Top-5 Athletes of March

Top-5 Athletes of March

By Tom Burton

The sports editor’s picks are from games, meets and matches that occurred in March sporting events. If you feel there are student-athletes left off or who deserve to be on the list or included in upcoming weeks, tweet us @NIUNorthernStar using #NIUTop5.

5. Brielle Ward, junior women’s golfer

The women’s golf team is having a successful spring season, a lot of that having to do with the play of Ward.

Her highlight of 2018 was winning the Bradley Spring Invitational as an individual by shooting an even-par 73 and a 74 to close out the tournament. Ward tied for first in the event and paced the Huskies to a third place overall finish.

“I was definitely pleased with what she was able to do in the tournament,” said Head Coach Kim Kester, according to NIU Media Services. “She had a tough go-around the last few tournaments with her putting, and it’s good to see she’s back on track.”

Ward also took 12th at the Little Rock/Arkansas State Invitational, helping NIU to a runner-up finish.

Ward and the women’s golf team are back in action at the Lady Boilermaker Invitational April 14 in a final tune up before the Mid-American Conference Championships April 20.

4. Anna Martucci, junior gymnast

Martucci established herself this season as one of the most exciting gymnasts to look forward to in her senior season.

The floor exercise specialist was named MAC Specialist of the Year along with earning All-MAC First Team honors.

Martucci surpassed 9.900 on the floor eight times this season. She scored a career-high score of 9.975 March 4 against Western Michigan, the highest event score by a Huskie in any event since 1995.

Martucci will join senior captains Ashley Potts and Katherine Prentice in the NCAA Regionals Saturday and said she is looking forward to the opportunity.

“This has been a goal for me since freshman year, so it’s cool to see that goal and dream come into play,” Martucci said. “I can’t wait.”

3. Jehvania Whyte, junior track and field jumper

Whyte is continuing to prove the only record that stands in her way is her own.

She opened the outdoor portion of her season Saturday at the Stanford Invitational where she broke her own record and set another outdoor triple jump school record at 12.69 meters, leading to a third place finish in the event.

“It’s rewarding for the athletes to see the hard work that they’ve put in is actually paying off,” said Head Coach Connie Teaberry, according to a Monday Northern Star article. “It’s rewarding for the coaches to know that we are moving in the right direction.”

In that same event, Whyte also took third place in the long jump with a leap of 5.81 meters.

Whyte has been nursing an injury that forced her to sit out the Huskies’ March 24 match against the University of Texas-Arlington. Look for Whyte to continue leading NIU in field events this season.

2. Michael Lasiewicz, freshman baseball pitcher

The baseball team has been nothing short of disappointing this season, but Lasiewicz has not been the reason why.

The freshman standout has earned himself an outstanding 2.15 ERA in the young season, which ranks at No. 89 in the nation, according to the NCAA’s official website.

Lasiewicz has allowed 19 runs in 37.2 innings pitched, but the defense has not been behind him thus far. 10 runs Lasiewicz let cross the plate have been unearned.

“[Lasiewicz] has really stepped up being a freshman for us this year, getting the nod on Sundays,” said senior pitcher George Faue. “He’s just been lights out. He’s still got a lot to learn being a freshman, but he’s been absolutely shoving it for us, which is huge.”

Faue earned the opening day starting job for the Huskies, but I think it has become clear who NIU’s ace is now.

Lasiewicz’s pitching has become must-see TV for Huskie fans as he continues his breakout freshman season with NIU.

1. Jenny Van Geertry, junior softball outfielder

If NIU is in a situation where they have runners in scoring position and Van Geertry is up to bat, the opposing pitcher should strongly consider walking her.

Van Geertry is hitting an absurd .458 this season, including a combined 7-for-10 this past weekend and two home runs in the Huskies’ three-game sweep over the University at Buffalo Bulls.

Van Geertry had two home runs in the series and has recorded a hit in 37 of the 44 games she’s appeared in this season.

Getting on base is an important job as a leadoff hitter, which is a role Van Geertry said she is comfortable with.

“I’m just relaxed when I go up there,” Van Geertry said. “I’m just trying to make contact and get on base.”

She also earned MAC West Division Player of the Week following her performances this past week, where she hit .750 and tallied seven RBIs.

Van Geertry has been the catalyst for the Huskies in their current four-game winning streak, and fans can expect her to continue her dominance as conference play is in full swing.