Alan Patton's picks for Unity's best athletes of the year

With the end of one school year and the start of the next approaching sooner than many of us would like, it’s time to take a look at some of the best Unity had to offer in the athletic arena during the 2017-18 high school sports year, starting with the fall sports: football, volleyball, soccer, and boys’ and girls’ cross-country. In the next couple weeks, we’ll review the winter and spring sports.

Football - Steven Migut, senior ​The three-year starter at quarterback for the Rockets closed out an extraordinary career, which included a state championship game, a quarterfinal berth, and a second round game. Migut finished the season with 1230 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing, 1349 yards and 15 TD’s passing, along with 114 points scored. The West Point-bound quarterback finished his career among the all time best in rushing yards, passing completions and passing yards, points scored, and total yards. Among his postseason awards were Team Most Valuable Player, First Team Illini Prairie Conference All-Conference, First Team on the News-Gazette All-Area Team, and First Team All-State by the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association.

Volleyball - Megan Foster, senior ​One of just three seniors for a 19-17 Rocket squad, the Eureka College-bound outside hitter led Unity in kills with 192, and averaged 2.43 kills per set. For her efforts, Foster was a Second-Team pick on the Illini Prairie’s All-Conference Team, and a Special Mention selection to the News-Gazette’s All-Area squad.

Soccer - Kenny Mantell, senior ​The speedy midfielder had a breakout season for a Unity squad that won 10 matches during a 10-6-2 campaign. Another Rocket that will be heading to Eureka College, Mantell scored 16 goals and assisted on 4 others, and was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year. Other postseason awards included a First Team berth on the Illini Prairie Conference All-Conference Team, and Honorable Mention on the News-Gazette’s All-Area squad.

Boys’ Cross-Country - Cameron Woodard, junior ​Woodard was the Rockets’ top runner for an improving boys’ team rebuilding after the top runners from the 2015 state championship team graduated. The junior’s best finishes were seconds at the Tuscola Classic and the Regional meet at St. Thomas More. Woodard’s best time during the season was a 15:48.65 clocking at the Carlinville Sectional, which qualified him for state. At the state meet, Woodard placed 58th with a time of 16:03. In the Illini Prairie Conference meet, Woodard came in fifth overall with a time of 16:22.5. Woodard was a Second Team choice on the News-Gazette’s All-Area Team.

Girls’ Cross-Country - State Champion Unity Rockets ​Saving the best for last. The Rockets won their second state Class 1A state title in three seasons, giving them a bookend to go with the 2015 trophy. Junior Jordan Harmon was Unity’s leading runner for much of the season, winning seven of the first eight races in which she competed. Following Harmon to the finish line were freshmen Caroline Bachert and Evelyn Atkins, sophomore Kylie Decker and juniors Audrey Hancock, Miranda Fairbanks and MacKenzie Brunk, along with seniors Savannah Day and Natalie King. When Harmon missed three races at the end of the regular season, including the regional and the sectional, Day and Natalie King stepped up and filled the gap for the Rockets. Unity never finished lower than second in any meet this year, winning the Kick-Off Classic at Kickapoo State Park, the Cow Chip Classic at Chrisman, the PBL Invite, the Tuscola Classic, the Robinson Invite, the Illini Prairie Conference meet, the Cumberland Invitational, the regional and the state. Harmon had her lowest time of the season at Chrisman, running a 17:58. Bachert recorded the team’s fastest time at the sectional, clocking a 17:50.68 to finish third overall. Five other Rockets recorded their best times of the season at the sectional. Harmon was named to the First Team on the News-Gazette’s All-Area Team, with Atkins and Bachert selected for the Second Team. Brunk, Day, Decker, Fairbanks, Hancock and Natalie all received Honorable Mention recognition, while coach Kara Leaman was named as the newspaper’s Coach of the Year.  

 

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