Robinson represents women's basketball on all-Region IV First Team
March 15, 2013
Anita Robinson often gave away 3 to 6 inches to her counterparts, but that was about all the Morton College women’s basketball player gave up.
Robinson sparked a renaissance for the women’s basketball program at Morton College, which had its most productive season in 12 years at 16-15. The 5-6 sophomore forward, the Panthers’ leading scorer (12.8) and rebounder (9.4), was named to the all-Region IV First Team. She was the only representative from Morton College on the five-member team.
Robinson, also selected to the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference First Team and named Region IV Player of the Week in December, had four 20-point games, 14 double-doubles and shot 47 percent from the field this season. Her season-best in scoring was a 24-point effort against Moraine Valley at the Illinois Skyway Tip-Off Classic.
“Anita always played hard and never gave up,” Morton College women’s basketball coach Larry Lanciotti said. “She just worked, worked and worked. What you saw in the games is what you saw in practice. Even though Anita’s 5-6, she basically was our inside game.”
In Robinson’s two seasons at Morton College, the Panthers experienced back-to-back double-digit win campaigns for the first time in 11 years and reached the Region IV semifinals for the first time since 2005.
Some of Robinson’s best games came against in Morton College’s biggest games. Her 19-point, 16-rebound effort in a win over Moraine Valley got the Panthers into Region IV semifinals. In Robinson’s final home game against NJCAA Division II national qualifier Elgin, she had 18 points and 13 rebounds, 10 coming on the offensive end.
Moraine Valley will be glad to see Robinson go as the Panthers beat the Cyclones twice in three meetings. Robinson tormented the Cyclones to the tune of 19.7 points and 15.3 rebounds per game.
“Hard work got Anita to where she is today,” Lanciotti said. “Her hard work rubbed off on everybody else. It helped make everyone else on the team better.”
Softball excited about 2013 season and already planning ahead for 2014
March 11, 2013
While eagerly getting ready for his second season, Morton College softball coach Tony Asay already is working ahead for 2014 by picking up a pair of commitments from Morton High School the week before the Panthers kick off the 2013 campaign against at home against Kankakee on Wednesday, March 13th.
Asay, a defensive back on Morton High School’s last conference championship football team in 1985, knows the Panthers are going to be stronger than a year ago. He’ll build around second baseman Stephanie Vega, third baseman Jessica Garcia (team-leader with five home runs), center fielder Angela LoConte and designated hitter Nicole Freer.
“Stephanie is a very steady player,” Asay said. “Jessica led us in home runs last year and Nicole can hit with authority. Angela is a very good outfielder – she’s one of the fastest people I’ve seen from home plate to first.”
Although the Panthers have just 12 players, versatility isn’t a problem. Heather Mackowiak, who Asay is counting on to be one of the team’s better offensive weapons, will pitch. Victoria Crawford and Amy Cihak will alternate at catcher. If Crawford is behind the dish, Cihak may pitch or man an outfield slot. If Cihak is catching, Crawford probably will be in the outfield.
Asay is still determining whether his starting shortstop will be either Dana Kraft or Lynmarie Vega. Both will be in the starting lineup, though, with one going to first base. Melissa Perez also is a candidate to play first base. Estefany Ramos will be a utility outfielder, while Asay is finding a place for Alma Delgado.
The Panthers, 2-12 in the Illinois Skyway last year, are schedule to open with home dates on back-to-back days against Kankakee and Joliet. Both of those dates may turn into away games because the Panthers’ home facility at 32nd Street and Central Avenue might be a week away from being ready due to the recent snowstorm.
“I like our ability to hit and I think we’re a very cohesive unit,” Asay said. “It’s a good, hard-working group. They enjoy being around each other. I’ll leave practice and they’ll stay. It’s going to be an enjoyable experience this year.”
Successful run for men's basketball ends in Region IV championship game
March 11, 2013
Notes and observations from the Morton College men’s basketball season that ended with an 83-69 loss to Moraine Valley in the Region IV title game March 7 at Illinois Valley in Oglesby:
The Panthers’ 23 wins is the fourth-highest single-season victory total in Morton College history. The 2009-10 Illinois Skyway champs hold the record with 26 wins, followed by the 1989-90 and 2004-05 teams at 25. The 2011 Panthers chalked up 24 wins.
