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Connor Engel AOTW

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley senior boys’ golfer Connor Engel, fourth from right, poses for a photo with his teammates on Thursday in Gibson City. Pictured from left: Jesse Watterson, Will Baillie, Jack Schultz, Alex Overman, Wyatt Schlickman, Engel, Zach Price, Ryan Carley and Halie Heinz.

Connor Engel | Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley boys’ golf

Why he’s Athlete of the Week: The senior has been in a solid groove throughout most of the golf season, but his results are ramping up even further with the postseason approaching. Engel shot an 18-hole 74 in last Saturday’s 10-team tournament at Farmer City’s Woodlawn Country Club, winning individually and pushing the Falcons to the team title. He followed that up with an even-par 36 over nine holes at Saybrook’s Indian Springs Golf Course to take another medalist honor and lead GCMS to triangular team win.

From Engel: “It’s awesome just being able to play 18 holes. Historically, we haven’t had a lot of 18-hole matches. Thanks to our coach (Ann Spangler), she got us into more than we normally do. ... I’m proud that I was able to hold it together (to get the win). I started poorly, but I was able to keep my head in it and come back and shoot a pretty decent score. ... It always seems like we start really strong (as a team) and slow down during this time. I’m not happy that we started slow, but we’re hitting our stride at the right time and, hopefully, that’ll help us out in the postseason.”

I need tickets to see ... a Field of Dreams game. That would’ve been really cool to go to. That’d be on the bucket list.

One movie I could watch over and over is ... “Tin Cup.” It’s a golf movie, but it’s always stuck with me. (Kevin Costner‘s character) is just complacent with how he is, and he’s just happy playing golf.

If I could choose one superpower, it would be ... super speed. The Flash has always been my favorite super hero.

The social media platform I use most is ... Instagram. All of my friends are on it. And for my interests, fishing and golf, there’s a bunch of events I can follow for that. It’s got everything I want.

My biggest pet peeve is ... people chewing too loud.

My favorite golf memory is ... when one of my teammates bought a chicken liver and brought it on the bus. After sectionals my freshman year, Braden Roesch — who plays at U of I Springfield for baseball — he brought a chicken liver inside of Casey’s and brought it on the bus. It’s something I’ll never forget.

My most embarrassing golf memory is ... four-putting last year on the last hole at The Den in front of everybody.

Before a tournament ... I get a Subway pizza.

After a tournament ... I just hang out with the rest of the team on the patio.

In five years, I see myself ... as the head pro of a golf course down south.

Honorable mention: Luke Barney, Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Westville soccer; Tanner Buehnerkemper, Monticello golf; Connor Gibson, Prairie Central golf; Braden Kauffman, Arcola/Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond golf; Anthony Ramirez, Mahomet-Seymour soccer.

Macie Russell AOTW teammates

Oakwood/Salt Fork cross-country runner Macie Russell, far left, poses for a photo with her teammates on Friday. Front row: from left, Russell, Allie Morris and Brylie Smith. Back row, from left: Aubri Elliott, Alyssa Wells and Addie Wright.

Macie Russell | Oakwood/Salt Fork girls’ cross-country

Why she’s Athlete of the Week: The Salt Fork sophomore is participating in both cross-country and volleyball this fall, and she hasn’t seen her performance tail off in either event. Russell has been especially impressive on the cross-country front lately, taking third place in last week’s Paxton-Buckley-Loda Invitational to guide the Comets to third place as a team before winning the Vermilion County Meet’s individual title last Tuesday as O/SF captured the team crown.

From Russell: “It’s a lot (balancing two sports). Sometimes, it’s harder than others, but we sat down before all of it and made a schedule of how it’d all work, and we’ve basically been going off of that. And on Sundays, I have travel softball. ... I feel pretty good about (my running). There’s always room for improvement and getting better, but if we keep going how I’m going now, I think I’ll be OK. ... It felt great (to win the Vermilion County Meet) because that was the first time I’ve ever won a cross-country meet, so it was awesome.”

I need tickets to see ... a baseball game. I’m a Cardinals fan, so I like watching them play.

One movie I could watch over and over is ... “My Girl.” I’ve seen it a lot since I was little.

If I could choose one superpower, it would be ... flying. It’d just be cool to be on top of everything.

The social media platform I use most is ... Snapchat because there’s where I talk to most of my friends.

My biggest pet peeve is ... when people chew with their mouths open.

My favorite cross-country memory is ... last year, when me and my sister (Mackenzie) both ran together, and we won county as a team. It was just a big team accomplishment.

My most embarrassing cross-country memory is ... in eighth grade, when I fell at a meet.

Before a meet ... we normally get there early to do a warm-up jog, then we do a lot of stretching and dynamics.

After a meet ... we do a cool-down for five to 10 minutes, just to loosen up.

In five years, I see myself ... in college and hopefully playing a sport, but I don’t know which one yet.

Honorable mention: Macie Knudsen, Unity volleyball; Sophie Libman, Champaign Academy High cross-country; Mallory Monahan, St. Thomas More volleyball; Trixie Johnson, Paxton-Buckley-Loda cross-country; Brooklyn Stadeli, Cissna Park volleyball.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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