SPORTS SCENE

Mac on Sports

Generals Seek New Coach as Phillips Resigns
 
    The Decatur Tribune has confirmed that Felipe Phillips has resigned as MacArthur's boys basketball head coach.
    Phillips is resigning, according to sources, in order to spend more time with his family and to further his education.
    He has been the Generals head coach for six years, compiling a 72-86 overall-won-loss record.  His teams won three regional championships in those six seasons.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Millikin Water Retention Tank Arrives
 
    Officials clarified reports that water retention issues threatened the Frank M. Lindsay artificial surface construction timetable.
    But Bryan Marshall, Millikin's director of sports information, responded to my inquiry, "The plans for the project always included a concrete water retention tank that would be placed under the field. 
    "We have always planned to use a tank instead of a pond.  Since the tank was always part of the plans there have been no increased costs associated with the project," wrote Marshall.   
    He also informed, "the tank did arrive a little later than expected, but work has continued on other drainage, electrical and prep work surrounding the project.  The tank has arrived and is being installed this week (July 14-18).  The tank is under the south end of the field roughly between the 10-and 25-yard lines."
    Drainage from the turf will go into the tank which is why it has to be present since the water has to go somewhere.  
    "We are still confident that the turf and scoreboard will be done by the end of August with the lights and track to be completed by mid-September," said Marshall.
    In addition, he offered, "At this time we believe the field will be ready to open our soccer
season.
    "We will play a soccer scrimmage on Aug. 24th at the Millikin soccer field, south of the DISC, and will have that facility ready for use in case it is needed for the women’s soccer team’s first game on Aug. 29th.  The soccer teams will still be using this facility for part of
their practice so it will be ready for games if needed.
    "Everything on the project should be ready by the football home opener
on Sept. 27th at 6 p.m.," concluded Marshall.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Maroa Board Votes Sangamo
 
    At tonight's (Monday) meeting, the Maroa-Forsyth school board voted to leave the new Okaw for the Sangamo.
    This news will surprise Maroa-Forsyth sports fans and many in Decatur and Macon County as most thought the board would vote to stay in the new Okaw which was Principal Scott Adreon's recommendation.
    The Sangamo is a Springfield-area based league with Athens, Auburn, New Berlin, Pittsfield, Pleasant Plains, Petersburg Porta, Riverton, Virden North Mac and Williamsville.  The Trojans will become the 10th team which means the league will not have to play any non-conference games.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Stewart Resigns as 'Dawgs Baseball Coach    
 
    Expressing a desire to spend more time watching his daughter play softball, Jim Stewart has resigned as St. Teresa's baseball coach.
    Dr. Ken Hendriksen, chief executive officer and principal, said, "Jim Stewart is a quality person and has been an exemplary role model and coach at St. Teresa these past years."
    Stewart leaves the Bulldogs after a very successful career on the diamonds.  Under his leadership, his teams have won Okaw Valley championships and five regional titles.  He has won over 300 games during his years in the coaching box.
    "I feel that it is time for me to follow my daughter while she competes in softball next spring," said Stewart about his decision to leave now.  "I truly love St. Teresa and will always follow and support the program."
    He bleeds orange-and-blue, having played basketball and baseball for the Bulldogs, including helping his team to the quarterfinals in basketball in the old Assembly Hall (now State Farm Center) where they fell to Ohio when Kirk Sarff coached them.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Guy Neibuhr Warrensburg-Latham Sports Legend Dies at 83
 
    The man who started Warrensburg-Latham football has died.
    After graduation from Illinois State University in 1960 where he started and played football for the Redbirds, Guy F. Neibuhr started teaching driver's education and social studies at Warrensburg-Latham high school where he also started the football program and became head coach.
    He also served as head track and field coach and assistant basketball coach at Warrensburg-Latham.
    The 83-year-old Neibuhr passed away at 1:05 p.m. Friday at home. 
    His son, Doug, also played and coached football for years, including at Millikin and Wittenberg.
    Guy was a former assistant football coach, head tennis coach and head track and field coach at Millikin where he was later inducted into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame. 
    Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Tuesday at Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Home, Decatur. Visitation will be 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at the funeral home. Burial will be in Boiling Springs Cemetery, Decatur. 
    Memorials may be made to Warrensburg-Latham High School Athletic Department or to donor’s choice. 
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Decatur Baseball Icon Remembers Gwynn
 
