Saturday, September 1, 2007

Best Athlete You've Never Heard Of

Whitney Dosty, Arizona, Volleyball
Arizona's Whitney Dosty gave up her tutu and ballet dreams so she could play volleyball at Arizona.

She was once a New York City ballerina. In high school she decided to lose the tutu in favor of spandex shorts. In her senior year, with just 21 months of volleyball experience to her credit, Dosty signed a letter of intent to play for Arizona, and the 6-foot-3 outside hitter made an instant impact with the team. Last fall, she averaged 3.39 kills per game and posted a career-high 29 kills against No. 24 Oregon -- a Pac-10 season-high among all conference players. Such a stellar freshman year paved way for a spot on the All-Pac-10 Freshman Team and the USA Junior National Team.

Mike Jones, Arizona State, Football/Baseball

Shaun McDonald. Derek Hagan. Mike Jones ... who? Arizona State junior Mike Jones, that's who. Jones, a wide receiver for the football team and center fielder on the baseball team, has lived in relative obscurity during his time in Tempe. But this two-sport athlete from Sugar Land, Texas, is on the rise and could be next talented ASU wide receiver.

Jones led an inexperienced Sun Devils receiving corps in 2006 with 20 receptions for 318 yards and three touchdowns, and in just days following the team's 2007 spring scrimmage, took center field for the ASU baseball team. Jones hit .316 in 35 games for the Omaha-bound Sun Devils. He was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle against Hawaii on April 25, and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 42nd round of May's amateur draft. Jones wears No. 1 on his football jersey, fitting as he's the No. 1 ASU athlete you've never heard of.

Donald Thomas, Auburn, Track

Thomas, a high jumper from Freeport, Bahamas, nabbed both the SEC and national championship last season. However, his most astounding accomplishment occurred at the IAAF's 35th Gran Premio DiputaciĆ³n de Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain, when he broke the season record when he sailed over the 2.35m bar. The current overall world record is 2.45m. In his first meet as a Tiger, he broke a 19-year-old school record by clearing a 2.20 (7-6.5) mark at the Diet Pepsi Invitational. He's no slouch in the classroom either, boasting a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Luke Shields, Boise State, Tennis

Boise State's only active three-time All-America doesn't play his games on the blue turf in Bronco Stadium. He is senior men's tennis star Luke Shields and he is, without a doubt, the baddest BSU athlete you've never heard of and has been selected to represent the United States in the 2007 Pan Am games. He reached as high as seventh in the national rankings last season and finished with WAC Player of the Year honors, a No. 13 national ranking and a chokehold on collegiate tennis in the west. Bronco tennis coach Greg Patton says Shields is such a phenomenal athlete, he could have played for the football team.

Patrick Mellea, Boston College, Track

Mellea, a senior from Arlington, Mass., broke the 27-year-old with a time of 4:03:26 at last year's Boston University Invitational. In doing so, Mellea beat his previous personal best by eight seconds. When asked about his thoughts on breaking the school record, Mellea replied, "I didn't realize breaking a school record is as big as everyone is making it out to be. It's just a time, and there's still more that needs to be done." Patrick ran 70 miles per week to train for the spring season and planned to increase that number to 90 in preparation for cross-country in the fall.

Alysia Johnson, Cal, Track

Johnson might be the best athlete on the Berkeley campus. A three-time All-America in the 800-meter, Johnson had an outstanding junior year in 2007, capturing the NCAA 800 titles at both the Indoor and Outdoor Championships. The 2007 Pac-10 Track Athlete of the Year then went on to win the 800 at the USA Outdoor Championships at IUPUI and place fourth in her heat at the World Championships in Japan. Johnson's 800 time of 1:59.29 at the NCAA Outdoor meet was the third fastest in collegiate history, and shattered Louise Romo's 23-year-old school record by more than two seconds, rightfully placing her among Cal's all-time greats.

