Before time gets away from me I would like to take a moment to recap the 2013-14 year in sports.
I must say that I got very lucky because I came into the sports editor position at a very exciting time and it has been a fun ride so far. I had the privilege of covering some of Iowa's premier high school sporting events including State Wrestling, State Track, the Drake Relays and State Golf.
This year STC sports just like any other sports programs had highs and lows.
To begin where my journey started this year, I would say the girls basketball team had an emotional season in a few different ways. The Trojans graduated some strong senior leadership that accounted for a lot of playing time this year including Paige Van Dyk, Regina Balderas, Trisha Walz and Hailee Weiss. The girls had a rollercoaster season that saw a triumphant NICL West Conference championship but a tough early loss in the post season to Center Point-Urbana. This was also the final season for assistant coach Larry Rohach. Before taking this job I got to know Larry as a co-worker and I have to say it is sad to see him go. Larry has a very patient and calm demeanor, which was valuable in teaching young athletes and helping them to deal with high-pressure situations.
On the boys side of the court it was a year of change for the Trojans.
After graduating 8 seniors from the previous season there were several new faces that were asked to step in and compete. Head coach Nate Doran and assistant coach Todd Rosenburger were also in their first year as coaches and provided the team with steady leadership throughout what would prove to be a challenging season. The Trojans look to return a majority of their roster next year (with the exception of seniors Nate Hala, Tyler Martens, and Darien Taylor) and hope that the now veteran class of 2015 can lead the team to new heights.
One of my favorite high school memories was cheering at State Wrestling in The Barn. I still remember the atmosphere being almost electric. Many things have changed in the past 15 years including the relocation of the tournament to Wells Fargo Arena (affectionately known as The Well).
Nonetheless it is still one of the most exciting sporting events in the state of Iowa. This year STC sent two wrestlers to State, seniors Dalton Vest and Kolton Smith. It was very exciting to observe the wrestlers on their road to the state tournament. The program at South Tama has always been a strong one and coach Van Dyke and company will look to build on that legacy next year with several seasoned, dedicated wrestlers. At this year's State event Vest and Smith wrestled along with the best of the best and while they fell in their first round it was an incredible achievement to make it to that state level.
Spring sports came in with a fury beginning with the indoor track season.
It was interesting to jump into such large events with some of Iowa's top competitors so early in a season. Well established events such as the Iowa State Indoor Track Classic and the AD Dickinson Relays were learning experiences for me but also provided unique points of comparison to see how far our tracksters would come in two months time. As April came everyone including myself was itching to get outside. But mother nature was not kind to track, soccer, golf or tennis this year. The students not only had to battle the competition but also had to deal with just plain crappy weather.
Despite the weather the Trojans had several notable achievements throughout the spring season. If there was an award for this, Dylan Kalinay would likely be named 2014 STC Mr. Track. He had a great season qualifying for the Drake Relays. He also took all four of his events including the 100, 200, 110 HH's and his 4x100 team to the blue oval for State. Kalinay brought home four medals from that State event.
Belle Tyynismaa and Sam Holtz also used State track as their time to set their personal bests for the their careers. This is no small achievement considering the pressure of competing at the State level. Tyynismaa ran in the 200 and 400. Holtz medaled in Shot Put taking fourth place by breaking the 40' barrier that she had been trying for all season.
On a personal note, when Darvin and I arrived at State Track on the day Holtz threw, Darvin pointed out that Sam was wearing the "Townsley" t-shirt. I am not sure if this was a coincidence or not, but I couldn't bring myself to ask her as I still get teary when talking about my Dad. He really enjoyed track and as silly as it may sound I sometimes call on him for help. As Sam finished her throws in the preliminary round I thought that was it for her high school career but her throw of 37'6 was enough to push her through into the final round. When she stepped up to attempt her second throw I was hopeful but nervous. Holtz came through with a monster throw and broke the elusive 40' mark. Then on her third attempt, she threw even farther and pushed past her own STC school record. It was really special to watch. To some it may sound crazy and I don't know if it was just seeing that shirt with the camera on the front, but I really felt my Dad's presence that day.
