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home : sports : sports Sunday, May 1, 2016

1/1/2014 Email this articlePrint this article 
Central sophomore Frances Coons prepares to deliver the ball during the 1A state bowling meet in March. Coons became the first Central bowler in program history to earn a state medal as she finished ninth overall as the Saber girls finished fifth in their first trip to state. Photo by Ross Eberhart
Time for one last look at Observer-area sports in 2013

By Ross Eberhart
Sports editor

The gifts have been unwrapped, the stockings have been emptied and you can bet that the cookies have been eaten.

It's official - the holiday season is winding down and yet it still feels like the season of giving to me.

You can thank the departing yeart for that. It is hard to think of a year that gave more than 2013.

Whether it was great games or historic performances or even unique moments, the past 365 days had it all.

So before we move into 2014, let's give ourselves one last look back at the year-that-was on the sports scene.

January - The new year got off to a great start for the Northeast girls basketball team, who knocked off both Marquette Catholic and Bellevue in the span of 48 hours to climb to the top of the Big East standings (the second victory came as part of the ninth-annual 'Rivalry Saturday' with the game taking place at Cornell College in Mount Vernon).

January also proved to be a big month for the Central girls basketball team, as the Sabers picked up their first victory of the season (after an 0-12 start) with a 46-36 victory over state-ranked Mount Vernon. Central would win three more games during the month, avenging earlier losses to West Delaware, Anamosa and Solon.

One week into 2013, the Northeast and Calamus-Wheatland boys basketball teams took part in a crazy double overtime game that ended with a game-winning shot by Ben Hildebrandt.

It would not be the only buzzer beater of the month for either team. Northeast knocked off Preston a week later on a banked-in shot by Damon Diedrich, while Cal-Wheat won a pair of games thanks to last-second shots - Jake Janssen hit a late three-pointer just before the buzzer in a 47-46 win over Durant and Austin Bumann beat the horn with a three-pointer to send the Warriors' game with Camanche into overtime (Cal-Wheat would go on to win 72-63).

Both area wrestling teams earned high finishes at tournaments during January. The Northeast wrestling team received individual championships by Tyler Schoon and Connor Soenksen to finish second at its home meet, while Central crowned three champions - Drew Schroeder, Chase Kraklio and Jake Feldpausch - during a runner-up finish at Cascade.

Soenksen earned his 100th win during that Cascade tournament with Schoon joining him in that vaunted 100-win club later in the month.

The Central bowling teams, meanwhile, carried over their strong play from the previous year.

The Saber boys posted a season-best score of 3,296 to win the 1A portion of the North Scott Invitational (it was the third of four invitationals Central would win), while the Saber girls ended West Delaware's streak of 29-straight dual wins.

February - The winter season came to a close for most of the Observer-area squads in February with the basketball and wrestling postseasons taking place during the month.

The Central girls basketball team continued its late season surge by winning a playoff game for the sixth-straight season and advancing to the regional semifinals (after their slow start, the Sabers went 6-5 over their final 11 games).

The Northeast girls rallied late in their postseason opener with WaMaC East co-champion Mount Vernon, but came up short. So, too, did the Cal-Wheat girls basketball team, which played its best basketball of the season in February, before Prince of Peace ended its campaign.

The Northeast and Cal-Wheat boys basketball teams both picked up postseason victories during the month.

The Rebels routed both Monticello and Bellevue to advance all the way to the district finals, while Cal-Wheat knocked off Prince of Peace for a third time.

The Central boys had the unenviable task of opening the playoffs against third-ranked Davenport Assumption, but that did not stop the Sabers from giving the Knights a battle. The game was still up for grabs heading into the fourth quarter before Assumption iced their victory at the free throw line.

February proved to be a strong month for the Central wrestling team. The Sabers opened things up by advancing six wrestlers (two of them - Schroeder and Cameron Donovan - won championships) through the sectional meet and earning a spot in the regional dual meet where they hung right with eventual champion Assumption.

The Sabers kept rolling with four wrestlers - Walker Wegener, Greyson Doolittle, Feldpausch and Donovan - qualifying for the state meet (the most qualifiers for the team since 2007).

