Illinois Public Media News
Police in Champaign and Urbana are preparing for more than nine thousand runners, many of whom will take a 26 mile tour around the two cities Saturday morning.
The first-ever Illinois Marathon will require patience from drivers as runners hit the city streets. Champaign police sergeant Scott Friedlein says on many parts of the course runners and vehicles will share the roads, so motorists will have to take extra precautions or find alternate routes.
"When you mix runners and traffic, you run a risk of situations occurring," Friedlein said. "The better we do at marking and making it very clear where people are supposed to be -- and we're working on that diligently on that as we speak -- then the safer the route becomes."
Friedlein says some streets will also be totally closed at times, and no-parking signs are going up along the marathon routes in both Champaign and Urbana. He calls it the largest event he's ever had to prepare for in his 15 years on the force because of the long route and hundreds of volunteers.
Spring break at Champaign Centennial High School is especially sweet for the boys basketball team. The Centennial Chargers and Coach Tim Lavin are enjoying a vacation following their 61 to 59 win over the Oswego Panthers Saturday, to win the Illinois Class 3A Championship. I
Centennial Junior Forward Rayvonte Rice had 21 points, including the two winning free throws in the waning seconds of the game.
The team returned home from Peoria Saturday night to a rally at the Centennial gym.
Saturday's victory earned the Centennial Chargers their first state crown. The Chargers last saw state playoff action in 1984, when they lost the Class AA quarterfinal to Aurora (West), 73-44.
The Champaign Cenntennial Chargers will face the Oswego Panthers Saturday at 12:45 PM at Peoria's Carver Arena, for the Illinois Boys High School Basketball Class 3A Championship.
Rayvonte Rice scored 22 points, including two after an offensive rebound with two seconds left, to lead the chargers to a 66-65 win over defending 2A state champs Chicago North Lawndale in the first of Friday's Boys 3A semifinals.
Senior guard James Kinney also had 22 points for Champaign Centennial.
North Lawndale started the game with a technical foul for a uniform violation. An Illinois High School Athletics Association official said the stripe on the Phoenix's uniform was too long.
North Lawndale was led by senior forward Jonathan Mills' 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Oswego Panthers defeated Chicago Leo 56 to 55 in their Class 3A semifinal match on Friday. Oswego's win came with senior guard Jordan Mitchell's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
It didn't take long for organizers of the first-ever Illinois Marathon to find the volunteers they needed.
The marathon will be held on the streets of Champaign, Urbana and the U of I campus on the day before Easter. But local police said organizers needed to show by April 1st that they had 350 volunteers ready to help with traffic control, if they wanted to keep their special-events permits.
Marathon volunteer coordinator Mary Anderson says they issued the call for help on Monday, and by Tuesday night, they had enough volunteers signed up to ensure the race will take place. She says they're grateful for the response, but they could still use even more volunteers. Anderson says nearly 8-thousand runners have signed up for the Illinois Marathon and its related races --- and they'll need a total of 2-thousand volunteers. Volunteers will help staff the marathon and related events on Friday and Saturday, April 10th and 11th.
To volunteer to help on the Illinois Marathon, go to their website, www.illinoismarathon.com, and click on the volunteer link.
An accident in her teens left Arley McNeney with only partial use of her legs, but it led her to success in wheelchair basketball. That experience provides the background for the University of Illinois graduate student's first novel entitled "Post." McNeney played with Canada's national wheelchair basketball team, which won a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics. Now, her novel is shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize in the "best first book" category. AM 580's Michael Koliska spoke with McNeney off the court during the National Women's Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Champaign.
The upcoming rose Bowl between Illinois and USC will carry on a tradition that's more than six decades old. In 1947, Illinois played in the first Rose Bowl to pit the champion of what was then called the Big Nine against the Pacific Coast Conference champion (now called the Pac 10). Radio was still the nation's dominant broadcast medium, and it covered not only the game itself but the buildup and the aftermath. Recordings of those broadcasts have been stored in the University of Illinois Archives ever since. Matt Ehrlich takes us back 61 years to when the Fighting Illini headed west looking for respect.
Disabled people in Africa face significant discrimination. But this is changing in Ghana, where as part of a long-term effort, a wheelchair athlete at the University of Illinois is helping Ghanaian athletes with disabilities (left to right: Emmanuel Boateng, Patrick Obeng and Ajara Busanga) prepare for next year's Paralympics in Beijing. AM 580's Michael Koliska has their story.
Debi Thomas has swapped her ice skates for scrubs. The former figure skating World Champion and Olympic Bronze medal winner now works at Carle Clinic in Urbana. As a figure skater, she was a specialist in triple axels. Now as an orthopedic surgeon, Thomas specializes in hip replacements. She tells AM 580's Michael Koliska she doesn't miss the life of a figure skater.
Each day China opens itself to thousands of visitors -- some on business, others on vacation. Still others come to China because there's no better place to learn their careers. AM 580's Tom Rogers is in China -- and last week he traveled into the interior to visit an Urbana man who's come to hone his craft.
For the sellout crowd at the Assembly Hall in Champaign February 21, the big highlight wasn't Illinois' victory over Michigan, but the last appearance of Chief Illiniwek. The Chief has plenty of critics -- but at the game, supporters showed how much they loved him. AM 580's Jim Meadows reports.
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