Friday, January 17, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Nate Woods helps Belmont win A-Sun title

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nate Woods went 2-for-5 Saturday and scored two runs as Belmont University edged Mercer, 9-7, in the championship game of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament.

Woods is a senior from Cedar Rapids and a 2007 graduate of Xavier High School. He had an RBI single in the first inning Saturday as the Bruins grabbed a quick lead.

Belmont (36-24) won the A-Sun title for the first time in school history. The Bruins earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Division I regionals, the first berth in school history.

Belmont was the No.6 seed in the six-team tournament, but the Bruins went 4-0 in the tournament.


J-Hawks, Saints ranked in softball poll

Jefferson and Xavier are the only Metro schools present in the first softball poll released Friday by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.

The J-Hawks, who were 34-7 last season, are ranked 11th and Xavier, 34-11 a year ago, is ranked 12th in Class 4A.

Des Moines East, runnersup to West Des Moines Valley a year ago, is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A. Valley is No. 5. Mississippi Valley Conference members Iowa City West and Waterloo West are ranked third and eighth, respectively.

Clear Creek Amana is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, Bondurant-Farrar No. 1 in 2A and Akron-Westfield No. 1 in 1A.



Galbraith may have a tough choice

Riley Galbraith made the rounds of friends’ Kennedy High School graduation parties Thursday night, basking in the sweet feel of a big day in tennis on Friday and trying not to puzzle too much over the dilemma he may face Saturday.

With a mild upset victory Friday afternoon, he’s in the semifinals of today’s 2A state tennis tournament. But he’s also a starter and topnotch penalty kicker on the Kennedy soccer team that’s in a 3A substate finals match.

The location of the conflicting events isn’t bad, since the Veterans Memorial Tennis Center is just a parking lot apart from Kingston Stadium.

But the timing is dicey.

The highly-regarded but unseeded Galbraith is set to faceoff with third-seeded fellow junior Naveen Nath of Des Moines Roosevelt on the tennis court at 10 a.m.  They’ve split two previous encounters, so this will be a grudge match.

The winner goes for the state singles title at 2 p.m., while consolation match for third place starts at 1:30.

The soccer game with Cedar Falls kicks off at noon.


Zach Johnson has Kids on Course

When Zach Johnson comes to his home town of Cedar Rapids, good things happen. As they did this week with Zach's promotion of Kids On Course.

Before we get into that, let's make a few comments about what the Z-Man has done on his first half of the PGA Tour season.

I told him at Van Buren School, at the start of my interview with him, that I likened it to Guts Golf. He didn't know whether that was a compliment or a criticism.

I told him that it was by far a compliment, the way he has performed in his last three tournaments. At Charlotte, he came from 75th to fourth. At the Players Championship, he came from 100th to 12th. And his Sunday round at Colonial of 65 vaulted him to fourth place.

That's the sort of "guts" play that Zach emulates. He called it "boring golf" - fairways, tees, greens. And when the putter is working, that also means a high finish on the leaderboard.


Nate Woods enjoys banner year at Belmont

A total of 1,525 baseball players were selected in the Major League draft last year. High school kids, college kids, pimply faced kids, all sorts of kids.

But not Nate Woods.

"It was definitely devastating," he said this week.

Woods belted 20 home runs and drove in 78 runs last season at Belmont University to rank among the NCAA Division I leaders in both categories, but none of the 30 Major League teams gave him a sniff.

He was drafted in the 28th round by the Dodgers in 2007 when he was a senior at Xavier High School, but nobody thought he was worthy of being selected last year as a junior in college.

There were 50 rounds in the 2010 draft, and nobody thought the 6-foot-6, 235-pound slugger was worth a chance.

"I have no idea what happened last year," he said.


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