Northwestern wrestler Yahya Thomas, a Mount Carmel alum, won the Midlands title at 149 pounds. Photo courtesy of Northwestern University Athletics

Northwestern wrestler Yahya Thomas, a Mount Carmel alum, won the Midlands title at 149 pounds. Photo courtesy of Northwestern University Athletics

College Notebook | Northwestern’s Yahya Thomas wins Midlands title

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By Mike Walsh
Correspondent

Mount Carmel graduate and Northwestern wrestler Yahya Thomas was chosen the Big Ten’s Wrestler of the Week for January 3.

At the 58th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships held at the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates, Thomas defeated a pair of top-10 opponents, including a 4-3 victory over Kyle Parco of Arizona State in the 149-pound final. That triumph also earned Thomas the Art Kraft Champion of Champions Award.

In addition, Thomas bested Penn’s Doug Zapf 3-2 in the semifinals. In the quarterfinals, Thomas was a 12-5 winner over Pittsburgh’s Tyler Badgett.

Earlier in the tournament, Thomas garnered major decisions over Bloomsburg’s Cade Balestrini (17-4) and Princeton’s Marshall Keller (10-2).

Northwestern finished atop the 10-team field with 122 points.

Thomas, a graduate student who is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, earned the Big Ten’s Wrestler of the Week for the initial time in his career. He is the first Wildcat to receive the accolade since November 2021.

As of February 8, Thomas was 17-2 individually on the season.

 

Pioneering Spirit
The Pioneer Football League has named 725 student-athletes from its 11 member institutions to its 2022 PFL Academic Honor Roll. Ten of the honorees have local connections.

The PFL Academic Honor Roll consists of student-athletes who participated in football at member institutions during the semester of competition, and posted a 3.0 grade-point average or higher during the fall semester while enrolled full-time in accordance with NCAA rules.

Three Drake students led the way among students from area schools. Senior wide receiver Michael Markett (Marist), junior linebacker Riley Theobald (Nazareth) and junior tight end Sam Rodriguez (Lyons) were recognized.

Dayton was represented by senior safety Matt Lenti (Mount Carmel) and senior linebacker Alex Hirschfeld (Sandburg), while Butler’s honorees were redshirt freshman and Evergreen Park resident Jack Molloy (St. Ignatius) and freshman kicker Ryan Short (Nazareth).

Valparaiso had a pair of area honorees in junior defensive back Keyon Turner (Marist) and freshman defensive back Owen Cherry (Lyons). Rounding out the list was St. Thomas University senior defensive lineman Joey Fitzgerald (Brother Rice).

 

Mentioning Morton
Morton College’s women’s basketball team was ranked No. 1 in the country on January 18 by the National Junior College Athletic Association in Division II, marking the first time in program history it had received that honor.

The Panthers have maintained their lofty ranking with an overall record of 23-0 and a mark of 9-0 in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference.

Four members of Morton’s roster have area ties. Sophomore guard Kaylen Evans (Nazareth) is the Panthers’ second-leading scorer, averaging 18.5 points per game. Evans also is second on the team in 3-pointers made with 74. She has added 2.5 rebounds and two assists per game.

Sophomore forward Frannie Metz (Nazareth) also has appeared in every game this season, averaging 8.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.

Sophomore guard Jovanna Martinucci (Nazareth) comes off the bench for the Panthers. Martinucci, who has appeared in every game with one start, averages 3.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

Freshman forward Jacquellin Magallanes (Morton West) has participated in one game.

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