Former Gateway Tech and East St. Louis running back Anthony Pierson was the offensive most valuable player in the Kansas University Blue-White spring football game Saturday.
The No. 4 career high school rusher in the metro area, Pierson ran for 141 yards on just seven carries and impressed first-year Kansas coach Charlie Weis in the process. The highlight of Pierson's day was an 88-yard scoring run.
"I told him that there aren't that many guys that run 88 yards," Weis said. "Tony is dangerous in space.”
Pierson rushed for 415 yards in a backup role as a freshman last season.
"I was able to show off a little bit," he said of his spring-game performance. "I was able to show the crowd some of my speed."
Pierson played for East St. Louis as a senior after spending the first three years of his preps career at Gateway Tech. At East St. Louis he ran for 1,408 yards and a Southwestern Conference-leading 23 touchdowns. Pierson ran for 5,661 yards in his four years of high school, a figure topped only by Rob Standard of Chaminade (7.799), Montee Ball of Timberland (7,109) and Jason Ford of Althoff (6,415).
Standard is a redshirt freshman at Iowa State and Ball a senior at Wisconsin. Ford concluded a four-year career at Illinois last season.
UMSL COACH REACHES MILESTONE
The Missouri-St. Louis baseball team's recent surge overshadowed a milestone reached by coach Jim Brady.
Most of the attention on the Tritons was centered around their winning 15 of 17 games, but during that stretch Brady won the 700th game of his career, all at UMSL. He is the 37th coach in NCAA Division II history to accomplish the feat. In his 27th year, Brady stands 703-549-5.
The Tritons, 24-18 overall and 16-13 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, have received strong seasons from three Metro East athletes. Outfielder John Pilackas (O'Fallon) leads UMSL in home runs with nine, infielder Charlie Mohr (Alton) is batting .319, and outfielder Lucas Matecki (Belleville West) is hitting .308.
SIUE BASEBALL BUILDING LOCALLY
SIU Edwardsville's recent signing of pitcher Sam Hopkins (O'Fallon) further illustrates the baseball program's commitment to build a successful NCAA Division I operation with local talent at the heart of the equation.
“Our No. 1 priority is to recruit locally,” SIUE associate head coach Tony Stoecklin said.“We want to give kids an opportunity to be a part of what we are building here.”
Less than five years into its Division I pilgrimage, SIUE boasts eight players from the Metro East area and three from across the river in St. Louis. Four more are from just outside the Metro East area. And the majority of those players are integral parts of the program.
Four of the Cougars' top five hitters are from Metro East high schools, led by junior Travis Becherer (Highland), who is hitting .313. Two of the top three RBI producers and three of the top five home run hitters are from local schools. Sophomore Devin Caldwell (Civic Memorial) has hit five home runs, while junior Joel Greatting (Columbia) has driven in 26 runs.
SIUE's ace pitcher, sophomore Travis Felax, is from Triad. Felax is 5-3 with a 3.12 earned-run average.
Hopkins will be counted on to contribute next spring as a freshman. The right-hander is 5-1 with a 0.85 ERA at O'Fallon. He has struck out 42 in 41 innings.As a junior, Hopkins was 10-2 with a 2.24 ERA, helping O’Fallon to a 31-6 overall record and the Panthers' second straight Southwestern Conference championship.
WU HAS A NEW HITS LEADER
Washington University senior right fielder Brandon Rogalski (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) is the Bears' new career leader in hits with 212 -- and counting. Rogalski, who is hitting a team-high .448, passed Cornell Foggie, who had 205 hits from 1985-88. Rogalski's batting average ranks 17th in the nation among Division III players.
Rogalski, who also leads Washington in RBI (37), has never hit lower than .323 for the Bears. He was a first-team all-America choice a year ago for both the American Baseball Coaches Association and D3Baseball.com. He also was the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Central Region player of the year.
FORMER TRIAD STANDOUT IS ACC CHAMP
Erin Wykoff (Triad) has an Atlantic Coast Conference championship to bookend the one she won in high school.
Wykoff, a senior at Virginia, placed first in the discus with a throw of 174 feet 8 inches in the recent ACC meet. The heave was third-longest in school history. Wykoff unleashed what wound up as the winning throw on the second of three tosses.
"It was an exciting day,” Wykoff said. “I came out with a good first throw and progressed in the second one ... I'm pretty amped up right now.”
