Kelly McCoy punctuates most of her sentences with an easy-going laugh.
“I don’t take things too seriously,” said McCoy, a Cary-Grove graduate. “But when I’m on the track, I’m focused.”
McCoy’s bubbly personality has matched her performance for Iowa State’s women’s track team this season.
A redshirt junior, McCoy spent the previous three seasons as a multi-event specialist. When a new coaching staff arrived after last season, she became a specialist in one event – the high jump.
“We don’t jump a lot during the week,” she said. “We save that for meet days. But for the past three years, I would work during the week on long jump, then go over to the shot put or start throwing the javelin. Only having to focus on the high jump is really helpful.”
McCoy said she was consistently a 5-foot, 5-inch jumper throughout her career. This season, she posted a career-best 5-9¼ effort to take fifth at last month’s Drake Relays. She followed that performance with a jump of 5-8¾ to win the event at Mississippi State last weekend.
“To jump 4 inches better, and maybe more in the next two meets, has been really exciting,” she said.
Her performance at Drake was the fifth-best jump in school history and ranks sixth this season in the Big 12 Conference.
McCoy has a strong chance to score points in the Big 12 championships next week in Lubbock, Texas.
Before the season, McCoy said she wrote down a goal of 5-10¾, which she admits was a bit high. At Drake, however, McCoy barely missed clearing that height. On her final attempt, McCoy said her torso cleared the bar, but one of her feet clipped the bar and caused a failed attempt.
“I never would’ve expected this,” McCoy said. “Heights like 5-10¾ seemed so lofty. … If I would’ve kicked my feet, I would’ve been fine.”
Entering the Big 12 meet, McCoy is tied for 48th nationally. That placing, she said, would earn her a spot in NCAA regional competition this month in Fayetteville, Ark. The top 12 finishers at the regional will advance to the national meet in June at Eugene, Ore.
“Nationals wasn’t even on my radar this year,” McCoy said, adding a laugh.
Super scholar Eisenberg: Richmond-Burton grad Josh Eisenberg was honored this week as one of 29 male athletes nationwide to win a $7.500 NCAA postgraduate scholarship.
Eisenberg, a senior multi-event specialist for D-III Augustana College’s track and field team, has a 3.96 grade-point average in biology. A six-time All-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin performer, Eisenberg will attend Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine this fall.
Last week, Augustana honored Eisenberg with the Knut Erickson Award as the four-year letterwinner with the highest cumulative GPA. He also won the CCIW’s Jack Swartz Award for 2013-14 as the top male student-athlete during the winter season.
Culver-Stockton standout: Senior pitcher Zach Engelbrecht earned second-team All-Heart of America Athletic Conference honors this spring for NAIA Culver-Stockton College’s baseball team in Canton, Mo.
Engelbrecht, a graduate of Alden-Hebron, was 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA and six saves in a team-high 21 appearances.
Engelbrecht struck out 18 in 34 2/3 innings for the Wildcats (29-26), who have qualified for the NAIA World Series Championship series, which begins Monday at sites around the country.
Woodstock grad Shawn Hovlid, a senior catcher at Iowa’s Graceland University, made the honorable mention all-conference team. Hovlid, who formerly played at McHenry County College, batted .283 this season for the Yellowjackets (15-33) with a .432 on-base percentage and 23 walks.
Local duo tops in CCIW: Carthage’s Vicki Pyan (Crystal Lake South) and Augustana’s Jenna Teson (Jacobs) earned first- and second-team all-conference recognition, respectively, from College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin coaches.
Pyan, a senior who plays third base, batted a team-high .389 while starting all 37 games for Carthage (23-14). Pyan led her team in seven offensive categories, including slugging percentage (.611), hits (42) and doubles (10) while driving in 25 runs.
Teson, a junior who plays second base, started every game for the Vikings (33-11) and led the team in hits (54) and runs (37). Teson, who is batting .370, has helped the team earn an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament. The Vikings will take part in regional play this weekend in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
CCAC stars: Three local baseball players – Judson pitcher Ryan Perez, Saint Xavier outfielder/pitcher Chris Klein and Roosevelt infielder Danny Grzywa – earned All-Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference honors for their respective NAIA schools.
Perez, a Westminster Christian grad, was named to the first team after posting a 12-3 record with a 2.16 ERA and five complete games for the Eagles (42-17), who won the CCAC tournament and the league’s automatic bid to the NAIA postseason. The sophomore posted 89 strikeouts.
Klein, a senior, batted .337 with a team-best 63 hits for the Cougars (22-29). The Huntley grad finished 4-3 as a starting pitcher with a 4.39 ERA to earn first-team honors.
Grzywa, a junior from Hampshire, was named to the second team after hitting .309 with 18 RBIs for Roosevelt (13-29).
• 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.