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Gillespie softball racks up three wins this week

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Amari Vickery gets the bunt down the Miners.

The Gillespie Miners softball team racked up three wins this week over Auburn, Nokomis, and Jerseyville.

Gillespie faced the Auburn Trojans on March 19 taking a 6-0 win. Emma Gipson was in the circle in this game and earned the win. She gave up four hits and ended the game collecting seven strikeouts.

Macie Wright got the bats started in the first inning with a single. She led the team at the plate going 1-3 with two RBIs. Lauren Bertagnolli followed up in the top of the second inning with a single, putting Gillespie up by four. She went 3-3 in the game. Ava Parish, Gipson, and Wright each put one in the hit column for the game. Bertagnolli, Paxton Reid, and Gipson each had an RBI.

Meena Taylor took the loss for Auburn, allowing six hits, striking out thirteen batters, and walking four.

Gillespie also faced the Nokomis Lady Redskins this week, taking the win 13-3. Reid came in clutch in this game, going 3-4 at the plate, and driving in four runs. Bertagnolli and Addi Cox had two RBIs in the game, and we saw an RBI each from Parish and Ava Rakers.

Reid earned her first win in the circle against Nokomis. The right-hander pitcher earned five strikeouts and allowed seven hits and three runs. Cloey Dirks took the loss for Nokomis.

Cox, Parish, and Amari Vickery each had multiple hits in the winning effort for Gillespie.

Amidst the wins of the week, Gillespie also took their first loss of the season against the Edwardsville Tigers, a final score of 1-2. Edwardsville’s Brooke Buris ended the game with a walk-off single, scoring one run. This marks the first loss of the season for Gillespie’s starting pitcher, Emma Gipson. Gipson, alongside Reid, went 1-3 at the plate in their efforts. Parish drove in Gillespie’s one run for the game.

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Gillespie ended the week strong with an eight-to-one victory over the Jersey Panthers. Parish had a phenomenal performance at the plate, going three for three with two home runs and four RBIs. Vickery went two for three at the plate, scoring twice. Gipson went one for three with two RBIs. Sholtis also had an RBI in the game.

Gipson ended the week with a win in the circle. She gave up four hits over seven innings, striking out five batters. Ashlyn Brown took the loss for Jersey, pitching six innings, and striking out five batters. Collins, Pegram, Brainerd, and Beemer each had one hit on the books for Jersey – Collins batted in their one run.

Gillespie will face Triad next week on March 27.

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CUSD 7 News

School board names new head football coach

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Members of the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education on Monday night voted unanimously to appoint Cory Bonstead as the Gillespie High School head football coach for the 2024-25 school year, replacing Dalton Barnes, whose resignation was accepted last month. In other action, the board voted to dismiss Assistant Varsity Football Coach Donnie Allen, and to not renew Allen’s appointment as the high school track and field coach.

The actions bring to an end several weeks of controversy related to the former head coach and assistant coach. Barnes resigned last month as both a high school physical education and social studies teacher as well as the head football coach after parents alleged he and Allen engaged in verbal and physical abuse of student-athletes. An online petition garnering more than 630 electronic signatures accused Barnes and Allen of “child abuse,” citing alleged “verbal abuse, physical abuse, influencing and coercing student-athletes to act against other student-athletes that have spoken out against the abuse, and attempting to limit the First Amendment rights of student-athletes with threats and manipulation.”

While Barnes submitted his resignation, Allen did not step down, precipitating Monday night’s actions to sever him from the district.

Bonstead was hired in July 2022 as a high school resource teacher. He has served as an assistant football coach for the past two years. Before coming to the school district, he was an assistant football coach for Galesburg’s Knox College, where he earned his degree. As a formality, the board also officially accepted Bonstead’s formal resignation as assistant freshman football coach and posted a vacancy for that position.

The actions to hire a new head coach and dismiss the assistant coach took place following a one-hour executive session to discuss personnel issues and other concerns. Upon returning to open session, the board voted unanimously to rehire a roster of certified staff members discussed in executive session.

The board accepted “with regret” the resignation for purposes of retirement of long-serving district custodian Jerry Balzraine, effective May 31, 2025.

