Athletes of the Week: Schlittler leads winning effort, Waller comes up clutch

Apr. 15—The votes are in. Powered by Copper Creek Contractors, Braxton Waller of St. Joseph-Ogden baseball and Jillian Schlittler of Unity girls' track and field are this week's winners. Here they are, in their own words, with their biggest supporters — their teammates:

Jillian Schlittler — Unity girls' track and field

➜ Why she's Athlete of the Week: Schlittler led the Rockets to a first-place finish in the nine-team Carterville Invitational on April 6 with three event wins. She took first place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.02 seconds, the long jump with a distance of 16 feet, 10 inches and the 400 relay with Emma Swisher, Ava Jones and Grace Tempel in 51.33 seconds.

➜ From Schlittler: "When I found out I won, I was very excited. It wouldn't have been possible without the support of my amazing family, friends and the Rockets' community. ... I think the key (during the Carterville Invitational) was staying focused on my goals and staying very positive. We are always cheering on our other teammates and being supportive."

➜ My favorite movie is ... "10 Things I Hate About You."

➜ My favorite musical artists are ... The Weeknd and SZA.

➜ If I could have any superpower, it would be ... teleportation so I can get places faster and easier.

➜ Something that's on my bucket list is ... bungee jumping or skydiving.

➜ My biggest pet peeve is ... hearing people chew.

➜ My favorite track memory is ... placing sixth in the 800-meter relay at state as a freshman last year.

➜ My favorite athlete is ... my brother, Brock.

➜ Before a race ... I like to dance around and pray right before the race starts.

➜ After a meet ... I usually go talk to my family, who was watching in the stands, or my friends who are about to race.

➜ In five years ... I hope to be attending college or playing a sport in college. I want to be able to look back at all the new relationships I would be able to make and hope that everything I did glorified God.

➜ Athlete of the Week finalists: Natalie Loy, LeRoy softball; Allison Nebelsick, Monticello soccer; Kendall Rannebarger, Danville softball.

Braxton Waller — St. Joseph-Ogden baseball

➜ Why he's Athlete of the Week: Waller bookended the Spartans' week with a pair of big performances. First, he went 3 for 3 with two doubles and two RBI in a 9-1 win against Bloomington Central Catholic on April 1. Then, he hit a walk-off double to help the Spartans beat Tremont 3-2 on April 6.

➜ From Waller: "I'm very humbled to be named Athlete of the Week. I had a lot of support from my family, friends and students at school. I couldn't do it without them. ... We had a couple injuries early, so we had to battle adversity from the get-go. We have a super young team, so finding the balance and what makes us good was really important. We play the game right, we do the right things and that's what helps us succeed."

➜ My favorite movie is ... "Project X," and my favorite TV show is "Stranger Things."

➜ My favorite music genre is ... country, and my favorite artist is Riley Green.

➜ If I could have any superpower, it would be ... invisibility. I could be wherever I wanted and wouldn't stick out.

➜ Something that's on my bucket list is ... going on vacation out of the country and killing a 200-inch white-tailed deer.

➜ My biggest pet peeve is ... talking when others, especially people with authority are talking.

➜ My favorite baseball memory is ... last year at our state tournament for Post 210, we were down 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth, and our leadoff guy hit a grand slam to go up. We went on to win and get second at state. It was pretty electric.

➜ My favorite sports team is ... the Chicago Bears, and my favorite athlete is LeBron James.

➜ Before a game ... For home games, I usually hit with no batting gloves before the game, and during the game, I use batting gloves. I have this weird thing where I always have to warm up the same, and I tie my right shoe before my left shoe. For away games, I always take a nap on the bus.

➜ After a game ... we go out to left field, and I attempt a backflip. It's pretty bad. I'm a big boy, so I don't really move around like that. We usually laugh and joke around in the dugout after a win, and we try to do something as a team once or twice a week outside of baseball just to build the rapport and morale of the team.

➜ In five years ... I want to be able to look back on a good high school and college baseball career. I want to focus on my education and hopefully raise a family in the next handful of years.

➜ Athlete of the Week finalists: Gavin Bailey, Mahomet-Seymour baseball; Cody Kuhns, Arthur Christian baseball; Jeremy Wells, Unity track and field.