7. Information leaked about L-P football
On Aug. 31, the L-P football team was shaken to its core.
A week earlier in their season opener against Rock Island Alleman, the Cavaliers learned an anonymous person mailed packets of confidential information to L-P’s nine varsity football opponents.
The school received its first packet from Alleman on Aug. 30, and upon review, discovered a descriptive list of 22 L-P football players listed by name and position and included subjective information about their mental and physical strengths and weaknesses as well as confidential medical information, including specifics on past injures.
The next day on Aug. 31, the school called two emergency meetings for parents and players to inform them of the packets.
Four days later, Jake Burke — who was not rehired as an L-P assistant football coach and boys track and field coach in May — was placed on a paid administrative leave in connection to the incident. He later resigned as a teacher.
The incident garnered national media attention, including from the Chicago Tribune and from several national sports websites.
8. Weidner highlights area cross country
After a breakout All-State freshman campaign, Bureau Valley’s Regan Weidner had high expectations coming into this cross country season.
She exceeded them.
The Storm speedster made a late-race surge at the Class 1A IHSA State Meet to claim second place with a personal best time of 17:45, the best ever finish for a Bureau Valley girl at state.
The runner-up run capped off a strong season for the 2012 NewsTribune Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Weidner was the Rock Falls Regional champion, finished second at the Oregon Sectional and became the first ever BV girl to win the prestigious Bureau Valley Invitational.
Fieldcrest junior Maria Baldwin also earned a Class 1A medal with a 24th-place finish, while the Henry-Midland girls enjoyed their first-ever state team berth and finished 15th.
Luke Hill, 2012 NewsTribune Boys Runner of the Year, led the way among area boys harriers this fall as he claimed ninth-place in the 1A State Meet with a school record time of 15:07. Hill also won the St. Bede Regional and was second at the Oregon Sectional.
9. Area full of new ADs, coaches
One constant in 2012 was change.
The year saw unprecedented and wide-sweeping change among area schools as athletic directors and coaches resigned, were let go and were hired.
This year, the area had four new athletic directors and 31 new coaches coaching 32 sports.
In all, 15 of the new coaches coached fall sports, while 13 of the 14 NewsTribune-area schools hired at least one new varsity head coach.
Hall, Mendota and Princeton had an area-high four new head coaches, while Ottawa was the only school that didn’t hire a new coach for the 2012-13 school year.
10. Parkside volleyball repeats as champions
The Peru Parkside volleyball team’s Class of 2012 lost its first game of its seventh grade season.
But that group of Raiders never lost again.
Parkside rattled off 51 consecutive victories and the Class of 2012 capped a stellar two-year run with a second consecutive IESA state championship.
The Raiders defeated Pleasant Plains 25-19, 24-26, 25-15 in the IESA Class 3A title match on March 21.
Parkside had six different players finished with six or more service points, while Taylor Gibson, Abby Happ and Lauren Spelich all had multiple kills in the title match.
“They are a great group of girls,” Parkside coach Lynda Kasik said the night of the title match. “Probably the best I’ve ever seen in junior high and I’ve been coaching for a while now. … I’m proud of the girls. I’m glad we could do this for Parkside. I don’t know if we’ll ever repeat it.”
Honorable mention (in no particular order): St. Bede-Hall football rivalry renewed, Princeton soccer reaches Elite Eight, J.A. Happ gets traded to Toronto, Marquette baseball reaches Elite Eight, Putnam County softball plays in sectional title game with team of freshmen and sophomores, Fieldcrest boys basketball wins first-ever sectional, Hall girls basketball upsets St. Bede in regional final, Mendota girls soccer wins first-ever regional title, Three area bowlers finish in top 21 at state, Tom Bauer wins Illinois Valley Men’s Golf Championship.