Local college sports briefs

January 7, 2014 

Wrestling

McKendree moves to No. 13 in latest ranking

LEBANON -- The McKendree University wrestling team climbed four spots to No. 13 in the latest NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches Association National Ranking.

Notre Dame College (Ohio) stayed in the No. 1 spot, while University of Nebraska-Kearney and University of Central Oklahoma switched places from the first ranking to come in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Newberry College (S.C.) and St. Cloud State University (Minn.) round out the top five.

The Bearcats are among six teams from NCAA Super Region II ranked in the latest top 20 ranking, including No. 4 Newberry, No. 8 University of Indianpolis, No. 15 Maryville University, No. 16 Ashland University, and No. 19 Lake Erie College.

McKendree also has two individuals ranked in the top eight nationally in their respective weight classes. Junior Julian Smith moved up one spot to No. 6 at 197 pounds, while junior Josh Ballard (Triad) is making his first appearance in the rankings this season in the No. 7 spot at 157 pounds. Smith is currently 19-6 overall this season and most recently finished as runner-up at the Midwest Classic on Dec. 14-15. Smith has a record of 1-1 against ranked NCAA Division II wrestlers this season.

Ballard is 24-7 overall this season and defeated previous No. 6 Taylor Knapp of Newberry College to finish in third place at the Midwest Classic. Ballard is also 1-1 against ranked NCAA Division II wrestlers this season.

The Bearcats had one of its best showings of the season at the Midwest Classic last month. McKendree had six individuals finish in the top six and finished in a tie for second place in the team standings in a field featuring nine teams that are currently ranked in the NCAA Division II Top 20.

McKendree will return to the mat on Thursday in Warrensburg, Mo., in a dual match against University of Central Missouri at 7 p.m.

Northern Illinois upends Cougars in dual

DEKALB--The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville wrestling Cougars opened the new year with a 33-15 loss at in-state rival Northern Illinois.

"We had some preparation issues. We just weren't ready to compete so it makes for a tough day," said SIUE coach Jeremy Spates.

Four matches were decided by three points or less. Senior DeShoun White picked up a 3-1 victory on the mat for the Cougars over Northern Illinois' Caleb Busson.

"He has gone out every time and competed hard," said Spates. "It was a close match and he got the takedown late in the match to get the win."

SIUE, 3-8, returns to next Saturday at the Vadalabene Center with its first home match of the new year. The Cougars welcome Missouri for a 7 p.m. match.

Basketball

SIUE welcomes Special Olympians

EDWARDSVILLE -- The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men's and women's basketball teams played host to more than 65 Special Olympians at a recent clinic at the Vadalabene Center.

SIUE women's basketball coach Paula Buscher helped organize the event which gave Special Olympians a chance to interact with both teams and their coaching staffs as well as practice the fundamentals of basketball.

"It was really cool to see our kids interacting and helping. Our kids were teaching and having just as much fun as the Olympians," said Buscher.

The Special Olympians, who came from as far away as Mount Vernon were given pep talks by Buscher and men's coach Lennox Forrester. All of the campers were split into groups and were instructed on shooting, ball handling, and blocking-out for rebounds.

"They really made us feel special," Forrester said. "It was awesome working with them."

After the clinic, there was an autograph session and a pizza party for the Special Olympians.

"They were all out there to improve. I enjoyed watching the interaction between our players and the Special Olympians," added Buscher.

Bearcats back in action Thursday

LEBANON -- The McKendree University basketball doubleheader scheduled to be played Monday evening at the Harry M. Statham Sports Center against Maryville University was postponed. A make-up date for the men's and women's Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader has not been announced.

It was the second time in 24 hours that weather conditions have forced the postponement of the McKendree/Maryville doubleheader. The Bearcats and Saints were originally scheduled to play on Sunday afternoon in Lebanon.

With Monday's postponement, McKendree now will play its next games on Thursday in a GLVC doubleheader at Quincy University. The women's game will tip off at 5:15 p.m., followed by the men's contest at 7:30 p.m. The Bearcats will then head to Kirksville, Mo., for Saturday afternoon games at Truman State University.

McKendree will open a five-game home stand Jan. 16 against Lewis University.

Women's wrestling

McKendree dual mach postponed

LEBANON --The McKendree women's wrestling dual match at Missouri Baptist University scheduled for Tuesday was postponed.

The match was postponed due to the winter weather that moved through the area on Sunday and Monday. A rescheduled date has not been decided.

The Bearcats will travel to Des Moines, Iowa to compete in the two-day NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals that begin Saturday.

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