Prep pulse: April 23, 2018

Prep pulse: April 23, 2018

The University of Illinois can claim influence over most state high schools. The News-Gazette's coverage area includes many of these options.

Among those is Danville, which seems to be a particular hot spot for Class of 2018 athletes seeking next-level competition.

When runner Phillip Hall committed to the Illini last week, he joined an ever-growing group of local stars who will hit the Champaign-Urbana campus later this year to start their college academic and athletic careers.

Hall is now one of four Vikings who will be an Illini in the not-so-distant future. He'll be joined by fellow runner Shanice Garbutt, as well as Julian Pearl and Caleb Griffin on the football field.

But it isn't only Danville planning to send youngsters to the UI. Centennial wrestler Justin Cardani, Mahomet-Seymour soccer player Meredith Johnson-Monfort, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley footballer Mitch McNutt, Monticello footballer Dylan Thomas, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond runner Logan Hall and former Schlarman/Urbana hoopster Arieal Scott also are set to become Illini in 2018, while Urbana junior grappler Luke Luffman has committed to Illinois as well.

This is a positive sign for UI athletics, which boasts 14 former local standouts among its 19 current athletic rosters. Let's take a look at who these present-day high-schoolers will join:

Taylor Edwards, Arcola grad — softball

Kellen Sarver, Centennial grad — baseball

Caleb Hummer, Danville grad — cross-county/track

Emone' Davis, Danville grad — track

Miranda Marry, Fisher grad — cross-country/track

Alex Keeble, Mahomet-Seymour grad — cross-country/track

Jon Davis, Oakwood grad — cross-country/track

Demarius Smith, Rantoul grad — wrestling

Wes Kibler, St. Joseph-Ogden grad — wrestling

Kevin Hinders, St. Thomas More grad — football

Katie Witte, Salt Fork grad — track

Erin Walker, Tuscola grad — softball

Varun Chopra, Uni High grad — golf

Nicole Choquette, Urbana grad — cross-country/track