The girls soccer team also saw lots of ups and downs but accomplished a major achievement with a 10-0 shutout of CAL in the first round of the regional playoffs that sent them to the second round of regional play. It was also great to see a student that has been a hard working role model for her team be rewarded with a unique opportunity. During the Trojan's first round game Hailee Weiss, who normally plays on the defensive end of the field, broke through into the CAL's territory and scored the first goal of her career. Needless to say, it was exciting for the team and just as exciting to watch.
The STC boys soccer team also experienced their share of ups and downs this season as they came into the year with hopes of a deep playoff run but were met with stiff competition that cut their run short. On the positive side the Trojans reversed their performance from the previous year, going from a 6-11 record in 2013 to an 11-7 record this year. The team will miss senior starters Alex Martinez and Luis Perez but with a strong crop of underclassmen look to continue their upward trajectory next season.
Next season will be a rebuilding effort for STC girls tennis squad. This year the Trojans relied on a group of senior starters including Emily Martin, Madie Baack, Caitlin Svacina, Tori Appelgate, and Taylor Muhlstein that will certainly be missed next season. Despite several successes throughout the season in both singles and doubles competition, the Trojans were unable to break into the state post-season level. With a program that continues to flourish, head coach Steve Bearden hopes to waste no time in reassembling a competitive, successful group of starters as they will face several new opponents in the Wamac conference next season.
Head boys golf coach Nate Doran likes to keep busy apparently as he geared up for his third season of coaching this year with the STC boys golf team. Doran is also an assistant varsity football coach and head basketball coach for the Trojans. STC was led again by a strong group of seniors including Taylen Anderson, Trent Banes, Brodie Clark, Donovan Horne, Darien Taylor, Jake Thiessen, Kolton Smith, and Nick Vesely. The team had a successful run this season finishing in the top half of their conference and ending with an improved season average score of 181.31.
Finally lets talk about Paige Van Dyk. Van Dyk did something this season that no one else has done at STC. She won back-to-back State Championships in Class 3A. Van Dyk, who was a three-sport student athlete this year, has asserted her dominance among Iowa's top golfers with NICL Conference championships as a junior and senior that led to state championships in both years. It was such a fun experience to see Van Dyk win with several of her family and friends supporting her. Following the girls state meet Van Dyk teamed up with fellow STC senior Kolton Smith for the co-ed state competition. The pair came away with a fifth place finish. With Van Dyk as their anchor the STC girls squad went on to an improved season finishing with a team average of 214.17. The Trojans graduated four seniors this year including Carrie Cibula, Shelline Lacina, Paige Van Dyk, and Trisha Walz.
There are several people I would like to thank. First to the coaches, Marsha Keahna, Nate Doran, Nate Van Dyke, George Corum, George Kuhter, Steve Bearden, Bob McBain, Olivia Van Zante, Levi Hunerdosse, Dustin Peska, Tiff Thiessen, and Abby Gard. Thank you for keeping me informed, talking to me after wins and losses, giving me quotes, for letting me use your golf cart, and taking the time to explain the finer points of some sports that I am still learning a lot about. I appreciate everything you did to help me this year and your dedication to the students and to South Tama.
Also I'd like to say a big thanks to my husband Darvin and mom Anita. You two are the most supportive people and I am so lucky to have you along on this journey!
As we are well into softball and baseball season I am enjoying the summer weather, George Kuhter's spunky baseball commentary, and watching two of America's favorite pastimes. I am also looking forward to the next school year. I am very much looking forward to STC Friday Night Lights, Trojan volleyball, and STC cross-country as this will be my first season covering fall sports. I am cautiously optimistic about this upcoming 2014-15 season. It will be a big change moving into the Wamac but I have no doubt that our students and coaches will rise to the challenge. Since I have this platform, I would like to encourage the members of the Tama/Toledo community to make a special effort to come out and support your Trojans. Our community is only as good as we make it and I hope we can make it great. We are a small town that has taken it's fair share of hits over the past few years, but lets show the Wamac (and the great state of Iowa) that we love our town, our people, our school, and our kids. Please lend your support to the STC programs. We need you. Come on out and enjoy a game, a concert, a meet, a match, or a Saturday tournament. There's almost always good food and good company. Bring your grandmas, bring your kids, or bring your aunts and uncles. You have to leave your dogs at home but lets show them we've got Trojan Pride. Go Trojans!