DeKALB – Marengo senior-to-be Finn Schirmer, who pulled off something never before done in McHenry County area sports, was named as Shaw Media’s Male Athlete of the Year at the 2019 Northern Illinois Most Valuable Athletes Awards celebration Wednesday night.
Schirmer and other top athletes from Shaw Media’s readership areas were honored at Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center. Schirmer was one of five regional winners from the Northwest Herald area. He was joined by Huntley wrestler David Ferrante, Crystal Lake South boys soccer player Alex Canfield, Cary-Grove baseball pitcher-designated hitter Quinn Priester and Prairie Ridge lacrosse player Ethan Kirchberg.
Schirmer won three Class 2A championships at the IHSA Boys Track and Field State Meet. He won the 110-meter high hurdles, the 100 meters and the 300 intermediate hurdles. His only loss of the season came in the 200, where he was fourth by 0.12 of a second.
Schirmer also played football and basketball. In football, he rushed for 1,701 yards and 22 touchdowns as the Indians went from 2-7 to 9-3 and Class 4A playoff quarterfinalists. He also was a starter on Marengo’s basketball team.
No Marengo boys track and field athlete had won a state title before. With Schirmer’s 36 points and Aaron Shepard’s fourth place in the high jump (worth six points), Marengo finished second in the team standings with 42 points.
No area track athlete, boys or girls, had ever won three titles in one state meet.
Schirmer is being recruited for both track and football by numerous NCAA Division I schools. He is heading to Greensboro, North Carolina, to compete in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor Track and Field Meet from Thursday through Sunday.
“This means so much to me,” said Schirmer, who also was a regional finalist for Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. “I didn’t even know I was nominated for it, so it’s awesome. I can’t even put it into words. [This year] has been a lot of fun. I have so many supporters between coaches and family members and teammates. I couldn’t have done it without any of them. It’s just amazing.”
Before the awards were given out, Hub Arkush, of Pro Football Weekly and Shaw Media, emceed a question-and-answer session with Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and former Bears tight end Zach Miller. Hicks and Miller shared their thoughts of being high school and college athletes and making it to the professional level.
Ferrante, who will be a senior, won the Class 3A 170-pound wrestling state championship, the first in Red Raiders history. He finished his season at 46-2 and won his four state tournament matches by either pins or major decisions. Ferrante, who will be a senior, is committed to wrestle at Northwestern.
“This is really huge to be honored by Shaw Media and be presented this award and to be among some of the best athletes in the state,” Ferrante said. “It’s an amazing experience. To hear the Chicago Bears players talk really spoke to me a lot, keeping things in perspective with different stages of athletic careers with where I’m at and the future.”
Canfield, who will be a senior, helped South to the Class 2A state championship, scoring 31 goals, 10 of which came in the Gators’ seven postseason games. Canfield scored three of those goals in the supersectional victory over Fenton to send South to the state semifinals. The state soccer title was South’s first in school history.
“From my perspective, it’s not about myself, it’s more about how much my team and my coach and my parents and the support I’ve gotten from everybody else,” Canfield said. “That has all helped me to get this. I could never have done this on my own. It involved the whole team, the coaching staff and all the fans. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Priester, a C-G graduate, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 18th pick of the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft last week and just signed his contract Monday in Pittsburgh. He was 8-2 with a 1.00 ERA and a WHIP of 0.764. He struck out 91 batters in 601/3 innings, while walking only 14. He helped the Trojans win a regional title and reach the Class 4A McHenry Sectional championship game.
Priester was unable to attend the event Wednesday. He flew to Bradenton, Florida, to join the Pirates’ rookie league team. Andy Priester, Quinn’s father, flew back from Pittsburgh to accept the honor for his son while donning a new Pirates polo shirt.
Kirchberg, a Prairie Ridge graduate, helped the Wolves lacrosse team to a 14-3 record, a Fox Valley Conference title and an appearance in the Hoffman Estates Sectional final. The midfielder scored an area-best 59 goals and added 25 assists. Kirchberg also was a starter at running back for Prairie Ridge’s football team.
“It’s awesome,” said Kirchberg, who will play lacrosse at NCAA Division III Columbia (Missouri) College. “I’m happy I could represent my school; it’s a blessing to be in a room with such talented people.”