2017-18 Prep Year in Review

2017-18 Prep Year in Review

TEAMS OF THE YEAR

1. Schlarman girls' basketball. Keith Peoples' Hilltoppers, led by Player of the Year Anaya Peoples, suffered just one loss all year en route to a Class 1A state title, the first in program history.

2. GCMS football. Mike Allen's Falcons rolled through an unbeaten campaign paced by a bruising defense and Player of the Year Mitch McNutt, capping it with their first-ever Class 2A state championship.

3. St. Thomas More volleyball. Stan Bergman's Sabers racked up 39 victories and, paced by Player of the Year Mica Allison, made their way to the top of Class 2A for the first time in team history.

4. Unity girls' cross-country. Kara Leaman's Rockets zoomed to their second Class 1A state title in three seasons, outlasting St. Joseph-Ogden behind a 13th-place state run from Caroline Bachert.

5. Mahomet-Seymour boys' cross-country. Neal Garrison's Bulldogs repeated as the Class 2A state titlists when Mathias Powell, Riley Fortune and Ryan Hodge all finished inside the top seven.

6. St. Joseph-Ogden girls' track and field. Kelly Steffen's Spartans broke through for the Class 1A state championship after placing third and second the two years prior, led by Athlete of the Year Atleigh Hamilton and four strong relays.

7. Ridgeview/Lexington boys' track and field. Mike Benton's Mustangs climbed the Class 1A mountain on the backs of dominating performances from juniors Mason Barr and Tate Walcott in a number of events.

8. Tuscola football. Andy Romine's Warriors fell by a single point in the Class 1A state championship game but beat every other team, led by new Oklahoma State lineman Hunter Woodard and others.

9. Mahomet-Seymour boys' track and field. Todd Lafond's Bulldogs sent five individuals to the Class 2A state meet and came away with wins from Callan Whitehouse (pole vault) and Hunter Hendershot (shot put) en route to second place as a unit.

10. Tuscola baseball. Duff Hoel's Warriors, keyed by Player of the Year Dalton Hoel, narrowly missed qualifying for the Class 2A state title game and wound up rolling to third place the following day.

11. Argenta-Oreana softball.Angie Ridgeway's Bombers roared through the Class 1A postseason, keyed by the area's leading hitter in Camilyn Newbanks, and wound up placing third among small schools.

12. Urbana girls' track. Leslie Edmondson's Tigers overcame two key athlete injuries to round up the third-place trophy at the Class 2A state meet, led by a repeat high jump title from Diamonasia Taylor.

13. St. Thomas More girls' golf. Pat Hettermann's Sabers finished just a stroke out of Class 1A's top three squads but still found solid success thanks to athletes like Player of the Year Alaina Bowie.

14. Champaign Central boys' golf. Mike Osterbur's Maroons secured a fifth-place result in the Class 2A state tournament thanks to team-leading results from Conor Butts, Cage Sestak and Player of the Year Justin McCoy.

15. Prairie Central wrestling. Mark Payne's Hawks shipped five boys to the Class 1A state meet and came away with individual championships from brothers Drew and Brandon Hoselton at 170 and 195 pounds, respectively.

16. Uni High boys' tennis. David Bergandine's Illineks wrapped up their first-ever Class 1A sectional team trophy while sending one singles athlete and two doubles pairings to the state tournament.

17. Urbana boys' soccer. Randy Blackman's Tigers made the longtime coach's final season one to remember, as Player of the Year Bennett Anderson and his teammates pushed Urbana to a Class 2A sectional final.

18-19. Centennial girls' and boys' swimming and diving. Courtney Lehmann's Chargers doubled up on sectional hardware while boasting the boys' Athlete of the Year in Alex Shilts.

20. Mahomet-Seymour girls' soccer. Joey Gruner's Bulldogs sent him out with a strong campaign, capturing another Class 2A regional title behind a historical campaign from Player of the Year Meredith Johnson-Monfort.

FUTURE BLUE CHIPPERS

1. Khailieo Terry, Champaign Central.Athletic freshman dazzled with his powerful basketball dunks, which readily have made the social media rounds.

2. Ameia Wilson, Danville. Though she fell short of any state track and field titles this year, the uber-talented junior can make a college impact.

3. Mira Chopra, Champaign Central. The freshman volleyball player for the Maroons competed for Illini Elite's top 15U team as a 14-year-old.

4. Luke Luffman, Urbana. The standout wrestler already was committed to Illinois before repeating as the Class 2A 220-pound champion in February.

5. Atleigh Hamilton, St. Joseph-Ogden. After winning the Class 1A state long jump crown as a freshman and anchoring two relays en route to a team track title, Hamilton will draw college interest.

6. Mason Barr, Ridgeview/Lexington. The junior has drawn Division I interest after winning the Class 1A 300-meter hurdles the year prior and helping the Mustangs to a team championship this season.

7. Brandon Hoselton, Prairie Central. In his inaugural state wrestling meet, the freshman piqued the interest of colleges by winning the Class 1A 195-pound bracket.

8. Caroline Bachert, Unity. Zooming to 13th place in the Class 1A state cross-country meet as a freshman is sure to grab attention.

9. Reed Broaders, Uni High. The freshman advanced to the state swim meet in four events and shattered two program records during the campaign.

10. Aubrie Shore, Mahomet-Seymour. The powerful freshman was the Bulldogs' leader at the plate and in the circle as they roped in a Class 3A regional title.

