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Vote: CSM Winter Athletes of the Week, Feb. 5-Feb. 11, 2024

Updated: Feb 14

Ten more outstanding high school athletes have earned nominations for the CSM Winter Athletes of the Week, setting program records, winning sectional championships, and leading their teams to big victories. 


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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: Brady Ruestman of Fieldcrest boys basketball and Ny'aja Russell of Peoria Heights girls basketball won CSM Boys and Girls Athletes of the Week. Voting ended on Wednesday evening.


Boys Athlete of the Week nominees


Chancesaye Maxon Jr., El Paso-Gridley boys basketball


Maxon put up gaudy point totals similar to his teammates Jonah Funk and Micah Meiss in a pair of Titan victories last week. The senior guard scored 21 in a big 59-53 win over Lexington on Tuesday and matched that number in a 68-39 triumph over Dee-Mack on Friday. Maxon’s season-long contributions have also helped EPG nab the highest seed in the Peoria Notre Dame Regional, which starts next week. 


Michael McLaughin, Peoria Notre Dame boys wrestling


McLaughlin had a picture-perfect week, hitting the mats for the Irish at the Class 1A Olympia Regional and winning the 285-pound bracket to punch his ticket to state. The senior took down opponents from Macomb, St. Thomas More and Clinton all via falls. McLaughlin, who was also a star lineman for Peoria Notre Dame on the gridiron, signed to play college football with Butler on Thursday. 


Tyler Heffren, Eureka boys basketball


Heffren became the Hornets all-time leading scorer early last week, eclipsing the 1,732-point mark set by Jordan Prosser. The record-breaking point came in the first half of the Hornets’ game against Champaign St. Thomas More on Monday, where Heffren put up 19 points and 10 rebounds. He added another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds against Prairie Central on Friday and currently stands at 1,764 career points. 


Leshawn Stowers, Peoria High boys basketball


Stowers keyed a big win for the Lions with 20 points in a 59-58 win in overtime over Champaign Centennial on Friday to help Peoria High finish 6-4 in conference play and win their fifth straight game. Earlier in the week, he scored 16 in a 69-52 non-conference victory over Limestone. 


Brady Ruestman, Fieldcrest boys basketball


Ruestman thrived in a hectic week for the Knights, who took the court four times last week and won each game. His week began with a 10-point outing in a win over Flanagan-Cornell on Tuesday, but he ramped it up and led the team with 17 against Roanoke-Benson and 14 against Tremont. Ruestman put the finishing touches on the standout week with 16 against Princeville. 


Girls Athlete of the Week nominees


Jaida Johnson, Richwoods girls wrestling


Johnson was part of a solid sectional showing for the Richwoods girls wrestling team, winning the 155-pound bracket and advancing to state. The senior defended her top seed in the bracket with wins over opponents from Highland, Belleville East and Alton and moving her season record to 25-3. 


Kate White, Fieldcrest girls basketball


White was white-hot for the Knights on the court last week, leading her team to three wins and scoring over 27 points per game in that stretch. She came out swinging with a career-high 32 in a 65-41 win over Flanagan/Woodland on Monday and put up 28 in a big 66-58 HOIC victory over Tremont to end the regular season. In Fieldcrest’s regional quarterfinal game against rival El Paso-Gridley on Saturday, she once again was unstoppable with 23 points. 


Ny’aja Russell, Peoria Heights girls basketball


Russell was a central part to setting a pair of records in Peoria Heights’ 53-48 win over North Fulton on Monday. The junior netted a team-high 28 points and went a program-record 16-for-17 from the free throw line in the victory. The win was the Patriots’ 24th of the season, setting a new school record for wins in a season. 


Kinnley Smith, Canton girls wrestling


Smith finished atop the podium in the 125-pound bracket at the Geneseo Sectional, ensuring a trip to Bloomington for state. The junior won via fall in just 34 second in the quarterfinals, beat her semifinal opponent in a 5-0 decision in the semifinals and and outlasted Yorkville’s Yamilet Aguirre with a pin in 4:54 in the championship. 


Lexi Baer, Peoria Notre Dame girls basketball


Baer put on one of her best career shooting performances in her final game of the season at The Kitchen, knocking down six 3-pointers in an 87-43 win over Manual. The sophomore finished with a team-high 26 points and the Irish win marked sealed a 10-0 conference record that gave them their first-ever Big 12 conference title.  


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