Cross Country

Fred Kroner: Challenging times for IHSA

BLOOMINGTON — The IHSA, in some quarters, is viewed as the Evil Empire.

It’s a perception that is prevalent among those with gripes about an organization in its 114th year of existence.

Some criticize the IHSA for its multiplier policy that is applied to non-boundaried schools.

Others don’t like the number of championships that are permitted in a particular sport.

Bulletin board: Spezia returns against alma mater

MILFORD — Bismarck-Henning graduate John Spezia returned to active coaching Monday night against his former high school. The second-year Milford coach was injured in an automobile accident on New Year’s Eve morning en route to a practice and was in an Urbana hospital for three weeks.

He is coaching from a wheelchair and directed the Bearcats to a 55-49 victory.

Big 12 revamp ahead of schedule

CHAMPAIGN ­— Coming to a field or stadium sooner than expected: the revamped Big 12 Conference.

The expanding high school athletic league will have conference schedules in play in 20 of 21 sports when another school year starts in August.

All-Area Boys' Cross-Country Coach of Year: Monticello's Dave Remmert

Why he’s Coach of the Year: First-year head coach directed the Sages — who earned a No. 1 state ranking during the regular season — to Okaw Valley Conference, regional and sectional championships. Monticello finished an area-best third in the Class 1A state meet, led by all-state junior Matt Norvell.

All-Area Boys' Cross-Country Runner of Year: O/A-P's Jon Davis

FITHIAN — The foreshadowing started early.

It began well before Oakwood’s Jon Davis was the Class 1A state runner-up last spring in the 1,600 meters.

It even predates the fall of his freshman season, when Davis was the No. 1 cross-country state placer among ninth-graders in Class 1A.

All-Area Volleyball Coach of Year: SJ-O's Abby McDonald

Why she’s Coach of the Year: School’s sixth-year head coach guided the Spartans (25-9) to Sangamon Valley Conference and regional titles, each time when the team entered the tournaments as the No. 4 seed. SJ-O was one of the state’s Sweet 16 entries in Class 2A, losing in the sectional finals.

All-Area Girls' Cross-Country Coach of Year: SJ-O's Kristin Allen

Why she’s Coach of the Year: School’s second-year head coach directed the state-ranked Spartans to team titles in the Kickapoo Classic, the Paxton-Buckley-Loda Invitational, the Cumberland Invitational and the Peoria Heights Invitational. Regional and sectional runners-up, placed sixth in Class 1A at state, an improvement of four positions from 2012.

All-Area Girls' Cross-Country POY: Uni's Annemarie Michael

URBANA — The first step, for Annemarie Michael, was the important one. It helped chart the course for the future ones of a teenager who has emerged as the area’s premier girls’ cross-country runner.

Michael’s introduction to the sport occurred during the spring of her fourth-grade year at St. Matthew in 2009 and was followed by a natural progression of other steps.

Peoria schools joining Big 12

What happened

Bulletin board: SJ-O faces passing power

GREENVILLE — St. Joseph-Ogden’s secondary will receive a chance to add to some impressive season totals. The Spartans (10-2) have intercepted 17 passes this season, seven by Jake Stewart and five by Jake Pence. They are two of the team’s four defensive backs.

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