CHAMPAIGN — Central will seek its sixth consecutive girls’ swimming sectional championship in Saturday’s state-qualifying meet at Unit 4 Pool. Diving starts at 9 a.m. Swimming finals begin at 1 p.m.
One of the Maroons’ top individuals could be senior Katherine Penwell, a two-time sectional champion in the 500-yard freestyle.
As Central coach Will Barker evaluates the field, he said, “Urbana, Danville and Centennial have at least one exceptional swimmer, but Central has the most depth.”
Danville’s Kristin Verkler has one of the area’s top times in the 100 butterfly and the best times in the 200 freestyle and 200 individual medley. Since those events are back-to-back, she will pick one in which to focus.
Centennial’s Audrey Rodawig, recovered from a shoulder injury, was a two-event sectional titlist as a junior and could compete in the freestyle sprint races Saturday. She is chasing an individual sectional title for the third year in a row.
Perhaps the most versatile area swimmer this year is Urbana’s Gabi Rajic. The junior has posted area-best marks this fall in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke. She qualified for state the last two years individually in the two freestyle sprint races.
Trying to handicap the team favorite, Barker said, is a near-impossible task.
“This is sectionals, and anything can happen,” he said. “One shot. One day. Leave it all in the pool.”
Swimmers representing 31 schools will compete at Centennial. Other area schools with entries are Bismarck-Henning, Clinton, Mahomet-Seymour, Monticello, Schlarman, St. Thomas More, Sullivan, Tuscola and Urbana Uni High.
The individual sectional champion in each event reserves a berth at state as do any other swimmers who meet predetermined standards in their events.
Ex-Maroon sets book signing
CHAMPAIGN — Former Champaign Central and Illini basketball player Nate Mast will sign copies of his book, “Go Get That Scholarship! A Guide to College Basketball Recruiting for High School Players, Parents, and Sports Fans,” on Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Meatheads in Champaign.
“I started writing this a couple years ago at Parkland, and we finally finished and released it,” said Mast, who resigned as the Cobras’ head coach in May to become the director of basketball operations at Southern Illinois.
AD becomes author
CHAMPAIGN — Central athletic director John Woods can add author to his resume.
In the 50th year since an Athletic Hall of Fame was initiated for former Maroons with five charter members, Woods sought to chronicle the exploits of the many outstanding athletes and coaches. His 185-page book, “Champaign High School Athletic Hall of Fame,” is now available.
“The purpose of this book is to preserve the outstanding individual accomplishments of just a fraction of the student-athletes that walked the halls of Champaign High School,” Woods said. “The individual athletic efforts would not have been made possible if it were not for the leadership and influence of former coaches Les Moyer, Fred Major Sr., Harry Combes, Harold Jester, Roy Swindell, Gene Ward, Tommy Stewart, Lee Cabutti, Charlie Due, Don Pittman, Jeff Trigger and Dike Stirrett.”
The book is $25 and can be purchased at the Central athletic office. Woods can be reached at the office at 217-351-5233. For mail-order purchases, add $10 to cover shipping charges.
“All proceeds will go directly toward supporting the athletic programs at Champaign Central High School,” Woods said.
Athletics at Champaign High can be traced to 1894. The school has won six IHSA state titles, had 35 state-placing teams, more than 60 individual state titlists as well as hundreds of Big 12 Conference, district, regional, sectional and super-sectional champions. Champaign High has produced three Olympic gold medalists.
Now picture this, Rantoul
Rantoul High teacher and coach Mitch Wilson want photos of former Eagles who played sports in college.
It doesn’t matter what level — Division I, II, III or NAIA — as long as a person graduated from Rantoul and played sports in college four years.
If anyone fits that criteria, Wilson wants a photo of that athlete to hang on a blank wall outside the Eagles’ high school locker rooms.
He admits, though, that he needs some help from the community. “I’ve just tried to make a list of guys I know offhand that competed at the college level,” said Wilson, a 2001 Rantoul graduate who played football and competed in track with the Eagles before playing those two sports at Illinois College. “What I need from the community is if there’s any relatives they have that graduated from here in the ’60s, ’70s or even the ’80s that went on to play a college sport. I want to get the community involved, so they can start letting me know.”
People can mail a picture to Rantoul High School, email Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org  or call him at the school, 217-892-2151, ext. 1606.
Matt Daniels, Fred Kroner