Each spring, Emily Heinz’s can’t-miss TV viewing is the NCAA Gymnastics Championships.
The Jacobs graduate, a senior at Central Michigan, enjoys watching the nation’s best compete in her sport.
This season, Heinz wasn’t able to tune in. Instead, for the first time in her career, she was having TV cameras follow her as a national qualifier.
“It was amazing to be a part of it,” said Heinz, who was one of three CMU athletes to qualify after the trio tied for a regional title with 9.850 scores on the balance beam. “I would normally be home watching it on TV. It was a whole different experience to be there. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish my career.”
Heinz finished 39th in the event with a 9.575 at nationals in Birmingham, Ala. But competing on the sport’s biggest stage created lifelong memories.
“Being part of a team sport, you always want to go with your team,” she said. “But to do it as an individual, you still get to represent your team and your school and your coaches.”
Heinz, who posted career highs this season on the beam (9.925) and floor exercise (9.875), competed on the first day of last weekend’s meet with teammates Hallie Moraw and Taylor Noonan, who finished 23rd and 32nd, respectively.
They returned to the arena the next day to watch and were surprised by the fans’ reactions.
“Some people asked us to take pictures,” she said. “They recognized us from competing the day before. We do this for the enjoyment of the crowd, so it was nice to have people recognize you.”
While posting the best scores of her career this season, Heinz said she improved in other areas as a team captain.
“You learn to help other people,” she said. “I’ve really grown in the mental part of the sport and in leadership.”
Heinz is scheduled to graduate next month with a degree in biomedical sciences. She plans to take next year away from school to prepare for a graduate program in forensic science. Two possible schools, she said, are Michigan State and Illinois-Chicago.
“I think it would be really interesting to work in a crime lab,” said Heinz, who has a 3.76 grade-point average.
Although she won’t be in school next season, Heinz said she doesn’t plan to be away from gymnastics. Heinz would like to coach the sport on anywhere from the club level to a college program.
“I’ve always wanted to coach,” she said.
Carthage golfers earn all-conference: Seniors Brad Hyland (Prairie Ridge) and Riley Bauman (Crystal Lake Central) earned All-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin honors this spring by finishing fifth and seventh, respectively, as individuals at this month’s league golf tournament.
Hyland posted a 1-over-par 289 total in the four-round event at The Rail Golf Course in Springfield. Bauman posted a 3-over 291 to help Carthage place third in the eight-team event.
For the season, Hyland led the team with a 74.3 stroke average and posted seven top-10 individual finishes. Bauman was second on the team in stroke average (74.6) with six top-10 finishes.
Concordia climbs polls: D-III Concordia University Chicago’s baseball team improved to No. 3 this week in both the D3Baseball.com and American Baseball Coaches Association polls.
The Cougars (27-3) have lost one game since March 9 and earned two first-place votes in this week’s D3Baseball.com poll, a first in school history.
Concordia junior shortstop Steve Zubrzycki (Marian Central) is batting .333 with 21 RBIs and a team-best 22 stolen bases in 23 attempts.
Winona winner: Harvard grad Chase Blazier is tied for the team lead in victories as a junior pitcher for D-II Winona (Minn.) State’s baseball team.
Blazier (5-2) has a 2.80 ERA with a team-best seven starts and two complete games. In 45 innings, Blazier has walked only five batters and allowed opponents to hit .273.
Bronco at the bat: McHenry’s Kelsea Cichocki is batting .321 this season while starting at first base as a freshman at D-I Western Michigan.
Cichocki, who has started 27 games this season for the Broncos (16-27), has five doubles and ranks third on the team with a .396 on-base percentage. At first base, Cichocki has made one error this season and has a .995 fielding percentage and a team-best 200 putouts.
• 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.