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Local Sports Archives for 2016-08

WIU Football HC Charlie Fisher K100 Interview (8/30/16)

On Tuesday's K100 Morning Show, Sam Kuperman spoke with Charlie Fisher about the Leathernecks opening game at Eastern Illinois. This game marks Fisher's first at the helm of the program since taking over for former WIU Head Coach Bob Nielson in January.

 

Fisher called in to discuss a number of topics, including how the team has responded to learning a new system, reaching out to WIU Football Alums, his coaching roots, and what to expect in the opening game.

 

https://soundcloud.com/user-444526160/charlie-fisher-k100-interview-83016

 

Opening kickoff from Charleston is set for 6:00 PM Thursday. Coverage can be heard on 102.7FM.

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WIU Men's Golf Announces Fall Schedule

 Western Illinois head men's golf coach Mel Blasi announced the Leathernecks' 2016 fall schedule Tuesday, August 23. WIU is scheduled to compete in five different events in four different states throughout their fall campaign.

The Leathernecks open the season in Murray, Ky. with Murray State's MSU Invitational on Sept. 12-13 before heading to SIU-Edwardsville's SIUE Derek Dolenc Invitational in Edwardsville, Ill. on Sept. 26-27.

Western will then head to Overland Park, Kan. for UMKC's Bill Ross Intercollegiate on Oct. 3-4 before concluding the fall season at Northern Illinois on Oct. 9-10 and at New Mexico on 17-18. To view the complete schedule, visit goleathernecks.com. 

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Leatherneck Men's Basketball To Hold Informational Meeting

The Western Illinois men's basketball team has scheduled an informational meeting for students interested in the men's basketball program on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 7 a.m. The meeting will take place in the Hall of Fame room inside Western Hall.

Students will have the opportunity to learn more about the men's basketball program and requirements for participation on the team. In order to have the opportunity to participate, students must attend this meeting. Interested participants must also be enrolled full time at Western Illinois.

If you have any questions, regarding the informational meeting, please contact Josh Wolfe at jj-wolfe@wiu.edu.

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Monday's Area Scores; Tuesday's Area Schedule

Monday's Area Scores: 
 
High School Girls Golf
Macomb- 188, PORTA - 267
 
High School Boys Soccer
Rock Island- 7, Macomb- 0
 
High School Volleyball
Illini West- 2, Western High- 0 (25-23, 25-16)
Monmouth/Roseville- 2, West Hancock- 1 (17-25, 25-11, 25-22)
Camp Point Central- 2, Brown County- 0 (25-14, 25-21)
 
High School Boys Golf (Tuesday):
Sherrard @ Macomb (Macomb Country Club) - 4pm
Illini West, QND, Greenview & Rushville/Industry at Rushville - 4pm
 
High School Girls Golf (Tuesday):
Beardstown @ Macomb (Gold Hills Golf Course) - 4pm
Rushville/Industry girls golf visits Camp Point - 4pm
 

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Leatherneck Club Purple & Gold Auction Raises Over $50,000 For WIU Athletics

Thanks to the support of nearly 400 in attendance for the 27th annual Purple & Gold Auction on August 13, Western Illinois Athletics received a net profit in excess of $50,000.
 
Funds from the event will go to help sponsor various projects for student-athletes, including the Purple & Gold Auction scholarship.
 
"Another year of robust support from the campus and community at the Purple & Gold Auction helps sustain the continued development of student-athletes and program enhancements for all 19 varsity sports," said Director of Athletics Matt Tanney. "Raising over $50,000 in one evening is a great way for the Athletics Department to start a new academic year. We're greatly appreciative for the continued support."
 
The evening included a social, silent auction, and two $500 cash raffles. Sodexo catered the steak/chicken meal while the Lowderman Auction Company ran the live auction portion of the evening. Some of the more popular items purchased that night included: a 2008 Club Car golf cart, an autographed Ernie Banks Cubs jersey, two Colorado vacation packages, VIP trips with WIU Athletics, and a pheasant hunt for four in Wisconsin.
 
The student-athlete speeches were delivered by track/cross country's Alyssa Johnson and Conner Currier from baseball. Numerous people volunteered time to help make the event another success, led by co-chairs John Biernbaum and Jerry Cremer.
 
"This is always a special event for WIU Athletics, and this year was no different," said assistant director of athletics for development Michael Jones. "Thank you to all the people who volunteered, donated items, and attended this year's auction. I especially want to thank our co-chairs John Biernbaum and Jerry Cremer, along with the entire Purple & Gold Committee, for ensuring that this is still the social event of the year in Macomb."

