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*Story Courtesy of the Summit League*


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – With the 2018-19 academic year coming to a close, Summit League officials announced their Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence Tuesday. The list honors student-athletes for their hard work in the classroom during this past year.

A total of 632 student-athletes make up the 2018-19 Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence, which marked an increase of 94 from a season ago.

South Dakota received The Summit League Institutional Academic Achievement Award as the Coyotes recorded the highest percentage of list-eligible student-athletes on the list. This is the second consecutive year the Coyotes earned the accolade and the third time in program history.

In addition, the league recognized Team Academic Achievement Awards for each sport based on the percentage of list-eligible student-athletes on the Commissioner's List. South Dakota had a league-best four teams receive individual sport honors, while Denver and North Dakota State earned three awards. All nine full-time institutions captured at least one sport award.


Baseball: Purdue Fort Wayne

Men’s Basketball: North Dakota State

Women’s Basketball: South Dakota State

Men’s Cross Country: South Dakota State

Women’s Cross Country: South Dakota

Men’s Golf: North Dakota State

Women’s Golf: Denver & Omaha

Men’s Soccer: Denver

Women’s Soccer: Omaha

Softball: North Dakota State

Men’s Swimming & Diving: South Dakota

Women’s Swimming & Diving: Denver

Men’s Tennis: Oral Roberts

Women’s Tennis: Western Illinois

Men’s Track & Field: North Dakota

Women’s Track & Field: South Dakota

Volleyball: South Dakota

Denver and Omaha's women's golf programs were the only squads to land all of its eligible student-athletes on the list.

In order for a student-athlete to be selected to the Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence, the student-athlete must carry a 3.50 or better cumulative GPA, have used a year of eligibility and completed one year at the nominating institution.

List of Institutional Academic Achievement Award Winners (Award began in 2009-10)

2009-10 ......................... ...............South Dakota State
2010-11 ........................................ Centenary
2011-12 .........................................South Dakota
2012-13 .........................................Omaha / South Dakota State
2013-14 .........................................Omaha
2014-15 .........................................Omaha
2015-16 .........................................Omaha
2016-17 .........................................Denver
2017-18 .........................................South Dakota
2018-19 ................................South Dakota


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*Story Courtesy of the Summit League*



SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Summit League officials released the men's and women's schedules for the upcoming 2019-20 basketball seasons Monday. Both slates begin on Sunday, Dec. 29 with a trio of doubleheaders. For the second consecutive year, the men's and women's schedules are comprised of 72 games apiece with all nine teams set to play a 16-game, double round-robin league schedule.

For the 12th-straight year, the men and women will culminate their seasons in Sioux Falls, S.D., inside the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, March 7-10. The 2020 Championships will mark the sixth consecutive season the four-day event will be played at the PREMIER Center.


Men’s Schedule    Women’s Schedule


72 total league games will be played from Dec. 28 to Feb. 29

All nine teams play 16 games, facing the remaining eight teams in a home-and-away series

Season tips on Sunday, Dec. 29, with the following matchups: North Dakota State at Denver, Omaha at South Dakota State, and South Dakota at Western Illinois

The Omaha and South Dakota State tilt will pit the top two teams from the 2018-19 regular season with the defending champion Jackrabbits being led by first-year head coach Eric Henderson 

Purdue Fort Wayne opens its league slate on New Year's Day by playing host to the Coyotes in a Wednesday night affair

North Dakota's Paul Sather will make his Summit League head coaching debut at Denver on Thursday, Jan. 2 and Oral Roberts also gets year two of the Paul Mills era underway that night at South Dakota State

The first rematch of last season's Summit League Championship game will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 5 when reigning tourney champ NDSU visits Omaha.

Those two teams also wrap up the regular season in Fargo on Saturday, Feb. 29 as the final day of the regular season features a full slate with Western Illinois visiting Denver, North Dakota visiting South Dakota, and Purdue Fort Wayne visiting Oral Roberts.