    This writer always tries to localize national sports stories when he can which he is doing with the following brief on the death of one of baseball's all-time greatest hitters, Tony Gwynn.
    Frank Coppenbarger, the former Decatur Commodores clubhouse attended, who has parlayed that into a mutli-decade in major league baseball, including the Philadelphia Phillies and prior to that the St. Louis Cardinals, remembers a comment Gwynn made when he was injured in 1996, but still showed up for the All-Star game in Philadelphia where he commented, "it's the best I've seen.
    "I was really proud of that comment," recalled Coppenbarger of Gwynn's comment about how the Phillies organization put together the first class all-star game celebration and activities.  "He recognized our effort.  I'll never forget that."
    Gwynn died today (Monday) at the age of 54 and won eight batting titles during his career with the San Diego Padres.  The Hall of Famer obviously is one of the all-time best hitters.
    He also informed that Gwynn's son, Tony Jr., now plays for the Phillies and left the team for bereavement.
    I will have a brief item on this in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

IHSA Delays 'Success Factor' Implementation
 
    The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors this afternoon (Monday)decided to delay the implementation of recently adopted changes to the new multiplier waiver and “success factor”, until the 2015-16 school year.
    “The board believes that the changes approved to Policy 17 in February will help maintain competitive balance in the state,” said Wauconda High School Principal and IHSA Board President Dan Klett.  “However, conversations with school personnel in our respective districts led the Board to believe that more education and feedback was needed before implementing these changes.”
    Maroa-Forsyth principal Scott Adreon, who represents this area as an IHSA director, applauded the decision, telling me, "this gives us a chance to educate our members about what the 'success factor' and waiver changes are.  It also gives us a chance to get feedback from our boundaried and non-boundaried members.  I think it is good to get this feedback and this gives our membership more time."
    The principal and director also admitted he was not aware until it was brought to his attention following the February adoption that all members had not voted on the changes which were recommended by a committee of boundary and non-boundary schools and approved by the board.
    Ken Hendriksen, St. Teresa principal and chief executive officer, also liked the delay, saying it gives the non-boundaried schools a chance to present additional information to the board before such changes become policy.
    If the "success factor" had gone through as approved in February, St. Teresa would have moved up a class in cross-country because it had won four straight girls cross-country championships.
    By delaying the action implementing this and the waiver changes, St. Teresa's boys basketball team will revert back to Class 2A for 2014-15 instead of 1A.
    In addition, on Monday, the Board approved a minor change to the “success factor.” The original policy language called for a school to be subject to the “success factor” if they won two state final trophies over a four-year period. Monday’s change will now require that one of the two trophies be won in the two most recent school years in order for a school to be subject to the “success factor.”
    The Board has charged the IHSA staff with developing a presentation on the changes and how they affect membership, which they will present as a part of the annual Town Hall Meetings held in November.
    “The changes to Policy 17 are significant, so it is important that the membership has a strong grasp on their history and implementation,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “The ‘success factor’ will affect about three percent of the membership, but the waiver changes will have a considerably larger impact. It will be a positive step to gain feedback from the membership, as well as to make sure we have a full understanding on how these changes influence other factors, such as classification cutoffs.”
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Prep Conference Landscape Could Change
 
