Below are some of my favorite clips, separated by which publication they appeared in. (I apologize in advance, as there are a lot of them.)
The Des Moines Register — Des Moines, Iowa
Opioids killed his brother. Now, a top Iowa golfer strives to honor his memory — published Sept. 27, 2017
Johnston has a newfound perspective this year entering this year’s district meet. Golf has done some amazing things for him, he says. It’s taken him to courses all over the country. It may soon lead to a college scholarship. It gave him a platform to raise money and awareness for one of the country’s most disheartening issues.
“I play in tournaments a lot with kids all over the world,” he says. “That’s a great experience. You get to meet a lot of different people with different backgrounds and cultures and they speak different languages. It’s been a pretty fun experience.”
He believes those experiences have prepared him plenty for districts. It helps, too, that he’s familiar with the course, and after sprouting 9 inches in the last year — which forced him to get his clubs refitted twice — he’s confident, and ready to play.
After all, he says, he needs to put on a show. His older brother will be watching.
‘Let’s go shock the state’: In just two years, Erik Link has Roosevelt football on the verge of contention — published Sept. 20, 2017
Link keeps tabs on the next wave of Roosevelt football players as much as he can. He attended and promoted Rider Day earlier this month, when all the local youth football teams play their games on the school’s practice field throughout the day. He talked with members of the community, shared his vision and talked up the 2017 version of the Roughriders.
All the youth teams practice nearby during the fall. One takes over the east lawn outside the high school’s front entrance a couple nights a week. This Monday happens to be one of those nights. After organizing his desk and packing his bags, Link turns left out of his office, right down another hall and left out the school’s front doors.
He stops to watch a few plays and smiles. The future looks bright.
His military future set, Cory Kennedy gives his all for North Tama — published Sept. 14, 2017
It is hard to distinguish Kennedy from his teammates on this day. He blends in seamlessly, save for his No. 78 jersey and a black elbow pad on his right arm. But once practice ends, it is much easier to pick him out.
The sun continues to beat down as Pink huddles the players together. Many are slumped over, hands on their knees, exhausted from the 85-degree heat. Others take a knee and catch their breath.
But Cory Kennedy is still standing, breathing just fine, smiling as he listens to his coach, awaiting his next task.
After CMB split, Baxter embarks on 8-man football journey to begin 2017 — published Aug. 23, 2017
“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital,” Luther says, quoting the late Joe Paterno. “What we do during the week will determine how we do on Fridays. Remember: We are here to prove something.”
The team breaks the huddle and heads home. They will return on Wednesday and Thursday for more practice. Then, on Friday, the Bolts will hop on a bus and drive 128 miles to Maynard and play West Central, the beginning of their first 8-man football season.
But a harsh truth lingers over this coming Friday night and the eight that follow: These games won’t mean a thing.
As Dyersville Beckman baseball coach battles cancer, his team wins the Class 2A state title — published July 29, 2017
Afterwards, the team took its state-championship trophy and started toward the bus, smiles in every direction. They had won it all for coach Tom Jenk Jr., a goal first laid out in January and fulfilled seven months later.
As they walked, the lyrics of The Lovin’ Spoonful blared over the speakers.
“Do you believe in magic?”
“Keep Me In”: Jack Dreyer’s gem leads Johnston to Class 4A state championship — published July 29, 2017
Dreyer was at 60 pitches. If he reached or stayed under 65, he only required two days of rest before pitching again, making him available for Saturday’s championship game. If he threw 66 or more, he would need three days off, eliminating him. When Barta reached the mound, Dreyer smiled.
“I’m going to get him out in less than five pitches,” Dreyer told his coach, “so keep me in.”
Three pitches later, Dreyer induced a groundout, ending the inning. He pumped his fist as the play unfolded, a simple 4-6 fielder’s choice. On his way to the dugout, he screamed and high-fived his teammates. The decision was easy — if the Dragons advanced to Saturday’s title game, Dreyer would start.
Come late Saturday night, Dreyer and his teammates celebrated under the lights at Principal Park, a trophy in hand. Johnston beat Dowling Catholic, 5-0, for the Class 4A state championship.
Johnston ace Jack Dreyer takes lessons from his father, a former major leaguer — published July 25, 2017
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound lefty has accomplished all of that thanks, in part, because of the skills taught to him by his father. The two spent hours together, working on different grips and pitches — including the nasty slider that Steve Dreyer first learned at Ames High School, perfected at Northern Iowa and used to help elevate him to the major leagues.
“I try to do everything that he tells me, and it’s worked so far,” Jack Dreyer said. “It’s a little different because he’s a righty and I’m a lefty, but it allows us to be able to mirror each other exactly.”