72 total league games will be played from Dec. 29 to Feb. 29

All nine teams play 16 games, facing the remaining eight teams in a home-and-away series

Season tips on Sunday, Dec. 29, with the following matchups: North Dakota State at Denver, Omaha at South Dakota State, and South Dakota at Western Illinois

The Bison will be led against the Pioneers by first-year head coach Jory Collins, who is the lone rookie coach on the women's side

There will be a pair of games on New Year's Day as North Dakota visits Denver and South Dakota visits Purdue Fort Wayne

The Jackrabbits, defending regular season and tournament champs, open their home slate on Friday, Jan. 3 against Oral Roberts

The first rematch of last season's Summit League Championship game between SDSU and South Dakota will take place in Vermillion on Jan. 18 with the encore set for Brookings on Feb. 22

Both programs had stints in the Top 25 a year ago and made the NCAA Tournament with the Jackrabbits becoming the first league team to advance to the Sweet 16

The Summit League regular season wraps up with a full slate on Saturday, Feb. 29, with the following matchups: Western Illinois at Denver, Omaha at North Dakota State, Purdue Fort Wayne at Oral Roberts, and North Dakota at South Dakota


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How the Moves Shaped the League

Throughout this NBA offseason, fortunes and futures have changed as players have moved around and teams have bolstered or weakened their chances at a 2020 NBA Championship. The most recent trend seems to be towards a two-star model, as we move away from the controversial “Big Three” Era. Whether it be Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn, LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers, or Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the Clippers, the balance of power has changed and become more balanced across the league.


There are no fewer than eight teams who now have legitimate reason to see themselves as championship contenders, with a few more slightly on the outside. What that means is that for the first time in perhaps at least a decade, there appears to be true parity in the NBA. It feels like an eternity since we have not gone into the season, realistically, knowing who will likely be crowned champions, and as a fan all this does is create more excitement. 


There appears to have been a real change in mentality as well, from “let’s team up to win titles”, to “let’s team up to beat those other guys who are teaming up”. It feels much more competitive. And you know the pairing of Russell Westbrook and James Harden in Houston will be as competitive and hyperactive as any in the league. What a fun season this will be, and we can’t wait to watch it unfold.


For the NBA’s full story on the impact of the 2019 offseason, you can click here.




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*Story Courtesy of the Summit League*


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Summit League officials announced Thursday that 1,370 student-athletes have earned Summit League Academic Honor Roll distinction. The list includes students from all nine member institutions and four affiliate members competing in 17 different sports.



·         Student-athletes must have at least a 3.2 cumulative grade-point average (GPA), on a 4.0 scale, for the year awarded

·         Student-athletes must have used a season of competition (a year of athletic eligibility) in the sport in which he/she is nominated.



·         A total of 1,370 student-athletes across 17 sports were honored

·         South Dakota State led with 189 total student-athlete selections, followed by South Dakota with 187 selections and North Dakota State with 161

·         The Coyotes led the League in total number of honors, which includes duplicates for cross country and track and field, with 213. They were followed by South Dakota State (211) and North Dakota State (180)


NOTE: “Selection” means the total number of student-athletes each university garnered; it does not account for duplicated student-athletes on the list.


Academic Honor Roll Rankings (by total number of student-athletes):


1.      South Dakota State – 189

2.      South Dakota – 187

3.      North Dakota State – 161

4.      North Dakota – 143

5.      Omaha – 135

6.      Western Illinois – 134

7.      Denver – 129

8.      Oral Roberts – 127

9.      Purdue Fort Wayne – 110


10.  Eastern Illinois – 30 – men’s soccer and swimming & diving associate member

11.  Valparaiso – 13 – men’s swimming & diving and men’s tennis associate member

12.  Illinois State – 8 – men’s tennis associate member

13.  Drake – 4 – men’s tennis associate member


Academic Honor Roll Rankings (by total number of selections):


1.      South Dakota – 213

2.      South Dakota State – 211

3.      North Dakota State – 180

4.      North Dakota – 149

5.      Omaha – 143

6.      Western Illinois – 143

7.      Oral Roberts – 137

8.      Denver – 129

9.      Purdue Fort Wayne – 114


10.  Eastern Illinois – 30

11.  Valparaiso – 13

12.  Illinois State – 8

13.  Drake – 4


A complete list of the 2018-19 Summit League Academic Honor Roll recipients can be found in the link above as a PDF.


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Sophomore Guard to Represent WIU in Thailand

Despite sitting out most of last season due to injury, WIU women’s basketball guard Carla Flores Garcia has gotten the call to represent Spain at the 2019 U19 FIBA Women’s World Cup. 


Garcia has already experienced success at the youth international stage, having previously helped Spain win gold at the U16 tournament. 


