CHAMPAIGN — Ben Sankey had two bags for much of his 20s, and in those bags sat all of his belongings.
A call could come at any time that changed his life, whether that be a call to the coaches’ office or the ringing of his cellphone, telling him he’d been traded or a team was interested in his services. He had to remain ready.
In 2005, we asked now-retired sports writer Fred Kroner to come up with a formula to fairly evaluate all of our area schools against one another, whether they competed in five sports or 20.
TEAMS OF THE YEAR
1. Unity boys’ cross-country. Dominant performance by five seniors at state; they placed among the top 14 individually, leading Rockets to a Class 1A state crown.
2. LeRoy boys’ basketball. School’s first state trophy in the sport was for first place in Class 1A.
The offseason might be in full effect for area high school athletes, but it's never too early to look ahead. That's what preps coordinator Anthony Zilis is here for. What football teams might surprise in 2016? When does The News-Gazette Preps Year in Review come out? Who's the next big-time recruit to come out of C-U? Ask and Zilis will provide an answer in his 12:30 p.m.
When do the rest of the All-Area teams come out? Who are some high school athletes to keep an eye on next school year? What teams surprised preps coordinator Anthony Zilis the most this past school year? Zilis is chatting at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, but you can go ahead and ask questions ahead of time.
SENIORS: Kenna Carew, Notre Dame; Savanna Fleeman, Notre Dame; Lauren Harrigan, Normal Community; Allison Hieb, Normal West; Alexis Hoskins, Danville; Kate Lorenz, Normal West; Brittney Peden, Bloomington; Sierra Poor, Urbana
Athlete, School Goals
W. Olson, Centennial 29
Johnson-Monfort, Mahomet-Seymour 24
Geubelle, St. Thomas More 19
Woods, Centennial 18
Maupin, Monticello 17
Schmitt, St. Thomas More 13
Why he’s Coach of the Year: Meissen, in his second season with Centennial, helped engineer a nine-win turnaround for the Chargers, who finished 19-5 and won a Class 2A regional title before losing in a sectional semifinal match.
CHAMPAIGN — Soccer comes naturally to Willa Olson.
Watching the Centennial forward, who just finished up her junior season with an area-best 29 goals and 20 assists, move effortlessly across the field while connecting with teammates and striking fear into opposing defenses makes that apparent.
Olson applies that ease to another adoration in her life: art.
All-Area First Team
ATHLETE SCHOOL YR. POSITION
Mikaela Antonacci Mahomet-Seymour Jr. Defenseman
Natalie Dullerud Urbana Uni High Sr. Midfielder