Put the four fingers up in the air because it’s time for the fourth quarter in this year’s “Year in Review” brought to you by Two Rivers Bank and Trust as I’m Slaten Swords and it’s time for the sports.
When we last left off, the fall season was heading towards the postseason for football and volleyball, but first we start with cross country.
The boys’ and girls’ teams of Washington ran their way to a third straight Southeast Conference championship with the boys’ team winning by 32 points and the girls’ team sneaking past Fort Madison with a six-point advantage.
For the boys’, the Demons finished in the pole positions with Micah Rees grabbing his second individual championship with a time of 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Mt. Pleasant finished in third as a team with Jude Dykstra finishing in fourth place with a time of 17 minutes and 22 seconds and Ben Carthy grabbing fifth place with a time of 17 minutes and 30 seconds.
On the girls’ side, it was an identical finish to last year with Avery Rump of Fort Madison outpacing Iris Dahl of Washington by over a minute—19 minutes and 29 seconds.
Nelle Peterson was the top finisher for the Panthers in 22nd place with a time of 24 minutes and 2 seconds. Monroe James was the next Panther with a 26th place finish.
There was a decent amount of talent from Southeast Iowa that competed at the state meet starting with the Danville boys’ team that qualified as a team. The Bears would finish in 5th place as a team with Jackson Shacklett leading the way with a time of 16 minutes and 55 seconds, which claimed him 20th place. Carter Fesler grabbed 28th place.
Lincoln Bainbridge of Van Buren County raced to a time of 16 minutes and 13 seconds, which earned him 5th place. Kohlby Newsom finished in 19th place for Winfield-Mt. Union with a time of 16 minutes and 54 seconds.
For the girls, Alaina Gourley of Danville, a sophomore, finished in 66th place with a time of 21 minutes and 1 second.
In Class 2A, Mediapolis finished in 6th place as a team. Owen Schmidgall took 9th place with a time of 16 minutes and 22 seconds for the Bulldogs. Logan Rosas was the next Bulldog to finish in 24th place with a time of 16 minutes and 53 seconds. Will Schmidgall took 33rd, Solomon Zaugg grabbed 50th place, and Simon Wendel finished in 113th place.
For the Class 3A boys, Micha Rees’ 4th place finish with a time of 15 minutes and 47 seconds helped lead the Demons to a 5th place finish as a team.
For the Class 3A girls, Avery Rump and Iris Dahl continued their close competition with Rump besting Dahl by three seconds to finish in 4th place for the Bloodhounds and Dahl in 5th place for the Demons.
During this time, a couple of local teams were making their way through the postseason bracket for football. For 8-player, Winfield-Mt. Union breezed past Belle Plaine to start of their postseason run, while WACO hosted Baxter and ran them out of town to the tune of a 55-20 final. Hunter Hughes nabbed two interceptions. Louden Huisenga totaled 174 yards and scored a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown, and a 52-yard kick return touchdown to open up the second half, while Reece Oswald finished with three touchdowns in the matchup.
In Class 2A, Mediapolis started their playoff run with a narrow 28-21 victory over Anamosa.
Round two provided our first elimination as WACO, traveling up to Don Bosco, could not hold on to the late lead as the Dons won 28-20. Hunter Hughes grabbed his third interception of the postseason, while Clayton Miller and Colton Leichty connected for two touchdowns through the air. The Warriors finished with an 8-2 record.
Cam Buffington continued running through opposing defenses as the senior totaled 150 rushing yards and four touchdowns as #1 Winfield-Mt. Union dumped Moravia 34-6. Jake Edwards found Abram Edwards through the air for the Wolves final touchdown of the night. This set up a matchup against Don Bosco at Gilbertville.
Mediapolis continued their winning ways with a 27-0 victory over Camanche, but their playoff run would end the next week against Monticello as the Bulldogs finished with an 8-3 record.
Let’s pause our progress through football and jump over to volleyball as Holy Trinity Catholic was scorching their way through the playoffs. The Crusaders started their run allowing only 11 points against Moulton-Udell. This led to a matchup against Danville, which the Crusaders won in straight sets as Presley Myers and Mary Kate Bendlage each tallied double-digit kills.
Tysann Gipple, who committed to playing volleyball at Southeastern Community College, notched her 500th career kill against Burlington Notre Dame, but New London could not down the Nikes. Meaning, for the fourth year in a row, either Burlington Notre Dame or Holy Trinity Catholic was going to end the other’s season.
The Nikes had a solid second set, which knotted things up. However, the Crusaders would prove to be too much with a couple of plays from their leaders. With that win under their belt, Edgewood-Colesburg proved to be no challenge as the Crusaders swept the Vikings on their way to their 13th state tournament appearance in the past 14 years as Taegan Denning and company were unstoppable from the service line as the Crusaders tallied 7 aces.