During her injury plagued season, Garcia was able to average 16.7 minutes a game, and recorded totals of 13 points, 23 rebounds, 10 assists and 5 steals. This tournament will surely be a way for Head Coach J.D. Gravina to see what he has in the Spanish international.


Spain was drawn in Group D for the tournament taking place in Thailand, and will begin with games against Colombia, Germany and Japan. Spain comes in with high expectations and may be one of the favorites to win the whole tournament, as they come in ranked #2 in the World. 


*Story Courtesy of WIU Athletics*


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Team-First Mentality Key for Young Chargers

In talking with Illini West Head Volleyball Coach Dakota Flesner, the biggest takeaway I had was that she preaches and hammers home the point of her players playing like a team. Strong communication, unselfishness and a willingness to work are just a few of the requirements she holds and believes her players should hold of themselves, should they expect consistent playing time. This summer, do to a very young roster with not much varsity level experience, that has been a learning process, but one she feels is going in the right direction.


“There’s expectations for everybody and I have girls working harder than I’ve ever had in seasons past, because everyone wants to play,” Said Flesner, “Playing time, I tell the girls, is the biggest motivator and I’ve seen that this summer. Last year at our home tournament, we went 0-4. This year we went 3-1. You know records in the summer don’t matter, but still that tells me that their hard work is helping them progress.”


In that tournament, which took place this past Friday, July 12, and featured West Hancock, Southeastern, West Prairie, Bushnell Prairie City, Lewistown, Rushville-Industry and Western, Illini West impressed throughout. They seemed to communicate very well with one another and with Flesner, and their play flowed nicely as a unit. The result may, as stated, be irrelevant for the regular season, but it goes to show how the team has developed throughout the summer.


“Our defense and servicing were pretty consistent,” Flesner remarked, “We went up against some hard servers and our girls kept their head. If you saw us shank a ball or miss a pass, I saw someone step up on the next one. The last thing we want is for one error to turn into another error and add on from there. We seemed mentally tough for being young.”


Among the attributes that stuck out to me and have resonated with Flesner so far, has been the communication of the team. They are a very talkative group, constantly calling for plays, positioning, and discussing and attacking the issues that develop over the course of a game. Flesner says this is a product of the mentality she coaches with every day.


“Every single day in practice we have to have perfect effort and a perfect attitude, and with that is communication” Said Flesner, “You can’t give good effort and be a quiet teammate and I always tell them, if you’re quiet, you’re a selfish player. You have to be talking all the time. The first year I was here that was tough, because they just didn’t talk. The girls have now seen going through three years with me, they see that when they talk they’re more relaxed on the court, they’re more confident, they make plays that they didn’t think they could make, and it probably helps that I talk a lot from the sides. But you can’t be a successful teammate and be mute on the court, and they see that.”


Despite all of this positive development, the youth in this roster will still create challenges throughout the season. With just 3 returning seniors in Alexis Smith, Paige Gutting and Taylor Pence, it is a season of transition for the Chargers. There is plenty of promise though, as sophomores Ava Bliss, Hallie Ray and Megan Harrell have all shown plenty of potential to become star hitters, and junior Karli Artman returns as one of the smartest setters in the area. One of the most intriguing players mentioned, however, was 5’3” outside hitter, Alisza LeMaire. Despite her height, Flesner said she “plays tall” and that she “covers the back really well and can hang in the air with taller hitters”. There is excitement in the air, but it will still require plenty more work.


“We truly only have two, maybe a third, players who have quality varsity experience,” Flesner replied, “So I’m expecting to see a lot of underclass mistakes, typical underclass mistakes. Hitting errors, stuff like that. What I keep telling the girls is to not get frustrated, we’re going to get better, I’d rather make those errors early in the season and then by the end we’re fine tuned.”


Expectations are still extremely high for the program, coming off of a season that saw the Chargers reach the Semi-Finals of the IHSA Sectional tournament a year ago. The seniors, having experienced such success, are hungry to repeat that one more time, and for the underclassmen, it is all about building a foundation of success for future squads to step into. This has all the makings of a fun season in Carthage.


“From what I’ve seen this summer, and our senior leadership, a Regional Championship I don’t think is out of their reach,” Said Flesner, “The seniors set their goals and talked to me about it during the summer, and they want to win a Regional Championship and more. So we just have to remind them, like every team, you can’t just say ‘I want to win’ and not put the work in. If that’s their goal, I’m going to hold them to it.”


