Friday, November 22, 2019
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Late goal drops Xavier into title share

The defending 3A and 2A boys soccer state champions faced off Tuesday.

The stakes weren't quite as high as a state championship, but a Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division title was on the line when Iowa City West visited Xavier.

Xavier (12-2-1, 11-2 MVC) came into the game with a one-game lead on Iowa City West (13-4, 11-2 MVC) and the Saints looked to have the upper hand coming down the stretch. But a goal in the 75th minute sunk the Saints and lifted Iowa City West to a 1-0 victory and into a share of the division title.

The goal came less than a minute after Iowa City West forward Alex Troester got his second yellow card, forcing the Trojans to play a man down.

With the Saints attacking off of a free kick, the ball found its way to the feet of Xavier senior Michael Tessmer with the Trojan keeper out of position. Tessmer turned and fired at the goal, but an Iowa City West defender blocked it at the goal line.

That play would have been disappointing on its own, but the Trojans got control of the ball and got off to a quick counter attack, getting the ball to Paris Martins who made a run from about 50 yards out. Martins beat his defender and the keeper for the goal.


Metro calendar starts heating up Thursday

Thursday marks the start of one of the busiest prep sports weeks on the Metro sports calendar.

The state track meet kicks off its three-day run at Drake Stadium in Des Moines on Thursday. Then, after a Sunday of rest, the "summer season" begins with the annual Bob Vrbicek Memorial Metro Baseball Tournament on Monday.

First the track.

It has been a time of great acclaim for the Metro over the past handful of years. Not only have the Washington boys captured the last two 4A championships, but we have had several Metro athletes win individual and relay titles during that span.

What will happen this year? Once again, the Metro should be well represented on the boys side. In fact, there are four teams that could end up in the top 10. Washington and Linn-Mar certainly have a chance to win the title. Prairie and Kennedy look to place high in the events they have qualified and could have a very successful weekend.

A team title is probably not in the cards on the girls side, but several individuals and relays are looking to bring home gold this weekend. And of course just outside the Metro, the Mount Vernon-Lisbon team will look to claim yet another championship.


Lechner optimistic about Linn-Mar baseball

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Third in a series of preseason articles about Metro baseball teams. Next: Marion.)

Linn-Mar High School baseball coach Chad Lechner hopes a healthy combination of youth and experience will produce a successful season for the Lions this year.

Lechner's tentative starting rotation includes two juniors and two sophomores, so the Lions could be young on the mound. From Lechner's point of view, they're young but talented.

He has veterans at many of the other spots and likes what he's seen in practice so far.

"It's gone well. They're very upbeat," he said. "It's been a really good group so far. I think we're ahead of where we've been in some years at this time.

"It seems like maybe we have more returning experience than we've had for a while," he said. "And that certainly helps, not having to spend so much time on a lot of things. They kind of understand already what we want, what we expect. So it's going very well. I think we're very encouraged at this point."


Linn-Mar softball in rebuilding mode

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Third in a series of preseason Metro softball stories. Next: Marion.)

The Linn-Mar softball team is looking at another rebuilding season this year after going 12-23 last year and getting beat out in the regional semifinals by fourth-ranked Jefferson.

“I think this year is just another rebuilding year,” said senior Lindsey Harms, a first team all-conference shortstop. “It’s just Leandra (Martins) and me, and then we have two other juniors, so we are really young, but we are going to be better.”

The Lions lost three seniors from last year's team, headlined by third team all-state third baseman Leah Beck.

“She was our best hitter and then I am the only returning outfielder, so we have a lot of holes to fill with those three missing,” Martins said.

Luckily for Linn-Mar, Coach Jon Harms said he thinks they have enough young talent to help fill the holes left by graduation.


Kennedy seeks back-to-back state titles

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Second in a series of preseason Metro baseball stories. Next: Linn-Mar.)

The Cedar Rapids Kennedy baseball team will have a fat bull's-eye on its back as the 2011 campaign begins next week.

As it turns out, that's perfectly all right with Coach Bret Hoyer.

"I love it," he said. "I'd take it every single year, because it usually means you won the state title. I'd love to have it every single year."

Indeed, the Cougars won the Class 4A state title last summer with a 32-10 record and appear to have another strong club this year. The players who hit No.1 through No.6 in the championship game lineup against Iowa City West are all back, led by all-state right fielder andpitcher Austin Christensen.

There were some key departures from 2010 with Ryan Dusil, Sam Hunter, B.J. Cunningham, Brendan Drahn and Connor Bartosh all lost to graduation, but Kennedy appears to have the depth and talent to make another run at the top.

As usual, Hoyer plans to use a variety of combinations during the early part of the season in pursuit of his best lineup.

"We're consistently inconsistent in May and June," he said, "but we're pretty consistent after the 4th of July because we're willing to take our lumps and move people around to different spots and let the chips fall where they may. That's always our goal, to be playing our best baseball when July rolls around."


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