Thursday, May 23, 2019
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Determination propels Brittney Thomas into record books - and across the sea

Where volleyball is concerned, Brittney Thomas has had only two goals “my whole life,” she says. “I wanted to be captain of an All-Tournament team at state and I want to be an All-American in college. Fifty percent of my goals have been accomplished.”

The second goal seems attainable as well for the Mount Mercy University junior-to-be, a Marion High School grad who led her prep team to the 3A state title in 2009 and was named captain of the All-Tournament squad. Whatever happens, collegiate volleyball has already taken her to places she never imagined.

In her first season at Mount Mercy, Thomas broke the school’s single-season kills record with 504 and was named to the All-Conference team. She earned All-Conference honors again this past year and is on pace to break Mount Mercy’s career kills record of 1,283, set by Amy Osenbaugh in 1990-1993, in only her junior year next season.

At 5-foot-8, Thomas is not the tallest player on her team – or even the tallest of the three volleyball playing Thomas sisters, who include Jessica, a junior at Marion, and Alyssa, an eighth grader. Alyssa describes her oldest sister, who has been “hitting balls at my face as hard as she can since I was a little kid,” as one of her heroes.

The Thomas girls were nudged toward volleyball by their mother, Janet, who played volleyball at William Penn University. Their father, Greg, played baseball and basketball for the Statesmen. “My mom and dad are both really great athletes,” says Brittney.

The family moved to Marion when Brittney was in fourth grade after her father was named principal at Marion High School. “My mom put me in some volleyball camps and I just loved it,” she says. Thomas played club volleyball and joined the Vernon Middle School team. As a freshman at Marion, she played one game on the sophomore squad before being moved to the varsity.


Ladies of the Rings

MUSCATINE - Last year was one for the thumb.

This season was one for the other hand.

Xavier soccer players have four more digits to go before they'll have to start putting rings on their toes.

They are the Ladies of the Rings.

Kayla Armstrong and Annie Dale scored goals and No. 1 ranked Xavier held off No. 2 Waukee, 2-1, Saturday for the Class 2A girls soccer state championship. It is the Saints' sixth straight girls soccer title, albeit their first in Class 2A.

"It never gets old," said Xavier Coach Doug Graham, who guided the Saints to the last four state crowns. "We preach take it one game at a time, but in the back of our minds we know we want to win it."


5 Metro players 1st team all-state

Five Metro athletes have been selected first team all state the Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association announced Sunday.

Kennedy brothers Garet and Gabe Christianson, Washington's Brandon Besong, and Xavier's Zach Smith and Chad Gilmer all were first team selections. The Christianson brothers and Besong were picked for the Class 3A team, Smith and Gilmer for the Class 2A team.

Garet Christianson, a senior, was the Metro's leading scorer with 27 goals. Junior Gabe Christianson, the Gatorade Iowa male soccer player of the year, scored 15 goals and had 26 assists. Both were playing their first season of high school soccer after coming up through the junior ranks.

Besong, a senior, scored four goals and had 15 assists.

Smith and Gilmer were high scorers on Xavier's Class 2A state championship team. Smith, a senior who missed the postseason because of a knee injury, had 12 goals and 10 assists and was named the Valley Division player of the year in the Mississippi Valley Conference. Gilmer, a junior, led the Saints with 14 goals and 11 assists.


Prairie's Velvick broke collarbone in fatal crash

Cedar Rapids Prairie baseball player Jason Velvick broke his collarbone in a one-vehicle crash that killed the driver early Thursday morning, sources have told the Metro Sports Report.

Velvick was a passenger in the vehicle that crashed near the south side of the Eastern Iowa Airport.

Drake Whitters, 19, of Swisher died in the accident. He was the driver of the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Whitters graduated from Prairie High School in 2010 and played football for the Hawks.

Prairie baseball coach Matt Thede declined comment on how Velvick got hurt, but did confirm the injury. "He has a broken collarbone," Thede said.

Thede said Velvick will miss the rest of the baseball season. Velvick, a senior-to-be, was Prairie's starting centerfielder and was hitting .317 in 12 games.

Sources said Velvick suffered lacerations to various parts of his body, including his back, side and stomach.

Velvick ran to a farmhouse for help after the accident, according to sources, and later ran approximately three miles to his home. He was not able to retrieve his cell phone and call for help, because the phone was in the crashed vehicle and not accessible.


Christensen is Gatorade Player of the Year

Kennedy's power-hitting southpaw pitcher Austin Christensen has been named the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year in baseball.

Christensen is batting .684 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs through 13 games. He also  is 3-0 on the mound.

Christensen is Kennedy's career home run leader with 33. His 24 wins as a pitcher are two shy of the Kennedy career record held by Danny Bales.

Christensen is the fourth Metro athlete to be named a Gatorade Player of the Year this year and the second from Kennedy. Linn-Mar's Kiah Stokes was a two-time winner in girls basketball, Jefferson's Jarrod Uthoff was chosen in boys basketball and Kennedy junior Gabe Christianson was named in boys soccer.

Christensen has signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at Nebraska. He was not chosen in the recent Major League Baseball first-year player draft.


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