11. Zachary Donnini, Uni High. Another freshman, Donnini helped the Illineks to a sectional trophy while advancing to state as a singles competitor.

12. Naomi DuPree, Champaign Central. A legitimate scoring threat as a soccer sophomore, DuPree projects to draw more interest as she keeps filling the net.

13. Kenli Nettles, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond. The vibrant sophomore cruised to second place in three different events at the Class 1A state track meet.

14. Katelyn Young, Oakwood. Though also a volleyball and track and field athlete, the sophomore is garnering more looks as a dominant basketball post player.

15. Bryson Lee, St. Thomas More. The junior recently committed to Idaho football, joining older brother DJ on the Vandals' roster in the future.

STATE CHAMPIONS

— Mahomet-Seymour boys' cross-country, Class 2A state champion

— Unity girls' cross-country, Class 1A state champion

— St. Thomas More volleyball, Class 2A state champion

— Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley football, Class 2A state champion

— Ema Rajic, Uni High, girls' swimming and diving (100-yard breaststroke, 200 IM)

— Justin Cardani, Centennial, Class 2A wrestling (113 pounds)

— Brandon Hoselton, Prairie Central, Class 1A wrestling (195 pounds)

— Drew Hoselton, Prairie Central, Class 1A wrestling (170 pounds)

— Luke Luffman, Urbana, Class 2A wrestling (220 pounds)

— Schlarman girls' basketball, Class 1A state champion

— St. Joseph-Ogden girls' track and field, Class 1A state champion

— Atleigh Hamilton, St. Joseph-Ogden, Class 1A long jump (18 feet, 2 inches)

— Diamonasia Taylor, Urbana, Class 2A high jump (5-7)

— Laura Krasa, Judah Christian, Class 1A 3,200-meter run (11 minutes, 29.06 seconds)

— St. Joseph-Ogden girls' Class 1A 800-meter relay (1:43.89)

— Arielle Summitt, Uni High, Class 1A 800-meter run (2:11.03)

— Jessica Franklin, Mahomet-Seymour, Class 2A 300-meter hurdles (43.45)

— Ridgeview/Lexington boys' track and field, Class 1A state champion

— Tate Walcott, Ridgeview/Lexington, Class 1A long jump (24-0 1 / 4)

— Austin Rauch, Clinton, Class 2A high jump (6-10)

— Hunter Woodard, Tuscola, Class 1A shot put (60-4 1 / 2)

— Hunter Hendershot, Mahomet-Seymour, Class 2A shot put (60-3 1 / 4)

— Callan Whitehouse, Mahomet-Seymour, Class 2A pole vault (16-0)

— Steven Migut, Unity, Class 2A 300-meter hurdles (38.20)

— Logan Hall, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond, Class 1A 1,600-meter run (4:22.45)

TOP STUDENT-ATHLETES

1. Dalton Hoel, Tusocla. Valedictorian was a four-sport athlete who helped the Warriors to a runner-up state finish in football and a third-place state showing in baseball.

2. Arielle Summitt, Uni High. Recent graduate earned IHSA academic all-state honors as a cross-country and track runner before winning a third consecutive 800-meter run state championship. Recorded a 35 on her ACT and a 4.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

3. Jessica Rose, Villa Grove. Recent graduate recorded a 5.02 GPA while participating in softball and dance. Attending Illinois State on a music scholarship.

4. Nathan Garard, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. Rising senior posted a 4.024 GPA while serving as the starting quarterback for a state-champion football team and also playing basketball and baseball.

5. Brenna Durst, Oakwood. Valedictorian scored a 3.956 GPA while playing volleyball and girls' basketball, helping both programs to 20-win seasons.

6. Raine Bernhard, Uni High. Rising senior put forth a 4.0 GPA while qualifying for the girls' swimming and diving state meet in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

7. Sam Crane, Arcola. Valedictorian raced on boys' track and field state-qualifying 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays, and also played football and basketball.

8. Aleksas Dietzen, Schlarman. Salutatorian was the leading hitter for the Hilltoppers softball team and also suited up in volleyball.

9. Sam Mabry, St. Joseph-Ogden. Distance runner for the girls' cross-country and track and field programs scored one of five Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Dekan Scholarships, worth $1,000.

10. Jared Motley, Rantoul. Valedictorian competed in the 800-meter run and shot put for the Eagles boys' track and field program.

11. Kayley Schacht, St. Thomas More. Recent graduate was an honorable-mention choice on the IHSA all-state academic team as a tennis and soccer athlete.

12. Sarah Acklin, St. Joseph-Ogden. Recent graduate received IHSA all-state academic honorable-mention status while competing volleyball, basketball and track and field.

13. Garret Williams, Mahomet-Seymour. Recent graduate earned IHSA all-state academic honorable-mention recognition while competing in cross-country and swimming.

14. Macy Hollingsworth, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond. Valedictorian and Illinois state scholar competed in volleyball, basketball and softball.

15. Becca Clanton, Fisher. Recent graduate maintained a 4.0 GPA over second semester while backstopping Bunnies softball pitchers, leading the team in hitting.

REMEMBRANCES

— Bob Miller, 101, died on July 21, 2017. He was a Monticello basketball player and Sages athletics superfan. The high school's gymnasium is named in honor of Miller and his late wife, Dorothy.

— Nita Brooks, 79, died on July 21, 2017. She was a superfan of the St. Joseph-Ogden athletic programs.