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Macomb Boys Golf Hosts Gary Saunders Invite Saturday; Area Events On Tap For Monday

The Macomb High Boys golf team hosted the Gary Saunders Invitational at the Macomb Country Club on Saturday. Davenport (Assumption) won the 12 team event with a team score of 320, followed by Riverdale, Rock Island (Alleman), Bloomington & the host Bombers finished 5th. Riverdale's Tyler Bussert's 72 earned meet medalist honors, while Macomb's Nick Elting finished 3rd & the Bombers Blain Sutton was low Freshman.

 

Area events on tap for Monday: Busnhell/Prairie City & South Fulton cross country teams visit Farmington at 4pm, Macomb High Girls Golf is home with PORTA at Gold Hills at 4pm & Macomb Boys Soccer plays at Rock Island at 6pm. 

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Leatherneck Men's Basketball Announces Hiring Of Two Assistant Coaches

Western Illinois men's basketball head coach Billy Wright announced the hiring of Jestin Anderson and Joshua Jones to his coaching staff on Sunday (Aug. 21). Anderson was most recently an assistant at Quincy University for the past three seasons, while Jones was most recently an assistant at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. for the past two seasons.
 
Anderson was a part of every aspect of the program, including recruiting, scouting and player development while at Quincy. Prior to his time in Quincy, Anderson spent two seasons (2011-13) as an assistant coach at Pratt (Kan.) Community College and Lake Land College (Ill.) for three seasons (2008-11). In his final season at Lake Land, he helped the Lakers to a 20-13 record and a runner-up finish in NJCAA Region 24. It was the Lakers' first 20-win season in 10 years.

"I am extremely excited to be joining the Western Illinois staff. Coach Wright has done a great job using his all-in philosophy to build a foundation for success here at WIU. I look forward to building on that success moving forward," said Anderson.

Anderson began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Quincy when the Hawks advanced to the NCAA Tournament in his first season on staff and were ranked as high as No. 9 in the nation. His playing career consisted of exactly 100 games played in a Quincy Hawks uniform from 2002-06, helping QU to NCAA Tournaments in his final two seasons. The Hawks won the GLVC West in his senior season.

"Jestin brings a strong reputation as a tireless recruiter who is well respected and connected throughout the country. He is an Illinois native who comes highly recommended and has demonstrated the desire and work ethic necessary to be successful in this business," said Wright. "I'm excited to have him here assisting me and our program."

The DeKalb, Ill. native graduated from Quincy in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in management and earned his Master's in Business Administration from QU in 2008. 

Jones was a former NCAA Division I standout who helped lead the Blue Tigers to their most successful season in 15 years during the 2015-16 season. Lincoln won 16 games, went 12-2 at home and won its first postseason game since 1987. The Blue Tigers beat three teams who ended up qualifying for the NCAA Division II Central Regional and broke or tied eight single season records.

"I'm excited and humbled to be here at Western Illinois University under coach Wright, I'm a big time believer in coach Wright and his all-in philosophy," said Jones. "I'm really looking forward to continue building a great program that the community can be proud of."
 
One of the winningest players in Eastern Kentucky history, Jones spent the 2013-14 season as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. Jones, who is 19th on EKU's career scoring list with 1,192 points, started all four years, including all but two games during his final three seasons with the Colonels. As a player, Jones led Eastern Kentucky to 76 victories over four years.

"Josh was very successful as a high school player and had a great career at Eastern Kentucky University as well. He's been to the NCAA tournament as a player, has worked his way up the college ranks, and will be a tremendous asset to our players' development on and off the court. He is an "ALL-IN" guy who understands the work ethic needed to be successful in this business," said Wright.

In his only season as a graduate assistant, Jones helped guide the Colonels to an Ohio Valley Conference tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship tournament. 

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Leatherneck Women's Soccer Scores 3-1 Road Win At Chicago State

The Western Illinois women's soccer team defeated Chicago State 3-1 on the road for its first win of the season Sunday, Aug. 21. 

The Leathernecks (1-1) were able to set the pace of the match and take a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute, when Bianca Romay received a cross from Mary Streeton the right side of the field to find the back of the net.

Five minutes later,  Street scored from 24 yards out on the  left side of the field to give the Leathernecks a 2-0 lead over the Cougars. Just before halftime, Western increased its lead to 3-0 when Ashley Kuhlmann beat her defender one-on-one and shot the ball right past the keeper.

The Cougars scored in the 41st minute, heading into the break. Despite four total goals in the first half, the second half saw no scoring as the Leathernecks held on to their 3-0 lead for the first regular season win.

"We came out strong in the first half today with three goals as a result of hard work and good passing," said Director of Soccer Dr. Eric Johnson. "We also hit woodwork three times so we were clicking as a team going forward. The second half was not as strong and showed we need to more prepared to play these Friday through Sunday sets."

Western outshot the Cougars 23-6, including a 15-3 shots on goal advantage. The Purple and Gold also won the field possession, with five corner kicks. Defensively, Western did not let Chicago State record any corner kicks throughout the match.

