Eight from area in Shrine game
BLOOMINGTON — The 37-player East roster for the annual Shrine all-star high school football game features eight former area athletes.
Defensive linemen J.J. GARDNER, from Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, and WILL JAMES, from Centennial, were selected as were linebackers T.J. ONSTOTT, from Tuscola, and CONNOR STEWART, from St. Thomas More.
Ridgeview's BRYCE POWELL was chosen as a receiver. Other offensive picks included Champaign Central quarterback MITCHELL BAKER, Cerro Gordo/DeLand-Weldon running back CODY WOLLEN, and Prairie Central lineman LUCAS DILLER.
The 38th annual Shrine game will be played on July 14 at Illinois Wesleyan with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
M-S hires volleyball coach
MAHOMET — RON HOPPE, a former assistant coach at Parkland College, has been hired as Mahomet-Seymour's volleyball coach. A Ball State graduate — where he played volleyball — Hoppe is an associate director and coach with the Prime Time Volleyball Club.
He replaces LORI CLARK, who resigned after three seasons as the Bulldogs' head coach.
Tuscola coach no stranger
TUSCOLA — The next volleyball coach at Tuscola closely resembles a former volleyball coach at the school. Different name. Same person.
AJA KOHLBECKER was the head coach at her alma mater in 2006 and '07. Now married, AJA BOZARTH will take over the program next season from SUZANNE DAVIS. The Warriors will be seeking their first winning season since going 18-14 in 2003, although Tuscola was 13-13 last fall.
Champion runner to Millikin
TUSCOLA — Senior ALEX KEMP, who ran on Tuscola's Class 1A 800-meter relay state championship team, will continue his running career at Millikin. A National Honor Society member, Kemp plans to study in the Decatur school's Exploratory Studies program this fall.
"Alex has had a stellar high school track career as one of the top sprinters in the area," said Millikin coach DIRK DOEHRING, a St. Joseph-Ogden graduate. "We are very pleased he has decided to attend Millikin and be a part of the Big Blue track program."
Kemp earned four varsity letters in track and three in cross-country at Tuscola. Kemp was a state qualifier in the 200 meters and in relays in both his sophomore and junior seasons. Last week, he was part of the Warriors' 800 relay, which broke the state record (1:27.93).
Adkins signs with Shawnee
RANTOUL — Senior shortstop Sadie Adkins, from Rantoul's Class 3A regional champions, signed recently to play softball with Shawnee Community College, which has campuses in Ullin and Anna, two towns in southern Illinois.
"I'm so happy," Adkins said. "I know it's not Division I, but it's still college softball and that's two more years of softball I can play."
Adkins has started at shortstop the last two seasons for the Eagles, and played second base for Rantoul in her sophomore season. She has a team-best .371 batting average.
Rantoul coach TRAVIS FLESNER said Adkins' progress each season is gratifying to see.
"It's always nice to have players move on because you know that they enjoyed it at least and they want to continue to pursue it," he said. "It's one thing to be good enough to move on, but to actually want to move on is really more important."
Hensley heading to Monmouth
RANTOUL — Senior CHAD HENSLEY of Rantoul will continue his track and field career at Monmouth College, a Division III school in western Illinois.
Hensley — who placed fifth in Class 2A in the shot put (54-7 1/2) — also considered trying to walk on at Illinois State and throwing at Aurora before he settled on the Fighting Scots following a campus visit three weeks ago.
"It's a smaller college to start out with, and they've got a pretty good track team," he said. "They've won (their) conference 12 years in a row."
Hensley said he will plan on trying an event not offered in high school: the hammer throw.
"I did the hammer at Aurora on a visit, but they didn't let me go all out with it," Hensley said. "All the coaches say it should be my best event."
Eagles coach HARBERT JONES is glad to know that one of his more productive scorers this spring will have a chance at competing in college.
"It's exciting," Jones said. "I'm always happy for them to take that next step. It's a big one, but I think he's heading in the right direction."
Saber star needs surgery
CHAMPAIGN — St. Thomas More won a Class 1A regional soccer championship and lost in the sectional semis to eventual sectional champion Princeton despite scoring leader JADE BRINKOETTER playing with an injury.
She learned last week she has a torn meniscus and will need surgery. In the three postseason matches Brinkoetter played with the injury, she scored three goals.
"The sign of a leader," St. Thomas More coach JAMES JOHNSON said. "I could tell she was really hurting, but she would not let me take her out of the close games."
Challenge awaits new VG coach
VILLA GROVE — Arthur native LYDIA BENSON, who coached volleyball at Arcola the past two seasons, faces a rebuilding job in her next assignment. She has been hired as volleyball coach at Villa Grove. The Blue Devils last had a winning season in 1997 (13-12) and during the past four seasons have lost 102 of 103 matches. Last year's record was 0-27. Benson's last Arcola team was 13-18.
Oakwood athletes make picks
FITHIAN — Three Oakwood seniors recently signed letters of intent to continue their sports participation in college.
TYLER KNIGHT will play baseball for Kankakee Community College. He won five games this spring for a 21-win team and batted .385. AARON WHITLOW will play football at Illinois College. As a senior, he had 67 tackles. BRANDON DIVAN, who just missed qualifying for state, will continue his track career at Olivet Nazarene. At sectional, Divan was timed in 4:38.56 in the 1,600, an event where the qualifying time was 4:37.24.
Three from area headed to Millikin
DECATUR — MICAH ROUNDS has given Millikin football coach PATRICK ETHERTON a commitment that he will join the Big Blue. Rounds was a three-year letterman for Mahomet-Seymour, playing fullback and linebacker.
As a senior, he rushed for 375 yards and scored eight touchdowns. Defensively, he collected 75 tackles.
Bismarck-Henning's JOSH KESSLER will enter Millikin's pre-med program. Kessler was a four-year letterman for the Blue Devils, earning All-Vermilion Valley honors as a sophomore and as a senior. Last fall, he had 74 tackles, including nine for loss.
Also joining the Big Blue is PATRICK WAGNER, from St. Thomas More. Wagner earned three football letters and two in track for the Sabers. He will major in biology.
Lewis picks Illinois College
MAHOMET — Senior DAN LEWIS will enroll at Illinois College, in Jacksonville, and compete for the school's track and field and cross-country teams. At Mahomet-Seymour, he earned a combined four letters in the two sports.
Lewis plans to major in history and education.
West to be a two-sport collegian
DANVILLE — Schlarman senior KYLEE WEST, the starting pitcher in the 2011 Class 1A state championship softball game, will participate in both softball and golf next school year at Lincoln College.
The left-hander was a sectional qualifier last fall in golf. This spring, she was the ace of the Hilltoppers' pitching staff.
Quote of the Year?
PAXTON — RICK JOHNSON, the Paxton-Buckley-Loda baseball coach, found a creative way to explain the defensive prowess of sophomore outfielder DREW SCHRODT.
"As JAY ESHLEMAN (PBL pitcher) says, 'Three-fourths of the world is covered by water, and the rest is covered by Drew Schrodt.' "
Schrodt finished with a .394 batting average for the 22-13 Panthers.
Matt Daniels, Fred Kroner