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Kuzmanic connects with national honor at Carthage
 

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Kuzmanic connects with national honor at Carthage
 

When she was at Wheeling, Stephanie Kuzmanic used to participate in the high school's ‘boxing night' in the spring.

This season at Carthage College -- her final one -- Kuzmanic was a real knockout in her true sport.

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She has been named the Capital One Academic all-American "Player of the Year" for NCAA Division III women's basketball.

The first-team All-America selection, who owns a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average, is ranked fourth among College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin scoring leaders at 15.0 points per game.

She is first in assists (7.33 per game), third in free-throw percentage (.838) and 11th in blocked shots (0.52 per game).

"Stephanie has worked exceptionally hard, both on and off the court," said Carthage women's basketball coach Tim Bernero on the school's website, "and she certainly deserves this recognition. She has displayed excellence in every area a student-athlete could, and I couldn't be prouder of her and how she represents herself, her family and Carthage College."

Kuzmanic is only the fourth CCIW player to earn the national award.

The other three conference winners were all from Millikin University: Barb Blume-Love in 1991, Julie Roe in 1996 and Lindsay Ippel in both 2007 and 2088.

Roe was inducted into the Capital One Academic all-American® Hall of Fame in 2009.

"We are so proud of Stephanie and what she has accomplished in the classroom and on the court," added Carthage athletic director Robert Bonn. "To receive the most-respected academic award in the country is very special. Thanks to CoSIDA and Capital One for their support of NCAA scholar-athletes."

Kuzmanic was named Women's Basketball Coaches Association honorable mention All-America and "D3hoops.com" honorable mention All-America last year, as well as "D3hoops.com" first-team All-Central Region, WBCA All-Central Region, CCIW Women's Basketball's "Most Outstanding Player" and first-team All-CCIW.

She ranked fourth among CCIW scoring leaders (13.6 points per game), first in three-point field-goal percentage (. 441), first in assists (5.59 per game and ranked seventh nationally), third in free-throw percentage (. 827), fifth in minutes played (31.62 per game), seventh in blocked shots (0.72 per game), 11th in steals (1.83 per game), 12th in rebounding (5.2 per game) and 14th in field-goal percentage (. 457).

This season, Kuzmanic was named CCIW "player of the week" after scoring a career-high 34 points against Wheaton and she earned CCIW "player of the week" honors a week later after scoring 33 points against Illinois Wesleyan.

She set a Carthage game record with 17 assists against North Central (Ill.) on Jan. 11.

At Wheeling, Kuzmanic helped lead her team to three straight Mid-Suburban League crowns.

During her four-year career for coach Shelly Wiegel, the Wildcats were 110-18 and finished third in the Class 4A state tourney in 2009.

Men's track

Middlebury College (Vermont) junior Kevin Wood (Stevenson) was one of 228 men to earn a 2013 U.S. Track and Field and Cross County Coaches Association All-Academic Award.

He is an environmental studies-literature major, education minor. Wood was 10th at the New England Regional meet.

• DePaul senior Matt Babicz (Prospect) won his first career Big East Indoor Championship in the shot put thanks to a throw of a 61 foot, 7 inches at the Armory in New York City. His brother Anthony Babicz, also from Prospect and a junior at DePaul, placed second in the event at 52-9. For Matt, it was his fifth shot put victory of the indoor season.

Women's track

Augustana junior Stephanie Burbidge (Palatine) was fifth in the mile (5:50.49) as the Vikings defeated St. Ambrose 123-62 and Ashford 165-15 at PepsiCo Recreation Center.

The Vikings won 10 events and set a new field-house record in rolling to the lopsided wins over the two NAIA schools.

The St. Ambrose/Ashford dual meet is the final tuneup for Augustana before competing in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin championship Feb. 28 and March 1 in Bloomington.

Girls basketball

Former Conant three-sport athlete Paul Strauch led his Harmony High School girls basketball team to second place in the Florida Class 7A state finals in Lakeland.

His team lost to Wekiva, which won the first state championship for any sport at the school which opened in 2007.

The Mustangs (26-6) hit 17-of-18 free throws in the final minutes to overcome Harmony (29-4), 59-48.

"Early on, they were missing free throws, and we kind of marked it in our minds that if it came down to it, we wanted to shoot free throws," Strauch told the Orlando Sentinel. "We were hoping they would continue that pace. But good basketball players and good basketball teams hit free throws when it counts. That's what they did."

Strauch's Julia Ingler was named the 7A state tournament MVP. She led Harmony with 21 points, all on 3-pointers.