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Impressive Debut Leads to Bees' Fifth Straight "W"

With Tyler King making his debut start for Burlington, the Bees took yesterday’s (July 11) game against the Fort Wayne TinCaps, 5-0. The Bees dominated on the mound, allowing just two hits and striking out seven. King’s debut went about as well as could be expected, with three innings pitched, one hit allowed, three strikeouts and no walks. 


Offensively, the runs all came quickly, with Kevin Maitan starting the scoring off with a long solo shot in the bottom of the first. Alvaro Rubalcaba added an RBI single in the second, Francisco Del Valle piled on with a two-run homer of his own in the third and Rubalcaba added another RBI single in the third to cap the scoring for the Bees. 


The win is the Bees’ fifth straight, as the club is firing on all cylinders at the moment. This stretch has seen the Bees climb out of the cellar in the Midwest League Western division for the second half, and a continuation of this play will be critical to finding themselves in the playoff spot they so nearly achieved in the first half. Today, however, the Bees can go for two straight series sweeps when they take on the TinCaps in the series finale, with a first pitch set for 6:30 PM.


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Crazy NBA Offseason Gets Wilder

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul, first round picks in 2024 and 2026, and the right to swap first round picks in 2021 and 2025. 


Having already secured the Clippers’ first rounders in 2022, 2024 and 2026, that the Thunder were able to lock up two more is incredible. There is a distinct possibility of the Thunder holding three first round picks in 2024 and 2026. The acquisitions of players like Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander make them a point guard heavy team (with Dennis Schröeder already in the mix), but this will still be an interesting team in 2019.


The Rockets escape from a dark place with regards to their cap space, only to potentially immediately delve back into it with Westbrook’s acquisition. For purely basketball purposes, the move makes sense, bring in a guy who can control the floor with excellent vision, and one who also has a ton of chemistry with incumbent superstar James Harden. However, Westbrook is due $42m in 2024, so this could really hamstring Houston in the future. Overall I like the move, but the money and draft cost could prove dangerous for a team very much built for today. 


This feels like a win-win to me, the Thunder stockpiling even more draft picks in what looks like one of the smoothest and swiftest rebuilds to be recently executed, and the Rockets adding another superstar to a team looking to win for the first time since 1995. The biggest question here will be the relationship between Harden and Russ. The chemistry they have from their time in OKC will be huge, but with both players so ball-dominant now, can they still coexist? This is shaping up to be one of the most entertaining NBA seasons of all time, and I can’t wait for tip-off. 


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Gafford Goes 20-10 in Bulls Comeback

The Chicago Bulls ended Summer League play yesterday with one final game against the Charlotte Hornets. Despite being down all the way through the third quarter, the Bulls came back to take the win, 75-72.


The win, and their general play throughout Summer League play, was powered by the impressive play of second round pick (#38 overall) Daniel Gafford. Gafford racked up 20 points and compiled 10 rebounds, giving him two 20-10+ lines in the four games he played. Overall, Gafford averaged 14 PPG. 9 RPG, and also provided nearly 3 blocks per game. He has set himself up to fill an important, and open, role for the Bulls in the backup center slot.


Rookie, and #7 overall pick, Coby White showed flashes of his immense potential as well, as he led the Bulls in scoring with 17 PPG. White showed a willingness to pull the trigger on open shots and run the floor at will, as his athleticism and playmaking ability were on full display. The Bulls should be very excited with what they have here, as all the tools are there for White to become a great point guard.


One of the other intriguing stories in the Summer League this year was second year wing, Chandler Hutchison. Hutchison struggled to maintain a rotation spot and looked, frankly, lost on the court at times. He showed flashes of his speed, athletic and defensive abilities, but wasn’t able to carve out enough playing time to show the kind of player he could be. He came into the Summer League needing to prove he was worth the first round pick the Bulls used on him last summer, and he certainly showed us why. Hutchison averaged 13.7 PPG, and despite a weak 29% shooting percentage, showed a willingness to make plays and take his own shots, areas where he looked either uncomfortable or timid at times last season. If he can translate this kind of production into the regular season, he could very well carve out a nice bench role for himself in 2019.


Overall, this Summer League looks to have been a success for the Bulls, as White and Gafford showed off immense potential, and players like Hutchison, Adam Mokoka and Justin Simon showed that their may be room, worst case in the G League, for them in this organization. 