Three Saber grapplers won matches in Des Moines, but Central left the meet without a state medal.

It was a tougher month for the Northeast wrestling team. Soenksen proved to be the Rebels' lone district qualifier and the senior's path to a second-straight state berth was blocked by wrestlers that eventually finished second and third in the entire state.

The only squads still rolling when February came to a close were the Central bowling teams.

It proved to be a historic month for the Saber girls, who became the first team in program history to qualify for the state meet by winning their 1A qualifying meet.

Central senior Allen Mumm accomplished his own piece of history by becoming the first Saber to qualify for state more than once.

More history had to wait, however, as a winter storm moved the state bowling competition more than two weeks into March.

March - The wait proved to be worth it for both the Central girls and Mumm as each put together fine performances.

The Saber girls finished fifth overall in their first state trip and were the only school to have three bowlers - Frances Coons, who became the program's first medalist, took ninth, Shelby Carrier 11th and Kaylee Dammeier 15th - finish in the top-15.

Mumm, meanwhile, improved his state score from the year before by 28 pins and did so by producing a tally of 225 in his final high school game (Mumm finished with a 403 series, good for 32nd).

Seven bowlers were named to the 1A all-district 11 team with Carrier, Mumm and Lucas Perdieu all earning first-team nods.

Bowlers were not the only ones to be honored during the month - 17 area basketball players were named to either the All-Big East or All-WaMaC East teams in March, and Northeast junior Addie Oberman was named to a pair of all-state teams for her play on the hardwood.

The end of March proved to be the launching point of the spring season.

No squad got off to a better start in the month than the Central boys soccer team, which continued its run of dominance at the Clinton Invitational by taking the tournament for a fourth-straight year.

The Sabers beat Marquette Catholic and the host River Kings by a combined margin of 10-1 (Central has won its last eight games at the event while outscoring its opponents 43-3) to give new head coach Eduardo Garza his first two victories.

April - Despite some early noncooperation from Mother Nature, the spring season really got moving in April.

The Central boys track team had a big month, winning three different meets - a quadrangular, the Saber Relays and the Saber Co-Ed meet - in front of their home fans.

Bringing home their own team title in the class B portion the Saber Relays (their first since 2007) were the Rebel boys.

There were four area track teams represented at the Drake Relays. Cal-Wheat senior Justin Alden and Central junior Sarah Schoel both competed in the long jump, while the Central boys and Northeast girls 4X100 relay teams (along with the Saber 4X400 team and 100-meter dash competitor Jake Feldpausch) also took part in the meet.

April proved to be a strong month on the golf course as well.

Cal-Wheat freshman Austin Rickertsen started a big spring season by winning medalist honors in his first-ever high school meet, and Central junior Allie Anderson began her season with two-straight medalist rounds.

The Central boys golf team won a pair of invitationals during the month, winning its second-straight Saber Invite and then also taking the West Liberty Invite.

The month ended with all six golf teams competing in conference meets. Rickertsen led the way, becoming the Big East's final boys medalist, while helping Cal-Wheat move up in the standings to third (they were ninth the year before).

Brendan Williams gave the Warriors two golfers in the top-10 (he was ninth), while Northeast senior Catrina Jargo finished seventh in the girls meet to also earn all-conference honors.

Both Central golf teams finished third in their respective WaMaC East meets. Anderson finished seventh in the girls meet with Mitch Scott landing in the top-10 in the boys event.

All four area soccer teams were victorious during the month.

Few squads had a better month than the Saber boys, who reeled off five wins in April, including four-straight.

The Central girls added five victories of their own and earned runner-up honors at their home invitational for a second-straight year.

The Northeast girls, meanwhile, knocked off Monticello twice in April with the second meeting being a 4-0 rout, and the Rebel boys gave first-year head coach Sarah Schoon her first coaching victory with a 2-0 win over Prince of Peace.

May - There was no busier month in 2013 than May as the spring season came to a close just as the summer season began.

The month opened with strong performances at the conference meets by the area's track teams.

Both the Northeast boys and girls finished second at the final Big East track meet, while Cal-Wheat's Justin Alden turned heads by winning the long jump and the 100-meter dash.

The Central boys scored their own second-place finish at the WaMaC East meet with the Saber girls picking up a sixth-place finish.

