Your Prep Sports
One way or another people will always remember 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has made 2020 an unforgettable year like any other that has come before.
Despite the obstacles that have come with competing in a global pandemic 2020 has been another impressive season for teams, athletes and coaches within the Your Prep Sports area.
On the eve of a new year we take a look back at 20 of the best stories (and one or the worst) from a memorable 12-months with in the Your Prep Sports area.
West High Wins State Swimming Title
West High won its third state swimming title and first since 2015 but unlike its first two titles this one was a total team effort.
The Trojans had multiple swimmers score points in seven of eight individual events and finished in the top three in all three relays while finishing with 262.5 points to outdistance defending champion Ankeny by 26.5.
“In 2014 and 2015 we won basically because of five guys,” West High coach Byron Butler said. “This team is so different. Everybody is a part of it, everybody was invested in the goal from day one and I just feel really, really honored to coach them.”
James Pinter won the only title for West High in the 100 backstroke but the Trojans had five runner-up finishes as 11 different West High swimmers scored in an individual event.
Frazier Shines in Prep Finale
City High standout Forrest Frazier had already established himself as one of the top swimmers in Iowa before the 2020 state meet.
In the final event of his prep career Frazier added to his career resume with a spectacular show.
Frazier doubled his career title count in his final meet, winning three state titles in state meet record times on his way to being named the meet’s most outstanding swimmer for the second time in three seasons.
The University of California recruit set state meet records in the 200 IM (1:45.96) and 100 breaststroke (53.15) and helped City High win its second relay title and first since 1994 by anchoring the 200 medley team to a win in a state record time of 1:31.58.
“It’s truly an honor everything that has happened throughout my high school career but the biggest thing for me today was getting that team title in the 200 medley relay,” Frazier said. “That was amazing. Getting the state record on top of that was great way to end my career.”
Bergman Earns Win Number 600
Win number 600 in the hall of fame career of West High coach Steve Bergman came in the standard style of a Bergman-led team as the Trojans smothered Cedar Rapids Prairie defensively in a 59-47 win.
The win also came in typical Bergman fashion with little fanfare or celebration for such an event. “You already know what I’m going to say about it,” Bergman said before being asked about reaching 600 wins. “I don’t coach for those numbers, it’s nice.”
Bergman became just the 15th coach in state history with 600 victories, the final 555 of which have come in 29 seasons at West High.
The win gave Bergman an overall 600-193 career record in 33 seasons.
Kueter Wins State Title
City High has a rich history of wrestling excellence.
It didn’t take Ben Kueter long to add his own name to the list of Little Hawk greats.
Kueter capped an unbeaten season by winning the Class 3A 160-pound title to become the first City High freshman champion since Kyle Anson in 2002.
Kueter scored a takedown with 26 seconds left to earn a 4-3 win over Linn-Mar freshman Tate Naaktgeboren in the 160-pound title match and finish his freshman season 24-0.
“I’d love to wrestling him more, he brought a dog fight and that’s why I go out there,” Kueter said. “I don’t go out there because I want it easy, I want to fight every match and that’s what he brought so props to him for that.”
Taylor Wins Second Title as Solon Makes History
Hayden Taylor and Jax Flynn teamed up to make Solon history on Saturday night at the state wrestling tournament.
Taylor became the first two-time state champion in Solon history when he claimed the Class 2A 145-pound title and Flynn gave the Spartans two champions in the same year for the first time when he added a title at 170 pounds.
Taylor defeated Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont junior Trestin Sales 5-2 to finish the season 52-0, the second unbeaten season in school history.
Flynn knocked off Osage junior Spencer Mooberry 8-4 in the 170-pound title match for his first title.
“This has been a lifetime goal,” Flynn said. “Football I got second place, all throughout high school I was getting second place in team duals, AAU always getting second place, I’ve never got the first place one and there is no time I’d rather get it than right here my senior year.”
West High Crowns Three Champions at State Wrestling
West High closed the 2020 wrestling season with a bang crowning three champions to cap the best team finish for the Trojans since 2012.
