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Annual Athletic Banquet and Hall of Fame Induction held in APC

Berenyi inducted into Hall of Fame, 2016-17 Student-Athletes honored at Banquet

Annual Athletic Banquet and Hall of Fame Induction held in APC

Annual Athletic Banquet and Hall of Fame Induction held in APC

Waubonsee Community College inducted Paralympic champion Joe Berenyi into the Chiefs’ Athletic Hall of Fame and honored its’ top student-athletes for 2016-2017 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.

Throughout the 2016-17 school year Waubonsee has been celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Appropriately Berenyi became the 50th inductee to Waubonsee’s Athletic Hall of Fame since its’ inception in 2007. Berenyi was a left-handed reliever and part-time outfielder for the Chiefs’ baseball team in 1988 and 1989. In a construction accident five years later he lost his right arm, severely broke a leg and shattered his left knee cap, which had to be removed. Berenyi was down for a time, but not out. After several years the Aurora Central Catholic High School graduate eventually returned to another sporting passion of his, cycling. In just his third year of full-fledged competition, Berenyi made the U.S. Para-cycling team at the age of 43. He then burst onto the world stage by winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2012 Paralymic Games in London, setting a 3000-meter Individual Pursuit World Record in a qualifying race. Berenyi has since gone on to capture 20 U.S. Championships and seven World Championship titles. He was the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Men’s Paralympic Athlete of the Year for 2015, and was nominated in 2015 and 2016 for an ESPY in the Best Male Athlete with a Disability category. At last year’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Berenyi earned another silver medal and continues to represent the U.S. in various international competitions.

Baseball player Samyr Santos was named the Male Athlete of the Year. The Chiefs’ catcher batted .371 with a school-record 13 home runs, ranking him sixth nationally among all NJCAA Division III players in that category. The right-handed hitter was also eighth nationally with 63 runs batted in, and 29th in the nation with a .679 slugging percentage. The sophomore from Archbishop McCarthy High School in Miami, Fla., was second on the Chiefs’ squad with 59 hits and 28 walks, third on the team with 39 runs scored, and finished the season with a .458 on-base percentage. Defensively he posted a .984 fielding percentage and threw out 31 percent of potential base stealers while appearing all 47 games Waubonsee played this spring. Santos is headed to Shorter University in Georgia on a baseball scholarship.

Softball player Courtni Neubauer was chosen as the Female Athlete of the Year by Waubonsee’s coaches after she helped lead the Chiefs to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament for the first time in school history. The Chiefs’ leadoff hitter was in the top-10 nationally in four categories including leading all NJCAA Division II players with 47 walks drawn. The sophomore from Burlington Central High School finished second in the nation with a Waubonsee single-season record of 71 stolen bases in 74 attempts. Neubauer also established a new Waubonsee career mark for stolen bases by swiping 109 bags in 115 attempts the last two years. An Art major, the left-hander was also second nationally with 93 runs scored and ended up seventh nationally with a .583 on-base percentage. Neubauer batted .461 for the season, and was second on the team with 77 hits in a team-leading 167 at bats over 55 games played.

Baseball player Victor Santana was selected as Waubonsee’s Most Improved Male Athlete. The native of Miramar, Fla. splayed sparingly as a freshman, going 0 for 6 at the plate in just 12 games while compiling a 4.73 earned-run average in nine appearances on the mound. As a sophomore this spring the right-hander batted .337 with 30 runs scored, 31 hits, 21 runs batted in, 26 walks drawn and a .496 on-base percentage while playing shortstop. On the mound he led Waubonsee with a 2.80 earned run average with three wins over 35 and a third innings pitched. Santana, majoring in Sports Management, is also headed to Shorter University to continue his education and playing career.     

Somonauk High School graduate Mackenzie Jackson was named the Most Improved Female Athlete by Waubonsee’s coaches. On the softball diamond as a freshman Jackson batted just .139 with a .224 on-base percentage over 27 games played. The part-time catcher threw out only one of 26 would be base-stealers. This season was completely different as Jackson batted .339 with a .409 on-base percentage over 34 games. The sophomore majoring in Criminal Justice was a spot starter in the outfield and behind the plate, and did not commit an error the entire season in 73 fielding chances.

Emily Grams, a Kaneland 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 Women’s Soccer team captain, Grams was an All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC) First Team and a two-time All-Region First Team selection while helping anchor the Chiefs’ defense the last two seasons. The Elburn native was involved with several activities on campus, was a Gustafson Scholar, a Pinnacle Award winner, made the President’s List for academic achievement and was a member of the Christian Athletes Group. Grams is an Elementary Education major and is attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. 

Volleyball player Bailey Martenson 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 Indian Creek High School product demonstrated these attributes and more while competing as a member of the Volleyball program. An Acturial Sciences major, Martenson will be continuing her education at Drake University in Iowa.

Other individuals achieving All-Conference, All-Region and Academic honors during the school year were recognized throughout the event. Waubonsee also celebrated the best athletic year in the school’s history. Waubonsee ran away with the ISCC’s All-Sports Trophy, earning the big award for the seventh time in the league’s 47-year history. Six Chiefs’ teams won ISCC titles, while the other five sports programs all finished second or third in the eight-team league. Men’s Soccer, Men’s Golf, Women’s Tennis, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball and Softball all grabbed ISCC championships. Five teams qualified for and participated in NJCAA National Tournaments with Men’s Basketball leading the way with a top-12 finish nationally. In addition, several Waubonsee coaches were honored for leading successful teams and retiring staff member Paul Clennon was recognized during the evening’s festivities.