The track season culminated in the state track meet and, for the first time in a long time, all six area squads were represented at the meet.

The Northeast girls 4X200 team of Rylee Dickey, Aleenah Marcucci, Tierra Hildebrandt and Danae Diedrich produced the area's best finish by taking second in their race.

Alden, meanwhile, finished off his sensational spring (he broke Cal-Wheat's long jump record numerous times during the season) by winning three state medals.

Northeast junior Eli Kaczinski brought home two medals of his own in the two distance events, while the Central 4X200 team of Jake Thumann, Jake Feldpausch, James Grell and Mitch Kirby finished sixth (the Central 4X400 team chipped in an eighth-place finish).

The Central girls came close to picking up their own medal with Schoel taking ninth in the long jump, and the Cal-Wheat girls 4X800 team finished 24th with a team made up of two sophomores and two freshmen.

Track athletes were not the only spring athletes to finish their campaigns at the state meet.

So, too, did the Central boys golf team and Warrior freshman Austin Rickertsen, who competed in the 3A and 1A boys state golf meets respectively.

Behind a 76 by Trevor Green - tied for the best score on day one - the Sabers put themselves in contention for a high team finish after round one, but ugly conditions on day two caused Central to finish seventh (junior Grant Henning led the way by tying for 12th).

Rickertsen, meanwhile, wrapped up his fine season by placing 11th at the meet (the best score of any freshman). The Warrior shot an 89 in round one and then withstood tougher conditions a day later to shoot a 90 for a 179.

May was the setting for some history for the Central boys soccer team, as the Sabers knocked off rival Maquoketa to win their program-best 12th win. The team picked up a signature victory in the month as well with Central knocking off fourth-ranked Davenport Assumption on the road, 2-0.

The Central and Northeast girls soccer teams, meanwhile, found themselves locked in a tight postseason battle that took two days to complete (a strong thunderstorm forced the game to be suspended just as the two teams began overtime and the Sabers won a shootout a day later to advance).

Despite only playing for a little more than a week in the month, all six area summer teams picked up victories with the Saber softball team coming up with the biggest win - a 6-0 shutout of eighth-ranked West Delaware.

June - The summer season rolled on for area baseball and softball teams in June.

No summer squad won more games in the month than the Central softball team, which piled up 17 victories. The Sabers came up with two big wins over rival Maquoketa in late June and then followed it up with a victory over then top-ranked West Burlington/Notre Dame at the Mid-Prairie Invitational.

The Northeast softball team added 15 wins of their own in the month, including a stretch in which the Rebels won 10-straight (three of those wins came during a perfect day at the Cal-Wheat Invitational).

The Central baseball team had its own winning streak in June, bringing home nine-straight wins and scoring a big sweep over Solon.

The Northeast baseball team made its move to the top of the Big East standings in June, winning 14 games, including a dramatic comeback victory against Maquoketa.

Right on the Rebels' tail in the conference standings was Cal-Wheat. The Warriors won 13 games in the month and split a special doubleheader with Logan-Magnolia (a team situated less than a half hour from the Missouri River).

The Cal-Wheat softball team earned a sweep against Bellevue in June and later knocked off a bigger Clinton squad in walk-off fashion.

There were plenty of other athletic events in the month as well.

The 26th running of the Paul Skeffington Memorial Race doubled as the event's evening debut with over 700 competitors taking part in the first night race.

A pair of camps, meanwhile, graced Central High School. The Saber girls basketball camp continued its successful run, while the Iron Sharpens Iron wrestling camp (developed by former Northeast wrestling coaches Steve Farrell and Joel Allen) called the Central campus home for its third running.

July - There was plenty of history being made on the baseball diamonds in July.

The wins came fast and furious for the Central baseball team during the month. The Sabers went 15-4 in July to become the first Observer-area baseball team to win at least 30 games (they finished with 32).

The Sabers brought home a district title as well with an impressive 1-0 win over Dubuque Wahlert before bowing out in the substate game against eventual state runner-up Assumption.

Bringing home its own district title was the Northeast baseball team. It was the first time in program history that the Rebels (who also won the Big East title in July) had been able to accomplish the feat, and they did it by beating a pair of pitchers that finished second and third in the state in strikeouts.

