Preps year in review
TEAMS OF THE YEAR
1. St. Thomas More girls’ basketball. Class 2A state champions have 79.9 percent of their offense returning.
2. St. Joseph-Ogden football. Despite a rash of injuries, the Spartans advanced to the state championship game in Class 3A, where they dropped a two-point decision in overtime.
3. Champaign Central boys’ basketball. A 20-loss team the previous year rebounded into an 18-11 regional championship squad that finished among the top 16 in Class 3A.
4. Monticello softball. The school-record-setting Sages (31-5) placed third at state in Class 2A with five seniors playing roles.
5. Tuscola boys’ track and field. State’s third-place Class 1A team matched the school’s top finish in the sport.
6. Centennial volleyball. Elite Eight entry suffered three-set loss in super-sectional to opponent that wound up second in Class 3A.
7. Danville girls’ tennis. Five senior squad members who helped school to third straight sectional championship also had perfect 4.0 grade-point averages: Karie Koebrich, Arti Krishna, Rachael Lewis, Neha Patel and Amy Shah.
8. Urbana boys’ soccer. Sectional finalists lost by a goal to an opponent that went on to capture third at the state in Class 2A.
9. St. Thomas More girls’ soccer. Sabers followed up their third regional championship in a row with the school’s first sectional plaque in the sport, losing in super-sectionals to eventual Class 1A champion Manteno.
10. Champaign Central boys’ swimming. The Maroons won eight of 12 events to clinch the school’s fourth consecutive sectional crown, all with a different head coach in charge.
11. LeRoy wrestling. For the fifth time in six years, Panthers qualified for the Elite Eight in Class 1A, where they fell one point short of reaching the trophy round.
12. Mahomet-Seymour girls’ soccer. After setting a season record for wins (16), the Bulldogs lost in the sectional finals to a Normal West team that went on to place second in Class 2A.
13. Monticello boys’ cross-country. State’s third-place Class 1A team had four underclassmen among team’s top five runners at Detweiller Park.
14. Urbana Uni High girls’ swimming. Illineks captured the school’s first sectional crown in the sport thanks to sweeping all three relay races in the state-qualifying meet.
15. St. Thomas More boys’ golf. Four underclassmen joined two seniors for state’s seventh-place Class 1A state squad.
16. Unity girls’ cross-country. State’s fifth-place Class 1A team retains four of top six runners who competed at Detweiller Park.
17. Sullivan/Okaw Valley girls’ track and field. State’s third-place team in Class 1A won two events and had medalists in four other events.
18. Mahomet-Seymour girls’ golf. Lineup for state’s seventh-place Class 1A team featured five underclassmen and one senior.
19. Argenta-Oreana baseball. The state’s third-place Class 1A team will build around fireballing pitcher Keegan McHood next year as it moves up to Class 2A.
20. Champaign Central baseball. Considering the IHSA only allows schools to play 35 regular season games, the 35-3 Maroons set a wins standard that may not be equaled for decades.
1. Keegan McHood, Argenta-Oreana baseball. Kentucky pitching recruit likely to receive call during next year’s major league draft.
2. Jimmy Fitzgerald, Centennial football. Quarterback and UI recruit may be the reason the Twin City career passing record falls for a third consecutive season.
3. Steven Lee, Centennial football. Wide receiver and Northern Illinois recruit will also be major component in the Chargers’ high-powered passing attack.
4. Lexi Wallen, St. Thomas More volleyball, basketball and soccer. Rare three-sport All-Area pick had her choice of sports for college and settled on volleyball at Illinois State.
5. Alex Portwood, Milford basketball. Has size and fundamentals to make a difference beyond high school.
6. Taylor Bauer, Watseka volleyball, basketball and softball. Senior-to-be grew up around sports and the teams she plays for have benefitted from the early exposure.
7. Maddy Chalifoux, Champaign Central soccer. Rising senior could challenge area’s all-time scoring record after setting Maroons’ career mark as a junior.
8. Joe Kenney, Mahomet-Seymour football and baseball. On pace to become a four-time All-Area first-teamer in baseball.
9. Chase Gadau, St. Joseph-Ogden football and baseball. Hard-nosed senior-to-be always in the middle of the action, whether catching a baseball or making tackles.
10. Eric Ponder, Tuscola cross-country and track. Two-sport state medalist improving as he ages.
11. Taylor Edwards, Arcola basketball and softball. Whatever the sport, a college career is in her future.
12. Laura Gross, Schlarman volleyball. Commitment to one sport has helped create a more polished player in the rising senior.
13. Molly McElwee, St. Joseph-Ogden softball. The infielder is the complete package as far as hitting, fielding and running.
14. Dennis Freeman, St. Thomas More soccer. Coaches Association all-stater difficult to contain one-on-one.
15. Caleb Hummer, Danville cross-country and track. Now injury-free, senior season could be a spectacular one.
Boys’ cross-country. Class 1A, Jon Davis, Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac, So.
Wrestling. Class 1A, Josh Wallick, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher, Sr., 285 pounds
Girls’ basketball. Class 2A, St. Thomas More (33-2)
Girls’ three-point shooting. Class 2A, Devin Curry, Watseka, Sr.