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Del Valle Double Powers Bees

The Burlington Bees welcomed the Fort Wayne TinCaps to Community Field yesterday, June 10, and were able to pick up the “W", 4-1.


Luis Alvarado took the hill for Burlington, and looked quite impressive. He turned in six solid innings, allowing one earned run on three hits and a walk, while striking out two. The win brought his record to a respectable 4-5, and his ERA down to 2.66. Tyler Smith may have impressed the most on the mound for the Bees however, as his hitless two innings in relief of Alvarado were highlighted by four strikeouts. 


Offensively, two extra-base hits were enough for the Bees, as Justin Jones’ solo homer and Fransisco Del Valle’s two-RBI double provided three of the Bees’ four runs. The Bees and TinCaps will go at it again tonight from Community Field, with Hector Yan taking the mound for Burlington against Fort Wayne’s Omar Cruz. First pitch is set for 6:30 PM Central Time.


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WIU Golf Shines on the Course and in the Classroom

In the Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholars list released Monday, July 8, Western Illinois showed up not once, twice, but four times. Nicole Hamilton-Cross, Cassidy Jurkaites, Katie McTaggart and Mariah Peters were the names representing the Leathernecks, with Hamilton-Cross and Jurkaites becoming 3-time choices, and McTaggart and Peters becoming 2-time picks.


The minimum requirements to make the list is a 3.5 GPA, and the GPAs of the four Leathernecks ranged from 3.7 to 3.9. The four women are skilled golfers as well, with Jurkaites maintaining a team-best 81.36 per-18 hole stroke average. 


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Development on the Minds of Murphy, Chargers

Coming off a year with mixed results, the Illini West Chargers Golf team heads into 2019 looking to improve. Carrying another young roster, incremental developments in skill and match-to-match performance will define the season. Head Coach Christine Murphy is excited to see it play out.


“We have a young team, and look forward to seeing the improvement our golfers have made in the offseason,” Said Muprhy, “Our goal this year is to get better one match at a time and be in a position to advance our golfers to the postseason.”


Despite the overall youth in the team, the Chargers do bring back some experienced, talented golfers for 2019. Junior Jackson Murphy will be back this year following two straight seasons that saw him reach the IHSA Sectionals. In addition, sophomores Jadone Schreacke and Brady Robertson return after strong overall freshman seasons. These three will look to provide much of the future success for this group, as they all have multiple seasons remaining in the program.

Overall, it seems “Development” is the word best used to describe the Chargers’ outlook on the season. I’ve often heard the best way to improve in golf is to get on the course and play, and the more experience this young group gets on the course, the better the results will be. 


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Quad City River Bandits gets destroyed by the Burlington Bees  9-0 on Tuesday night. The Bandits had a rough time as they remained scoreless throughout the 9 innings. Burlington had their tremendous momentum since the start. During the bottom of the 1st, Jordyn Adams walks to first base as he outsmarted the pitcher. Next Kevin Maitan hits a fly ball to center fielder Ross Adolph, which cause Adams to steal 3rd base. Then Francisco Del Vallegoes went to bat and it to right fielder Jonathan Lacroix which caused Adams to score The Bees went up 1-0. 


Nonie Williams was up to bat while Maitan was on 3rd and Del Valle was on 1st. Willams walked the final three hitters he faced to force another run. Lastly Layne Henderson made his debut out the Bandits bullpen and allowed Connor Fitzsimons to hit a grand slam which increased the dap 8-0 before the end of the 1st. Justin Jones in the 2nd inning followed up by getting a run in after an RBI single up the middle.


 Towards the end of the 5th there was a weather delay because it rained. The delay lasted about 38 minutes. After the delay, the Bandits completely locked in as Henderson only allowed two more runs for the last 3 innings. Henderson struck out seven people, but it wasn't enough because the game was already out of their hands before the weather delay. The River Bandits will continue their series against the Burlington Bees Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. Their game will be hosted at home in the Quad Cities.



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Leathernecks Suffer Big Losses on WBB Staff


The college basketball coaching carousel can be a brutal one, especially at the mid-major level. That carousel has seen two WIU women’s assistant coaches, Sydney Crafton (Grand Canyon) and Seth Minter (Missouri State) leave for greener pastures. I spoke with WIU Athletic Director, Danielle Surprenant, about what these departures meant and what these two coaches meant to the program.


