Thursday, December 08, 2016
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Gerke helps Saints pin their opponents

Josh Gerke likes to run, he likes to wrestle and he likes to knock people down.

That makes him one of the most versatile high school athletes in Iowa and a three-sport star for the Xavier Saints.

Gerke, a senior, placed in three events at the Class 3A state track meet last spring as a premier half-miler. He's already collected 115 victories as a top wrestler for the Saints, making him only the fourth grappler at Xavier to top 100 wins with another full season to go.

And right now he's a big contributor for the Xavier football team that is undefeated and ranked No. 2 in Class 3A heading into the opening round of the playoffs Friday at 7 p.m. against Davenport Assumption at Saints Field.

He's fast, he's tough and he's talented.

"He excels in everything he does," said Xavier wrestling coach Ryan Chambers. "One of the most dedicated athletes I have ever coached."

Not a lot of guys can crack 2 minutes in the 800 meter run, pin 72 opponents in wrestling, and excel as a defensive back and kick return specialist for one of the top football teams in Iowa.

"And he's a great kid," said Xavier football coach Duane Schulte. "He'll run through a brick wall if you ask."


Saints sweep into 4A regional finals

The Xavier High School volleyball team has been working since August to reach the Class 4A state tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center next month.

Now they are only one step away.

The sixth-ranked Saints swept Fort Madison, 25-17, 25-23, 25-16, in the regional semifinals at Ron Thillen Gymnasium Tuesday night.

Xavier (30-9) will host eighth-ranked Clinton (22-13) in the regional finals Monday night, with the winner earning a trip to downtown Cedar Rapids for the state meet.

The Saints should be filled with confidence when they face Clinton. They whipped the River Queens in two matches at the North Scott tournament Sept. 10, winning both contests 2-0 by a combined count of 92-57.

The Saints will be confident, but not over-confident.

"They have something in the back of their heads, but they know it's not promised," said Xavier Coach Austin Filer. "They have to work hard for it."

In fact, the Saints had to work hard against Fort Madison before pulling out a victory in straight sets. The Bloodhounds led 23-21 late in the second set, but the Saints rallied and won the last four points for a 25-23 victory and a 2-0 lead.

Filer appeared to stay calm in the second set, even when his club trailed 10-5 early.


Frost, Kurtz join MSR softball league

Morgan Frost of Kirkwood and Taylor Kurtz of Waldorf are the latest collegiate athletes to join the new Iowa Women's Softball League that will begin play in 2017.

Thirteen active college players from Iowa have joined the program, representing schools from the NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA levels of competition.

Frost, an outfielder, was named a Junior College All-American last season when she hit .498 for Kirkwood with 10 home runs and 72 RBIs as a freshman. She starred in high school at Gilbertville Don Bosco, where she was named to the all-state teams as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior and was a five-time all-conference selection.

Frost is the fourth player from Kirkwood to enroll in the league, joining Taylor Nearad, Maddie Hansen and Lexi Kinnaird.

Kurtz, currently a sophomore, is a pitcher and first baseman at Waldorf. She starred in high school at Mid-Prairie, where she was a two-time selection to the River Valley South Conference all-star team and helped Mid-Prairie place at the state tournament four times.


The new Iowa Women's Softball League, which is being formed by the Metro Sports Report, is intended for all active college players in Iowa and for all Iowans who are playing at out-of-state schools.

The season will consist of 10 doubleheaders on Sunday afternoons next summer, beginning on Sunday, May 28 and running through Sunday, July 30. All of the games will be played at Kirkwood Community College and Coe College in Cedar Rapids at 2 p.m. each day.


Ferentz's answer does not make sense

IOWA CITY - Kirk Ferentz knows more about football than all the rest of us combined, but I'm struggling with something he said after the Iowa Hawkeyes lost to Wisconsin Saturday.

The Hawkeyes were trailing 14-6 when they drove 60 yards to the Wisconsin 20-yard line, where they faced 4th-and-5 with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the game. A touchdown and two-point conversion would have tied it, but Ferentz called for a field goal to try and pull within 14-9 instead.

Keep in mind, Iowa had trouble moving the ball against Wisconsin most of the day and finished with only 236 yards of total offense. That 4th-and-5 situation at the 20 might have represented Iowa's best chance to win the game, perhaps in overtime.

It looks worse in retrospect that Keith Duncan missed the 38-yard attempt, leaving the score 14-6, but the Hawkeyes still would have needed a touchdown to win the game even if they had pulled within 14-9.

I asked Ferentz in the post-game press conference about his decision to go for three points in that situation.

"You have to score twice," he responded. "Somehow, some way, you have to score twice. If it had been something less, like 4th-and-2, we probably would have gone for the touchdown, but 4th-and-5, you know ..."

Score twice? Yes, to win the game, but not to tie it.

"In the situation we were in, we felt that was the best play," Ferentz continued after I asked a follow-up question. "We're going to have to score twice.


Saints host Assumption in 3A opener

The Xavier Saints will host Davenport Assumption in the opening round of the Class 3A football playoffs this Friday at 7 p.m. at Saints Field.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association posted all the brackets on its website Saturday morning following the end of the regular season Friday night.

Xavier finished the regular season at 9-0 overall and captured the District 3 title with a 7-0 mark. Assumption finished 7-2 overall and went 6-1 in District 4 as the district runner-up.

The Saints and Knights did not have any common opponents this season. Xavier won at Davenport Assumption, 30-6, in 2014 and beat Assumption again last year, 14-7, at Saints Field.

The entire bracket for the Class 3A playoffs has been pre-determined this season, unlike recent years when the IHSAA determined opponents on a round-by-round basis.

If the Saints defeat Davenport Assumption, they will host West Delaware (8-1) or Waverly-Shell Rock (6-3) in the quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 4 at Saints Field, according to the IHSAA rules for determining second-round hosts.

Xavier was placed on the same side of the 16-team bracket with Pella, which means the second-ranked Saints would meet the top-ranked Dutch in the semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 10 in the UNI-Dome if they both get that far.


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