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Thursday, January 17, 2019
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Metro Sports Report

Warrior girls bounce into track season

CEDAR FALLS -- The Cedar Rapids Washington girls basketball team lost a tough game to Iowa City West in the quarterfinals of the state tournament on Wednesday, March 2.

The next day, Layloni Beard and Brooke Foreman reported for track practice. Alyssa Oney waited a few days, but she quickly made the transition from basketball as well.

"I think getting right into track gives you something else to look forward to," said Oney. "We can all burn out our anger or disappointment that we had."

The Warriors will not easily forget their 67-58 loss to Iowa City West, considering they had a six-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but Beard, Foreman and Oney felt good about what happened at the Mississippi Valley Conference indoor track meet Tuesday at the UNI-Dome.

The three Washington basketball players joined freshman Elena Burke to capture the shuttle hurdle relay in 40.71 seconds, nipping Iowa City West by eight-hundredths of a second.

"It was good," said Beard. "All of us ran well."

There were more good things to come for the Warriors.

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A 'Hippleman' enters the Hall

DES MOINES -- It's been nearly 50 years since Gordon Rundquist played basketball for Coach Les Hipple at Marion High School, but he'll always be a "Hippleman" and will always be grateful.

Rundquist was inducted into the IHSAA Basketball Hall of Fame Saturday night for his accomplishments as a coach, most notably at Maquoketa Valley from 1970 to 2005, but it all began under the watchful eye of Hipple in the 1950s and '60s.

"He was more like a father to me," said Rundquist. "My parents were divorced, and he started taking care of me in about the fourth grade. He'd give me rides to school.

"He lived a block from my house. He'd let me into the gym to shoot. It was a great, great experience."

Hipple was known as a stern disciplinarian who had strict rules about driving (don't, unless absolutely necessary) and girlfriends (avoid them). Those rules were broken on a regular basis, but there were consequences.

"Of course we had girlfriends back in that time," said Rundquist. "We'd be standing by our locker with our girlfriend, and you'd feel this warm glow on the back of your head and you'd look around and there's Coach standing there.

"He never said anything," Rundquist remarked. "You just went down to the gym before practice and 'Twice up the ropes' for talking to a girl in the hall. You just did it. 'That's once, Coach. That's twice.' You knew what the punishment was."

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Hamstring injury a Mere nuisance

CEDAR FALLS -- Caleb Mere tweaked his right hamstring muscle in practice last month, so the Cedar Rapids Kennedy senior didn't know what to expect at the Mississippi Valley Conference indoor track meet Monday in the UNI-Dome.

He surprised himself.

Mere sailed 22 feet, 1/2 inch to win the long jump on his only jump of the day and his first attempt of the season.

"Really cool," he said. "The first meet of the year, and I haven't jumped that often (in practice). I'm definitely really happy with it."

Mere placed third at the Class 4A state meet last year in the long jump at 21-8 1/2 and also placed third at the Drake Relays at 21-9 3/4, which until Monday was his personal best.

He credited a rigorous workout schedule during the winter for getting him ready for the track season, with intense weightlifting and power squats, although the hamstring injury set him back a little.

"I pulled it about three to four weeks ago," he said. "It pretty much feels stretched out now."

Mere jumped 22-0 1/2 on his first try Monday. He barely scratched on his second attempt, negating a longer effort, then elected to pass on his third and fourth tries, knowing he'd already won the event and to avoid the possibility of injury.

In between, Mere placed third in the 60-meter dash in 6.95 seconds. Luke Toyosi of Cedar Falls won that race in 6.75 seconds.

Metro athletes won four events at the MVC indoor meet. Washington claimed the 4x800 relay in 8:25.75, Linn-Mar captured the shuttle hurdle relay in 35.19 seconds and Matt Stocker of Prairie won the 800 in 1:58.76.

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Robertson enjoys remarkable ride

Chris Robertson gently cradled the Class 4A state championship trophy as he left Linn-Mar High School Sunday afternoon. "Can I keep it on my nightstand for a while?" he wondered.

He was kidding, of course. The trophy will find a permanent home in the Linn-Mar trophy case, assuming there's room. The Lions won their third state basketball title in eight years and the fourth in school history Saturday night, so it's getting crowded in that display case.

It's a nice problem to have.

Linn-Mar has made five trips to the state finals in the past eight years, compiling a 3-2 record in those games, and has won championships with three different groups of players.

"That's just unheard of, especially in Class 4A where you have so many kids that move from school to school," Robertson said after the Lions were honored at the school. "I think that's one of the things we take a lot of pride in, we've done it with Linn-Mar kids, kids that have come to our little-kids camps and moved on to our school. It's been an unbelievable ride."

The ride could continue indefinitely at Linn-Mar, which has one of the top programs in the state. Four starters graduate, including tournament MVP Matt Bohannon, but Marcus Paige will be back along with a talented group of juniors-to-be.

Robertson, 40, intends to coach again next season, but there's no guarantee he'll coach forever. He and his wife, Mandi, have four children, and he'd like to attend as many of their activities as possible, something that's difficult during the basketball season that runs from November to March.

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LIONS ARE CHAMPS!!!

DES MOINES -- Matt Bohannon hugged Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson so hard Saturday night it probably hurt, but that's not why Robertson shed a few tears at Wells Fargo Arena.

They were tears of sheer joy.

Bohannon and Marcus Paige netted 24 points apiece as Linn-Mar completed its perfect season with a 56-42 victory over No.3 Des Moines Hoover in the finals of the Class 4A state tournament.

"It's emotional," said Robertson. "I just love these guys. They're just such great kids, great character, great role models in our community. This is fantastic."

Bohannon was named captain of the Class 4A all-tournament team and also was honored as the MVP of the entire tournament, regardless of a school's size or classification.

"It's a complete team honor," Bohannon declared.

The top-ranked Lions (26-0) claimed the school's third state title in eight years and the fourth overall.

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