ST. JOSEPH — The unbeaten St. Joseph-Ogden softball team (14-0) moved from No. 3 to No. 2 in this week's Class 2A state rankings, produced by the Illinois Coaches Association. The top-rated 2A team is Alton Marquette.
In 1A, Tuscola (sixth), Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley (eighth) and Blue Ridge (10th) are the highest-rated area squads. No area teams were voted in the top 20 in either Class 3A or 4A.
Area athletes among leaders
It didn't take long for area athletes in track and field to register times and distances among the best produced by area individuals.
Among girls, the 400-meter relay at Urbana (49.40) and the 800 relay from Centennial (1:46.46) clocked times that rank fifth and eighth, respectively, on the all-time Area Honor Roll.
Argenta-Oreana's KANDIE BLOCH has a high jump (5-9 1/2) that is second all time, Champaign Central's SAMONE THOMPSON has a 300-meter hurdles time (45.71) that ranks 12th, and St. Joseph-Ogden's CHELSEA BLAASE has a 3,200 time (11:30.91) that is 14th with six weeks left in the season.
Among boys, Danville's CIRRON CLARK has moved into a tie for 10th all time in the pole vault (14-7). Mahomet-Seymour's DEREK BUNCH is 13th in the shot put (57-11) and Monticello's STEVE SCHROEDER is 14th in the 1,600 (4:21.3).
Two major Class 1A invitationals are scheduled for this week. Unity's girls' invitational and Monticello's boys' invitational are set for Friday.
Urbana meet in 69th year
URBANA — The 69th Urbana Open boys' track and field meet Saturday will start with field events and running preliminaries at 9:30 a.m. Finals are expected to start at about noon.
Other area schools in the 13-team event are Champaign Central and Danville.
Fisher/GCMS soccer coach resigns
MARK SIZEMORE has stepped aside after three seasons as head coach of the Fisher/Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley soccer program.
Sizemore compiled a 28-31-8 record during his tenure with the Bunnies that culminated in a Class 1A regional final appearance last fall.
Sizemore's son, Jordan, will play soccer at Elmhurst College in the fall. He leaves as the program's all-time career scoring leader, and the elder Sizemore said having time to attend Jordan's collegiate matches was a big factor in his decision. Both the high school and soccer college seasons are in the fall.
He said he told Fisher athletic director BEN DERGES he would provide the program any help it needed moving forward.
"I really enjoy soccer," Mark Sizemore said. "I just don't want to be tied down to the practices and not be able to leave whenever I need to go watch Jordan play soccer."
Fisher basketball coach stays put
FISHER — Boys' basketball head coach RON RAGLE nearly resigned from coaching the Bunnies to focus on his full-time job with the village of Fisher and to spend more time with his family.
In the end, however, Ragle decided he couldn't walk away from the sport he's passionate about and plans on coaching Fisher in the 2012-13 season and thereafter.
Ragle said he informed the high school early in the boys' basketball season that he was thinking of stepping aside, and he sent Fisher athletic director Ben Derges an email in early February, saying he would resign at season's end.
The Bunnies were mired in an eventual 10-game losing streak that became a distant memory once the postseason started. Fisher erased all the trying moments in that span to win Class 1A regional and sectional championships before losing 55-40 to Illini Central on March 6 in a Normal super-sectional game.
"I was going to step down just because of my job and too much time and everything," Ragle said, "but I ended up deciding after talking with several other coaches and several other parents, my wife and kids ... that I was going to stay."
Ragle — who is 52-69 in his four seasons leading the Bunnies, including two straight regional titles — said he didn't decide to come back until a few hours before the Fisher High School board meeting March 14, when Ragle's resignation would have been finalized.
Ragle, who recently was promoted to head of Fisher's water and wastewater department, called Derges to explain his change of heart.
Maroons' Thompson set for UI
CHAMPAIGN — Senior Samone Thompson, from Champaign Central, will sign a national letter of intent today to continue her track and field career at the University of Illinois. A Class 2A state placer as a junior in the 300-meter hurdles, Thompson ranks among the area leaders this spring in six individual events.
She leads the area in the 300 hurdles (45.71), is second in the 100 hurdles (15.17), second in the 200 meters (26.61), second in the long jump (17-3 1/2), tied for second in the high jump (5-2) and fifth in the 100 meters (12.76) through Monday's meets. Thompson holds the fourth-best time in the 300 hurdles (44.80) with her season best from 2011.
Warriors off to a fast start
WATSEKA — In her first outdoor meet of the season, Watseka's TRISHA MARTIN broke a 28-year-old Watseka school record in the high jump. She cleared 5-2. The previous mark of 5-1 was set by KRISTEN RAJALA in 1984.
A boys' school record also fell. CALEB PARSONS ran the 110 high hurdles in 14.9, breaking a 1987 mark (15.0) held by PAUL NELSON.
Matt Daniels and Fred Kroner