"The backline is slowly coming together a as unit and our communication and marking has improved from last Friday," said Johnson. 

With the first regular season win under their belt, the Leathernecks will look for a two-game winning streak in a road match at Northern Illinois on Aug. 28. One week later, Western plays its first regular season home match against Milwaukee (Sept. 2). 

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Leatherneck Football Senior Kicker Knuffman Named To Fred Mitchell Award Watch List

Western Illinois senior placekicker Nathan Knuffman (Coatsburg/Camp Point Central) earned a spot as one of 27 selected for the Fred Mitchell Award Watch List. It marks the second straight year Knuffman began the year on the preseason list.
 
Knuffman enters his senior year having started every game of his career, 37 in all, and made an impact on the season and career 'Top 10' lists. He currently stands sixth all-time in field goals (25), fifth in extra points (102) and fifth in scoring (177).
 
His 11 field goals and 69 points in each of the last two seasons tie him for eighth and ninth, respectively, among the season 'Top 10' leaders. He has worked with: Be the Match bone marrow registration sign-up, Rocky's Reach, Muscular Dystrophy Association volunteer, and United Way volunteer.
 
"I continue to be encouraged by the quality of kickers on our 2016 preseason Watch List and we look forward to monitoring their progress on and off the field throughout the season. The winner of our annual award will be announced in December and the 'Top 10' finalists will be named All-Americans by our selection committee," said Mitchell. "The winner of our award does not necessarily have to be on the preseason Watch List."
 
The 27 kickers represent the FCS (12), Division II (9), Division III (4) and NAIA (2). In all, the institutions represented by the kicker cover 19 different states.
 
"The continued success and exposure of previous Fred Mitchell Award recipients is having a positive effect on the sports and the community by leading more athletes to give of themselves. It's a pleasure to recognize kickers that were nominated by their schools for terrific performance during their 2015 season, many of whom were instrumental in their team's playoff push," said Award Selection Committee Chairman Rob Perry.

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Leatherneck Volleyball Will Hold Purple & White Scrimmage

Leatherneck fans will have a chance to preview Western Illinois volleyball before the start of the regular season on Aug. 21, as the team will hold a Purple and White Scrimmage. The scrimmage, which is free and open to the public, takes place inside Western Hall at 4 p.m. Fans will get a chance to see the entire 2016 roster, including nine newcomers to the program.
 
Kelly Richardson, who begins her second year at the helm of the program, returns 10 players from last season's roster (four starters) and welcomes nine newcomers.
 
The roster includes two seniors in Kaili Simmons and Krishna Merriman, and one junior transfer, Shalyn Greenhaw. The 2016 squad also features seven sophomores in Shiah SandersAbby SkrydKate HickeyMelanie PatenaudeMorgyn BullockLexi Kolschefski and Emilee Dechant, along with redshirt freshman Shaela Gray. Newcomers for the upcoming season include: Aleezah WashingtonJenna BryanKayla GreslMackenzie StecklerRiley Schumacher,Makenzie BouseHannah Walker and Claire Grove.
 
Western opens the regular season on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26-27, at the Milwaukee Panther Pepsi Invitational. The Purple and Gold open play on Friday against Akron and Bradley, before concluding tournament play against Milwaukee on Saturday.

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Leatherneck Softball Announces Fall Schedule

Western Illinois softball head coach Holly Van Vlymen announced the Leathernecks' 2016 fall schedule on Wednesday (Aug. 17). WIU is slated to play eight contests in front of a home crowd.
 
Van Vlymen enters her 12th season at the helm of the Fighting Leatherneck softball program after earning the highest regular season Summit League finish in six years during the 2016 season. Western returns eight starters and 13 letterwinners from last season in addition to five newcomers.
 
The Purple and Gold open the fall campaign with a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Illinois Central College on Sept. 24. The following day, (Sept. 25) Western welcomes Illinois Springfield to town for a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
 
On Oct. 1, the Leathernecks play Quincy at 11 a.m. followed by a matchup against Kirkwood Community College at 1 p.m. Quincy and Kirkwood then face off at 3 p.m. WIU wraps up the fall season on Oct. 2 with a doubleheader against Spoon River Community College.
 

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Nominate Your Son Or Daughter To Become The Rocky's Kid Captain

The 2016 Western Illinois Football team opens its home schedule on Sept. 10 and nominations are being accepted for the Rocky's Kid Captain of the game.
 
Only parents and legal guardians are eligible to nominate a child, ages 12 and under, to become the Kid Captain. The Rocky's Kid Captain is a partnership between Western Illinois Athletics and the McDonough District Hospital.
 
The lucky Rocky's Kid Captain chosen for the game will be the honored guest during the Leatherneck Football game, receive six game tickets and a parking pass, and a special Leatherneck apparel item.
 
