SPORTS SCENE

Mac on Sports
New Hawks Coach to be Named Soon
 
    Meridian Athletic Director Tony Millard advises the school board is scheduled to meet Thursday, June 4, to approve the hiring of the Hawks coach to succeed the retiring Jack Blickensderfer.
    In response to direct questions from this writer, Millard said, "We won't be done with interviews until early next week (the week of June 1 to the 5th), but we do have a board meeting now scheduled for June 4th to hire the new coach."
    Obviously, this is a developing story which I will update in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.


Mac on Sports
Apollo Receives Mahomet-Seymour Letter, Mattoon Supports
 
    The Bulldogs may be coming to the Apollo.
    Now that I have piqued your interest, they are not the St. Teresa Bulldogs.  They are the Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs.
    Apollo president and Mattoon principal Michele Sinclair confirmed to the Decatur Tribune this afternoon (Wednesday) that the league has received Mahomet-Seymour's letter of interest which is the first step for the Apollo to consider the Bulldogs for membership.
    She said the Apollo principals would discuss the Mahomet-Seymour letter of interest and probably vote at their June 4th meeting.  She said at least four members have to vote in support of the Mahomet-Seymour letter requesting admission for the Bulldogs to be admitted.  Sinclair said her district would be voting in favor of Mahomet-Seymour's admission into the Apollo.
    Sinclair said Mahomet-Seymour's size and sports competitiveness fits with what the Apollo is all about.  "They are the right size and offer programs similar to ours and the conference," said Sinclair in a brief chat with this sports editor.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.


Mac on Sports
Gary Cook Retires as Bombers Wrestling Coach
 
    Simply put, Gary Cook was one of the Decatur and Central Illinois area's all-time best wrestling coaches.
    It is with regret that Cook is retiring as Argenta-Oreana's wrestling head coach after 38 years there with a career record of 570-258-3.
    Athletic Director Dan Sheehan wrote, "I would like to congratulate coach Gary Cook on his retirement from head wrestling coach COACH at Argenta-Oreana.
    "I could not be happier for Coach Cook, but very thankful and honored to have had the privilege to work with him. Coach Cook is a class act and has spent his life dedicated to A-O and wrestling impacting students over the past 38 years!," concluded Sheehan. 
    The Argenta-Oreana AD said the job will be posted immediately and we will do everything we can to try to fill his shoes.  
    Dan, you can hire someone to succeed him as the Bombers wrestling head coach, but no one, absolutely, no one, can fill his shoes and this comes from someone who has been around for the same number of years he has been coaching there, 38.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.  

Mac on Sports
Daelin Switzer Leaps Into Record Books
 
    Normally, I don't report on Illinois Elementary School Association athletic results, but I am making an exception for what this young lady achieved last Saturday at the 8th grade track and field meet.
    Daelin Switzer set a new high jump record of 5-7, bettering the old IESA record of 5-5 by two inches.
    But what makes her achievement even more outstanding is her record-breaking 5-7 leap is better than any of the high school winners in the Class 1A and 2A Central A&M and Clinton sectional girls meets where the winning jumps were 5-2, five inches less than Switzer leaped.
    Switzer also won the 100 meter high hurdles at the meet.
    She will be a freshman this fall at St. Teresa after graduating from Our Lady of Lourdes May 14.  Switzer and her teammates placed fourth in the IESA team competition.
    This will be one of the items in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
 
