March 27, 2015

Autistic Athlete Can't Wear Letter Jacket At School

Michael Kelley, has Down’s Syndrome and autism. While not a player on Wichita East High School's varsity basketball team, he participated on an extra-curricular special needs basketball team. His mother bought him a letter jacket, complete with the school's varsity letter and his name stitched in to probably let her son feel the same pride and school spirit "normal" athletes enjoy at the school.

According to the report on, Kelley wore it to school and the school administration made him take it off and wear a sweatshirt after a parent, likely an influential member of the community, complained to the principal. The move by the school has set a small, but growing fire on social media.

Teachers told the parents of a special needs child they would prefer he not wear the letter on his jacket -

Posted by KSN TV on Thursday, March 26, 2015

As expected, comments on KSNNews' website rallied both in support for Kelley as well as approval for the school administrative action against the high school student. Twitosphere is using the hashtag #GiveThemLetters to rally viral support for Kelley.

What do you think? Should Kelley be allowed to wear his letter jacket to school?

March 23, 2015

Fisher Fair 5K Race Announced

Last year's race was the first time in the race's long history it was canceled due to weather since the event's start in 1995. Five inches of rain forced organizers to cancel the race at the last minute. As a show of appreciation to those made the trip to Fisher, organizers are offering a discount to runners who registered for last year's race.

"We feel that you need to be rewarded," explains the officials on Facebook. "The Fisher Fair 5K will reduce the entry fee by $5.00 for anyone that registered for last year’s race."

There are now three ways that you can sign up for this year's Fisher Fair 5K. Go to the race web site, fill out the writable entry form and send it in with a check or money order or register on race day morning. Online registration is also available this year. Go to for information or visit Fisher Fair 5K 2015/active and follow the directions.

Read more below . . .

March 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday Featuring Abby Immke

Our Throwback Thursday feature this week is of St. Joseph-Ogden softball player Abby Immke. In her freshman year debut the Spartans suffered just one regular season loss and went on to finish as sectional runner-up after an 11-0 loss to eventual state champion Olympia. That year she hit an impressive .485 During her junior year her batting average soared to .554. Afraid to throw anything over the plate, she was walked in 20 of her trips to the batter's box.

When her final season came to a close, Immke left the Spartan program #2 in career walks with a total of 69 and #7 in runs scored (159) in her four-year varsity career. The versatile southpaw hitter, who hit a career 20 home runs will always be remembered for her aggressive swing and warm smile. Here are three of our favorite photos of Immke in our collection.

Abby Immke slams the ball
May 28, 2012 - Seneca, IL - St. Joseph-Ogden's Abby Immke slams the ball midway through the game against Chicago Christian Academy. As they have done in most of their games this season, St. Joseph-Ogden used just five innings to secure their super-sectional win improving to 40-0 with the 11-1 victory punching their ticket to state softball final four appearance.

Abby Immke makes a catch
April 4, 2009 - Rantoul, IL - St. Joseph-Ogden's Abby Immke makes a catch while playing first base at the annual Rantoul Invitational Tournament. The Spartans came back from one-run deficit in the third inning to win, 12-7.

Abby Immke at bat
May 7, 2009 - St. Joseph, IL - SJO freshman slugger Abby Immke loads up before taking a swing at Paxton-Buckley-Loda pitch. The Spartans won the home game decisively with a 13-2 victory after five innings of play. The win over the Panthers improved SJO's record to 23-0 on the season.

February 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Basketball 2007

This is the first Throwback Thursday feature of the year. Admittedly, I put doing weekly #TBT on the back burner in order to get the new Megapics section up and rolling in January on the PhotoNews website. As soon as that was done, next thing I know we're covering the IHSA state finals for dance, cheer and wrestling. Now that those big weekends are out of the way, it is time to get back to featuring a few of the more than 53,0000 photos on central Illinois' best sports site.

Today's Throwback is a look back at the 2007-2008 basketball season, some of great action photos and a few of the awesome players from seven years ago. Names you might remember from that season were Heritage's Lindsey Nichelson and Brittney McClellan, Salt Fork's Joel Learnard, Corbin Sebens from Monticello, Unity's Dani Gooch and Ana Deters and Tuscola's Clayton Meyers.