— Emily Lightner, 37, died on Sept. 6, 2017. She was a former Monticello cross-country, basketball and track and field athlete.— Douglas McCumber, 67, died on Sept. 26, 2017. He was Tuscola football's public address announcer for 43 years.

— Roy Roemer, 67, died on Oct. 26, 2017. He was a Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley athletics superfan.

— Carl (C.J.) Parks Jr., 18, died on Oct. 26, 2017. The recent Unity graduate was a member of the football and bass fishing teams.

— Spencer Toohill, 17, died on March 22, 2018. He was a junior at Clinton and a scorekeeper for its baseball team.

— Dylan Benningfield, 17, died on April 7, 2018. He was a junior at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley who was involved with football, wrestling and baseball.

— Donnell Robertson, 17, died on June 10, 2018. He was a rising senior at Rantoul who was involved with football and track and field.

ALL-INTERVIEW TEAM

1. Phillip Hall, Danville. Future Illini runner is extremely well-spoken and provides insight into how his actions might affect those around him.

2. Cody Miller, Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin. Win or lose in football and wrestling, Miller keeps his composure and told it how it was.

3. Dalton Hoel, Tuscola. Being a four-sport talent means Hoel has had plenty of interview time, and he's learned how to offer level-headed analysis while rarely repeating his talking points.

4. Ayanna Kelley-Weatherspoon, Urbana. The bubbly track athlete always was ready for a chat, and to put her teammates in a positive light.

5. Sydney Gouard, Schlarman. Uber-calm in the spotlight, the junior served as lead spokeswoman for a squad full of outgoing personalities.

6. Noah Zimmerman, Monticello. Football lineman always seems genuinely interested in discussing his sport and makes sure an interviewer leaves with thorough answers.

7. Steven Migut, Unity. Upcoming Army football athlete handled with aplomb being at the forefront of both the Rockets' gridiron and track programs.

8. Jessica Franklin, Mahomet-Seymour. Thrust into the limelight through her lone track season, the former Arthur Okaw Christian athlete would stand at the finish line all night to answer questions.

9. Zea Maroon, St. Joseph-Ogden. Maroon could sum up the general atmosphere surrounding the Spartans cross-country or track program in a cool, concise matter.

10. Cade Chitty, Judah Christian. The soft-spoken big man was all about providing thought-provoking responses as opposed to cliches.

DESERVED MORE PUB

1. Madie Burwell, Villa Grove. Freshman broke the school discus record, won a USTA state double mini trampoline championship and recorded a 5.0 GPA while starring in volleyball, track, softball, gymnastics and cheerleading.

2. Ryan Wierschem, Champaign Central. Sophomore swimmer, narrowly edged out for Athlete of the Year honors, advanced to state in a trio of events.

3. Tatiana Garcia, Argenta-Oreana. A vocal leader for Class 1A's third-place softball team, she served as a solid No. 2 athlete to Camilyn Newbanks.

4. Abby Leibach, St. Thomas More. On a Class 1A super-sectional-qualifying soccer club full of stars, Leibach led the program with 18 goals.

5. Caleb Bleich, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. His junior state track meet was a rough one, but Bleich was there in a quartet of competitions.

6. Peter Wagner, Champaign Central. Junior soccer goaltender earned All-Big 12 first-team honors and represents both Illinois and the Midwest region in the Olympic Development Program.

7. Ethan Chow, Urbana. At the forefront of a swimming and diving program trying to find its footing, Chow gave the Tigers their first non-diving state qualifier since 2007.

8. Garrett Lashuay, Oakwood. Set the school wrestling program record for single-season wins (43) en route to a state berth, and also participated in soccer and track while earning salutatorian honors.

9. Paul D'Angelo, Uni High. Three-sport athlete — soccer, basketball and tennis — for four years was a strong second hand to the Illineks' various stat leaders.

10. Ernest Plummer, Danville. Excelled in first year playing quarterback for the Vikings, leading them to the Class 6A playoffs, and contributing on the baseball diamond.

11. Kennedy Bauer, Watseka. The All-Area volleyball first-team athlete also made her mark playing basketball and softball for the Warriors.

12. Grace Qiu, Uni High. Slotting in behind teammate and girls' tennis Player of the Year Lindsay Huang, Qiu was plenty effective in tennis and basketball.13. Austin Hopkins, Arcola. The sophomore jaunted for 1,000 yards to provide a returning threat for a 7-3 program.

14. Kade Thomas, Fisher. The starting quarterback was Jaden Jones-Watkins' right-hand man in both football and basketball.

15. Alex Helmuth, Monticello. Class 1A boys' cross-country state runner-up keyed the Sages' fourth-place effort, and also qualified for state track in the 3,200 meters.

MILESTONES

1. Dalton Hoel, Tuscola. Senior set school records in career football receiving yardage and touchdowns, as well as career baseball stolen bases. The last of those marks ranks fourth all-time in IHSA history (176).

2. Nathan Harman, Monticello. Senior set school football records in career tackles (473) and single-season tackles (158).

3. Rahi Miraftab-Salo, Uni High. Senior set school boys' soccer records in career goals (105) and single-season goals (37).

4. Ema Rajic, Uni High. Senior set school girls' swimming and diving records in the 200-yard freestyle, 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.