To nominate your child for a chance to become Rocky's Kid Captain, email Karissa Kouchis at km-kouchis@wiu.edu or call (309) 298-1190.

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WIU Track & Field/Cross Country To Hold Informational Meeting; Tryouts

The Western Illinois cross country and track and field programs has scheduled an informational meeting and tryouts for prospective student-athletes. The meeting will take place on August 24 at 7 p.m. in Waggoner Hall room 003. Tryouts are slated for the following week on September 1 at 3:30 p.m. at Hanson Field. Current track and field student-athletes are expected to attend the meeting as well.
 
Students will have the opportunity to learn more about the cross country and track and field programs and requirements for participation. Expectations, team policies and goals will also be discussed.
 
In order to participate in the tryout, the prospective athlete must be enrolled full-time at WIU, a campus physical exam must be completed and student-athlete medical paperwork must be filed.

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Leatherneck Football Kicks-Off Final Week Of Fall Camp

Consistency was the main point of emphasis for head coach Charlie Fisher as Western Illinois worked though its final two-a-day football practice on Monday (Aug. 15).
 
Returning to action for the final scheduled double practice this fall, Fisher and his staff began inserting the redzone schemes during the morning's two hour practice in full pads and evening practice in shells only that lasted just over an hour.
 
During the 2015 season, Western ranked third in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and 23rd nationally scoring at an 85 percent clip inside the redzone. The defense ranked among the 'Top 50' holding opponents to 76.4 success rate inside the 20-yard line.
 
Fisher noted that executing better on a consistent basis – especially in the redzone - will help the Leathernecks become a better team.
 
"We inserted redzone today. We were much sharper this morning offensively and I thought we kept our energy level pretty good, particularly defensively. We just need to execute better, especially tonight. We weren't on point enough, not getting the ball to the right guy, a little bit of pressure and blitzing mixed in there makes it tougher. We've got to execute better in the redzone on a consistent basis," said the first year head coach.
 
Western scored 34 times in 40 trips to the redzone, including 27 touchdowns, during the 2015 season. The Leathernecks pounded the football to the goal line, scoring 19 rushing touchdowns and throwing eight more TDs.
 
"It's the second of the 2-a-days so we took the lowers (pads) off and work on some fundamentals in 7-on-7, team and redzone emphasis. It's just different down in the redzone area. The windows are tighter, everything is going to happen quicker. We just have to be more on point on a consistent basis," said Fisher. "This morning we were pretty good, caught the ball pretty good, but we'll be all right just have to keep working. This was the second practice of redzone, we will go back after it tomorrow. We'll keep emphasizing that area and keep working hard to get better."
 
 
FRESHMEN ON THE ROSTER: As the end of fall camp approaches, the coaching staff will be making a final decision on who will play immediately and who will sit out the year to work on becoming bigger, faster and stronger.
 
Fisher and his coaching staff had little time to build the 2016 recruiting class. He was officially hired a month before Signing Day and many of his staff was brought on board in the couple of weeks after.
 
A total of 21 players joined Western at the start of camp, and head coach Charlie Fisher gave his thoughts on how many he'd like to see sit out the 2016 season.
 
"If you could you'd like to redshirt them all but that's not going to happen. We have some freshmen that are really accelerating along and got to help us. I don't think it'll be near the whole class but my goal is to always redshirt as many of them as I can, but at the same time we will never sacrifice the team and the team from being able to perform at its highest level without playing our best players. We've got some freshmen who are going to help us."
 
 
FALL CAMP SCHEDULE:
Tuesday, August 16 – 2:30 pm
Wednesday, August 17 – 4 pm
Thursday, August 18 – 6 pm
Friday, August 19 – 4 pm

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Leatherneck Baseball's Mortillaro Signs Free Agent Deal With Dodgers

Western Illinois pitcher Joe Mortillaro (Middle Village, N.Y./Christ the King) will continue his baseball career as the right-hander signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
 
He reported to the Ogden Raptors, the Rookie League affiliate in the Pioneer League. Mortillaro becomes the second Western Illinois pitcher to sign a professional contract this summer, joining Jordan Pannell.
 
"When I went undrafted this past season I was disappointed. I didn't have a great year so I was realistic about it and knew that I had to get better. I decided not to play summer ball and to go home and coach my local summer team. I continued to throw and work out daily. I worked hard all summer because I had confidence in my talents," said Mortillaro. "I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity with the Dodgers. This is something that I've wanted since I started playing baseball when I was little. It's a dream come true and now the next part of this journey begins.
 
"I have the best support system that anyone could ask for, including my mom, coaches and great friends and ex-teammates that I still keep in contact with and always will," stated Mortillaro. "I'm proud to tell my new professional teammates where I came from and where I went to school. I'm proud to be a New Yorker and to call myself a Leatherneck and graduate from WIU."
 