The championship throw was the longest of Wykoff's collegiate career. She was sixth a year ago in the ACC meet and 12th in the NCAA Championships. This year's NCAA Championships are June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.
At Triad, Wykoff won the 2007 state title in the discus and was a four-time Mississippi Valley Conference champion.
HELLWIG, BEKEBREDE EARN HONORS
Dan Hellwig (Summit) and Erin Bekebrede (St. Charles) are recipients of the Gale Bullman Awards at Missouri S&T. The Bullman Award, named for the university's former director of athletics and long-time football coach, is the most prestigious award given to S&T student-athletes. It is traditionally awarded to a senior student-athlete who has displayed outstanding character and excelled on the playing field and in the classroom.
Hellwig earned all-America honors in the pole vault at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships and has one of the top marks (16-7¼) in the nation during the outdoor season. Bekebrede was a standout performer on the volleyball team that reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
WALLACE SET FOR BIG SEASON
Yale sophomore wide receiver Grant Wallace (John Burroughs) figured to be one of the top pass-catching threats this fall among Ivy League underclassmen. His showing in the recent Blue-White spring game did nothing but buoy that hype. Wallace was one of the game's standouts, catching a 65-yard touchdown pass.
Wallace was a dominant wide receiver and defensive back at Burroughs, which went 14-1 and reached the Class 3 title game his senior year. He was a two-time ABC Conference player of the year and finished his preps career with 62 touchdowns.
LINDENWOOD WINS FIRST D-II TITLE
The Lindenwood women's lacrosse team is the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association champion. The title is the school's first at the NCAA Division II level. Lindenwood is in its first year as a Division II school.
The Lions (14-2) clinched the championship with a 19-1 victory over Adams (Colo.) State, a game that saw freshman attacker Renee Abrolat (Marquette) score two games and sophomore goalkeeper Christine Hehmeyer (Ursuline) earn the victory.
Senior attacker Lexi Crusha (Corning, N.Y.) leads all WILA scorers with 41 goals and 93 points. Hehmeyer is the second-ranked goalie in the conference, allowing only 8.65 goals per game.
Lindenwood has fielded a women's lacrosse team for seven seasons and has an all-time record of 113-43.
BUTLER, DAVIS REAP ALL-GLVC HONORS
What will Brianna Butler (Triad) do for an encore?
A freshman first baseman at Missouri-St. Louis, Butler was a unanimous all-Great Lakes Valley Conference selection after leading the Tritons in batting (.404), home runs (10), RBI (45) and virtually every other major offensive category. The numbers she put up this spring ranked her in the top-10 single-season performances at UMSL in five offensive categories.
Joining Butler as a first-team selection was junior designated hitter Leslie Davis (Piasa Southwestern), who hit nine home runs. Davis also posted a 9-10 record as one of UMSL's front-line starters. Davis has 18 caeer home runs, the third-highest total in school history.
WEBSTER EYEING ANOTHER CROWN
Webster appears to be zeroing in on a sixth straight St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference baseball title. The Gorloks, who recently won 17 of 19 games, sport a 24-10 record and are 16-2 in the SLIAC. Webster entered the week with a three-game advantage in the loss column with only six SLIAC games remaining.
Pitching continues to be the name of the game for the Gorloks, whose top three starters -- David Mueller (Westminster), Isaac Behme (Harrisburg, Ill.) and Cody Hafeli (Marian, Ill.) -- have combined for a 15-4 record. Mueller (1.48) and Behme (1.94) have earned-run averages south of 2.00. Mueller's ERA ranks 24th among Division III pitchers.
Since Webster's string of championships began in 2007, the Gorloks have built a 118-14 record against SLIAC opponents.
TWO IN A ROW FOR FONTBONNE
Fontbonne has secured no worse than a tie for its second straight SLIAC softball championship, thanks in large part to an offense that has produced a .342 batting average. Freshman infielders Danielle and Cassandra Glixman (Parkway North) have keyed the attack. Danielle is hitting .471 with a team-leading 39 RBI, and Cassandra is batting .418.
Fontbonne's attack also boasts power in the form of infielder Sarah Cerutti (Seckman), who has socked nine home runs, and speed from senior catcher Samantha Rosner (St. Joseph's), who has stolen 13 bases.
Fontbonne's recent stretch of winning 12 of 14 games boosted its record to 24-9. The Griffins are 13-1 in SLIAC play, with two games remaining.
