Top 5 Athletes; Sept. 11 – Oct. 4

By Tom Burton

The stats are from games, meets and matches that occured from Sept. 11 -to Oct. 4. If you feel there are student athletes left off or deserve to be on the list or included in upcoming weeks, tweet us @NIUNorthernStar using #NIUTop5.

Top 5 status went solely based on individual performance. The writer looked at the student-athletes’ previous games, meets or matches to determine if there was a recent spike in performance compared to the overall season.

5. Haley Hoppe — Women’s soccer freshman defender

Rounding out this edition of Top 5 athletes is freshman defender Haley Hoppe. Entering her first year with the Huskies, Hoppe is becoming a player to watch on a talented women’s soccer roster.

Hoppe has started the last five games for the Huskies and has not disappointed. In the last five starts for the Huskies, Hoppe has tallied an assist and two goals, including her first collegiate goal in their Sept. 22 win against Akron.

John Ross, women’s soccer head coach, says it was a work in progress, but Hoppe is showcasing her skills in the chances she has been given to play.

“[We] kind of worked her in at the beginning of the season [to] just kind of get her feet wet a little bit and [gave] her a little more time, and she kept responding with that,” said Ross, according to a Monday Northern Star article. “Now, she’s just playing all the time.”

Look for Hoppe to continue to play well, as she will be a great asset for the team this year and the coming years.

4. Kelly Anderson — Women’s golf junior

The women’s golf team is back in action and Anderson is picking up where she left off from last spring.

Anderson has proven to be one of the more consistent players in the lineup dating back to last season. Anderson is the only player in the lineup to start in the first three events and shoot under 80 in every event. Anderson also finished in the top 25 in all three events so far this season.

The Huskies took the win Sept. 11 in the Redbird Invitational as Anderson led the way with a seventh place overall finish, highlighted by an opening-round of 74 to pace the Huskies.

Anderson tallied a season-best score of 72 in the Ball State Cardinal Classic Sept. 18. She will look to continue her consistency as one of the top players for the women’s golf team in it’s next event at the UC Irvine Invitation Oct. 30 in Santa Ana, California.

3. Chandler Kinley — volleyball senior setter

Kinley leads by example on and off the volleyball court, which earns her a spot in this edition of top-5 athletes.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Kinley took her leadership off the playing field as she spearheaded donations from the volleyball team.

Kinley said she wanted her team to go the extra mile by donating items people in Houston needed. Kinley asked for small donations, and the team eventually gathered $160 to purchase items for the hurricane victims.

“We gathered things that we thought would be helpful for the people in Houston,” said Kinley, according to a Sept. 11 Northern Star article. “We were looking for stuff that we knew could ship safely and to make sure these items were what people truly needed.”

Outside of her courteous acts off the court, Kinley has stepped up for the young Huskies volleyball team. In the team’s last eight games, dating back to their first win Sept. 12 against Illinois State, Kinley has averaged 38.5 assists per game, compared to 15.5 in their first 11 games.

As the team captain, Kinley said being a leader is important for her team and is one of the aspects a player in the setter position must have.

Kinley tallied a season-high of 59 assists Sept. 23 against Bowling Green, but led a better assist to hurricane victims.

2. Jordan Huff — Football redshirt senior tailback

Jordan Huff is starting to get in rhythm for the Huskies, and it is showing in his recent play.

After falling short of 100 cumulative yards in the first two games, Huff has 252 yards in his last two games combined, including a season-high 148 yards Sunday in the Huskies’ 34-28 loss against San Diego State.

Football Head Coach Rod Carey said he is impressed with the recent play of Huff, and the tailback held his own Saturday against San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny.

“I don’t think there is a question on who the best [running]back was on the field on Saturday, and I think it was Jordan Huff,” Carey said. “The way he blocked, ran routes and the way he ran the ball [was good].”

Huff has become one of the favorite options for redshirt sophomore quarterback Daniel Santacaterina. Huff was only able to muster 11 yards in their season opening game against Boston College Aug. 1 with redshirt junior quarterback Ryan Graham starting.

The Huskies made headlines with their win against the University of Nebraska Sept. 16 where Huff ran the ball in for the game-winning touchdown.

With the arms of our current quarterbacks in question, Huff is destined to continue performing well and getting a lot of ball touches.

Huff is in his last season with the Huskies and is likely to be one of the next Huskies to represent NIU in the NFL.

1. Jan Maertins — Men’s soccer sophomore forward

The top athlete goes to a men’s soccer player who many may not know, but he should be drawing attention with his play.

Maertins is a sophomore who came to NIU from Marquette University a season ago, where he appeared in 15 games with one assist and three goals. Maertins has surpassed those numbers in a very short time this season.

In nine starts this season, Maertins has tallied four goals and an assist and has continued to be one of the top offensive threats for the Huskies. Conference play has yet to begin for the Huskies, and Maertins is excelling on the stat sheet and earning respect from his head coach, Ryan Swan.

“We knew that [Maertins] was going to be a good addition to the team when we got him,” said Swan, according to a Sept. 28 Northern Star article. “It’s great that he has been playing [well]; and he’s really been playing with confidence.”

The Rheinfelden, Germany native had his career-best game in the team’s Sept. 17 loss to Sacramento state, where he tallied a goal and an assist for three points.

Maertins is the leading scorer for a soccer team that has already surpassed its win total from a season ago. Look for Maertins to continue his steady production as conference play begins with a match against West Virginia 6 p.m. Saturday in Morgantown, West Virginia.