Cross country runners for academics
Aileen Gorman does not live by athletics alone.
For sure, the Marist alumnus has made her presence felt on Moraine Valley College’s sports landscape, first as a national qualifier in cross country last fall and then as an integral member of the Cyclones women’s basketball team this winter. Despite her busy schedule, however, Gorman has still found enough time to embrace the “student” portion of student-athlete as well.
Gorman was one of three Moraine runners, along with teammates Diana Dinh and Maritza Najera, to be feted for classroom accomplishments by getting named to the 2013 Academic All-National Junior College Athletic Association team. Dinh is making her second straight appearance on the squad, which was selected by the National Junior College Cross Country Coaches Association.
The Cyclones were also designated as an All-Academic NJCAA team, as they ranked eighth among Division I programs in cumulative grade-point average. Besides the three aforementioned individuals, Moraine’s status was made possible through the efforts of Amanda Gerzon (Stagg), Amy Johnson (Sandburg) and Miranda Reyes (Queen of Peace).
“These scholar-athletes are simply outstanding,” Cyclones coach Mark Horstmeyer said. “They attend class full time, work part time, and excel as athletes and students. Their performance on and off the field speaks highly of them.
“I am very proud of their achievement. It is a tremendous honor for them and Moraine Valley.”
Moraine’s cross country program has produced a total of 39 NJCAA Academic All-Americans since 2000.
With the postseason looming, the Cyclones seem to have hit their stride, as evidenced by three more wins last week. Two of those were garnered over Prairie State College in a span of just three days.
The Feb. 15 matchup between Moraine and the Pioneers was a makeup of an earlier game that had been postponed by inclement weather. The Cyclones used a 7-of-10 showing from 3-point land as a key ingredient in what became a 74-64 victory. Shavonne Lewis led the charge for Moraine by sinking all four of her long-distance attempts.
The Cyclones held a 43-29 halftime edge and moved ahead by as many as 20 points during the second half. Prairie State never got any closer than seven over the last 20 minutes.
Lewis and Nariman Jaber both scored 14 points for Moraine, with the former also dishing out four assists and Jaber blocking six shots. Jaber’s rejections gave her 106 for the season, which eclipsed Lisa Koschinitzki’s school standard of 103 set during the 1988-89 campaign.
Nine Moraine players in all reached the scoring column.
The Pioneers no doubt housed thoughts of revenge when they met up again with the Cyclones last Tuesday, but that mattered little as Moraine downed Prairie State by an even wider margin than before.
Spurring the Cyclones’ 73-54 triumph were Maggie Yandel (24 points) and Jaber (nine blocks). Moraine outscored the Pioneers by 21 points in the second half.
The Cyclones completed their regular-season schedule with a five-game winning streak and 20 victories in all after defeating Morton College 75-57 last Thursday. The triumph was the 250th of coach Delwyn Jones’ career.
Despite being without Yandel and Aileen Gorman for most of the opening half, Moraine jumped out to a 32-9 lead and was ahead by 22 at intermission. The Panthers drew within 12 in the second half, but the Cyclones’ advantage was never seriously threatened.
Katie McGann (21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists), Jaber (13 points, nine rebounds, three blocks), Lewis (11 points, five assists) and Jamilla Jones (10 points, 10 rebounds) all played starring roles for Moraine (20-10).
Prairie State’s men enjoyed greater success against the Cyclones than its women’s squad did, as it notched a pair of wins over Moraine.
The Pioneers overcame a four-point deficit in the final two minutes and slipped past the Cyclones 75-70 in the Feb. 15 makeup contest. Moraine had led much of the way, including 35-28 at intermission, as four players provided offensive punch.
Kyle Ward was the Cyclones’ top gun with 19 points, but also pitching in were Paulius Ostruskevicius (14 points), Jason Allen (11) and Cameron Juillerat (10). Ward augmented his scoring with eight rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Ostruskevicius also made three steals.
Prairie State completed its two-game sweep of Moraine by capturing an 88-77 decision last Tuesday. The Pioneers’ 46-32 edge on the glass was a major detriment to the locals.
Johnte Shannon (25 points, three assists), Brett Kaiser (17 points, four rebounds), Ward (11 points, eight rebounds, two blocks) and Des’nique Harris (11 points, six rebounds) were the Cyclones’ headliners.
Moraine was able to conclude the regular season on a high note by downing Morton College 78-72 last Thursday and avenging an earlier Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference defeat.
The Cyclones were up by as many as 20 points before halftime, then survived some periodic breakdowns to hang on for a much-needed win. Kaiser (19 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three blocks) was Moraine’s main man, but Ward (14 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals), Juillerat (14 points, four assists), Shannon (13 points, four rebounds, four assists), Harris (nine points, five rebounds) and Brennan Ivory (four blocks) also made their presences felt.
Submitted photos: Moraine Valley College cross country runners Aileen Gorman, Diana Dinh and Maritza
Najera were all chosen as members of the All-Academic NJCAA team, which recognized their classroom
work for the fall 2013 semester.