Prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner spotlights key moments throughout the school year.
On Sunday, July 1, Champaign Central grad Tyler McGill earned his first Olympic berth, placing second in the Swimming Trials at Omaha, Neb., in the 100-meter butterfly. He joined Centennial’s Gia Lewis-Smallwood (discus) as area Olympians in the ’12 Games.
On Wednesday, Aug. 15, the start of high school cross-country practice was especially significant at Unity. Girls’ coach Gary Wieneke — the UI women’s head coach for 36 years — began his 50th year coaching the sport. Seven have been at Unity.
On Tuesday, Sept. 18, nine Okaw Valley schools submitted letters of resignation effective after the 2013-14 school year from a conference that was formed in 1925. Staying put are Maroa-Forsyth, Monticello and Unity.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, coach Nathan Watson’s Urbana football team won the first playoff game in school history, 36-22 against East Peoria in a game at McKinley Field that featured a 25-minute delay in the fourth quarter when the lights went out.
On Saturday, Nov. 3 — one week after Uni High placed second in the Class 1A boys’ soccer state tournament — Urbana and Area Player of the Year Miguel Fierro were the state runners-up in Class 2A, losing to Peoria Notre Dame 3-0.
On Friday, Dec. 21, two-time All-Area first-teamer John Strauser — who set St. Thomas More records for season (146) and career (411) tackles — completed his high school coursework so he could enroll at Purdue at the outset of the second semester.
On Saturday, Jan. 12, Class 2A St. Thomas More showed the quality of its girls’ basketball team, leading Class 4A No. 1 Chicago Whitney Young after three quarters in Champaign before losing 60-51. Lexi Wallen scored 21 points for the Sabers.
On Saturday, Feb. 16, within a 45-minute span, area wrestlers Cameron Mammen (Urbana) and Josh Wallick (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher) completed unbeaten seasons with state titles. Mammen won in 2A at 170; Wallick in 1A at 285.
On Saturday, March 9, in the ultimate display of poor sportsmanship, the boys’ basketball team from Seton Academy, in South Holland, refused to come forward and receive its Class 2A state runner-up trophy, and the IHSA is keeping it.
On Tuesday, April 23, Champaign Central announced the hiring of Wayne McClain, 58, as its seventh boys’ basketball coach in the past 90 years. An Illini assistant for 11 years, he coached Peoria Manual to three IHSA state titles from 1995 to ’97.
On Saturday, May 25, the St. Joseph-Ogden softball team suffered a 7-6 sectional championship-game loss to Olympia in a Class 2A game called by rain in the top of the sixth when the Spartans (30-4) had runners on second and third with one out.
On Saturday, June 1, coach Gary Hansgen’s Storm clinched the program’s first state baseball trophy, finishing fourth in the Class 1A state tournament at Peoria’s Dozer Park. Salt Fork lost 2-1 to Wolf Lake Shawnee in the third-place game.