July was also the setting for the final baseball game for long-time Cal-Wheat head coach Dave Rock, who departed after 17 years leading the Warriors.

The Cal-Wheat softball team will also enter next season with a new coach as Derron Pewe stepped down after his fourth season.

The Central and Northeast softball teams both finished 20-win seasons in July. The Sabers and Rebels each picked up victories in the postseason, but fell in the regional semifinals.

Five baseball players - Jake Thumann, Charlie Marcucci, T.J. Sikkema, Austin Lechtenberg and Max Steffens - and three softball players - Aleenah Marcucci, Brooke Posey and Abby Pewe - earned all-state honors for their play in the month. Thumann, in particular, was selected to the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association's all-state super team.

Recent Central graduate A.J. Smith represented the Sabers at the Shrine Bowl late in July, while the Saber boys basketball camp also took place in the month.

August - The big event in August was the 11th running of the Crossroads Triathlon.

Nearly 200 competitors from across the Midwest took advantage of a beautiful late-summer morning to swim in Lake Killdeer, bike outside of DeWitt and then run through the town.

Leading the group of finishers was a pair of familiar faces. Jeff Paul of LeClaire won his third-straight men's title (it was his fifth win in six years), while Elaina Mertens - the runner-up in both 2010 and 2011 - returned to claim her first women's title.

August proved to be an exciting month for DeWitt hoopster Taylor Veach, who was one of nearly 900 basketball players from around the world to take part in the Michael Jordan Flight School.

The new school year meant a pair of new conferences for Cal-Wheat and Northeast. The Warriors joined the Tri-Rivers conference, while the Rebels were part of the new River Valley conference.

The season got off to a strong start for the Central football team as they knocked off a tough West Delaware squad 37-27. The Northeast football team, though, was unlucky as it fell behind North Cedar 28-0 in the first half and did not have a chance to rally as lightning forced the game to be called at halftime.

September - The new fall season was off-and-running in September and so, too, were area cross country runners.

The Northeast boys and girls cross country teams both brought home three titles during the month, sweeping the team crowns at the Northeast Invitational, Midland Invitational and North Cedar Invitational. Senior Eli Kaczinski won individual titles at all three meets, while Hannah Kilburg joined him with her own title at the Northeast meet.

Picking up her own individual championship during the month was Cal-Wheat junior Megan Slattery, who topped the field at the Comet Invitational in Bellevue.

The Central girls cross country team finished fifth at the North Scott Invitational, while senior Kyle Marti made an impressive debut in the same meet, finishing fourth overall for the Saber boys.

The volleyball season got underway for area netters.

The Central volleyball team's first match of the month was a three-game sweep of rival Maquoketa and the Sabers added a big victory over Linn-Mar at the Monticello Invitational later in September.

The Northeast netters opened their season in September and won their first-ever River Valley match with a victory over Bellevue. The Rebels were weekend warriors, winning seven matches on Saturday during the month.

Speaking of Warriors, the Cal-Wheat volleyball team opened the month with three wins in its first four matches, and won three Tri-Rivers matches during September, including a pair of five-game classics with Prince of Peace and Easton Valley.

It was an up-and-down month for the Central football team. The Sabers followed up their first setback of the season with a second-consecutive win over rival Maquoketa, but then learned that they would have to forfeit both of their first two victories after using a player for more than the maximum six quarters on a Friday.

The Sabers rebounded from the tough news to rout Benton on the road, but then fell at home to eventual state semifinalist Solon.

The Northeast football team made strides during September (staying right with Bellevue and district runner-up Cascade), but ended the month still searching for their first victory.

October - It did not take long into October for the Rebel football team to find that first victory, however, as Northeast put everything together in a 27-12 win over Camanche that doubled as first-year head coach Jerad Block's first victory.

The Central football team, meanwhile, won three-straight games to begin October, routing Clear Creek-Amana (on homecoming), Western Dubuque and Anamosa.

Injuries, though, took their toll late in the month and the Sabers' postseason run ended in Decorah for the second-straight season.

The season began to wind down on the area cross country courses.