A two-year letterwinner for the Leathernecks, Mortillaro started 11 times in his 12 appearances last season. He posted a 2-6 record in 52.2 innings pitched, leading the team with 48 strikeouts.
 
Mortillaro recorded wins in consecutive games this year, throwing six shutout innings of 3-hit ball with a career-high 11 strikeouts against South Dakota State. He was named The Summit League 'Pitcher of the Week' following his performance. His next time out at Omaha he allowed two runs on two hits in 7.1 innings.
 
"You always want your players to reach their goals. Joe's first one was to get his degree and second was to get the opportunity to play professional baseball," said Western Illinois head coach Ryan Brownlee. "It was disappointing for Joe to not get drafted this spring, but his finger being banged up didn't allow that to happen. To his credit, he kept working this summer and stayed ready for the opportunity. I am excited to see what Joe does with his chance."
 
In his two years, Mortillaro made 24 starts in 27 appearances, going 5-11 with a 5.84 ERA. He struck out 104 batters in 123.1 innings pitched, and made only one error in his two-year career.

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Leatherneck Soccer Exhibition: Men Win Sunday, Women Fall Saturday

The Western Illinois Men's Soccer team scored a 2-1 exhibition win over DePaul Sunday at John McKenzie Alumni Field in Macomb. Aziz Tahir tallied both goals in the win for the Leathernecks. Western Men's Soccer will host their second exhibition match this Saturday against Quincy University at 5pm.
 
Leatherneck Women's Soccer lost an exhibition at UMKC on Saturday, 3-0. The Western Women's Soccer team is back in exhibition play tonight, when they visit William Penn in Oskaloosa, Iowa at 6pm. The regular season begins for Leatherneck Women's Soccer at Indiana State this Friday at 7pm! 
 

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WIU Senior Men's Basketball Player Covington Named Summit League & NCAA SAAC President

Western Illinois men's basketball senior guard Garret Covington will be even busier than in years past this coming academic year as he will serve as The Summit League's representative on the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and be The Summit League's SAAC President.

"I am truly honored to be a representative of the National Division I SAAC and the SAAC President for The Summit League," said Covington. "Our meetings with the DI SAAC representatives has helped me prepare to make WIU's SAAC and The Summit League's SAAC better."
 
On top of his added responsibilities, the Edwardsville, Ill. native is also a member of WIU's SAAC and Student Government Association. Covington also represented The Summit League in the NCAA's Leadership Forum this past spring.

"This is a tremendous honor for Garret, Western Illinois University, and our men's basketball program. Garret has done a great job living up to our 'ALL IN' philosophy," said head coach Billy Wright. "He excels in the classroom, on the court, and throughout the community. I am thrilled that Garret has embraced the role of a leader, not only for our basketball team, but for all student-athletes throughout the Summit League and the country."
 
Covington was elected as president at the Summit League's during the annual SAAC meetings on July 22-24, which was held at the league office in Elmhurst, Ill. The committee's responsibilities include leading the league SAAC meetings along with overseeing the execution of the year's SAAC agenda.
 
"Garret has proven himself as a leader on and off the court during his time on campus. We have full confidence in his representation of Western Illinois University and the Summit League through the National Division I SAAC, which will benefit from his input on national issues that require thoughtful, reflective feedback from student-athletes," said Director of Athletics Matt Tanney.
 
The 6-foot-5 guard has been named second team All-Summit League each of the last three seasons along with being named league Newcomer of the Year after his freshman season. In 2015-16, he led his team in scoring, averaging 17.9 points a game.

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McDonough CATS Softball To Hold Try-Outs

The McDonough CATS softball will hold try-outs this month at Veterans Park in Macomb. This Sunday, August 14th, tryouts for the 10U & 12U teams will be from 4-6pm and from 6-8pm for the 14U & 16U teams.  An additional tryout will be held the following Sunday, August 21st, with the 14U & 16U teams going from 4-6pm & the 10U & 12U teams trying out from 6-8pm.
 
All interested are asked to arrive 30 minutes before the tryout and to bring your own equipment (cletes, glove, helmet, bat). Some catching gear will be provided, but if you have your own, please bring it. Attending both try-outs is not necessary, but players must attend at least one. If you can't make either tryout or to preregister, call Jenn at (309)255-7208. 
 

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Leatherneck Men's Soccer Begins Fall Practice

The Western Illinois men's soccer team officially began fall camp Aug. 10 in preparation for the 2016 regular season. Dr. Eric Johnson, the Director of Soccer, enters his 20th season at the helm of the men's program and goes into the season with 200 career wins. His team plans to utilize two-a-day practices in preparation for the upcoming season.

"The morning sessions with the fitness test always gives us an idea on where to start from," said Johnson. "Then coming back for more practice helps the new guys get the terminology down and get us in preparation for the next two exhibition games."