5. Reed Broaders, Uni High. Freshman set school records in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly.

6. Noah Wright, Monticello. Senior set school boys' golf nine-hole score record (31).

7. Tim Finke, Champaign Central. Senior set Champaign-Urbana's all-time basketball scoring record by finishing his prep career with 2,015 points.

8. Noah Blue, Uni High. Senior set school records in basketball points (1,628), rebounds (815) and free throws (329), as well as soccer goalkeeper shutouts (37).

9. Barry Bauer, Watseka. Girls' basketball coach won his 400th career game.

10. Tim Lavin, Centennial. Boys' basketball coach won his 300th career game.

11. Skylar Bolton, Oakwood. Senior set school baseball records for runs (172), hits (174), doubles (44) and stolen bases (42).

12. Adam Frerichs, St. Joseph-Ogden. Junior was hit by 22 pitches this season.

13. Arielle Summitt, Uni High. Senior set school girls' track and field records in the 800-meter run (2:11.03), 1,600 run (4:57.98) and 3,200 run (10:58.21).

14. Jessica Franklin, Mahomet-Seymour. Senior set school girls' track and field records in the 400-meter dash, 800 run and 300 hurdles.

15. Mia Maupin, Monticello. Junior set school girls' soccer records for career goals (62) and single-season goals (28).

GAMES OF THE YEAR

1. Nov. 24, 2017. Heavyweight Class 2A football state title game between Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley and Maroa-Forsyth was decided by a leaping Bryce Barnes touchdown reception with 1:08 to play to hand the Falcons a 38-32 win.

2. Feb. 19, 2018. Class 1A's top two girls' basketball teams squared off for a super-sectional crown, with No. 2 Schlarman upending reigning state champion Annawan 43-36 after losing to the Bravettes in December.

3. Nov. 24, 2017. Tuscola football mounted a furious rally after falling behind 21-7 to Lena-Winslow through half of the state title game, but the Warriors' last drive was stopped on downs in opposing territory en route to a 21-20 loss.

4. March 6, 2018. Champaign Central boys' basketball watched a Class 3A sectional semifinal win disappear when Springfield Lanphier erased a five-point deficit with 26 seconds to play and won 71-69 in double-overtime.

5. June 1, 2018. Despite Logan Tabeling setting a Class 2A state baseball tournament record with 14 strikeouts, Tuscola watched Spring Valley Hall break a 1-all tie in the eighth inning to steal the semifinal bout with a 2-1 win.

6. Feb. 23, 2018. Benton Singleton nailed a floating shot off the backboard with eight-tenths of a second to play, lifting Monticello boys' basketball past Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 45-43 in a Class 2A regional final.7. Feb. 9, 2018. After Oakwood's Katelyn Young tallied five points in the waning moments of regulation before Tatum McCall forced overtime with a buzzer-beater in this Class 2A girls' basketball regional final, which the Sages won 48-46 in overtime.

8. May 28, 2018. Camilyn Newbanks drove in two runs and caught a complete-game no-hitter from sister Cassi as Argenta-Oreana softball topped Somonauk 4-2 for its first-ever state berth.

9. April 20, 2018. St. Thomas More girls' soccer stormed out to a 2-0 lead over rival Mahomet-Seymour before Meredith Johnson-Monfort and Co. responded with the next three markers to pull out a 3-2 regular-season triumph.

10. Jan. 20, 2018. Oakwood boys' basketball opened the Vermilion County Tournament title game against Salt Fork with a 17-4 advantage before hanging on amid a wild Storm rally to earn a 52-49 win.

11. Sept. 22, 2017. Jaden Jones-Watkins rushed 21 times for 272 yards and Dakota Matthews piled up 11 tackles as Fisher football stunned then-Class 2A No. 2 Deer Creek-Mackinaw, 24-23 in a Week 5 game.12. May 19, 2018. Sarah Hohenstein came up with two penalty kick saves in net as Mahomet-Seymour girls' soccer overcame the loss of Meredith Johnson-Monfort to injury and topped Normal U-High 2-1 in a Class 2A regional final.

13. Jan. 27, 2018. About two weeks after losing to Shelbyville by 20 points, Tuscola boys' basketball turned around as the Central Illinois Conference Tournament's No. 8 seed and shocked the No. 1 Rams 53-46.

14. Sept. 29, 2017. Billy Printz sprinted to the end zone with six seconds to play as Prairie Central football stunned St. Joseph-Ogden, 30-22 in a Week 6 affair, and ultimately contributed to the Spartans' 26-year playoff qualification streak ending.

15. Jan. 25, 2018. Watseka girls' basketball pulled out a 50-36 win over Paxton-Buckley-Loda five days after the Panthers topped the Warriors, securing Watseka a share of its first Sangamon Valley Conference crown since 1994.

SPORTSMANSHIP STANDOUTS

1. Monticello girls' basketball. Dave Beery's Sages created a poster for the wall behind their bench during Class 2A sectional semifinal and final action in support of an ill athlete from Tuscola.

2. Caleb Griffin, Danville. Future Illinois football kicker always playfully interacted with opposing fan sections, but also took time on Twitter to address a shooting outside a December basketball game in Champaign.

3. Alayna Stalter, Fisher. Even as senior fell short of advancing in the Class 1A state 300-meter hurdles, she took a moment after the preliminary race to console a freshman competitor who fell over the last barrier.

4. Luke Luffman, Urbana. Repeat state-champion wrestler took the high road while on the receiving end of some headbutts during the waning moments of his Class 2A 220-pound title bout.

