BaseballEAST PEORIA – It wasn’t the outcome the Lady Hornets were looking for when they got to the Illinois High School Association State Softball Finals, but their efforts allowed them to claim 4th place in Class 1A after dropping a 6-3 decision to Princeville in the consolation game at Eastside Centre here on June 3.

Princeville Wins 6-3; Heyworth Takes 4th In Class 1A: Witnessed by 300 fans, the consolation game between the Lady Hornets and the Lady Princes was scoreless for four innings, both squads’ defense having their say. Then, in the top half of the fifth inning, Heyworth (22-12) got started with a single up the middle from right fielder Madison Riley. After second baseman Alexandra Williams flied out to Princeville catcher Molly Davis for Heyworth’s first out, left fielder Maddie Quattro singled and advanced to second base on an error by Davis.

With runners at second and third, Riley scored on a single by shortstop Ashley McKinney, giving Heyworth a 1-0 lead. Next, Hornets first baseman Somer Marlett singled and advanced to second on a poor Princeville throw while McKinney and Quattro scored, increasing the Lady Hornets’ lead to 3-0. Heyworth catcher Maddie Sims and pitcher Adyson Slayback ended the inning by lining out and striking out, respectfully.

Heyworth HornetsPrinceville (26-9) countered in the bottom of the fifth inning, as with one out, a single to left field by center fielder Chloe Lane advanced second baseman Natalie Cokel to second after having been walked. A shot into center field by third baseman Caitlin Pullen moved her from first to second on the defensive throw, scoring Cokel, 1-0, while Lane moved to third. Lane scored on a fielder’s choice increasing the lead, 3-2, and moved Pullen to third. Princeville shortstop Jessica DeVries singled and stole second giving Pullen a chance to score, tying the game at 3-3.

Princeville first baseman Madison Roe’s triple scored DeVries, putting the Lady Princes in front, 4-3. A single by pitcher Haley Holt scored Roe, upping the lead to 5-3. Heyworth went down in order in the bottom of the sixth inning when center fielder D’Laney Gardner, shortstop Paige Schiffman, and right fielder Madison Riley went out in order.

Princeville tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth inning, making Princeville’s lead, 6-3, as Cokel scored to lead off the inning having gotten to second on a wild pitch by Heyworth’s Slayback and scored on a Lane single. In the top of the seventh, Holt sat down Williams, Quattro, and McKinney to prevent a Hornets rally.

Holt (23-6) was the winning pitcher for Princeville while Slayback (15-8) took the loss.

Heyworth head coach George VanWinkle choked up a little as he talked about media members afterward, wiping a tear or two after the team received their trophy and medallions from tourney officials for their efforts.

“A good team beat us today, that’s all you can say,” VanWinkle said. “I’m just tickled to death that we’re here. These kids…the seniors especially, have been with me since they were in sixth grade.” VanWinkle struggled to hold his emotions in check while talking about the girls he’s been coaching for that long.

McKinney said she felt good about the fact she and her teammates made it to State, but added, “Also though, it’s a sad time because my days of playing softball are over.”

“We felt a little more confident going into this game than on Friday against Goreville,” explained Gardner. “But some games don’t always end the way you want them to. Both McKinney and Gardner have plans to attend Heartland Community College this fall.

IHSALosing To Goreville, 11-0, In Semis Sent Hornets To Consolation Game: The Hornets’ optimism toward playing in the championship game got dashed fairly quickly on June 2 as the opponents from Goreville, a community roughly 90 minutes from the Illinois-Kentucky line, blanked the Lady Hornets, 11-0. As a crowd of 550 fins watched, the Blackcats crossed Heyworth’s path first for a home run off of Slayback in the top of the third inning when first baseman Camren Anderson launched a pitch over the fence in deep left field to help her team take a 1-0 lead. Then, to lead off the top of the fourth inning, designated player Macy Goins singled, which began what turned out to be a long frustrating defensive half-inning for Heyworth.

Goreville (25-8) added six runs while the Lady Hornets accounted for two of their three errors in the contest by that point. The Blackcats went on to score one more run in the sixth inning and another two in the seventh inning to round out their scoring effort. With the victory, Blackcats pitcher Cheyenne Walker increased her record to 12-3, while Slayback finished with a 15-7 mark.

Regarding the semifinal, VanWinkle said, “The reality is, we got beat by a really good team. It’s not that we played that poorly. They just flat out beat us.”

“I was really upset, but what can you do?” Slayback said of that loss. “I’m very glad we had the chance to make it to State with these girls. They were amazing.”

Steve RobinsonFor Ridgeview Mustangs’ Jordyn Talley and Heyworth Hornets’ Madielynn Sims, having one more day competing on the basketball court was what counted. They got their one more day competing at the IHSA 3-Point Competition at Redbird Arena on Feb. 23.

Even though both Ridgeview and Heyworth, both Class 1A schools, made exits en route to a championship bid, Heyworth lasted until the Class 1A Super-Sectional – one stop short of making an appearance at Redbird Arena. But for Talley, the 3-Point appearance came after experiencing Ridgeview’s fall in the Regional championship.

One More Day On The Court For Talley: But for Talley, to try to become the top free throw shooter in the Class gave the senior one more day on the court when the competition. That extension allowed her to sink 6-of-15 shots in the allotted 45 second time frame.

“I feel I could have done better, but I’m just glad to be here,” Talley said. “It’s a good feeling to be here. I just wished I had gotten 10-of-15, but you can only do what you can do.”

Redbird Arena “is a different environment” than the Mustangs’ home gym, Talley admitted.

The daughter of Gene and Tonia Talley, she added her coach, Scott Ghere, advised her “to have fun and take it all in.” Concerning the Mustangs having been stopped when they were in their quest to get to State finals by Cissna Park, Talley said, “We were really happy with how far we had gotten. When we lost, we were sad but it’s hard to hang your head when you’ve had such a good season.”

She’s right. When you have a losing season the prior year as the Mustangs did, and recoup to go 23-6, there is no reason to hang your head for too long, even when you lose a Regional. The Mustangs hope to get further next season, Talley said. She believes that’s possible based on “our having such a good season this year. Having gone from a losing season to a winning one this year was nice.”

Talley’s next challenge after high school is attending Parkland College followed by the University of Illinois where she’ll major in Kinesiology. That will, she hopes, lead to a job in sports training.

Heyworth’s Sims “Glad To Shoot A Little Longer”: For Madielynn Sims, the extension of her basketball season meant going 4-for-15 in the 3-Point Showdown. Of the experience, she said, “It was pretty exciting and I was pretty nervous. I’m glad I could shoot the basketball a little longer.”

The 3-Point Shootout was also Sims’ basketball finale in more ways than one, as she will be off to Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, where she will play Softball. She even has a profile page on a college scouting website.

“I’ve always been a softball player and played basketball, too,” Sims said. In addition to making the sport change once she gets to college, she would like to major in Criminal Justice.

Heyworth lost to Harvest Christian in the Class 1A Pontiac Super-Sectional, falling one step short of making it to State.

Sims wasn’t even supposed to have any more basketball beyond that point, but the 3-Point Shootout opportunity became a reality when a girl who was supposed to compete backed out, creating an open slot. “My goal was just to get one basket, so I was happy with what I got,” she explained.

The daughter of Derrick and Celena Sims, she said her head coach, Tony Griffin, “told me to just go out there and have fun and don’t worry about the distractions” shooting in a larger facility can be for high school players.

Sims admitted about the experience, “I was nervous, but I had fun.”

For both Talley and Sims, it sounds as though they enjoyed the experience of demonstrating their basketball skills one last time before heading off to new adventures in college. Here’s hoping those adventures for these young women will be equally satisfying.

By Steve Robinson | December 4, 2016 - 10:05 pm
Posted in Category: Heyworth, The Normalite

Steve RobinsonIn August 2015, I wrote a column about a scholarship established by the parents of Noah Wiseman, a 16-year-old student at Heyworth High School, who lost his life in June 2014. Wiseman family friend Julie Day, approached Noah’s parents, Clay and Sue Wiseman, with the idea for a scholarship to honor Noah.

The Wisemans, wanting to keep their son’s memory alive while wanting to do something for someone else agreed. The campaign to raise funds for the scholarship became known as the “Win For Wiseman” Scholarship.

After receiving the approval of the local school board, fundraising for the scholarship began. Because Noah was a member of the Heyworth High School Hornets football team, a dual position player – running back and linebacker – the Wisemans decided to open the scholarship opportunity to just members of the football team. The Wisemans, their other son Kyle and his wife, Jill, would tap an independent group of judges to decide winners of two $5,000 scholarships which would be used to help defray college costs. Last year, it became necessary to ask an independent panel to judge the entries because of the family’s ties to the Hornets football team. This year, the Wisemans, their son and Jill will serve as the panel judging the entries.

The winners of the first two “Win For Wiseman” Scholarships in 2016 were two very good friends to Noah – Jacob Day and Cole Sinn. Jacob is the son of Jeff and Julie Day. Cole is the son of Mike and Kris Sinn.

“It was ironic that two of Noah’s friends won scholarships,” Sue Wiseman said of the inaugural event’s outcome. A total of seven entries were received for a scholarship that will only continue for another four years after this year.

This year, the Wisemans are again opening the opportunity for two students to win the scholarship. The essay contest is open to all members of HHS’ Class of 2017. “We raised $10,000 last year for the scholarship,” Sue Wiseman said. “We hope to do the same this year.” Clay and Sue Wiseman say the cash can be applied not just for kids going to college, but for students who are considering attending trade schools to get a jump on a career.

“This year, we don’t have any ties to the senior class at HHS,” Clay Wiseman added.

As with last year’s contest, there is a topic to be addressed in the essay. This year’s entrants must write an essay on the topic of “If you had the authority to change your school in a positive way, what specific changes would you make and why?” The submissions must be between 300-1,000 words in length. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 15.

In the meantime, while the seniors will be busy assembling their thoughts and putting them to paper, the “Win For Wiseman” Scholarship Committee will be seeking funds for the scholarship. Donations can be sent to: “Win For Wiseman” Scholarship, c/o Julie Day, 511 Kickapoo Rd., Heyworth, Ill. 61745.

Sue Wiseman said monetary donations for the scholarship can be left with Heyworth High School’s office, too, however, it’s important that all checks or money orders be made out to “Win For Wiseman Scholarship.”

Sue Wiseman admits $10,000 “is an awful lot of money for a small school. We just want to continue doing this in memory of our son…

“We would like to thank all of our family, friends, and the Heyworth community for their support in making this scholarship possible,” Clay Wiseman concluded.

Persons wanting more information or wishing to make a donation may contact Day either by phone at 309-531-0387 or by e-mail at

By Steve Robinson | August 30, 2015 - 10:54 pm
Posted in Category: Heyworth, The Normalite

Steve RobinsonFrom all accounts, what I heard about Heyworth High School student Noah Wiseman from his folks, best pal, and that friend’s mother is that he was an astute, dedicated, determined young man. Even though he was at an age when most kids are just figuring out what their life’s goal ought to be, the 16-year-old already had the blueprint for his life drawn out.

That’s what made losing him on June 24, 2014 so difficult to accept – not just for his loved ones – his parents, older brother and sister-in-law. It forced his friends and the Town of Heyworth to cope, as well.

His death hit the small community of Heyworth hard. Several hundred people – students, Heyworth High football teammates, and Noah’s friends and family attended Noah’s visitation and funeral services. There, they shared stories about Noah’s friendship, kindness, and generosity, and how his life had impacted theirs.

Now, almost 15 months later, Noah’s father, Clay Wiseman, explained his son “was a very mature 16-year-old.”

“He knew what his plans were in this world,” Clay explained, his voice trailing off. “He knew what his plan was for his life. His goal was to play football in college. He worked very hard at it.”

And he was a kid with a big infectious smile, his parents explained. He also loved playing football, the game he began playing as part of the Town’s Junior Football League, starting in grade school.

Had things played out the way the young man had hoped, he would have gone into the Army following college, training to become a Navy SEAL sometime down the road. To prep for college football life, he attended several recruiting camps including one in Chicago, where its organizers determine who attends. He was selected out of this camp to attend an elite camp in Ohio named “Top Gun”. “Noah was convinced he’d be picked for the ‘Top Gun’ camp,” Clay Wiseman relayed. He was chosen for that camp, but unfortunately, this camp was in July, 2014. A camp he never got to attend.

It just wasn’t football where Noah’s determination made it presence known, his father said. Regardless of task, Clay Wiseman said, his son “set his goals high.” His mother, Sue Wiseman, remembers a kid going into his junior year in the summer of 2014 “who was always sensitive to other peoples’ needs and wants. He was just a very loving kid.”

He was a loving kid who, maybe, unlike most of his peers, paid a little more attention to news of the day because his father had a car radio tuned to news-talk stations. Paying attention to such things helped to shape Noah as “a very, very patriotic individual,” Clay Wiseman said of his youngest of two sons. “For 16-years-old, he loved America.”

If you were a Heyworth High student and friend of Noah’s, you visited the Wisemans regularly “in a house all the kids came to,” Clay Wiseman explained. But that helped, it appears, the Wisemans discover who Noah considered his friends, and gave his parents an insight into the young man’s personal selection criteria for being with those friends.

Clay said his son admitted to him he felt a person’s character was important in choosing friends. “He was a leader,” Clay Wiseman said of Noah. “He wasn’t a follower.”

Jacob Day was in high school with Noah at Heyworth High, and like all teen boys, when paired together, fun is had and memories made. The memories that make Jacob Day laugh are the time Noah finished football practice but kept his helmet on, wearing it as he drove home, sitting behind the wheel of the family truck, not to mention the time he and Noah raced down the Wiseman’s basement stairs while tucked into sleeping bags. Friends like that you don’t forget.

And friends like Julie Day are ones you don’t say no to when they offer help, Clay Wiseman admits.

Day’s brainchild was to begin a scholarship in Noah Wiseman’s honor. The “Win For Wiseman” Scholarship will be a guaranteed commitment for each senior class for at least the first five years. The scholarship will be awarded each year to an HHS senior football player who attends a college or university after graduating from high school by writing an essay on a given topic. The topic for the essay will be determined annually by the Wiseman family. This year, the judging for the inaugural prize will be determined by a third party.

Julie Day wanted to do something to honor Noah’s memory and approached the Wisemans about starting a scholarship. There’s hope the project can raise $5,000 annually to give to a deserving student. The deadline to donate money currently is Feb. 1, 2016. The scholarship will be given at the annual awards banquet next spring. An independent third party will serve as judge of the submissions turned in.

Persons wanting more information or wishing to make a donation may contact Day either by phone at 309-531-0387 or by e-mail at

Healing will come in time for the Wisemans. The scholarship will be a help to a deserving student. Put together, the memories his family has and the community keeping his name alive will make sure Noah Wiseman’s life is not forgotten.