While most students fled Southern Illinois University for summer break, Josh Freeman stayed put.
After an impressive freshman season throwing the shot put for the Salukis, being in quiet Carbondale over the summer proved beneficial.
While awaiting the Pan-American Junior Athletics Championships in Colombia – where he won the gold medal in August – Freeman maintained his usual in-season routine.
“It kept me focused for the whole summer,” the Cary-Grove graduate said. “I was able to keep up with my training all summer long.”
Freeman’s busy summer has paid more dividends early in the college indoor season.
At last weekend’s Notre Dame Invitational, Freeman ripped off a career-best throw of 63 feet, 2 inches to break SIU’s 30-year-old indoor shot put record by 4¼ inches.
“It’s a big confidence booster,” said Freeman, who had set a goal to beat the record, which was held by his throws coach at SIU, John Smith. “I didn’t really expect it to come this early in the season. Now I feel like I can set my sights on some other goals, like getting to (indoor) nationals and being an All-American.”
Freeman, who has a close relationship with Smith, said the record has special meaning because it belonged to his coach.
“I think he’s glad that I’m the one who got it,” he said. “I think he knew I’d be the one to beat it.”
Freeman finished second at the Notre Dame meet to Illinois State senior Curt Jensen, who threw 64-11¼. Jensen’s throw of 66-7 earlier this season ranks third in the nation and broke the Missouri Valley Conference indoor record set by Smith in 1984 while throwing for SIU.
Freeman, whose record throw was 19.25 meters, said he and Smith are now setting their sights on the 20-meter mark (65-7½) this season.
Freeman’s big day at Notre Dame was not without some nervous moments.
“I felt pretty distracted,” said Freeman, who was awaiting the arrival of his parents from the McHenry County area.
What was expected to be a 2 1/2-hour drive to Notre Dame turned into a four-hour journey for Willliam and Stacy Freeman in hazardous weather conditions.
The Freemans arrived after their son’s fourth throw of the meet, allowing him to relax, he said.
“My fifth throw, I threw a personal best by 5 inches,” he said of his toss of 61-0¾.
On his final throw, Freeman shattered that mark by more than 2 feet.
“I knew I had a big throw in me,” Freeman said. “It was only a matter of time.”
Dynamic debut: In her first season at NAIA Olivet Nazarene University, McHenry West grad Laura D’Angelo is off to a blazing start.
At the season-opening Mike Lints Alumni Open on Jan. 17 at Grand Valley State University, D’Angelo qualified for the NAIA indoor national meet with a time of 59.34 seconds in the 400-meter dash. The time surpassed the NAIA’s A qualifying standard in the event.
D’Angelo also was a member of the ONU 1,600 relay team that surpassed the national A standard as well, finishing in 4:00.13.
The national meet is planned for March 6-8 in Geneva, Ohio.
While helping her team win the NAIA/NCAA D-III Challenge in Bourbonnais last weekend, D’Angelo finished second in the 400 in 59.64 and helped the 1,600 team win the event in 4:01.88.
Outfield Ace in MVC: Evansville University junior outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski was chosen Wednesday to the 14-member preseason All-Missouri Valley Conference baseball team.
Kaczmarski, a Prairie Ridge grad, was a first-team All-MVC selection last season, when he finished in the top 10 in the conference in eight offensive categories. Along with a .339 batting average last season, Kaczmarski compiled 48 runs scored, 15 doubles and 15 stolen bases for the D-I Aces (24-34 last season).
Kittle wins league honor: Dundee-Crown grad Max Kittle was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Week on Monday.
A sophomore, Kittle won three events for Anderson (Ind.) University at the Defiance Invitational in Ohio. Kittle won the 60-meter hurdles in 8.30 seconds, and also was victorious in the 200 dash (22.8) while running a leg on the winning 1,600 relay team.
Kittle’s hurdle time ranks sixth nationally this season in NCAA Division III. His 200 time is the top effort in the conference this season.
Roosevelt hotshot: Senior guard-forward Maria Tamburrino is the second-leading scorer and No. 2 rebounder this season for NAIA Roosevelt University’s women’s basketball team.
Tamburrino, a Jacobs grad, has helped the Chicago school to a 16-7 record by starting every game. She is scoring 13.6 points a game and pulling down 8.1 rebounds.
Tamburrino has started all 116 games in her career for Roosevelt, which started the program in 2010.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryOnCampus.