SouthtownStar Athletes On Campus: Jessica Watychowicz, of Wisconsin-Parkside, the GLVC 2013-14 Scholoar-Athlete of the Year
By Mike Walsh For Sun-Times Media June 27, 2014 7:26PM
Wisconsin-Parkside’s Jessica Watychowicz | Supplied photo
Updated: July 30, 2014 6:42AM
Be it on the track or in the classroom, Wisconsin-Parkside’s Jessica Watychowicz had a senior year that seems understated to describe as impressive.
For her excellence academically, the Reavis graduate was lauded as the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s 2013-14 Scholar-Athlete of the Year in women’s track and field. The Burbank resident was one of 12 student-athletes across the GLVC to be recognized with the award.
The GLVC selects one student-athlete in each conference sport to be designated the GLVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Nominees must have a cumulative grade-point average that meets Academic All-America standards (3.30). (Freshmen and first-year transfers are not eligible for the award.) The voting is completed by each member institution’s Faculty Athletic Representative.
Watychowicz is the third Ranger over the past four years to win the GLVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women’s track and field.
In addition, Watychowicz also was selected to receive the GLVC’s Council of Presidents’ Academic Excellence Award.
Watychowicz, who has a 3.62 GPA, earned her undergraduate degree in business management with a concentration in finance and accounting. Having just returned from 21/2 weeks of studying abroad in Italy, Watychowicz will receive her master’s degree in business administration in August.
“I didn’t know that I was a contender for (the GLVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award),” Watychowicz said. “But when I found out I was excited about it. Not only did I compete very hard on the track, I also did well in the classroom.
“Winning this award is very important because it shows that I put a lot of time and effort into running, but also into succeeding in the classroom. It’s astonishing to me. When I found out, I was super-excited. I was blown away.”
As outstanding as Watychowicz was academically, she similarly was impressive on the track.
At the NCAA Division II championships May 22 in Allendale, Michigan, Watychowicz garnered All-American accolades as she took second in the 10,000 meters in a field of 21 athletes with a time of 35 minutes, 26.44 seconds. Watychowicz was just 1.11 seconds behind national champion Lauren Martin, of Adams State.
Not bad for someone whose first experience in running the 10,000 meters came approximately three weeks earlier at the GLVC meet. There, Watychowicz broke a 15-year-old meet record by posting a time of 35:22.26.
“After I won and broke the GLVC record, my head coach, Micah VanDenend, and I decided to run the 10,000 and 5,000 at nationals,” Watychowicz said. “I went in with the mindset that I was just as tough and fast as the other girls. I was seeded 10th. I shot high and I did really well.
“It comes down to who is the toughest athlete that day when you get up on the line.”
In the 5,000, Watychowicz established a school record with a time of 16:38.32 on April 17 at the Mount SAC Relays in Walnut, California. She finished 19th in the 5,000 at the NCAA Championships.
In terms of her future, Watychowicz said coaching very well could be her choice of paths.
“This year was a great way to cap off my collegiate career (as a competitor),” Watychowicz said. “It really was. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Western Illinois softball player Teagan Walsh was named to the 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s All-Region Third Team.
Walsh, who prepped at Marist, primarily played first base for the Leathernecks this season. The junior led WIU in doubles (16) and RBI (38), while finishing second in batting average (.346) and runs (26).
In addition, the Oak Forest resident was named Western Illinois’ Papa John’s Scholar-Athlete of the Week for the period ending April 1. In a 4-3 win over South Dakota State, Walsh drove in two runs, while also pitching 21/3 innings, allowing one hit en route to picking up the victory.
For the season, Walsh was 2-2 in the circle with a 2.37 ERA. She pitched in 11 games, making one start.