• While local girls basketball fans probably never got a chance to see scoring sensation Trya Buss of Mount Carmel play, one former local athlete had the opportunity a handful of times.

And Jimmy Colloton will get a courtside seat to watch her in college.

Colloton, who played basketball at Rolling Meadows, is the third assistant for the Indiana women's basketball team and handles a lot of scouting duties.

Buss will play for the Hoosiers next season and recently finished her career at Mount Carmel by shattering the state scoring record for all time points with 4,882.

Buss has also qualified for the IHSA state finals in tennis, cross country and track and field.

Reunited sharpshooters

Two-time defending Class 1A Queen of the Hill Jess Moriarty of Mt. Assisi, who played for Christian Liberty the last two years, will be making her third straight appearance in the finals this weekend at Illinois State's Redbird Arena.

The junior will joined there by a good friend from Arlington Heights.

Christian Liberty senior Megan Sullivan has also qualified for the Queen of the Hill 3-point finals after helping to lead the Chargers to their first regional crown.

Moriarty and Sullivan were the Chargers' talented backcourt for two seasons before Moriarty transferred to Mt Assisi this school year.

Viator signees

St. Viator High School celebrated its latest seniors who have committed to Division I programs.

Senior midfielder Kevin Klinkenberg of Barrington signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., while senior defender Maria Petrillo of Arlington Heights signed with DePaul.

That makes five seniors from St. Viator's Class of 2014 who have committed to Division I programs: Dana Gattone of Addison (golf at Illinois), Robert Renner of Lake Barrington (golf at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers) and Ore Arogundade of Arlington Heights (basketball at Drake) "It takes a lot of hard work and dedication," said athletic director Tim Carlson. "But they have earned the right to compete at the next level."

Klinkenberg and Petrillo played soccer for coach Mike Taylor, who was on hand for the signing.

They are the first Lions to sign with a Division I program since Trevor Wheeler committed to Wisconsin in 2010.

"They are outstanding players that I think will come into their own in college," Taylor said. "They are both going to programs that are building with young players."

Klinkenberg was named to the East Suburban Catholic All-Conference team before being named one of its ‘Players of the year' when he scored 8 goals and handed out 8 assists.

Among his teammates, he shared MVP honors with fellow midfielder, Spencer Moore and together they helped lead the Lions to a share of first place in conference.

"Kevin is one of the most skilled players I've coached," said Taylor, who has coached soccer at St. Viator for 26 years. "He reads the game well and is a great student of the game."

He also loves to share his passion for the game with others. Last summer, Klinkenberg ran a five-day soccer camp for youngsters in Kibuye, Rwanda.

In choosing Lehigh, Klinkenberg will play for the Mountain Hawks in the Patriot League at Lehigh's new Ulrich Sports Complex and its turf field.

"Lehigh is a really good school," Klinkenberg said. "Academically, it's a really good fit."

Petrillo chose DePaul for its strong academics and for the chance to play closer to home.

She also likes its facilities. The Blue Demons play at Wish Field, which is nestled in the heart of DePaul's Lincoln Park campus.

"I fell in love with the team once I met all the girls and the coaches," Petrillo said. "It really did feel like a family."

Taylor describes the scrappy defender as the ultimate team player, who will grow and mature with the Blue Demons, as she spreads the ball to other college level players.

"Maria is such an unassuming player," Taylor said. "She works hard at both ends of the field. In college, the game will really open up for her."

Last year, Petrillo scored 2 goals while collecting 7 assists, all as a back-row defensive player.

Northwest Elite

The Northwest Elite Lions will be having registration for their youth football program on March 1. The program is available for youth football players from ages five to 13.

Registration will take place at Players U at 412 Business Center Drive in Mount Prospect from 1 p.m. 5 p.m.

The Northwest Elite Lions play in the Pop Warner League and draw players from all over the Northwest suburbs. The program stresses fundamentals and proper blocking and tackling techniques with trained coaches. In their first season last year, five of the Elite Lion teams qualified for the Pop Warner playoffs.

For further information visit their website at www.nweilitelions.com.

Men's basketball

No. 3-ranked Washington University (22-5) celebrated Senior Day with an 83-79 win over Carnegie Mellon.

Washington ended the game on a 12-0 run in the final 2:42 including the go-ahead basket by senior guard Alan Aboona (St. Viator) with 52 seconds left. Aboona finished with 17 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.

Prior to the contest, Washington U. honored its five senior players including Aboona and Chris Klimek (Fremd). The group has compiled a 76-27 (.738) overall record in their four seasons with three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and three-straight University Athletic Association titles (2012, 2013, 2014).

• Please email Sports Notes items to jleusch@dailyherald.com.

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