Area Schools Will Have Athletes
In IHSA Field And Track Championships
 
    Argenta-Oreana, Cerro Gordo, Central A&M, Eisenhower, MacArthur, St. Teresa, Meridian, Mount Zion and Warrensburg-Latham will have athletes competing next weekend at the Illinois High School Association's Class 1A and 2A track and field championships at O'Brien Stadium on the Eastern Illinois University campus in Charleston.
    Preliminaries were scheduled to begin Thursday with finals Saturday for the three class meet.  Neither the city nor county has teams in Class 3A as it is the largest school classification.    
    Argenta-Oreana's qualifiers from the Tolono Unity sectional include Maddie Meyer in the triple jump and Cassie Meyer in the 100 high hurdles.
    Cerro Gordo's 4-by-100 meter relay team of Alexa Walker, Emily Dowell, Ariel Campbell and Hannah Foran qualified from the same Tolono Unity sectional.
    Central A&M's qualifiers from its own sectional include Jorji Sparrgrove (long jump, 300 low hurdles and two relays), Laura Beckett (high jump), Mikah Maples (shot put, discus and one relay), Morgan Damery (shot put), Ryan Dooley (100 high hurdles, 200 hurdles and two relays), Katie Conlin two relays, Paige Seitz two relays, Abby Forlines two relays and Salena Sloan one relay.
    The lady Raiders 4 by 200 team included Dooley, Maples, Conlin and Sparrgrove, the 4 by 800 included Seitz, Conlin, Forlines and Sloan, and the 4 by 400 team included Dooley, Forlines, Seitz and Sparrgrove.
    St. Teresa's qualifiers from that same Central A&M sectional include Amber Johnson (pole vault and two relays), Katie Hise (shot put and discus), Lauren Evelti (800 and two relays), Brianna Niebrugge (triple jump and three relays), Shannen Quehl (triple jump and three relays), Emma Reedy (two relays), Kite` Oladipupo (100 meters and two relays), Bree Tschosik (1600 and one relay) and Kelsey Cleary (1600 and one relay).
    Running for the qualifying Bulldogs relays were: 4 by 800 Johnson, Tschosik, Cleary and Evelti; 4 by 100 Reedy, Niebrugge, Oladipupo and Quehl, 4 by 200 Reedy, Niebrugge, Oladipupo and Quehl, and 4 by 400 Johnson, Niebrugge, Evelti and Quehl.
    Meridian's Isabella Newingham will be running this weekend in the 100 and 200 meters events after qualifying at the A&M sectional.
    Warrensburg-Latham's qualifiers from the same sectional include Kathleen Young in the shot put and discus, Taylor George in the 100 and 200 and its 4 by 100 relay team of Erica Mooney, Ahsley Lyons, Anna Buchholz and George.
    Eisenhower's qualifiers from the Clinton 2A sectional include its 4-by-100 relay team of Chelsey Clark-Smith, MacKenzie Cook, Stacia Lee and Tina Martin.  Lee also qualified in the 100 meters and Martin in the 200.
    MacArthur's qualifiers from that same sectional include 4-by-100 relay team of Caderia Reed, Mykita Clemmons, Majaya Baker and Khalyia Lawson, who also qualified in long jump and triple jump.
    Mount Zion qualifiers from that same sectional include Kelsey McAtee (long jump), Josie Held (pole vault), Cassidy Osborne-Butler (shot put and discus), Ashley Miller (100 meter high hurdles) and Megan Bailey (1600 meter).
    This is just one of the items readers will find in Irish Stew in this week's print edition. 
 

Maroa-Forsyth Board Rejects Coach Recommendation
 
    MAY 13 -- By a 5 to 2 vote, the Maroa-Forsyth school board last night (Tuesday) rejected the administration's recommendation to hire Stote Reeder of Jerseyville as Chad Cluver's replacement as a high school math teacher and basketball head coach.
    Reeder came highly recommended and has 17 years experience with the present Maroa-Forsyth school district policy maxing out at 12 years.
    Members Russ Corey and Chad Ruwe in favor of the hire.  Rhonda Braden, Lindsey Wise, James Keith, Krist Hartung and Jill Applebee voted against hiring Reeder. Members Wise, Harjung, Keith and Ruwe were elected in April.
    According to Superintendent Michael Williams, their concern was the district would be paying too much for this position due to experience and him having his master's degree.
    They directed the administration to consider candidates with less than four years experience and who do not have a master's degree.
    Reeder has coached at Jerseyville for nine seasons, taking the school to two Class 3A sectionals after winning their regionals, and compiled an overall won-loss record of 135-147.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune. 


