Jasper County's top sports stories of 2012
The world didn’t come to an end, the Newton football team returned to the playoffs and Iowa Speedway had itself another exciting season of racing. Overall, most would say 2012 wasn’t too shabby.
Whether it was the plethora of Jasper County teams reaching state or Newton’s own Larry Lust being inducted into the IHSAA Hall of Fame, 2012 was jam-packed with plenty of action to keep sports fans’ attention. Join us now as we take a look at just a few of those things that made 2012 stick out.
Jasper County well represented at state tournaments
If an individual attended a state competition in 2012, that person more than likely saw a Jasper County team while there.
The beginning of the year was one of the busiest times, as county teams represented in the basketball, wrestling and swimming meets. Then-Newton senior Matt Thoma became the first Cardinal to qualify for state since 2008 when he swam in the 100-yard freestyle. He finished in 23rd place with a time of 0.62 seconds.
The Newton girls bowling team provided some foreshadowing for its successful 2012-13 season thus far with an appearance at the state bowling tournament on Feb. 23. The Cardinals finished third in Class 1A behind Keokuk and West Delaware with a score of 2668.
Leading the way for the Cards was senior Emily Braga with a score of 448. Erica Bailey finished with a 359, Becky Collins had a 351, Elizabeth Christy had a 320 and Shelby Bare rounded the team’s scoring out with a 319.
On the hardwood, the Lynnville-Sully girls and Prairie City-Monroe boys basketball teams earned the right to play at Wells Fargo Arena. The Hawks wrapped up a 23-3 season with a 54-43 loss to West Sioux in their opening-round game. The Mustang boys (22-3), led by hobbled senior star Scott Bruxvoort, lost a 53-52 nailbiter to St. Edmond (Fort Dodge) after a late comeback.
PCM and Lynnville-Sully weren’t done with the winter state sports, however. Mustang seniors Dalton Kingery and Jake Tool ended their careers on high notes with medals at the state wrestling tournament. They were joined by fellow senior teammates Bryce Wignall and Zach Findlow. Lynnville-Sully was represented by then-sophomore Caden Doll and senior Kyle Terlouw, who each fell just one match shy of making the podium.
Spring didn’t get any less busy for Jasper County athletes at state. At the state track and field meet, Newton, PCM, Lynnville-Sully, Collins-Maxwell-Baxter and Colfax-Mingo each had representatives in multiple fields. The big winners of the weekend were PCM senior Jordan Van Roekel and CMB senior Josh Zeiser. Van Roekel won his second-straight title in the 400-meter hurdles while Zeiser took first in the 100 hurdles for his second state track title.
Newton’s Derrick Hurt nearly missed out on a state title in shot put when he was bested by 2.25 inches on the second-to-last throw in the competition.
About a week later, PCM kept the county’s spring streak alive at the state boys golf tournament with a third-place finish. Senior Logan Van Veen finished his career on a high note with a team-best seventh-place finish. Hunter Van Veen, Devon Woody, Ryan Jennings, Justin Beener and Michael Neff, who are all expected to return in the 2013 season, participated as well.
Moving to fall, it was mainly about the runners for Jasper County competitors at state. There were some in the water as well, however. The Newton-Colfax-Mingo-Pella swim team finished 17th at the girls state swim meet, led by a fifth-place finish in the 100 butterfly by sophomore Hannah Scotton.
The Aquagirls finished arguably their most successful season in team history by qualifying for six events that were made up of five swimmers. Those other competitors were junior Carly Colville, sophomore Rachel Prendergast, and freshmen Samantha Hedrick and Sydney Jenkins.
On the cross country course, Newton was represented at state by freshmen Grace Coen and Cooper McDermott in the girls and boys race, respectively. Coen, who easily met her high freshman expectations, ran a personal-best time of 14 minutes, 46 seconds for a 25th-place finish, while McDermott took 71st with a time of 16:32, which was also a personal best.
CMB and Lynnville-Sully each qualified their entire girls teams for the event, with the Hawks taking 10th in the Class 1A meet and the Raiders finishing 13th in 2A. CMB senior Aaron Ward was able to finish his career at state with a 46th-place finish.
The Hawk girls featured Tara Vos, Cori Rice, Alexa Vander Leest, Karli Roozeboom and Madison Rasmusson. The Raiders were represented by Hayley Leonard (in her second trip to state), Anne Deutsch, Chasity Moody, Stephanie Twohey, Kayla Hennick, Chantel Maxwell and Mackenzie Klemme.
