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Vote: CSM Winter Athletes of the Week, Feb. 19-25, 2024

Updated: Feb 28

Winter sports are right in the thick of the postseason, with multiple area basketball players, swimmers and wrestlers saving some of their best performances of the season for last. 

This week’s nominees include some of the top performers at the IHSA State wrestling and swim meets, as well as a few hoopers that helped their respective teams take home playoff hardware. 

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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: Illini Bluffs' Wyatt Hendel and Morton's Addy Engel won voting in their respective polls for CSM Winter Athletes of the Week. Voting concluded on Wednesday evening.

Boys Athlete of the Week nominees

Kayden Hudson, Peoria Notre Dame boys basketball

The multi-sport standout played a sizable role in Peoria Notre Dame’s regional games last week, where the Irish won a plaque. Hudson chipped in 13 to help PND defeat Eureka 69-46 in the regional quarterfinals and upped the ante with a team-high 14 points in the Irish’s 47-30 win over El Paso-Gridley in the regional title game on Friday.

Camron Williams, Peoria Heights boys basketball

Williams played his way into a nomination after a pair of monster games last week that helped Peoria Heights win a regional title. The senior put up matching 31-point efforts in a 68-56 semifinal win over Lowpoint-Washburn and the Patriots’ 59-53 victory over No. 1 seed Princeville in the regional championship. He also scored 16 in a regional quarterfinal win over Biggsville West Central. 

Sean Thornton, Washington boys wrestling

Thornton was the hero that delivered Washington’s second consecutive state title in Class 2A dual team boys wrestling. The 285-pounder was tied in a 4-4 decision with Lombard Montini’s Michael Ranquist in the final minute of the dual’s final match before earning two late points for a 6-4 victory, which put Washington ahead 30-28 for the win. He also added pins in Washington’s quarterfinal and semifinal victories.

Wade Pyle, Normal Community boys swimming

Pyle set a Normal Community school record on the state’s biggest stage at the IHSA State meet in Westmont, swimming the 200-yard freestyle in 1:40.68 and placing 13th. He also qualified for state in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing 15th. 

Wyatt Hendel, Illini Bluffs boys basketball

Hendel put up a trio of quality games for Illini Bluffs on the Tigers’ way to winning a Class 1A regional title. The senior put up 11 in a 59-16 beating of Midwest Central in the regional quarterfinals before posting a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds in a semifinal win over Peoria Quest. He capped off the week by pouring in 21 points for Illini Bluffs in its 69-51 regional title win over Illini Central.

Girls Athlete of the Week nominees

Annabelle Fortin, Illini Bluffs girls basketball

Fortin stepped up in the clutch for the Tigers by leading them with 20 points as Illini Bluffs took down Abingdon-Avon 44-37 in the sectional title game at Bushnell-Prairie City. She also factored into Illini Bluffs’ sectional semifinal win over state-ranked Annawan with 10 points last Tuesday.

Jaida Johnson, Richwoods girls wrestling

Johnson made a run all the way to the IHSA girls wrestling state title bout at 155 pounds and finished runner-up. The senior began her chase with an 11-6 decision followed by a quarterfinal pin to advance to the semifinals. There, she beat Schaumburg’s Valeria Rodriguez in a 2-1 decision before falling 14-5 in the title match. Johnson finished her senior season with a impressive 25-4 record.

Kinnley Smith, Canton girls wrestling

Smith reached the state title match at 125 pounds and took state runner-up, finishing an outstanding junior year with a 27-4 mark. Smith used a first-round pin and a 1-0 decision to reach the semifinals where she left no doubt against Bartlett’s Lilly White in a 10-0 major decision. Smith fell 6-0 in the title match to Vandalia standout Sophie Bowers. 

Addy Engel, Morton girls basketball

The Potters’ senior standout was a driving force in Morton’s two games at the East Peoria Sectional last week, finishing with eight points in a balanced team scoring effort despite taking a tough hit to the face in the game. She left it all out on the court with a team-high 19 points in Morton’s sectional title loss to No. 1 Lincoln. 

Autumne Williams, Peoria Notre Dame girls wrestling

Williams was the first PND girls wrestler to compete in the postseason and finished her journey with a third-place finish at 170 pounds in the IHSA State tournament. The junior won with a pin and 11-3 major decision in her first two bouts before a semifinal loss. Williams rebounded with a hard-fought pin in the consolation semifinals before dispatching her opponent with a pin in just 22 seconds in the third-place match.

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