2008-09 Prep year in review
TEAMS OF THE YEAR
1. Centennial boys' basketball. State championship and school-record win total (32) during a season for the ages.
2. St. Thomas More boys' golf. Class 1A title marked third straight year for top-six finish at state.
3. Unity volleyball. Rockets' run to state title match proves value of working together on the court.
4. Urbana Uni High boys' cross-country. Four of top five runners on state's fourth-place team were underclassmen.
5. Watseka baseball. Quality pitching, hitting helped team go 50 straight days without a loss, until the Class 2A state semifinals.
6. LeRoy wrestling. Dual-meet state runner-up team had eight 20-match winners.
7. St. Thomas More girls' golf. One step away from the ultimate state pinnacle.
8. Mahomet-Seymour girls' track and field. Sixth-place finish at state marks school's 14th top-10 finish in past 32 years.
9. Centennial volleyball. Followed up on school-record 33-win season in 2007 with 34 wins in 2008.
10. Ridgeview girls' basketball. Third-place finish at state best for any girls' program at the school.
11. Fisher boys' track and field. Sectional championship first in school history.
12. Blue Ridge softball. Made history by capturing district's first sectional title in any sport.
13. Salt Fork football. Program-record 12-win season came in Storm's eighth straight playoff appearance.
14. Unity boys' track and field. Sectional title school's first in the sport.
15. Danville boys' track and field. Big 12 indoor runners-up had athletes among top seven leaders outdoors in area Honor Roll in 12 of 14 individual events.
1. Rayvonte Rice, Centennial. Upcoming senior placing his entire emphasis on basketball in hopes of earning a Division I scholarship.
2. Katarina Marjanovic, Urbana. Junior has won 75 of 88 matches at No. 1 singles past three seasons.
3. Jessica Brito, Bismarck-Henning. Basketball mainstay is quickly making a name for herself in track as a hurdler.
4. Derrick Cunningham, Danville. Rising senior receiver is a sure-handed pass-catcher with quickness.
5. Cori Harris, Centennial. Impressive in volleyball and still getting better.
6. Monica Rondon, Champaign Central. Softball standout catching the eye of college coaches.
7. Tom Pacey, Paxton-Buckley-Loda. Fall or spring, good for the long run.
8. Amy Martin, Oakwood. Senior-to-be state-placer in track who is also a force in volleyball and basketball.
9. Josh Raymond, Mahomet-Seymour. As a junior, slugger terrified opposing pitchers in his first season of varsity baseball for the Bulldogs.
10. Jacob Bushue, Centennial soccer. Has elevated skills to an elite level.
11. Brandon Ward, Champaign Central. Fierce competitor is tough as nails in both football and wrestling.
12. Abby Popejoy, Prairie Central. One of area's best pure athletes.
13. Cameron Stringfellow-Ford, Danville. All-conference in football (tight end) and all-state in track (discus).
14. Savannah Piety, Fisher. Has refined all-around skills enough to attract attention of coaches at the next level.
15. Jeff Johnson, Centennial. Not many 6-foot-8 preps have the shooting range of senior-to-be.
1. St. Thomas More boys' golf, Oct. 18. Won Class 1A team crown by 18 strokes.
2. Urbana Uni High chess, Feb. 14. Illineks win 122-school event, finishing ahead of runner-up Chicago Whitney Young.
3. Colten Unzicker, Fisher, Feb. 21. Senior 160-pound wrestler won Class 1A title 3-1 against Coal City's Chase Odeen.
4. Andrew Brewer, Mahomet-Seymour, Feb. 21. Senior 171-pound wrestler won Class 2A title in overtime, 5-4, against Antioch's Tom Gerstner.
5. Centennial boys' basketball, March 21. Chargers defeated Oswego 61-59 for Class 3A title.
6. Urbana Uni High journalism, May 1. Illineks move up from 2008 runner-up position to team state title and also had an individual winner, Chris Yoder, in sports writing.
7. Mandy Facer, Urbana, May 1. Took first place in news writing category at journalism state finals.
8. Daniella Bunch, Mahomet-Seymour, May 23. Senior repeated shot put title with a Class 2A record (49-10 1/2).
9. Ian Wells, Champaign Central. May 30. Junior won Class 2A 400-meter dash by more than a quarter of a second (49.04).
1. Morgan Buerkett (above), St. Thomas More volleyball. Given the chance, we believe she could both ask and answer questions.
