Ryan Schekel likely didn't know where Spring Valley, Ill. was on the map four years ago. That all changed when Hall High School's Mike Miroux decided to attend Mount Mercy University and run for Scheckel's Mustangs cross country and track teams.
Since then, his brother, Kyle, a junior, and fellow former Red Devil T.J. Mosbach, a sophomore, followed Miroux from Hall to Mount Mercy. And next year, Liz Mosbach will run with the Mustangs as well.
It's no wonder Scheckel says "Mikey started a great pipeline for us." He said he'll gladly take any other standout runners from our area also.
The Mount Mercy coach said he's really excited to land such a great recruit like Liz Mosbach, a three-time BCR Runner of the Year in cross country. The capper is, he already knows all about her family.
"Anytime you have a highly recruited athlete like her commit, it’s going to be big news and something to be excited about for the future. In this case, we absolutely acknowledge the character of the family in which she is coming from," he said.
Scheckel said very few individuals have the ability to run from 400 meters to three miles like the Hall standout can.
"Liz will make an impact for us right away and help elevate the loss of our senior class. Her diversity of events and the ability to compete at a high level with all of them are also very exciting," he said.
Mosbach is one of 11 high school seniors to commit to the Mustangs, giving Scheckel quite an incoming freshman class.
• Keeping track: I can't remember Bureau County producing so much track talent ever before. In addition to Mosbach, BV standout Adam Weidner will compete in track and football for North Central, as you see in today's BCR. Other signings previously reported in the BCR from the class of 2012 are Bureau Valley's Derrick Johnson (EIU) and Kimi Sanden (ISU) and Princeton's Laura Fredenhagen (ISU), all at the Division I level.
They are joining a large contingent of area college track athletes including Princeton's Collin and Hunter Mickow (Illinois), Adam Fredenhagen (Dubuque), Ryan Arndt (Monmouth), and Allie Youngren (North Central), Hall's Scott Janusick and Kendall Rush (ISU) and Matt Hassler (Monmouth), St. Bede's Michel Massamba (Monmouth), BV's Melanie Thompson (EIU), Cassie Criminger (Judson) and Cody Taylor (Iowa Western).
"It says a lot for our area with all these kids not just competing but succeeding at college in both track and cross country," BV track/cross country coach Dale Donner said. "If you lead an event on our (BCR) county honor roll, it means something. We have one of the stronger areas in the state here in Bureau County."
The moms and dads of all these kids are especially pleased to get some help paying toward college expenses.
• Officially speaking: Congratulations to Bureau County refs Dave Shepard of Wyanet and Buzz Fisher of Princeton for earning their first IHSA state basketball assignment this weekend for the 1-2A girls' finals. It's great that the partners in crime get to go to state together. They do a great job out there when only half the people in the gym are going to be happy every time you blow your whistle.
Shepard laughed when I asked him if he's missed any calls over the 50-plus games he's worked this year. He shared a joke he was told by St. Bede coach Mike Kilmartin. It seems Killer told Shepard before a game he had found his cellphone out in the parking lot. Shepard was a little puzzled and said he didn't think so. Killler told him sure it was, because it said there were "31 missed calls."
Such is the life of a referee. Bureau County has produced a long list of esteemed officials who have worked the IHSA state hoop finals, dating back to John C. Robb of Princeton in 1935 and '36 and Art Bouxsein of Princeton from 1951-53. More recently, state officials include Larry Wilcoxen of Walnut (1977-91, boys and girls), Don Brady of Neponset (1982-84, boys), Ken Wilcoxen of Princeton (1993-06, boys and girls), Randy Rimington of Princeton (1995-96, '98, boys), Dave Mueller of Neponset (2002-03, '08, boys), Lonnie Hewitt of Princeton (2002-03) and Mark Geuther of LaMoille (2011, girls).
Parting shots: I got to hear some of Jesse Brandt's postgame talk to his players in the Princeton locker room following Tuesday's regional loss to St. Bede. He told them he was proud of them, that he's going to miss the seniors and he'll always be there for them as they move on from PHS. Bottom line, Jesse's one coach who's got it. He knows what it takes to be a role model and lives it.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at email@example.com