Girls’ track and field. Class 1A, Jenny Kimbro, Salt Fork, So., 100 and 300 hurdles
Girls’ track and field. Class 1A, Amanda McClain, Sullivan/Okaw Valley, Jr., 400
Girls’ track and field. Class 1A, Sullivan, 800 relay (Emily Neuhauser, Jr.; Ashlynd Risley, Fr.; Mollie Bowman, Sr.; Amanda McClain, Jr.
Boys’ track and field. Class 1A, Jon Davis, Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac, So., 3,200 and 1,600
Boys’ track and field. Class 3A, Johnny Leverenz, Danville, Sr., 800
Music. Class C, overall, solo and ensemble, Iroquois West
Music. Class C. orchestra, solo and ensemble, Iroquois West
Music. Class C, vocal, solo and ensemble, Iroquois West
1. Olivia Heffernan, Fisher. Co-valedictorian and three-sport athlete one of 26 members of IHSA All-State academic first team.
2. George Gunter, Urbana Uni High. Cross-country, track star one of 26 selections to IHSA All-State Academic first team.
3. Hannah Wright, Champaign Central. Cross-country, track state-qualifier one of 50 picks on IHSA All-State honorable mention list.
4. Tyler Rubarts, Paxton-Buckley-Loda. Multi-sport star among the 50 representatives on IHSA’s All-State honorable mention list.
5. Jordan Marganski, Schlarman. Volleyball All-Area first-teamer was Hilltoppers’ valedictorian.
6. Jenna Jacobs Tuscola. Basketball, softball letter winner was salutatorian and maintained 4.0 grade-point average.
7. David Wenzel, Unity. Two-time pole vault state qualifier was on IHSA’s Scholar Achievement Award list.
8. Brady Depratt, St. Joseph-Ogden. Spartans’ salutatorian was an All-Area second-teamer in football as a defensive back.
9. Austin Aten, Champaign Central. Four-time state qualifier in tennis compiled a 4.6279 grade-point average.
10. Greg Huss, Centennial. All-Area second-team baseball player had a 4.5272 grade-point average.
11. Cameron Schwing, Fisher. Co-valedictorian was a three-time state qualifier in wrestling.
12. Hannah Miles, Clinton. Co-valedictorian was a letter winner in cross-country and track and field.
13. Zach Parks, Centennial. All-Area special mention baseball player kept a 4.6744 grade-point average.
14. Mary Bass, Bismarck-Henning. Earned high marks in sports (track state medalist) as well as in the classroom (finishing as the school’s valedictorian).
15. Saul Downie, Urbana. All-Area Soccer Player of the Year ranked among school’s top five academically and held a grade-point average above 5.60.
1. Brittany Hay, Georgetown-Ridge Farm. Plays with a smile on her face and is always a go-to source when postgame interviews arrive.
2. Michael Finke, Centennial. As comfortable with a microphone in his face as are the veteran reporters standing behind the instrument.
3. Kameron Rowan, Champaign Central. Always something interesting and intriguing to say.
4. Elizabeth Bristow, St. Thomas More. As much at ease talking with reporters as with her friends.
5. Saul Downie, Urbana. Blows adults away with his maturity and knowledge of subjects that have nothing to do with sports.
6. Kaitie Wildman, Atwood-Hammond. Courteous, informative and polite: a great trifecta for any reporter.
7. Trent Sherfield, Danville. Accustomed to being in the spotlight and handles himself with grace and poise.
8. Sarah Van Wingerden, Mahomet-Seymour. Thoughtful and insightful with her answers.
9. Amanda and Jessica Franklin, Arthur Okaw Christian. Not only do they express themselves well, but take time to follow up with hand-written thank yous.
10. Storm Joop, St. Thomas More. A triple threat: athletic, personable and articulate.
11. Leslee Chambers, Judah Christian. Appreciative and humble, always adds a good word about teammates and opponents.
12. Tyler Schuring, Arthur-Lovington. A confident player and a confident speaker who is able to offer an analytical perspective on the games.
13. Jenny Kimbro, Salt Fork. Even without her state titles, a go-to athlete for reporters seeking comments.
14. Conner Gremer, Urbana. He gets after it on the field of competition and tells it like it is afterward.
15. Allie Hislope, Monticello. Senior leader was open and honest in postgame interviews, often giving unique insight into her teammates and coaches. Isn’t afraid to show her strong personality.
1. Jamal Maatuka, Champaign Central. “His positive coaching is exemplary on many levels. I wish that every coach knew the value and rewards of treating the players with such high respect and keeping their emotional tanks full. The team’s relative success is a by-product,” wrote a parent from an opposing school after twice watching the Maroons compete.
2. Clinton girls’ track. “The program has some of the best sportsmanship I have witnessed in 22 years of coaching. It starts with their coach, Randy Anderson, and filters down through all of the girls in the program. They attend many meets that are hosted at Unity, and without fail, at the end of the meet, all of his girls genuinely come up and thank all of our volunteers,” Unity coach Tim Gateley said.
3. Andy Bott, Bismarck-Henning. A multi-sport standout, Bott maintains an even-keeled demeanor while in action. “He chooses to inspire his teammates rather than be critical of their mistakes,” boys’ basketball coach Jon Clapp said.
