Field of Dreams

URBANA — By the time Illinois softball fans actually make it into the stands for a game at Eichelberger Field, the hard work is mostly done for Rian Jones.

Not that the 33-year-old Champaign native and Champaign Central graduate takes those days off. Far from it.

UI Year in Review: From start to finish, what a wild ride it was

Top male athletes

1. Malcolm Hill, basketball. Senior guard did it all for the Illini — again — ranking in the top two on the team in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals.

2. Isaiah Martinez, wrestling. Two-time national champion was denied a third in the 165-pound title match — only his second career loss — after moving up a weight class.

Female Athlete of the Year: Nicole Evans, softball

— Evans helped guide Illinois back to the NCAA tournament for consecutive seasons by leading the team in batting average, slugging, on-base percentage, RBI, home runs, total bases and walks this spring.

The report cards are in

Men's golf: A

Why an A: Count the ways. Mike Small's squad won its third straight Big Ten championship, with Dylan Meyer winning a seventh straight individual title for the Illini. A 10th straight NCAA tournament appearance and third straight national semifinals berth followed.

Last year's grade: A

July 6 Ask the Sports Editor chat

Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 2:00pm

With Year in Review coverage coming up this weekend (preps) and next (Illinois), it's almost time to hit the reset button and turn focus to the next school year. What do you want to see from The News-Gazette sports section? What could be the biggest storylines this fall? Do you know someone who has an interesting story to tell?

Sitting down with Josh Whitman

Josh Whitman has stayed busy in his first 15 months on the job as the Illinois athletic director. From firing and hiring coaches, to developing renovation plans for Memorial Stadium and much more, the 38-year-old Whitman doesn't lack for things to do. He held court with the media earlier this week on the UI campus, and The News-Gazette's Marcus Jackson was there.

AD: Two Hall of Fame events was always the plan

CHAMPAIGN — During a wide-ranging media roundtable on Tuesday at the Bielfeldt Athletic Administration Building, Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman went on a tangent about the history and tradition the Illini have carved in 120 years of competition.

Evans, Martinez take top honors

CHAMPAIGN — Nicole Evans and Isaiah Martinez already had memorable school years in their respective sports at Illinois.

UI roundup: Kendziera advances at NCAA West Prelims

AUSTIN, Texas — David Kendziera advanced in the 400-meter hurdles Thursday, representing Illinois track and field at the NCAA West Preliminaries meet.

Late rally not enough as Illini’s season ends

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The guarantee Nicole Evans made Saturday night didn’t come to fruition.

But the confident and competitive nature the Illinois softball team displayed all season was present, all the way up to the last out of Sunday’s 4-2 season-ending loss to Kentucky.