Mac on Sports
Politicos Should Let 
Coaches, Trainers Do Jobs
 
     May 10 -- While politicians from both parties attempt to score constituent points with their legislation to try and prevent football concussions that is reducing the numbers prep coaches have to build their teams around, it is reassuring to know that Decatur and Macon County are blessed with two hospitals who provide excellent athletic training services for their respective client schools.
    Decatur Memorial Hospital and St. Mary's AthletiCare provide athletic trainers at their clients various athletic events.
    Here's a perfect illustration of the good that comes without having politicians getting involved in setting standards for the schools.
   When the hospitals and schools work together a lot of good can be achieved which is what prep sports are all about.
    And that's what Decatur Memorial Hospital did, in conjunction with the six school districts it contracts for to provide athletic training services.
    I have more on this story in this week's Irish Stew in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune. 

Mac on Sports
 

Jack Blickensderfer

Blickensderfer Announces Retirement
 
    Jack Blickensderfer, Meridian's boys basketball head coach, announced his retirement this afternoon (Tuesday) with yours truly on the Aric Lee show.
    Blickensderfer is retiring from coaching boys basketball after 21 years of roaming courtsides throughout Decatur and Macon County and elsewhere in the state, including stints at Sparta in southern Illinois, Cerro Gordo, Mount Zion and Meridian.
    During his years coaching, Blickensderfer coached his Broncos to back-to-back state tournament appearances in the Assembly Hall when there was only one-class basketball.
    He coached the Meridian Hawks to their 2009 state championship.  He leaves the game with these numbers: a career record of 451-143. including 21-4 in his one year at Sparta, 134-29 in his six years at Cerro Gordo, 45-7 in his two years at Mount Zion, and 251-103 in his 12 years at Meridian. 
    I have more on this developing story in this week's print edition of the Decatur Tribune, including an in-depth interview with the coach himself.  In this week's Irish Stew, I also take a new look at who might replace the iconic and legend.


Mac On Sports

Decatur Makes Final Two


Congratulations are in order for the Decatur Civic Center in Decatur, Illinois andthe Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and  — they’re the two finalists for this year’s Kraft Hockeyville contest.

War Memorial is perhaps best known as the home of the Johnstown Jets, the former minor-league team that inspired the iconic hockey movie “Slap Shot.” Over 70 players that’ve called War Memorial home have gone on to play in the NHL.

The Decatur Civic Center hosts both the “Tournament of Friends” — an annual event now in its 25th year — and the Decatur Flames youth hockey team; this year, the pee wee Flames won the Illinois state championship.

For more on the two finalist rinks and all the communities featured in this year’s event, click on krafthockeyville.com. Voting for the winner opens Monday, April 27.

Mac on Sports

Brown to Broncos
 
    Pending school board approval at its April 29 meeting, the Decatur Tribune has learned from multiple sources that Ryan Brown will be the new Cerro Gordo/Bement Broncos boys basketball head coach.  He will also become the school's athletic director.
    He will succeed Scott Bacon, who resigned previously after nine seasons there to take over the boys basketball program at Auburn.
    Brown recently resigned his position at Mount Zion after three successful seasons there where he compiled an impressive 53-37 won-loss record, including coaching the Braves to a share of the Apollo Conference basketball championship and beating the Class 2A runnerup St. Teresa Bulldogs in overtime on the Braves home floor and Teutopolis on the Shoes home floor.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune. 