It was a rocky season for the Unity basketball program with Zebo Zebe, one of the Rockets' leading scorers in school history. Along side a supporting cast made up of Heath Woodcock, CJ Moody, John Humer and bench full of hard-nosed ballers, the Rockets finished the season just above the .500 mark after falling in the regional title game to Bismarck-Henning in February of 2008.

Meanwhile, Unity's rival St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans depended on solid play from big man Jake Firkins and three-sport teammates Zach Becker, Michael Cessna and Tyler Johnson. Tad Worley was the agent that held the SJO together that season with his long-range shooting and ball handling in clutch moments during tight games.

Here's a look at the players and moments we captured that year. Click here to see the entire collection of photos published from the season.

Zack Becker
December 07, 2007 - St. Joseph, IL - Zack Becker blocks a shot during St.Joseph-Ogden's home conference game against Momence. The Spartans suffered a tough loss falling 53-45 to the visiting Redskins.

Unity's Shane Woodcock
February 23, 2008 - Paris, IL - Unity's Shane Woodcock sits on the bench with teammates during the last minute of their season. After a low scoring 1st quarter, Bismarck-Henning widened the lead to 9 points by halftime. The Blue Devil defense didn't allow many open looks as the Rockets fell to Bismacrk-Henning 56-42 in the Class 2A Regional final. See more photos from this game here. [Photo: Douglas Cottle/PhotoNews]

Joel Learnard and Jon Knoll
December 28, 2007 - Broadlands, IL - Salt Fork defenders Joel Learnard (3) and Jon Knoll (2) prevent Cole Judy (5) from getting a clean shot off. The Storm defeated the Hawks 58-47 and will play in the championship game. The Hawks will play for 4th. Click here for more photos from this game. [Photo: Douglas Cottle/PhotoNews]

Unity's Heath Woodcock and Canton's Matt Putrich
December 29, 2007 - Charleston, IL - Unity's Heath Woodcock collides with Canton's Matt Putrich [right] while going up for a shot in the second half at the Charleston Holiday Basketball Tournament. The Rockets, who were a new entry into the annual tournament, fell 55-34. The Little Giants went on to win the 5th-place title over Paris.

Dani Gooch and Kylie Holland
November 27, 2007 - St. Joseph, IL - Rockets' Dani Gooch [left] and Spartans' Kylie Holland [right] battle for a loose ball during second half action. St. Joseph-Ogden improved to 5-0 after defeating visiting Unity 54-47. Check out nine more photos from this rivalry game here.

Bismarck-Henning's David Ingram
January 19, 2008 - Danville, IL - Bismarck-Henning's David Ingram cuts down his share of the net after winning the Vermilion County basketball title. The Blue Devils beat the Storm 57-49 Saturday evening.

Monticello's Brent Rhodes fight for a rebound
December 27, 2007 - Monticello, IL - Monticello's Brent Rhodes fight for a rebound against St. Thomas More's Tyler Schwerghart [10] and Kristian Gallivan [22]. The Sages, who went on to win their annual tournament for the first time since 2002, defeated the Sabers 62-54.

Senior Greg Cannon
February 19, 2008-Rantoul, IL- Senior Greg Cannon smiles at a framed picture he received during Senior Night as his grandmother (left) and mother (right) look on. [Photo: Douglas Cottle/PhotoNews]

Click here to see the entire collection of photos published from the season. Did you play during this season? Share your fondest memory in the comment section below.

February 23, 2015

State Finalists To Watch

Each year when we cover the Illinois High School Association's state wrestling tournament, the top newspapers from around the state reporting on high school wrestling's season finale send us a list of the athletes they want us to cover during the three day tournament. As in past years, the list was long and distinguished with names like Crystal Lake Central's Andrew Marsden and Sandburg's Rudy Yates. The PhotoNews had more than 200 state finalists from more than 25 wrestling programs from around the state to follow for the best prep sports sections in the state. Below is a partial list of the top athletes and links to the photos of them from this weekend we were asked to focus on. In some cases, we'll have additional photos from other sports and seasons of many of these elite Illinois athletes.