4. Liz Bristow, St. Thomas More. Took time to comfort an opposing hurdler she’d never met after a fall at the state meet because “I knew what it felt like to make it all the way to a big event and not perform well. I could relate to her in that sense. I also could tell how passionate she was about the race because she was upset.”
5. Kyle Brazas, Westville. A positive leader by example and two-year team captain, senior was selected by the Vermilion County Principals’ Association as the sportsmanship award winner for football.
6. Patrick Ganley, Bismarck-Henning. All-Area first-teamer never missed a practice in four years with the Blue Devils’ football program. “He commands respect from his peers by the way he carries himself on and off the field,” B-H coach Mark Dodd said.
7. Lizzy Barnard, Unity. All-Area volleyball Player of the Year transferred from Tri-County to Unity as a senior to be with family even though there was no guarantee the IHSA would clear her to play sports.
8. Tory Ceader, Westville. Girls’ basketball coach Mike Chandler called Ceader “a coach’s dream,” adding, “She tries to do whatever the coach says. She never complains about anything and treats players, coaches and refs with the utmost respect.”
9. Nick Glenn, Champaign Central. Continued to be a team player and support his teammates even after he was passed over not once but twice for the starting quarterback role as a senior. Eventually given a chance due to injuries, he ran away with the job, leading the Maroons to victories over Marion Catholic and Danville.
10. Oakwood volleyball. Under the direction of veteran coach Lynn Anderson, the Comets’ program has been singled out for its sportsmanship four consecutive years by the Vermilion County Principals’ Association.
DESERVED MORE PUB
1. Tanner McLain, Rantoul baseball. An All-Area-caliber athlete who had the misfortune of playing in what was arguably the best year ever for overall talent in the area.
2. Emilee Schwing, Fisher softball. Small-school standout who can play with the best from any level.
3. Chris Collier, Danville football and track. Area’s only 1,000-yard receiver also ranked among the best this spring as a pole vaulter.
4. Nick Hess, St. Thomas More cross-country and track. Distance runner just a step behind the competition but would have been the marquee runner in many years.
5. Emily Foley, Monticello cross-country and track. Competed at state four times in cross-country and three times in track.
6. Devin Curry, Watseka basketball and softball. One of area’s all-time best, even at less than full strength physically much of senior season.
7. Hunter Hart, St. Joseph-Ogden football, basketball and baseball. Injury robbed him of his final season in his best sport, but he’ll be throwing a baseball again soon.
8. Preslie Fletcher, Oakwood diving. Who would expect a novice who had competed in just seven meets to place among the state’s top-15 divers? The rising senior is a success story with a capital “S.”
9. Morgan Zindars, Armstrong-Potomac basketball. Helped Trojans win a conference crown as a senior but was bypassed for a berth on the All-Area’s first two teams. In the annual all-star game, nailed four of the game’s seven three-pointers.
10. Rebecca Maxwell, Unity basketball. Senior-to-be has the ability to raise the level of play for those who surround her.
11. Kiara Moses, Urbana, basketball and softball. If ever the term “diamond in the rough” was applicable, it is with the Tigers’ junior-to-be.
12. Karly Goodman, Arthur-Lovington volleyball, basketball and track. On the brink of being among the area’s elite in each of her sports.
13. Jesse Galaway, Monticello cross-country and track and field. Senior was part of an extremely successful Sages cross-country program and helped bridge the transition from longtime coach Jeff Butler to first-year leader Dave Remmert last fall. Also a strong influence on young runners Matt Norvell, Justin Furcich and Zach Mesplay.
14. Clayton Turner, Tuscola football, baseball and track. All-conference lineman in football did double duty this spring, hitting .387 in baseball and earning a state medal in the shot put.
15. Christopher Tate, St. Thomas More golf. Placing in a tie for sixth in the state is a big deal, even if golf is not one of the most high-profile sports.
GAMES OF THE YEAR
1. Champaign Central 80, Centennial 79 3 OT. On Dec. 6, 2013, in a boys’ basketball game that featured Illinois recruit Michael Finke’s game-high 33 points and 17 rebounds, Central’s Sean Suggs would prove to be the hero, first tying the game with a three-pointer with four seconds left in the second overtime, then hitting the game-winner in the third OT. Suggs and Kameron Rowan combined for 47 of Central’s points.
2. Monticello 2, Dupo 1. On June 2, 2014, Chrissy Gadbury hit a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh inning to clinch a super-sectional softball win and a trip to the Class 2A state tournament Final Four.
3. Bloomington 55, Danville 50. On Aug. 30, 2013, the lead changed hands four times in the final 5-plus minutes in a season-opening football battle between two state-ranked Class 6A teams. The teams combined for 44 fourth-quarter points, Bloomington going ahead with 24.6 seconds remaining.
4. St. Thomas More 90, St. Anne 86. On March 7, in a boys’ basketball game that featured 18 lead changes, seven ties, two overtimes and at least one case of leg cramps, the Sabers win their first sectional championship in the sport. Mike Plecki hit 12 of 14 shots and scored 29 points.
5. Urbana 1, Champaign Central 0. On Oct. 26, Tigers goalie Jack Parrott stopped all shots, his seventh shutout in his last 10 games, as Urbana repeated as Class 2A boys’ soccer regional champions.
