Crystal Lake South wrestling coach Ross Ryan describes senior Nick Gil as a model student and athlete in every way.
Ryan never questions Gil’s work ethic. He says he’s a leader among his peers and calls him “the toughest kid I know.”
Those qualities should benefit Gil very well for most of the next decade as he commits to the U.S. Naval Academy. Gil will attend the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I., next year and wrestle. He then will attend the Academy in Annapolis, Md., and wrestle for the Midshipmen, after which time he will serve his commitment to the Navy.
Gil committed to Navy coach Brian Antonelli recently. Gil is a two-time Class 3A state qualifier and finished fourth at 126 pounds last year. He was 42-7.
Gil said he gave every consideration to life at a service academy, and beyond.
“I thought about it a lot, deciding whether I wanted college life or academy life,” Gil said. “I thought academy life would be better. I thought I could be more successful there. Their wrestling program is outstanding and the academics are unbelievable.”
Gil visited Navy in mid-September. He also was considering Northern Illinois University and Eastern Michigan University. He said most Navy recruits attend NAPS for one year, where they compete and acclimate to a sort of academy life. Navy does not red-shirt athletes, so that is in essence a redshirt year.
“Nick embraces hard work,” Ryan said. “He definitely does not shy away from it. This is absolutely an awesome opportunity for him. It fits him and everything he wants to accomplish.”
Nero to Troy: Crystal Lake South outside hitter Avalon Nero will switch positions when she attends NCAA Division I Troy next season. Nero, who is 5-foot-9, will play defensive specialist and libero for the Trojans.
Nero has played an integral role for the 26-2 Gators, who are 11-0 and have clinched the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title. She committed to Troy late in the summer and played with Sky High’s 17 Red team in the offseason.
“I’ve played in the back row most of the years I’ve played, I just never played DS,” Nero said. “I’m really excited about it. It’s different, but I like back row better than front row anyway.”
Nero traveled through the South with her mother last summer and attended camps at Troy, located in Troy, Ala., and at D-II West Florida with other recruits.
“We thought it would fit well for me,” Nero said.
Nugent to Harper: Huntley senior third baseman-utility player Johnny Nugent plans to attend Harper College in Palatine next year and play baseball.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.