Kijaune Leach capped his brilliant career at Morton College with his 21st double-double of the season, putting up 13 points and 13 rebounds. The 6-3 Leach led the Panthers, who finished 23-10, in scoring at 17.5 points per game. His 11.5 rebounds per contest were fourth-best nationally at the NJCAA Division II level.
Demarius Miller’s final career basket – a three-pointer with 3:24 left – allowed him to sneak past Earnest Mackey for fourth place on Morton College’s all-time scoring list. Miller scored 1,208 points, while Mackey put up 1,207 points from 1988 to 1990. Mackey was half of Morton College’s dynamic duo in those two seasons. He and Marvin McGrew, Morton College’s all-time scoring leader with 1,891 points, combined for 3,098 points.
Antonio Foster, probably one of a handful of athletes in Illinois Skyway history to be named First Team in the same sport at two different member schools, finished with seven points and 10 rebounds. His tip-in basket for the game’s first two points started the Panthers off on the right foot. It was only one of two times the Panthers led in the game.
Morton College’s 10-game improvement in the victory ledger was the third-best in program history. The record is plus-13, which happened in 2009. The Panthers improved from eight wins to 21 in reaching the national tournament in 2009.
Leach and Miller, who scored 24 points against Moraine Valley, were named to the six-player all-tournament team. Moraine Valley’s Karrington Ward captured MVP honors, thanks to his triple-double of 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots against the Panthers in the title game. In addition, Ward was 9 of 10 from the field overall and 5 of 6 from three-point range. The Skyway’s regular-season MVP wasn’t called for any fouls.
Moraine Valley shot 59 percent for the game (31 of 53), while the Panthers connected on 25 of 73 attempts for 34 percent. The Cyclones had four players in double figures to Morton College’s two.
The Panthers captured their third Illinois Skyway title in four seasons. It was the first tri-championship for men’s basketball in conference history. Morton College, Moraine Valley and Waubonsee all finished 12-2.
Morton College was gunning for its third appearance in Danville since 2005. The Panthers were trying to extend on a string of getting to nationals every four years, having done so in 2005 and 2009. Also, the Panthers were trying to duplicate their 2009 path to nationals, achieved by knocking off Waubonsee in the semifinals and a nationally-ranked Moraine Valley in the title game.
Morton College coach Conte Stamas on Moraine Valley’s fast-paced style: “One of the keys to the game was not to play so quick on offense. They want to play you faster and take you out what you like to do.”
You can’t ask for better fans than Morton College basketball PA announcer Art Belanger and his wife, Judy. They were returning from a vacation in Florida and a made a detour in Oglesby to see the Panthers play before returning home. A number of Panther baseball players made the 90-mile ride from Cicero to Oglesby.
The Panthers bid farewell to a number of sophomores, including Leach, Foster, Miller, Mike Johnson, Jason Suttle, Jerel Dunn and Phil Bishkinskiy.
Pairings for the 16-team NJCAA Division II nationals in Danville won’t be released until the afternoon of Tuesday, March 12. Of the NJCAA’s Top 20 on March 5, 11 teams qualified for Danville. The Panthers faced three of the 16 teams in the field – No. 7 South Suburban, No. 8 Moraine Valley and Owens. The tournament runs March 19 to 23.
For ATF special agent, it still feels like 1st week on job for former MC baseball player
March 8, 2013
Suggested photo caption:
Morton College graduate Mitch Wido (fourth from left) has been with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for 26 years.
Mitch Wido has been with the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or better known as ATF for 26 years. But the 1981 graduate of Morton College’s Law Enforcement program still feels the euphoria and excitement associated with the first week of a new job.
Wido is a Senior Special Agent with the ATF. His current assignment is with the Chicago Field Division’s Explosives Investigations Group, where he investigates bombings and explosions. Wido works with and provides instruction to various federal, state and local agencies assisting ATF agents on cases.
The Cicero native, who played baseball and hockey at Morton College, caught the law enforcement bug early. The dads of some of Wido’s closest friends growing up were Cicero police officers.
“I looked up to them and I respected them,” Wido said. “It seemed to be an interesting career.”
Wido still tells this story today as to why he came to Morton College. The graduate of Lincoln School and Morton East High School liked that Morton College was in his neighborhood. He also was employed at the time with the Clyde Park District in Cicero.
