MONTICELLO — The reigning Class 1A cross-country state champion will continue his distance-running career at Notre Dame.
Senior Steve Schroeder, from Monticello, is the second area state champion within a week to sign with the Irish. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley's Sydni Meunier made her commitment last week..
"It was quite a relief to finally end the process," Schroeder said. "It was a lot to think about for a long time with all the opportunities in front of me. This is a huge weight off my shoulders. Now, I can just focus on finishing out my senior year and my final track season."
Schroeder also considered Purdue and Eastern Illinois before settling on Notre Dame.
"I went over all the options with my parents and decided Notre Dame was the best fit for me academically, athletically and spiritually," Schroeder said. "They are a predominantly Catholic school and I grew up Catholic, so there was a connection there. I really like the tradition of Notre Dame. They offer me everything I want to achieve academically. I plan to major in Russian, and I would love to travel abroad and they can offer that. They also have the NROTC scholarship available, and I really would like to do that because I plan to become an officer in the Navy after college."
Schroeder will be one of the state's top 1,600- and 3,200-meter runners this spring.
Last year, he finished second at state in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600.
"I feel like as soon as the cross-country season was over I was ready to take the leap," Schroeder said. "But I know I still have one job left to do, and that's on the track for my senior year of high school. I know I have to wait a little bit longer before I can start, but I'm definitely ready to get going and start training with collegiate athletes."
Tigers on prowl for Big 12 streak
URBANA — It's been 18 years since the Urbana boys' basketball team put together back-to-back winning records in the Big 12 Conference. With three games left in the league race, the Tigers are positioned to end that drought.
Urbana will take a 5-5 Big 12 record into its conference game against Mattoon on Friday at Oscar Adams Gym. The Tigers finish league play with contests Feb. 17 against visiting Champaign Central and Feb. 24 at Decatur Eisenhower.
Central shares the league lead at 8-2, but Eisenhower is 2-8, and Mattoon entered its game Tuesday night at Danville with a 1-8 record.
"It's something (Urbana athletic director) Greg Hall and I have looked at over the last couple of weeks," third-year Urbana coach Vashoune Russell said. "Our long-term goal, obviously, is you want to win the conference."
The Tigers last had consecutive winning Big 12 records in 1992-93 (10-6) and 1993-94 (7-3).
When Russell took over the program in 2009, Urbana was coming off back-to-back 1-12 records in the conference. After going 3-10 in the league in Russell's first year, the Tigers improved to 8-5 last season.
"It's progress," he said. "It's all a work in progress. ... There are lots of things we have to do to build a program, and No. 1 is winning. But it's also structure, grades, character, community. We've taken steps as far as community. We're working on grades and character. If we can get all those things done, it's easy to win."
State Farm Classic makes additions
BLOOMINGTON — Among the 10 new teams that will join either the boys' or girls' divisions in next season's 34th State Farm Holiday Classic is the boys' team from St. Thomas More.
They will be in the 1A/2A division along with another newcomer, Prairie Central.
Set to join the girls' 1A/2A field is Prairie Central as well. The St. Thomas More girls' team has been a fixture in the post-Christmas tournament. The tournament is Dec. 26-29.
Uni coach on DL
URBANA — Lis Pollock made it through four years of competition at Urbana Uni High and four years of college at Lawrence University without suffering a major injury.
Last week, the Uni High volleyball coach suffered a knee injury in a recreation league game. She will undergo an MRI exam on Valentine's Day to determine if there's a torn anterior cruciate ligament and/or meniscus in addition to a torn medial cruciate ligament.
Dissension at Parkland?
Parkland women's basketball coach Karrie Redeker and assistant Mike Lindemann are usually on the same page, but they have obvious differences about Wednesday night's Class 1A high school regional semifinal game at Schlarman.
Urbana Uni High faces CPCI with a berth in Thursday's title game on the line. Uni High is coached by Lindemann's daughter, Allie. CPCI is coached by Redeker's brother, Mark.
The Parkland coaches won't be seated on opposite sides of Shebby Gymnasium. They won't even be there. The Cobras have a home game against Illinois Central College at 5:30 p.m.
Schlarman wrestling hits mark
DANVILLE — The smallest Schlarman wrestling team since the sport was added will have the largest representation at sectional when the Class 1A tournament starts Friday at Macomb.
Two of the Hilltoppers' five squad members advanced out of regionals. In previous years, Schlarman never had more than one sectional qualifier.
Joe Cahill, the school's second 20-match winner (21-10), moved on at 220 pounds. His workout partner in practice, 195-pound John Rogers (15-14), also remains in contention for a state berth.
At all sectionals, in 1A, 2A or 3A, the top four placers in each weight class secure a spot at state.
Besides Macomb's sectional, other area 1A athletes will be at the Plano Sectional. In 2A, all area athletes will be at Mount Zion.
Jeff Huth, Fred Kroner and Kyle Moss