Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


June 11, 2014

Czachorski: Dual state runs defy the odds

EFFINGHAM — In preparation for and after a crazy weekend in East Peoria, covering Altamont's and Teutopolis' runs to the state title games, I did some math.

The first bit was the easiest. There were four teams playing for state titles in Class 1A and 2A — two of them resided in Effingham County. Fifty percent.

I checked some census data online and came up with some more numbers. Effingham County is 478.78 square miles, making up 0.8 percent of Illinois.

According to the United States Census Bureau's quickfacts site, a 2013 estimate put Effingham County's population at 34,307. Out of the state of Illinois, that's 0.27 percent of the state's total population.

And yet, here we are. One state champion. One runner up. Both playing for state championships on the same day. It defies any traditional measure of odds.

Of the people at the IHSA state tournament I spoke with, officials and sportswriters alike, few could think of any time two or more teams from the same county pulled off the trick Altamont and Teutopolis did Saturday — playing for state championships in the same sport. It was a little less rare than we thought.

The IHSA's Matt Troha did some digging for me — thanks to Matt — and the feat has been pulled off six times in baseball, 20 times in boys basketball, eight times in girls basketball and eight times in softball. It's also happened a number of times in volleyball.

But looking at the list, it's populated nearly exclusively by Cook County. A few other counties, like Dupage, McLean, Rock Island, Sangamon, Madison, and Peoria, also appear, counties that have major cities in them and dwarf Effingham's size.

Only two counties similar to Effingham show up: Madison, with Breese Central and Mater Dei both playing for volleyball titles in 2011, and Johnston City and Herrin represented Williamson County in 1998, both playing for softball state titles.

That's it for the major team sports in the state and the team sports in the Effingham area. Two other times, counties around the size of Effingham have risen up like Altamont and Teutopolis did. Softball has been the sport least dominated by Cook County in this regard, only pulling it off twice, while Rock Island has done it three times, and Dupage, McLean and Williamson doing it once each.

Being there, the energy and excitement from the fans was clear. Teutopolis fans showed up to watch Altamont, Altamont fans stuck around after the Indians' title win to watch Teutopolis — until the rain came. Even St. Anthony coach Crystal Tipton showed up, sporting orange for Altamont and then navy blue for Teutopolis.

This isn't the first time I've written a column about how impressive the sports scene around Effingham is, and it probably won't be the last.

Altamont's state title was a sight to behold, as the school grabbed its first-ever championship; and watching the fans and players' reactions is hard to describe with words.

And even though Teutopolis fell short against a very impressive Rock Island Alleman team, with a young core, it's not hard to imagine this team will be seen in East Peoria again.

It doesn't take any math, however, to describe why this weekend was special: two area teams combined to play an impressive brand of softball and came away with trophies most schools only dream of — both Altamont and Teutopolis had only dreamed of them before this weekend.

Now that school's out, math is over. Hats off to an excellent season, baseball, softball and track teams. I look forward to next school year's craziness.


Text Only
  • JakeLinders.jpg Flaming Hearts win St. Anthony Invitational

    The Flaming Hearts of Effingham were the overall winners and also had the medalist. Effingham shot a team score of 312 to beat the host Bulldogs by nine shots. Hearts senior Jackson Wendling finished with a 72 to take medalist honors.

    August 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Willenborg.jpg Teutopolis takes opener against St. Thomas More

    Teutopolis took the course with a new coach and four players, but as coach Becky Probst said, it takes four to score.
    And those four Lady Shoes took their first match of the year, topping Champaign St. Thomas More 216-227 in both teams' openers at Cardinal Golf Course in Effingham.

    August 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • callawaysmith.jpg Time to tee off, golf season starts fall sports campaign today

    The fall sports campaign kicks off in earnest Monday afternoon, with the first area varsity contests being held in Windsor and Effingham this afternoon.
    The St. Anthony Invitational boys golf tournament will be held at Fox Prairie Golf Course at 1 p.m. in Windsor, while the Teutopolis Lady Shoes host St. Thomas More at Cardinal Golf Course at 4 p.m.

    August 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndrewBingham.jpg Flaming Hearts' flexibility a plus; Effingham prepping for upcoming soccer season

    Three days into the practice season, Effingham soccer coach Aaron Witges sees a lot of flexibility.
    It was something his squad had last year, with 10 seniors but young players forcing their way into the lineup as well.
    Coming off a 10-8-3 season, some of those young players will find themselves in new positions for the Flaming Hearts this season.

    August 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 8-16 eff volleyball.jpg Flaming Hearts set with new coach

    The Effingham Flaming Hearts volleyball team will have a new but familiar face leading them on the sideline this season.
    As a former player for the Hearts, coach Mindy McCollum-Boswell will look to lead her team to their first regional title since 2008.

    August 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ryan.jpg Czachorski: Bears backups worrisome

    This might sound shockingly similar to a number of columns I've written in the past, but it bears repeating (excusing a terrible pun).
    The quarterback situation is worrisome.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • FelixScharnbacher.jpg Newton soccer kicks off, inaugural season starts Sept. 2

    For the first time in the history of Newton High School, a soccer team will be a part of the fall sports season.

    August 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • ATV2.jpg Pocrnich wins national ATV title

    As people get older, their chance at a national championship diminishes, but Effingham’s Kevin Pocrnich was able to win one at 49 years old.
    Pocrnich won the Class 16 Senior 40+ Mountain Dew ATV Motocross Championship and according to the league website, finished fourth in the Class 14 30+ Veteran division. He went out with a bang, winning the final race of the season in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee Saturday.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teutopolis alum Thompson part of no-hitter

    A pair of Effingham natives are making some noise up in the Northwest League.
    Teutopolis alumnus Derek Thompson and Effingham alumnus Nick Gardewine, both members of the Spokane Indians in the Texas Rangers organization, earned some recognition over the past week.

    August 14, 2014

  • KnopVolleyball.jpg Comets coming off stellar season

    The Stew-Stras Comets finished in second-place at the state championship last season, a high-water mark for the program in recent years.
    Coach Ronda Schlechte lost five players who played quality minutes from last year’s team, but she said she has a lot of freshmen that have the ability to help the team.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.