College notebook: Hawks sit No. 20 in preseason national poll, QHS grad Johnson with two indoor track personal bests


Quincy University junior catcher Luke Napleton, left, and Hawks coach Matt Schissel head into the 2023 season with QU ranked No. 20 in the NCBWA Division II national poll. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — The battle waged last season for a spot in the NCAA Division II World Series is expected to happen again, at least by those voting for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association preseason polls.

The Quincy University and Illinois-Springfield baseball teams sit atop the Midwest Region preseason poll and are nationally ranked with the season set to begin in two weeks.

The Hawks were tabbed 20th in the national poll and second in the region poll. The Prairie Stars are ninth nationally and No. 1 in the region, receiving seven of the eight first-place votes. UIS finished last season 48-11 with their first World Series appearance in program history.

Quincy went 37-25 last season, losing the best-of-3 super-regional title to Illinois-Springfield. The Hawks finished second in the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s Blue Division behind the Prairie Stars last season.

After making their seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Hawks return their top two starting pitchers in Spencer Walker and Jay Hammel, who were a combined 19-4 with 172 strikeouts a season ago. Five of their top six hitters return as well, including first-team all-region catcher Luke Napleton, who hit 20 home runs with 66 RBIs.

The Hawks open their season February 10 at the University of Tampa, which is ranked No. 3 in the nation and No. 1 in the South Region. Quincy also faces No. 10 Rollins and Saint Leo, which is receiving votes, during its seven-game swing through Florida.

Five teams on QU’s schedule rank in the top 15 nationally.

Hawkeyes’ Johnson sets pair of personal bests

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The early part of Jordan Johnson’s indoor track and field season is gearing him up to chase All-American honors yet again.

Johnson established new personal bests in the weight throw and the shot put, winning both competitions at the Hawkeye Invitational on January 14.

A two-time state champion in the discus at Quincy High School, the Iowa senior claimed the weight throw title with a toss of 20.06 meters (65 feet, 9.75 inches). It is the ninth best mark all-time at Iowa. Johnson followed it up by winning the shot put with a personal-best toss of 17.46 meters (57 feet, 3.5 inches).

Johnson earned first-team All-American honors in the discus during last spring’s outdoor season when he finished eighth at the NCAA Championships.

Kirkham breaks Coe single-game scoring record

DECORAH, Iowa — Caydee Kirkham’s freshman season with the Coe College women’s basketball team continues to be magical.

The former Illini West standout broked the Kohawks’ single-game scoring record Wednesday night, netting 37 points in a 65-55 victory at Luther College. After the Norse trimmed the deficit to four with two minutes to play, Kirkham hit six consecutive free throws to seal the victory.

Kirkham went 12 of 20 from the field and 3 of 6 from 3-point range, while knocking down 10 of 13 free throws. She added nine rebounds, four steals and two assists.

Overall, Kirkham has started 18 games, averaging 31.5 minutes and a team-leading 14.3 points per game as the Kohawks sit at 14-5. She also leads Coe in assists (67) and steals (28). 

Hawks’ Wagiel earns MIVA weekly honor

QUINCY — Quincy University libero Dominik Wagiel picked up Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the Hawks’ season-opening weekend.

Wagiel, a sophomore from Poland, had 22 digs in the first two matches, including 13 digs in a four-set loss to King University. He finished the weekend with 26 digs.

The Hawks (1-3) opened a six-match homestand Wednesday night against Maryville.

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