ALLEN CLOSES CAREER IN STYLE
McKendree softball pitcher Autumn Allen (Belleville East) ended her collegiate career with a three-hit, 5-0 shutout of Lindenwood. The shutout moved Allen, who was 12-4 this spring, into a tie for the career shutouts lead at McKendree, with 17. Allen twice (2006-07) led the Southwestern Conference in shutouts as ace of the East staff.
Allen also ended her McKendree career second in victories (52) and complete games (63) and fourth in strikeouts (457). The right-hander won a combined 107 games during her preps (55) and college careers.
LEWIS AND CLARK BOUND FOR NATIONALS
The Lewis and Clark men's tennis team has qualified for the NJCAA nationals in Plano, Texas, scheduled for May 14-18. The Trailblazers qualified for the event by beating Kaskaskia 9-0 in the finals of the Region 24 tournament.
Lewis and Clark coach James Humphrey said his club focused on consistency this season.
"It paid off with some great individual matches and big wins, including a close victory over a strong Principia team and the first regular-season win vs. Missouri Baptist in three years," Humphrey said.
Freshman Nic Lancaster (O'Fallon) leads Lewis and Clark in victories (18), showing a 9-5 record in singles and 9-5 in doubles. Freshman Neil Berkel (Triad) has 17 wins, including a 9-7 mark in singles.
REPEAT ACT AT SWIC
Southwestern Illinois College men's basketball coach Jay Harrington has signed his second guard from Alton in as many years.
JaQuail Townser will be part of the Blue Storm program after averaging 13.6 points a game for an Alton team that finished 7-21 overall and 1-13 in the Southwestern Conference. The 6-foot-3 Townser also averaged 4 rebounds a game.
A year ago at this time, 6-4 Tony Bradley signed with the Blue Storm and went on to average 10 points and 4.1 rebounds, helping SWIC to a 22-10 record. The Blue Storm reached the semifinals of the NJCAA Region 24 tournament.
Townser is the second area player to sign with SWIC in the past three weeks. Brandon Book (Breese Central), a two-time Class 2A all-state basketball selection and a Post-Dispatch All-Metro first-teamer, signed last month. The 6-6 Book is Central's all-time leading scorer.
AROUND THE AREA
• For the second time in as many weeks, Missouri S&T pole vaulter Rachel Ederle (Affton) established a school record. Ederle became the first women's vaulter in Miners history to eclipse the 12-foot mark when she cleared 12-1½ at the Williams Invitational at Missouri Southern
• UMSL sophomore Joe Atkisson (Springfield, Mo.) has been selected as one of four at-large participants to compete in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships May 7-9 in Jefferson City.
• GAC South softball standout Brandi Kiel (Francis Howell North), who hit .515 last fall, has signed with UMSL. "She has played at a very high level with her travel/club team and knows the game very well," UMSL coach Brian Levin said. "She will be a tremendous asset to our program and has the ability to contribute immediately.”
• Mark down a pair of SLIAC spring sports titles for Webster. The women's tennis team (19-2), which claimed its second championship in three years, opens postseason play May 11 at a site to be determined. Webster also won the men's golf title, earning a berth in the national championships that begin May 15 in Howey-In-The-Hills, Fla.
• Redshirt freshman quarterback Evan Merz (St. Dominic) completed eight of 16 passes for 90 yards in the Missouri S&T spring football game.
• Guard Lateesha Deloach (Incarnate Word) has signed with Southwestern Illinois College. Deloach, who started all 33 games last season for Incarnate Word (26-7), will be joining a SWIC program that qualified for the NJCAA national tournament en route to a 27-6 finish.
• In the past week, Washington had two tennis players reach the 100-victory mark for their careers. Junior Adam Putterman (Houston, Texas) became the 10th man in WU history to reach the mark, while Natalie Tingir (Garden City, N.Y.) became the 19th woman.
• Senior softball pitcher Amber Toenyes (Edwardsville) has committed to play at Eastern Illinois. Toenyes is 13-0 with a 1.06 ERA and has struck out 110 in 86 innings. She recently won a much-hyped duel against junior Alexis Silkwood of Alton Marquette 2-0.
• SIUE freshman golfer Mitchell Homb (Dixon, Ill.) has been named to the All-Newcomer Team in the Ohio Valley Conference. Homb competed in all 10 tournaments for SIUE this season, finishing second in scoring average (76.5).