2. Matt Avenatti, Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman cross-country and track. Affable and mature; and just a freshman.
3. Dan Bolsen, Lovington. Competitive on the field; courteous and polite away from the action.
4. Malcolm Taylor, Urbana Uni High cross-country and track. Never at a loss for an interesting comment.
5. Erika Ramos, Hoopeston Area. As much at ease in interviews as she is relaxed while running.
6. Mallory Weber, Salt Fork. Well-spoken and ready with insightful comments.
7. Bryson Davis-Johnson, Centennial. On a team with go-to players on the court, always a go-to athlete for reporters with questions.
8. Katie Jean, St. Thomas More golf. She managed to ace her speaking assignments.
9. Jade Beals, Chrisman. Effervescent and able to quickly analyze questions.
10. Zander Culver, Champaign Central. Good player, good personality, good speaker.
DESERVED MORE PUB
1. Erin Henk, Hoopeston Area. Three-sport athlete saved her best for stellar spring season in softball.
2. Jacob Palmer, Villa Grove. Blue Devils' Mr. Versatility.
3. Kate Russell, Urbana soccer. Multi-sport standout excelled once on the soccer field.
4. Kelsi Hoey, Tuscola. Shoulder injury took away majority of basketball and all of softball season for Parkland College recruit.
5. Daniel Wells, First Baptist. Small school aside, runner/basketball player a legitimate standout.
6. LeRoy wrestling team. Three Panthers (Cory Matlock, Dan Monical and Tyler Wilfley) all captured their 100th career victories in the same week in January.
7. Angel Sanchez, Iroquois West. Team's top scorer and three-point shooter in basketball was Raiders' top receiver in football.
8. St. Joseph-Ogden boys' basketball. Has won 24 consecutive games in its Leader Classic Tournament and six straight titles after beating Olympia 65-61 on Dec. 22.
9. Ryan Murphy, St. Thomas More. Illinois State-bound golfer on top of his game.
10. Dan Lilly, Urbana Uni High. All-Area in soccer and a near miss in basketball.
11. Davin Dollison, Centennial track and field. Senior had marks in two events that ranked among the area's top 12 all time.
12. Aryn Gilenson, Champaign Central wrestling. Senior state placer prominent on list of school's top all-time grapplers.
13. David Groves, Danville. Hurdler/jumper often overlooked on a team with numerous standouts.
14. Nash Ramage, DeLand-Weldon. Small-school athlete a big-time performer.
15. Shelby Helfrich, Atwood-Hammond/South Piatt. Averaged double-double in basketball and led volleyball team in kills and blocks.
16. Tim Wilson, Arthur-Lovington. Not overlooked by basketball coaches in the Little Okaw Valley Conference.
17. Cole Judy, Heritage/East Central. A double-figure scorer in basketball and a .300 hitter in baseball.
18. Tri-County volleyball. In Sarah Ritchey's four years as coach, program has 103 wins, including 30 while dominating LOVC last fall.
19. Matt Ulrichs, Iroquois West. Top scorer on football team had more than 1,000 combined yards between rushing, passing and receiving; a .345 hitter in baseball who led team in RBI.
20. Jesse Gifford, Bement/South Piatt. A sectional qualifier in cross-country and a distance mainstay on the track.
1. Arcola girls' basketball coach Nancy Stiff earned her 600th career victory on Dec. 16 with a 39-38 triumph against Tri-County.
2. Champaign Central's baseball team won its 1,000th game in history on March 25 with a 5-4 win against West Mifflin (Pa.) in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
3. Unity's Zebo Zebe, a 1,000-point scorer in basketball, ran the third-fastest 800-meter time in area track history (1:52.59) on May 30.
4. Oakwood boys' basketball hits the 1,000 win mark, beating Armstrong-Potomac 51-36 on Jan. 16.
5. Centennial sophomore golfer Lizzy Dombroski shot her first hole-in-one ever on her first shot at the Carbondale High School Class 2A Invitational on Aug. 18.