5. Local pole vaulters. Monticello's Aliyah Welter and Landis Brandon, Mahomet-Seymour's Mara Pletcher and Callan Whitehouse, Unity's Taylor Millsap, Schlarman's Sarah Craig, Prairie Central's Chandlar Ifft, Urbana's Micah Stearns, Paxton-Buckley-Loda's Garrett Bachtold and Sullivan's Jadon Nuzzo all openly rooted for their foes at their respective state finals.

6. Josh Bleich, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. Football athlete was captured in a photo offering his hand to a fallen Maroa-Forsyth player during the heat of the Class 2A state championship game.

7. The Franklin sisters. Jessica, Amanda and Alexa consistently showed professional form around fellow competitors, as well as coaches and media members, while adjusting from home-schooling to life at Mahomet-Seymour.

8. Jake Sellett, St. Thomas More. Goalkeeper made it routine to approach opposing bench right after matches for handshakes with the players and a kind word with the coach.

9. Kelsey Blackford, Oakwood. Vermilion County Sportsmanship Award winner for volleyball consistently displayed a positive attitude, even during the toughest moments in volleyball, basketball and softball.

10. Nik Johnson, Champaign Central. After taking a year away from swimming, sophomore always was effusive in his appreciation for opponents giving him a good race, or for media members willing to chat him up.

TOP COMEBACKS

1. Alexis Koester, Tuscola. Watched her basketball season end early with a rare blood disorder before bouncing back to help Warriors softball to a regional championship.

2. Shaniya Howard, Urbana. Raised her daughter, Sa'Nylah, as a single mother after giving birth the year prior and placed fourth in both the Class 2A state high jump and with the Tigers' 800-meter relay.

3. Sam Watts, Champaign Central. Mourned the loss of father Ben to cancer, then served as a key scorer for a Maroons boys' golf group that finished fifth in Class 2A.

4. Kaden Canales, Uni High. Sat out his junior athletic year after hip surgery, then returned as a soccer and basketball starter before heading to the state track meet in the 3,200-meter relay.

5. Brandon Henson, Fisher. Missed his junior athletic campaign with a torn ACL and rebounded to become a first-team All-Heart of Illinois Conference baseball player and a second-team All-HOIC football player.

6. Callan Whitehouse, Mahomet-Seymour. Fought through a broken wrist and a bad lower back to capture the Class 2A boys' state pole vault championship.

7. Noah Pierce, Tuscola. Suffered a severe leg injury in the Class 1A state football title game and recovered to become the Warriors' leading baseball pitcher during another run to state.

8. Mario Cortez, Arcola. Rebounded from a broken collarbone to become a key contributor for Purple Riders football and a state qualifier in track and field.

9. Brody White, St. Joseph-Ogden. Suffered a broken leg during a preseason practice but continued to be involved with the program during an up-and-down season.

10. Hayden Cekander, Champaign Central. After participating in junior varsity baseball as a junior, he led the 2018 Maroons with a .350 batting average and earned first-team All-Big 12 Conference honors.

SUPER SOPHOMORES

— Wade Baillon, St. Thomas More. All-Area boys' tennis Player of the Year following in footsteps of two former Illini family members.

— Alaina Bowie, St. Thomas More. All-Area girls' golf Player of the Year stood out during Sabers' fourth-place showing at state.— Capria Brown, Schlarman. Star shooter helped girls' basketball program to class title before making state track meet in four events.

— Artem Burnett, Urbana. Backstopped Tigers to leading position among local boys' soccer programs, as well as a regional crown.

— Reagan Cheely, Villa Grove. Dominant two-way softball player was top presence on successful squad filled with underclassmen.

— Bailey Dowling, St. Joseph-Ogden. All-Area softball Player of the Year, Alabama commit is in line to break IHSA homers record.

— Hannah Dukeman, St. Joseph-Ogden. Basketball, softball standout played with far more confidence than her age might typically afford.

— Naomi DuPree, Champaign Central. Among area's leading girls' soccer goal scorers, she aided Maroons to above-.500 campaign.

— Madi Eberle, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. Local softball strikeouts leader wasn't too shabby at the plate, either, for a solid Falcons crew.

— Dalton Hall, Champaign Central. Despite dealing with bum shoulder, Maroon grappled into state wrestling semifinals at 160 pounds.

— Hunter Hendershot, Mahomet-Seymour. Studious Bulldog captured a state shot put championship and didn't fare poorly in the shot put, either.

— Elyce Knudsen, Unity. At or near the top of statistics for every Rockets team on which she played — volleyball, basketball and softball.

— Caleb Lahey, Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin. Ended football season just one rushing yard behind All-Area Player of the Year Mitch McNutt, at 1,692, despite playing in only seven games.

— Justin McCoy, Champaign Central. All-Area boys' golf Player of the Year played a serious role in Maroons notching fifth at state.

— Emelia Ness, Monticello. Generated breakout track and field campaign, in which she raced at state four times and earned three medals.

— Kenli Nettles, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond. Posted all of the Knights' points at girls' track state meet, placing second in three events.

— Diamonasia Taylor, Urbana. Repeated as the Class 2A high jump state champion, helping Tigers to first piece of team hardware at the event.

— Payton Taylor, Salt Fork. Imposing force in football, basketball, baseball and track made state in shot put, discus as diamond crew was cruising.

— Allie Trame, St. Thomas More. Committed to play volleyball at Alabama, she helped Sabers to first-ever team championship.

