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After having the best all-around athletic program of the NewsTribune’s 15 schools the past two years, L-P continued its dominance in the 2013-14 school year as the school blew away the competition to be named the NewsTribune Athletic Program of the Year for a third straight year.
“When I was first hired and met with the coaches, the students and the parents, we made it a goal to build a championship program,” L-P athletic director D’Wayne Bates said. “That started with a lot of components, including the philosophy of ‘Students first, winning will happen,’ and that has really been starting to transpire.
“When you put a bunch of different ingredients together — like relationships, academics, leadership and community service — you give yourself an opportunity to win, and in Year 2 I think our program has really taken off with that.”
In the 2013-14 school year, L-P averaged 4.42 points per its 19 sports to finish ahead of runner-up Marquette (3.82) and third-place Fieldcrest (3.67).
The 4.42 points per program is the highest total for any school in the award’s seven-year history.
“I have a theme on my own squad that we could have an individual champion and individual go to state, but it’s a lot more rewarding when a whole team qualifies for something, and likewise the same thing applies for the whole school with an award like this,” L-P cross country and girls track and field coach John Beatty said. “It’s great for one or two programs to do well, but when it’s the entire school doing well it’s something extra to be proud of.”
The NT Athletic Program of the Year award is determined by a mathematical formula that awards points for regular season and postseason success with the only influence by the NewsTribune coming in the awarding of the Player of the Year and Athlete of the Year distinctions. The other six categories are determined by the program’s themselves.
Teams are given points for the farthest category reached in the postseason scale and not cumulative points for each accomplishment obtained. For example, L-P’s volleyball team only received points for a state medal and not for winning a regional, a sectional and advancing to state.
Looking at the formula’s results, L-P won the award based on its success in sports often overlooked.
Compared to other local schools, L-P benefited from having its girls tennis, girls bowling, boys bowling and boys tennis teams advance to state, while it also picked up extra points when its girls cross country, volleyball, wrestling and girls track and field teams all earned state medals to go with Logan Zeman’s state title in boys track and field.
In all, L-P scored 78.6 percent of its points in the three categories.
“After we won this award last year, I showed the results to every team, every coach and every parent who came to our (preseason sports) meetings,” Bates said. “I told them, ‘Hey, we won Athletic Program of the Year and this is why we won it.’ Within each program I have coaches set goals, and this was one of our goals to be the best athletic program in the Illinois Valley.”
While L-P continued its reign, Marquette finished second in the standings for a second straight year. It benefited from running as Marquette earned 16 points in girls cross country and girls track and field, while its football, baseball and softball squads all finished with .800 wining percentages or 20-win seasons.
Fieldcrest placed third as it earned state medals in three sports, while Henry made the biggest leap as it went from 13th last year to fourth (3.50) this year. Mendota was fifth (3.22) despite earning an area-high seven Player of the Year or Athlete of the Year awards.
Rounding out the rankings were Putnam County in sixth (3.00), Princeton in seventh (1.82), Ottawa in eighth (1.75), Bureau Valley in ninth (1.73), Hall in 10th (1.72), St. Bede in 11th (1.24) and LaMoille in 12th (0.50).
DePue, Earlville and LaMoille did not have any points.
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