The 2011 spring season closed the book on the North Central Illinois Conference.
The NCIC originated in 1929 with the softball and baseball conference forming in the late-’70s. Girls’ soccer came around in 2002.
Ed Young, whose Princeton Tigresses won the final soccer crown, will miss how the NCIC prepared his teams for the postseason.
“Aw man, for sure,” he said. “Every sport was very competitive. It had some of best competition you’re going to find around the state.
“The better competition you play in the regular season the better you are prepared for your postseason run. That’s the sad thing about losing that conference. The games are definitely more passionate and heated. The girls are thinking about getting all-conference or beating a rival. Trying to replace that with just a regular season game is hard to do.”
For now, that’s all the options PHS has. While Mendota and Rock Falls are heading to the Big Northern and Hall to the Tri-County, PHS has no conference options on the table to turn to at this time.
“We don’t have a conference to fall into. We can’t create that aura around the games,” Young said. “I hope some day we’re able to align ourselves into a conference that soccer will have an arena to play.”
Chillicothe IVC repeated as NCIC champions, having been Lincoln Division champs in 2010. The Lady Ghosts also shared two Lincoln crowns, claiming four NCIC titles overall in five years in the league.
Streator was the perennial powerhouse in the early years of NCIC softball, winning seven straight titles from 1981-1987. The Lady Bulldogs won six more, including 2006 in their swan song.
Geneseo won the very first title in 1978 and was steady throughout its NCIC run. The Lady Leafs won 11 titles overall, including a stretch of eight from 1993-2009.
Rock Falls shared the first two Lincoln Division titles in 2007-08 with IVC and repeated again solo in 2009 for its fourth overall championship.
The Hall Lady Red Devils won three straight NCIC titles from 1989-1991, sharing the third with Streator.
Princeton never won the league title, its best showing a second-place finish (7-3) in 2010.
NCIC softball champions
By school: Streator 13, Geneseo 11, Kewanee 3, L-P 3, Hal 2, Sterling 2
Year by year
1980: Geneseo, Sterling
1991: Hall, Streator
1995: Geneseo, Kewanee, Streator
2004: Kewanee, Geneseo, Rock Falls
2007: LaSalle-Peru (Reagan); Rock Falls/IVC (Lincoln)
2008: LaSalle-Peru (Reagan); Rock Falls/IVC (Lincoln)
2009: Geneseo (Reagan); Rock Falls (Lincoln)
2010: Sterling (Reagan), Chillicothe IVC (Lincoln)
2011: Chillicothe IVC
The first recognized champion of NCIC baseball were the Dixon Dukes in 1978. Previously, some of the NCIC schools, including Princeton, played baseball over the summer, but did not have enough teams to be recognized as a conference champion. Princeton moved to spring ball in 1986.
LaSalle-Peru got a good start in the NCIC baseball ranks with five-straight titles from 1981-1985. The Cavs finished with nine overall, including Reagan Division crowns in 2007 and 2009 before departing for the Northern Illinois Big 12 this year.
In addition to the first crown, Dixon won four from 1987-1991 and seven overall.
Jim Beltramini’s Prince-ton Tigers won two shares in a three-year stretch in the early 90s. They shared the title with Dixon in ‘91 and Ottawa in ‘93.
The IVC Grey Ghosts won the NCIC baseball championship three times since joining the conference in 2007. They placed second in 2007 and 2008.
Neither Hall or Kewanee won conference.
NCIC baseball champions
By school: L-P 9, Dixon 7, Ottawa 5, Rock Falls 4, Rochelle 3, IVC 3, Mendota 3, PHS 2, Streator 2, Sterling 1, Geneseo 1, Hall 0, Kewanee 0.
Year by year
1979: not available
1980: not available
1989: Dixon, Ottawa
1990: Dixon, LaSalle-Peru and Rochelle
1991: Dixon, Princeton
1993: Ottawa, Princeton
1998: Geneseo, Mendota
1999: Rochelle, Dixon
2003: Rock Falls
2004: Rock Falls
2007: LaSalle-Peru (Reagan); Rock Falls (Lincoln)
2008: Streator; Rock Falls (Lincoln)
2009: LaSalle-Peru (Reagan) Chillicothe IVC (Lincoln)
2010: Streator (Reagan) and Chillicothe IVC (Lincoln)
2011: Chillicothe IVC
NCIC girls soccer
Princeton won four of the 10 league titles, sharing the crown in 2002, 2004 and 2005 before winning outright this spring. Geneseo proved to be the team to beat year in and year out before leaving the conference this year.
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Editor’s note: This is the final story in a year-long series looking at the North Central Illinois Conference, which disbanded at the end of the 2010-11 school year with the departure of Hall, Mendota and Rock Falls, leaving Princeton, Chillicothe IVC and St. Bede with no conference to turn to.