Larry Lust becomes third Cardinal to join IHSAA Hall of Fame
Though Newton doesn’t have an enduring and successful history with the game of basketball, it was at the forefront of the sport among Iowa high schools in the mid-1960s.
A large part of that recognition was Larry Lust, who helped the Cardinals to back-to-back state championships from 1962-64. For his achievements and how he helped Newton get on the basketball radar, Lust was granted admission into the Iowa High School Athletic Association Basketball Hall of Fame during the 2012 state tournament.
Lust joined Burton O’Connor (1926) and Chuck Jarnigan (1950) as just the third Newton representative in the hall. Lust was also a standout football and baseball player, holding two school passing records that were broken by Brian Rose in 2011. Lust went on to earn a scholarship to the University of Iowa, but finished his college tenure at State College of Iowa, which eventually became the University of Northern Iowa.
While at SCI, Lust played for legendary coach Norm Stewart before trying his own hand at coaching after he graduated. After two years at West Union, Lust stepped away from coaching due to medical reasons, but remains interested in the sport to this day.
The 1962-63 team, which will be honored during a boys’ game on Feb. 7, completed a 26-0 season and defeated Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln, 66-58, to win the first of the Cardinals’ two state titles during Lust’s junior year. Lust then fulfilled a vision he had of winning state as a senior in the 1963-64 season when the Cards went 23-3 and defeated Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 44-39, for a second consecutive title.
Newton football makes first playoff appearance since ’07
Three games into the season, the playoffs were probably the last thing on the minds of Newton football fans. The Cardinals had scored a combined 24 points in those games while giving up 88 and getting off to an 0-3 start.
After the Cards earned their first win, a 28-27 showdown with South Tama on Sept. 14, the season did a complete 180. Newton won four out of its final five games and earned a spot in the Class 3A playoffs. It was the first trip for Newton since 2007.
The final stretch of the regular season, which included a four-game win streak, was marked with an improved offense and incredibly stout defense. Compared to the 88 points scored in the first three games of the year, the Cards surrendered just 26 in their final four. The only regrettable loss on the schedule was a 49-7 drubbing by Grinnell on the road.
The Cards, led by senior captains Jesse Bates, Dakota Hills, Ryan Jolivette, Derrick Hurt and Collin Reynolds, fought their way back from a 1-4 start to finish 5-5 and earn a playoff game. However, that playoff game ended up being hundreds of miles away in Humboldt, and it resulted in a 42-3 loss.
Nonetheless, despite an emotional ending to the season, the Cardinals were vindicated. In the face of a playoff slump and some adversity even by their own fans, the Cardinals showed heart and determination to recover from their slow start and send their seniors out on a high note.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leaves his mark on Iowa Speedway
After earning his stripes with back-to-back NASCAR Nationwide Series championships, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was given the call-up to the Sprint Cup Series for next season.
While he’ll move on to a new series with new obstacles, new fans and new opponents, he’ll more than likely keep the admiration of Iowa Speedway fans after his remarkable two-year run in Newton.
While Stenhouse’s run technically began in 2011, it also came to an end in 2012. After sweeping the Iowa John Deere Dealers 250, which was his first Nationwide Series victory, and the US Cellular 250, the latter being one of the wildest finishes in all of auto racing in 2011, Stenhouse had built up quite the following with Iowa Speedway fans after those two victories propelled him to his first Nationwide Series title.
When he returned this past season, things were much different for Stenhouse. He was suddenly the man to beat, but he was able to defend his crown for the third time when he won the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 on May 20. Although he couldn’t make it four in a row with a fifth-place finish in the US Cellular 250 in August, Stenhouse did earn a second-straight Nationwide points title and a ride with the big boys when Matt Kenseth and Roush-Fenway Racing made their split.
It remains to be seen if Iowa Speedway fans will see Stenhouse return to run select Nationwide Series dates, or further down the road in the Sprint Cup, but Stenhouse will likely remain one of the most memorable driver’s in the track’s history.
It’s a nearly impossible task to put lists like these together, but hopefully this one captured at least some of what made 2012 a great sports year for Newton and Jasper County. Making it even more difficult was one person working on it, as 2012 also saw the departure of sports writer Mike Hockett back to the land of cheese.
However, change is just as constant as time is, and we’ll likely see plenty of it in the coming year. I wish everyone out there reading this a happy, healthy and athletically-exciting 2013.