Bulletin Board: Rantoul hires Ira Jefferson
70th Urbana meet Saturday
URBANA — The 70th Urbana Open boys’ track and field meet Saturday will start with field events and running preliminaries at 9:30 a.m. on the Gene Armer Track. Running finals will start at noon with the 3,200-meter relay.
Area schools in the 12-team field, besides the host Tigers, are Champaign Central and Danville.
The two oldest meet records are held by former Urbana athletes. Steve Shafer set the discus mark (175-0) in 1970. Tyke Peacock’s high jump standard (7-0) was established in 1979. The third-oldest varsity mark is held by Danville’s Van Cowden in the long jump (23-51/2).
The longest-standing mark in individual running races belongs to Champaign Central’s Greg Boysaw in the 200 meters (21.4), set in 1985.
Admission charge is $4 for adults and $2 for students from kindergarten through high school.
Rantoul turns to Jefferson
RANTOUL — The Rantoul Township High School board approved hiring Ira Jefferson as the school’s new football coach at its board meeting Monday night. Jefferson was an assistant coach last fall for the Eagles, who went 1-8 in the first and only season under former coach Joe Bendoraitis, who resigned in mid-December.
This is Jefferson’s fourth head coaching position after previous stops at Champaign Central (2010-11), Kankakee (2000-05) and West Aurora (1993-99). Jefferson has compiled a 58-81 record in his 15-year coaching career.
“We wanted somebody who had some head coaching experience,” Rantoul Superintendent Scott Amerio said. “We are hoping that Ira can instill pride into our athletes and bring that pride back to our football program.”
M-S coach earns recognition
CHAMPAIGN — The United States Tennis Association selected Champaign’s Eric Schacht as the recipient of the 2013 Stanley Malless Award, which is presented to a volunteer honoring distinguished service in their area. The award is designed to recognize individuals who have contributed to the development of tennis at the grass roots level for a minimum of five years.
In 2009, Schacht helped launch the Mahomet Community Tennis Association to introduce the sport to a school district that had no high school team. Since its inception, nearly three dozen junior high and high school girls have participated in tennis. Two years ago, the Mahomet CTA started offering a Midwest Youth Team Tennis program for youngsters 10-and-under. Approximately 60 children participated last summer.
“It is very meaningful that the USTA has recognized the significance of our program,” Schacht said. “Five years ago we met for the first time, me and four girls with only minimal tennis experience at the grass-covered Parkland courts.
“We started pulling weeds, and we started playing tennis. Now, we have had 30 girls come through our program, have won matches as independent players at IHSA tournaments and sectional tournaments, and have an enthusiasm and passion for the game unlike any other team I’ve ever been around.
“This award is a tribute to the determination and effort of these girls, and to the commitment of their parents to facilitate them in pursuing a sport that is still not available to them at their schools and when their community is still devoid of courts. This award symbolizes not just our hope, but our success.”
Central hires wrestling coach
CHAMPAIGN — Merle Ingersoll, who has coached the youth Champaign Wrestling Club the past 24 years, has been hired as Central High School’s head coach.
“I really love the history of the school and the tradition of the sports there,” said Ingersoll, who is a civil engineer and land surveyor. “I want to see the school succeed and do well. I want to be a part of that.”
Ingersoll’s son, Kaleb, wrestled four years for Central and graduated in 2008.
“I’m looking at providing a quality program and I’m excited to get after it,” Merle Ingersoll said. “I’m lining up a plan to make this a great team.”
The youth club last year had 62 participants. Many of next year’s Central wrestlers will be ones that Ingersoll knows.
“About half will be ones I’ve coached and the other half will be ones I recruit to try wrestling,” he said.
Merle Ingersoll will be less active with the Champaign Wrestling Club as well as the Junior Illini Wrestling Club, but added, “I will assist whenever I can. It’s important to stay in touch.”
Strang stars for Millikin
DECATUR — Senior infielder Tess Strang, from Urbana, has started every game for Millikin’s 14-3 softball team. She is batting .345 with 19 hits in 55 at-bats. Strang has three home runs and 18 RBI. She is tied for the team lead in homers and ranks second in RBI.
Junior outfielder Rachel Bishop, from Villa Grove, has played in six games and started two.
Kemp among Big Blue leaders
DECATUR — Freshman Alex Kemp, from Tuscola, was the 200-meter winner for Millikin in last weekend’s Ashford Invitational, in Clinton, Iowa. His time (21.94) ranks 10th on the Big Blue’s all-time performance list.
Kemp was the runner-up in the 100 (11.03) and anchored a 400 foursome of all freshmen and sophomores to victory.
Ex-area athletes lead Millikin
DECATUR — Former area athletes Joe Palazzolo of St. Thomas More and Theo Facer of Urbana are the top two hitters on Millikin’s 7-11 team. Palazzolo, a senior, is batting .412. He has played in 14 games, starting 11. Facer, a senior, has started every game and is hitting .385. He is tied for the team lead with 16 RBI.
Six others from the area have appeared in games, including sophomore pitcher Nic Duffle, who has a 3.86 ERA and one save in five appearances. Junior Brian Scott, from Argenta-Oreana, is batting .231. Sophomore pitcher Aaron Ennis, from Clinton, is 0-1.
Freshman Lucas Stefan, from Centennial, has played in four games. Junior Jonathan Haley, from Hoopeston Area, has played in three games, and freshman Trevor Froehling, from Cissna Park, has played in one game.
Groce to speak at IBCA clinic
The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association’s clinic is May 3-4 at Normal West High. Among the committed speakers are John Groce (Illinois), Mark Montgomery (Northern Illinois), Fran McCaffery (Iowa), Greg Lansing (Indiana State), Chris Mack (Xavier) and four high school coaches. Basketball coaches of any level are encouraged to attend. Clinic details as well as registration and lodging information can be found at www.illinoisbasketball.org.
Former Spartan leads Titans
BLOOMINGTON — Sophomore Audra James of St. Joseph-Ogden is the leading batter for Illinois Wesleyan’s 16-5 softball team. James has started 18 games and is hitting .455. James has 11 stolen bases.
Another former SJ-O athlete, sophomore Hannah Bowen, has started 15 games for the Titans and is hitting .292.