LA GRANGE PARK – At its annual awards assembly, Nazareth Academy athletic director Duane Buturusis announced the winners of the school’s highest student-athlete honors.
Male Athlete of the Year – Patrick Vitek
Patrick Vitek, of Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood, is a two-sport athlete at Nazareth, excelling in both football and wrestling. In the very competitive East Suburban Catholic Conference, Vitek was named an all-conference player and Defensive Lineman of the Year. He has committed to play football for Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana.
“Vitek is also largely responsible for putting the Nazareth wrestling program on the map,” Buturusis said in a release.
Vitek earned ESCC, IHSA regional and sectional titles at 195 pounds. He finished his wrestling career fourth in state.
Female Athlete of the Year – Alysa Straub
Alysa Straub, of Burr Ridge, has played varsity girls tennis all four years at Nazareth, qualifying for state multiple times. In 2012, Straub, along with her partner Lexie Petrovic, finished top eight in state in doubles. Straub is also an ESCC medalist and member of the all-state team. She has received a scholarship to play tennis at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Division I program.
Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year – Nicholas Murphy
Nicholas Murphy, of La Grange Park, played football and competed as part of Nazareth’s track & field team, with which he earned ESCC medals in the 200-meter dash, the 4X200 relay and 4X100 relay, for which he is also an IHSA sectional medalist.
Murphy also managed five AP courses and ranked third in the Class of 2013.
Nazareth dean of students and head football coach Tim Racki said, “Nick has always been humble and deflects any personal accolades to his teammates. In the same way, he would use his academic success and give of himself to assist and tutor his teammates.”
Murphy will now continue as a scholar-athlete at University of Chicago.
Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year – Taylor Van Daff
Taylor Van Daff, of Westchester, was already a two-sport athlete in cross country and track when she decided to add a sport her senior year.
“It speaks to her courage and determination that she chose the male-dominated sport of wrestling and made it onto the varsity squad,” Buturusis said.
Not only did she take home a regional medal, as an A-honor roll student she tutored teammates before practices, adding value to the team beyond the wrestling mat.
Van Daff will attend Vanderbilt University this fall.
In addition to the top honorees, Nazareth Academy also honored East Suburban Catholic Conference Scholar-Athletes for 2012-2013:
Edward Ashe Forest View
Madeline Bonaguro Clarendon Hills
Natalie Crisanti Brookfield
Justyna Falat Westmont
Mary Figura Clarendon Hills
John Karas Western Springs
Bridget Kowalczyk Chicago
Joseph Mara Western Springs
Alison Maslar-Donar Darien
Kelly McGarry Chicago
Andrew Minik Western Springs
Nicole Moore Westchester
Nicholas Murphy La Grange Park
Brian Prendergast La Grange Park
Matt Ramsey Clarendon Hills
Daniel Saladino La Grange
Mike Stromberg Darien
Sarah Swade Western Springs
Taylor Van Daff Westchester