The year 2013 was a historic year in many ways for area sports stars and teams. Following is a list of the Creston News Advertiser’s top 13 sports stories of 2013, along with a list of honorable mention stories, as compiled by CNA sports editor Scott Vicker and CNA sports writer Larry Peterson.
• 1. Creston/Orient-Macksburg wrestling — Jake Marlin etched his name in state history, becoming Iowa’s all-time leader in pins (147) on the way to winning the Class 2A 138-pound crown.
The current University of Iowa wrestler was unbeaten in postseason wrestling over four seasons. He and another Hawkeye teammate, Denver-Tripoli 145-pounder Brandon Sorensen, became Iowa’s 22nd and 23rd four-time state champions.
Marlin was named the Pizza Ranch Class 2A Most Valuable Wrestler of the state tournament, and was runner-up to Sorensen as the state’s Mr. Wrestler by the Iowa Wrestling Coaches Association.
In 2012-13, Marlin went 56-1 with 45 pins, suffering his only loss in the Kansas City Stampede to Daniel Lewis of Blue Springs, Mo.
He was also one of the subjects of Ohio Filmmaker Tim Jackson’s documentary “Wrestling With Iowa,” which was recently completed.
Marlin shared the 2013 Mike Abel Outstanding Wrestler Award with teammate Keaton Hulett.
Hulett marched to the 195-pound 2A crown with a 54-1 record, losing only in the KC Stampede finals. He had 28 pins for the season.
Marlin became the program’s all-time victory leader with his career mark of 204-6. Hulett ended in the fourth position with 178 wins and 31 losses.
Neither Marlin nor Hulett was taken down by an Iowa opponent in the 2012-13 season.
Hulett allowed only 15 match points all season — 13 on escapes — and won 13 matches on shutout decisions, besides the 28 wins by fall.
As a team, the Panthers went 16-3 in duals (13-1 regular season), placed sixth in the state dual tournament and fifth in the traditional state tournament. It was the team’s fourth straight appearance in state duals.
Creston/O-M also won the Hawkeye 10 Tournament at home, which was considered an upset over conference dual champion Glenwood.
• 2. Panthers, Whittington win state golf titles — The Creston/O-M boys golf team fought through wind, rain and a weather delay of more than two hours on May 26 to win the school’s first boys golf state championship. Along the way, junior Carson Whittington became the school’s first individual state medalist.
Whittington shot a 4-over par 75 in wet conditions at Ames Golf and Country Club to finish with a 36-hole total of 155, one stroke in front of three players tied in second place, including defending champion Alex Moorman of Centerville.
Whittington had previously placed eighth and fifth, respectively, in the 2011 and 2012 3A tournaments on the same course.
As a team, the Panthers ended up three shots better than defending champion Decorah, 647-650, for top honors in Class 3A. Clear Lake, the 2011 team champion and first-day leader by three strokes over the Panthers (320 to 323), ended up third at 653.
Atlantic, which tied Creston/O-M for first place at the Carroll district meet, finished eighth with 675 strokes. The Trojans were led by Evan Schuler’s 165.
Hunter Sickels and Trey Thomsen each shot 161 to tie for 10th for the Panthers. The fourth counting score was Sam Hartsock’s 170. Others in the Panther lineup at state were Christian Groumoutis (171) and Kainen Somers (174).
As a state championship team, the 2013 boys golf team joins the Creston boys basketball teams of 1939 and 1997, the 1967 girls golf team and the 2007 wrestling team that won both the traditional and dual state tournaments.
The Panther boys also repeated as Hawkeye 10 Conference champions, while Whittington defended his individual crown at Crestmoor Golf Club.
Whittington was invited to compete at the American High School Championships at St. Andrews in Scotland in June.
• 3. SWCC volleyball fifth in nation — The unheralded Spartans shook up the pre-tourney form in a big way. After knocking fifth-seeded Illinois Central into the consolation bracket in the opening round, 12th-seeded Southwestern finished its unlikely run through the national tourney with a 3-0 sweep over defending national champ and 10th-seeded Grand Rapids (Mich.) on Nov. 23, 25-18, 25-20, 26-24.