Mr. Drake is turning 100: Everybody has a Paul Morrison story — published July 24, 2017
A Paul Morrison fact: Morrison doesn’t watch television. Never has. Nothing against TV, he says. He just prefers reading newspapers. When he moved to Scottish Rite Park, a Des Moines retirement community, he asked that the TV in his room be removed. It wasn’t. In the few years he’s been there, he’s never turned it on.
Why Iowa’s best girls’ golfer won’t be at the state tournament — published May 29, 2017
As practice draws to an end, Snyder hits on the driving range. She smacks one 250 yards, then sends another the same distance. Her form is near perfect — wrists locked, her back rotating with rhythm, her focus on the tee, all leading up to the unmistakable sound of the club whacking the ball.
Once she finishes, an old man drives by in a cart and waves. She waves back with a smile. The man reminds her of the time he beat her in a putting competition, and jokes that she owes him $100.
Snyder laughs. Don’t worry, she says. I’ll get it to you.
“No rush,” the man replies. “I’ll just wait until you’re famous.”
Meet the fastest kid in Iowa: West Burlington Notre Dame senior Isaiah Trousil — published May 12, 2017
The fastest kid in Iowa doesn’t cut an intimidating figure. He stands 5-foot-11, weighs 180 pounds and wears a white headband when he competes. But when he sets foot on the track, the West Burlington Notre Dame senior commands attention and respect.
Entering his final state track meet this week, Trousil holds the state’s fastest time in the 100 and the second-fastest time in the 200, at 10.53 and 21.89 seconds, respectively. He is also the anchor on the Falcons’ 4×100- and 4×200-meter relays, which both are title contenders in Class 3A.
The only thing he’s chasing now is more history.
Baranczyk returns to first coaching stop in Drake’s NCAA Tournament opener — published March 17, 2017
The last five years, of course, have been well documented. Drake climbed back to being a Valley power, and enters Saturday on a 22-game winning streak, at 28-4 overall and ranked No. 20 in the latest USA Today/Coaches Poll. The Bulldogs ran through the league unscathed, both unbeaten in the regular season and winners of the tournament.
It was exactly the vision Baranczyk imagined when she first took the job at Drake. It was the same one she pitched to her first recruiting class — which consisted of just two players, Lizzy Wendell and Caitlin Ingle. It was the same one she formed in her mind watching Patterson all those years ago.
Tyreke Locure’s preternatural talent has Des Moines North dreamin’ big — published March 6, 2017
A few days after beating Ankeny on Feb. 28, Locure leads the Polar Bears through drills in the North High School gym. Off to the side, coach Chad Ryan explains how talented his sophomore point guard is.
“He’s just ultra-competitive,” Ryan says, “and he’s not good by accident. He’s worked to be good. He’s pretty short, so to put up the numbers he does is a testament to his work ethic. He has goals to play college basketball, and he’s very focused on that.
“Just watching Tyreke grow up — heck, he would’ve gotten playing time for us in sixth grade.”
‘Who’s Next’: The rise of Felicity Taylor and girls’ wrestling in Iowa — published Feb. 14, 2017
Six years ago, when Elsbernd returned to coach at South Winneshiek, the walls were bare. He covered them with accomplishments to connect the program to its past and inspire its future. On the south wall, banners list conference champs, state qualifiers and those who won 100 career matches. On the north, flags hang for Warriors who wrestled in college.
On this day, Taylor shoots a glance at the east wall, where 21 posters recognize the program’s state-placewinners. They list the wrestler’s name, weight, placement, year, win-loss record and show a picture of the wrestler on the winner’s podium.
All 20 of them are boys.
The 21st poster reads: “Who’s Next?”
Curry returns as Valley escapes Ankeny in sixth straight win — published Feb. 10, 2017
The game was also just Curry’s second of the 2016-17 season. The senior made his debut on Tuesday, when Valley muscled past Urbandale. He contributed five points and five boards off the bench in a 67-57 victory.
Curry was in a similar role on Friday night. The 6-foot-6 forward came off the bench after three minutes had passed. The Valley fans in attendance greeted him with a smattering of claps and cheers. He got a louder rendition when he dunked in transition a few minutes later.
Dowling extends unmatched dominance with fourth-straight 4A state title — published Nov. 18, 2016
Lane is a tough running back, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound speedster for Iowa City West who causes defensive coordinators to stir. But Mitch Riggs doesn’t care about that. Never has, really. He met Lane right as he cleared the line, wrapped him up and returned him to the north end zone of the UNI-Dome.
