Remembering: Eldon Johnson
Before relocating to Vermilion County, Eldon Johnson — who passed away last month in Normal at age 78 — was best known for his own athletic achievements.
He attended Kenney High for three years, transferring to McLean as a senior in the fall of 1952. A 5-foot-10 forward, he set the school single-game scoring record in basketball (37 points). He also participated in track but was best known for his baseball prowess.
After batting .419 as a senior, the center fielder signed with the Chicago White Sox organization, where his stint was cut short after a year when he was drafted by the Army.
The family moved to Rossville in 1963, and thereafter, it was his children who were in the sporting headlines. Daughter Susan (now Kentner), who set a Vermilion County record in the 100-yard dash as a junior, credits her father for her tenure in sports as a coach.
“I became a coach because of the love of sports that he instilled in me at an early age,” Kentner said. “My dad had a huge impact on my coaching because we were forever playing some sort of sport during our free time.
“Dad would get home from the farm and we would play baseball in our back lot. We had bases and a pitcher’s mound, and the barn was a home run.”
Eldon Johnson, who lived in Rossville for 43 years, was a timer at numerous Vermilion County track events for years — when he wasn’t golfing.
Kentner’s brother, Dave Johnson, also joined the coaching ranks and is the women’s basketball head coach at Mattoon’s Lake Land College. Kentner coaches volleyball and track and field at Bismarck-Henning. A third sibling, Shelly, also survives.
“He inspired my brother and I to be competitive in sports,” Kentner said. “He was always at all our athletic events and my sister’s plays.”
Dave Johnson has coached the Lakers for 15 seasons. Kentner is in her 22nd year as the B-H volleyball coach. Her career record is 370-187 and includes nine consecutive Vermilion County tournament championships.
C-club banquet honors history
CHAMPAIGN — Two former Central athletes will join the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame during Saturday’s C-club banquet at Jupiter’s at the Crossing.
Swimmer Ross Moore and former News-Gazette girls’ basketball All-Area Player of the Year Allie Lindemann will be enshrined. Both graduated in 2006. The social hour starts at 4:30 p.m., with the dinner at 6 p.m. Central athletic director John Woods still has tickets available. He can be reached at 217-351-3933.
Also being recognized is the 1977-78 volleyball team, coached by Karon Rasmussen, which was 23-5 and placed fourth at state. There also will be a special celebration for 40 years of girls’ sports at the school.
Moore was a state placer for three consecutive years in the 200-yard individual medley and the 2006 state champion in the 100 butterfly. He helped the Maroons to ninth place at state his sophomore season, fifth as a junior and fifth again as a senior. Moore registered the third-best 200 IM time recorded by an area prep (1 minute, 53.88 seconds) and ranks fourth all time on The News-Gazette area list for the 100 butterfly (50.20).
Moore went on to swim at Notre Dame.
Lindemann earned 10 varsity letters, four in basketball, three in cross-country, two in soccer and one in track and field. She set the Maroons’ career scoring record (2,186 points) as well as points in a season (621). She was seventh on the IHSA all-time list for career double-figure scoring games (107). She helped Central to 82 wins during her four-year career, including a school-record season total (26).
Lindemann played four years of basketball in college, two at Kirkwood Community College and two at Siena. She was the Urbana Uni High girls’ head coach the past three seasons and is now in her first year as assistant at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.
Classic tournament returns
EFFINGHAM — The annual 24-team BSN Sports Nike Crossroads Classic, which starts at 6 p.m. Friday, will feature three 2012 state championship volleyball teams among the entries. Centennial’s Chargers — who are listed on the teams to watch in the state, according to prepvolleyball.com — and Tri-County are the area representatives. In all, the competing schools come from four states.
Centennial is one of the two tournament entries that placed third at state a year ago.
Area kids on campus ...
— Sophomore T.J. Onstott, from Tuscola, had his best collegiate game last week as Lindenwood-Belleville defeated Central Methodist University 42-16. He tied for the team lead with nine tackles, including one for a safety. He was 4 for 4 on his extra-point kicks. Lindenwood, in its second year with football, is 2-0. Onstott has 15 tackles.
— Sophomore Sydni Meunier, from Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, won her first collegiate cross-country race Saturday, leading Notre Dame to team honors in the Crusader Open. She ran a lifetime best (17:57.7) to win the 5-kilometer race by 12.2 seconds.
— Sophomore Steve Schroeder, from Monticello, was chosen as Patriot League Runner of the Week, after earning his first collegiate win Saturday for the Naval Academy. His 5-mile time was 25:55.51. He led Navy to team honors in the seven-school meet at Fordham. The win was his first at the collegiate level.
— Senior Amy Baker, from Oakwood, has played in 27 of Eastern Illinois’ first 28 sets. She has 29 kills, which ranks sixth on the 3-4 team.