The men's program returns eight starts, along with 17 overall players from last season. There will be 11 new faces for Dr. Eric Johnson's team, which includes four freshmen and seven transfers.

"We have two new goalkeepers and a lot of new players that need to get on the same page in terms of language and vocabulary, so we can build from there," said Johnson. "We first want the new guys get to in some sort of comfort level in their role, and its incumbent on the returners to bring them into that. That's what the preseason is about. The second part is them getting used to the way I coach and what I expect."

"The day you stop learning new things as a coach is the day you take a dive in coaching. The game is pretty much the same, but every year there's new ways of teaching, new ways of communicating and getting people to see the same thing you see."

Western also returns its top three leaders for overall points last season in Drew WhalenFernando Pacheco and Jacob Bevan.

The 2016 schedule features two home exhibition matches at John Mackenzie Alumni Field against DePaul (Aug. 14) and Quincy (Aug. 20) before opening the regular season against Belmont in Nashville, Tenn. on Aug. 26. 

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WIU Women's Soccer Falls To Valparaiso In Exhibition

The Western Illinois women's soccer team dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting Valparaiso Crusaders Tuesday, Aug. 9 at John Mackenzie Alumni Field.

The Leathernecks found themselves in an 0-2 deficit early in the match after Valparaiso goals in the fifth and ninth minutes of the contest. 

"Valparaiso was very good today and they were better on the ball today and broke us down in the middle, so that's something we have to work on," said Western Illinois Director of Soccer Dr. Eric Johnson. "Our main focus is that we want opponents to play around us, not through us, so we've got to do a better job of pressing and tightening up the spaces behind our pressing players."

Western then found itself down 3-0 in the 29th minute when Valparaiso's Tahelah Noel scored on an assist by Adi Johnson. WIU was able to get on the board in the 31st minute, when Alanna Lalich intercepted a defender's pass and lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper for the team's first goal.

A handball inside the box resulted in a penalty kick for the Crusaders, which increased their lead at 4-1 in the 40th minute.

The Leathernecks found the back of the net once again in the second half, with Madeline Edwards lining a shot from just past midfield that soared over the keeper's hands in the 63rd minute.

"We were definitely more composed and better in the second half, and we did a better job of moving the ball," said Johnson. "We've just got to improve, but without this exhibition, we wouldn't know what to improve on, so this gives us an idea to know where we are at. We got a lot of players in, so we can evaluate and come up with a solid lineup in the next two games."

The Leathernecks were not able to dwindle Valparaiso's lead in the remaining minutes.

"I was pleased about some things and not pleased about others, but we scored two goals and I think that our underclassmen played very well today," said Johnson. "They did well and they are going to help us play some girls in different positions. I thought that our goal was to win the second half, and we did. There's nothing we could do about the first half, but in the second half, we were able to score a goal and shut them down. That was good for us and I think that is a positive we can look at."

Valparaiso out-shot the Leathernecks 11-3 on goal in the first half, while both teams recorded six apiece in the second half.

Next up for Western are a pair of road exhibition matches at Kansas City (Aug. 13) and William Penn (Aug. 15), before officially beginning the regular season with an Aug. 19 road meeting with Indiana State. The first regular season home match will take place on Friday, Sept. 2 against Milwaukee. 

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Leatherneck Volleyball Begins Fall Practice

With the season opener on the horizon, the Western Illinois volleyball team opened fall camp under second year head coach Kelly Richardson on Tuesday, August 9, after officially reporting to campus.
 
"We're very excited to get going with this group. They have a lot of energy and they're ready to get on the court and get to work," said Richardson. "We have a lot of new faces, so we have a lot to prepare for and get ready for in the next few weeks. Our energy level is good, this group is focused and ready to go so it should be a good preseason."
 
The Leathernecks will practice three times a day to open camp in order to continue working on technique through scrimmages and drills before moving to two-a-days.
 
"We have a lot of technical stuff to get through, so we anticipate using the first couple of days to get the three practices in so we can get a lot of things broken down. Hopefully, we'll see the improvement quick so we can get that number down a little bit," added Richardson. "Mentally, they are going to have to be really dialed in to be able to get through that, but in the long run it will help condition us for making it all the way through a season. It will help us get prepped for season better."
 
The squad returns 10 players (four starters) and welcomes nine newcomers to this year's roster. Western opens the 2016 campaign on August 26 against Akron and Bradley at the Milwaukee Pepsi Panther Invitational.

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Western Illinois Women's Soccer Hosts Valparaiso In Tuesday Exhibition

The Western Illinois women's soccer team will host an exhibition match vs. Valparaiso this afternoon. The Leathernecks & Crusaders meet at 5 o'clock today from John McKenzie Alumni Field, admission is free. Leatherneck women's soccer will also have exhitbitions at UMKC on Saturday, August 13th and at William Penn on Monday, August 15th.