6. Argenta-Oreana 1, Monticello 0. On April 19, Starting pitchers Keegan McHood and Daniel Caldwell combined for 27 strikeouts in a pitchers duel won by McHood and the Bombers, whose lone run came in the eighth inning of the baseball game.
7. Westville 57, Olympia 55. On Dec. 14, after draining a three-pointer with 12.8 seconds to tie the game, Jeffrey Thompson hit a layup at the buzzer to lead the Tigers to victory.
8. St. Thomas More 3, Mount Zion 2. On May 24, hours after earning a state medal in track, Randa Harshbarger scored the tiebreaking goal in the second half of a girls’ soccer match as the Sabers won the school’s first sectional title in the sport.
9. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 14, Fisher 13. On Oct. 25, freshman Levi Davis blocked a Fisher field goal attempt with 11 seconds left to preserve the football win for the Falcons.
10. Tri-County 2, Arthur-Lovington 1. On Oct. 10, the Titans won their second consecutive Little Okaw Valley Conference volleyball tournament title in epic fashion, coming back from a first-set loss to defeat the Lancers 21-25, 25-22, 33-31. Each school had three serves for match point before Tri-County (20-9) secured the clinching point on an ace by setter Alex Hudson.
11. Champaign Central 21, Urbana 20. On Sept. 6, the Maroons took their only lead of the night with 3:48 remaining in the fourth quarter to claim the Wright Street trophy and snap a 10-game football losing streak. Toby Rivera scored the late touchdown, followed by the decisive two-point run.
12. St. Joseph-Ogden 6, Unity 5. On May 24, Andrea Coursey’s suicide squeeze bunt in the bottom of the seventh brought home Allison Rose with the winning run as the Spartans won a Class 2A softball regional championship at home.
13. Bismarck-Henning 28, Salt Fork 25. On Sept. 28, Bismarck-Henning ran its regular season football winning streak to 18 games with a win over previously unbeaten Salt Fork. Dylan Allen’s 60-yard pass to Patrick Ganley late in the fourth quarter sealed the win.
14. Stillman Valley 43, St. Joseph-Ogden 41 OT. On Nov. 29, the Spartans fell just short in overtime in the Class 3A state championship football game at DeKalb. SJ-O scored touchdowns on six of its nine possessions.
15. Argenta-Oreana 53, Arcola 52. On Dec. 6, the Bombers completed a comeback from an 11-point halftime deficit to pull out a last-second boys’ basketball win as Jesse Brown nailed a 20-footer at the buzzer.
TOP COMEBACKS OF THE YEAR
1. Brandon Klein, Champaign Central. Shoulder injury sidelined wrestler as a junior before Christmas. As a senior, state-qualifier led Maroons in wins and pins despite seriously injuring the opposite shoulder the third week of the season.
2. Jessica Hammack, Mahomet-Seymour. Softball player limited by injury to three at-bats as a junior. As a senior, batted .336 and earned a scholarship to continue to play the game at Parkland College.
3. Broc Smith, Tuscola. Torn hamstring sidelined track star as a junior. As a senior, was the Class 1A state runner-up in the 100 meters.
4. Greg Huss, Centennial. Sidelined by mononucleosis as a sophomore and at less than full strength as a junior. As a senior, batted .362 and was an All-Area second-team selection.
5. Clinton girls’ basketball. The Maroons trailed Sullivan by 20 points in the semifinals of the Okaw Valley Conference tournament but rallied to win the game, 71-65.
6. Desiree Isaac, Danville. Sidelined by injury as a junior. As a senior ran on two state medal-winning relays in Class 3A.
7. Payton Stiers, Iroquois West. Batted .163 last year in baseball but rebounded to hit a team-high .402 this spring.
8. Payton Stillman, Champaign Central. Missed most of track season after undergoing treatment for melanoma but returned to establish her personal best in the triple jump with a mark that’s top 10 in school history outdoors.
9. Avona Greene, Centennial. Suffered torn fascia in lower leg in February. Underwent therapy instead of surgery and returned outdoors to run on school record-setting 400-meter relay.
10. Steven Meade, Salt Fork. Suffered torn anterior cruciate ligament as a junior. Returned to earn All-Area first-team accolades as a senior when he was top five in tackling in area with 121 stops.
1. Tori McCoy, St. Thomas More basketball. National rankings reflect potential of highly recruited 6-foot-4 prospect.
2. Jon Davis, Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac cross-country and track. Halfway through prep career, a two-sport state champion.
3. Jenny Kimbro, Salt Fork volleyball, basketball and track. Area’s top all-around athlete plays on a summer travel softball team.
4. Kollin Seaman, Arcola basketball. A double-figure scorer for two straight years, needs 162 points to reach 1,000 as a junior.
5. Lauren Whitehouse, Mahomet-Seymour cross-country and track. One of two area runners to break 18 minutes last fall for 3 miles in cross-country.
6. Joe Aeilts, Champaign Central football and baseball. Part of an outstanding group of athletes in the school’s Class of 2016.
7. Jake Pence, St. Joseph-Ogden football and basketball. Will flourish outside of the shadow of the talented athletes in the Class of 2014.
