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BY SANTA CLAUS
Rantoul Press columnist
NORTH POLE — Kris Kringle here.
I hope all the presents you wanted were delivered in time for Christmas.
Before I made my rounds on Christmas Eve, though, I stopped by the Rantoul Press office.
With the assistance of my trusted elves, my flying reindeer, plenty of milk and cookies to keep me nourished, and the trusted wisdom of Mrs. Claus, I wanted to deliver these 10 gifts to the area sports scene.
1. Stability ... for the Rantoul Township High School athletic department. The school has gone through a whirlwind past 16 months trying to find a suitable athletic director to give the athletic department direction and consistency. Allen Jones Sr. is coming back for his second go-around as the school’s interim athletic director after Joe Bendoraitis abruptly resigned two weeks ago. I would like whoever the school board hires in 2013 to stick around for Christmas next year. It will make my job a whole lot easier determining who’s naughty and who’s nice.
2. Decent crowds ... in Taylorville for the second annual Taylorville Holiday Tournament the RTHS boys basketball team will play in this week. Taylorville’s West Gym is unlike almost any venue in the state to watch basketball. And it’s sure a lot warmer than the North Pole’s Christmas Arena. I appreciate the old-feel charm of the place and the chairback seats scattered around. It reminds me of my younger days playing basketball before the elves and I started making basketball hoops.
3. Decent weather ... for all the teams traveling to holiday basketball tournaments and wrestling meets this week. I don’t want to hear reports of any teams not making it to their destination on time. If anyone needs a ride, however, I might have a sleigh they can use.
4. One win ... at least for the Armstrong-Potomac boys basketball squad, which takes an 0-13 record into 2013. The Trojans play hard, just not smart all the time. If they need help breaking a fullcourt press, I might have the answer. I’ll lend A-P head coach Mike Twidwell my reindeer for a few hours. The Trojans will most likely value the ball more with Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen charging at them. Plus, if they need help, they could just look for Rudolph’s nose to guide the way.
5. More wins ... for the Fisher boys basketball team, who are now on a two-game winning streak after starting the season with 13 straight losses. Maybe that’s all part of my plan, however, after Fisher ended last year with 10 straight losses only to win a Class 1A regional and sectional championship. The gifts are more meaningful to those who have endured hard times.
6. Better times ahead ... for members of the St. Malachy eighth-grade girls basketball squad that just placed second in state for the second straight year. I don’t want this to be the ultimate highlight of your athletic career. Keep striving for excellence.
7. Sleep ... for Fisher football head coach Matt Leng and Fisher athletic director Ben Derges, who both had new babies born within a few weeks of each other this fall. Don’t be shocked, Benjamin Ross Leng — the first son of three children for Matt and Amy — if I drop a football in your stocking in a few years. Or if I delivered one this year.
8. Continued success ... for the RTHS wrestling program and first-year head coach Craig Acree. Despite an undermanned lineup, the Eagles have shown a tenacity in the first month of the season that only bodes well for the future of the program. I enjoy underdog stories. Just ask Rudolph.
9. Quick recovery time ... for recent Fisher graduate Taw Fredrickson, who is playing baseball at Webster University. Fredrickson recently had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which will most likely cause him to miss all of his 2013 season with the Gorlocks, who were scheduled to play my Elves in the season opener. I’ve got a 2-foot-5-inch right-hander who can bring definitely the heat.
10. A new holiday tournament ... for the Armstrong-Potomac girls basketball team next season. The Trojans aren’t in one this year after Chrisman’s Cardinal Classic folded, which head coach Nick Hipsher’s squad won last year. What better way for myself to unwind than with a few days of holiday hoops? Well, maybe a few more cookies and milk.
Santa Claus filled in for Rantoul Press Sports Editor Matt Daniels in this week’s column. If you like the column, love the column or hate the column, let him know via mail delivered to the North Pole. Just be careful with what you write. He’s already started checking his list twice for next year’s Christmas.