Custodian Neil Balzraine, representing non-certificated employees, read a statement thanking Supt. Shane Owsley, Board President Mark Hayes and other board members for coming to an agreement with the union for a new contract covering non-certificated employees.

“Through night and weekends, we worked hard and got a lot done,” Balzraine said. “These meetings were most professional, cordial and productive.”

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Later in the meeting, the board voted unanimously to accept the new contract, which reportedly was ratified by union members Monday morning.

In other personnel action, the board reappointed winter coaches, including Casey Sholtis as GHS head boy’s basketball coach, Jake Kellebrew as assistant high school boy’s basketball coach, Anthony Kravanya as an unpaid volunteer assistant boy’s basketball coach, Jarrod Herron as scholar bowl coach for high school as well as seventh and eighth grade, Andrea Williamson as high school dance coach, Elizabeth Thackery as seventh-grade volleyball coach, and Celia Jubelt as eighth-grade volleyball coach.

Board members unanimously voted to accept the resignation of middle school paraprofessional James Bryant and to post a vacancy for the position. The board also approved a maternity leave request for BenGil Elementary School paraprofessional Kristin Schoen.

The board voted unanimously in separate actions to accept the resignation of Celia Jubelt as head high school women’s volleyball coach and post a vacancy for the position, and to appoint Matt Brawner as a GHS assistant women’s basketball coach.

Also in separate actions, the board voted to post job openings for a district head cook and a district kitchen employee. Board member Amanda Ross who moved to approve both actions pointed out the openings represent existing positions. “I want to be clear that we are not creating new positions,” she said.

SAFETY PROJECTS

On a motion by Peyton Bernot, seconded by Ross, the board green-lit three safety projects to be funded with proceeds of a COPS Federal Safety Grant.

PASS Security of Fairview Heights was the sole bidder for adding door access security for entry to the middle school/high school complex at a cost of $81,210.

Barcom Security with base offices in Springfield, Swansea and St. Louis, submitted the sole bid of $113,000 for an updated fire alarm system for the middle school/high school complex.

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Commercial Telephone Systems, Collinsville, also the sole bidder, will install an updated intercom system at the middle school at a cost of $62,769.

“The companies we hoped would submit bids did submit bids and the prices were what we expected,” Supt. Owsley told the board. The contracts call for the work to be completed by two days before the start of the 2024-25 school year.

FISCAL 2024 BUDGET

The board voted to place on file for public review an amended budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Owsley advised that some numbers in the tentative amended budget are likely to change for the board’s final approval next month. State law requires a 30-day review period, however, even though some data to be reflected in the budget is still being collected.

“I can tell this will change,” Owsley said. “I will have final numbers and a presentation for the board in June.”

Last month, the board directed Owsley to begin work on a tentative fiscal 2025 budget authorized operational expenditures for the period between July 1 and whenever the new budget is approved. Typically, the district finalizes a budget for the current fiscal year in September.

SURPLUS PROPERTY

Upon Owsley’s recommendation, the board declared two buses and one truck as surplus property. The three vehicles will be advertised for sale to the highest qualified bidders.

OTHER ACTION

In other words action, the board:

  • Approved a high school course description book for the 2024-25 school year. GHS Principal Jill Rosentreter said there are no major changes from the course description document the district used last year.
  • Approved a revised school calendar. Supt. Owsley said the only change is setting 12:45 p.m. as the dismissal time on days that have early dismissal. Previously, early dismissal times were staggered at 12:30 and 1 p.m. The change is precipitated by the district’s decision to start the school day as the same time for all three attendance centers.
  • Approved a district-wide job description list.
  • Approved a corrected school fees schedule. Owsley said the action was needed because the schedule approved last month was inaccurate due to a computer error resulting from merging fee schedules from the district’s three attendance centers.

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High School Sports

Gillespie softball wins regional championship, rides 14-game win streak

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The Gillespie softball team continue to ride a 14-game win streak through regionals with a 3-2 win over Southwestern on Tuesday, May 14 in the regional semifinals and a 14-2 win over Staunton on Saturday, May 18 to win the regional championship. 

Versus Southwestern, Emma Gipson earned yet another win in the circle for Gillespie. Gipson gave up two runs on four hits, striking out nine batters. Grace Strohbeck took the loss in the circle for Southwestern. Strohbeck surrendered three runs on four hits. 