 “I think both of them did a tremendous job when they were here at Western,” Surprenant said, “I think for both of them you want to see them take that next step in their career path and I think both did a lot for the program while they were here.”


The two departures leave two huge large holes on the WIU coaching staff, as both Crafton and Minter contributed heavily to recruiting and game planning as two of head Coach J.D. Gravina’s top assistants. The difficult part now will be finding two coaches who fit the role of what Gravina and WIU are looking for in those positions.


“I think you see what you’re looking for and what the responsibilities hold,” Surprenant remarked, “And you see what the fit is both for the University and for the program and you match your needs to that.”


One thing is certain, there will be new faces now on WIU recruiting trips, which may affect how they go about the process. Minter especially played a huge role in recruiting, securing the signatures of several of the program’s top players over the last few years. He will leave big shoes to fill, but the challenge could bring out the best in the new hirees.


“I don’t think so at all, Coach Gravina does a great job with the program and he’s still here” Surprenant responded to a question of whether the losses will impact recruitment, “We’re working together to find that new staff that can come in here and take over.”


The impact of these two departures will be felt not only by players who worked with Crafton and Minter over the past four years, but also by Gravina himself. Gravina spent the better part of these years grooming these two for a jump up to a bigger job, and to see them take those steps has to be a bittersweet (albeit mostly sweet) feeling.


“He’s been very positive about it,” Surprenant said of Gravina’s reaction to the news of Minter’s and Crafton’s departures, “He wants the best for his staff, although those friendships form and you get set and comfortable within your staff, you always want what’s best for your people. He’s very happy for them and excited, and continues to work towards the future here.”


Though there will be two new faces strolling the sidelines next year for the Leathernecks next season, the expectation will still be for this team to continue the winning culture they’ve established over the last few years. A winning culture, which should be a welcome environment for anyone looking to join this program.



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West Prairie Ready to Return to Winning Ways


Just three years removed from a state championship season, the West Prairie Cyclones are beginning preparations for what should be a big season. Head Coach Teri Paul has built a solid winning culture for the Cyclones, and expects big things from this team.


“I’m very pleased with what I got to see out of our girls this past weekend,” Said Paul of her first summer experience with this team.


Expect a deep, versatile squad with players from every class, as they try to find girls who provide skill at a multitude of different positions.


“We look like we’re going to have eleven juniors and seniors, one sophomore, and fill in with three freshmen,” Paul said of her roster composition, “Last weekend we went with twelve girls and we played a lot of different lineups and were able to see a lot of different things.”


Paul will begin really ramping up the schedule for the Cyclones this weekend, as she has planned practices and training sessions all weekend for them. One new twist she has added to the summer program has her team feeling the heat.


“I think last week we spent a lot of time competing, now we’re getting back in the gym,” Paul said, “We were pretty sore, we’re doing a new weight program, but this week there is an emphasis on more training, picking things apart that we saw last weekend, what we need to do better.”


Coach Paul has also scheduled plenty of matches for the remainder of the summer, as she plans on taking the Cyclones to Rushville and Illini West in Varsity and JV split tournaments next weekend, followed by a July 4th weekend rest. Then, they will head to Lewistown for a four team tournament, and finish the summer off at the Lincoln Land Tournament. The season gets underway for the Cyclones on August 12th.


Part of the winning mentality of the Cyclones was born in that 2016 State title run, but all of those contributors have since graduated or moved on. It is now on the younger players, some of whom have experienced success at the lower levels, to step up and keep that mentality in place.


“Our juniors and seniors got fourth place as seventh and eighth graders at the State Tournament,” Said Paul, “But they haven’t really had that kind of winning situation since then, so they’re hungry. This group is ready, they have that frame of mind of what they need to do to be successful.”


Ball control will be a key, she went on to add, as the team projects to be on the smaller side this season. Aggression and focusing on minor details are two things Paul wants to focus on to make sure she gets the most out of each and every player. In any case, this season should be an exciting one in West Prairie. 


The original story, written by Scott Holland, can be found here: 


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Western Illinois University baseball team’s historic season ended today after a 9-5 loss to South Dakota State University in the first elimination game of the 2019 Summit League Tournament.


The No. 4 seeded Leathernecks jumped out to an early lead over the No. 2 ranked Jack Rabbits after scoring 2 runs in both the first and second innings. Deion Thompson was responsible for a pair of those runs after he hit a solo shot to left in the first inning and followed it up with a bases-loaded walk in the second inning to extend WIU’s lead to 4-0.


