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Illinois Baseball Adds Four to Class of 2008-2009

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Illinois coach Dan Hartleb announced the addition of four student-athletes to Illinois’ incoming class of 2008 Wednesday. Willie Argo, of Davenport, Iowa, Bill Charvat, of Elk Grove Village, Ill., Mike Santa Maria, of Des Plaines, Ill., and Will Strack, of Sycamore, Ill., will join the Illini in the fall of 2008. The Fighting Illini Class of 2008 now consists of four pitchers, two infielders, one catcher and one outfielder.

“I am excited about the athleticism that we have added to our incoming class with these four student-athletes,” Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said. “All of them look forward to helping move our program to the next level. Not only do they possess very good baseball skills, but they also bring strong academics and good character to our squad. All four of these student-athletes will provide depth and have the ability to contribute early in their careers at Illinois.”

Biographical sketches of the newest members of the 2008 Illinois baseball class:

Willie Argo, OF
6-1 // 205 // R/R // Fr. // Davenport, Iowa // Assumption HS

Notes: Four-sport athlete who was named an Elite All-State outfielder in 2006 and 2007 … Hit .508 with five home runs and 39 RBIs for the state runner-up Assumption team in 2007 … Hit .481 with 13 home runs and 57 RBIs as a sophomore to lead Assumption to a state championship in 2006 … Hit a home run in the 2001 Little League World Series against the Bronx, N.Y., team that included Danny Almonte, with his home run bouncing off Lamade Statue in left field … Earned 12 varsity letters at Assumption – four in wrestling, three in both baseball and football, and two in track and field … Holds the Mississippi Athletic Conference football record for career points scored (456) and season points scored (210) … Named a first-team All-State running back in 2007, a second-team All-State linebacker in 2006 and a second-team All-State defensive back in 2005 … Placed third at the Iowa state wrestling meet in both 2007 and 2008 at 189 pounds … Finished sixth in the 100 meters at the Iowa state track meet in 2007 … Member of National Honor Society and the Student Ambassadors … Father, Billy, played in the L.A. Dodgers’ minor league system.

Assistant Coach Eric Snider on Argo: “Willie has a good, athletic body with center fielder-type speed. He’s a gap-to-gap hitter with a solid approach. We’re anxious to see him concentrate on baseball after playing four sports at an extremely high level in high school. With hard work, he could be an impact player in the Big Ten as a freshman.”

Bill Charvat, SS/3B
6-2 // 195 // L/R // Fr. // Elk Grove Village, Ill. // Conant HS

Notes: Led Conant to a regional title and the sectional championship game in 2007…Went 2-for-3 with a single and a triple in the sectional semifinal game…Received four varsity letters – two in baseball and two in basketball…Member of the National Honor Society, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Cougar Advisory Program, Peer Mediation and Book Club…Named to Conant’s Academic A Honor Roll his freshman, sophomore and senior years…Member of Spanish Honor Society his first three years…Received Scholastic Achievement Award for basketball and baseball his junior year…Plans to major in mechanical engineering.

Coach Snider on Charvat: “Bill is an athletic, physical player who we got to know when he attended our camp last summer. He has a chance to be a good college player who can contribute to our program during his career.”

Mike Santa Maria, RHP
6-0 // 165 // R/R // Des Plaines, Ill. // Maine West HS

Notes: Recorded a Maine West-record six saves in 2007 … Played shortstop and pitched for the Warriors … Helped the Niles Braves summer team to a 2006 state championship … Helped the Niles Renegades to a state championship in 2004 … Competed in the Central Suburban League fall all-star game … Participated in the Stevenson Showcase … Three-year baseball letterwinner heading into his senior season.

Assistant Coach Ken Westray on Santa Maria: “Mike is a good athlete with good arm strength who is also a good student. He will have a good chance to develop in our program and will continue to add athleticism to our squad.”

Will Strack, RHP
6-2 // 175 // R/R // Sycamore, Ill. // Sycamore HS

Notes: Tossed a no-hitter with 10 strikeouts against DeKalb on April 1, 2008 … Named All-Suburban Prairie Conference as a pitcher in 2006… Conference invitee for the Plainfield South baseball prospect showcase…All-Western Sun Conference selection in football as a wide receiver and defensive back in 2006 and 2007…Led Sycamore to the 2007 IHSA Class 5A football playoffs…Earned seven varsity letters – three in baseball and two each in basketball and football…Academic All-Suburban Prairie Conference baseball selection in 2007…Member of honor roll, National Honor Society and Standard Is Excellence program…Plans to major in business.

Coach Westray on Strack: “We saw a lot of potential and God-given arm strength in Will when he came to our camp last year and we got to see the kind of young man he is. He’s a good all-around athlete and we think he has a high ceiling in our program. He has a great opportunity to be a good student-athlete with a good work ethic during his time at Illinois.”

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