Ava Parish had a hot bat in the leadoff spot, going 1 for 3 with 2 RBIs and 1 run scored. Parish’s run scored came from a homer to left field during the bottom of the fifth. Macie Wright went 1 for 2 at the plate, with one run scored, drawing Gillespie’s only walk in the game. Paxton Reid and Gipson had a hit in their winning efforts. Wrigley Releford had an RBI on a sac fly during the bottom of the fifth. 

Gillespie ousted Staunton on Saturday, May 18, with a final score of 14-2 to capture the regional championship.

Gipson pocketed the win in the circle, giving up two runs on four hits over five innings of work. Gianna Bianco took the loss for Staunton. Bianco surrendered six runs on six hits. 

Bats were hot for Gillespie, with a total of sixteen hits in their winning efforts. Gipson went 3 for 3 at the plate with 2 RBIs and 1 walk. Sadie Sholtis was dynamic at the plate, going 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs and 3 runs plated. Sholtis homered to center field during the bottom of the second, adding two runs to Gillespie’s lead. 

Ava Parish went 2 for 2 at the top of the lineup with three runs scored, leading Gillespie in walks with two. Laci Shuckenbrock went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs and one run scored. Wrigley Releford went 2 for 3 with 1 RBI and 1 run scored. Lauren Bertagnolli and Wright each contributed a hit to the win. Reid went 2 for 3 at the plate. 

The winning streak continues for Gillespie. They are currently on a 14-game winning streak with an overall 28-4 record and will face Breese Mater Dei on Wednesday, May 22 in Greenville for the sectional semifinal.

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Miners baseball season concludes with loss in regional championship

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The Gillespie Miners season came to an end on Saturday, May 18 when the Miners fell to the Litchfield/Mt. Olive coop baseball team in the regional championship by a score of 0-6. The Miners end the season 24-9.

The Miners had built momentum leading up to Saturday’s loss sailing behind two wins over Calhoun and Hillsboro. Luke Shuckenbrock earned the win on the mound for Gillespie over Calhoun in the team’s last regular season game.

Shuckenbrock gave up three runs on six hits, striking out three over five innings of work. Brody Shaw briefly appeared on the mound for Gillespie in a relief performance, putting in two innings of work. Shaw had one strikeout in the save, giving up no hits and no runs. Cade Sievers pocketed the loss for Calhoun, giving up four runs on two hits. 

Bryce Buhs had a stellar night at the plate, going 2 for 2 with 4 RBIs, 1 run plated, and 1 base on balls. Buhs doubled during the third inning, driving in three runs, and then homered during the sixth. Bryce Honsbehn went 1 for 3 with one run scored and collected a walk. Tristen Wargo, Colin Griffith, and Shuckenbrock each had a hit in their winning efforts. Gillespie had a watchful eye at the plate with a collective six walks on the evening. 

Gillespie marched through their first regional game with a shutout win over Hillsboro on Wednesday, May 15, with a final score of 10-0. 

Wargo earned the win on the mound for Gillespie, going the distance. Wargo allowed zero runs on one hit, picking up seven strikeouts over five innings. Lentz took the loss for Hillsboro, giving up five runs over two-thirds innings. 

Wargo and Shuckenbrock were a dynamic duo in the 1 and 2 spots of the lineup. Wargo went 1 for 2 at the plate with 2 RBIs, 1 run scored, and 1 base on balls. Shuckenbrock went 1 for 1 with 2 RBIs, 2 runs plated, and 2 walks. Buhs and Griffith each had a hit in the win. Gillespie remained steadfast at the plate, drawing a total of eight walks.

The momentum died on Saturday when the Miners fell to Litchfield/Mt. Olive, 6-0. 

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Buhs took the loss for Gillespie, giving up six runs on 11 hits and striking out six. Ethan Saathoff earned the win for Litchfield/Mt. Olive. 

Gillespie could only muster up one hit against the Litchfield/Mt. Olive pitching staff. Griffith was alone in the hit column. The Miners drew three walks in the afternoon game with Wargo leading the pack with two. Litchfield/Mt. Olive advances to play Pleasant Plains in the sectional semifinals.

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