Hunter Garvin, Graham Gambrall and Will Hoeft all won titles as West High finished fourth in Class 3A with 99.5 points.
“Oh it’s huge for our program at West High,” Hoeft said. “I think that was a big statement going 3-for-3 in the finals.”
Hoeft won a 5-4 decision over Taner Harvey of Boon to win the 182-pound title and Garvin won the 132-pound title with an 8-1 win over Waverly-Shell Rock’s Aiden Riggins.
Gambrall completed his own impressive state meet with a 10-5 decision over Ankeny senior Sam Kallem in the 145-pound championship.
Clear Creek Amana Stuns Marion For First State Tourney Trip
One of the biggest upsets in recent state history was the biggest win in program history for Clear Creek Amana as the Clippers stunned second-ranked Marion 66-49 in a Class 4A regional final to secure its first ever state tournament berth.
The win avenged a 29-point regular season loss to defending 4A runner-up Marion, handed the Indians their second home loss in the past five seasons and stopped a string of four consecutive state tournament appearances for Marion.
Clear Creek Amana got a game-high 24 points from Karsyn Stratton and 16 from Meagan Harvey and didn’t trail in the final 24 minutes in the emphatic win.
“They came out and hit us hard and we had some seniors step up, Meagan (Harvey) hit a big 3 and we kind of withstood their tide a little bit,” Clear Creek Amana coach PJ Sweeney said. “From there we just took over and there was no doubt in anybody’s mind in this gym who the better team was.”
City High Returns to 5A Semifinals for Second Time in Three Seasons
In its fourth consecutive state tournament trip the City High girls basketball team reached the state semifinals for the second time in three seasons.
City High had three players score in double figures in a 59-40 win over Mississippi Valley Conference rival Cedar Rapids Prairie in a Class 5A quarterfinal.
Aubrey Joens had a game-high 18 points while Ella Cook added 13 points and nine rebounds to go with 12 points from senior point guard Rose Nkumu.
“This is especially something where being a multi-sport athlete I feel helps me because I have been to state in two other sports,” Cook said. “I feel like that experience really helped me to be calm and collected here and not get too nervous.”
West Branch Returns to State Tournament
It had only been a few seasons since West Branch had reached the state tournament but for the Bears it felt like a lot longer.
West Branch earned its third ever trip to state and first since 2016 with a dominating 58-38 win over ninth-ranked Van Buren.
The Bears went 8-of-17 from 3-point range and shot 44 percent from the field against a Van Buren team that had allowed more than 51 points in a game once all season.
Sasha Koenig was 4-of-5 from 3-point range and had a team-high 19 points while Taylor Thein and Taya Young each had two triples and scored in double figures in the win.
“I think everybody kind of that that feeling that they were going to start falling we just had to keep taking them because that’s our best offense,” West Branch junior Sasha Koenig said. “Our coaches just kept telling us to keep shooting with confidence. We stayed after practice every single day and shot and shot and shot to build that confidence up so it was only a matter of time.”
West High Extends State Streak to A Decade
One of the premier programs in state history, the West High boys basketball program made it an even decade of state tournament trips.
West High used its trademark man-to-man defense to frustrate Pleasant Valley in a 55-36 substate final win to secure its 10th consecutive trip to the Class 4A state tournament.
The Trojans held Pleasant Valley to 37 percent shooting and 33 percent in the first half while building a 32-13 lead.
West High secured its 20th all-time state tournament berth with the win, 19 of which came under head coach Steve Bergman.
“We preach it every year,” senior Tate Crane said of the defense. “This year we preached it a little bit more probably because we have more seniors. All the starters and seven men deep have been through this program for three or four years.”
Clear Creek Amana Finishes Third at State
Clear Creek Amana made its first trip to the state tournament in nearly 30 years a memorable on by knocking off Ballard 76-73 in overtime to secure a third-place finish at the Class 3A tournament.
The Clippers locked up the first trip to state since 1993 with a substate final win over Davenport Assumption and rolled past WAMAC rival Mount Vernon 59-45 in the quarterfinal.