8. Payton Woods, Champaign Central swimming. Freestyle sprinter shines individually and with relays.
9. Nick Bates, Tuscola football, basketball and baseball. Equally talented in each sport.
10. Alex Beckman, Urbana. Quarterback may raise his own school-record single-game passing mark above 400 yards.
11. Anna Watson, Tuscola softball. Her speed makes her a threat to reach base any time she hits the ball on the ground.
12. Airiana Smith, Champaign Central basketball. Capable of taking over games and playing at a high level.
13. Madeleine Nelson, Urbana Uni High swimming, basketball and soccer. Swimmer qualified for state in three events, then played in first basketball game one day later.
14. Lauren Neitzel, Centennial tennis. Winning 24 matches at No. 1 singles as an underclassman an impressive feat.
15. Dylan Dodd, Bismarck-Henning baseball. Competitive beyond his years and still improving.
16. Alex Keeble, Mahomet-Seymour cross-country and track. Poised to be a front-runner in both sports the next two seasons.
17. Sierra Bell, Schlarman basketball. A combo player who can handle the ball, set up others, drive and shoot.
18. Dana Westfield, Champaign Central volleyball. Developing into a powerful force at the net, both on offense and defense.
19. Wyatt Fishel, Arcola football and basketball. A talented and emerging force in two sports.
20. Addison Stoller, Cissna Park volleyball and basketball. All-Area first-teamer in basketball equally adept in volleyball.
1. Joshua Parker, St. Thomas More. Not many ninth-graders on varsity rush for nearly 1,200 yards in football and conclude the school year by ranking among the area’s sprint leaders in track.
2. Annemarie Michael, Urbana Uni High, cross-country and track. Less than 3 months as a high school student and already an all-state runner.
3. Kevonte Williams, Rantoul basketball. Expect Okaw Valley Conference coaches to double-team player who made more than 53 percent of his shots in his inaugural prep season.
4. Kylie Michael, St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball. Among the area’s top 10 leaders in kills while playing for a 25-win team.
5. Mycaela Miller, Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond softball. During breakout rookie season, ranked among the area’s leaders.
6. Max Berry, Judah Christian soccer. Accounted for 29 goals for the Tribe, ranking among the area’s top 10.
7. Emma Henderson, Tuscola track. Burst onto the scene as one of the state’s top 10 runners for 800-meters.
8. Blake Reifsteck, Bismarck-Henning soccer, basketball and track. A rising star who will be heard from year-round the next three years.
9. Griffin Meeker, St. Joseph-Ogden wrestling. Youth wrestling background created smooth transition to the prep scene.
10. Kendyl McFarland, Monticello golf and track. She’ll reach new heights as a pole vaulter as well as on the links.
11. Trey Layden, Hoopeston Area basketball. As first name suggests, can shoot the three-pointer, sinking 25 in his first varsity season.
12. Douglas Wallen, St. Thomas More basketball. Played beyond his years while earning All-Area first-team accolades.
13. Keely Smith, St. Joseph-Ogden cross-country and track. A two-sport state-qualifier in her first year of high school.
14. Megan Burton, Danville basketball and softball. Area’s premier three-point marksman in basketball hits the mark in softball as well.
15. Ashlynd Risley, Sullivan/Okaw Valley cross-country and track. Ran like a veteran on the Redskins’ state championship 800-meter relay.
16. Gressa and Willa Olson, Centennial. Collectively, won more than three-fourths of their singles matches as ninth-graders (31 of 40).
17. Nicole Bagwell, Unity cross-country and track. Breaks school pole vault record in rookie season to rank among top 10 on all-time area performance list.
18. Cam Barnard, Champaign Central swimming. Area’s top butterflier has a promising future.
19. Clavin Davis, St. Thomas More basketball. Part of a 1-2 freshman duo that will keep the Sabers competitive on the hardwood for years to come.
20. Andrew Zenner, Paxton-Buckley-Loda baseball. Tied for team lead in pitching wins and allowed less than one hit per inning in first high school season.
COACHES OF THE YEAR
1. Courtney Hoffman, Monticello softball. Eighth-year head coach — who has never had a losing season — directed the 31-win Sages to the school’s first state trophy in any bracketed sport, third place in Class 2A.
2. Scott Davis, Champaign Central boys’ tennis. One of few coaches in school history with five consecutive sectional championships in the same sport.
3. Randy Blackman, Urbana boys’ soccer. Following back-to-back postseason crowns, his squads have won regional titles nine times, a school record for an individual coach in any sport at the school.
4. Dick Duval, St. Joseph-Ogden football. Joined a club that previously included only Arcola’s Steve Thomas among area coaches who’ve guided five football teams into state title games.
5. Stan Bergman, Centennial volleyball. Retiring coach’s legacy is great: seven consecutive 30-win seasons, most by any area coach in any sport.
6. Erica Kostoff, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. Guided the Falcons to a sectional title for the fourth time in the past five seasons.
7. Wayne McClain, Champaign Central boys’ basketball. In his first year on staff, helped the Maroons win a regional title as well as 13 more games than in the previous season.
8. Bonnie Moxley, Mahomet-Seymour cross-country and track. For the second time in three years, directed the Bulldogs to postseason titles in both sports.
9. Doug DeWald, LeRoy. Retiring coach had six individual state qualifiers in final season along with a medalist for the seventh year in a row.
