Sports Extra: Champions crowned locally, nationally

Sports Extra: Champions crowned locally, nationally

Pardon me this week,  but I want to talk about champions on a number of levels.

Let’s start locally, where a Carlinville grad’s summer has started in a successful way, I would say.

Kelsey Card, 2011 graduate of CHS, won the NCAA Division I track and field discus championship in Eugene, Ore. earlier this month.

There’s no denying her talent. After sweeping through the Illinois track and field circuit by winning shot put and discus each of her four years at Carlinville High School, she is now a collegiate champion and perhaps soon enough, an Olympian.

While I have never personally seen her throw the discus or heave the shot put, I can’t imagine 208-feet-5 inches in the final of the NCAA championships, which is an awesome accomplishment. Not only that, but all three of her discus throws in the final sailed 208 feet or further. She told me she was quite pleased with the consistency of her throws that night, and with good reason.

Was hoping to see her on ESPN as they televised the national finals from Eugene, Ore. Each time I flipped over, there I was some sort of running event, so I didn’t get a chance to see it. But I’m sure it’s on the Internet somewhere.

Like to congratulate all the local athletes from this past school year.

Athletes competed hard in the team sports, and individuals shined in other sports in Macoupin County  during the 2015-16 school year.

From Carlinville, North Mac, Greenfield/Northwestern and Mt. Olive making the state football playoffs last fall, to the Carlinville volleyball team winning the county tournament and almost winning another regional; and Southwestern’s first ever regional volleyball championship – it was quite a fall season.

The Carlinville girls cross country team placed 10th in the state with Jacey Roper and Colleen Madden finishing in the top of the pack at the state meet in Peoria. Cory Landon getting sixth at state and Nolan Kreipe also running at state represented the school well. The boys soccer team was second in the conference and had another strong showing.

In the winter sports, while the local basketball teams in Carlinville struggled to get wins but tended to improve as the season went on, the Southwestern girls won a regional championship and county title. Gillespie boys won the boys county title.

Wrestler Jacob Dixon took Carlinville’s first state win at state since the 1980s in Champaign. Mt. Olive-Gillespie’s Max Fritz finished third in the state.

The spring time saw Carlinville’s baseball team end a 29-game, 12-year losing streak to rival Southwestern with a win in early May. They also played at GCS Ball Park in Sauget in late April.

Carlinville’s softball team won a share of the conference championship for the first time, while the girls soccer team won 17 games and were awarded for their fine sportsmanship.

In track and field, Madden and Landon both had runner-up finishes at the state track and field meet, after both had won state indoor titles in Bloomington before the outdoor season began. Roper also took fifth at state in an event. Landon added a fourth place finish at state. Katie Denby and Anna Smith were fourth and eighth respectively in the pole vault.

As a sports reporter, this was one of the more exciting overall years from start to finish that I can recall covering at any newspaper. All the athletes are fantastic to watch represent the many schools, but more importantly, are terrific human beings, which is most important.

I’ll close by talking about another group of Cavaliers – yes, those Cleveland Cavaliers – the champioons of the National Basketball Association.

I admit I didn’t watch much of the finals, but did catch quite a bit of Game 7 on Sunday night.

As the game went on and the Warriors were unable to pull away, I somehow felt that Cleveland was going to win. I was compelled to root for the Cavaliers, just for history’s sake. A huge three-pointer in the final minute by Kyrie Irving put the Cavs (sorry, wanted to call them the Cavies) over the top.

LeBron James has brought a championship to Cleveland, the first time that northeast Ohio has seen a world championship since 1964.

Maybe we can all quit talking about LeBron’s legacy and had they lost it would be tarnished once again. Look, he’s now won three titles, this one with much less talent than the Miami Heat teams he played on a few years back.

He’s brought his hometown team a much deserved NBA championship. He is a great player. He’ll go down as such.  The Cavs trailed the best regular season team in NBA history three games to one, having to win twice in Oakland to win the title. They got it done. Congrats to all groups of Cavaliers.

So it got me to thinking with Cleveland now off the hook, which city with two or more professional sports teams is now on the clock to win a title? Off the top of my head, I think of Buffalo and San Diego and perhaps Charlotte amongst the most tortured sports cities in America. There might be more, but I can’t think right now.