Top 10 Western athletes to watch this year

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

As everyone gets their class schedules figured out, parking passes purchased and new rooms decorated, everyone is figuring out what to expect this year at Western. Well one thing everyone can expect is a new sports season. Some of Western athletics are already underway, so here are the top 10 athletes to watch for this year.

Coming in at number one is junior guard Kobe Webster. This year will be all Kobe. He led the team last year in points per game and assists per game and will run the offense. He is explosive and full of swagger. Opposing teams struggle to slow down his handles and are unable to squander his offensive brilliance. As one of the most fun players to watch on the court, it will be an absolute blast when basketball rolls around to watch him dazzle.

Second is junior running back Clint Ratkovich. Ratkovich will be the star running back and a core piece of Western’s game plan this year. With Steve McShane graduating, it will be Ratkovich that takes the workload in the backfield. He already is effective in the passing game, last year recording 54 receptions for 600 yards and three touchdowns. As a new offense takes the field for the fighting Leathernecks, look for Ratkovich to help lead the charge.

Junior quarterback Connor Sampson comes in at number three. Sampson will be the man under center. The captain. The man to watch for the Leathernecks as he will be the starting QB. After two years studying the offense, he is poised to take over the reins and dominate. Sampson may not have the stats to dazzle on this list, but he is still going to end up being one of the best athletes to watch leading the Purple and Gold onto the gridiron.

Next up is redshirt junior guard, Annabel Graettinger. Graettinger came in as a transfer from South Dakota State last year and just took over. She will be the leader this year for a young team looking to get back to the top of the leaderboard. Her size and speed combination makes for a headache for defenders and a gem for head coach J.D. Gravina to use against his opponents.

Fellow junior guard Olivia Kauffman is up next. Despite being one of the smaller teams in athletics, the women’s basketball team has been one of the most notable teams at Western in recent years. Because of that, it is no surprise that they have two athletes on this list. Kauffman will be the ball dominant guard this year for Western. She was fourth in conference a year ago in scoring and looking to repeat such a dominant performance. With just a little luck this team will be amazing, so watch out for Kauffman.

Coming in at number six is senior Bo Brasseur. On this list, this may be the most dominant athlete. Brasseur won gold last year at the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships here in Macomb. She then went to NCAA West Prelims and placed 22nd. The only athlete to represent the Purple and Gold. The long jumper set records for both indoor and outdoor track at Western and is only looking to improve. Stay tuned.

Next up is senior midfielder Paul Kirdorf. Men’s soccer is continuing to climb the ladder. They are constantly changing, but Kirdorf’s production sure isn’t. The midfielder can play multiple positions on the pitch and has earned a “Player to Watch” nomination from The Summit League. He is looking to lead his team to greatness this year.

Next up is senior Drue Galassi. The outfielder is the highlight of the baseball team. Last year, he recorded 56 hits and 10 home runs. Baseball is one of the last sports in the school year, but it will all be worth it to watch Galassi play. His ability at the plate will marvel and stun opposing pitchers, and he will help lead this Leatherneck team.

Moving along is junior wide reciever. The young wideout is looking for a big production increase due to Isiah Lesure graduating. He has already impressed his fans with his speed downfield and big play ability. Sampson will need a top target and look no further than Tony Tate to take the title and run away with it this year.

Last but certainly not least is goalkeeper Ines Palmiero Herrera. The senior is in her third year at Western and looking to be even more commanding. Her sophomore campaign saw her record a Summit League Defensive Player of the Week award and 62 saves. Last year she recorded an amazing 93 saves. She is looking to shut out opponents this year in a women’s soccer season primed for takeoff.