Unity fishermen move up
TOLONO — Unity's Rockets had the best second-day score of any of the schools competing in the fourth annual IHSA bass fishing state tournament last weekend at Lake Carlyle.
The team's second-day catches weighed in at 15 pounds, 12 ounces and enabled Unity to move from 35th place after the first day to ninth overall.
Juniors WILL DEEM and CAMERON SWEARINGEN were joined by sophomore RYAN SPENCER as the Rockets secured their best state finish in four years of competition. Coach KEITH KROPP's team placed third at the Lake Shelbyville Sectional, which was also the top finish in program history.
Kropp and assistant JEFF LINDSEY — each in his second year working with the Unity fishermen — devoted offseason time to such subjects as casting skills and bait selection. When the Rockets took all 12 of its squad members to an invitational at Clinton and claimed three of the top five spots, Lindsey said, "that's when we thought we might be on to something."
Lindsey said it's important for the teenagers to spend time fishing on various lakes.
"Fishing off a bank is one thing, but fishing off a boat is entirely different," Lindsey said.
The Unity state qualifiers had never fished Lake Carlyle until a practice round, which was held the day before the competition began.
La Salette places second
OLIVET — The rugby team from La Salette had its best finish ever at last weekend's Midwest High School Rugby championships, in Elkhart, Ind. The Lions reached the finals with two dominating performances, overpowering Birmingham, Mich., 60-5, and then topping Penn, Ind., 19-5, in the semifinals behind the scoring of JOE MIDDLEMORE, ERIC FRANCO and JOSEPH CARLISLE.
In the championship match, Saint Edward, from Cleveland, Ohio, held on for a 36-17 win against the Lions, who outscored the winners 17-10 in the second half. In previous appearances at the event, La Salette placed third three times: 2007, 2008 and 2011.
On Saturday, the school will host an Indiana state quarterfinal match against North Central High School at 2 p.m. The winner qualifies for the Final Four on May 23 at Indianapolis.
Girls' teams on track
Four area athletes will be seeking to qualify for the girls' state track and field meet in the same event for a fourth consecutive year on Friday.
In Class 1A, Fisher's KRISTEN PARIS has advanced in the 1,600 each of the last three years. The Bunnies will compete in the Unity Sectional, where Friday's field events will start at 4:30 p.m. The running preliminaries begin at 5:30.
Also in 1A, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley's SYDNI MEUNIER will try to complete a 4-for-4 run in the 800 meters. She is the defending state champion in the event. The Falcons host a sectional on Friday with field events to begin at 4 p.m. and running prelims slated for 5. Prairie Central pole vaulter SARAH OPRONDEK is another trying to reach state in her specialty for the fourth year in a row.
In Class 2A, Urbana's ALYSSA WOOD is chasing a berth at state in the 100 meters for the fourth straight year. The Tigers are assigned to the Centennial Sectional, where field events are set for 4:30 p.m. followed by running prelims at 5:15.
New to the 2A field this year — and assigned to Centennial — are former 1A schools Clinton and St. Thomas More.
Several area teams will compete in Shelbyville's 1A Sectional on Friday. Field events are scheduled for 4 p.m.
Danville will get a jump on other area teams. The Vikings are in the Homewood-Flosmoor Class 3A Sectional, which will be contested Thursday. Field events are at 4:30 p.m. with running prelims at 5:45.
At all sites, the top two finishers in all individual and relay events will qualify for state, as will others who meet a pre-determined time or distance.
St. Joseph-Ogden has two seniors who are on track to reach state in individual events each year as a high schooler, but not in the same events. CHELSEA BLAASE qualified in the 800 as a freshman and in the 1,600 as a sophomore and junior. Classmate JOLEE PADEN was a 1,600 qualifier as a freshman and junior and moved on in the 800 as a sophomore.
Another late-night date for Eagles
RANTOUL — Last September, Rantoul and Eureka played a football game that required nearly seven hours to complete due to three lightning delays. For four Eagles, lightning — figuratively — struck again last Saturday.
The Eagles' championship baseball game in the Corn Belt Conference Tournament at Bloomington was delayed by weather and extra-inning games earlier in the day. Rantoul took the field against Bloomington Central Catholic at 11:57 p.m. Squad members who endured the late nights in both sports were CORD CHURCH, CHRIS DEAVILLE, TERRY DEAVILLE and TOM WOLKEN.
Anastasia headed to Elmhurst
CHAMPAIGN — Senior JULIAN ANASTASIA, from Champaign Central, will continue his wrestling career at Elmhurst College. He compiled a 31-8 record at 132 pounds as a senior and was the Area Honor Roll leader in Class 2A at his weight class.
Overall, Anastasia won 125 of 158 matches for the Maroons and was a four-year letterman. He will major in business administration.
M-S golfer Ellis picks IWU
MAHOMET — Senior DANIELLE ELLIS, from Mahomet-Seymour, will continue her collegiate golf career at Illinois Wesleyan University. She is among the Titans' three incoming recruits. Ellis will be joined by ELIZABETH HASSETT, from Homewood-Flossmoor, and KARSON TAPHORN, from Morton.
As a senior, Ellis had a 45.7 nine-hole average and ranked ninth among area leaders. She was an All-Area honorable mention selection.
Two ex-Illini feted
LEXINGTON, Ky. — The American Volleyball Coaches Association included two former Illini athletes on its Thirty Under 30 awards, which recognize younger high school and college coaches nationwide.
Former Illini ERIN VIRTUE, an assistant at Michigan, and SUE WEBBER JACOBSON, an assistant at St. Louis University — who were teammates at Illinois during DON HARDIN's tenure — were among the honorees. For Virtue, 28, it was her third time being recognized. Both Virtue and Webber Jacobson recently finished their first years at their current schools.
Among the four high school coaches chosen was Sandburg coach SEAN AIROLA, from Orland Park.