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Thursday, March 21, 2019
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Metro Sports Report

Thoughts on the new 5 class IGHSAU

Last Saturday morning signaled the beginning of a new era for the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU).

Starting the summer of 2012 for softball, the IGHSAU will institute a fifth class for several high school sports -- volleyball, basketball, golf and softball. Three of those sports are the key revenue builders for the IGHSAU ... here's a clue, it's not golf!

Looking at this at first blush, one may take the official line of the IGHSAU; more kids will have the experience of reaching a state tournament and the class structures will be more equitable.

But let's examine this.

I have contended for many years, and I believe it has shown in competitors' attitudes and actions, that it is not as mush of a "big deal" to get to a state tournament as it once was. This trend began with the institution of the AAU, USSSA and club volleyball teams that kids begin to play around the age of seven or eight. Routinely these kids travel around the state, the region and, in cases of elite all-star teams, around the country to attend tournaments and play games.

After you've been to Las Vegas and Phoenix, driving to Des Moines on a school bus doesn't seem quite so glamorous, even though it's easier to get there than it ever has been. Teams that in the past had to win four or five games to get to a state competition now, more often than not, need only win two games to earn a ticket to Des Moines, or wherever the aforementioned competition is held. Communities don't seem to rally around the teams or kids as much as they once did.

 

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Warriors whip Lions in girls state tennis

The third-ranked Washington girls tennis team showed it will be a force to be reckoned with at next week’s 2A state championship by whitewashing Linn-Mar, 5-0, Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the state tournament at the Veterans Memorial Tennis Center.

The Warriors advanced to the final field of four by posting straight set wins in singles matches. The sixth match was stopped with the team victory in hand.  No doubles matches were played.

The state team championship will be contested on Saturday, June 4, in Iowa City. Singles and doubles competition is June 2-3.

In claiming its first team state tournament berth since 1998, Washington (17-3) had little trouble with Linn-Mar (11-5).

The closest and longest match pitted Warrior ninth grade phenom Rina Moore against Lions sophomore Ashley Smith.  After nearly 90 minutes of hard-fought play, Moore prevailed, 6-3, 7-5. The win raised her season mark to 18-2, with one of the losses coming to top-seeded junior teammate Katie Hammond in the regional singles finals.

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Warriors earn share of division title

Washington earned its share of the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division girls soccer championship Tuesday with a 1-0 win over Dubuque Hempstead at Kingston Stadium.

Maddi Hines scored the only goal of the game for the Warriors (13-3, 11-2 MVC).

Washington finished in a first-place tie with Kennedy for the division title. The Warriors close out the regular season Friday at Davenport Central.

Hempstead (7-9, 5-8) finished its regular season. The Mustangs' next game is June 1 against Linn-Mar in the Class 3A regional tournament.

   

Michael picks off win for Cougars

The Kennedy Baseball Support Group bought a new tarp for $4,300 three years ago to protect Kennedy Field from the elements and reduce the number of rainouts.

Griffin Michael and the Cougars are glad they did.

Michael pitched a complete game with 11 strikeouts Tuesday night as the top-ranked Cougars beat a thunderstorm and the Prairie Hawks, 5-4, in the semifinals of the Bob Vrbicek Metro Tournament.

The three other games in the tournament got rained out, including a scheduled losers bracket game between Jefferson and Mount Vernon at Kennedy Field, but the Cougars and Hawks waited until after 8 p.m. and got their winners bracket game in the books.

The tournament will continue Wednesday, weather permitting. Under one scenario, Xavier and Washington would meet in the semifinals at 5 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium to see which team would face Kennedy in the finals at 7 p.m.

Tournament officials plan to make an announcement during the day on Wednesday. The Cedar Rapids Kernels are scheduled to play a home game at noon on Wednesday, and if that game is delayed they might move the semifinals and finals to Kennedy.

Losers bracket games featuring Jefferson vs. Mount Vernon and Linn-Mar vs. Marion may be played as well, if conditions permit.

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'Buzzsaw' Christensen stymies J-Hawks

Austin Christensen has made all-state baseball teams at Kennedy High School as a freshman, sophomore and junior, but if he keeps playing like this he might deserve a special award.

Christensen starred as a top-notch pitcher and slugger Monday night as the top-ranked Cougars defeated Jefferson, 10-5, in the opening round of the Bob Vrbicek Metro Tournament at Kennedy.

Christensen struck out the first eight batters he faced and finished with 13 strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings, but he also did plenty of damage with his bat. He went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a triple, four RBIs and two walks in the first game of the year.

"We ran into a buzzsaw tonight," Jefferson Coach Mike Kuba said. "He had great command of his stuff, and we didn't expect anything different from him."

The first eight batters in the Jefferson lineup barely managed a loud foul ball in the first three innings as Christensen flashed an 89 mph fastball and pinpoint control.

"I don't know if I've ever had anybody start with eight straight strikeouts," Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer said. "I don't know if I've ever seen that before. That was pretty impressive."

Christian Knox, the No. 9 batter in the J-Hawk lineup, grounded weakly to shortstop to end the third inning and snap the string of eight straight whiffs.

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