    Just when this veteran writer thinks the prep conferences are stabilizing for this fall and the future, along comes the Sangamo to shake things up with its unsolicited invitation to Maroa-Forsyth.
    But that's not all as Mount Zion possibly is in the picture, too. We've learned the Braves are an interested observer because their administrators, their coaches and their school board have to do what they feel is in the best interest of their student-athletes.  And the existing Apollo could be a changing soon, too, as there are reports that Salem may leave for a smaller conference closer to their district.  If Salem departs that would leave the Apollo with only five teams and no automatic qualifying champion for the playoffs. 
    When the new Okaw was created two years ago we reported that Mount Zion was interested, but the district was politely told, thanks, but no thanks.  That's similar to what the Sangamo told Maroa-Forsyth two years ago, who is now courting the Trojans.  Interesting and ironic, isn't it.
    Mount Zion administrators are not commenting on the latest discussions involving the Trojans of Maroa-Forsyth and the Sangamo, and their possible effect on them.  If Maroa-Forsyth leaves the new Okaw for the Sangamo that would leave an opening for the Braves to once again express an interest in joining.  I don't know how Rantoul, St. Thomas More and St. Joseph-Ogden, and holdovers Monticello and Tolono Unity would react to that.  From checking the IHSA enrollment classifications, Rantoul is larger than Mount Zion and is the biggest school in the new Okaw. 
    Here's what else I've learned from e-mail exchanges with administrators.
    Maroa-Forsyth's coaches and administrators are in a huge bind and that's no exaggeration. 
    It's a dilemma administrators and board members didn't expect to be facing now almost two years later after they decided to join a revised Okaw Valley with holdover members Tolono Unity and Monticello and newcomers--St. Joseph-Ogden, St. Thomas More and Rantoul.
    Scott Adreon, Maroa-Forsyth principal and former Trojans basketball head coach before moving on to Mahomet-Seymour briefly before returning to Trojans where they truly believe "it's a great day to be a Trojan," bleeds Okaw.
    He's been consistent in that belief, saying at the time, "I am an Okaw guy," when the breakup of the existing Okaw began almost two years ago. 
    Adreon still says that today as the board and administration wrestles with the decision of whether or not to accept the unsolicited invitation from the nearby Sangamo conference, starting in 2016-17 season.
    And therein lies the rub because Maroa-Forsyth was one of the driving forces behind the revised Okaw creation along with Monticello and St. Joseph-Ogden.  Brian Brooks, St. Joseph-Ogden principal, is the league's president.
    How do you break away from the league you helped create before the first fall sports of the new conference are played.  "As you know it is all about relationships," said Adreon in discussing the decision the board will make at their July 14 meeting.
    Maroa-Forsyth is concerned about long-term relationships with the Sangamo which is basically a Springfield-based league.  Maroa-Forsyth feels the competition and transportation in the Sangamo is about the same with the Okaw, perhaps transportation a little greater than the five schools in the Okaw. 
    The school board, at their meeting last week, discussed the recent unsolicited invitation the district received from the Sangamo, Superintendent Mike Williams has confirmed.
    "It is a discussion item only tonight (June 9's board meeting)," wrote Williams in response to an e-mail question this writer put to him, Principal Scott Adreon and Athletic Director Josh Jostes. 
    "An official vote will not take place till July 14," continued Williams response.
    The Sangamo now has nine teams in the league and wants to go to 10--Athens, Auburn, New Berlin, Riverton, Pleasant Plains, Petersburg Porta, Williamsville, North Mac and Pittsfield.  Maroa-Forsyth would be the 10th and start play in the fall of 2016 which would bring the league to 10 members and eliminate the need for non-conference games.
    Sangamon Valley leaves the league at the end of the summer for the Little Okaw Valley.
    Stay tuned because the prep conference landscape for Decatur and Macon County schools could be changing again soon.  Argenta-Oreana Athletic Director Dan Sheehan said he was not aware of any overtures the Little Okaw Valley may be making to Maroa-Forsyth now that it is reviewing the Sangamo's unsolicited invitation.
    However, this scribe has received reports from outside Macon County that a league north of Clinton may be interested in the Trojans as well since those schools have played them in the playoffs and beat them (Downs Tri-Valley). 
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
     