 

The regular season kicks-off on Friday, August 19th when the Leathernecks visit Indiana State at 7pm. The first regular season home match for Western Women's Soccer is Friday, September 2nd vs. Milwaukee. 

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McDonough C.A.T.S. Softball Finishes Second At Nationals

The McDonough C.A.T.S. 10-U softball team took part in the national tournament in Rochester, MN. last weekend & the C.A.T.S. came home with a 2nd place national finish! The girls played a total of eight games in three days against teams from Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota & Wyoming. The C.A.T.S. fell in the title game 1-0 to Team Impact from Wisconsin and finish with an overall record of 49-13. Congrats to the McDonough C.A.T.S. 10-U team on a great season! 

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Leatherneck Women's Basketball Inks Sammie Woodward

Head women's basketball coach JD Gravina announced the signing of Sammie Woodward, who will join the Leathernecks for the upcoming 2016-17 season as a freshman after transferring from New Mexico.

"We are extremely excited to bring Sammie in as a late addition to our squad," said Gravina. "She is someone we recruited incredibly hard and felt that she was a perfect fit to our program athletically and academically. She is a strong natural leader and her work ethic is off the charts."

At Prairie High School in Racine, Wis., Woodward averaged 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a junior, and 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game as a senior. During her senior year, the 5-foot-7 point guard earned the unanimous coaches' selection of Racine County Player of the Year, and tabbed First Team All-Conference and All-State Honorable Mention. 

Out of high school, she was ranked No. 59 in the country for point guards on ESPNW and No. 227 overall. She also topped out with 90 rating on ESPNW and a 3-star recruit. Woodward also played on the Wisconsin Lakers club team.

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Leatherneck Football Kicks Off Fall Practice Wednesday

Western Illinois returned to the football practice field for the first time since late April, the Leathernecks and head coach Charlie Fisher went through a two hour practice on Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 3).

 

The first year head coach noted that day one was much of what was expected as 95 student-athletes reported for fall camp the day before.

 

“It was a typical first day. First off, you have a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and the guys are looking forward to get going. But it was a typical first day that was sloppy in spurts and good at times, so organizationally we just need to get better,” said Fisher. “We need to be smoother and more polished, but the effort and competitiveness is there. Those are good things you want to see in your team… You always have to get back into the flow of practice and in the flow of seeing things 11-on-11 and playing football. In the summer, it’s a little bit different, but I saw a whole lot of good things that we can continue to build on. But it's day one and we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”

 

During the first days of camp, Western will take to the practice fields and the natural grass turf.

 

“I love it. I’m a natural grass guy and we’re going to be out here as much as we can, but we also have to remember that we play on turf, so there’s going to have to be days when we’re over there (at Hanson Field). But early in camp, we want to take advantage of these fields. The school did a great job of taking care of the fields, especially when the (St. Louis) Rams were here, so we’re going to use them and it’s good on the heat for our players.”

 

Western will have another day of no pads, then practice two consecutive days with shoulder pads only. The team is scheduled to practice later in the afternoon those days.

 

Tomorrow’s (Thursday) practice will be very similar. It will be the same thing where we work on different situations here and specific things with certain players. We want a high tempo and want to be polished in the transition from drill-to-drill and from team period-to-team period.”

 

 

ROSTER MOVE: Senior defensive lineman Jean-Marc Charles will forego his senior year due to an injury. He sat out the 2015 season due to injuries as well. Charles, who played as a true-freshman, will stay affiliated with the program this season. In 23 career games, he recorded 22 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks, recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass. Charles recently finished his requirements for a bachelor’s degree in exercise science.

 

THREE NEW TRANSFERS: Western also welcomed three more transfers during the summer, two from the FBS level… Junior defensive back Alex Olivas recorded three interceptions last year at Chaffey College in California. He made 28 tackles and broke up five passes… Junior quarterback Cameron Birse was a three-year member of the Arkansas State program. He played in nine career games, including eight last season. Birse completed 4-of-4 passes for 37 yards in his career… Sophomore tight end Joe Turk saw action in nine games as a true-freshman at UCF. He saw action mainly on special teams.

 

OTHER ROSTER NOTES: Senior wide receiver J’Vaughn Williams moved from number 15 to #11... Defensive lineman Matt Costenson-Segura moved to number 92… Freshman Darron Wheeler started fall camp at defensive back… A total of 21 true-freshman worked through their first Division I football practice. On the flip side, the Leathernecks have a total of 12 seniors participating in fall camp.

 

TICKETS ON SALE: Tickets for the five home games are on sale. Fans can purchase tickets by calling (309) 298-1190 or online at www.GoLeathernecks.com. The preseason 16th-ranked Leathernecks open the season on September 1 at Eastern Illinois. The home opener versus Northern Arizona is set for September 10 at 3 p.m.

