Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson and sports reporter Steve Nitz spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their Take 2 column, they discuss choosing the 2013 Male Athlete of Year winner.
Jacobson: On Tuesday, we talked about how tough of a decision it was in naming the 2013 Daily Chronicle Female Athlete of the Year, which went to Indian Creek senior Kate Thuestad. If you didn’t read her story, make sure to go to our website and check it out.
The discussion over the Male Athlete of the Year was just as lengthy. There were a number of athletes who were first-team all-area selections in multiple sports and a couple more who played three sports and had an impact in every sports season.
Steve, who were some of the top candidates we originally discussed?
Nitz: Man, this was a tough one. Sycamore seniors Austin Culton and Scott Nelson, as well as Hinckley-Big Rock’s Bernie Conley all are great candidates. You also had DeKalb’s Marc Dubrick and H-BR’s Jared Madden.
Nelson was our Player of the Year in both basketball and baseball. Conley was our Boys Soccer Player of the Year and the best player on a good Royals basketball team.
In the end though, we agreed that Culton was just dominant in his two sports – football and wrestling. He was the area’s leading rusher in the fall for the second straight season, earning Daily Chronicle Football Player of the Year honors, and lost one match all season in wrestling.
Jacobson: Unfortunately for Culton, that loss came in the state title match, but he’ll continue his wrestling career at NIU.
Dubrick was an interesting candidate to me because he had the distinction of qualifying for state in three sports during his senior year, something not many athletes can say. And he did it in the IHSA’s toughest class to boot.
Dubrick qualified for the cross country state meet in the fall, was part of the DeKalb-Sycamore medley relay that went to the state swimming meet in the winter and then qualified once again in the spring by getting under the qualifying mark in track and field’s 3,200-meter race.
Madden also was a three-sport star and went to state in two sports: soccer and track. He was the starting shooting guard for the Royals’ basketball team, as well, and it would’ve made the discussion even more interesting had H-BR not been upset by Mooseheart in a regional final.
Nitz: I honestly feel that we had five really good athlete of the year candidates. To me, maybe the most impressive thing about Madden is how he decided to go out for track for the first time and qualified for state in the 300 hurdles. There were some good choices this year, but in the end, I think Culton’s pure dominance in two sports, at a good level of competition, puts him over the top.
Jacobson: Looking ahead to next year, a couple of names to look at as 2014 Male Athlete of the Year candidates could include Sycamore seniors Ben Niemann and Devin Mottet, Kaneland senior Drew David, DeKalb junior Dre Brown and Genoa-Kingston sophomore Tommy Lucca.