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High School Highlights
Area Athletes Honored At 9th Annual Student-Athlete Banquet
The Bloomington-Normal Area Sports Commission, a division of the Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with State Farm, WJBC, You Name It Sports and Special Olympics Illinois, hosted the 9th annual State Farm Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet on Tuesday, June 21 at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Bloomington.
The banquet featured U-High graduate and former Texas A&M soccer star, Ashlee Pistorius-Slayback, as the keynote speaker, as well as a speech by Special Olympics Global Messenger, Drew White.
Awards were presented in 11 categories to the following winners:
Good Neighbor Award: Illinois Wesleyan Athletics
Special Olympics Female Athlete of the Year: Bailey Keiser, Normal West
Special Olympics Male Athlete of the Year: Jamey McCabe, Olympia
Female Team of the Year: Central Catholic Volleyball
Male Team of the Year: Tri-Valley Football
Coach of the Year – Female Sport: J.R. Banister, Central Catholic Volleyball
Coach of the Year – Male Sport: Mark Edmundson, LeRoy Basketball
Female Scholar Athlete of the Year: Brittney Peden, Bloomington
Male Scholar Athlete of the Year: Drew Humphrey, Bloomington
Female Athlete of the Year: Shelby Fulk, El Paso-Gridley
Male Athlete of the Year: Matt Chastain, LeRoy
The following were the runners up for each category
Female Team of the Year
Normal Community Volleyball
Normal West Softball
Male Team of the Year
Coach of the Year – Female Sport
Mary Jo Bell – Central Catholic Golf
April Schermann – Normal West Softball
Coach of the Year – Male Sport
Michael Mosley – Bloomington Basketball
Becky Braman – Normal West Swimming
Good Neighbor Award
Normal West Baseball team
Female Scholar Athlete
Hailey Paul – Central Catholic
Ally Wiegand – Tri-Valley
Male Scholar Athlete
Perry Lim – U-High
Matthew Ogden – Normal West
Special Olympics Female Athlete
Ally Davis - Olympia
Mackenzie Carlson – Normal West
Special Olympics Male Athlete
Brady Sutton – Tri-Valley
Aaron Stuckey – Tri-Valley
Sydney Shanks – Central Catholic
Kylie Welch – Bloomington
Andrew Loy – Normal West
Mitch Fairfield – Normal West
Purchase or Renew ISU Basketball Season Tickets for a Chance to ‘Fly With Us’
Fans can win an exclusive trip with the Illinois State men’s basketball team through the “Fly With Us” promotion.
Renewing Illinois State men’s basketball season ticket holders, and anyone who purchases new men’s basketball season tickets, will automatically be entered into the “Fly With Us” drawing. The winner, and a guest, will fly with the team to a road game during the 2016-17 season. Tickets must be renewed or purchased by July 29 in order to be eligible.
“The ‘Fly With Us’ campaign is a creative way to showcase our men’s basketball program and show our appreciation to our most loyal fans,” Illinois State Director of Athletics Larry Lyons said. “We want to give our fans an opportunity to see what it’s like to be part of our program by traveling with the team. ‘Fly With Us’ will help us continue to provide our men’s basketball program with a tremendous home court advantage.”
Along with roundtrip airfare, the winner of the “Fly With Us” promotion will also receive complimentary hotel accommodations, game tickets, meals and Redbird gear. The location and date of the “Fly With Us” road trip will be announced when the 2016-17 men’s basketball schedule is released. Additionally, 100 “Fly With Us” T-shirts will be distributed at random to season ticket purchasers.
Renewals are currently underway, and fans who wish to purchase new season tickets may do so beginning June 21. New season ticket holders will have a chance to pick their seats following the July 29 renewal deadline. New this year, the Illinois State Athletics Ticket Office is offering additional payment options for season tickets. While still having the ability to pay in full, individuals can now split up their payments with the addition of two new payment plans. For more information, contact the ticket office at: (309) 438-8000.
Lower bowl season tickets are $290 per seat, with a corresponding per-seat donation to the Weisbecker Scholarship Fund based on seat location. Upper bowl season tickets are $165, and a per-seat donation to the WSF may be required depending on seat location. To renew or purchase season tickets, fans are encouraged to contact the Illinois State Athletics Ticket Office either online by navigating to GoRedbirds.com/Tickets, in-person by entering through the north doors to Redbird Arena, or over the phone by calling (309) 438-8000.
The 2016-17 Illinois State men’s basketball team returns four of five starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s team which finished 18-14 overall and tied for second place with a 12-6 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference, signifying ISU’s highest league finish and most conference wins since 2007-08.
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Right-hander Michael Schweiss’ experience as a pitcher with the Frontier League’s Western Division Champion Normal CornBelters has proved him a unique perspective on being a professional ball player. And during the off-season, the 26-year-old is able to not only pass along his knowledge of the game, but provide insight as to what life is like to players coming up behind him.