Jason Remillard, Cornell, Football

If he played every Saturday at Schoellkopf Field with the varsity football team, senior Jason Remillard wouldn't standout too much. But on Friday nights, in the Sprint Football league of 172-pound-and-under players, the Peru, N.Y., native is at the top of the class. Starring for Cornell on both ends of the ball, it was too easy to reward Remillard with the CSFL Player of the Year award after leading the Red to its sixth national title in the 2006 season. In six games, Remillard caught 11 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns -- but his impact was really shown on the defensive end. Remillard finished the season with 22 tackles -- seven resulting in negative yardage -- two interceptions and a sack.

Mike Braman, Dayton, Rowing

This 6-foot, 180-pound machine of muscle turns heads at the gym, but really shines at rowing. Braman entered college having never sat in a racing shell, and by the end of his sophomore year owned two gold and two bronze medals. Now, as the captain of UD's crew team, Braman and his team look to rupture the rivers in which they row, stopping at nothing to achieve glory.

Tommy Scherr, Delaware, Lacrosse

When people recap the 2007 Delaware men's lacrosse season, the first thing that comes to mind is the high-powered offense led by senior standouts Alex Smith, Alex Zuden-Havens and Jordan Hall. But Hens' fans often overlook the brilliance behind the cage of the Maryland-native senior captain Tommy Scherr, who posted a 12-6 record in his second season as the Hens' goalkeeper, helping the team advance to the NCAA semifinal game against Johns-Hopkins on May 26. Standing at a measly 5-foot-8, Scherr is a force behind the net with exceptional stick skills and is solid at creating transitions. Named to the CAA academic honor roll, the senior captain has an impressive resume heading into his senior campaign, which includes the UD Team Sportsmanship Award, Colonial Athletic Association All-Tournament Team, and 2007 Inside Lacrosse/Faceoff Yearbook Pre-Season All-Colonial Athletic Association Team.

Duke, Mike Grella, Soccer

In his first two years of college soccer, Grella has made his mark as one of the top attackers in the country. The Long Island native started 15 games his freshman year and notched 15 points -- and netted the winning penalty kick in the 2005 ACC Championship game. Grella followed up his strong freshman campaign by emerging as one of the nation's most feared scorers in 2006, netting 13 goals and leading the Blue Devils to the No. 1-overall seed in the NCAA tournament. After being the Elite Eight last season, this could be the year Grella & Co. taste a title: The Blue Devils are a top five team entering the season with Grella leading the nation's best returning offense.

Jesse Levine, Florida, Tennis

Florida sophomore tennis sensation Jesse Levine's summer job was playing practice partner with the greatest tennis player in the world: Roger Federer. Federer asked Levine, an NCAA quarterfinalist as a freshman, to play with him in Dubai for 10 days. Why Levine? He's left-handed, just like Federer's rival, Rafael Nadal. Back in Gainesville, Levine finished his freshman year ranked No. 3 in Division I singles and doubles. He won the first 24 matches of his collegiate career. Unfortunately for Gator fans, Levine announced last week that he will turn pro. Watch your back, Federer.

Caroline Westrup, Florida State, Golf

After only two seasons, Westrup is already considered one of the best golfers at FSU. She earned athletic and academic All-ACC and All-America honors in each of her first two seasons and has 12 career top five finishes, with three victories. Last spring, she finished 11th at the NCAA Championships, the best finish for a Seminole at the event in history. This past June, Westrup represented both Florida State and her home country of Sweden very well as she finished third at the 2007 Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship.

Talisa Kellogg, Georgia Tech, Volleyball

Kellogg, a junior outside hitter for Tech's volleyball team, has emerged as a leader on a talented squad. Two years ago, she was the first Jacket since 1992 to lead the team in kills as a freshman. Kellogg has earned considerable accolades including being named to the All-ACC Freshmen team, being selected as the ACC Player of the Week and being named MVP of the Regency Suites Midtown Invitational. She has started off the 2007 campaign by posting 28 kills in the first two matches.

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