Created:Tuesday, April 13, 2010 10:26 p.m.CDT

NIU football recruit Boenzi tearing up his field events

By KEVIN DRULEY – Shaw Suburban Media

Heavyweights Frank Boenzi and Mike Garrity never tussled in the trenches during their barely overlapping football careers, so Saturday’s encounter at the Batavia Les Hodge Invitational track meet had pugilistic potential:

BOENZI: Go grab me an extra large shirt. I won the discus, too. And shot [put].

GARRITY: You only get one.

BOENZI: I get two.

Garrity, a former Bulldogs thrower, was helping out at the meet, and eventually relented to Boenzi and his two event records for Geneva. Though he’d rather have hardware, Big Frank will settle for stuff to wear in his final track season. He has committed to play football for Northern Illinois next season, and the Huskies don’t field a track team.

The Hodge was a promising start for a senior who wondered if he’d even compete this spring. Boenzi’s shot throw of 55-3 topped his 2008 meet mark of 54-2.5, while his discus heave of 154-7 set a new standard, too. Because the Hodge has long awarded T-shirts without worrying about team scores or medals, Boenzi could easily reach back for a little extra oomph.

“My approach was to just go in there with an open mind and not really worry about anything,” he said. “You always want to compete, you always want to do your best, but I figured I’d just throw it and get back into it.”

In the meantime, Boenzi is getting early acclimation at Huskies’ spring football practices.

The 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive lineman attended a workout with Vikings teammate and fellow recruit Michael Santacaterina two weekends ago.

Both marveled at the size and speed of everyone on the field, not just the players up front.

“That’s one thing I’m excited about getting to NIU,” Boenzi said. “Just getting huge. Getting big.”

There are other items on his agenda first, namely gaining academic eligibility through the NCAA Clearinghouse. Boenzi is working to increase his ACT score and grade-point average and said he expects to be eligible by the time he leaves for DeKalb in late summer.

When he goes, he may have some more medals and shirts to haul, too. One of the reasons Boenzi returned to track was to hopefully improve on his two successive sixth-place state meet finishes in the shot put.

“I know I have it in me,” he said.

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