The play itself didn’t mean much — it actually went down as a 3-yard gain — but the energy of it all sent a message loud and clear.
If you’re going to beat the Dowling Catholic football team, you will have to earn it. Plain and simple.
Why football means so much to Dowling star Jacob Zachary — published Nov. 17, 2016
This season, Zachary is again Dowling’s leading rusher, amassing 1,121 yards and 15 touchdowns entering Friday’s tilt against the Trojans. With his backfield mate Cole Deskin out with an injury, Zachary will see the ball plenty against Iowa City West.
There may be no better marker for unparalleled success than a fourth-straight state title. Zachary’s had his eye on this opportunity all season long, the same way he zeroes in on breaking long touchdown runs.
And when he’s in that mode, Wilson said, he’s not going to be stopped.
For Western Christian’s football manager, this season has been a dream come true — published Nov. 15, 2016
There were many smiles inside the UNI-Dome last Saturday when Western Christian beat Van Meter, 35-14. But none were bigger or happier than the one wearing the maroon No. 44 jersey — and he didn’t even play a down.
“That gives us some motivation,” quarterback Tyson Kooima said. “I know he’d kill to be on the field playing with us, and that really just makes us play that much harder.”
At just 14, Oskaloosa’s Xavier Foster is grabbing Division I attention — published Oct. 13, 2016
At 6-foot-9 and 190 pounds with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Foster oozes with potential. The power forward received an offer from Iowa last month, then two more from Iowa State and Creighton in the past week. He’s considered one of the brightest talents of the class of 2020. He is just 14.
That’s the most intriguing part: Foster is only a high school freshman. He hasn’t gone through an official high school basketball practice yet, much less a game. Major recruiting outlets haven’t even assigned ratings to the 2020 class. His working profile, at least for now, is built entirely off potential.
Lombardi overcomes early miscues in win over Dowling — published Sept. 10, 2016
WEST DES MOINES, Ia. — The rain fell slowly as Rocky Lombardi jogged back onto the field inside Valley Stadium on Friday night. The clock revealed that 5 minutes, 26 seconds remained in regulation. Valley and Dowling were tied at 9. The scene was straight out of a movie.
The Ames Tribune — Ames, Iowa
With dad in her corner, Ballard’s Watters wins junior freestyle national title — published July 30, 2016
On the night of July 19, Watters, a recent Ballard grad, stepped up onto the staged platform and won her second-straight junior freestyle national title, a 7-0 decision over Alexis Bleau, of New York. But beforehand, she found her dad, Matt, and made a simple yet meaningful request.
“This is my last high-school tournament, dad, and I want you up there, in my corner,” Rachel Watters said. “He goes, ‘I’m not going to pretend to be a wrestling coach, but I’ll hold the towel for you.’”
Ames defeats Boone in Brookside Park finale — published July 8, 2016
“You are what your record says you are,” Ames coach Eric Bappe said, “but they will all be able to say they played the last game at Brookside, they won it, they won it convincingly and they were an out away from a no-hitter.
“How about that for a story?”
End of an Era — After 62 years, Ames baseball says goodbye to Brookside Park — published July 3, 2016
Since 1955, the Ames baseball team has called Brookside Park home, a tenure that will end on Thursday when the Little Cyclones host Boone in their 2016 home finale. They are hoping it will be one final, glorious chapter for a ballpark with a 62-year history full of storybook memories.
Making state wasn’t the hardest part for Roland-Story’s Noah Thomas — published May 19, 2016
There are 66 athletes scattered around the track across the street from Roland-Story High School, all stretching, running and jumping in preparation for their next big meet. But it is impossible to miss Noah Thomas. He’s the one in the wheelchair.
Grim takes second in the mile, helping Ames to second place at CIC — published May 6, 2016
Grim returned his junior year and helped make history when Ames set the program record in the 4×800 relay. But even then, his confidence was shaken. His mile times weren’t as low as they were before. He struggled competing with the state’s best runners.
“Sometimes, I wanted to quit,” he said. “A couple of workouts, I walked off the track because I just wasn’t having it.”
Former Cyclone Gadson refocused on rumbling to Olympic games — published April 8, 2016
On Sunday, Gadson will compete at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trails in Iowa City. It will have been 387 days since his animated chat with Kessenich, a time during which Gadson hung up his shoes, ready to leave on his own terms, only to lace them up again.
NCAA Dreamin’ — Downey seeks strong finish after tumultuous journey — published March 16, 2016
The distance between the realization of dreams and where they’re fostered is roughly 330 miles. On one end, The Times Union Center sits nestled just west of the Hudson River in Albany, N.Y. In March 2002, it was still the Pepsi Arena, the place where Cael Sanderson won his fourth NCAA title, capping his Cyclone career with 159 wins and zero losses.
