Ricky Stephan won his career 100th IMCA Modified feature Saturday at Park Jefferson Speedway. (Photo by Jim Steffens)SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. – Ricky Stephan started his IMCA Modified career 30-odd years ago at Park Jefferson Speedway.Fittingly, he returned there on July 8 to win his 100th feature in the division.“It’s really my home track and I was racing in front of my home fans,” Stephan said. “Plus, Pepsi of Siouxland sponsored the night and I’m a Pepsi guy.”“It was about time. I knew I was capable of doing it,” he continued. “Winning 100 features puts you in the history book. It’s an elite group.”While Stephan is the 50th driver in division history to reach 100 wins for his career, he’s got a resume full of equally impressive accomplishments.He earned his first of 16 career track championships, at Buena Vista Raceway, in his rookie 1987 season. He became just the ninth driver to win four track titles in a single season last year.Add in a couple Side Biter Chassis North Central Regional championships (2001 and 2003) and six Allstar Performance State championships – three in Iowa and a current streak of three in a row in South Dakota – and there’s no disputing the fact that Stephan brings a unique list of achievements to any discussion about the best drivers ever to wheel an IMCA Modified.From South Sioux City, Neb., Stephan turns 51 the day after the upcoming IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s ends.He’s qualified for the big dance on six occasions while making a pair of Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational starts.Stephan’s Racer nickname is an obvious one and was bestowed on him by Wayne King Jr., the son of his long-time sponsor Wayne Sr. Stephan, in turn, began calling Wayne Jr. The Little King.Stephan started racing in 1984 in a limited late model class – his father Richard has only missed one of his races in all those years – and has become accustomed to the growing number of young faces surrounding him at drivers’ meetings.“Kids are faster now and I’m the veteran. It’s hard to believe I was like that 30 years ago,” he said. “I hope I can carry on and get some more wins.”
Riding high amid an eight-game winning streak, the Wisconsin volleyball team can seemingly do nothing wrong.In a week that saw them sweep two Big Ten foes, extending their set winning streak to 17, three Badgers were awarded with Player of the Week honors.Sophomore Kelli Bates was named the Co-Player of the Week, junior Lauren Carlini was honored as the Setter of the Week and Tionna Williams was named Freshman of the Week.Head coach Kelly Sheffield reflected on the team’s successful week at his news conference Monday.“I think we had a pretty good week, individually, with some players,” Sheffield said. “I thought Kelli Bates had a monster week and I think her hard work is starting to pay off and show a little bit in her all-around game. Her and Taylor Morey have really been working hard at their ball control. They’ve been coming in early in the mornings, and I don’t think there was any coincidence that our last four matches have probably been our best passing matches of the season.”No. 11 Wisconsin (20-6, 12-4 Big Ten) is peaking at the right time and will look to push its unbeaten streak to nine as they travel to Champaign to take on No. 16 Illinois (18-9, 9-7).The Badgers and Fighting Illini faced off earlier this year, with Wisconsin winning 3-1 to secure its first Big Ten victory Sept. 30.Volleyball: Badgers drop Fighting Illini in four setsThe Wisconsin volleyball team can finally chalk up a conference victory in the win column. After losing three straight games Read…That match saw junior Romana Kriskova break out and lead the team with 15 kills, and the Badgers could use another solid performance from her as she has fallen under the radar in recent weeks.“I’m not worried about [Kriskova],” Sheffield said. “She hasn’t put up great numbers in the past few matches, but truthfully some of that might have to do with the coaches rather than her. I think when we get right down to it she is going to be somebody we will be able to count on.”The Badgers know they have a major opportunity in front of them this week as they play against two top-20 teams that they may face deep in the NCAA tournament. The opportunity to make a lasting impression on the selection committee is not lost on the team.“We’re excited about this week,” Sheffield said. “We’ve got two teams that are not just top-20 teams, but they’re two teams that you could be facing that second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, if we’re fortunate to still be playing, caliber of teams that you could be squared off against to try to make a run to the Final Four.”The Badgers take on the Fighting Illini 8 p.m. Wednesday and the match will be televised on the Big Ten Network.