Leathernecks starter Jace Warkentien let up a run the next inning on a sacrifice-fly from SDSU’s Drew Beazley, but Warkentien locked in after that to hold the Jacks scoreless until the seventh inning. Beazley stepped up to the plate again for the Jacks to belt an RBI-double and spark a rally. Gus Steiger scored the next run for SDSU off a fielder’s choice and Braden Brown dealt the rest of the damage in the seventh inning with a two-out, RBI-single to tie the game at 4-4.


Western Illinois let the game slip from their grasp the very next inning. SDSU’s offense exploded to score 5 runs and put the Jacks comfortably ahead with a lead of 9-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. Drue Galassi then produced the last run of the Leathernecks season when he smashed an opposite-field home run to left field. That made the score 9-5 after the eighth inning, but the Leathernecks had only one more opportunity to possibly win the game and move on to the next round of the Summit League Tournament for a chance at the title.


Unfortunately, that dream for WIU couldn’t come true as SDSU shut down the Leathernecks bats in the last inning to steal the elimination game and move on to the next round. The Jack Rabbits will now play the winner from the matchup this Friday between top-seeded Omaha and 3rd ranked Oral Roberts.


WIU capped off 2019’s historic season with the most single-season wins (22) in 11 years, and the highest amount of Summit League wins in program history with 16.


“We did some things that have never happened. We beat Oral Roberts five times, won some really hard games on the road, two early series on the road, and that's all positive. It's always disappointing when you end the season; you're sad because you may or may not see your seniors again, and the makeup of the team will be different next year so you have to start all over again. That's college baseball, and there's not much time to dwell on it or feel sorry for yourself,” said WIU head coach Ryan Brownlee.


WIU starter Javin Drake also made history for the program in his last appearance against Omaha on Wednesday, when he struck out 4 batters to increase his record-breaking total to 109 K’s in a single-season.


(WIU Athletics credited with the quote. Visit their recap story here)


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The Macomb Bombers baseball team lost in their Regional Playoff matchup against Limestone yesterday 9-1.


The Bombers had a hard time containing the Rockets explosive offense. Limestone racked up 15 hits during the game. Macomb pitcher Ben Higgins was responsible for those hits and allowed 9 runs to score for Limestone, but he finished with 3 strikeouts in his last career game with the Bombers. 


Macomb’s offense finished the game with 7 hits. Tyler Bickers and John Ogle led the way with two hits each. Ogle scored the 1st run of the game in the first inning, but Macomb couldn’t hang on to their lead as Limestone’s offense quickly heated up. The Rockets scored 2 runs the second inning and never looked back as they produced 7 more runs over the next three innings.


Limestone effectively ended the game by shutting down Macomb’s offense for six scoreless innings and now the Rockets will advance to the Regional Championship against Dunlap this Saturday, May 25, 2019 at 12pm noon.


The Varsity Bombers baseball season sadly comes to an end, but the team finished this year with a positive record of 15-11. With a young core of promising players, Macomb should focus on developing their talent until next year to have another chance at a deeper post-season run. 


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The Western Illinois baseball team just finished up their first round matchup against Omaha in the Summit League Tournament. The Leathernecks lost 15-9. Western Illinois starting pitcher Javin Drake had a rough outing as he surrendered 10 earned runs and 9 hits to the Mavericks offense during 4.1 innings of work. 

However, Drake did secure 4 strikeouts, and one of those came in the 2nd inning to give him 107 for the year. That accomplishment made Javin Drake the all-time single season record holder in strikeouts for Western Illinois. He would then finish the game with two more strikeouts for a grand total of 109 K's on the year. 

WIU attempted to rally in the 9th inning after being down 15-2. The Leathernecks scored 7 runs in the inning to make things interesting, but the deficit ended up being too large for them to make a memorable comeback. Western Illinois catcher, CJ Schaeffer Jr., grounded out to the pitcher to end the game and WIU's hopes of making it through to the next round in the winners bracket.


WIU will now have to try and claw their way out of the losers bracket in the Summit League Tournament. They will play the loser from the tournament's other 1st-round matchup between Oral Roberts and South Dakota State tomorrow, May 23, 2019 at noon. You can tune into the livestream at



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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Summit League officials announced that the 2018-19 men's and women's golf academic all-league teams on Wednesday, which will recognize those student-athletes that excelled both on the course and in the classroom this season.