On the other end, in Baltimore, Md., 9-year-old Downey was transfixed by the way Sanderson dismantled his competition. He set the goal, right then, that he would become an NCAA champion.
Sibling strength – Albrecht trying to move on after sister’s death — published Feb. 16, 2016
“She was always proud of me,” Albrecht said. “I always liked the fact that they liked coming to the games. It made me feel important to her. I mean, I know I was, but it made me feel like I was doing something. I would sometimes feel guilty for not being home and helping. She was really proud of me.”
The never ending nightmare of the ISU cross country plane crash of 30 years ago — published November 24, 2015
The day lives in a complicated place, an experience communal yet personal, most parts obvious and others unseen. Every year around Thanksgiving, when the air cools and the sun sets a little earlier, the episodes rush back. In those moments, the crash didn’t happen decades ago; it’s an event that continues to happen.
The Daily Iowan — Iowa City, Iowa
Wrestling with the right turn — published March 13, 2015
Tom Brands shot up from his desk in his office. He did it with a straight face and with a fierce look in his eyes. He meant business. He showed his hand. “That’s it,” Brands said. “You’re gone.”
It was during the spring of 2011, and Mike Evans was sitting in a chair on the other side of the desk. Evans, just a freshman then, was upset. He stood up and, the way Brands remembers it, nearly shouted, “I don’t want to leave.”
How did he get there? It’s a long story, Evans says now, but it’s his story.
Wadley bursts onto the scene — published November 7, 2014
When Akrum Wadley left Kinnick Stadium last week, after Iowa disemboweled Northwestern, he discovered that his phone was dead. He rushed home, plugged it into its charger, “and when it turned on, I had 10 missed calls from my mother,” he said.
Grappling with memories — published September 26, 2014
It’s the ear that gives it away. His right ear, actually. It’s all deformed and puffed up in certain spots and a clear indication that, in another life, Austin Blythe was a wrestler.
Hawkeye wrestlers fancy themselves a game of Uno — published February 20, 2014
As such, boredom often arises. But the wrestlers compensate, be it through reading for classes, or watching movies, or playing games — like the card game Uno. Plenty of the Iowa wrestlers and coaches play the classic card game during the longer road trips as another, usually competitive, form of entertainment.
Duzey’s journey to the spotlight — published October 24, 2013
As Duzey sped across the goal line and silenced Ohio Stadium while outrunning some of the fastest defensive backs in the country, a phone back home in Troy, Mich., rang.
When the Times Were Perfect: The Story of the 1965 Midwestern Packers — published September 19, 2013
Midwestern College opened its doors to higher learning in Denison that year, welcoming just over 600 students. But the football program was an outlier all on its own — so much that the inaugural team will meet for a reunion this weekend, possibly for the last time, when Iowa takes on Western Michigan at Kinnick Stadium.
Baltimore Sun — Baltimore, Maryland
Reliever Andrew Miller gets an ovation, then out of a jam, in Orioles debut — published August 1, 2014
Before his name was even announced over the speakers at Camden Yards, the announced crowd of 39,487 stood and gave Orioles reliever Andrew Miller a rousing ovation as he jogged from the bullpen to the mound Friday night.
“Pretty cool reception,” said Miller, the newest member of the Orioles’ bullpen.
Clean-shaven Miller aims for quick adjustment — published August 1, 2014
Andrew Miller arrived in Baltimore Friday morning with a full beard. He had come from the Boston Red Sox, where the growth of facial hair is welcomed, and a few players in the Orioles clubhouse hoped he would remain untrimmed.
As Team Maryland grows, so does program’s prominence — published July 17, 2014
D.J. Grindle has heard nothing but great things about the chocolate milk.
Up in Fargo, N.D., on the campus of North Dakota State University, the chocolate milk is part of wrestling lore. The taste is prime, even if the glasses are small. Wrestlers brag about it whenever they return to their home states.
John Carroll’s Hunter Ritter seeks more hardware in Slovakia — published July 13, 2014
His coach at John Carroll, Keith Watson, said Ritter’s qualifying for the world championships was a byproduct of hard work over time. Wrestling, perhaps more than any other sport, favors the savvier, more conditioned competitor over an opponent with natural athletic ability.
St. Frances’ Smith ‘average-Joe’ with above-average talent — published June 7, 2014
At first glance, it’s probably hard to see Rahshaun Smith and say he’s an underdog. He stands 6 feet 3, weighs 230 pounds and has a deep, booming voice. His nickname is Shaq — and it was given to him at age 12