10. Mark Tate, St. Thomas More boys’ golf. His programs have been a model of consistency: 10 consecutive conference titles and then qualifying for state eight of the past nine years, placing seventh last fall.
11. Howard Schein, Urbana Uni High girls’ swimming. His squad won both Twin City and sectional championships for the first time, qualifying a school-record five swimmers for the state meet.
12. Randy Wolken, St. Joseph-Ogden softball. Won his 900th game, had the home field at SJ-O named in his honor and raised his state-record career win total to 915.
13. Tom Saunches, Argenta-Oreana baseball. During a season in which he earned his 500th career win, he guided the Bombers to their highest state finish, third place in the Class 1A state tournament.
14. James Johnson, St. Thomas More soccer. Guided both the boys’ and girls’ programs to regional titles and a combined 29 wins.
15. Andy Kerley, Cerro Gordo/Bement football. Guided the Broncos to a school-record 11 wins and a berth in the Class 2A quarterfinals.
16. Heidi Crane, Schlarman volleyball. Directed the Hilltoppers to a school-record 31 wins, a conference title and a berth in the Class 1A super-sectional for the second year in a row.
17. Chris Mennig, St. Thomas More girls’ basketball. Winning a state title guarantees a berth on this list, even if the school decides not to renew the coach’s contract.
18. Gary Hansgen, Salt Fork baseball. Retiring coach guided Storm to conference title for third time in past four years, had the home field at Sidell named in his honor and reached the 350-career win mark with his final victory.
19. Brian Brooks, St. Joseph-Ogden boys’ basketball. Fourth straight 20-win season and ninth in his 11-year tenure with the Spartans.
20. Ryan Hornaday, Tuscola boys’ track. Guided the sectional champion Warriors to a third-place finish in the Class 1A state meet. His athletes earned all-state honors in four events.
21. Nancy Stiff, Arcola girls’ basketball. Veteran coach needs 13 wins next winter in her 42nd year on the sidelines to become state’s fourth girls’ basketball coach with 700 career wins.
22. Gary Wieneke, Unity girls’ cross-country. Guided Rockets to an area-best fifth-place finish at the Class 1A state meet, in the process beating two teams the school had lost to in the regional.
23. Kali Taylor, Sullivan/Okaw Valley girls’ track. Her Redskins captured the third-place trophy from the Class 1A state meet and had one individual and relay champion.
24. Mark Bacys, Danville girls’ tennis. Coached school to a fourth Big 12 title in a row as well as a third consecutive sectional championship.
25. Kali Ford, Salt Fork softball. Guided state-ranked Storm to a program-record 26 straight wins before suffering a loss in the postseason.
ASSISTANT COACHES OF THE YEAR
1. Gary Spezia, Salt Fork. Hurdles guru tutors athletes from a variety of schools and helped mold Storm sophomore Jenny Kimbro into a two-event state champion in Class 1A.
2. Bob Campbell, Iroquois West. Girls’ basketball assistant described by head coach Kristy Arie as “my go-to guy on the bench.” Former head coach a devoted and loyal assistant whom Arie says, “gives 110 percent in everything he commits to.”
3. Bob Glazier, St. Joseph-Ogden. Spartans’ defensive coordinator for 26 seasons guided a unit that didn’t allow a touchdown in three of first 11 games en route to a berth in the Class 3A state finals. Four of his players earned All-Area first- or second-team honors.
4. Stan Wienke, Tuscola. Former head coach continues to work with individuals in the throws. Two of his male athletes earned state medals in the shot put and one placed in the discus.
5. Jon Kelly, Fisher. Three-sport coach for past nine years will give up football and girls’ basketball to become school’s assistant principal and athletic director. Will remain in place as baseball coach.
6. Mike Radliff, Mahomet-Seymour. Volunteer coach in boys’ basketball for 12 years routinely used vacation days or rearranged his work schedule in order to help Bulldogs. His impact will continue even after he has now stepped aside.
7. Cory Max, Bismarck-Henning. Defensive coordinator and offensive line coach described by head coach Mark Dodd as someone who could “make average kids good and good kids great on both sides of the ball.”
8. Tim Turner, Champaign Central. Softball assistant worked with catchers and outfielders. Originally joined staff because daughter was on the team. After her career ended, stayed for three more seasons and supplied expertise assistance.
9. Mike Alves, Centennial. Former Charger pitcher described by coach Ryan Remole as someone who takes “unpaid volunteer to a whole new level of commitment.” Not only works with pitchers but also manages the team’s website.
10. Tom Willard, Mahomet-Seymour. Recognized as an authority on the throws, track and field assistant had a boy and a girl reach the state finals this spring in Class 2A. A volunteer, he regularly attends every meet and every practice.
11. Brandon Divan and Justin Jones, Oakwood. Former Comets devised a running training plan that helped sophomore Jon Davis win state titles in both cross-country and track and field (1,600 and 3,200).
12. Dave Caldwell, Milford. When head coach John Spezia was injured in a December automobile accident, former head coach Caldwell stepped in and kept the team together and progressing toward a final 18-6 record.
13. Brian Anderson, Danville. Veteran assistant in football, who works with the defensive platoon, becomes a head coach during the winter with girls’ basketball.
