I won consecutive Big Ten gymnastics titles in the side horse (now called the pommel horse) in 1971 and '72. Those were the Illini's first conference crowns in the event since 1962. I also was an All-American in the event in 1970. Before making my mark at Illinois, I was an IHSA state champion in the pommel horse in 1968 for Prospect High in Mount Prospect.
They weren't the most touted team in the preseason. Not even close. Illinois State was picked to finish seventh in the Gateway Conference. And Denver Johnson's future at the school appeared shaky.
It all changed in one 60-minute stretch last Saturday at Carbondale.
CHAMPAIGN – "White Lightning and DMac" sounds like an upcoming Farrelly brothers movie. Or something you buy at your local package store.
CHAMPAIGN – Last year, they combined to score almost 30 points a game at Illinois. This year, they're combining to earn almost $4 million in the NBA.
Do the math. Replacing Luther Head and Deron Williams is no simple feat.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Senior defender Kelly Campbell's long free kick in the 87th minute Friday night propelled the Illinois soccer team to a 1-0 Big Ten victory against Indiana.
"They weren't expecting it," Campbell said of her shot from 35 yards out. "I knew to hit it low and hard with the (muddy) conditions tonight. I just took the chance, and it was awesome."
CHAMPAIGN – One by one, the Illinois seniors were introduced at a Friday evening pep rally on the Quad. Polite applause for all of them, more clapping for Urbana native Morris Virgil.
But the loudest noise came when first-year UI coach Ron Zook was introduced.