— Katelyn Young, Oakwood. Dominant basketball post player also made state track and field meet in shot put, contributed to volleyball program winning a regional title.

FANTASTIC FRESHMEN

— Evelyn Atkins, Unity. Impressed in first prep cross-country season, with 25th-place showing at state helping Rockets to team crown.

— Caroline Bachert, Unity. Came up even bigger for the same Rockets program, zooming to 13th position in the Class 1A finals.

— Reed Broaders, Uni High. Shattered school swimming records in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly, qualifying for state in both.— Mira Chopra, Champaign Central. Already netting Division I volleyball interest, she keyed Maroons to a sectional semifinal match.

— Zachary Donnini, Uni High. Among area's strong boys' tennis contingent, appearance in singles state pushed Illineks to first sectional crown.

— Layton Hall, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond. Suited up for Knights in state cross-country and track finals, along with brother and future Illini Logan Hall.

— Atleigh Hamilton, St. Joseph-Ogden. All-Area girls' track and field Athlete of the Year proved crucial to Spartans wrapping up team state championship.

— KayLee Hohlbauch, Arcola. Leading presence for the Purple Riders in all three of her events — volleyball, basketball and softball.

— Cale Horsch, Fisher. Jumped into Class 1A 106-pound wrestling state final while suiting up for Bunnies football in fall.

— Brandon Hoselton, Prairie Central. Secured Class 1A 195-pound wrestling state championship in first appearance at State Farm Center.

— Erin Houpt, Danville. Stout outside shooter for above-.500 Vikings basketball club, will be asked for more with Mikala Hall's graduation.

— Bill Layton, Urbana. Led the way for Tigers program on the upswing, placing third in sectional singles to earn slot in state meet.

— Leah Luchinski, Centennial. Found herself among Chargers' statistical leaders in both volleyball and softball.— Kaitlyn Reifsteck, Tuscola. Strong presence within the circle for Warriors softball group that took down regional championship.

— Kendyl Ring, Tuscola. Already in All-Central Illinois Conference softball conversation while working through JV volleyball ranks.

— Kitty Rossow, Champaign Central. A stout second scoring option for Central girls' soccer, also ranked second on club in assists.

— Aubrie Shore, Mahomet-Seymour. Impressive softball talent was Bulldogs' top worker both within pitching circle and at dish.

— Tevin Smith, Danville. Didn't see ample varsity time behind loaded upperclass basketball group, but showed in brief glimpses he has great ability.

— Khailieo Terry, Champaign Central. His highlight-reel basketball dunks flowed through social media channels as team's only non-senior starter.

— Sa'kinah Williams, Judah Christian. Shooting threat from anywhere on basketball court possessed big say in 16-win campaign.

COACHES OF THE YEAR

1. Mike Allen, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. His 17th season leading Falcons football was the finest, as the program snagged its first-ever state crown.

2. Stan Bergman, St. Thomas More. In just his third campaign pacing Sabers volleyball, Bergman solved the state championship riddle.

3. Neal Garrison, Mahomet-Seymour. Year 16 finished just like Year 15: with a team state title for the Bulldog boys' cross-country group.

4. Kara Leaman, Unity. Her third year helming Rocket girls' cross-country ended with the crew atop the state podium — same as her first season.

5. Keith Peoples, Schlarman. It took seven seasons, but Peoples helped his girls' basketball squad garner a state championship.

6. Kelly Steffen, St. Joseph-Ogden. Her third campaign played witness to Spartan girls' track and field getting over the state-victory hump.

7. Mike Benton, Ridgeview/Lexington. In his fifth year running Mustang boys' track and field, Benton watched his guys win the top team trophy.

8. Andy Romine, Tuscola. His third season overlooking Warrior football was his best to date, as Romine's pupils climbed to second in Class 1A.

9. Pat Hettermann, St. Thomas More. Her 15-year tenure running Saber girls' golf was capped in style, as STM clawed to the fourth position in Class 1A.

10. Mike Osterbur, Champaign Central. The first-year general of Maroon boys' golf pushed his youngsters to a fifth-place effort in Class 2A.

11. Leslie Edmondson, Urbana. The Tiger girls' track and field boss worked around two big injuries to guide her club to third place in Class 2A.

12. Todd Lafond, Mahomet-Seymour. In his fifth season leading the Bulldog boys' track and field athletes, Lafond watched them snag second place in Class 2A.

13. Duff Hoel, Tuscola. His eighth and final campaign with Warrior baseball included a third-place result in Class 2A.

14. Angie Ridgeway, Argenta-Oreana. Year 3 in charge of Bomber softball played host to a third-place display in Class 1A.

15. Dave Young, Uni High/Champaign Central. With the Illinek girls' swimming and diving program, Young oversaw an 11th-place state outcome. With the Maroon boys' swimming and diving club, Young helped send an individual and a relay to state.

16. James Johnson, St. Thomas More. During the Saber boys' soccer season, the sixth-year coach helmed a 23-3-1 mark with a Class 1A regional title. For the girls' group, the seven-year general witnessed a 21-5-1 ledger and a 1A sectional trophy.

17. Randy Wolken, St. Joseph-Ogden. His 39-year Spartan softball tenure concluded with a Class 2A sectional championship and 1,044 career victories.

18. Courtney Lehmann, Centennial. Her first season leading both the Charger boys' and girls' swimming and diving crews resulted in a pair of sectional crowns, as well as six individuals and three relays sent to state across both genders.

