CHAMPAIGN — Three Centennial athletes will sign letters of intent to play football in college. It marks the 16th consecutive year under coach Mike McDonnell that at least one Charger has committed to a college and brings his cumulative total at the school to 83.
Two-time All-Area punter Fletcher Evans (who averaged 40.3 yards per kick as a senior) will sign a letter of intent with Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, where he is also expected to compete for time as a linebacker.
Dustin Walls, a receiver and defensive back, will sign with McKendree College in Lebanon, and defensive lineman Terrell Neal-Beard picked Robert Morris University in Chicago.
“I think the fit is good for all of them for different reasons,” McDonnell said. “They all visited the colleges and liked the schools, the coaches and the players. The academic side offers them just what they want to study in college, which is terrific.”
Ex-Player of Year picks Illinois State
CHAMPAIGN — Former Area Soccer Player of the Year Dagny Olson, a forward from Centennial, will sign a letter of intent Wednesday to continue her career at Illinois State University. In 2010, she was the first freshman chosen to headline The News-Gazette All-Area team after scoring an area-best 30 goals and adding 17 assists. Last season, she played for a Chicago-area club soccer team instead of playing for the Chargers.
Before settling on ISU, where she will major in marketing, Olson also considered Evansville, Illinois, Loyola and Texas Christian.
Olson said distance of the universities she considered “wasn’t a huge factor. It’s nice to be close to home, but not in the back yard.”
Unity athletes make choices
TOLONO — All-Area linebacker Mitch Negangard, from Unity, will sign a letter of intent Wednesday to continue his football career with St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Negangard was a four-year football letterman who played for varsity teams that won 47 games and twice advanced to the Class 3A state finals.
Negangard was one of three 1,000-yard rushers for the Rockets last fall, averaging 8.7 yards per carry. He was also the team’s leading tackler with 100 stops.
Receiver Micah Johnson gave an oral commitment to Findlay (Ohio) University. He was second in the area in receiving with 33 receptions for 685 yards and nine touchdowns.
Monticello standout heads to Butler
MONTICELLO — Ryan Donohue, an All-Area first-team running back, will sign a letter of intent Wednesday with Butler University in Indianapolis. As a senior, Donohue was third in the area in rushing with 1,752 yards. He scored touchdowns on 20 of his 200 carries. As a junior, he was second in the area in rushing with 1,683 yards and TDs on 20 of 199 carries. The Sages were 15-7 in his final two seasons.
Urbana athletes pick colleges
URBANA — Four athletes who helped Urbana win its first football playoff game last November will sign letters of intent Wednesday. Area Player of the Year Cameron Mammen will remain teammates with defensive back Jeff Spires. Both will sign with Malone University in Canton, Ohio.
Other Tigers planning to continue playing football at the next level are tight end Tanner Laznik and defensive lineman Mikshadd Townsend. They will each sign with Lindenwood University in Belleville. Like quarterback Mammen, Townsend was an All-Area first-team selection.
Alex Lynch, a sectional qualifier in wrestling, also will play football in college and is considering Lindenwood. Josh Pratt and Devon Williams are two other seniors from the football team who want to play in college but remain uncommitted.
Vaughn to sign with Ole Miss
CHAMPAIGN — Senior Luke Vaughn will sign a letter of intent Wednesday to continue his track and field career at Ole Miss. As a junior, Vaughn placed eighth in the discus and 11th in the shot put in the Class 2A state meet.
A starter on the Chargers’ state-ranked basketball team, the 6-foot-8 Vaughn was the area leader in the discus (184 feet, 7 inches) as a junior and has targeted 220 feet for himself as a senior. He currently ranks fourth on the all-time Area Honor Roll. One area athlete (St. Thomas More’s Brandon Noe in 2010) has eclipsed the 200-foot mark in the discus (203-7). Vaughn ranked third in the shot put (55-11) a year ago.
Jimson-Miller heads East
DANVILLE — Senior Alexus Jimson-Miller will sign a letter of intent Wednesday to continue her track and field career at Miami (Ohio). A three-sport athlete, Jimson-Miller was a Class 3A state qualifier as a junior in the 110 high hurdles and the 400 dash, the latter an event in which she placed 12th.
Jimson-Miller ranks second on the all-time Area Honor Roll in the 110 hurdles (14.17) and third on the all-time list for 400 runners (57.44), with a time she recorded at state.
Area wrestlers keep dream alive
A total of 106 area wrestlers are still in contention for an individual state championship. Of that group, 30 will compete in the Class 2A sectional at Mattoon, which starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday and includes Saturday sessions at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
In Class 1A, 58 of the area’s regional survivors will make their way to the Olympia Sectional, which starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday. The Saturday sessions are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Eighteen area athletes will participate in Vandalia’s 1A sectional, which starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday and continues Saturday with sessions at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The top four placers in each weight class will advance to state.