4. Ottawa, Marquette football go 21-2
The Ottawa and Marquette football teams gave the city a magical ride this fall.
Both squads finished the regular season 9-0, won their respective conference titles and played host to three home playoff games this season.
In doing so, the squads also brought together an Ottawa community that grew to love and support both programs.
The Pirates won the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division and started the season 11-0. The comeback kids rallied for thrilling wins over DeKalb, Sterling and against Rock Island in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
In their first year in the Northeastern Athletic Conference, the Crusaders dominated as they rolled through the competition in the regular season and in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs to start 10-0.
Marquette fell to Forreston in overtime in the second round of the 1A playoffs to finish 10-1, while Ottawa’s season ended with a quarterfinal loss to eventual 6A state champion Crete-Monee to finish 11-1.
The Pirates also swept the NewsTribune football awards as senior running back Michael Hermosillo was named NT Offensive Football Player of the Year, junior defensive end Cyrano Rayfield was named NT Defensive Player of the Year and coach Trent Swords was named NT Coach of the Year.
5. Area has success, disappointment at state track and field
Bureau Valley’s Adam Weidner got the heavy lifting out of the way early at the Class 1A State Track and Field meet this spring.
The Storm strongman launched a top toss of 57 feet, 10 ¾-inches in the shot put during Thursday’s preliminaries and the throw held up through Saturday’s finals to give the BV big man a state title in the shot put.
The 2012 NewsTribune Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year also had his best discus preliminary throw of 154-1 ride through the finals to add a fourth-place state finish to his record-setting weightman career at Bureau Valley.
Weidner wasn’t the only Storm athlete to have an elite showing in Charleston. BV freshman Lindsey Hoffert made a big splash in her rookie campaign with a second-place finish in the long jump. The first-year Storm standout was a mere quarter of an inch away from a state title herself with a top effort of 17-8 in the long jump and also added a ninth-place finish in the 400 meters.
While Weidner finished his prep career atop the state medal podium, L-P senior and Northern Illinois University recruit Ellen Renk missed out on a chance to defend her indoor state titles in the triple and long jump after sustaining a hamstring injury at sectionals.
While Renk missed out on medal, a large contingent of area athletes ended their campaigns with state hardware in a strong 2012 track and field campaign.
Class 1A area boys medalists included BV’s Derrick Johnson (3rd 3,200) and Logan Hoffert (7th, 300 hurdles) and Marquette’s Luke Hill (4th, 3,200) and James Weissensel (6th, 1600). In Class 2A, Princeton’s James Dove soared to a fifth-place effort in the pole vault while L-P’s Logan Zeman was ninth in the high jump.
Hall’s Liz Mosbach picked up a pair of 1A state medals with fifth-place finishes in the 400 and long jump. Other 1A girls medalists included Marquette’s Anissa Razo (3rd, shot put), Cordy Murphy (6th, shot put) and Dani Aurit (8th, 1,600), BV’s Regan Weidner (3rd in 3200; 9th 1,600) and Natalie Swanson (9th, discus) as well as Fieldcrest’s Tessa Holland (6th, high jump).
6. DePue rallies to save boat races
A long, dry summer impacted many in the Illinois Valley, and by mid-July the summer’s drought had a major impact on the APBA PRO National Championship boat races in DePue.
With the lack of rain, the water levels of Lake DePue — the site of APBA PRO National Championships for nearly three decades — was nearly two feet lower than the minimum requirements needed to assure the safety of racers.
On July 11, DePue village president and the race’s publicity chairman Eric Bryant began working with state officials and government organizations to devise a plan to raise water levels and save the races.
The next day, an agreement was reached and the plan was given approval.
Work began instantly as a crew worked around the clock for days to install a temporary dam at the mouth of Lake DePue where it meets the Illinois River.
In addition, water from the Illinois River was pumped into the lake to help raise the lake’s water levels.
Nearly two weeks after fearing the races would be canceled, they went off as scheduled on July 27.
On that Friday, DePue native Paul Bosnich III won a national title in the 125cc Runabout to cap an emotional and exhausting few weeks.