High School Sports Spotlight for May 28, 2012
May 27, 2012 4:44PM
Updated: July 23, 2012 4:53PM
This week we shine the spotlight on: Michelle Balcerzak, Lincoln-Way North soccer; Tony Natalino, Marist volleyball; Eric Pontow, Sandburg tennis, Jesse Long, Providence track and field.
School: Lincoln-Way North
Balcerzak posted 14 shutouts in earning All-Area honors in 2011 and had a goals against average under one this season through Thursday.
She enjoys being a vocal leader. “I’m always yelling,” she said. “I have a different view of the field and can see everything and anticipate.”
Balcerzak is hoping for a strong finish for her and her senior teammates.
“The core group of girls has been together since freshman year,” she said. “We’ve grown together.”
One of the best middle blockers in the state, Natalino will continue to play volleyball next year for St. Ambrose, the two-time NAIA runner-up.
“One of the big things was how small the school was so I know I won’t get into trouble there,” he said. “My brother and a lot of his friends went there, and I liked the school a lot when I visited.”
Natalino recently was named the East Suburban Catholic Conference Most Valuable Player for 2012.
Having qualified for state as a freshman and sophomore, Pontow made it a perfect 3-for-3, winning the recent Sandburg sectional.
The wear and tear of the state tournament can be a grind.
“It’s pretty intense (the meet),” Pontow said. “The only meet you play four matches in a day is state, so you’ve just got to stay hydrated. Last year, I almost cramped up, but I was able to avoid it.”
Sport: Track and Field
A state discus qualifier a season ago, Long won the first sectional championship of his career by launching the shot put 52 feet, 6 inches at the Class 2A Lincoln-Way West Sectional. The Celtics offensive lineman didn’t neglect the discus, however, qualifying in consecutive years with a toss of 156-5, good for second place.
“I had a really good week of practice coming into sectionals. My footwork especially seemed to come together,” Long said.