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Leatherneck Football Places Three On All-Missouri Valley Football Conference Preseason Team

 Western Illinois landed three players on the Preseason All-Missouri Valley Football Conference team, as announced by the conference office on Tuesday (Aug. 2) morning.
 
Junior linebacker Brett Taylor (Macomb/Macomb), senior wide receiver Lance Lenoir, Jr. (Crete/Crete Monee) and junior offensive lineman Jacob Judd(Clinton, IA/Clinton) were chosen to the preseason team.
 
In the preseason MVFC poll, Western (with 17 returning starters) was picked to finish sixth among the 10 teams in a vote by the league's head coaches, select media members and sports information directors. All three Leathernecks were Second Team All-MVFC selections following the 2015 season.
 
Lenoir currently sits as the Leathernecks' all-time leading receiver in catches (197), yards (2,703) and tied for touchdowns (21). He's looking to make a run at the MVFC all-time records in each category, needing: 53 receptions, 1,173 yards and 20 touchdowns to match all three career marks.
 
Last year he set WIU season records with 83 receptions, 1,184 yards and five 100-yard receiving games (tied). He's currently riding a 30-game streak with at least one reception in a game, just three shy of tying the all-time record.
 
One of the top defensive players in the MVFC as a sophomore (third in the 'Defensive Player of the Year' voting), Taylor led the Leathernecks with 144 tackles (60 more than the next closest) and scored two touchdowns – interception and fumble return. He tied the WIU season record and shared the national lead with four fumble recoveries.
 
He recorded 10.5 tackles for a loss and two interceptions to help Western qualify for the FCS Playoffs for the 10th time in program history, tying for third in the MVFC at 5-3 (7-6 overall). Among the national leaders Taylor ranked 12th in tackles (11.1) and 15th solo tackles per game (6.2).
 
Judd started all 13 games at center, and helped an offensive unit record the fifth-most total yards in program history (5,119) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Nikko Watson). Twice during the 2015 season he was named MVFC 'Offensive Lineman of the Week'. Western ranked 22nd nationally in redzone offense, 28th in tackles for a loss allowed and 32nd in sacks allowed.
 
After finishing in a tie for third last year, Western received 176 points to finish sixth in the preseason poll. North Dakota State received 37 of the 39 first-place votes for 388 points. Northern Iowa received the other two votes for first place, tallying 343 points. South Dakota State (284), Illinois State (274) and Youngstown State (254) rounded out the top five.
 
South Dakota (146), Southern Illinois (124), Indiana State (115) and Missouri State (41) rounded out the poll.
 
The Leathernecks begin practice on Wednesday, August 3, at 4:15 p.m. Tickets for the five home games are on sale. Fans can purchase tickets by calling (309) 298-1190 or online at www.GoLeathernecks.com. The preseason 16th-ranked Leathernecks open the season on September 1 at Eastern Illinois. The home opener versus Northern Arizona is set for September 10 at 3 p.m.

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Leatherneck Football's Brett Taylor Named Preseason All-American

Western Illinois junior linebacker Brett Taylor (Macomb/Macomb) earned a spot on the STATS Preseason All-American team. Taylor, an All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection last fall, earned a spot on the Third Team Preseason team.

 

One of the top defensive players in the MVFC as a sophomore (third in the ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ voting), Taylor led the Leathernecks with 144 tackles (60 more than the next closest) and scored two touchdowns – interception and fumble return. He tied the WIU season record and shared the national lead with four fumble recoveries.

 

He recorded 10.5 tackles for a loss and two interceptions to help Western qualify for the FCS Playoffs for the 10th time in program history, tying for third in the MVFC at 5-3 (7-6 overall).

 

Among the national leaders Taylor ranked 12th in tackles (11.1) and 15th solo tackles per game (6.2). 

Taylor and the Leathernecks begin practice on Wedensday, August 3, at 4:15 p.m. Tickets for the five home games are on sale. Fans can purchase tickets by calling (309) 298-1190 or online atwww.GoLeathernecks.com. The preseason 16th-ranked Leathernecks open the season on September 1 at Eastern Illinois. The home opener versus Northern Arizona is set for September 10 at 3 p.m.

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Macomb Junior/Senior High School Students Must Submit Activity Fee & Have Current Physical On File

A reminder from the Macomb Junior/Senior High School Athletic Department. The $40 activity fee must be paid and a current athletic physical must be on file before all Macomb student-athletes are allowed to practice. Macomb HS football will begin practice on Monday, August 8th. Other MHS fall sports practices (Co-Ed Cross Country, HS Boys & Girls Golf and HS Boys Soccer) will begin on Wednesday, August 10th with HS Girls Swimming TBA. Macomb Jr. High Co-Ed Cross Country practice begins on Thursday, August 4th, Macomb Jr. High Football practice stars on Thursday, August 18th & MJHS Girls Basketball practice is set to begin on Monday, August 29th. 

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