14. Dave Elder, Cerro Gordo/Bement. Former South Piatt head coach joined the Broncos’ staff in the fall of 2012 as the defensive coordinator and made an immediate impact.
15. Braden Heil, St. Thomas More. Final time for Sabers’ girls’ basketball aide to be eligible for this list. He’s taking over the Unity program as head coach after working in all phases of preparation for the state champion STM team.
1. On April 26, 2014, four days after Randy Wolken’s St. Joseph-Ogden team beat Fisher to enable him to became the first softball coach in state history with 900 career wins, the school dedicated the home field in his honor as Randy Wolken Field.
2. On Aug. 28, 2013, Bismarck-Henning defeats Georgetown-Ridge Farm 5-2. The Blue Devils won the first match in the boys’ soccer program’s history. Previously, the school had been a part of a cooperative agreement with Hoopeston Area.
3. On March 29, 2014, Argenta-Oreana baseball coach Tom Saunches earned his 500th career victory as Griffin Sparks was the winning pitcher in a 9-2 win against Fisher.
4. On Jan. 24, 2014, Ridgeview boys’ basketball coach Rodney Kellar won his 500th career game and 18th straight to start the season, 61-46 over El Paso-Gridley.
5. On Dec. 10, 2013, Cissna Park coach Kevin Long records his 400th career victory as a boys’ basketball coach. His Timberwolves beat Watseka 42-38.
6. On April 26, 2014, Danville senior Johnny Leverenz, who set the school indoor record for 800 and 3,200 meters, shatters the school mark outdoors in the 1,600 with a time of 4:12.48. The previous record had been set in 1925. Leverenz later lowered the record to 4:10.00.
7. On March 31, 2014, Phillip Swartz struck out 11 as Central beat Lincoln 6-0 in the school’s 2,000th baseball game since the program was established in 1904.
8. On Oct. 25, 2013, St. Thomas More senior quarterback Storm Joop breaks the all-time Twin City career passing yardage record in a win over Rantoul. He finishes his career with 4,896 passing yards.
9. On Nov. 16, 2013, Urbana Uni High wins its first girls’ swimming sectional championship, with all three relay teams breaking school records in their races.
10. On Sept. 18, 2013, both the Monticello boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams were ranked No. 1 in the Class 1A state poll released by the Illinois Track and Cross-Country Coaches Association.
ALUMNI TO WATCH
1. Ian Park, Bismarck-Henning. Senior-to-be led Harding University with six goals in 2013, three of which were game-winners, helping him to second-team all-Central Region honors.
2. Luke Vaughn, Centennial. Sophomore-to-be at Memphis earned second-team All-America honors in the discus after a toss of 187-9 in the NCAA meet, where he placed 15th.
3. John Strauser, St. Thomas More. Sophomore-to-be figures into the defensive line plans at Purdue, which had a Big Ten-low 14 sacks last season.
4. Cheyenne Hedrington, Champaign Central. Junior-to-be will make the jump to Division I, transferring from Barton Community College, where she averaged 15.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, to Grand Canyon University. She is projected as an immediate impact player for an Antelopes squad that finished third in the WAC.
5. T.J. Onstott, Tuscola, Junior-to-be at Lindenwood-Belleville led football team in tackling last year and linebacker earned preseason NAIA recognition for the upcoming season.
6. Dylan Overstreet, Paxton-Buckley-Loda. Senior-to-be at Illinois Wesleyan University started 29 games and averaged 9.9 points per game for a 27-win team, leading the Titans in assists.
7. Regan Romshek, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. Rising junior named to Missouri Valley’s all-conference team after posting league’s second-best ERA (2.77) and finishing third in wins (17). Also a Scholar-Athlete pick.
8. Aaron Larson, Unity. Junior-to-be was an all-conference first-teamer as a sophomore after earning Freshman of the Year accolades in 2012. Larson led Olivet Nazarene in scoring (16.3) and rebounding (8.9) as a sophomore.
9. Seth Trolia, Mahomet-Seymour. Senior-to-be at Bradley had the golf team’s lowest stroke average last season, recording four top-10 finishes and scoring in the 70s in 27 of 29 rounds.
10. Laura Litchfield, Champaign Central. Sophomore-to-be will provide veteran leadership after transferring to Parkland College. As a freshman at SWIC, she averaged 10.9 points and 4.5 rebounds while starting 28 games.
11. Gia Lewis-Smallwood. Centennial graduate has cemented her position as the nation’s best female in the discus throw.
12. D’Lando Carter, Danville. Danville product set to continue basketball career at University of the Cumberlands, an NAIA program ranked 20th in the final national poll.
13. Adam Blackman, Urbana. Junior-to-be earned his second consecutive All-Central Region selection in 2013 for Wheaton College. His 10 goals and 26 total points were second for a team that reached the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
14. Madie Baillon, St. Thomas More. Sophomore-to-be from St. Thomas More was named to the all-Missouri Valley Conference team for Illinois State at No. 1 doubles after finishing 5-0 in conference matches. Overall, Baillon — a recent transfer to the Illini — went 20-8 in doubles and 19-9 in singles.
15. Morgan Leach, Centennial. Junior-to-be led Indiana’s volleyball teams in kills last fall and figures to be a go-to hitter again.
