Top 5 Athletes

Top 5 Athletes

By Scott A. Nicol

The stats are from games, meets and matches that occurred after 5 p.m. Feb. 27 and before 5 p.m. Sunday. If you feel there are student-athletes left off who deserve to be on the list or in upcoming weeks, tweet us at @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 spike in recent performance compared to the overall season.

5. Ally Lehman, senior guard, women’s basketball.

Lehman finished her NIU career strong, averaging 18 points in her final four games in a Huskie uniform and went 28-for-65 from the field.

Unfortunately for Lehman, NIU fell a game short of making the NCAA Tournament, but the Huskies competed in their first postseason game Thursday against South Dakota State University since 1995.

Lehman played a major role in restoring the glory for women’s basketball at NIU and finished her career with 122 games played. Lehman ranks 11th all-time at NIU in scoring with 1,461 points, sixth in rebounds with 990 and first in assists with 538.

Lehman finished 10 rebounds shy of becoming the fourth NCAA player in history to record 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists. She accomplished this in 10 fewer games than her predecessors.

4. Sophomore softball pitcher Alex Frenz.

Frenz has been a workhorse for NIU as she has pitched in 31 1/3 innings in the past nine games since March 3.

Her ERA rose a bit from 2.00 to 2.64, which is why she’s at No. 4 on this week’s list, but a 2.64 ERA is still very respectable.

Frenz held her opponents scoreless in four of the nine games, including three of the past four games, in 12 1/3 innings, but surrendered 13 earned runs in the other five. Frenz’s record was 4-1 including her first save of the season Friday against South Dakota in a 4-1 victory.

Frenz has recorded 27 strikeouts while surrendering 11 walks. It should be noted that seven of the 11 walks came in two of the nine games.

3. Junior baseball pitcher Donovin Sims.

Sims had a good stretch of games, starting three times and pitching 22 innings total, including eight solid innings against No. 21 ranked University of Michigan Sunday.

He yielded six runs, all earned, in those three games, but four of those runs came against Michigan.

His ERA in these games was a very respectable 2.45, but unfortunately for Sims, he was only able to record one win and two no-decisions while striking out 10 batters and walking only two.

In his March 5 and March 12 starts, Sims did not give up an extra-base hit and struck out nine against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Sims nearly cut his season ERA in half, going from 7.00 on Feb. 26 to 3.77 after Sunday’s game, which is why he landed at No. 3 on this edition of Top 5 Athletes.

2. The wrestling’s Fab Five.

Five Huskie wrestlers, 125-pound freshman Brock Hudkins, Steve Bleise, 149-pound redshirt sophomore, Shaun’Qae McMurtry, 165-pound redshirt senior, Trace Engelkes, 174-pound redshirt senior and 197-pound senior Shawn Scott, advanced to day two of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. NIU also sent three Huskies — Hudkins, Bleise and Scott, who each went 2-0 in the morning session — to the Round of 12, but unfortunately, the trio fell in the evening session, successfully ending their historic season.

The herd of Huskies finished the Championships with 11 1/2 team points, the most in program history, which had previously been set in 2005-06 with nine points. This group of Huskies have helped change the culture of this program, which is why they landed at No. 2 on this week’s Top 5 Athletes.

1. Senior gymnast Jamyra Carter.

There is a new No. 1 for the third consecutive edition of Top 5 Athletes as the Mid-American Conference announced Saturday that Carter was named MAC Specialist of the Year after dominating all season long.

“I was pretty sure [Carter] would win based on her consistency,” said Head Coach Sam Morreale. “She’s basically a 9.900 average on bars, and it’s pretty darn impressive. It’s a great award for her to earn her senior year. She deserves it, but she’s not done. I think she can do well at regionals and getting there last year is only going to fuel the fire where she’s just going to be comfortable.”

Carter was named Specialist of the Week for the second time this season on Tuesday after tying NIU’s 20-year record on the uneven parallel bars March 11 against Central Michigan University with a nearly flawless score of 9.950.

Carter was also named to the All-Mac Second Team for the second consecutive season.

Carter has not placed lower than third place on the uneven bars all year and has won first place in six meets, which is why she ranks No. 1 on this edition of Top 5 Athletes.