Following a 55-46 semifinal loss to Sergeant Bluff-Luton the Clippers regrouped to down Ballard with a big second half.
Nick O’Connor had a game-high 28 points and Tyler Schrepfer hit the game-winning 3-pointer with five seconds left as Clear Creek Amana finished the season 21-6.
Kevin Miller Steps Down at Solon
Just months after leading Solon to the state title game long-time coach Kevin Miller stepped down as the head coach at his alma mater.
Miller led Solon to its first state title as a quarterback in 1988 before taking over as head coach in 2002 and turning the Spartans into one of the premier programs in the state.
Miller won 190 games in 18 seasons at Solon, directing the Spartans to four consecutive state titles from 2007-2010.
Solon won 42 consecutive games from 2007 to 2010, winning 2A titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and adding a 3A crown in 2010.
The Spartans reached the 2A title game in 2003 and 2006 before winning 54-of-55 games and claiming four consecutive titles from 2007-2010.
“I just want to have the flexibility in my schedule to do what I need to do and go where I want to go and if I can’t give this program 100 percent of what I have to give it then I can’t do it,” Miller said. “My motto has always been don’t expect kids to do things you aren’t willing to do yourself. I just kept coming back to not being able to give the necessary time to this program that it really needs to flourish to the extent that is has in the past.”
Coronavirus Forces Cancellation of Spring Sports Season
What once seemed like an impossible scenario seemed almost like a certainty by the time it was announced.
Yet the joint statement released by the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union outlining the cancellation of the spring sports season due to the coronavirus pandemic still hit area athletes hard.
The statement came after Governor Kim Reynolds announced in a news conference that Iowa school will be closed through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was estimated that 45,000 high school athletes around the state were kept from competing in the spring with the cancellation of track and field, soccer, golf and tennis seasons. “I ache for my seniors probably more than anything but I also ache for my program and just the track and field community,” City High boys track and field coach Mike Moore said. “I ache for the tennis programs, the soccer players everybody. These are kids that have logged a lot of time into their crafts, whether they are state champions or they are not state champions it really doesn’t matter you have to feel for those kids.”
The spring sports season had been suspended twice prior to its cancellation.
Spring sports were initially delayed until April 12 and then later until April 30.
Maiers Spins Perfect Game to Cap Incredible Week
For most pitchers a no-hitter or a perfect game are a once in a career type achievement.
For Liberty High hurler Kara Maiers it was just a heck of a week.
Maiers followed up a 13-strikeout no-hitter of Linn-Mar on Wednesday by fanning 17 while tossing the first perfect game in program history in a 7-0 win over Waterloo West on Friday.
“I’d never had a no-hitter or a perfect game before this week so these are all firsts for me,” Maiers said. “It’s exciting for sure.”
Maiers walked four in her 13-strikeout no-hitter against Linn-Mar but needed just 77 pitches to retire 21 consecutive hitters against Waterloo West.
City High Snaps State Baseball Drought
City High needed a late rally to escape its postseason opener against Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
The Little Hawks used more late-inning heroics to snap a nearly 20-year state tournament drought.
Kolbe Schnoebelen plated Garrett Bormann with an infield single in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift City High to a 4-3 win over Linn-Mar and its first state tournament appearance since 2003.
“It’s unbelievable,” said City High coach Brian Mitchell. “I just feel like for years we have had it where we just couldn’t get over that obstacle. And it’s just unbelievable what those kids have done through everything. And I’m just happy for them and just for the opportunity to play at Principal Park.
Clear Creek Amana Makes First State Baseball Appearance
Talk about a postseason to remember for the Clear Creek Amana baseball team.
The Clippers held off WAMAC rival Solon 8-7 in a wild substate semifinal and then secured the first state tournament berth in program history with a 12-3 upset of top-ranked Davenport Assumption at Modern Woodman Park in Davenport.
Clear Creek Amana scored nine unanswered runs over the final four innings to stop a three-year state tournament streak for Davenport Assumption.
