The University of Northern Iowa men’s track and field team didn’t have to venture very far down Highway 20 to find its latest recruits this week.
Western Dubuque’s Grant Kelchen and Zack Butcher committed to the Panthers less than two weeks after bringing home medals from the Iowa Class 4A state track meet in Des Moines. Kelchen and Butcher also graduated this week.
Kelchen cleared 6-foot-8 to win the high jump competition at state. He also ran the lead leg on the eighth-place shuttle hurdle relay with Logan Brosius, Damon Jaeger and Ethan Achenbach. Kelchen also starred on the Bobcats’ basketball team.
Butcher placed in the top seven in all four of his events at state, highlighted by a runner-up finish with Drake George, Daniel Fagerlind and Jaeger, who posted a 1:27.89 in the 4x200 relay. Butcher finished fifth with a 21-9 ¾ in the long jump; teamed with George, Will Burds and Jaeger for sixth in the 4x100; and helped the 4x400 relay with Sam Goodman, George and Burds place seventh.
Butcher has also competed at state in his three other sports, baseball, bowling and football. The Bobcats won the state bowling title in his junior year, played in the state football final this year and made the state baseball semifinals last summer.
Clarke’s Mai honored — Two members of the Clarke University baseball team earned Daktronics/NAIA Scholar-Athletes. Tucker Mai, a junior from Zwingle, Iowa, who prepped at Dubuque Senior, and Victor Woo, a senior from Cheltenham, Australia, were among 439 student-athletes from across the country to be cited on the honor list.
In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, must appear on the eligibility certificate for the sport, be of at least junior standing and have attended two full years as a non-transfer or one full year as a transfer.
Portz collects academic honor — Dubuque native Mark Portz, a member of the Hawkeye Community College shooting team, earned academic all-region honors in NJCAA Region XI. To qualify for the honor, a shooter must carry a grade point average between 3.0 and 3.49.
Central honors local runners — Kyle Pape, a senior distance runner from Dubuque Wahlert, earned CoSIDA academic all-district honors for Central College this spring. A four-year letterwinner, he recorded five top-five finishes at the American Rivers Conference’s indoor and outdoor meets. He placed 13th in the 800 at the NCAA Division III indoor championships.
Preston Kizer, a junior distance runner from Zwingle, Iowa, who prepped at Senior, earned his second varsity letter. He is a two-time conference champion as a member of the Dutch’s 4x800 relay.
Austin Pfiffner, a junior distance runner from Dubuque Hempstead, earned his second varsity letter at Central.