Mac on Sports
 
Watseka Hires Cluver
 
     Watseka--Chad Cluver is going home.
    The Watseka Board of Education tonight (Monday) approved the hiring of Cluver as the high school boys basketball head coach.  He also was hired as a mathematics teacher there along with his wife, Sherry, who was hired as a social studies teacher there.
    Athletic Director Barry Bauer advised this writer of Cluver's hiring, about a month after he resigned as Maroa-Forsyth's boys basketball head coach after 16 years coaching Trojans basketball.
    Cluver released this statement late Monday night, "My wife (Sherry) and I have accepted teaching positions at Watseka High School, where I will also lead the boys’ basketball program.  It’s the town where I was raised and where my parents and my sister’s family lives.  It’s been home to Cluvers for generations, and it’s a great, small town. 
    "However, we will miss seeing daily the many folks of the Maroa-Forsyth community with whom we’ve become friends--some for up to twenty years!  We certainly have mixed emotions as we look forward to working with some good people and families in Watseka at the same time that we know we will be geographically farther from the good people and families who are here.  
    "At least with social media it’s easier to maintain long-distance friendships, and Champaign is an easy meeting point in the middle for catching an Illini game or dinner together. Change is always difficult, but we’re looking forward to this opportunity," concluded the Cluvers written statement.
    Cluver succeeds Bauer, who has coached the boys one year after Watseka's boys basketball head coach resigned last July, leaving the high school without a head coach with school scheduled to open the next month.  In addition, Bauer coached three other sports there along with his AD duties.
    Chad is a 1990 graduate of Watseka.  
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune. 



Mac on Sports

Williams Now a Hawkeye
 
    In ceremonies this morning (Wednesday), Christian Williams signed his letter of intent to play his college basketball at Iowa.
    With his mother, Marla, sitting next to him and his head coach, Tom Noonan, next to her, and St. Teresa Bulldogs assistant coaches behind them, Williams and his mother signed the letter of intent which binds him to Iowa.
    Many of his teammates and fellow classmates were among those attending the signing,  
    Williams (6-foot-6, 195 pounds) is St. Teresa's all-time leading scorer and ranks in the top-20 in scoring in Macon County with 1,587 points. The two-time all-state and three-time first-team all-league (Okaw Valley and Central Illinois) selection posted 20 career double-doubles and helped the Bulldogs win 20 or more games all four years on varsity, including this year's runnerup finish in the Class 2 tournament.
    “We are thrilled that Christian is part of our Hawkeye family,” said McCaffery.  “Christian is an incredibly versatile player who can play three positions.  He’s a terrific athlete with great length.  He’s a phenomenal passer and a proven winner.  Christian fits very well with our style.”
    As a senior, Williams was tabbed first-team all-state by the Associated Press and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) after averaging 18.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.3 steals, and three assists. He was also recognized as the Macon County Player of the Year by the Herald & Review and WCIA and was an all-conference honoree. The combo guard helped lead St. Teresa (27-5) to an undefeated conference record and unprecedented success in postseason play. The Bulldogs captured regional, sectional, and super sectional championships, and finished runner-up at the state tournament.
    In 2014, Williams averaged 18.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.8 steals while earning all-state accolades by the Associated Press and IBCA. Williams and the Bulldogs captured their second straight conference championship, while posting a 25-4 overall record his junior campaign. Williams netted a personal-best 41 points during his junior season against Monticello on Jan. 22, 2014.
    As a sophomore, Williams averaged 15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks on St. Teresa’s 22-6 conference champion team. He averaged 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds his freshman season on a 20-9 squad.
    Williams played in Saturday's Illinois-Missouri All-Star Classic in Alton, IL.  He is also slated to compete in the IBCA All-Star Game on June 13.
    On the AAU circuit, Williams ran point for the Peoria Irish.
    Williams joins Andrew Fleming, Brandon Hutton, Ahmad Wagner and Isaiah Moss in Iowa’s 2015 recruiting class.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.