6. Rantoul junior Kelsey Gass broke the state-record for doubles in a season, slamming 26. The previous mark was 23.
7. Schlarman boys' soccer coach Ed Barney earned his 100th win as the Hilltoppers beat Salt Fork/Westville 6-0 on Sept. 30.
8. Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac wrestler Blake Warren pinned his state-meet opponent in 19 seconds on Feb. 20, the quickest ever in Class 1A at 285 pounds.
9. Champaign Central boys' 200-yard medley relay broke Unit 4 Pool record (1:37.44) set nine years earlier by Trupin & Co.
10. Centennial swimmer Paul Folts broke the school's 50-yard freestyle record with third-fastest sectional time in state (21.16).
GAMES OF THE YEAR
1. Westville boys' basketball 16, Armstrong-Potomac 7, Dec. 19, this was a game that was 0-0 at halftime. Really.
2. Centennial boys' basketball 66, North Lawndale 65, March 20, Rayvonte Rice´s putback of his own missed shot with 3.1 seconds left lifted underdog Chargers into Class 3A boys' state title game.
3. Unity girls' basketball 40, Bloomington CC 38, Feb. 19, the Rockets' sectional title win was against the top-ranked and previously unbeaten Class 2A team.
4. Monticello softball 34, Arthur-Lovington 1, March 23, Sages set an area record with 24 runs in the first inning against an opponent which forfeited the remainder of its games due to a lack of players.
5. Danville football 34, Bloomington 27, Aug. 29, Danville beats state-ranked Big 12 foe for the first time since 1996. It took two overtimes.
6. Unity volleyball def. Princeton 25-21, 25-19, Nov. 14, Rockets advanced into state championship match with semifinal conquest at Illinois State.
7. Centennial boys' basketball 61, Oswego 59, March 21, Rayvonte Rice hit two free throws in the final seconds to lead the Chargers to the Class 3A state championship.
8. Meridian football 14, Tuscola 13, Oct. 17, a controversial celebration penalty call in overtime against Tuscola helped cause a missed conversion kick that proved to be the margin of victory.
9. CPCI boys' basketball 54, St. Joseph-Ogden 50, Feb. 13, Timberwolves make their last 10 free throws to edge the Spartans in double overtime.
10. Mahomet-Seymour boys' basketball 77, Olympia 73 (OT), Jan. 30, the visiting Bulldogs handed Corn Belt champion Olympia one of its two conference losses – and one of five defeats overall – behind Luke Radliff's career-high 30 points.
1. Tyrece McCurry, Urbana football, track. Helped organize the district's African-American Male Workshop for boys about to enter high school.
2. Casey Cromwell, Schlarman. Catcher routinely picked up the bat for players who'd started to first base after hitting a foul ball.
3. Ana Deters, Unity volleyball, basketball, softball. Always crediting teammates for their roles in success of the teams.
4. Alex McMahon, Westville football, track. As respectful and courteous as he is athletic and determined.
5. Eli George, Salt Fork basketball. Lone senior on sectional finalists praised for his outstanding effort.
TOP COMEBACKS OF THE YEAR
1. Molly Romine, Tuscola. From the first basketball game of her junior year, required two knee surgeries before playing as a senior, but earned All-Area accolades in three sports.
2. Adam Acheson, Champaign Central. Returned to football field from early-season neck injury, then went 32-8 and won Big 12 title in wrestling.
3. Lisa Boyce, Urbana Uni High. In first season of high school swimming, junior set nine pool records.
4. Eric Miles, Urbana. Football transfer from tiny East Central a special mention all-Big 12 Conference pick as a running back.
