Adding spice to a rivalry

Adding spice to a rivalry

CHAMPAIGN – When Centennial and Champaign Central get together for a tennis dual match today, more than just intracity bragging rights will be on the line.

The coaches also should have a fun battle.

Centennial's first-year coach is Jill Harms, a former Grinnell College player who was a standout at Central under current Maroons coach Gary Day.

Now that Harms has jumped to the other side, she's hearing it from the Maroons' faithful.

"It's awkward switching from Central to Centennial," the 2001 grad said with a laugh. "I've gotten made fun of by most of my high school friends. And Gary Day was my coach my senior year, and he's made fun of me a lot. Of course, I bossed him around back then, too, so it doesn't really matter."

Day, whose wry sense of humor is rarely matched, recalled a story from Harms' job interview at Centennial.

"Her athletic director said, 'You know, if you take this job, is the Central coach going to walk all over you?' And she said, 'Well, I never listened to him then, so why would I listen to him now?' "

Day paused.

"Which is true."

Harms, who reached the fourth round of the consolation bracket at the 2000 state tournament with doubles partner Mary Parkhill, said there could be some interesting participants in the crowd today.

"My parents are coming to watch," Harms said. "My mom said she was going to wear a Central shirt. So embarrassing."

You think Day will have some fun with that?

A-L game moved back

NIANTIC – Friday's football game between Arthur-Lovington and Sangamon Valley was pushed back to Saturday at 7 p.m. as the Sangamon Valley community mourns the death of a 16-year-old student.

Breanna Hilbert, a member of the school's band, and her 18-year-old passenger were killed when the car Hilbert was driving was involved in a crash with another vehicle Monday. Grief counselors have been present at the school since Monday helping the students cope with the tragedy.

Wienke takes friendly razzing

TUSCOLA – When Michigan fell to Appalachian State on Saturday, Tuscola quarterback John Wienke, a Michigan recruit, knew he was going to be teased about the big upset.

He was expecting it to come from his teammates, and it has. But to his surprise, it's also been coming from some unexpected sources.

"I've actually been getting it a lot from some teachers at school," Wienke said. "They'll say stuff like 'Appalachian what?' "

Wienke says he never thought about backing out of his commitment to the Wolverines despite what some people are calling the greatest upset in college football history. He didn't see the game live but has seen it on replay and came away impressed with the Mountaineers.

"That's a good football team," he said. "They're not your average Division I-AA school. They can compete in a lot of bigger conferences."

Wienke said he was upset when he initially heard of the outcome, but that wore off. He said such surprises are just part of the game.

"There are always going to be upsets," he said. "But right now there isn't anything I can do about it. That's Michigan's thing, and they're going to do what they need to do to get it fixed. They've got some things to work on, and I'm sure they're already getting them worked out."

Soccer is Alford's main game

CHAMPAIGN – New Champaign Central soccer coach Josh Alford has a long history in the sport, and area fans might remember him from his playing days at Parkland under Seamus Reilly.

But soccer's been a bigger part of his life than you might expect.

"Soccer has always been my No. 1 thing, sometimes even more so than school," said Alford, who has a talented team led by forward Martin Musuruana. "If it wouldn't have been for soccer, I wouldn't have even gone to school. I foresee myself always coaching."

Alford grew up in Argentina and lived there until he was 15. He moved to New York and planned to play semi-pro soccer before that plan fell through.

"My uncle lives in Mahomet, and he got ahold of Seamus," Alford said.

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