The Clippers batted around twice, sending nine to the plate in a three-run fourth inning that gave Clear Creek Amana the lead for good and again in its five-run seventh that put an exclamation point on the win.
Dan Sabers Steps Down After 40 Seasons at City High
After four decades on the sidelines Dan Sabers stepped away from City High football.
Sabers spent 20 seasons as an assistant and the last 20 years as head coach at City High winning 141 games and a state title during his tenure.
Sabers was an assistant and defensive coordinator for legendary coach Larry Brown for 20 seasons before taking over the head coaching duties in 2001.
He led City High to the playoffs 14 times as head coach including 10 consecutive appearances from 2004 to 2013.
Sabers coached the Little Hawks in three state title games, winning the Class 4A crown in 2009 to cap an unbeaten 14-0 season.
“It is with a very grateful heart that I announce that I’m stepping down as the Head Football Coach at Iowa City High School,” Sabers said in a release. “The last 40 years with City High Football has been very special to me and my family with so many very special memories of great plays, hard work, great wins and especially the outstanding relationships amongst players, coaches, parents, and administration.”
Solon Cross Country Caps Incredible Season With Runner-up Finish
A magical season for the Solon boys cross country program concluded with the best state meet finish in program history.
Solon put three runners in the top 22 of team scorers on its way to a runner-up team finish at the Class 3A state meet.
The Spartans won WAMAC Conference titles and state qualifying meet championship before finishing behind Dallas Center-Grimes in its first appearance at the state meet since 2010.
Gabe Hinman placed 16th and freshman Brick Kabela and Mike Yeomans were 17th and 22nd respective as Solon finished with 135 points.
“If you told me this at the start of the season I’d have said you’re crazy, no way,” Solon senior Tyler Bilskie. “Even yesterday I didn’t think we would get runner-up at state.”
Liberty High Volleyball Reaches State Title Match
A year after reaching the state tournament for the first time in just its third varsity season the Liberty High volleyball team took a couple more big steps towards the top of Class 5A volleyball.
Liberty High (24-3) reached the state title game for the first time, falling to Ankeny in four sets in the Class 5A championship match.
The Lightning rattled off 16 consecutive wins to reach the championship game, avenging both of its regular season losses at the state tournament with wins over No. 4 West Des Moines Valley and top-ranked West Des Moines Dowling.
Standout Sophomore Cassidy Hartman had a career-high 35 kills in a five-set semifinal win over Dowling.
West High Finishes Runner-up at State Swim Meet
Record-setting performances by Scarlet Martin and Aurora Roghair led West High to a runner-up team finish at the state swimming meet.
Martin set a pair of individual state records and Roghair set a state record as both won a pair of individual titles to help the Trojans finish behind team champion Ames.
Martin was named the meet’s most outstanding swimmer after setting state records in the 100 butterfly (53.01) and 100 backstroke (54.14).
Roghair defended her titles in the 200 and 500 freestyle, winning the 200 in 1:47.30 and the 500 in a meet record time of 4:45.78.
“Given all the circumstances, no home pool, the derecho, the three-week hiatus, just overcoming all that stuff makes me humble,” West High coach Byron Butler said. “I’m really, really proud to be their coach.”
Regina Wins Class A State Title
Regina returned to the top of the state football world for the first time since 2015.
The third-ranked Regals broke open a tie game with 24 second-quarter points and rolled to a 52-21 win over top-ranked Grundy Center in the Class A title game.
Theo Kolie rushed for a Class A title game record five touchdowns, Ashton Cook passed for 325 yards and two scores and Alec Wick set a title game record with 226 receiving yards as Regina won its eighth state title and seventh in the past 11 seasons.
Regina rolled up a Class A title game record 523 yards of total offense and matched the most points ever in a Class A championship against a Grundy Center defense that enter the title game holding opponents to 4.9 points and 154 yards of offense per game.
“It’s like a storybook ending,” Wick said. “Four years of blood, sweat and tears and we put it all into tonight and it’s a great feeling to celebrate here with these guys.”