By Mark Gregory
Every season, the Voyager Media area has several amazing athletes in many sports, but only a select few can compete at a high level in multiple sports – of those, Voyager Media selects one male and one female from each of its five zones as nominees for the Voyager Media Multisport Athlete of the Year.
Of the five males and five females – one of each are the selected as the winners of the AOY title.
This year’s overall winners are:
Female: Brooklyn Bachmann – Joliet/Sentinel Zone
Three-sport superstar from Minooka, Bachmann wins her second-straight Athlete of the Year honor.
This season, she averaged an area-best 20.9 points per game, along with 3.5 rebounds on the basketball court. She ended her career as the all-time leader in points in school history with 1,523.
A Voyager Media All-Area team member, she was named to the All-Southwest Prairie Conference team and was Class 3A/4A IBCA all-state honorable mention. She will continue her basketball career at Bemidji State University in Minnesota.
On the volleyball court, the senior setter led the Indians with 993 assists, 180 digs and 26 aces to go with 43 blocks for the Indians.
She helped Minooka reach the state finals, where it battled for a title and fell in the three sets to the nation’s No. 1 team in the Class 4A state finals.
“Brooklyn was a fierce leader on the court and we will very much miss her,” said Minooka volleyball coach Carrie Prosek. “She would dive through bleachers to keep that ball alive for our offense to hit the ball. She could push the ball to the pin no matter where she was and that is truly what kept us alive when things were off. She took ahold of this young team and taught them how to be confident and want to win.”
In the spring, Bachmann was again a state qualifier in the Class 3A pole vault.
Male: Brady Miller – Plainfield Zone
The Plainfield North junior had a stellar season for the Tigers in three sports.
On the football field, Miller quarterbacked the Tigers to the IHSA Class 7A state final game – ultimately placing second.
On the season he completed 151-of-259 passes for 1,998 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also rushed 39 times for 279 yards and a pair of scores.
During the winter, Miller was one of the veterans leading the North basketball team.
Then, in the spring, he again set his sights on a state run again with the North baseball team.
Miller pitched the final game of the season for the Tigers – a loss to Neuqua Valley in the Class 4A sectional final.
On the season on the mound, Miller had a team-high 60 innings pitched with a 4-3 record and a 1.40 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, while posting 68 strikeouts. He was an All-SPC¬ selection.
At the plate, he hit .333 with a .393 on base percentage and a .547 slugging percentage. He has 39 hits with six home runs, with 36 RBI and scored 25 runs.
Miller was a Voyager Media All-Area selection in both football and baseball.
Other zone nominees are:
Male: Jojo McNair
The three-sport star for Joliet Central will continue to play baseball and basketball at Wartburg next season.
McNair was a member of the 2017 Voyager Media Shootout Senior All-Star basketball game as one of the top senior players in the area.
In football, the All-Area team member played a Jabrill Peppers role for the Steelmen.
He led team in rushing with 407 yards on 44 carries and four touchdowns and receiving with 47 catches, 407 yards and 3TDs.
As a defensive back, he tallied 22 tackles and two interceptions, taking one back for a touchdown. Of 15 kickoff returns, McNair tallied 339 yards (22.6 average), including a 100-yards touchdown.
In baseball, the outfielder and pitcher batted .438 with a .500 on base percentage racking up 39 hits, nine RBI, 26 runs scored and stole 29 bases while being caught only once.
Female: Lota Onua
It is Onua’s second-straight season as the Plainfield nominee for the AOY.
This season, she led a Plainfield East basketball team that posted the best record in school history and advanced to the sectional final – eventually falling to Benet Academy.
The senior averaged 11.25 points and 6.44 rebounds per game.
She was a member of the Voyager Media All-Area first team and a member of the Prep Shootout and was named to the SPC All-Conference team as well as all-tournament at the Nazareth Holiday Tournament and DeKalb MLK Tournament. She was Class 3A/4A IBCA honorable mention all-state.
“Lota is the embodiment of a competitor,” East coach Tony Waznonis said. “She was a key part in helping lead us to the success we had this year, not just as an athlete, but also as a leader.”
During the spring, Onua missed East’s graduation to compete in the IHSA Class 3A track and field meet and placing second in the triple jump with a leap of 39-feet, 1.75-inches
Valley View Zone
Female: Nia Fowlkes
The Bolingbrook junior patrolled the outfield for the Raider softball team in the spring and was a defensive specialist for the volleyball team in the fall.
One of the few underclassmen on this year’s list, Fowlkes will be back at it again next season.
Male: Malik Binns
While Binns will focus on baseball in college, in his final season as a basketball player, he helped the Raiders placed third in the state averaging 13.4 points and a team-best 7.1 points per game.
He a Voyager Media All-Area first teamer and was selected to the IBCA Class 3A/4A special mention team.
In baseball this season, he hit .390 on the season with 17 RBI. He had a pair of home runs and stole 10 bases.
“He is excellent in both sports,” Bolingbrook baseball coach Scott Thyer said. “But, as a kid, you fall in love with a sport and his first love was baseball. It is refreshing to have a player not let outside influences impact his decision. Whatever decision he made, he was going to have my full support and coach (Rob) Brost’s full support.”
Female: Bianca Tomuta
The Niles West senior was a member of the Voyager Media All-Area volleyball team.
She tallied 414 digs and 34 aces for the Wolves team that advanced to the Class 4A state finals, placing fourth.
“Bianca is a senior libero and leads our team in digs,” volleyball coach Stacy Metoyer said. “Her serving has been the best on the team in the playoffs and she had some key digs for us in close matches.”
In the spring, Tomuta posted a team-best 12 goals and three assists, tallying 27 points in 17 games for the Wolves.
Male: Johnny Pabst
A three-sport athlete for Niles West, Pabst excelled in football making the Voyager Media All-Area team.
The Wolves quarterback passed for 2,582 yards passing on the season, throwing for 22 touchdowns. On the ground, he carried the ball 127 times for 844 yards and eight more scores.
In the spring, Pabst was a pitcher and infielder for the baseball team and in the winter he was a leader for the basketball team.
“He was a team captain and was 100 percent our leader,” said basketball coach Bob Williams. “He was the guy that could guard almost anyone. The best player on the other team was who he was going to take. His work ethic is second to none and he is a champion in every sense of the word. He is one of the best competitors I have ever been around.”
Downers Grove Zone
Female: Emma Moravec
The argument can be made that a runner is a runner and just because someone runs distance races in cross country and track – they are not a multi-sport athlete.
But for Downers Grove North’s Emma Moravec, she is not running the distance races in both.
In track, the senior placed second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 15.08.
She also teamed with Gina Kowalewicz, Rachel Sprague and Kimberly Brent in the 4×400 relay to place fourth in 3:56.90.
In cross country, Moravec was the lone Trojan to qualify for the state finals this season , placing in the top half of the field in the 3.1 mile course at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Male: Marty Dosen
The Benet two-sporter helped Benet come within striking distance of the state finals in two different sports.
In football, the running back posted a combined yardage of nearly 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns. He rushed for more than 900 yards and 10 scores.
With his help, the Redwings fell in the Class 7A semifinals to eventual state champion East St. Louis.
In baseball, the Voyager Media All-Area Team member batted .358 and drove in 32 runners. He had five home runs and 14 extra base hits on the season as Benet fell in the sectional final.