There will be 306 gold medals awarded at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and this time around, a Wildcat has a real shot to claim one. Cole Paxton takes an in-depth look at Jordan Wilmovsky, a world-champion distance swimmer out of Northwestern who will be going for gold this summer.
In addition, a couple of teams are readying themselves for a shot at NCAA glory…
Joe Wilkinson sets the stage for the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, where the peaking Cats are a real contender for a national title.
Melissa Haniff previews softball’s upcoming first round NCAA Tournament matchup with Oklahoma State, which NU secured after a strong stretch to close the season at .500.
In Northwestern’s anemic passing offense last season, Shuler caught just 13 passes for 132 yards, but the Panthers saw something they liked in the tryout and inked him to a deal. His potential as a returner likely helped him — as the team’s primary punt returner last year, Shuler averaged 10 yards per return on 11 returns.
Shuler is one of four Cats who are currently on NFL rosters for next season, joining Green Bay draftee Dean Lowry, Tampa Bay draft pick Dan Vitale, and Lions undrafted free agent Deonte Gibson. Safety Traveon Henry signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent as well, but was reportedly cut recently.
The U.S. Open, one of golf’s four major championships, plays host to golf’s biggest stars every year. But it fills out its field each year in a unique way — with open qualifying tournaments all over the country that attract the best amateur players and club pros in America to play for a shot at glory. Last year, 22 golfers qualified for the 156-player field through these local qualifying tournaments.
On Monday, two representatives from Northwestern’s men’s golf team put themselves a step closer to the U.S. Open. Sophomore Dylan Wu, who was recently named to the All-Big Ten second team, finished tied for third at the local qualifier hosted at the Village Links in Glen Ellyn, shooting a 2-under 70 in a single round to secure one of the five sectional qualifying spots from the tournament.
However, Wu was bested by one of his coaches on the day. Volunteer assistant coach Tim Streng shot a 3-under 69 to finish second at the qualifier and book a ticket to the sectional qualifying round. Streng was a decorated golfer at Western Illinois and is no stranger to the U.S. Open qualification process — in 2008, he finished just 3 strokes out from securing a spot in the U.S. Open at a sectional qualifier.
Wu and Streng will play two rounds on June 6 at a to-be-announced location for their chance at the U.S. Open. And while the numbers are against them making an appearance at Oakmont this summer — last year, nearly 600 golfers qualified for the sectional rounds — they will get their shots at one of the most prestigious events in golf.
Northwestern fans can begin making Homecoming plans, as the Wildcats announced Wednesday the date and time of next season’s Homecoming game.
NU will take on Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 22, with the Homecoming game’s kickoff set for 11 a.m . It’ll be the first time the Cats have faced the Hoosiers since 2012.
Other Big Ten teams have announced their Homecoming game dates and times as well, bringing more clarity to NU’s schedule next season. The Cats are slated to face Iowa on Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. and Michigan State on Oct. 15 at 2:30 p.m. for both schools’ respective Homecomings.
NU supporters will hope for a better outcome than last season’s Homecoming game. That day, the Cats were run over by then-No. 17 Iowa, 40-10.
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Dan Vitale in April’s NFL Draft, it guaranteed a shot at a professional career for the former Northwestern superback. But his role as a professional was still very much in the air. Vitale was best known for his pass-catching work throughout his career and was the Wildcats’ leading receiver last season, but he spent the pre-draft process highlighting his willingness to block out of the backfield as a fullback.
With a player so versatile, it’s impossible to know how the Buccaneers will use Vitale until the pads are on. But an article on the Buccaneers’ team website gave some insight into the possibilities, including dropping a term that will make fans of retro football proud.
You won’t hear the word “wingback” on many NFL broadcasts these days. Those familiar with football history are most likely to use it in order to evoke memories of players like Johnny Rodgers, the Heisman Trophy winner at Nebraska in 1972.
