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Column

College athletes fall back into the game

The college kids are back on campus for the start of the new school year and many area athletes are staying in the game.

There is a lot of local talent playing IVCC volleyball, including freshmen Riley Johnson (Ohio), Kaitlyn Edgcomb (PC), Abby Hoscheid and Jenna Lusietto (Hall) and sophomores Tori Coble and Hanna Bima (St. Bede). Also, Madison Menzel, a 2016 graduate of Princeton, has come out this year and is freshman eligible.

Paige Conner, the 2016 BCR Player of the Year from LaMoille-Ohio, is a freshman setter for Sauk Valley. She had 10 assists in a recent match for the undefeated Skyhawks.

Conner’s joined by sophomore Tori Smoode of Granville (PC).

Kourtney Knecht (St. Bede) is a freshman outside hitter at MacMurray College in Jacksonville.

Courtney Oeder (Princeton) is a freshman for Illinois Central College. She follows former PHS products Leah Shaw and Michelle Kelly to the East Peoria campus.

* Brooke Keegan (Ladd/Hall) is a sophomore setter for Augustana College. She was the 2015 co-BCR Player of the Year.

Football

• St. Bede has become the football academy with no fewer than six recent graduates playing collegiately.

Three former Bruins, Brady Booker (DE), Braidy Shipp (WR) and Josh Sapp (WR) are reunited at Quincy University. Booker had two tackles in the Hawks’ 53-6 season opening loss to No. 24 ranked Midwestern State Thursday night in Quincy.

Classmate Bryant Eustice has gone north to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

Baylee Hopps, a 2016 SBA graduate from LaMoille, is playing for St. Ambrose University.

Justin Darnell will play for Ridgewater Junior College in Welmar, Minn.

• Eureka College has become the haven for five Bureau County products, including senior Matt Gibson (DL) and sophomore Tanner Kuhne (WR/K) of Princeton, senior Michael Slingsby (OL) of Hennepin/St. Bede, Colin Aimone (DB) of Spring Valley/Hall and Josh Mead (LB) of Bureau Valley.

• Former Hall quarterback Drew Pullam, the 2015 BCR Co-Player of the Year, is trying to walk on with the Fighting Illini in Champaign.

Three more Hall products are teaming up at Rockford University, where sophomore Jake Byczysnki (LB) of Seatonville and freshmen Kieran Trevier (DL) of Ladd and Pat Einhaus (WR) of Spring Valley are playing for the Regents.

Former Red Devils’ Chris Hammonds, a freshman running back for Monmouth College, and Taylor Bastion of Ladd, a freshman linebacker at St. Ambrose, are hitting the gridiron as well.

Austin Wetsel and Vince Vergamini, 2017 Princeton grads, are roommates and teammates at Aurora University. Classmate Colton Youngren is playing for the University of Dubuque. He will also throw the discus and the hammer for the Spartans’ track and field team.

Golf

Aiko Mendoza, the 2016 BCR Golfer of the Year, is getting her swings in for the St. Ambrose Bees in Davenport, Iowa.

Cross country

• Former BCR Runner of the Year, Al Baldonado (Hall), is a junior runner for North Central College in Naperville, the reigning D3 National champion and preseason No. 1 pick. He received First Team All-CCIW honors last year for the Cardinals.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Additional college names/information may be sent to him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com.

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