basketball
DeJesus averaged over 18 points per game in three games for the 7-1 Chiefs last week, all of which were wins. The sophomore standout started her week with a 24-point outing in a win over Flanagan/Woodland on Monday, then scored 13 points against Heart of Illinois Conference rival Eureka on Thursday before rounding it out with 19 against a strong Brimfield team on Saturday.
Julia Sollberger, Dunlap girls basketball
Sollberger and the Eagles are hitting their stride, winning four straight contests including a pair last week. The senior and Northern Illinois commit dominated on both sides in a 67-40 win over Rock Falls on Saturday with 29 points on 12-of-16 shooting to go with eight steals. She added 18 for Dunlap in a 51-43 victory over Limestone on Tuesday.
Aaliyah Guyton, Peoria High girls basketball
Guyton can take over a game with ease and she showed it last week, as the Lions won three games and are currently undefeated at 10-0. The senior tied Richwoods’ scoring output as a team with 28 in a 57-28 win against the Knights on Monday before adding 25 in a 92-36 drubbing of Champaign Centennial on Thursday. The Iowa commit saved her best game of the week for last, pouring in 31 points and dishing out six assists in a 80-23 blowout over Danville on Saturday.
Ava Heinz, Brimfield girls basketball
Heinz and the Indians are looking to put together another big season and the junior aided the cause with a monster game against Midwest Central/Delavan on Thursday with 27 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks in a 60-29 win for Brimfield.