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Waubonsee inducts three into Athletic Hall of Fame, recognizes 2015-16 achievements

WCC Honors Student/Athletes at Banquet

Waubonsee Community College inducted three new members into the Chiefs’ Athletic Hall of Fame and honored its’ top student/athletes for 2015-2016 at the school’s annual Athletic Awards Banquet. Individual achievements as well as team accomplishments were recognized during the festive evening in the college’s Academic and Professional Center as student/athletes from throughout the Fox Valley area and beyond were honored.

The tenth-class of inductees to Waubonsee’s Athletic Hall of Fame included former Aurora East basketball standout Phill Neal, who was the Chiefs’ first ever NJCAA All-American in 1971 when he finished third nationally in scoring with a 32.6 points-per-game average. Neal, who now lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, retired in 2014 after 38 years working for the General Dynamics Corporation and its’ two predecessor companies. Also honored was former men’s cross country runner Dr. Kemp Schanlaber, who was a two-time All-Skyway Conference, All-Region and National Meet participant in the mid-1980’s. The Aurora West High School graduate went on to compete nationally in triathlons and is a successful podiatrist in New Hampshire. Joining them was Aurora West High School graduate Amanda Wolf who was the Chiefs’ all-time leading scorer in basketball the last 15 years. Currently a resident of Evanston, Wolf was a two-time All-Skyway performer, the Skyway Player of the Year in 2001 and an All-Region First Team selection.

Men’s Soccer player Juan Ponce was named the Male Athlete of the Year. The midfielder led the nation in assists for most of the season before finishing second with 18 assists. The sophomore also tallied seven goals for a total of 32 points, tying him for 50th nationally in that category among all NJCAA Division I players An Aurora native, Ponce was named an NJCAA Division I Third Team All-American, was chosen to the All-Region Champions Division squad, and was a two-time All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC) First Team selection. Ponce led Waubonsee to a 15-7 overall record and a berth in the Region IV semi-finals.

Basketball player Julianna Wadsworth was a unanimous choice as the Female Athlete of the Year by Waubonsee’s coaches after she became the college’s first two-time All-American on the court. The sophomore finished as the Chiefs’ all-time leading scorer with 1,211 career points and also set a new mark for points in a season with 628. Wadsworth also was in the top-20 nationally among all NJCAA Division II players in scoring, steals and free throw percentage. A two-time All-Region First Team selection, the 5’9” shooting guard helped lead unranked Waubonsee to consecutive Region IV Division II District B titles and back-to-back top-12 finishes at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament. Wadsworth was also tabbed the ISCC Player of the Year after helping the Chiefs’ to an undefeated 14-0 league title.  

Men’s Cross Country runner Josh Robinson was chosen as Waubonsee’s Most Improved Male Athlete. The Aurora West High School graduate was the Region IV Runner of the Year after winning the Region IV Meet the end of October. Robinson helped lead Waubonsee to the Region IV title and a 20th place finish at the NJCAA National Meet in Iowa. The sophomore also earned All-ISCC honors this past fall. As a freshman Robinson was rarely even in the Chiefs’ top six runners.

Mendota High School graduate Mallary Phalen was selected as the Most Improved Female Athlete by Waubonsee’s coaches. On the softball diamond as a freshman Phalen did not start in any games, collecting 15 hits while playing sparingly in only half of the Chiefs’ contests. This past spring the sophomore batted .281 with 47 hits in 57 games played. Phalen knocked in 21 runs, smacked 11 doubles, was seven for eight in stolen bases and committed just one fielding error all season. Phalen was also a member of Waubonsee’s women’s tennis team.

Nixa Del Real Robles, an Aurora East High School graduate, was the recipient of the Vermilion and Gold Award. This award is given annually to the Waubonsee student/athlete who best exemplifies the true ‘heart and soul’ of Chiefs’ athletics. A member of Waubonsee’s Cross Country squad, Del Rel Robles was involved with activities all throughout campus as a member of several clubs. The sophomore earned All-ISCC and All-Region honors both years at Waubonsee and participated at the NJCAA National Meet twice. 

Softball player Abby Etheridge was tabbed as the S.T.A.R. Award recipient, given to the student/athlete that displayed a good work ethic, dedication to academics and achieved perfect attendance in Waubonsee’s athletic monitoring program. The Oswego High School graduate demonstrated these attributes and more while earning All-ISCC First Team accolades on the diamond this past spring. Etheridge batted .407 with 20 stolen bases and led the Chiefs in hits with 77, runs scored with 61 and walks with 26.

Other individuals achieving All-Conference, All-Region and Academic honors during the school year were recognized throughout the evening. Waubonsee coaches Trevor Howard, Jim Sury, Dave Heiss, Rodney Davis and Perry Clark were all recognized for leading their teams to Skyway or Region titles, and appearances at the NJCAA National Tournament. Team accomplishments were acknowledged including the Men’s Golf team winning the ISCC title, along with the Region IV crown for just the second time in school history. Women’s Softball was honored for winning the ISCC title for the sixth consecutive year, Women’s Basketball was recognized for capturing the Region title for the second straight year, and the Men’s Cross Country squad was praised for earning their way to the NJCAA Division I National Meet.