hosting the Ohio Valley Conference indoor track and field championships this weekend, Eastern Illinois senior Haleigh Knapp has earned OVC Field Athlete of the Year. Knapp is a Morris Community High School graduate who won three consecutive Class 2A high jump titles during her high school career.
High jumper Knapp currently holds the 12th spot in the NCAA for her height of 6-00.50 (1.84 meters). Knapp’s height also ranks first in the EIU record book for the high jump. Knapp has had a strong 2017-18 season earning six first-place finishes. Knapp continued her dominance by winning the OVC Indoor Meet by clearing 5-8.75.
Knapp previously secured the OVC Field Athlete of the week honors back in January on the 17th and the 31st.
Seneca 40, Lisle 31: The Fighting Irish cooled off red-hot Lisle, which had not lost since Dec. 27, to claim the title of the Class 2A Lisle Regional. Seneca (19-7) held Lisle to just three points in the first quarter and 10 in the first half en route to a 19-10 halftime lead. Hunter Greve and Sam Grushkin each scored 10 points for the Irish, while Logan Bruss added nine. Greve had a team-high seven rebounds.
Coal City 70, Kankakee Bishop McNamara 68: Despite falling behind 22-8 in the first quarter, the Coalers battled all the way back to claim the win in the first round of the Class 3A Herscher Regional. The Coal City defense forced seven turnovers in the fourth quarter to help lead to the win. Austin Pullara had 29 points and 12 rebounds to lead Coal City, while Sean Micetich scored 15 points and Payton Hutchings added 14.
Oswego 45, Minooka 42: Minooka led its Southwest Prairie Conference rival 21-19 at half in the quarterfinal game at the Class 4A Oswego East Regional but trailed 32-28 after three quarters. The Indians were down 44-42 in the final minute, but a charging foul ended their final hope.
Oak Park-River Forest 53, Minooka 8: In its first state trip since 2013, Minooka got off to a good start, but the tide soon turned the other way as Oak Park-River Forest won the next 11 matches to capture a 53-8 victory in the Class 3A quarterfinals. The Indians (25-3), who had won their past 19 dual meets, were a staple of the dual-meet finals from 2004 to 2013, when they appeared eight times in 10 years and won a title in 2010.
In the opener at 132 pounds, Dominic Ruettiger won, 9-6, over state runner-up Eddie Bolivar and then Adam McDowell owned a late 2-1 lead over Torry Early in the next match. But Early got a takedown with one second left to claim a 3-2 win and the Huskies were on their way to their sixth title meet appearance in the past 10 years.
“We thought that we’d get the momentum going, and they pulled out at the end and kept wrestling,” Bernie Ruettiger said. “But like I told these kids, ‘Who would have thought three years ago that we’d be here?’ I’m proud of these kids. Wow, what a match Dominic wrestled, huh? That kid was the runner-up, and he beats him to start the meet. That was outstanding.
“These seniors paved the way. We’ve been here before when we went one-and-out six other times. So now, hopefully these younger think that we’re supposed to be here, it’s what we do. We’ve got some good kids that can wrestle, so we’re just going to have to keep competing.”
In the next few matches, Eddie Ordonez won, 6-4, over Noah Boles; Joe Chapman beat Jake Ryan, 8-2, at 152; and Jack Fisher won by technical fall. Then the Huskies received pins from Daemyen Middlebrooks and Jake Cagnina. Brian Ziech beat Drew Gutknecht, 8-2, at 195; and Elijah Osit edged Connor Briley, 3-1, in overtime. Then Ashford Hills, Jake Rundell and Josh Ogunsanya followed with pins. After Austin Markee won by forfeit, Raymond Hernandez beat Zach McDowell, 6-3, in the finale.
“I’m proud of this team,” Adam McDowell said. “Last week we beat the defending state champs, Lockport, to get here, and that was a huge victory for us since the way we came back against them was amazing. I think we brought back our program back and in future years, we’re going to be tough. We’d been working since freshman year for this, and I’m proud of the team since we did good. It was a good season.”