Mac on Sports
Board Accepts Cluver Resignation
 
    At tonight's (Monday) meeting, the Maroa-Forsyth school board approved basketball head coach Chad Cluver's resignation.
    Superintendent Mike Williams sent me this email, "Coach Cluver's resignation was accepted and will be posted as soon as possible.  It will remain vacant until filled."
    Cluver announced his resignation several weeks ago after 16 years as the Trojans boys basketball head coach.  While he has resigned as basketball coach, he has not resigned his math teaching position.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.  

Mac on Sports
Lovekamp Blue-Bound
 
    Nathan Lovekamp's legion of fans won't have far to travel to watch him play college basketball as the Cerro Gordo Bronco has cast his lot with Millikin and head coach Matt Nadelhoffer, who often was in the stands to watch him play.
    Lovekamp believes Nadelhoffer has the Big Blue program on the upswing has the potential to be good during the next four years when he will be wearing the blue of Millikin.
    Originally, he considered Greenville, Carthage of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, Judson College and Anderson, IN.  But when it came to decision it came down to Concordia of Wisconsin and Millikin.
    "He wants to win as badly as I do and will do whatever it takes to win," said Lovekamp of his future coach.  "He's a great guy and a great coach, who brought his son to my games."
    "It was hard to leave home," said Lovekamp in his interview with the Decatur Tribune after his coach Scott Bacon asked him to call.  By staying home, his family will be able to see him play more often than if he played away from Cerro Gordo and Decatur and Macon County.
     I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Mac on Sports
Noonan Reacts To ISU Tragedy
 
    "I knew Torrey," said Tom Noonan, St. Teresa's boys basketball head coach, upon learning earlier today (Tuesday) that one of Illinois State's assistant coaches involved in the recruiting of his senior standout, Christian Williams, was among those killed in an after-midnight plane crash near Bloomington.
    Torrey is Torrey Ward, who is one of Head Coach Dan Muller's assistant coaches, who was among the seven killed in that crash in early morning fog.  
    "He was active in the recruitment of Christian--Luke Yaklich was the lead recruiter for Christian," responded Noonan when we asked.   "Torrey was a great guy.  Always had a smile on his face and kept things loose. He had a really good spirit.  I was out with ISU assistant Dean Oliver on Thursday and we talked in length about Torrey's plans to be in Indy later in the week.  
    "I was shocked when received the news this morning.  Tragic loss," concluded Noonan.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.  Ward was one of two ISU staffers killed in the crash.  Although ISU was not successful in the recruiting of Williams as he has verbally committed to Iowa, relationships were built between Ward, Yaklich, Williams, Noonan and his staff.

Mac on Sports

Mt. Zion Braves Basketball Coach Brown Resigns
 
    After three seasons as Mount Zion's boys basketball head coach, the Decatur Tribune has learned Ryan Brown has resigned for reasons administrators there are not disclosing.
    In fact, they have not confirmed his resignation, apparently wanting to wait until after the resignation is presented and approved by the board.  While the administration is not speaking to the issue, this writer has confirmed through a number of sources that he has resigned.  Calls to Coach Brown also have not been returned and numerous requests to the administration for "yes-or-no" answer on his resignation also have not been received.
    Brown is coming off an 18-13 season in which the Braves shared the Apollo Conference championship.
    According to my personal season-by-season records, I have Brown with seasons of 19-13 in 2012-13, 16-13 in 2013-14 and 18-13 this 2014-15 season for an overall record of 53-37.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.



Cluver Resigns as Trojans Coach
 
    Chad Cluver has resigned as Maroa-Forsyth boys basketball head coach after 16 seasons as the Trojans head coach, the Decatur Tribune has learned.
    During his 16 seasons, his Trojans won 269 wins and 185 losses.  His last two seasons have not been what either he or his players wanted which followed six consecutive winning years after the state championship year.
    His 2005-06 and 2006-07 teams placed third and first in the state tournaments with the championship year coming in the last year of the two-class tournament.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.


