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Friday, July 01, 2016
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Metro Sports Report

Whittington, Eagles take 2nd at NJCAA golf

PLYMOUTH, Ind. - Carson Whittington and the Kirkwood Eagles are coming home from the NJCAA Division II men's golf tournament in Indiana with some impressive awards.

Whittington fired a 6-under-par 66 Friday and captured second place in the individual standings and his exploits helped the Eagles take second place in the team standings at the Swan Lake Resort.

Whittington and Justin Warren of South Mountain (Ariz.) both finished the 72-hole tournament at 6-under 282, but Warren won a two-hole playoff for the individual championship.

Whittington, a sophomore from Creston, shot rounds of 72, 71, 73 and 66 in the four-day event.

Kirkwood and Tyler (Texas) both finished with 1,158 strokes in the team competition, but Kirkwood won a one-hole playoff for second place. South Mountain took the title by 20 strokes at 1,138, giving South Mountain its second straight crown.

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MSR will cover venerable Iowa Valley League

I have great news to share with you today, especially if you love baseball and cherish the small towns that have nourished the sport for a long, long time in Eastern Iowa.

The Metro Sports Report will be offering extensive coverage this spring and summer of the Iowa Valley League, a baseball tradition in nearby towns that traces its roots all the way back to 1935.

Norway, Watkins, Fairfax, Walford, Williamsburg and Red Top are in the league again this season. The campaign begins Sunday and runs through July 31, followed by the annual IABA state tournament that lasts two weeks in August.

The Metro Sports Report will cover one doubleheader each week, starting this Sunday between Norway and Red Top at Red Top's home base in Solon at 1 p.m. Norway has been a traditional power in the league, but Red Top has captured the last five league titles and appears to have another strong team.

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Prairie claims 1st Metro baseball title

When Todd Rima became the new baseball coach at Cedar Rapids Prairie last year, he gave all of his players a picture of Principal Park in Des Moines and told them to set their sights on winning a state title there.

"We asked them to hang it up in their room and make sure it was something they wanted to work towards," Rima said Wednesday night. "I think they looked at me at first like, 'Is this guy crazy?' But I think they bought in. I think they have a confidence about them now that leads to success."

That confidence was on full display Wednesday as the Hawks claimed their first Metro title in school history with a 5-0 whitewash of fifth-ranked Kennedy at the Jefferson field.

The Hawks enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2015, winning 31 games and capturing the first Mississippi Valley Conference in school annals. Now they've followed last year's success with their first trophy in the 47th Bob Vrbicek Metro tournament.

"We felt with the kids that we had and how they wanted to work and how they wanted to be successful that we could have a lot of success," said Rima. "It's all because they've bought in to playing hard. They've done a tremendous job."

Junior Darren Kilpatrick tossed a four-hit shutout in his first varsity appearance as Prairie whipped its second ranked club in three days. The Hawks trimmed No. 3 Jefferson in the opening round, clobbered Washington in the semifinals and tamed Kennedy in the championship round, allowing just two runs in three games.

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Prairie sending message in Metro tourney

The Prairie Hawks won 31 games last season and captured the first Mississippi Valley Conference baseball title in school history, yet they were completely snubbed in the preseason rankings this year despite have a veteran club.

Their first two opponents this year have paid the price.

Prairie smacked the Washington Warriors, 15-0, in four innings Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Metro baseball tournament for their second impressive victory in two days.

The Hawks began the year Monday night with a 3-2 victory over the third-ranked Jefferson J-Hawks. Now they'll get a shot at fifth-ranked Kennedy in the tournament finals Wednesday night at Jefferson.

"I think our guys know that we got zero votes, so we told them you spell respect W-I-N," Prairie Coach Todd Rima said after the Hawks overwhelmed Washington. "That's what we'll do and we'll let people decide the rankings."

The Hawks are not obsessed with the rankings, but they certainly noticed that not a single coach who votes in the IHSBCA poll thought they deserved a spot in the top 10.

"It motivated us," said third baseman Cooper Reittinger. "We didn't feel like we got the respect we deserved. So we came out and we've tried to earn some votes here. That's what really drove us these couple of games."

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Leonard powers Warriors by Saints

Trey Leonard has spent most of the spring with the Cedar Rapids Washington track team and helped the Warriors finish second in the 4x100 relay at the state meet on Saturday, so he rarely practiced with the baseball squad prior to the start of the season with the Metro Tournament on Monday.

The lack of practice did not hurt him a bit.

Leonard came out swinging Monday and went 5-for-5 with a three-run homer and five RBIs as the Warriors smacked the undermanned Xavier Saints, 15-6, in the quarterfinals at the Jefferson field.

Leonard scored four runs, smacked two balls off the outfield fence and had two stolen bases in his virtuoso performance. He saw the ball well and hit it hard all day.

"It looked like a beachball," he said. "It was a good hitting day. The swing felt good and obviously it showed with where the ball went."

Prairie trimmed Spencer VanScoyoc and the third-ranked Jefferson J-Hawks, 3-2, in the second game Monday night at Jefferson. Kennedy beat Linn-Mar, 13-5, and Mount Vernon edged Marion, 3-1, in the first-round games at Mount Vernon.

The tournament continues Tuesday at both sites. Xavier and Jefferson are scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. at Jefferson, with Washington and Prairie meeting in the winner's bracket at 7 p.m.

Linn-Mar faces Marion at 5 p.m. at Mount Vernon, with Kennedy meeting Mount Vernon in the winner's bracket at 7 p.m.

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