Monday, May 20, 2019

UIS overpowers Drury en route to first NCAA baseball regional title

Despite being the higher-seeded team and playing in its home city on Saturday, the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team was the visitor on the scoreboard at Robin Roberts Stadium.

So the Prairie Stars made the most of their first cuts, belting two home runs and giving starting pitcher Brock Immke a 3-0 cushion going into the bottom of the first.

Immke held Drury scoreless through the first four innings as UIS went on to take a 11-5 win for its first NCAA Division II Regional championship.

“That’s the positive thing about being (visitors),” said Immke, a redshirt senior who came back from Tommy John surgery two years ago. “You can go out there and score first and get a little of the anxiety taken care of, take the edge off of a championship game. Three runs in the first inning makes everyone feel loose and more relaxed.”

Chris Monroe and Zach Speaker hit back-to-back homers in the first, with Monroe’s a two-run shot.

UIS coach Chris Ramirez said this year’s team had a tough act to follow after last year’s record-setting 47-9 finish. But the 2018 Prairie Stars fell short of advancing from regional play.

“Early on, you couldn’t do anything but compare us to last year’s team,” Ramirez said. “But for this year’s team to fall out of the rankings and then get back in, it says a lot about them. “We deserve to be where we’re at now. I’m happy for our guys. they deserve it.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 18, 2019.

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Springfield High alum Tyler Pence named UIS cross country, track coach

Former Springfield High School runner and University of Southern Indiana standout Tyler Pence was named Wednesday the head coach for the University of Illinois Springfield’s men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams.

Pence, who has been the assistant coach for the program for the last three years, replaces Scott Slade, who left after one year to fulfill other commitments.

“To become a head coach in my hometown, a city that I love and a sport that I’m incredibly passionate about, has always been a dream of mine,” Pence said in a statement. “I have a great group of athletes who are team oriented and extremely motivated. This program in ready to take another step in the right direction. We will be bringing championships back to Springfield very soon.”

Pence is still a competitive runner and has qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 15, 2019.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Women's Golf: UIS’ Jennifer Queller opens NCAA tourney with 81

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Jennifer Queller shot an 8-over-par 81 in the first round of the NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championships on Tuesday at PGA National.

Queller, a sophomore from Corona, California, is tied for 57th place in the 95-player field. She had one birdie and 10 pars Tuesday, with a 39 on the front nine and a 42 on the back.

Queller, the first UIS woman golfer to reach Division II nationals, will tee off at 8:50 a.m. Wednesday on the No. 10 tee.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 14, 2019.

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U of I-led innovation network to expand from six to 15 statewide hubs

The Illinois Innovation Network, a group of hubs across the state aiming to drive economic development through research and innovation, will expand from six to 15 sites and encompass all of the state’s four-year public universities.

The new hubs will be located at Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Rockford (on the U of I at Chicago College of Medicine regional campus), Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Western Illinois University.

The network launched in August 2018 with hubs at U of I’s three campuses and the flagship Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago. Two additional hubs were later announced for Northern Illinois University and Peoria, which is home to a U of I regional medical campus.

Stakeholders say the goal of each hub is to grow the economy of its region through research and innovation tied to the academic strengths of the host university.

“These new hubs fulfill the guiding vision of the Illinois Innovation Network, spreading the power of innovation to every corner of our state through partnerships with every one of our state’s public universities and other important regional partners,” said U of I President Tim Killeen. “The growing network will bring together the very best minds to address our most pressing challenges, forging breakthrough solutions that will drive new waves of progress and prosperity for all of Illinois and beyond.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 14, 2019.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball to host NCAA regional again despite loss

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team came up just a run shy of the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament championship Sunday.

The Stars did get a consolation prize later in the night, though. UIS earned the No. 2 seed and for the second straight year home field advantage in the NCAA Division II double-elimination regional tournament, which will be hosted at Robin Roberts Stadium starting Thursday through Saturday.

UIS will start the first round against No. 7 Drury.

UIS made its first NCAA tournament appearance last season, losing a game shy of the regional championship round at Robin Roberts Stadium.

This story was published in The State Journal-Register on May 12, 2019.

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Innovate Springfield offers update on impact

Stakeholders in the Illinois Innovation Network and Innovate Springfield spoke before the Springfield Citizen’s Club Friday morning, offering an update on the progress of the statewide network and, specifically, the Springfield hub.

In August 2018, the University of Illinois Springfield acquired Innovate Springfield. Soon after, the university was awarded the first hub of the Illinois Innovation Network, a University of Illinois system-led initiative meant to foster economic growth through research and innovation by connecting satellite hubs spread across the state with the flagship Discovery Partners Institute, a research institute to be based in Chicago.

“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity. It’s a big idea, a real big idea,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “And if we can pull this off, it’s going to harness the intellectual talent of the entire University of Illinois to focus economic and social development across the state, including here in the state capital.”

Officials did share some statistics regarding the incubator’s economic impact in 2018.

Innovate Springfield’s 65 members collectively created 31 full-time and 21 part-time jobs. They also generated $1.9 million in gross revenue and raised $1.2 million in angel investment.

Officials said they hoped to have support from the community, which they say is necessary to make the hub a success. “This really is about having a community mindset focused on innovation,” said Katie Davison, Innovate Springfield’s executive director.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 11, 2019.

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Hundreds receive diplomas at UIS commencement ceremonies

The University of Illinois Springfield held its graduation ceremonies on Saturday.

The 48th annual UIS commencement took place at the BOS Center in downtown Springfield. 745 students participated in the two ceremonies.

