Current Sports: 03/05/14 (Click HERE for Archived Sports):
K of C Free Throw contest
Here are the representatives from local competitions in Trenton and New Baden in the Illinois Knights of Columbus Free Throw Contest. Having won local contests, these kids competed in districts at Albers. Front row, from left, Lauren Bray (10-year old), Lauren Rakers (11-year old), Kelsey Bray (12-year old), and Ellie Wessel (13-year old); back row, Drake Rensing (9-year old), Kyle Elmore (12-year old), Ben Herndon (13-year old), Brandon Durgin (14-year old), Chance McIntyre (13-year old), Blake Rakers (14-year old). Not pictured, 10-year old Cameron Haag. Blake Rakers was the winner in the 14-year old division. Lauren Bray and Ellie Wessel also won their grade level competitions. All three qualified for the regional at Mater Dei this Saturday, March 8. Regional winners will go to state competition this April in Chatham.
Wesclin's Link signs with Lindenwood
WESCLIN SENIOR ASHLEY LINK, daughter of John and Colleen Link of New Baden, signs a letter of intent to attend and play soccer for the Lindenwood University-Belleville Lions next year. Front row, from left, Colleen Link, Lindenwood coach Kelly Prince, Ashley Link, and John Link. Back row, Wesclin coach Clark Schmitt and athletic director Tom Hund.
Wesclin senior Ashley Link has decided to continue her academic and soccer career at Lindenwood University-Belleville, where she will play for coach Kelly Prince and the Lions. Before then, there's the matter of her final high school season, when Link will play for new Warrior coach Brad Reibold.
Ashley is the daughter of John and Colleen Link of New Baden. She will seek a bachelor's degree in accounting at Lindenwood. Link's abilities and attitude in the classroom and on the soccer pitch were important in attracting the attention of Lindenwood coaches, according to Prince.
"Ashley is a great example of the kind of student we are looking for here," said the coach. "Academically, she does a great job staying consistent in her studies. Athletically, she is passionate and aggressive about the game of soccer. She will give 100 percent inside and outside the classroom, which is contagious among our team. I expect she will fit right in."
Link gives consistent effort and makes good decisions on the field, working primarily as a defender in high school. Everything gets ramped up at the college level, and Ashley's summer training will be critical to her success as a college player, Coach Prince said. "Like many incoming freshmen, Ashley will need to continue her weight training to help her gain strength and size. The college game tends to be more physical and move more quickly than high school play, so she will need to work on the speed of her decisions as well. I have no doubt she will be able to step up to the challenge.
Link said she will do what it takes to succeed at the college level. "I plan to work hard on my skills and to be a team player and a good leader," she said. "The Lindenwood program and Coach Prince care about education and developing students and players to be the best they can be. I am glad I will be there for four years."
Link said a lot of people who taught and coached her growing up were responsible for helping her become a college player. Former Wesclin coaches Clark Schmitt, Tim Marks, and Mark Lockowitz "have helped me learn more about how to be a leader and have passion for something I love to do," she said.
Lindenwood-Belleville finished last season, the first under Prince, with a .500 record in NAIA independent play, and participated in the NAIA Independent Conference tournament in Atlanta, a first for the program. This year, the Lions will compete in the AMC Conference. There are a number of returning players from last year's squad. "We are very excited to expand on the roster we already have," Prince said.
Lindenwood landed another former Wesclin player last week, when former Warrior and Kaskaskia College Blue Angel Kendra Westbrook signed with the Lions.
Warrior girls look to build on competitive '13-14 season
WESCLIN'S 2013-14 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM, front row, from left, Cami Meddows, Carly Haukapp, Ally Isenhower, Ali Brueggemann; back row, assistant coach Brian Arentsen, Mayghen Mugele, Erin Johnson, Carrie Rakers, Kenzie Kellogg, and head coach Ben Crawford
by Daniel L. Chamness
When reviewing how a team did during their season, a team's losses will often tell more about them than their wins.
Such is the case of the Wesclin High School Lady Warriors, who finished the year with an 11-15 mark. But, considering they played the Breese Central Cougars, who rambled through the regular season with an undefeated record, three times and they also lost to Columbia, Carlyle, Red Bud and Okawville by less than five points each, the Lady Warriors are getting better.
"We are getting better," said Ben Crawford, Wesclin's head coach. "We have good personnel, we just need more athletes. I am very pleased with the girls we have, but instead of nine girls, I would love to have 12 to 15. Or even more. I would love to be able to field a junior varsity team as well as a varsity team. For next year, the main goals are to continue building our program and win more games."
As far as goals, eight of the nine girls on the Wesclin team had as their main goal, beating Carlyle in the regional if they had a chance to play them. They accomplished that. They also bring back all players for next season except for one, senior Ali Brueggemann.
"She was a big leader for us not only in the games, but in practice as well," said Crawford, who reminded the team of their goals they wrote down at the beginning of the year after the year had concluded. "She pushed everyone to play better. As a player, she was a good shooting guard and a good outside threat for us." Brueggemann scored 163 points, an average of 6.2 points per game.
Junior starters Zoe Christopher, Carrie Rakers, and Ally Isenhower are expected to return. Wesclin was led in scoring by Christopher, a guard, who averaged 12.0 points per game. She currently has 719 points in her first three years. The 6'1" Rakers almost averaged a double-double, scoring 10.0 points per game and pulling down 9.0 rebounds per game. She finished with 260 points as well as 236 rebounds. Isenhower spent most of the season feeding Christopher and Rakers the ball. The 5-foot-8 point guard averaged 6.0 points and 5.0 assists per game. Sophomore Carly Haukap is an outside threat and advanced to state in the Country Companies sponsored three-point shooting contest. She averaged 6.0 points per game during the 2013-14 campaign.
"If Zoe has another year like this year, she will reach 1,000 points," said Crawford. "She has an outside chance of reaching it anyhow. We want to see Carrie average a double-double for us next year. As a point guard, Ally was simply one of the best assist girls in the area. There are not many players that can feed the ball like she can. Carly is going to keep improving her shot. When she is on, she is lights out."
Wesclin, a member of the Cahokia Conference-Mississippi Division, is the second smallest school in the division. Only Carlyle, with 385 students, has less students. Red Bud checks in at 434. The other three schools (Breese Central, Freeburg and Columbia) each have 598 or more students.
"The girls bought into my coaching style," said Crawford. "My offensive style is a little quicker this year. I tried to build team chemistry and team drills that would make us better. We spent much of the time doing drills and we will continue to do that in the future."
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