South Dakota State's Sydney Bormann (Human Biology, 4.00) is the only repeat honoree from last season's squad. She was a junior and maintained a perfect GPA. She posted a top-20 stroke average in the regular season and now owns a top-10 stroke average in SDSU history. Bormann is a two-time WGCA All-American Scholar.Denver's Mary Weinstein (Finance, 3.98) and Sophie Newlove () finished one-two, respectively, at the 2019 Summit League Championship. They also were on the all-academic team for the first time. Weinstein led the league with a 72.52 stroke average and broke a championship record with a final-round 65 (-7) which made the team title for the Pioneers. The Summit League Championship MVP was a 2018 WGCA All-American Scholar. Newlove (Finance, 3.61), the 2018 Championship MVP, recorded four top-10 finishes during her final collegiate season and has been a three-time WGCA All-American Scholar (2016-18). She was also the 2019 All-Summit League First Team performer after posting a 75.15 scoring average. Rounding out the women's team were North Dakota State's Taylor McCorkle (Marketing; 3.60) and South Dakota's Katie Bartlett (Nursing, 3.93). McCorkle won a pair of titles in the regular season, capturing the Lady Thunderbird Invite and Diane Thomason Invite. The sophomore was a 2018 WGCA All-American Scholar and earned second team all-league honors. Bartlett won the Creighton Classic and helped the Coyotes to a team title at the Loyola Fall Invitational. She owned a 78.0 stroke average during the season and was the Coyotes' representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.



On the men's side, there were three repeat honorees, headlined by Purdue Fort Wayne Zach Schroeder, who is just the second student-athlete to earn the accolade three-straight seasons since its inception in 2013. Schroeder (Finance, 3.56), has been a Summit League Academic Honor Roll each of the past three seasons and set the Mastodons' career scoring record at 74.25. He had a pair of top-10 finishes and broke the program's 36-hole scoring record at the Wright State Invitational. Joining Schroeder on the team once again were North Dakota State's Andrew Israelson (Finance, 3.72) and South Dakota's Scott Fudenberg (Finance; 3.87). As a junior, Israelson is already the Bison's career stroke average leader at 73.28 and he tied for first at the 2019 Summit League Championship in April with a 219 (+3) total.Fudenberg helped guide the Coyotes to a tie for second place at the 2019 Summit League Championship. He posted nine rounds under par and carried a 74.8 stroke average during the season. North Dakota's Jeremy Kirk (Chemistry, 3.91 GPA) and Omaha's Cole Christain (Business Administration, 3.96 GPA) were first-time honorees recognized Wednesday. Kirk competed was the Fighting Hawks' Male Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2017-18 and was a finalist this year. He owned a 77.7 stroke average in 14 rounds for the league newcomer. Christain, a Summit League Academic Honor Roll member a year ago, finished third on the team in scoring with a career-best stroke average of 75.8.



Student-athletes are nominated by their respective sports information directors (SIDs) and then voted on by a panel composed of faculty athletics representatives from each university and SIDs.

In order to be considered for the academic all-league golf team, a student-athlete: must have at least a 3.3 cumulative career grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale); must have completed at least one full academic year (two semesters, three quarters) at the current institution; and must have participated in 50 percent of their team's completed competitions.



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The Macomb Bombers Varsity softball team had a regional playoff matchup against the Peoria High Lions last night and Macomb emerged victorious with a 15-0 rout.


Macy Coker put on a stellar performance for the Bombers as she pitched 4 scoreless innings, struck out 8, and walked 0. Peoria produced only 1 hit in the game, while Macomb recorded 12 of their own.


The Bombers exploded to score five runs in the second inning. Grace Stufflebeam, Shelby Daniels, Genna McCamant, Katie Riggins, and Reagan Emerick each hit an RBI in the inning to open up the game for Macomb. The Bombers then comfortably depended on their pitching to finish with a 15-0 shutout over the High Lions. 


Macomb now moves on to the next round of Regionals where they must play Peoria Notre Dame. The matchup was originally scheduled for today, May 21, 2019 at 4:30pm, but the game has now been rescheduled another day until tomorrow, May 22, 2019 at 4:30pm. The playoff matchup will take place at a neutral site, Galesburg High School, if anyone wishes to make the trip and see how the Bombers perform in what could be their final game of the season.

(Original story via GameChanger Media. Find their article here)


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