Tim Freriks, a boys cross country runner from Mingus (Cottonwood, Ariz.) High, and Kelsey Kessler, a girls softball pitcher from Blue Springs (Mo.) High, have been named as the third ESPN RISE National Boys and Girls Athletes of the Week.
Freriks came into the Nike Pre-Nationals last weekend at Portland Meadows up in Oregon after competing and finishing in second place at the Four Corners Invitational in Flagstaff, Ariz. It must have given him a boost of confidence. Running in near-ideal conditions on a course that is often soggy and wet, Freriks blasted the best time ever on the Nike Team Nationals course, a scintillating 15:18 to win by eight seconds in the Jim Danner Championship Division. Freriks looks like a good bet in the postseason; he is the No. 3 returnee from Nike Team Nationals Southwest and No. 5 from Foot Locker West. For the most complete boys and girls cross country coverage in the nation, go to DyeStat.com.
One would never guess that Kessler is only a freshman. Last week, the right-handed hurler, who plays in a state that conducts softball in the fall, threw two perfect games, bringing her tally of no-hitters to an impressive five on the season. She went 8-0 on the week in all. Her first perfect game was against Blue Springs South, and she recorded 14 strikeouts in the 6-0 win. In the Columbia Hickman Tournament, she went 4-0 and allowed only six hits and one run and tallied 50 strikeouts. Her second perfect game came in the semifinals of the tournament against Blair Oaks, and she followed that game up with a one-hitter in the finals against Jefferson City. Her other wins for the week included victories over Lee's Summit North and another one-hitter against Raymore-Peculiar.
The full list of this week's ESPN RISE regional boys' and girls' athletes of the week follows:
East Region Athletes of the Week
Walter Rodriguez (St. Benedict's, Newark, N.J.) Rodriguez scored the game-winners in St. Benedict's 1-0 wins over FAB 50-ranked Lower Merion (Pa.) and Don Bosco Prep (N.J.). On the season, Rodriguez has a team-best seven goals and six assists. St. Benedict's is known as one of the nation's top talent producers in soccer and Rodriguez is the latest standout from the school.
Megan Marsico (Glenvar, Salem, Va.) As a sophomore year ago, Marsico was the small-school Virginia state cross country champ, but she wasn't a factor on the regional or national level. But with dramatic improvement this fall, she is now. Saturday, she trounced a super multistate field at the McDonald's XC Festival at Maymont, with a 17:58 5K. That was 27 seconds better than a group that included at least three national-class harriers. Most of the improvement has come since the spring, when she had posted personal records of 4:59 and 11:00 for the 1600 meters and the 3200 meters, respectively.
Southeast Region Athletes of the Week
Kirubel Erassa (Grayson, Loganville, Ga.) A native of Ethiopia who just took up cross country last year, Erassa has emerged as one of the best runners in the region this fall. Coming off a spring in which he won a 3200-meter state title in track, Erassa has won two invitational meets over the past two weekends. The first was the Gwinnett County Invitational two weeks ago, and he followed it up on Saturday with a top finish at the Aubrae Gunderson Invite.
Taylor Davidson (Baylor School, Chattanooga, Tenn.) Davidson, a keeper, has posted seven shutouts so far this fall, helping Baylor to a No. 11 ranking in the ESPN RISE FAB 50. Last week, Davidson was in net for Baylor's 2-0 victory over public school rival Germantown Houston.
Midwest Region Athletes of the Week
Joash Osoro (Bismarck, N.D.) It's a good sign that Osoro and his Bismarck teammates have arrived after a monster individual and team victory at the loaded Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota Saturday. Osoro, with his 15:37 winning by 17 seconds, served firm notice that he stands a great chance of repeating at the Nike Team Nationals Heartland race and possibly taking his team on his shoulders to Portland -- not to mention making the NXN/Foot Locker double attempt if he so chooses.
Southwest Region Athletes of the Week
Nick Maglasang (St. Louis University High, St. Louis, Mo.) Maglasang's play proved pivotal as SLUH avenged its two losses with back-to-back wins over St. John Vianney and Christian Brothers to claim the CYC/Bob Guelker Memorial Tournament title. The event featured four teams in the FAB 50 soccer rankings. Maglasang scored once in SLUH's 2-1 win over Christian Brothers, handing the team its first loss of the season. He then scored the only goal in a 1-0 title win over Vianney.
Kelsey Kessler (Blue Springs, Mo.) -- see ESPN RISE National Girls Athlete of the Week.
West Region Athletes of the Week
Tim Freriks (Mingus, Cottonwood, Ariz.) -- see ESPN RISE National Boys Athlete of the Week.
Kristina Graven (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose, Calif.) The junior outside hitter was named MVP of the Archbishop Mitty Invitational last weekend and is one of the top players for a team that has been No. 2 in the ESPN RISE FAB 50. In the title match in which the Monarchs topped Santa Barbara High, Graven came through with 16 kills and dug out nine balls on defense. Earlier this month, Graven handed over her No. 9 jersey to Olympian Kerri Walsh in a number-retiring ceremony held at the school.