All six area squads performed well at their respective conference meets.

The Cal-Wheat girls led the way, finishing second in their first Tri-Rivers meet (Slattery earned her own second at the meet), while the Warrior boys landed in the top-five as well by taking fourth.

Two other area runners also finished second in the conference. Kaczinski was the runner-up in the River Valley (the Rebel boys finished third as a team at the meet, the Rebel girls fourth), while Marti was the second runner to cross the finish at the WaMaC meet (the Central boys moved up two spots to 11th, while the Saber girls finished seventh).

A week later, area harriers punched their tickets to the state cross country meet. Marti and Slattery earned individual spots by finishing in the top-10 at the state-qualifying meet (Marti, in fact, again finished second), while Northeast advanced both its boys and girls teams.

Both the Rebel boys team and Kaczinski won district titles - the first time either has happened in program history.

Postseason volleyball also kicked off in October and all three area squads picked up at least one victory - the first time that had happened in more than a decade.

The Central volleyball team rallied from a game-one loss to take the next three sets in a rousing regional-quarterfinal victory over Maquoketa, while Northeast avenged an earlier heartbreaking loss to Monticello with a three-game sweep of the Panthers.

The Warrior volleyball squad actually extended its campaign into November for the first time since 2004 after sweeping matches with Rivermont Collegiate and Lone Tree.

November - The Cal-Wheat volleyball team did not go down without a fight either as they gave third-ranked New London all they could handle before eventually bowing out.

A day later, the fall season came to a close with the state cross country meet.

It ended with a state medal for Kaczinski, who finished off his high school cross country career with a ninth-place finish in the 2A race (the senior would finish second in the senior all-star race later in the month).

Behind Kaczinski's top-10 finish, the Rebel boys took eighth as a team in class 2A. The Northeast girls, meanwhile, added a 15th-place team finish.

Nearly giving the area a second state medal was Marti, who finished just a spot out of the top-10. Slattery added her own high finish in the 1A girls race by taking 45th.

A number of honors poured in for area football players during the month with the biggest being garnered by Central seniors Drew Schroeder and Jake Kagemann, who were both all-state selections.

Area volleyball players were also honored in November with 10 players earning all-conference accolades and Northeast senior Addie Oberman landing on a 3A all-district team.

The winter season opened at the end of the month for the Central bowling team and area girls basketball squads.

The Saber bowlers split a dual with Marion, while the Central and Northeast girls basketball teams both opened their seasons with impressive victories.

December - The winter season began in earnest in December with all 10 teams seeing action by the end of the first week.

The Central and Northeast boys basketball teams were both perfect during the month, going a combined 11-0, to land in the state rankings.

The Sabers picked up a nice overtime victory over Benton and wrapped up the month with exciting back-to-back victories over Maquoketa and second-ranked Solon.

The Rebels opened their season with three-straight routs before digging deep for comeback wins over both Monticello and Easton Valley.

The Cal-Wheat homecoming took place in December and the Warriors boys and girls basketball teams made sure it was a successful one.

The Warrior girls routed Central City by more than 20 points to notch their first win since February of 2012, while the Cal-Wheat boys made it a clean sweep with a 57-45 win over the Wildcats.

The Central girls won consecutive games against Benton and Maquoketa in December (the latter game being decided in overtime) and the Rebel girls went 5-1 during the month with a big River Valley North victory against Camanche.

During Northeast's game with Monticello, Rebel senior Addie Oberman became the ninth Observer-area girls basketball player to eclipse 1,000 points.

Both the Central boys and girls bowling teams brought home victories in December. The Saber girls, in fact, were perfect during the month, winning a pair of duals, while also bringing home a title at the Cedar Rapids Prairie Baker tournament.

The Central boys knocked off Louisa-Muscatine and stayed close in a dual with Maquoketa.

The final event of 2013 featured both of the area's wrestling teams.

The Central wrestling squad finished the year with a flourish as they crowned four champions to bring home the team title at the Saber Invitational (it was just the third time the team has won their own meet and the first time since 2003).

Northeast finished ninth in the meet and put two wrestlers in the finals. The Rebels put three grapplers in the finals in each of their first two tournaments during the month and also knocked off Bellevue.

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