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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.