16. Cirron Clark, Danville. Sophomore-to-be looks to build on a freshman season for Illinois State that saw him win the Missouri Valley Conference championship outdoors in the pole vault. His winning vault was less than one inch off the school record of 17-03/4.
17. Jason Ziegler, Mahomet-Seymour. Senior-to-be led the Lipscomb Bisons with a 3.10 ERA while holding opponents to a batting average of .213. The left-hander converted five save opportunities.
18. Stephanie Canfield, St. Joseph-Ogden. Junior-to-be was among the team leaders for Arkansas, hitting .348 with four triples and going a perfect 10 for 10 in stolen bases.
19. Morgan Young, Mahomet-Seymour. Sophomore-to-be made a splash in her first season for Carthage, winning the CCIW championship in the discus as well as a top-20 finish at the Division III national championships.
20. Emily Sawyer, Cerro Gordo. Senior-to-be will enter her final season for Millikin as holder of the fifth and sixth all-time best hammer throws in school history along with the sixth-best weight throw.
TEAMS ON THE RISE
1. Urbana Uni High girls’ cross-country. The team’s top four runners last year at the regional were all freshmen or sophomores, and incoming ninth-grader Arielle Summitt will fit right in and make the team one to be reckoned with.
2. Tuscola football. Didn’t wait long to start a new playoff streak after its 18-year run ended. Warriors returned to the postseason in 2013 after a one-year hiatus.
3. Arthur Okaw Christian girls’ basketball. An incoming member of the East Central Illinois Conference, three members of Mahomet’s Franklin family (Jessica, Amanda and Alexa) could be key contributors as the team tries to break its season record for wins (18) a second consecutive year.
4. Mahomet-Seymour girls’ soccer. A school with winning seasons in 12 of the last 13 seasons, set the school record for wins (16) and ended among the state’s top 16 teams in Class 2A.
5. Monticello girls’ basketball. With 15 wins, the team had more success than the two previous seasons combined and also captured the Sages’ first regional title in the sport in nine years.
6. Westville baseball. Coach Joe Brazas’ 18-9 team improved its win total for the third consecutive year. In 2011, the record was 6-20.
7. Champaign Central volleyball. The Maroons have won 99 matches the past four years, the second-best total in the city (behind Centennial’s 134), but with strong contributions from underclassmen in 2013, a breakthrough may be on the horizon.
8. Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac girls’ track. Vermilion County’s best the past three years is working with athletes who can be competitive at the state level.
9. Hoopeston Area boys’ soccer. Back in Class 1A following a dissolved coop, the Cornjerkers set a school record for wins (18) and annexed the school’s first regional title in the sport.
10. Paxton-Buckey-Loda football. After six straight seasons without a playoff berth, the Panthers should be in contention for a postseason game this fall in the revamped Sangamon Valley Conference.
11. Tri-County/Shiloh boys’ basketball. As separate programs they combined for 36 wins last winter and had three underclassmen earn all-conference recognition. Next year, they’ll be together as a new co-op, but known as the Tri-County Titans.
12. Cissna Park girls’ basketball. Two years removed from an eight-win season, the Timberwolves won 23 games and reached a Class 1A super-sectional, where the eventual state champions ended their season.
13. Champaign Central boys’ basketball. This past year (reaching the sectional finals in Class 3A) was just the beginning of a shift in Champaign-Urbana supremacy in the sport.
14. Centennial boys’ tennis. Three seniors were in the lineup this season, but the top two singles players were both juniors.
15. Blue Ridge baseball. A 17-win season more than doubled last year’s victory output, and with numerous sophomores playing regularly the future appears even brighter.
TOP BOYS’ PROGRAMS
Combined football, basketball, baseball wins:
1. St. Joseph-Ogden 69 (11-26-32)
2. Champaign Central 56 (3-18-35)
2. Salt Fork 56 (8-24-24)
3. St. Thomas More 54 (6-23-25)
4. Cerro Gordo/Bement 53 (11-23-19)
6. Mahomet-Seymour 50 (9-15-26)
7. Centennial 49 (4-24-21)
7. Paxton-Buckley-Loda 49 (4-18-27)
9. Monticello 48 (9-13-26)
10. Argenta-Oreana 42 (8-10-24)
10. Bismarck-Henning 42 (9-26-7)
TOP GIRLS’ PROGRAMS
Combined volleyball, basketball, softball wins:
1. Watseka 80 (32-24-24)
2. Salt Fork 70 (27-17-26)
3. St. Joseph-Ogden 69 (25-18-26)
4. Centennial 65 (31-20-14)
5. Schlarman 64 (31-19-14)
6. St. Thomas More 63 (23-33-7)
7. Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond 59 (27-15-17)
8. Blue Ridge 57 (26-13-18)
9. Bismarck-Henning 54 (16-21-17)
10. Clinton 54 (14-21-19)
TOP COMBINED PROGRAMS
Wins for boys’ programs, girls’ programs and total:
1. St. Joseph-Ogden 69-69-138
2. Salt Fork 56-70-126
3. St. Thomas More 54-63-117
4. Centennial 49-65-114
5. Unity 40-63-103
6. Monticello 48-53-101
7. Mahomet-Seymour 50-49-99
7. Watseka 19-80-99
9. Cerro Gordo/Bement 53-45-98
9. Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond 39-59-98