Though the term wingback originated out of arcane offensive formations like the single-wing, today it is used to describe a hybrid role like the one Vitale is projected to play for the Buccaneers.
The story goes on to explain that the modern “wingback” role will involve much greater responsibilities in the passing game than it would have back in the day, and Vitale is currently listed as a tight end on the Buccaneers roster. After serving as the archetype of one unique position at NU, it would only be fitting for Vitale to bring back another one in the pros.
After securing the .500 record it needed to be eligible for the NCAA Tournament with a first-round victory in the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern’s lacrosse team received an at-large bid to the NCAAs after falling to Maryland in today’s Big Tens title game. The Wildcats will take on Louisville in a rematch of a 10-4 defeat on the road earlier this season.
Northwestern’s top baseball player from last season is getting his chance at making the majors.
Former Wildcat Kyle Ruchim, who had been playing baseball this past season with the independent-league Schaumburg Boomers, had his contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox, the Boomers announced Thursday.
The Buffalo Grove native batted .306 throughout his career at NU and was named to the All-Big Ten third team in 2013. In 60 games with the Boomers, Ruchim hit .304 with 3 home runs, and now he will have a chance to advance his way through the White Sox organization.
After a historic regular season that saw the team break the school record for wins in the regular season, it’s no surprise that the Northwestern men’s tennis team would be in line for some conference-level recognition.
And on the heels of that marvelous season, juniors Konrad Zieba, Sam Shropshire, and Strong Kirchheimer were all named to the All-Big Ten first team, the Big Ten announced today.
The junior trio were rock-solid all season in the first three singles spots for the Wildcats. Zieba manned the No. 1 position for much of the season, compiling a 14-5 record in singles in dual matches this season en route to being a unanimous first team selection. Shropshire went 7-0 in singles during the conference season to earn his third consecutive first team berth. Meanwhile, Kirchheimer had the best singles record on the team this season, notching a 20-1 mark in dual matches.
In an already memorable season for the team, NU has now earned three spots on the conference’s 12-man first team for the first time since 1989. The Cats begin their quest for a Big Ten Tournament title on Friday.
Despite being below .500, Northwestern’s softball team has a great shot at an at-large bid into the 64-team NCAA Tournament thanks to a tough schedule that has them No. 47 in the RPI rankings. But wins don’t hurt either, and with Wednesday’s victory over Loyola, the Wildcats sit just three games back of .500 at 20-23. Cole Paxton recapped the win in NU’s final home game of the season.
In other news…
Softball’s win over Loyola also marked a big milestone for longtime coach Kate Drohan.
The Big Ten Tournaments in tennis are rapidly approaching, and the Cats are poised to take shots at the conference title in both the men’s and the women’s tournaments. Garrett Jochnau gets you ready for men’s tennis’ Big Tens run after a historic regular season, while Mike Marut previews women’s tennis’ quest to reclaim the conference title after coming on strong in Big Ten play.
It’s been an quite the year for Joey Calistri. The men’s soccer star finished his career as a Wildcat in the fall as the second-leading scorer in school history, then signed a homegrown contract with the Chicago Fire of MLS, beginning his professional career. In the first installment of our Curtain Call series, taking one final look at Northwestern’s senior stars like Calistri, Ben Pope profiles a player making the leap and trying to find his way at the next level.
In other news…
The NFL Draft takes place in Chicago beginning this Thursday, and several Cats seem poised to hear their names called. Bobby Pillote and Max Schuman convened a roundtable to preview the weekend’s events.
Marty Johnson checks in with the softball team as they prepare for the home stretch of the season, beginning with today’s game against Loyola University Chicago.
The Big Ten announced its golf honors yesterday, with NU’s women’s golf sweeping individual awards and men’s golfer Dylan Wu being recognized as well.
Max Schuman took a look at the Cats’ chances of sending a runner to the outdoor track NCAA Regionals this season, and didn’t like what he saw.