19. Joey Gruner, Mahomet-Seymour. His last year in charge of Bulldog girls' soccer involved yet another Class 2A regional championship.

20. David Bergandine, Uni High. The Illinek boys' tennis boss pushed the right buttons en route to the program's first-ever sectional crown.

21. Tom Cooper, Judah Christian. The veteran bench leader keyed Tribe boys' basketball to its inaugural regional championship.

22. Andy Moore, Monticello. He set Sages wrestling's all-time coaching wins mark at 157, then led the club to its first regional crown since 2013.

23. Randy Blackman, Urbana. His 32nd and final campaign with Tiger boys' soccer generated 16 victories and his 11th regional title.24. Jim Tressler, St. Thomas More. Running Saber girls' tennis, Tressler guided the athletes to their first-ever sectional title and six state doubles triumphs.

25. Cully Welter, Monticello. In charger of Sage football, Welter oversaw a 9-2 record. With the school girls' track and field squad, he guided the program to a fourth consecutive sectional crown.

ASSISTANT COACHES OF THE YEAR

1. Candace Phillips, Urbana. Vibrant presence on track infield pushed Diamonasia Taylor and Shaniya Howard to first and fourth, respectively, in state high jump.

2. Todd Rentschler, St. Thomas More. Member of girls' soccer super-sectional qualifier was chosen as 2018 girls' IHSSCA Soccer Person of the Year.

3. Chad Augspurger, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. Served as defensive coordinator for a state-champion football program, with unit giving up 113 points across 14 games.

4. Caleb Englehardt, Tuscola. Pitching coach for Class 2A baseball's third-place squad oversaw 13 athletes posting a collective 1.90 ERA in 42 games.

5. Audrey Rodawig, Uni High. Part of girls' swimming and diving staff that directed future California athlete Ema Rajic and program that finished 11th at state.

6. Herb Wilkins, Salt Fork. Continued his history of producing strong girls' track and field throwers, with Rachyl Anderson placing third at state in discus.

7. Leonard Winchester, St. Joseph-Ogden. Going out with longtime softball head man Randy Wolken, dedicated volunteer retired after super-sectional appearance.

8. Cam Strang, Champaign Central. Increased role as baseball pitching coach and pitch caller, and club has averaged nearly 30 wins in his five seasons.

9. Eric Fenton, Oakwood. Right-hand man to Craig Black oversaw boys' basketball crew that captured Vermilion Valley Conference, Vermilion County Tournament titles.

10. Schlarman girls' basketball assistants. Quartet of Jerry O'Neill, Ollie Harrison, David Gouard Jr. and LaTana Lillard fully trusted by Keith Peoples, and it showed during run to state title.

ALUMNI TO WATCH

1. Jason Seaman, St. Joseph-Ogden. Our 2007 Male Athlete of the Year saved countless lives when he tackled a school shooter at his teaching job in Noblesville, Ind.

2. Jon Davis, Oakwood. Illinois runner broke four-minute barrier in mile earlier this year, will look to improve upon 49th-place display at 2017 NCAA cross-country championships.

3. Payton Woods, Champaign Central. Michigan State swimmer broke school 50-yard freestyle record, was part of three record-setting relays and earned academic All-Big Ten status.

4. Jenny Kimbro, Salt Fork. Continues to climb Iowa track and field record books in events like hurdles, pentathlon and heptathlon, all while earning academic All-Big Ten status.

5. Luke Smith, Centennial. After two seasons with Parkland College baseball, which included two national tournament appearances, he'll compete for Louisville.

6. Morgan Day, Tuscola. Led Illinois State softball in complete games, shutouts and strikeouts as a freshman hurler, posting the fifth-most punchouts in a single Redbird season.

7. Katie Kidwell, Watseka. Bowling Green volleyball player named to Mid-American Conference All-Freshman team after playing in all but one set and recording 184 kills.

8. Brea Walker, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. Illinois Wesleyan softball pitcher collected four shutouts, was named to NCAA Division III national championship all-tournament team.

9. Demarius Smith, Rantoul. Wrestling at 149 pounds for Jim Heffernan's Illini, Smith placed runner-up in his collegiate debut by posting 2-1 record at Michigan State Open.

10. Tori McCoy, St. Thomas More. Now with Marquette women's basketball, McCoy will try to play through a rare kidney disease with which she was diagnosed in December 2017.

TEAMS ON THE RISE

1. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley boys' basketball. Returns all but Mitch McNutt from program that won 24 games and nearly captured a regional championship.

2. Mahomet-Seymour volleyball. Returns future Kent State hitter Savannah Matthews along with potent setter Kayin Garner from regional finalist.

3. St. Joseph-Ogden football. After missing postseason for first time in 26 seasons, Spartans keep starting quarterback Keenan Swanson, top running back Dwight Colvin.

4. Rantoul boys' track and field. Jerry Harper's strong state performance will inspire club that was oft-injured, as well sudden passing of teammate Donnell Robertson.5. Urbana boys' basketball. Competed well with regional-champion Mahomet-Seymour, returns several key athletes and has more coming up through strong system.

6. Villa Grove softball. Blue Devils already were making waves with starting lineup full of freshmen and sophomores, so things project to get even better.

7. Salt fork baseball. Under leadership of former Danville coach Geoff Desmond, program that returns eight of 12 athletes, made sectional final has good prospects.

