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Sunday, June 26, 2016
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor
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Linn-Mar High School - Marion, Iowa

Saints mired in 8-game losing streak

The Xavier softball team did some very good things during its doubleheader against Linn-Mar Tuesday night, but the bottom line unfortunately was the same story for the struggling Saints.

Linn-Mar swept the Mississippi Valley Conference games, 2-1 and 10-5, leaving Xavier with an eight-game losing streak and an unsightly overall record of 7-19.

Maria Steffen pitched a strong game for the Saints in the opener and deserved a better fate, but the Xavier right-fielder lost a fly ball in the sun to give Morgan Braughton a gift triple in the fourth inning and the Lions promptly scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to snap a 1-1 tie.

The Saints put runners at first and third with one out in the top of the seventh, but Braughton struck out the next two batters to finish a complete game and the victory.

Christina Lincoln and Braughton had two hits for Linn-Mar in the opener.

Cassie Himmelsbach and Olivia Richards socked solo home runs for Xavier in the second game and the score was tied, 5-5, heading into the bottom of the fourth, but the Lions scored two runs in the fourth and added three more runs in the sixth to put the game away.

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Hines helps Saints get 1st MVC victory

New Xavier baseball coach Bob Cataldo had never seen Jacob Hines pitch before this season, but he remembered Hines from middle school and decided to put him on the varsity this year as a sophomore.

Smart move.

Hines tossed a complete game Friday night as the Saints trimmed Linn-Mar, 4-2, in the second game of their doubleheader at the Linn-Mar field for their first Mississippi Valley Conference win of the season.

Hines allowed only three hits and kept the ball around the plate all night.

"I used to coach Regis eighth grade basketball and Jacob was one of the kids I coached in eighth grade," Cataldo said. "I knew what kind of competitor he is."

The Saints had dropped 11 straight conference games this season, including a 6-3 loss to Linn-Mar in the first game Friday, but they've showed a lot of improvement the last three weeks and finally got their reward.

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Shepherd: 'Safe to assume' personnel changes

The superintendent of the Linn-Mar school district said Thursday there could be personnel changes at Linn-Mar High School as a result of the ongoing state investigation into the school's football program.

The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners (BoEE) is currently investigating charges that Linn-Mar families have filed against assistant football coach Matt Casebolt, head coach Bob Forsyth, retiring athletic director Scott Mahmens and principal Jeff Gustason.

"I think it would be safe to assume that we could expect some personnel changes moving forward next year," Dr. Quintin Shepherd, the Linn-Mar superintendent, told the Metro Sports Report Thursday morning.

Shepherd declined to specify what the personnel changes might be, citing due process and privacy rights of employees, but said the school district is making contingency plans to replace personnel if and when the time comes.

"We are in the process of doing what we need to do as a district to try and forestall any detrimental impact on the program in the middle of the season," he remarked. "We're always trying to put ourselves in position in the district where we don't react to something that an outside entity might do to us, but that we're responding to it in a way that's pro-active.

"If we can position our program now, whatever the BoEE does hopefully won't impact our program or our kids, and that's what we're trying to do now."

Shepherd said he does not know when the BoEE will finish its investigation or what action the state board will take. "I have no sense at all of when it will be completed," he said.

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Verdict in Linn-Mar case could be soon

There was growing speculation Wednesday that a verdict in the Linn-Mar football investigation could be announced soon, perhaps as early as Thursday now that the school year has ended.

Linn-Mar superintendent Quintin Shepherd, Linn-Mar principal Jeff Gustason and Linn-Mar football coach Bob Forsyth could not be reached for comment this week and Linn-Mar athletic director Scott Mahmens said Wednesday he has no information on the situation.

Linn-Mar families have charged assistant football coach Matt Casebolt and Forsyth with verbal abuse, taunting, bullying and harassment of their sons and have accused Casebolt of physical abuse as well. In addition, the families have accused Forsyth, Mahmens and Gustason of not taking effective action to stop the abuse.

The Linn-Mar school district conducted an in-house investigation this winter and dismissed all charges in February due to insufficient evidence, but the families felt the investigation was tainted because Gustason and Mahmens were allowed to lead the investigation even though they were accused of being part of the problem.

The families then filed their complaints with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, which launched its own investigation in March.

The situation has been a hot topic of conversation in recent days at Linn-Mar graduation parties and other activities, with mounting speculation that a resolution would be revealed shortly.

"From what I understand, tomorrow is the final resolution," Mark Henrichs, the spokesman for the families, said Wednesday. "Nobody knows what the resolution is going to be.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 June 2016 19:35

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BoEE launches probe of Linn-Mar complaints

The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners has decided to investigate a series of complaints that five Linn-Mar families have filed against the Linn-Mar football program, coaches and administrators.

The families received confirmation letters from the BoEE on Monday.

The families have filed complaints against assistant football coach Matt Casebolt, head football coach Bob Forsyth, athletic director Scott Mahmens and principal Jeff Gustason.

The five families who have filed the official complaints with the BoEE arethe Jordan family, the Henrichs family, the Jones family, the Martenson family and the Rstom family. Their allegations include verbal abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse and emotional abuse, including allegations of taunting, bullying, harassment and physical injury. They also claim that Linn-Mar administrators failed to stop the abuse and did not investigate their claims in a proper manner.

Linn-Mar administrators conducted an in-house investigation and dismissed all of the allegations, citing insufficient evidence. The Linn-Mar Board of Education has issued a blanket endorsement of the Linn-Mar administration and their investigation.

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