Baseball | TODD HAUG | Alton
Todd Haug has had a pretty good stint as the Alton baseball coach so far and 2016 was no different. The Redbirds went 23-13 on the season and lost in the Class 4A Alton Regional finals to powerhouse O’Fallon 2-1. As a matter of fact, the tying run was thrown out at the plate to end the game. That’s how competitive the Birds and Panthers were.
For the sixth consecutive season, the Redbirds posted more than 20 wins under Haug’s direction. He’s been in charge of the program for eight seasons, posting only one sub-.500 record. Haug owns a career coaching record of 180-100 at AHS.
In 2016 the Redbirds went 8-6 and finished fifth in the Southwestern Conference. Alton put seven players altogether on the SWC all-conference teams, including freshman Rob Taul earning first-team honors at second base.
Softball | DAN CARTER | Alton
The Alton Redbirds finished with another outstanding season under head coach Dan Carter this spring.
The Redbirds finished 25-8, making it the 10th time in Carter’s 16-year tenure as head coach that Alton won 20 or more games. Carter, who took over head coaching duties in 2000, is 364-236 in his career.
Alton won its first eight games. The Redbirds’ season ended with a 3-2 loss to O’Fallon in the Class 4A Collinsville Regional championship game.
Alton also finished in a tie for second with O’Fallon in the Southwestern Conference standings at 10-4.
Strong hitting was one of the keys in Alton’s banner season. The Redbirds had five players who hit over .300, including junior Savannah Fisher, who finished with a team-high .455 average.
The Redbirds also got a strong effort from senior Brittany Roady, who is the 2016 AdVantage News Softball Player of the Year. Roady won a career-high 22 games and joined Fisher on the Class 4A all-state team.
Alton could finish with another strong season under Carter in 2017. The Redbirds had five juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen on their varsity roster. They will lose just three players to graduation.
Girls’ Soccer | STEVE MITCHELL | Marquette Catholic
Things have been golden for the Marquette Catholic girls’ soccer team since Steve Mitchell took over the program in 2013.
In Mitchell’s four years as head coach, the Explorers have won 75 matches, captured four regional championships and four sectional titles and placed third in the Class 1A state tournament twice.
Marquette turned in another strong season under Mitchell this spring, finishing with a 15-10-3 record, capturing regional and sectional championships and placing third in the Class 1A state tournament.
The Explorers finished with 21 victories and placed third in the state in Mitchell’s first season as coach in 2013. Marquette lost to Rochester in the super-sectionals in each of the next two years.
This spring, Marquette beat Roxana 1-0 in the Marquette Regional championship, knocked off Gibault and Columbia in penalty kicks at the Althoff Sectional and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in penalty kicks in the super-sectionals to advance to state. The Explorers beat Williamsville in the third-place match at the state tournament.
The Explorers had 10 juniors, eight sophomores and two freshmen on their team. One of the juniors, Annabelle Copeland, led the team in scoring with 14 goals and is the 2016 AdVantage News Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year.
Marquette will lose several players to graduation, including Adrianna Schindler, Bailey Hartrich and Lauren Schmickley. All three of them were freshmen when Mitchell took over head coaching duties.
Boys’ Track | JULI AKAL | Roxana
Akal has supervised the ascent of the Roxana High program and watched the Shells begin to come of age the past spring.
They repeated as champions of the Madison County Meet, finished third in the South Central Conference competition and were third in the Roxana Relays. The Shells also scored 35 points to place fifth in the Class 2A Springfield Lanphier Sectional.
Sophomore Jordan Hawkins won the discus championship at the sectional and placed fourth in the IHSA finals. Hawkins and senior David Loeffen were among the key components of a steadily growing program. Akal also serves as the Roxana High head girls’ track coach.
The Shells last won a boys’ sectional track title in 1997 and a girls’ one in 1993, so they have additional lofty team goals to strive for in future seasons.
Girls’ Track | TERRY MITCHELL | Alton
Terry Mitchell capped a long career as the AHS track coach by guiding the Redbirds to a second-place finish in the IHSA Class 3A finals at Charleston’s Eastern Illinois University.
Thanks to LaJarvia Brown’s 35 points, the Redbirds scored 37 points to finish runner-up to Frankfort Lincoln-Way East, which tabulated 83 points in winning its fourth consecutive state title.
Alton’s second-place showing was its best in school history and it followed the Redbirds’ eighth-place finish in 2015.
Mitchell, the team’s head coach for the past 21 years, decided to go out on a high note. He has retired as the team’s coach after overseeing the program since 1996.
This season, the Redbirds finished fourth in the Southwestern Conference Meet and third in the Rock Island Sectional before taking second in Illinois.
Boys’ Tennis | MIKE WALTERS | Marquette Catholic
The Marquette Catholic Explorers endured a tumultuous spring season off the court, through it all playing very good tennis on the courts.
They finished with a 13-2 dual record under second-year head coach Mike Walters and advanced junior Jon Claywell to state in singles. Claywell — the 2016 AdVantage News Boys’ Tennis Player of the Year — finished third at the Edwardsville Sectional in the singles bracket. Marquette finished fourth out of the field at the sectional.
Marquette dealt with tragedy when junior Zack Hunter died from injuries received in a car crash during the season. The Explorers came together as a team and played for Hunter, using tennis as a tool to honor him.