Thursday, February 27, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Healthy Appleget helps Kennedy trim Prairie

Kennedy junior Nick Appleget wears a brace on his left knee and there's a certain amount of pain when he pitches, but he figures he can live with all that.

Appleget's had three knee operations in three years - two major, one minor - and he's just happy to be able to pitch for the top-ranked Cougars again.

Appleget tossed one scoreless inning in relief Monday night to help Kennedy top Prairie, 7-3, in a Mississippi Valley Conference game at Prairie.

"It feels good," he said. "Sitting on the bench is not my favorite thing."

Appleget allowed a leadoff single in the fifth inning, but retired the next three batters with a strikeout, fly ball and another strikeout.



Linn-Mar is a prep superpower

Not many people will be quick to anoint Linn-Mar as the next superpower in high school sports. But judging by the school’s performance in 2010-2011, you have to wonder if that may not be true.

Linn-Mar, once one of the smaller schools in the Metro area, has grown by leaps and bounds in enrollment over the years and success in athletics has improved correspondingly. It now is behind only Kennedy in Metro area high school enrollment, and trails only Kennedy, Iowa City West and Waterloo West in Mississippi Valley Conference student population. Enrollment doesn’t necessarily translate to more extra-curricular success, but in large part it helps. The more students, the more athletes, the more depth, the more competition, the more good things happen.

Going into this week’s soccer regional tournaments, Linn-Mar has a chance to be represented at the state level in every girls sport. All eight other Linn-Mar girls teams either qualified or had individuals qualify at the state level. The Lions play Washington, a slightly higher-ranked team, Monday in a regional match with the chance to advance to state.



Hoefle leads early, but misses Open by 4 shots

Linn-Mar coach and teacher Bill Hoefle missed qualifying for the U.S. Open by four strokes Monday after leading the pack over the first 18 holes.

Hoefle's first round score of 66 tied him for the lead with amateur Jace Long of Dixon, Mo., at  the sectional qualifying sat the St. Charles Country Club in suburban Chicago. Both shot 74 in the second round, tying them with three others at 140.

Professional Bennett Blakeman of Burr Ridge, Ill., shot a 68-67 to take top honors in the meet. He and two amateurs who shot 136 qualified out of field of 27 for the U.S. Open, June 16-19, at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

“I played very well all day,” Hoefle said Monday night. “Really, I hit the ball the same in both rounds.

“But the putts I was making in the first round didn’t fall in the second round. And I had some good breaks in the first round that I didn’t get in the second.

“It adds up to a different score, but I was in the hunt. A 69 in the second round, and I’d be in the U.S. Open.”

Hoefle, 40, is the sophomore boys basketball coach and assistant boys golf coach at Linn-Mar who just finished his sixth year as a business teacher at the school.  He played golf professionally for six years after graduation from Oklahoma State University in 1994.

This was the fifth time in his career that he has made it past a local qualifying round. Two years ago, he missed making the U.S. Open by two shots after scoring a double bogey on the final hole.

Hoefle said he had no similar regrets after his finish on Monday, with perfect conditions in the morning to hot and windy by the afternoon.

“Having the lead after 18 holes was a great experience," he said. "And I had a great time. It was a lot of fun. I had a chance but didn’t quite make it.”


Woods gets victory in win over Troy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nate Woods pitched five strong innings Sunday afternoon and got the victory as Belmont defeated Troy, 5-2, in an elimination game of an NCAA Division I regional baseball tournament.

Belmont (38-26) was knocked out of the double-elimination tournament Sunday night by Vanderbilt, 6-1. Both of the Bruins loss in the regional were to No. 1 seeded and host Vanderbilt. The Commodores advance to the super regional.

Woods (7-5) was the starting pitcher for the Bruins against Troy. He surrendered only one run in five innings and left the mound with a 3-1 lead. He struck out one batter, walked one and allowed four hits.


Care and prevention of golf injuries

I have been taking care of 150 of the world’s top women golf professionals at Hunters Ridge Golf Course in Marion at the Ladies Titan Tire Challenge the past week. I was the Sports Medicine Chair for this event, and this allowed me to assemble a stout group of area sports medicine specialists (including Zach Johnson’s dad, local chiropractor Dave Johnson) that took care of the golfers all week.

Let’s take a closer look at common golf injuries to high school golfers and discuss some pearls of wisdom from the pros.

Golf injuries occur in 20 to 40 percent of high school golfers. Low back pain is the most common area of concern, followed by injuries to the hip, shoulder and wrist. There are many reasons that these injuries occur, including poor posture at setup, poor swing mechanics, improper grip, improper club fit, poor flexibility and poor core stability.

Golf professionals and golf coaches are experts in the area of the key components of the golf swing (proper swing mechanics, proper club fit and proper grip) and to some degree the golf posture at setup.


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