8. Champaign Central boys' soccer. Behind All-Big 12 returnees Santiago Rodriquez and Peter Wagner, Maroons should make strides.

9. St. Thomas More girls' basketball. Even needing new coach, returning athletes like NaKaya Hughes make Sabers club hard to overlook.

10. Uni High girls' soccer. Though Kathryn Dullerud graduates, Betsy Ruckman and others lead crew that was competitive with area's best.

TOP BOYS' PROGRAMS

(combined 2017-18 football, basketball, wrestling and baseball victories)

1. Monticello 83

2. St. Joseph-Ogden 69

3. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 66

4. Mahomet-Seymour 65

5. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 64

6. Oakwood 62

7. LeRoy 60

8. Tuscola 58

9. Prairie Central 56

T-10. Champaign Central 51

T-10. Clinton 51

TOP GIRLS' PROGRAMS

(combined 2017-18 volleyball, basketball and softball victories)

1. St. Joseph-Ogden 76

2. Watseka 73

3. Tuscola 65

4. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 63

5. Oakwood 62

6. Tri-County 58

7. Schlarman 56

8. Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 53

9. Cissna Park 5210. Monticello 49

TOP COMBINED PROGRAMS

(combined 2017-18 football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, baseball and softball victories)

1. St. Joseph-Ogden 145

2. Oakwood 144

3. Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin 129

4. Tuscola 123

5. Monticello 112

T-6. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 103

T-6. Mahomet-Seymour 103

8. Unity 100

9. Watseka 99

T-10. Prairie Central 98

T-10. Salt Fork 98

QUOTES OF THE YEAR

— "People can take your house or car away from you, but they can't take this away from us." — Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley football coach Mike Allen on winning a state championship against Maroa-Forsyth.

— "If this is a dream, I don't want anybody to plug the coffee pot in because I don't want to wake up yet." Champaign Central boys golf coach Mike Osterbur, reflecting his team qualifying for the Class 2A state tournament.

— "I think he hit it twice. He hit it so hard, the reaction from the first contact came up and hit him again." — Unity boys' track and field coach Tim Gateley on champion 300-meter hurdler Steven Migut running into the first barrier during his title race.

— "I think the combination of having living things but not actually working on humans, more on animals or cells, I think that's just really interesting. Things that grow and die, that process is just really cool." — Uni High swimmer Ema Rajic on her love for biology.

— "I turned 70 this year, and I started doing this before my son was born, and he's 36 now. It's just been a wonderful season, and I've loved every single second of it." — St. Thomas More girls' golf coach Pat Hettermann on the Sabers' fourth-place finish at state.

— "There was one time, I don't know who said it, they said Bismarck has a better defense than us. And that really made us so mad. We took a whole day in practice just to do defense. It really paid off." — Schlarman's Capria Brown following a girls' basketball state title win against Stockton.

— "The only time I like to show emotion is directly right after, for maybe five seconds. Let it out in one big rush, and then just be composed." — Urbana wrestler Luke Luffman on his brief celebration after repeating as a state champion.

— "I get people honking at me, scaring the crap out of me. I'll get people rolling up saying, 'Keep it up,' and I have no idea who they are. That's just how Arthur is, and that's one of the greatest things to have here." Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond runner Logan Hall on the support he's received.

— "I thought he meant I had to breathe every single stroke of butterfly. And I didn't like that. Once I figured out I didn't have to, I loved it." — Centennial's Alex Shilts on learning about the butterfly stroke from his summer league coach.

— "You just ask yourself, 'Did that really happen?' And then you just get excited. It doesn't matter who ended the game that way because it's happened several times that way. It's never the same person, which is amazing." — Shannon Singleton, mother of Monticello boys' basketball player Benton Singleton, on her son's game-winning shot in a regional title game against Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley.

— "I woke up this morning and I was like, 'All right, so it's state finals, no big deal. I was too nervous to eat anything. I had like two pieces of cantaloupe, and I'm like, 'Mom, I'm done.'" — Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond's Kenli Nettles on competing in four events at the girls' track and field state finals.

— "I haven't really looked at my medal from last year. I wasn't really proud of it. I think two-time runner-up is a mediocre high school career, and I hope to improve upon it." — Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin wrestler Cody Miller after falling short in his championship bout for the second straight season.

— "I'm probably going to have to run some extra suicides, because I thought we won. I thought they were up one, not two. I'm always on my girls about paying attention, and then I wasn't paying attention. So I guess I need to learn a lesson there myself." — Monticello girls' basketball coach Dave Beery on celebrating too early after his team forced overtime in a regional final against Oakwood.

— "Randy was yelling at us to get off. And we kind of went back to my parents with our tails between our legs, ashamed. And they're like, 'What happened?' And we're like, 'We got yelled at by the coach.'" — former Urbana athlete David Anderson, brother of boys' soccer Player of the Year Bennett Anderson, on their first interaction with Tigers coach Randy Blackman.

— "Everyone loves him on the team. When I first met them, I said, 'My tennis team in high school, one of my teammates went pro. Maybe there's someone on this team that's going pro,' and they all yelled his name." — St. Thomas More boys' tennis coach Jason Scicchitano on Player of the Year Wade Baillon.— "I think it's been 10 years since we've actually had an Urbana-Centennial win — or maybe even a Champaign win at all. So this season has a lot of hope for us." — Urbana's Levi Coffey after the Tigers baseball team defeated Centennial.