He has been doing this as an assistant coach for the baseball team at his college alma mater, the University of Dallas. “Playing in the independent league level for four years now, I know, kind of, what it takes to get here, and to stay here, which is the tough part,” Schweiss said. “I try to instill a work ethic in my guys and, of course, there are pitching mechanics I can help them with.
“But the biggest thing is working on their attitude and effort that I want to instill in them,” explained Schweiss, an off-season resident of Parker, Colo.
Schweiss said the players on the current University of Dallas roster are receptive to his message. As he explains it, “I’m young enough to relate to what the players there are going through because I went to school there, but I’m old enough to where they respect me and they listen to what I say. I think I have a really good relationship with my players.”
Schweiss said the one thing he tries to put across to the college players he coaches is that they shouldn’t take for granted “any day they have on the field. Four years of college baseball goes by really quick. I tell them it’s probably the best four years they’ll ever have.”
Schweiss himself is in the middle of his fourth year in a CornBelters uniform and this season is 2-2 and hoping to make an impact this season His overall record on the mound for Normal in four seasons to date is 20-15, including going 9-7 last season. In 2014, his second season in a CornBelters uniform, a twinge of discomfort he detected during an away game against the Southern Illinois Miners led to being sidelined for nearly two months, contributing to a 4-2 mark.
Schweiss said going out when he did was tough in 2014, and watching the CornBelters scrape their way into a Frontier League playoff slot without his help that season on the mound was tougher still.
An Economics major at University of Dallas, Schweiss said he’s considered trying to stay in the game after finishing his playing career seeking a front office position. In that regard, he would join many other players to contribute their smarts and love of the game on.
“Schweiss has thrown the ball better this year than he ever has in the three full years I’ve had him,” CornBelters Manager Brooks Carey said. “It looks like he’ll be on an All-Star team again this year.”
CornBelters Outfielder Nolan Meadows Earns Weekly League Honor: CornBelters outfielder Nolan Meadows has earned the Frontier League’s Player of the Week honor for June 14-19.In his second season of professional baseball, and first in the Frontier League, Meadows managed had 10 hits in 24 at-bats. He began the week going 2-4 with 2 Runs Batted In, 1 Home Run, and 1 run scored. That was followed by going 3-for-4 on June 16 against River City, with 1 double, 1 triple, 1 Home Run, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored.
In this past weekend’s series versus the Southern Illinois Miners on the road, Meadows went 3-for-11 with 1 Homer, 3 RBIs, and 1 run scored. Before joining the Frontier League, Meadows spent his time with the Roswell Invaders of the Pecos League, where he finished with a batting average of .354 and accumulated 6 Home Runs, 34 RBIs, 5 doubles, and 1 triple. Originally from San Pedro, Calif., 23-year-old Meadows attended California State University Long Beach.
Meadows is the third CornBelters player to receive league honors this season behind catcher Dillon Haupt and outfielder Mike Fish.
Digging Away: The CornBelters are busy trying to dig themselves out of a hole they found themselves starting the season in. They were 14-19 and seven games out of first place as of Tuesday when they started their current three-game home stand.
“I picked up a lot of guys that I still liked, but we got off to a really slow start,” Carey said. “But we’ve been playing better as of late.”
The biggest culprit for the record, Carey said is, “We’re leaving too many men on base. We’ve got a decent hitting team. We’re hitting close to .280 as a team, which is a number I’m pleased about. We’re scoring enough runs, but the pitching’s not there. Then, when the pitching’s there, we don’t score enough runs. That’s a big reason for why we’re where we are right now.”
Ever optimistic, however, Carey said he anticipates a winning streak in his team’s future.
Ironically, Traverse City, the team which beat Normal in the league semifinals to advance to the championship series last season, is also struggling. But their struggle is a little tougher, as they are in last place in the Eastern Division with a 10-22 record prior to Tuesday’s scheduled games.
CornBelters Home Tuesdays Through Thursdays In June: If it hasn’t started already, the beginning of that streak could come as the CornBelters’ schedule in June has them at The Corn Crib only on Tuesdays through Thursdays and on the road on weekends for three weeks straight. They host Gateway June 21-23, before traveling to Florence June 24-26. Following a league-imposed Monday off on June 27, they will host a rematch with league champion Traverse City on Tuesday through Thursday, June 28-30, with all games starting at 6:35p.m.
Frontier League Now A 12-Team League: The Rockford Aviators have moved on to another league and to avoid an uneven number of teams as a result, the Frontier League folded its permanent traveling team, the Frontier Greys. Last season, the Greys were managed by former Normal assistant coach Vinny Ganz.
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