“I was impressed with the community college system because of the on-the-job experience of the instructors,” Wido said. “I worked during the day, so I had to take some night courses. Many of the law enforcement instructors had police jobs during the day and then came to school at night to teach. I enjoyed having law enforcement instructors with on-the-job experience and teaching it to us.”
After receiving his associate’s degree from Morton College, Wido transferred to Lewis University in Romeoville, where he graduated with honors in Social Justice. He spent four years as a police officer in Oak Brook before applying to work at the ATF.
“I was interested in a government career and decided this was a good move,” Wido said.
Wido’s first assignment with ATF was as a special agent in the Chicago Field Division for a firearms investigation group. His specialty evolved into investigating bombings and explosives. Wido has been sent to Iraq twice, once in 2004 to provide explosive investigation training to the Iraqi Police Service. Two years later, Wido was back in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was a member of a military response team charged with investigating roadside bombing attacks on coalition forces.
As part of intergovernmental cooperation among federal agencies, Wido has worked with the U.S. Secret Service as part of the President’s security team and at events like last year’s NATO summit in Chicago.
Wido also has a partner – Deja, a 4-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever. She is one of 30 ATF explosives detection K-9s currently working with ATF special agents. They have been together for three years and Deja lives with Wido. Both are on call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They trained together for 10 weeks at an ATF Canine Training Center in Virginia before going out in the field.
“She has to find a wide variety of explosive compounds, everything from fireworks to TNT, you name it,” Wido said. “If it is an explosive chemical mixture, she is trained to find it. K-9 Deja can detect over 19,000 different types of chemical mixtures found in explosives.”
In addition to his ATF duties, Wido lectures and teaches to a variety of audiences in the private and public sectors. He has been a visiting instructor at the University of Illinois, the Fire Science Institute, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary.
“As an investigator, there’s quite a bit of independence involved,” Wido said. “You need to have personal drive, discipline and a good work ethic to be successful.”
Men's cross country team nation's 8th-best in Academic Team Standings
March 6, 2013
The 2012 season was one to remember for the Morton College men’s cross country team.
Not only were the Panthers the best in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference and in Region IV, the Morton College men also proved they were among the nation’s brightest. The Panthers’ team grade-point average of 3.594 put Morton College eighth overall in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Cross Country Coaches’ Academic Teams Standings.
Team members Eduardo Padilla, Ivan De La Rosa and Hector Lopez also received Academic All-America honors from the association. For Lopez, it was his second time being named an Academic All-America.
“It’s obvious that Hector has been consistent in being excellent in the classroom as well as a runner,” Morton College cross country coach Gus Coronado said. “We always talk to our team about the importance of school.”
The Morton College women’s team had two runners named Academic All-America in Adriana Villafuerte and Miriam Andablo. They finished 25th in the women’s Academic Team Standings with a 2.986 grade-point average.
Padilla, De La Rosa and Villafuerte all had 4.0 grade-point averages.
Academic All-America honors go to those with a grade-point average of 3.4 or higher. Grade-point averages are for the Fall 2012 semester.
“It’s a huge compliment to the athletes for being so successful as cross-country runners and as students in the classroom,” Morton College athletic director Rich Fullriede said. “They’re also such nice young people to be around. They’re a great example of what all our student-athletes should aspire to.”
Conte Stamas was named the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year at the league’s meeting February 24.
Stamas guided the Panthers to the league’s first tri-championship in Illinois Skyway men’s basketball history with Morton College, Moraine Valley and Waubonsee sharing the title. In Stamas’ second season at the helm (and fourth overall), the Panthers improved from 5-9 and a three-way tie for fifth to a 12-2 mark.
Sophomore forward Kijaune Leach and sophomore guard Antonio Foster were both named to the Skyway’s First Team. For Foster, he may be one of the few athletes in Skyway history to be a First Team selection at two different member schools. Foster was a First Teamer at Oakton in 2011.
Second Team honors went to freshman guards Jacquez Jones and Jimmy Stamas.
Sophomores Anita Robinson and Joanna Garcia were named to the all-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference First Team for women’s basketball. The duo helped Morton College to a 7-7 mark in league play where the Panthers finished tied for fourth with Moraine Valley.