ESPN RISE Athletes of the Week
The first ESPN RISE National Athletes of the Week for the 2009-10 school year are boys' soccer player Chase Raskowsky from Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.) and girls' volleyball player Taylor Unroe from Burris (Muncie, Ind.)
For the fall season, the weekly national athlete of the week honors will be given to those who participate in fall sports other than football. These include boys' cross country, girls' cross country, boys' soccer, girls' soccer, girls' volleyball, softball in the Southwest and Southeast and any other non-football school sanctioned sport. Football will have its own separate player of the week recognition program.
Since this first athlete of the week selection was conducted on Sept. 9, 2009, it was impossible not to notice what Raskowsky has been doing on the pitch so far this fall. An All-League second team selection last year, the senior forward has nine goals in nine matches as Marin Catholic opened the season with a 9-0 record. Last week, with Marin Catholic playing a man down for the entire second half, Raskowsky netted the game-winning goal in a 3-2 decision over Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa, Calif.).
Meanwhile, Unroe led Burris to the championship last weekend at the team's own Burris Invitational. Unroe came through with 12 kills, two aces and nine digs in the title match against nationally ranked Assumption (Louisville, Ky.). The Owls played four times overall that day and Unroe finished with 34 kills and 32 digs. Unroe is regarded as one of the top outside hitters in the nation despite being just 5-foot-7 in height. She has committed to the University of Florida and was an All-American pick as a junior by PrepVolleyball.com.
The complete list of this week's ESPN RISE Regional Athletes of the Week for fall sports (not including football) follows below:
Shenendehowa (Shenendehowa, N.Y.), Cross Country
The senior leader of one of New York's traditional powers, Harris opened up his season with the fastest leg in the unique Niskayuna Ekiden Relay. In running 7:49.7 for his 2,500-meter leg, Harris became the first to break 8:00 on the course.
Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), Soccer
The freshman scoring sensation has five goals and two assists through Good Counsel's first four matches. Last week, Purce scored twice in the team's 5-1 victory over former FAB 50-ranked St. John's (Washington, D.C.).
Tupelo (Tupelo, Miss.), Cross Country
In a meet that drew athletes from seven states, Holman represented Mississippi well by grabbing the individual crown at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Cross Classic. Holman ran a 5K time of 15:46.73 to outrace his closest competitor by nine seconds. The senior is the leader of a Tupelo team that will be gunning for its ninth straight Class 5A state title in Mississippi this fall. He'll be trying to repeat as the state individual champ.
Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.), Cross Country
One of several freshmen girls around the nation who already are making an impact in various states, Frazier is earning raves in North Carolina. She has had a pair of sub-18:00 5k performances in her first two meets of her career. The second was a 17:36 last week at a tri-meet hosted by her school, where she beat everyone (including boys) by more than two-and-a-half minutes. Frazier competes in the state's independent school association (NCISSA) but can still expect to see tougher competition that will determine her state and national standing at upcoming invitationals.
Carl Sandburg (Orland Park, Ill.), Cross Country
Ranked No. 1 in the DyeStat Elite Preseason Top 25, Verzbicas wasted no time showing why he deserves consideration as the best in the country. Though his effort was hardly "all-out," he blasted a 14:19 for 4,800 meters last week at the Lyons Invitational, easily the top mark for the approximate 3-mile distance so far this year. Verzbicas set a national indoor 5,000-meter record last winter, then national freshman records at 3,000 meters and two miles last spring despite running a very limited schedule due to his competing at top-level triathlons and duathlons. Verzbicas is expected to compete for a state title this fall (after missing the end of last fall with an injury), as well as NXN and Foot Locker championships.
Burris (Muncie, Ind.), Volleyball
Also named the ESPN RISE National Athlete of the Week.
Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.), Soccer
He is one of the top returning players this fall in the St. Louis Metro area, which has long been recognized as one of the top soccer hotbeds in the country. Sasieta, considered the region's top midfield prospect, assisted on both goals as Chaminade edged FAB 50-ranked Peoria Notre Dame (Peoria, Ill.) by a 2-1 score in a key match last week. Through three early-season matches, Sasieta has one goal and five assists. He is a senior with a 3.9 GPA and has committed to St. Louis University. He also is a member of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and is just the third three-year starter in the Chaminade soccer program.
Richardson Pearce (Richardson, Texas), Volleyball
A 5-10 senior outside hitter, Burkert has been one of the top players in Texas in the early portion of the volleyball season. She was MVP two weeks ago at the Pearland Classic after she led Richardson Pearce to the team title. It marked the first time in tourney history that a Class 4A team has won the tourney title.
Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.), Soccer
Also chosen as the ESPN RISE National Athlete of the Week.
Xavier Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.), Cross Country
A three-time Foot Locker Finals qualifier, Tonn got her senior season in gear last weekend with a victory at the Scottsdale Running Company XC Festival. Her 17:01 for three miles is the best time in the country for that distance so far this season and led her team to an easy title. Tonn, who was 10th in the Foot Locker finals last fall, was ranked eighth on the DyeStat Elite Preseason Top 25, while her team was No. 7 in the DyeStat Elite Southwest Preseason Team Rankings. Both rankings are expected to improve. Tonn may face the choice later in the season of trying to qualify for her fourth Foot Locker final or running Nike Cross Nationals with her team.
The ESPN RISE Athlete of the Week panel consists of Steve Underwood (cross country), Sheldon Shealer (soccer), Christine Jinbo (volleyball), Garland Cooper (softball), Doug Huff (multi-sports) and Mark Tennis (multi-sports).
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