Now that we are caught up, Winfield-Mt. Union punched their ticket to the UNI-Dome for the first time since 1999 after escaping Gilbertville with a 34-29 win over Don Bosco, thanks to a clutch last second interception by Cole Milks.
Unfortunately, the Wolves went into the semifinals plagued by injuries and could not keep up with Bishop Garrigan’s rushing attack in the second half as the Golden Bears won 34-20. The Wolves finished their special season with an 11-1 record.
Looking at district awards: Cam Buffington was tabbed Defensive MVP, Louden Huisenga was named Offensive MVP, and Cooper Buffington grabbed Lineman MVP.
Jake Edwards, Carter Loyd, Kael Johnson, Abram Edwards, Cole Milks, and Eli Miller were all named to the 1st Team for the Wolves.
For WACO, Colton Lecithy, Chase Waterhouse, Clayton Miller, John McLaughlin, Joel Meyer, Hunter Hughes, and Reese Oswald made the 1st Team.
New London had Gavin Menke-Bailey named 1st Team running back for the Tigers.
For Class 3A District 4, Payton Walker and Nolan Frueh were named 2nd Team All-District for offense.
With the football season wrapped up, we hop back to state volleyball where Holy Trinity Catholic is off to a slow start against a familiar name by now, Don Bosco. Nevertheless, the Crusaders, led by Adalyn Kruse, swept the Dons.
Natalie Randolph put together a triple-double performance with 11 kills, 15 assists, and 15 digs in their semifinal matchup against Boyden-Hull that saw the Crusaders sweep their opponents 25-17, 25-17, and 25-21.
Ankeny Christian would spoil the Crusaders’ story book ending, as Mikaela Richter was inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Volleyball Hall of Fame before the game, but the Eagles would soar to their second state championship in school history.
Seniors Mary Kate Bendlage and Natalie Randolph were named to the All-Tournament team. Teagen Snaadt, a junior, racked up 18 digs as she was also named to the All-Tournament team. Presley Myers led the team with four blocks bringing her postseason total to 38. Holy Trinity Catholic finished the season with a 33-11 record.
To round out the volleyball season, here are the Southeast Conference awards. Fairfield finished 9-1 in conference play, which includes their 5-0 record in the SEC tournament, and 20-12 overall.
Mt. Pleasant finished in third place in the conference after going 2-3 in the tournament. Alex Scott earned 2nd Team All-Conference as she notched 132 kills and 36 aces on the season. Emma Starr and Courtney Raub ended their Panther careers as All-Conference Honorable Mentions with Starr tallying 141 kills and Raub ranking 9th in assists.
Leighton Messinger of Washinton won Conference Player of the Year as she led the conference in kills with 343 and fifth in aces with 43.
Before jumping into winter sports, there were a few announcements. Nate Dismang of Mt. Pleasant signed on to Southeastern Community College to continue playing golf at the collegiate level.
Central Lee announced three new members to their Athletic Hall of Fame in longtime coach Don Ford, who founded the Hawks volleyball program. Jeff Brisby, a talented three-sport athlete, that averaged 22 points a game for basketball and pitched a sub-1.00 ERA in baseball. Lastly, another three-sport standout in Christy Schrader (Holtkamp). In basketball, she collected 1,311 career points and 273 blocks, which ranks among the top 50 in the history of girls’ Iowa high school basketball.
Nearing the present, in early December, the Mt. Pleasant Athletic Booster Board announced that they were campaigning to renovate the locker rooms at Mapleleaf, as the last renovation occurred in the 1970s.
Wrestling, basketball, and bowling have all reached their midway points of the season. The Holy Trinity Catholic and Burlington Notre Dame girls’ teams have both taken turns being ranked in the top 15 for Class 1A, while Winfield-Mt. Union is currently ranked 8th in Class 1A for boys’ basketball. Mt. Pleasant boys’ basketball currently sits atop the SEC standings after narrow wins over Fort Madison and Keokuk to end out December.
Lastly, Abram Edwards and Cam Buffington made Winfield-Mt. Union school history as the first student-athletes to sign on to play Division I football as Edwards will be attending Army University and Buffington will be playing for the Hawkeyes at the University of Iowa.
Thank you all for tuning this year as we give a big round of applause to all of our student-athletes in Southeast Iowa who have made this year of athletics something special as we look forward to 2024. I’m Slaten Swords and we thank Two Rivers Bank and Trust for sponsoring “Year in Review” as this has been quarter four.