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Ask our prep sports coordinator, Fred Kroner, about state track, baseball playoffs and Jimmy Fitzgerald. Or anything else on your mind. He chats at 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Submit questions any time.
Here we go with another round of high school questions. Thanks to all who have participated. I appreciate it.
Have any area boys ever been selected and competed in BOTH the Illinois Shriners football and IBCA basketball all star summer games during your time of reporting?
I'm certain it has happened, but I can't be specific. A lot of years, we don't get the rosters for one or both of those events and there's no way for me to know. I have a few rosters at home, but not many. A year or so ago, I tried to find past rosters online, and couldn't do it. I'd be interested in hearing from people who know of someone who did pull off this rare double-double
Fred,Great sign up in Urbana on Cam Mammen's State Wrestling Title at 170 lbs. Thank the city public works department for putting it up, These type of things don't happen often in Urbana.
Hi Tom. I haven't seen the actual sign in person yet, but I saw it on Facebook a few days ago. It has only been in recent years that signs have been made to commemorate a town's individual accomplishments. Until then, team state titles were put up on signs as you enter a community, but the individual stuff was never noted. It's a great achievement and I"m pleased to see it recognized. You'd be surprised at how many of these towns I go to during a school year that have had state champions, either team or individual, at the high school or grade school level. It's quite impressive!
With the high school softball state tournament just starting, do you see any teams in the area going far in the tournament. Also, which teams and players have surprised you this year.
The first team I'm going to list will come as a surprise to most. I'd say St. Joseph-Ogden has been one of the area's surprise teams. Folks will say, "how can that be. They are coached by a person who has won more softball games than anyone in state history and they always seem to be winning regional titles?" first off, while that is true, last year's SJ-O team graduated a large group of seniors who were major, major contributors. Several of those girls are playing in college and having an immediate impact. I didn't think SJ-O would drop off and have a two-win season, but I never anticipated another unbeaten team in SVC play, a 26-3 record as of now and a current ranking of No. 6 in Class 2A. It's a case of reloading, and not rebuilding.
I think you'd have to put Clinton in the surprise category, too, although teams with strong returning pitchers such as the Maroons have with Bailey Walker probably aren't truly a surprise. Clinton had a good nucleus back and it resulted in an Okaw valley Conference title and a position in the 2A state rankings this week at No. 19.
You could make a case for Mahomet-Seymour being a surprise team as well. Though the Bulldogs won 21 games last year, they also lost 16. This year's squad features a strong and talented senior class with a very good pitcher, Allie Tarrant. What makes this season special is that the team has 19 wins entering the postseason, but has done it with the fewest number of losses in a quarter of a century. The Bulldogs' record is 19-7-1.
If I had to pick one other surprise team, it would be Schlarman Academy. The Hilltoppers were coming off a 10-24 season and undergoing a head coaching change. The school got off to a very slow start. I believe the early record was either 1-7 or 0-7, Now they are up to a 14-12 record and won the VVC with a 12-2 league mark. It's not often you see a program make that big of a turnaround within the course of one season.
Fred,Great article on Bloch-Jones very fitting on Mothers Day. Of course your behind the scenes articles are always Great. Keep up the Great Work.
Thanks Tom. I appreciate. One thing I can say is that there's never a shortage of stories to write about. There's just a shortage of time to gather the information and actually write the stories. Kandie Bloch-Jones has been on my radar screen for some time and, finally, last week I had the chance to get over to the school and talk to her and her coach. Thanks for your kind words.
Looks like that's a wrap for this week. We'll be back next Tuesday to tackle more questions.