For two years, Melanie Schwerdtmann soaked up plenty of lessons from her Elmhurst College women’s basketball teammates.
As a freshman and sophomore at NCAA Division III Elmhurst, Schwerdtmann learned just how hard her teammates competed in practice and also how much time they worked on their games away from practice.
“It helped me with the experience of knowing what to do,” said Schwerdtmann, a Jacobs graduate. “I had some really good people to learn from. When they went to shoot extra, I knew that I had to go do that too. … I appreciate what they did for me.”
By watching and learning, Schwerdtmann has become a major contributor for the Bluejays this season.
After starting only four games in her first two seasons, Schwerdtmann is a fixture in the starting lineup this season. The 6-foot junior guard/forward has started every game, leading the Bluejays to an 8-2 record while posting a team-high 16.9 points a game.
Schwerdtmann, the third-leading scorer in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, also ranks second in the league in field-goal percentage (.655) and eighth in rebounding (6.5 a game).
Just as Schwerdtmann credits former teammates for her development, she points to current teammates for her breakout season.
“I can’t take credit for all that,” she said. “This is not all myself.”
While working extensively in the low post, Schwerdtmann said she has formed a formidable duo with junior teammate Fiona McMahon, the team’s leading rebounder (7.5) and second-leading scorer (12.3).
Elmhurst is only three wins away from matching last season’s total and has the second-best record among CCIW teams.
Schwerdtmann, who had a career-high 27 points on Dec. 14 against Fontbonne, is now sharing lessons with younger teammates, much like older mentors did for her.
“Oh yeah, that’s my job now,” she said with a laugh.
Carthage award: Michael Dombrowski, a junior forward for D-III Carthage College’s men’s soccer team, was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s All-Central Region second team this month.
A Johnsburg grad, Dombrowski led Carthage (13-7-1) this season with 14 goals and 30 points. He also had six game-winning goals while helping the team finish second in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.
Dombrowski also was named the NSCAA’s All-Wisconsin Offensive Player of the Year and an all-state first-team member.
Cowboy contributor: Crystal Lake Central grad Austin Marsden is 7-2 this season as the starting 285-pounder for Oklahoma State’s wrestling team, which is ranked No. 5 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association poll.
Marsden, a sophomore, beat Bucknell’s Joe Stolfi, 8-3, in a dual meet Nov. 17. At the time, Stolfi was ranked ninth nationally in the 285 weight class. As a team, the Cowboys (3-2) have lost duals to No. 2 Minnesota and No. 4 Oklahoma by identical 16-15 scores.
Marsden’s only two losses came against ranked wrestlers from Minnesota and Oklahoma. Against the Gophers, Marsden lost, 2-0, to Tony Nelson, the nation’s top-ranked 285-pounder and a two-time national champion.
Saginaw Valley stalwart: Senior defender Taylor Clarke ended his college soccer career by starting 76 consecutive matches for D-II Saginaw Valley State’s men’s program.
Clarke, a senior defender, helped the Cardinals (11-4-5) advance this season to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship match, where they lost, 2-1, in double overtime to Ohio Dominican on Nov. 10.
Last season, Saginaw Valley lost in the D-II national championship match.
For the season, Clarke scored a pair of goals, including one game-winning goal. He helped the Cardinals limit opponents to a 0.99 goals-against average, which ranked third in the conference.
Augustana ace: Cary-Grove grad Erik Gustafson, a sophomore defender, was named the Most Valuable Player and Best Defender for D-III Augustana College’s men’s soccer team this month.
Gustafson started 13 games for the Vikings (7-10-1), helping the team allow 1.44 goals and 12.2 shots a game. Gustafson had one assist this season.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com and check out his On Campus column every Saturday in the Northwest Herald sports section and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.