Two Rivers Bank brings us the Year in Review. The third quarter is where a team likes to wear out the opponent and start running away with the game. New London baseball took that idea and brought it to another level in the month of July. The Tigers, led by seniors Dereck Santiago and Josh Catala, finished the regular season one game away from a perfect record, 25-1. The Tigers were poised to make a big run at state for Head Coach Brad Helmerson’s last season at the helm for New London. New London started their postseason run with a 6-2 win over Pekin with Tucker Gibbar knocking in three runs with a double in the game and Santiago getting the win on the mound. Parker Testa was on the call for the Tiger’s run through the playoffs. The Nikes were the next victims of the Tiger sweep, this time Cater Allen smacked the ball around for a double and a triple tallying an RBI. Santiago again was an ace on the mound striking out 8 in the 5-0 win over Burlington Notre Dame. Moravia looked to be the toughest competition for the Tigers having scored 41 runs in their two playoff games before. The Tigers bats were unphased as they clobbered the Mohawks 11-1 to punch their ticket to the Class 1A state tournament. At 28-1, the third seed Tigers were tasked to go against the sixth seed CAM and took care of them without much of an issue as Santiago and Gibbar accounted for 6 RBIs on their way to a 12-3 final. The Tigers continued their march to the State Championship dismantling Newman Catholic 16-1 in 4 innings as Gibbar added another 3 RBIs with Allen adding 3 RBIs of his own. The undefeated Hawks of Remsen St. Mary’s was the last team to face off against New London. The Tigers got out to a nice lead thanks to Gibbar’s solo home run in the fourth, but it came down to the final inning with New London clinging on to an 8-7 lead. Here’s Parker Testa’s call on the last play. Coach Helmerson had high praise for his team after the game saying, “That’s amazing. These guys are something else.” New London ran the table with the Southeast Iowa Super Conference All-Conference baseball awards with Dereck Santiago, Tucker Gibbar, Kooper Schulte, Carter Allen, Josh Catala, Camden Kasel, and Ryan Richey making the First Team. Set Bailey was named Second Team pitcher with Drew Benz and Brendan Richey getting Honorable Mentions. Brad Helmerson, Justin Schulte, and Jayden Flowers were named Coaching Staff of the Year. Helmerson was also named Des Moines Register’s 2022 All-Iowa Baseball Coach of the Year. To round out the month of July, Mt. Pleasant Baseball had Cooper Keldgord and Carter Amos make the All-SEC 2nd Team with Jake Ensminger and Lincoln Henriksen being named Honorable Mentions. For Iowa Wesleyan, Courtney Carl, the Associate Athletic Director for Compliance, Marketing, and Communications, was named Sports Information Director of the Year.
The month of August brought us the start of the high school academic year and the fall sport season with Football, Volleyball, Cheer, and Cross Country. WACO, Winfield-Mt. Union, and New London all started their playoff runs with a week zero matchup with the Warriors and Wolves picking up victories. There were high hopes for the Wolves and Warriors to start the season as WACO and Winfield-Mt. Union both ranked inside the Preseason Top 10 for the Des Moines Register. Prep volleyball was very competitive to start the season with Holy Trinity Catholic, Winfield-Mt. Union, Burlington Notre Dame, and New London all taking turns being ranked in the top 15 for the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. For Iowa Wesleyan it was the start for Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Football, Volleyball, and Cross Country. The biggest news for the Tigers was Aduago Nwachukwu winning the bronze medal for Team USA at the U20 World Championship in dominant fashion.
The month of September saw teams paving their way toward a run in the playoffs and some payer recognition for Iowa Wesleyan. Major Niccum started that trend by picking up a NSAA Defensive Player of the Week after his 15-tackle performance in a week one performance against Tabor College. Lily Garnsey earned Cross Country Runner-of-the-Week for the CAC after finishing with her personal best time of 22:23 at the Fighting Bee Invitational and Alexis Hafenstine nabbed Volleyball Defender of the Week for the CAC after a 35-dig performance against Graceland. Volleyball continued picking up recognition as Bethany Williams earned All-Tournament honors at the Jimmy John’s Classic as she accounted for 18 points through four matches. Tyler Ball picked up NSAA Special Teams Player of the Week in a 55-0 win over Finlandia thanks to a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown. The defense also set two school records in the game against Finlandia with most sacks in a game with 11 and least amount of rushing yards allowed with -119. The men’s soccer team picked up a CAC Athlete of the Week from Richard Arch after his four goals in two matches. The Iowa Wesleyan Women’s golf team won their first invite since April 2021 at the Monmouth Invitational thanks to Aubrey Duncan’s stellar performance picking up her second collegiate victory. Duncan continued playing well at the Simpson Fall Invitational earning an All-Tournament nod for her 2nd place finish. Trace White also made the All-Tournament Team for his 5th place finish.
On the high school side of things, Ben Carthey was pacing the Panthers cross-country team with multiple top three finishes. Volleyball featured Keely Malone of Winfield-Mt. Union capturing her 1,000-career assist in early September. Malone followed that up by passing Samantha Walker’s career assist record of 1,175 in a 25-assist performance against Lone Tree; Malone would finish her career with 1,431 assists. The Southeast Iowa Super Conference was fiercely competitive this season with four teams ranked within the top 15 in New London, Holy Trinity Catholic, West Burlington, and Burlington Notre Dame fighting for the title. The tournament followed the rankings as such with the Nikes besting Holy Trinity Catholic to face off against West Burlington in the Championship and the Crusaders to play New London for third place. Gabby Deery continued clobbering the ball collecting 20 kills in the championship game helping the Nikes take the title in a very competitive third set 15-12. The Crusaders would take third place in straight sets. Burlington Notre Dame would end the month ranked 3rd in Class 1A followed by Holy Trinity Catholic in 10th and New London in 15th. We’ll catch back up for regional play for upset central with the Crusaders and Mt. Pleasant shocking their opponents. For football, WACO ended the month at 7-0 and eyeing a trip to the UNI Dome. The fourth quarter will start with an exciting Homecoming game for the Iowa Wesleyan Tiger football team with a couple of trips to State to end out this fantastic year of sports for the Year in Review sponsored by Two Rivers Bank.