Maroa-Forsyth School Board to Discuss Sangamo Invite
 
    Superintendent Mike Williams confirmed this afternoon (Monday) that the Maroa-Forsyth school board will discuss at their meeting tonight the unsolicited invitation the district recently received from the Sangamo Conference.
    "It is a discussion item only tonight," wrote Williams in response to an e-mail question this writer put to him, Principal Scott Adreon and Athletic Director Josh Jostes. 
    "An official vote will not take place till July 14," continued Williams response.
    The Sangamo now has nine teams in the league and wants to go to 10--Athens, Auburn, New Berlin, Riverton, Pleasant Plains, Petersburg Porta, Williamsville, North Mac and Pittsfield.  Maroa-Forsyth would be the 10th and start play in the fall of 2016 which would bring the league to 10 members and eliminate the need for non-conference games.
    Sangamon Valley leaves the league at the end of the summer for the Little Okaw Valley.
    Maroa-Forsyth is scheduled to be one of the six members in the new Okaw Valley that begins play this fall.  The other five are St. Thomas More, St. Joseph-Ogden, Rantoul and the remaining two from the existing Okaw, Monticello and Tolono Unity.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
 
Argenta-Oreana wins, 7-1, for 3rd Place
 
  
    Argenta-Oreana's baseball came home from Peoria's Dozer Park Saturday afternoon to a welcoming celebration in Kimler Gym after the Bombers defeated New Athens, 7-1, for third place in the Class 1 Illinois High School Association's baseball championships. 
    New Athens scored its only run in the bottom of the seventh.
    Junior Keegan McHood was the winning pitcher as the Bombers completed their season 24-6.
    The win gave Tom Saunches' Bombers their rightful place in the school's athletic history annals as the team that finished as the best ever in any state finals with their third place trophy which is one place higher than Saunches' squad finished in 1989 and the same place Gary Cook's wrestlers in the 1986 state finals.
    They jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in defeating New Athens which sends the school onto the Little Okaw Valley now with the Okaw Valley's boys best spring finish.
    Both teams had lost tough semi-finals games Friday, the Bombers falling 1-0, and New Athens losing in extra innings to Bluford Webber.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Argenta-Oreana Loses 1-0 in Semis
 
    Peoria--Argenta-Oreana will play New Athens Saturday for third place in the Class 1 Illinois High School Association's baseball championships at Dozer Park.
    Tom Saunches' Bombers lost 1-0 as Illinois Lutheran pushed across a run after a walk and a double plated a run in the fifth inning.
    It was a pitcher's duel as both allowed only two hits.
    The Bombers placed fourth in 1989 which they will be trying to go one better Saturday against New Athens, who lost a heartbreaker of its own in extra innings to Bluford Webber in 10 innings.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.  

Changes Coming To Local Classic Golf Tournament
 
    Three tour owners...
    Four different local organizing groups...
    Eight different tournament names...
    Twenty-eight tournament winners in 30 years, there are two double winners...
    Purses up and down, up and down...
    Tournament director Cyndi Deadrick Wolfer made those comments this morning at the Decatur Forsyth classic's tee-off press conference for the 30th anniversary of the event which is underway this week at Hickory Point Golf Club where 144 players are competing for a $100,000 purse.
    And organizers are going to be able to track where players spend their money while in the area competing, thanks to a new hospitality sponsorship from Skeff Distributing Company which John Skeffington explained Tuesday morning before the media and some sponsors and civic officials, including Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy and City Manager Ryan McCrady as well as Decatur Park District head, Bill Clevenger.
     Called "The Michelob Ultra $30 Fore 30," Skeffington said each player will receive 15 two dollar bills to spend in the community.  "We'll know where those dollars are spent, restaurants, service stations, among others," said Skeffington.  "There's always been an interest in tracking where money is spent which this will give us."
    Dale Colee and Lauren (Colee) Young, in cooperation with Aric Lee of ESPN1050, announced they are sponsoring a local radio command center where they keep fans abreast of activities through social media of tweets, texts, et cetera.
    And once again, Team Soy sponsored last night's partee.
    Also, Wolfer informed a book is being written on the Decatur tournament's 30 year history that will be released after this year's events end.  As someone who has covered each of the previous 29 tournaments during my 37 years of writing sports for this newspaper, I have some of my own.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune, including the results of next week's tournament results.



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.

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