Quarter Four Year in Review: Presented by Two Rivers Bank and Trust

Written by Nathan Bloechl on December 31, 2020

By: Nathan Bloechl — sports@kilj.com

October: Iowa Wesleyan Officially Approved as NAIA Member:

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) officially voted and approved the Iowa Wesleyan Tiger Athletic Department to make their return to NAIA with official acceptance in October.

The transition will officially take place on July 1st, 2021.

Iowa Wesleyan will continue to be a member of NCAA Division III, the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC), and the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) through the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year.

October: Mount Pleasant Volleyball Earns Conference Crown:

The Mount Pleasant volleyball team earned themselves a Southeast Conference title in October, when the Panthers knocked off top-seeded Burlington and Fairfield, at Mount Pleasant High School.

The Panthers turned the round-robin tournament on it’s head with an upset over SEC leader Burlington in their first game of the night, topping the Greyhounds in sweep fashion, 25-22 and 25-15.

Mount Pleasant then came back with a sweep over Fairfield, 25-22 and 25-15, as well.

The pair of wins propelled Mount Pleasant to 4-1 over the two-day tournament, meaning they’d need a little help to earn themselves the conference crown.

The Panthers needed Burlington, a team they had beat earlier in the night, to defeat Fort Madison — and the Greyhounds came through.

Burlington won in three-sets, which secured the SEC Title for Dave Streeter’s bunch.

The conference crown was the first for the Maroon and Gold since 2013.

October: HTC Sees State Streak Close as Notre Dame Rallies for Set 5 Winner:

Gabby Deery and Katy Stephens paced a high-powered Nike attack, while Jenna Bentz had five blocks as the No. 14 (1A) Notre Dame Nike volleyball team upset No. 8 Holy Trinity 3-2 in a Class 1A-8 Region Semifinal in October.

Notre Dame grabbed the match by the scruff of it’s neck, dominating the first two sets earning 25-16 and 25-14 wins.

Holy Trinity would wake up.

Claire Pothitakis and freshman Mary Kate Bendlage helped lead a two-set surge as the Crusaders earned hard-fought 25-22 and 25-23 wins to force a decisive set five.

Trailing set five 9-5, Notre Dame rallied for a 10-3 run — led by consecutive blocks by Gabby Deery and Abby Korschgen and two more from Katy Stephens which helped the Nikes wrangle a 10-9 lead.

The loss for Holy Trinity put an end and 10 straight trips to the U.S. Cellular Center and State Volleyball.

They closed their season with a record of 26-10.

November: 8-Player District 4 Announces All District Team:

8-Player District 4 has announced their 2020 All-District Team in November, as announced by WACO head coach Chad Edeker.

Here’s a look at the roster:

1st Team Offense

  • QB Eddie Burgess, Montezuma
  • QB Blaise Porter, New London
  • RB Alex Viner, Lone Tree
  • RB Beau Flander, English Valleys
  • WR Trey Shearer, Montezuma
  • WR Cole Watts, Montezuma
  • OL Currey Jacobs, New London
  • OL Chance Malone, Winfield-Mt. Union
  • OL Will Hotz, Lone Tree
  • Utility Will Edeker, WACO
  • Utility Cade Shield, Lone Tree
  • Kicker Owen Cook, Montezuma

1st Team Defense

  • DL Carter Allen, New London
  • DL Brian Diaz, Montezuma
  • DL Jack Jennings, Winfield-Mt. Union
  • DL Ashton Moore, English Valleys
  • DL Boden Pickle, New London
  • LB Brayden Mikesell, English Valleys
  • LB Caydin Wahls, New London
  • DB Connor Van Zee, Montezuma
  • DB Kaden Hall, English Valleys
  • DB Cade Patterson, Lone Tree
  • Utility Kode Strong, Montezuma
  • Utility Simeon Reichenbach, WACO
  • Utility Luke Dillion, English Valleys
  • Punter Cam Buffington, Winfield-Mt. Union

Burgess was named the District’s Offensive MVP, while New London junior Carter Allen was selected as the league’s Defensive MVP.

Burgess and Montezuma represented District 4 in the 8-Player State Tournament, falling 106-93 to eventual state champion Remsen-St. Mary’s in the highest scoring state football game ever.

November: Nikes Reign Supreme, Clinch First Ever State Championship:

Junior Katy Stephens had 22 kills, while Josie Bentz and Gabby Deery finished with 18 and 14 respectively as the No. 7 Burlington-Notre Dame Nike volleyball team captured the programs first ever State Championship, defeating No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck 3-1 in November at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.

Stephens was simply indefensible at times for a versatile and potent Nike attack.

Bentz again finished with 18 kills, but it was her 17 digs that paved the way for Notre Dame to win.

The junior do-it-all superstar was routinely providing great clearance on every glancing right-hand attack by Gladbrook’s superhero Saari Kuehl, a Southwest Minnesota State recruit.

Kuehl came into the tournament with the top kills per set among qualifiers, and while she was dominant for stretches, it was Bentz — and all of Notre Dame’s defense — that wound up with the last laugh.

Gladbrook’s lone victory — set two 25-21 — was in large part due to Kuehl’s eight kill performance in the set.

Their win ended their season with a record of 19-5, while Gladbrook-Reinbeck finished 34-3.

Notre Dame will return all key parts of their offense, losing only libero Karli Artman due to graduation, meaning a repeat is squarely in the realm of possibility.

November: Lutovsky, Allen Headline Area All-State Football Selections:

Mount Pleasant senior offensive lineman Henry Lutovsky and New London defensive lineman have both been named First Team All-State in their respective classes, the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association has announced.

Lutovsky, a Nebraska commit, was a mauler in the run and pass protection game all season for the Panthers, while Allen continually wrecked opposing offenses with his ability to disrupt the backfield.

Here is the full list of area athletes on IPSWA All-State lists:

8-Player:

  • 1st Team: Carter Allen – DL – New London
  • 2nd Team: Blaise Porter – DB – New London
  • 3rd Team: Cam Buffington – P – Winfield-Mount Union

Class A

  • 1st Team: Rhett Smith – OL – Wapello
  • 2nd Team: Hector Zepeda – K – Wapello
  • 3rd Team: Caden Thomas – WR/TE – Wapello

Class 1A

  • 2nd Team: Logan Thie – WR/TE – Mediapolis

Class 3A

  • 1st Team: Henry Lutovsky – OL – Mount Pleasant
  • 3rd Team: Chase Williamson – DB – Mount Pleasant

December: Beason Named Panther Softball Coach:

Following Troy Mears’ departure as Mount Pleasant’s head softball coach the Mount Pleasant Community School District is set to approve Michael Beason as the next head coach of the program, the district has announced.

Mears had been the leader at Mount Pleasant since 2014, orchestrating multiple conference championships and trips to the state softball tournament in Fort Dodge.

Mears stepped down from the position earlier this fall.

Beason will inherit a group that finished last year 4-18, but does return a strong core of players including senior Grace Kelly and underclassman Emma Starr and Ella McNamee.

The appointment of Beason as head coach was finalized at a December Mount Pleasant Community School Board meeting.