Graduates say the ceremony was bittersweet. "I've been working on my degree for a very long time so I'm very excited to be here, I really enjoyed my time at UIS," said Psychology major Natalie Hall. "I'm just really sad to be leaving, but I'm really excited to be starting my next chapter of my life."

UIS presented an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to former Springfield mayor Karen Hasara. It was in appreciation of her inspirational leadership in public service and contributions to the community and the University of Illinois.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on May 11, 2019.

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Men's Baseball: Dean named GLVC Pitcher of the Year

University of Illinois Springfield senior Andrew Dean was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday.

Dean led the conference in wins with a 9-0 record. He finished the regular season with a 2.75 ERA.

Dean recorded 95 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched, walking 20 batters and giving up just one home run.

Opponents batted .217 this season off Dean, who was also a first-team GLVC member last season. 

Six other players from UIS were named to the all-GLVC team. Chris Monroe and Justin Revels made the first team, while Brandon Bannon, Ruben Markham, John Sechen and Zach Speaker were named to the second team.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 8, 2019.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Illinois House speaker gives student journalists rare access

House Speaker Michael Madigan doesn't make a lot of media appearances, but Monday morning, he talked with student journalists who are covering the Statehouse in a graduate school program.

In his visit with the Public Affairs Reporting program class at the University of Illinois-Springfield, Madigan, D-Chicago, said legislative committees in control of budget appropriations have taken Gov. J.B. Pritzker's proposed levels of spending in next year's budget and "ratcheted them down" in case measures supporting that spending do not pass.

Those supporting measures include legalizing recreational marijuana and sports betting, which Madigan said he's "hopeful" will pass but are "not guaranteed today," although Pritzker is relying on them for more than $400 million in new revenue.

Long-awaited language for a marijuana bill was released Saturday. Madigan said that although he was not yet familiar with it, he does know "there are some very controversial aspects to the proposal," including the expungement of criminal records and other provisions requested by caucuses representing minority interests.

On the other hand, Madigan said, passing sports betting will require the cooperation of many interests, including gaming CEOs, racetracks, video poker representatives and more. "It's always been very contentious," he said. "It's no different this time than any prior legislative session."

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 7, 2019.

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Women's Softball: UIS softball punches ticket to NCAA Division II tournament

The University of Illinois Springfield softball team had to cope with some uncertainty and nerves as the NCAA Division II bracket was being unveiled.

“You never want to leave it in the hands of the committee,” UIS coach Shannon Guthrie said. “I think that’s always a scary thing. We felt we had won some big games and we also probably lost some games that didn’t help our cause. But I think winning the first round of the GLVC tournament was really big to at least get one win in there.”

It was enough.

The Prairie Stars (27-24) earned their second straight NCAA Division II tournament berth Monday after reaching the Sweet 16 last season. It will be their third tournament appearance in program history.

The Stars, seeded No. 7, will play a familiar opponent in the double-elimination tournament. UIS drew No. 2-seeded host University of Missouri St. Louis in the NCAA opener Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 6, 2019.

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Women's Basketball: UIS hires Casey Thousand as new women’s basketball coach

Casey Thousand firmly believes that things happen for a reason.

After running into University of Illinois Springfield athletic director Jim Sarra as an assistant coach at Northern Michigan during the Wildcats’ NCAA Division II women’s basketball tournament appearance in March, Thousand will now take over the top job for the Prairie Stars.

UIS announced Thousand as the new women’s basketball coach Monday.

It comes more than two weeks after the Stars hired Matt Brock as the men’s basketball coach.

Thousand replaces Mark Kost after he resigned and went 38-66 in four years at UIS, which will formally introduce Thousand at The Recreation and Athletic Center on Tuesday, May 14 at noon.

“It was the next step,” Thousand said. “I didn’t know when it was going to happen or where it was going to happen, but it definitely was the next step in my professional career and I guess when I met Jim, I believe things happen for a reason. Everything kind of came together and I came down to campus (last week) and I just really enjoyed it. I felt like this is where I need to go next and what I need to do.”

 The 37-year-old Barneveld, Wisconsin-native assisted the NCAA Division II Wildcats the past three seasons on the far Upper Peninsula town of Marquette, Michigan. She joined head coach Troy Mattson’s staff after seven years as the head coach at Division III Edgewood College, located not far from her old home in Madison, Wisconsin.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 6, 2019.

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Women's Golf: UIS finishes first NCAA round in fifth place

Maria Espinosa and Jennifer Queller each shot 4-over-par 76 to lead the University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf team in the NCAA Division II East Regional on Monday.

The five Prairie Stars golfers combined for a first round team score of 312, which put UIS in fifth place with two rounds remaining.

The top-four teams advance to the NCAA D-II national championship tournament later this month.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 6, 2019.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

UIS sorority hosts "Future is Female" event

"Ladies, you can do it!" - That's the message from the University of Illinois Springfield's Tri Sigma Sorority. 

A total of 300 girls from District 186 were taught about how to land their dream job Friday.

"The Future is Female" event was all about taking the right steps to achieve a career, even in male-dominated fields.

Those behind the event said for females that don't always know how to get to where they want to go, this event can help give them the motivation they need.

"We don't really know how to get to the top. Sometimes, we tear each other down and that's not how it should be. It should all be about empowering each other to make yourself the best you can be,"
Darlene Steinkamp, UIS senior nursing student, said.

Girls also learned about their health and financial literacy.

This story appeared on Fox 55 on April 26, 2019. 

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