5. Ashlee Shroyer, Unity. Recovered in time to qualify for state in the 100 meters and with a sprint relay.
1. Dylan Overstreet, Paxton-Buckley-Loda. Multi-sport star one of most versatile athletes in Class of 2011.
2. Lauren Grubb, Unity. Smooth operator on the basketball court.
3. Isaiah Butts, Rantoul wrestling. Eagle 130-pounder finished 29-6, beat state-ranked No. 3 foe for regional title.
4. Matt Maser, Westville. Three-sport mainstay played quarterback position in football like a poised veteran.
5. Joel Learnard, Salt Fork. Equally talented in baseball and basketball.
6. Uzuri Williams, Judah Christian. Potential great for basketball player who can do it all.
7. Taylor Redeker, CPCI. Basketball standout plays game beyond her years.
8. Nathaniel Khachaturian, St. Thomas More. Golfer understands the value of going green.
9. Dennis Forrest, Danville. Equally at home on soccer field and baseball diamond.
10. Seth Gooch, Unity. Nerves of steel; handled point guard position in basketball like a senior; in football a fixture in the secondary.
11. Hannah Bowen, St. Joseph-Ogden. Was named to Coaches Association All-State second team for second consecutive year.
12. Garrison Stenger, Arcola. Received votes for all-league recognition in Little Okaw Valley Conference in football, basketball and baseball.
13. Paige Nord, Ridgeview. Aggressive on the basketball court and seldom gets rattled.
14. Randy Crist, Atwood-Hammond. Top scorer and rebounder for Rajahs this season.
15. Kegan Skelton, Centennial diving. Charger won his second sectional title, finished seventh at state meet.
16. Brandon Wilson, Tri-County. Passed for 1,407 yards last year and led the Titans in rushing.
17. Edward Clark, Danville. Made name for himself in football and basketball.
18. Matt Franks, Unity. Durable running back continues school's record of excellence at the ball-carrying position.
19. Brede Parker, Watseka. Slugger tied for second among area baseball leaders with eight home runs.
20. Jerrin Moffit, Champaign Central wrestling. Maroon 103-pounder went 23-8, regional title.
1. Regan Romshek, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. Will her future in softball be as a pitcher or as a hitter? Or both?
2. Rachel Ballard, St. Joseph-Ogden. Track standout excels at running and jumping.
3. Dillon Hoel, Tuscola. Infielder/pitcher will help Warriors stay strong in baseball.
4. Austin Armetta, Mahomet-Seymour wrestling. Bulldogs 140-pounder set career bar high, reaching Class 2A state semifinals as rookie.
5. Jamie Blue, Urbana Uni High. Basketball standout only ninth-grader on first team, second team or special mention All-Area lists.
6. Korie Vire, Georgetown-Ridge Farm. Unusual for a ninth-grader to make a significant varsity impact in more than one boys' sport.
7. Nate Volk, Champaign Central wrestling. Maroons 145-pounder won 30 of 39 matches, came within one victory of state medal.
8. Emma Cabutti, Mahomet-Seymour. Track sprinter running in some fast company.
9. Samantha Ledbetter, Tuscola. Played like a varsity veteran in first year in high school.
10. Tanner Ribbe, Bismarck-Henning. Only ninth-grader recognized by Vermilion Valley Conference coaches in voting for postseason basketball awards.
11. Haley Briggs, Argenta-Oreana. Earned all-state laurels as a runner in both cross-country and track and field.
12. Elizabeth Everingham, St. Joseph-Ogden softball. Could emerge as area's next dominant pitcher.
13. Molly Marcum, LeRoy. Emerging star in three sports: golf, basketball and softball.
14. Zach Elkins, St. Joseph-Ogden. On track for good times in cross-country and track.
15. Lori Haas, Bismarck-Henning. Burst onto the scene in tennis and as key role player in basketball.
16. Makenzie Baker, Oakwood. A good sport for all seasons.
17. Stephanie Canfield, St. Joseph-Ogden. Softball outfielder uses quickness to her advantage.
18. Julian Anastasia, Champaign Central wrestling. Maroons 112-pounder won regional title, finished 25-10.
19. Paige Thevenin, Chrisman. Six-footer will be tough to handle inside by the time she graduates.
20 (tie). Chelsea Blaase, Jolee Paden, St. Joseph-Ogden. Prominent members of the Spartans' distance running crews in cross-country, track.
TOP MEMORIES AND REMEMBRANCES
1. LeRoy renamed its 47-year-old annual wrestling invitational for former coach Randy Bowman, 72, who died on Jan. 13.
2. Cerro Gordo's Paul Workman is inducted into the Illinois Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame on April 4.
