Prep Zone: Hampshire's Gibas headed to Air Force

Hampshire senior Michael Gibas kept looking at the long-term picture regarding the Air Force Academy, which is good.

Because any commitment to a service academy is definitely long term. That and the discipline involved did not deter Gibas, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound offensive lineman who will play football for the Air Force Academy in 2015.

Gibas recently learned he was accepted to the academy and will attend the U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School, next to the academy itself, for the 2014-15 school year. He will play football for the prep school team, which plays a schedule of junior college teams.

“It will be an honor to go there, with the tradition and history behind it,” Gibas said. “It’s a fantastic football team and it’s beautiful in Colorado Springs. It seemed like the right fit.”

Gibas and his mother, Judy Connors, made an unofficial visit over the summer and visited again the weekend of Oct. 26, when the Falcons played Notre Dame. The second visit solidified everything Gibas already thought about the Air Force.

“After graduation, you have five years as an officer, but you’re guaranteed a job out of college,” Gibas said. “A degree from Air Force is second to none, you have to look down the road.”

Gibas said Air Force’s coaches send their freshmen players to the prep school, where they can develop and adapt to academy life.

“Of their 22 starters this year, 19 went to the prep school,” Gibas said. “It’s on the Air Force campus and they play junior college teams, so I will play football. I just have to go through basic training twice.”

Ridout to Heartland: Johnsburg senior Collin Ridout decided to take a route similar to that of another former Skyhawk, Jerad Grundy, and will play at Heartland Community College, a junior college in Bloomington, next year.

Ridout, who will be a fourth-year varsity player this spring, played with Team Demarini last summer, which happened to be in Bloomington for a tournament. Hawks coach Nate Metzger had Ridout visit the school while he was in town. Ridout’s brother, Brandon, is close friends with Grundy, who played for a year at Heartland, between Miami (Fla.) and Kentucky. Grundy was selected in the 10th round of Baseball’s draft by Oakland last June.

“I talked with Jerad about it after I visited,” Ridout said. “With the financial part, it’s great, it’s a full ride. I didn’t know that much about the school until Team Demarini played down there at Illinois State University.”

Ridout was a Northwest Herald All-Area honorable-mention pick last season as a shortstop and pitcher. He said Heartland may use him as an infielder and at pitcher.

Spoeth to Parkside: Huntley senior Brad Spoeth has committed to play golf at NCAA Division II Wisconsin-Parkside next year. Spoeth was a Northwest Herald All-Area honorable mention selection.

Spoeth shot a 76 in the Class 3A regional to help the Red Raiders advance as a team. Huntley was one shot from advancing to the Class 3A State Tournament as a team. He considered St. Joseph's (Ind.) College and Elgin Community College, but liked Rangers coach Mark Olsen.

"He's a great guy and they play a good schedule in a competitive conference," Spoeth said. "I knew my junior year I wanted to play golf in college and [Huntley] coach [Jim] Rolando and my parents helped me with everything."

Spoeth also credited his teaching coach Mike Yackle at Pinecrest in Huntley.

Ricca to Judson: Crystal Lake Central setter Natalie Ricca has signed with NAIA Judson University in Elgin to continue her volleyball career.

Ricca helped the Tigers to a 32-5 record and the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division title this season. She played at Sky High Volleyball Club, where Judson coach Jill Rokosik also coached.

“Natalie is a tremendous competitor,” Rokosik said. “Not only is she an exceptional setter, but she is a relentless defender. She provides calm, steady, focused leadership and is a true student of the game. Her experience and volleyball IQ will help to move this program forward.”

Ricca said knowing Rokosik through Sky High helped her make the decision to attend Judson and play for her.

Lewan to Dubuque: Dundee-Crown pitcher Tyler Lewan has committed to play baseball at D-III University of Dubuque. Lewan, a right-handed pitcher, was 1-3 with a 5.30 ERA for the Chargers last spring.

Lewan pitched well and played infield for Top Tier’s 17U team last summer.

• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.

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