Clearing Out The Notebook
The end of November is at hand and for this reporter, it’s time to clean out a notebook full of thoughts and random points that have accumulated since the start of the Fall Sports seasons back in the heat of mid-August. Of course, as I?write this on Friday afternoon, the wind is blowing about 30 miles an hour, we’ve had snow flurries and the temperature is a balmy 32, just two days after we enjoyed a 65-degree day.
Welcome to Iowa. (as he pulls on a sweatshirt)
Anyhow, first thought – Fall sports are over for our area teams, as our volleyball teams have all concluded their seasons in post-season play. As I have covered high school sports over the past 26 years, I’ve developed a much better understanding of volleyball from my first days of covering the sport, and I must say I have seen some very entertaining matches this season. It has been fun this season to watch the West Bend-Mallard/Gilmore City-Bradgate girls battle Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire and Emmetsburg all in Twin Lakes Conference play this Fall, as Emmetsburg is now a member of the Twin Lakes.
While I’ve watched the Lakes Conference volleyball teams for 25 of those years, the level of play has been just as intense and fun to watch this year as in the past 25, and I’m looking forward to next season.
On the gridiron, I enjoyed watching the play of the Emmetsburg E-Hawks this season as the team improved to a third place finish in Class 1A District One behind West Lyon and Western Christian. Sure, there were losses in the first two games of the season, but when you look realistically at those games and the Western Christian game, Emmetsburg was one or two plays in each game from a win. The team played with great heart and desire, even in the season finale` when dealt the blow of losing starting quarterback Conner Joyce to a leg injury in practice the night before the final regular-season game. Yet the E-Hawks met the adversity and played with pride to the final horn.
Both Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire and West Bend-Mallard/Gilmore City-Bradgate played tough schedules in Eight-Man District One, another tough district that provided some surprises along the way for both teams. With a new coach for the Wolverines, the program is growing and faces a bright future. The Titans of GT/RA also had hardship to overcome this season, with the loss of a senior player to a tragic accident prior to the start of the season. In tribute, two classmates changed jersey numbers to represent their fallen friend, and for every coin toss, the jersey of Noah Flaherty was carried to mid-field to represent the Titans all season long – a poignant tribute from his peers.
And then we have Cross Country athletes. Of all the high school sports, Cross Country is one of the two individual sports that is part of a team concept. For West Bend-Mallard/Gilmore City-Bradgate and Emmetsburg, the dedication of each student athlete is nothing short of amazing. Countless hours and miles are run under blazing sun, oppressive humidity and all kinds of terrain. In cross country, the runner races not only his or her opponents, but also the clock – a relentless foe in any situation.
Technically, the Cross Country season ended Saturday with the State Cross Country Championships in Fort Dodge, where Emmetsburg’s girls team: Raven Brown, Gabrielle Janssen, Hailey Foxhoven, Allison Fischer, Raylene Poeppe and Mary Nelson, along with E-Hawk boys team member Cruz Bowman, all represented their program and first-year Coach Katie Heddinger.
To all the Fall Sports Athletes and coaches, my hat is off to each one of you for your devotion and desire to excel in your chosen field.
Now, we turn our attention to the Winter Sports, warm gyms and the annual sampling of hot popcorn!!