URBANA — Two of the state's premier high school rugby programs will play a preseason scrimmage against one another at 1 p.m. Saturday on a special-purpose field north of Village Inn Pizza (formerly T.K. Wendl's). La Salette, from Olivet, will play St. Ignatius. The varsity match will be followed by the junior varsity contest at about 2 p.m.
The event is organized by JON MONAHAN, who has formed a local high school club, the Champaign County Phoenix. His first-year team will make its debut in the day's third match, at about 3 p.m. Monahan's team is not affiliated with any high school but currently draws players from St. Thomas More, Uni High and Champaign Central.
He is looking for additional players for a season that will start with a home match March 24 and could extend through the state playoffs in May.
Any high schooler who was under 19 as of September 2011 can join the club. Monahan can be reached at 217-493-7595.
"We're part of USA Rugby," Monahan said. "We hope that eventually it will become an IHSA-sanctioned sport."
Bloomington, Peoria and Springfield are other downstate communities that field high school-aged rugby teams.
Blue Devils have top sportsmen
DANVILLE — Seniors EMILY WEINARD and STEPHEN KROUT, from Bismarck-Henning, were chosen as the Vermilion County Sportsmanship winners for the recently completed basketball season. All girls' coaches and all boys' coaches in the Vermilion County Principals Association were allowed to nominate one player from their teams.
Other girls' nominees were SHAYLA BOEN, Armstrong-Potomac; ERIKA BRIGGS, Georgetown-Ridge Farm; TORIA PLOTNER, Salt Fork; CARSON RICHARDSON, Westville; TORI SMOCK, Hoopeston Area; and MAKAYLA STARK, Oakwood.
Other boys' nominees were KYLE COBURN, Georgetown-Ridge Farm; ROBERT ELLIOTT, Westville; LUKE GERNAND, Armstrong-Potomac; TYLER KNIGHT, Oakwood; DAVID SACRE, Salt Fork; and HAYDEN SEIDEL, Hoopeston Area.
Team sportsmanship awards went to the Salt Fork boys, coached by AARON HIRD, and the Westville girls, coached by MIKE CHANDLER.
Area refs net state call
PEORIA — Area referees GARY BUHR, from Rantoul, and EDGAR BRUMMETT, from Champaign, are among the 12 boys' basketball officials assigned by the IHSA to work the Class 3A/4A state tournaments next week at Peoria.
This will be Buhr's third trip to the state finals and the second for Brummett.
Watseka coach steps down
WATSEKA — After a quarter century of coaching basketball, BARRY BAUER resigned as the head boys' coach at Watseka High.
"I still enjoy coaching and I still have a passion to coach," Bauer said, "but at this time I want to spend more time watching my three daughters play high school and junior high athletics."
He finishes with a 163-118 record in 10 seasons as head coach at Watseka. Prior to that he was head coach at Fulton High School, in northwestern Illinois, for eight seasons, compiling a 163-57 record. He was also the JV coach at Watseka for six years and at Benedictine University for one year before going to Fulton. His JV record was 109-33.
In 18 years as head coach, his teams won four regional championships and six conference titles. Bauer had only two losing seasons.
Bauer will continue as Watseka's athletic director and head softball coach.
Applicants can contact Bauer at 815-432-2486 or at email@example.com .
Shooting for the top
PEORIA — Unity's MATT RESTAD and Salt Fork's MAX STUTSMAN are the two area athletes who qualified for the 32-person Class 2A three-point shooting contest. They will compete at 5 p.m. today at the Peoria Civic Center.
In Class 1A, there are four area shooters in contention to be King of the Hill. They are Milford's JAKE GULLQUIST, Tri-County's DAKOTA KIRCHNER, Ridgeview's TREAVOR McINTOSH and Iroquois West's KYLE POOL. They also will shoot in a session that will begin at 5 o'clock today.
Rantoul wrestling coach resigns
RANTOUL — Rantoul will have another new head coach once the 2012-13 school year arrives. With the Eagles already searching for a new head football coach, the school will have to find a new wrestling head coach as well.
DUSTIN FRANDLE is resigning after two seasons leading the wrestling program. He said the resignation is due to job and family commitments. Frandle is a carpenter in Champaign, and he and his wife, Michelle, are expecting the couple's first child in mid-June.
"With my actual real career," Frandle said, "it's hard to schedule around (wrestling) and family things."
Frandle graduated from Rantoul in 2006 and was a three-time sectional qualifier for the Eagles during his prep career. He continued to stay active with the program, serving for three years as a volunteer assistant coach. He was the program's assistant coach in the 2009-10 season before he was elevated to head coach prior to the 2010-11 season.
"It was fun," Frandle said. "It was a great experience as a young individual to be that kind of a role model. It was neat seeing it from six years ago being a volunteer, then being an assistant (coach), then being the head (coach); it just all formed perfectly together."
The Eagles posted a 2-19 record in dual meets in 2011-12 and didn't have a state qualifier. Senior Taylor Duitsman advanced to a Class 2A sectional, but he was the lone Eagle wrestler to make it out of a regional.
Track takes center stage next week
BLOOMINGTON — The Big 12 Conference girls' and boys' indoor track and field meets will be held on successive days next week at Illinois Wesleyan University's Shirk Center. The 10-school girls' meet will start at 4:30 p.m. Monday. On Tuesday, the boys' Big 12 meet will take place, also beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Jones joins 1,000-point club
CHAMPAIGN — Senior guard Clayton Jones has reached 1,000 points for his career, becoming the 10th player in Champaign High/Champaign Central boys' basketball history to attain that milestone.
The third-year varsity starter scored his 1,000th point in the regular season finale Feb. 24 against Danville. Jones has 1,047 career points entering the Maroons' Class 3A Lincoln Sectional title game Friday night.
Jones is the first Maroon to score 1,000 points since the 2007-08 season, when his brother, Verdell Jones III, and Donald Stewart each exceeded that total.
More honors for Chargers
CHAMPAIGN — Centennial junior CHANTAL MEACHAM was chosen to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association all-state third team. Another Charger junior, CHELSEA CROSS, was a fourth-team pick by the IBCA.
The organization recognized two other underclassmen from coach SUSAN THOMAS' Centennial team as special mention choices: Big 12 Conference Player of the Year KATELYNN MARTINEZ and STACIA SIMMONS, who was the only squad member last week feted by The Associated Press on its all-state honorable mention unit.
Two athletes from Champaign Central, seniors JAKEENYA EVANS and CHEYENNE HEDRINGTON, were accorded special mention all-state accolades by the IBCA on a combined Class 3A/4A team.
No other area athletes received recognition.
Matt Daniels, Jeff Huth and Fred Kroner