QUESTION: What will be the biggest local sports story for 2013?
BEN MARTH, WGEM Sports Director
Bye bye, 2012.
A new year brings heightened anticipation for the next 1,000-point scorer, record-breaking performance, and all-state selection.
But, us media types anyway, always measure a successful calendar year by how many state champions were crowned. With that, it’s time to speculate what the next 12 months might bring.
The winter should provide plenty of opportunity for statewide glory. First, and foremost, in girls basketball with QND and Central Lee. Don’t forget about wrestling – from Quincy High’s Dakota Downs to Pittsfield’s Zach Abney (right), and a handful of star grapplers at Hannibal and Keokuk – this is shaping up to be another spectacular campaign on the mats.
The spring offers plenty of intrigue as well with QND’s hopes of earning its second straight, and third in the last four years, state title in girls soccer. That’s the known. The unknown is who will step up (see: 2012 Payson softball) in baseball, softball, and track and field to try and chase down postseason hardware.
The fall paints a little bit more of a cloudy picture. But I’ll predict the South Shelby football team hoists the Class 1 state championship on Thanksgiving weekend.
DYLAN AUSTIN, WGEM Weekend Sports Anchor
Looking ahead to 2013, I’m interested to see if Western Illinois University athletics can continue to rise like we saw this past year.
From men’s basketball doing a complete 180, to JD Gravina breathing life into the women’s hoops program, and a new football coach taking the reigns, this is a very exciting time for Leatherneck sports.
It should also be fun to watch the rest of men’s basketball across our region this year. I can’t remember a time where Culver, John Wood, QU, WIU, etc. were all so viable. First time for everything.
JOSH HOUCHINS, WGEM SportsCenter Host
I’d feel way too much like a politician by working “change” into a slogan for the 2013 local Illinois football scene, but “Change In ’13 Is A Change We Can Enjoy!” Not good? Anyway…
We start with the biggest merger and that being the Western Big Six and the Mid-States 6 becoming The Mid-West 10 Football Conference (like many, I keep forgetting the new name and had to ask Coach Little … again). Not only does it provide a solid year-by-year schedule for the Blue Devils, it also gives us another angle of the QHS-Peoria Central rivalry carried over from the basketball court. Or even all the Peoria schools for that matter! This new conference has me pumped.
Then, of course, watching as each team treats its first game against QND as its biggest of the year will be a blast. The West Central Conference changes every year, but we do know it will be mostly area schools this time around. All I know is that closer-to-home games for QND against the likes of Illini West and Macomb should add even bigger regular season games for fans to enjoy.