3. Retiring Oakwood and former St. Joseph-Ogden coach Dave Markwell was inducted into Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame on April 19.
4. News-Gazette prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on April 25.
5. Hall of Famer Dick Hood, 66, former Rantoul football coach and one of the area's most congenial individuals, passed away on June 6.
COACHES OF THE YEAR
1. Stan Bergman, Centennial volleyball. Ten years at the helm have produced 10 20-win seasons.
2. Lois Cryder, Monticello soccer. Guided Sages to regional titles in both boys' and girls' divisions.
3. Doug DeWald, LeRoy wrestling. Has directed the Panthers into a position of prominence in Class 1A which they might not relinquish for some time.
4. Tim Lavin, Centennial boys' basketball. Joins legendary Harry Combes as lone Champaign coaches to win state title in the sport.
5. Susan Kentner, Bismarck-Henning volleyball and track. Volleyball team won fifth straight Vermilion County crown and track team prevailed at County for third year in a row.
6. Brian Plotner, Salt Fork football. His teams have won nearly 75 percent of their games during his seven-year tenure.
7. Harbert Jones, Urbana boys' track. Tigers had a state qualifier for the 17th consecutive year.
8. Kristy Duncan, Unity volleyball. Four straight 20-win seasons for coach of Class 2A state runner-up squad.
9. B.J. Luke, Danville football. Has produced winning teams at his various stops and his alma mater is no different.
10. Bonnie Moxley, Mahomet-Seymour cross-country and track. Guided Bulldogs to fourth straight regional title in cross-country and to eighth straight regional crown in girls' track.
11. Matt Hopkins, Champaign Central boys' swimming and diving. His Maroons won sectional, Twin City crowns, reached state in six events.
12. Doug Mynatt, Urbana Uni High cross-country. Continually produces competitive teams.
13. Mindy Whitehouse, Ridgeview basketball. State's third-place team has put together four successive 20-win seasons.
14. Ryan Tabeling, Tuscola baseball. Puts heart and soul into his sport.
15. Myron Schroeder, Blue Ridge softball. Team hit 20-win mark for third time in his three years as head coach.
16. Jeff Scott, Champaign Central wrestling. Guided Maroons to first regional title in sport since 1967.
17. Chris Mennig, St. Thomas More girls' basketball. His talent at coaching and teaching matches his skill at ranking players nationally.
18. Rick Reinhart, Tuscola football. Had a team most expected to suffer after losing a superior senior class come within one minute of reaching the state semifinals.
19. Darin Hartman, Watseka baseball. Fourth-place finish at state and 200th career win happened in same season for 11th-year coach.
20. Nancy Stiff, Arcola basketball. For 35th time in 36 years, Purple Riders (14-13) fashioned at least a .500 season record.
ALUMNI TO WATCH
1. Tyler McGill, Auburn swimming. Ten-time All-American from Champaign Central briefly held American record in 100-yard butterfly.
2. Mykhail Chambers, Georgia Tech track and field. Former IHSA high jump champion from Urbana cleared 6-10 3/4 outdoors and 6-10 1/4 indoors as Yellow Jacket freshman.
3. Verdell Jones III, Indiana basketball. Two-time News-Gazette All-Area Player of the Year from Champaign Central came on strong at end of freshman season.
4. Hope Elam, Indiana basketball. Breakout year at Vincennes University has Champaign central product ready for prime time.
5. Bodie Reeder, Eastern Illinois University. Redshirt senior from Mahomet-Seymour has passed for 3,657 yards in 24 games the past two seasons.
6. James Kinney, Ohio University. Centennial product will continue to showcase his basketball skills at collegiate level.
7. Spencer Johnson, Missouri-Kansas City basketball. Former All-Area forward from Champaign Central led Kangaroos in rebounding; averaged nearly 11 points.
8. Kamren Ferguson, Western Illinois University softball. Unusual sixth season of eligibility could make right-hander from Clinton one of softball's elite pitchers.
9. Derek Shay, Western Illinois. Two-time All-Area lineman from Cerro Gordo ready to contribute as a freshman.
10. Ian Winston, Eastern Illinois track and field. Upcoming senior from Champaign Central continuing to reach new heights as a high jumper for the Panthers.