State IHSA Tournaments To Stay in
Peoria, Redbird Arena
 
    Peoria--The Illinois High School Association announced this afternoon (Saturday) that the boys and girls state championship basketball tournaments will remain in Carver Arena in Peoria and Redbird Arena on the Illinois State University campus in Normal.
    “We have built strong traditions in Normal and Peoria,” said Wauconda High School Principal & IHSA Board President Dan Klett.  “There is incredible support from the venues, communities and volunteers for both of these tournaments.  We were grateful to have excellent alternatives, but it was clear to our Board that remaining at Redbird Arena and Carver Arena were the best options for the IHSA and its member schools.”
    The IHSA received boys basketball hosting proposals from the University of Illinois to host at the State Farm Center in Champaign, and for the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates to host the Class 3A & 4A weekend of the tournament.  Bradley University’s Renaissance Coliseum in Peoria was the only other proposal for the Girls Basketball State Finals.
    “We are appreciative of the impressive proposals we received from the Renaissance Coliseum, Sears Centre, and State Farm Center,” said Klett. “We had thoughtful dialogue reviewing each site proposal.”
    Redbird Arena has hosted the IHSA girls basketball state finals since 1992, while the first boys basketball state finals were contested in Peoria in 1996.
    The new contract runs for the 2016 through 2020 tournaments.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.


Auburn Hires Broncos Bacon
 
    Auburn--Scott Bacon, who has coached the Cerro Gordo Broncos boys basketball team for nine seasons, is the new Auburn boys basketball coach where he will succeed the legendary Doug Graven.
    Graven is retiring after 27 years of coaching the Trojans.
    "I'm excited about coaching the Auburn Trojans," said Bacon after the Auburn Board of Education approved him as its next coach at tonight's (Monday) meeting.
    "I've always had my eye on Auburn since nine years ago I was an assistant at Illini Central and we always played Auburn and I always the school.  It is a financially sound school district and a great athletic community.
    He plans on meeting with his future players soon.
    Bacon said he will officially resign as the Broncos boys basketball head coach at Wednesday night's Cerro Gordo school board meeting.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune. 

St. Teresa's Christian Williams
Commits To Play Basketball At Iowa


  Christian Williams today (Monday) committed to Iowa where he will play for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
    Williams received the Iowa offer earlier today and committed.
    He is Iowa's fifth 2015 commitment.
    Here's what he twitted, "Blessed to finally say that I have officially committed to the University of Iowa.
    Williams is 6-foot-5, 180 pounds and plays point guard, shooting guard and small forward for state runnerup St. Teresa, so he certainly fits into the mold of an Iowa 2015 commitment.     
    He joins a class that already has four signees, all who are versatile players who could play a few positions for Iowa. Three of those players—4-star Brandon Hutton, 3-star Isaiah Moss and 3-star Ahmad Wagner—were ranked as small forwards, so technically Williams would be the fourth. Iowa's 4th 2015 signee, 3-star Andrew Fleming, is a pure shooting guard.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
    
    
Congratulations To St. Teresa For Its Historic 
Run In IHSA Basketball Tournament



Decatur Tribune Sports Editor J. Thomas McNamara was there and will have plenty of photos and observations about the St. Teresa team and the tournament in this week's print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Dawgs Williams All-State
 
     Peoria--Despite missing much of the season, St. Teresa's Christian Williams was named all-state by the wire service Associated Press.
    Williams leads St. Teresa against Taylor Ridge Rockridge at 6:30 Friday night in the semi-finals of the Class 2A state tournament.
    I will be courtside for the semifinals and finals of the Class 1A and 2A Friday and Saturday afternoon and evenings.
    Turn to the Decatur Tribune next week for summaries of how the Bulldogs fared in their first ever appearances in the state boy basketball semi-finals.  They can't do any worse than fourth.


J. Thomas McNamara
Sports Editor
Decatur Tribune

Email Tom at JThomasMc@aol.com

Check out McNamara's "Irish Stew" every week in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Columns Are Printed With The Most Recent Displayed First


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