Click on the name and follow the link to our photo collection on the PhotoNews Media website. Should you get a "No results matched your search." message it may mean we have photos in our files offline that were not posted or requested by a news organization. Send us a message to if you would like us to review our archive for photos for any of the names on this list to publish on our site to share with college recruiters, family and friends.

Abdullah Assaf
Adam Ferrell
Alec McKenna
Al'lon Carter
Amier Khamis
Andrew Marsden
Andrew Stengal
Anthony Griffiths
Anthony Randazzo
Anthony Rink
Anthony Rubino

February 21, 2015 - Champaign, IL - Hinsdale's Juwan Edmond pushes Alton's Nicholas DeLoach to the edge of the mat during their third-place match at the 2015 IHSA state wrestling finals on Saturday afternoon. Edmond went on to win the bout 9-1 to place third. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Anton Krocko
Austin Chaon
Austin Gomez
Austin Macias
Austin Parks
Batavia Dylan Uzumecki
Branden Peshek
Brandon Meyer
Brandon Muselman
Brian Burns
Brian Krasowski
Britches Sikula
Bryan Ditchman
Cam Pait
Carson Oughton
Charlie Faber
Chris Murino
Christian Brunner
Cody Barnes
Cody Minnick
Cole Bateman
Corey Jurzak
Corey Knudsen
D'Andre Johnson
Daniel Close
Darvell Flagg
DJ Penik
Dylan Thurston

February 21, 2015 - Champaign, IL - Plainfield South's Eric Johnson and Hinsdale South's Joshua King wrestle for the 220-pound Class 3A title at the IHSA State Wrestling Finals on Saturday night. King went on to win the bout by way of a 9-6 decision. Johnson finished second at this year's state tournament. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

E.J. Phillips
Eric Barone
Eric Johnson
Eric Schultz
Eric Wagner
Ethan Harsted
Garrett Dziedzic
Grant Sutton
Ian Mullen
Jack Jessen
Jake Dudeck
Jake Szlenk
Jason Stokes
Jimmy Brennan
Joey Rivera
Joey Schloegel
John Cianco
John Cullen
Johnny Mologousis
Joseph Mier
Josh Fiegel
Josh King
Josh Stenger
Juwan Edmond
Kaneland George Strang
Keone Derain
Kirk Johansen
Kolbe O'Brien
Kyle Betourne
Kyle Eighner
Kyle Ruettiger
Kyle Szlenk
Lenny Petersen
Logan Lundelius

February 21, 2015 - Champaign, IL - Coal City's Joey Rivera celebrates his pin for the the 106-pound Class 1A title over Litchfield's Colin Davidson at the IHSA State Wrestling Finals on Saturday night. Rivera earned his title sticking Davidson at 2:32. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Louie Hayes
Luke Iida
Marcus Povlick
Mason DeLong
Matt Allen
Matt Crnich
Matt Rowland
Michael Cullen
Michael Gomez
Michael McGee
Michael Petersen
Nathan Traxler
Nick Hawkins
Nick Remke
Nick Wolf
Noah Keefe

February 21, 2015 - Champaign, IL - Willowbrook's Jack Jessen looks for a shot in on Marmion's Riley DeMoss during their 170-pound Class 3A championship match at the IHSA State Wrestling Finals on Saturday night. Jessen went on to finish second at this year's tournament after a 5-4 loss to DeMoss. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Pat Walker
Patrick Brucki
Paul Turner
Qarin Johnnic
Ramon Lopez
Reiss Bielski
Ricky Vigil
Riley Buchanan
Riley DeMoss
Riley Vanik
Robbie Precin
Robby Duh
Romeo McKnight
Rudy Yates
Sage Friese
Shayne Oster
Tom Buell
Tom Slattery
Tom Welch
Travis Piotrowski
Trevell Timmons
Trevor Schmidt
Tyler Johnson
Tyree Johnson
Vinnie Piunti
Zach Krause
Zach Martin
Zach Spencer