TEAMS ON THE RISE
1. Rantoul softball. Six-win season from 2007 spring a distant memory for 25-win regional champions.
2. Salt Fork boys' golf. Four of top five scorers for regional champs were sophomores: Jordan Danzl, David Keenan, Mat Bowen and Ryan Anderson.
3. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley softball. With a sparkling freshman battery, school's first regional crown could be followed up by additional firsts.
4. Danville football. A program which won five games in five years through 2005 went 7-3 last fall with a heavily-laden underclassmen unit.
5. Heritage boys' basketball. Improved win total by seven from 2008 season.
6. Centennial girls' basketball. With the incoming talent from Jefferson's eighth-grade state championship team, better days are in store as the varsity seeks to snap a streak of five consecutive losing seasons.
7. Uni High volleyball. Back-to-back 20-win seasons for first time in history of the program.
8. Sullivan softball. Consecutive 20-win seasons had never occurred until 2008 and '09.
9. Milford girls' basketball. First regional title in 23 years may be start of a new streak.
10. Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman baseball. For the second successive year, the Buffaloes improved their win total and exceeded 20 victories for third time ever.
TOP BOYS' PROGRAMS
(combined 2008-09 football, basketball, baseball victories)
1. Salt Fork 59 (12-28-19)
2. Centennial 55 (4-32-19)
3. Paxton-Buckley-Loda 47 (1-25-21)
4. St. Thomas More 47 (6-18-23)
5. Watseka 45 (6-15-24)
6. Mahomet-Seymour 43 (9-16-18)
7. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 41 (8-15-18)
8. Unity 40 (6-21-13)
9. Cerro Gordo 38 (6-20-12)
10. Villa Grove 38 (10-17-11)
TOP GIRLS' PROGRAMS
(combined 2008-09 volleyball, basketball, softball victories)
1. St. Thomas More 69 (28-25-16)
2. Bismarck-Henning 65 (24-28-13)
3. St. Joseph-Ogden 63 (20-12-31)
4. Salt Fork 62 (22-22-18)
5. Unity 58 (27-24-7)
6. Prairie Central 57 (17-23-17)
7. Tuscola 52 (15-18-19)
8. Fisher 51 (19-20-12)
9. Watseka 51 (21-15-15)
10. Ridgeview 49 (14-28-7)
TOP COMBINED PROGRAMS
(total 2008-09 football, volleyball, boys'/girls' basketball, baseball, softball victories)
1. Salt Fork 121 (59 boys, 62 girls)
2. St. Thomas More 116 (47 boys, 69 girls)
3. Centennial 103 (55 boys, 48 girls)
4. Unity 98 (40 boys, 58 girls)
5. Watseka 96 (45 boys, 51 girls)
6. St. Joseph-Ogden 94 (31 boys, 63 girls)
7. Paxton-Buckley-Loda 92 (47 boys, 45 girls)
8. Bismarck-Henning 91 (26 boys, 65 girls)
9. Ridgeview 86 (37 boys, 49 girls)
10. Tuscola 81 (29 boys, 52 girls)
HEADLINES YOU MIGHT READ IN 2009-10
1. Uni High changes nickname to "Rooks"
2. IHSA approves swordfish tournament
3. Big Al's draws 1,000,000th coach
4. Centennial star Rice picks Hoosiers
5. Now open: Derrick Rose SAT Prepatory Center
6. First-grader commits
7. Central wrestlers practice in downtown parking garage
8. Cardinal hired as coach
9. EIU picks Lavin
10. IHSA moving to 10 classes in track
HEADLINES YOU WON'T READ IN 2009-10
1. SJ-O soccer, football teams cooperate
2. Unit 4 OKs Stewart-Davis-Jacobs-McDonnell-Trigger-Hembrough Field
3. Stewart-Davis-Jacobs-McDonnell-Trigger-Hembrough Field sold out
4. St. Thomas More shoots above par
5. Jud Wienke commits to Iowa
6. Urbana coaches in a bind: 'Too many kids to choose from'
7. Centennial's state champion cross-country team receives rings
8. IHSA praised for regional assignments
9. State meet moved to Sholem's lazy river
10. Hamilton following Duval on Twitter