Southwestern, which placed third in the ICCAC standings, came on strong at the end of the season and posted a 3-1 record at the national tournament to end up 37-10. Grand Rapids closed at 33-8.
Since Melissa Blessington took over as head coach, the rapid rise to national stature has shown records of 10-25, 25-17 and 37-10. When this season started, Blessington was excited to see SWCC selected as “a team to watch” when the national ratings were released. DMACC and Kirkwood earned spots in the national poll.
But Southwestern stood above them both when the curtain closed on 2013.
Sophomore Janaya Fox, who had missed time at the beginning of the season after giving birth to a daughter, was named to the all-tournament team. Freshman setter Cassidy Yong was named a second-team All-American.
• 4. Austin Halls — Halls became the 31st player in Iowa High School Athletic Association history to score 2,000 career points, when he made a layup with 4:09 remaining in the first quarter of Murray’s 63-49 win over Moulton-Udell on Jan. 4.
Just four days later, Halls became the all-time career leader in steals in Iowa basketball history.
Halls finished his career with 459 career steals. He also ranks seventh on the all-time scoring list with 2,360 points, while playing with 1,500-point scorer Cody Scroggie.
He finished his career ranking fifth on the state’s all-time assists list with 704 assists. He earned all-state honors for the second year in a row in basketball, making it on the second team after averaging 25.1 points, 7.6 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 5.1 steals per game as a senior.
He also qualified for the state track meet in the 800 meter run, and finished off his high school baseball career by batting .489 with 29 stolen bases and 22 runs batted in. On the mound, he went 4-3 with 73 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings pitched.
In March, Halls was named the 2012 High School Male Athlete of the Year in the Central Iowa Sports Awards, put on by the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Des Moines Area Sports Commission.
In August, Halls won the inaugural South Central Iowa Male Athlete of the Year Award, presented by the Creston News Advertiser and the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune.
• 5. Collin Bevins — Bevins, a 2012 graduate of Creston High School, was projected to be a starter on the defensive line at Iowa State for the 2013 season after redshirting his freshman season.
Plans changed in June, however, when Bevins decided to leave Iowa State. He quickly found a new home at Northwest Missouri State University.
He battled injuries all year long, but in the end, it was worth it as Bevins won a national championship with the 15-0 Bearcats.
He is the second former Panther to play on a national championship team from Northwest Missouri State, joining former Bearcat Dane Wardenburg, who won a title in 2009.
Bevins had battled through a variety of injuries during the perfect 15-0 season since an elbow sprain during a preseason scrimmage. He was slowed by a knee injury, a foot injury and more recently, an ankle sprain that flared up again in the championship game. He limped off the field during the first quarter, but came back and finished with two solo tackles.
• 6. Nodaway Valley boys basketball — All-staters Brad Baudler and Alex Welsch led Nodaway Valley back to the state basketball tournament, this time in Class 2A.
The Wolverines lost just two games all season — a highly anticipated matchup with Creston on Jan. 19 and in the state quarterfinals to Carroll Kuemper Catholic — finishing 23-2 for the season.
Nodaway Valley enters the 2014 portion of its schedule at 6-0 for the 2013-14 season, being led this year by senior TJ Bower, who earlier this year eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career, and sophomore Jackson Lamb.
The Wolverines also carry a 38-game Pride of Iowa Conference winning streak into 2014. Nodaway Valley is 244-20 since joining the conference in the 1996-97 season.
Head coach Darrell Burmeister, in his 30th year at the helm, will face former Nodaway Valley standout James Larson for the first time in a battle of head coaches when the Wolverines host Clarke on Jan. 11.
• 7. Historic year for Creston cross country — There were plenty of highlights for the Panthers this season.
The boys team qualified for the state meet for the first time in 25 years, placing 13th out of 15 teams in Class 3A. With Cooper McDermott, Jay Wolfe and Maria Mostek all qualifying individually, the Panthers sent the most individual qualifiers to state in school history for a single season.
With the three individual qualifiers, the Panthers have now sent 15 individuals to state in the past 14 years.
The boys team won three meets this season — Ballard, Orient-Macksburg and Nodaway Valley. The win at the Nodaway Valley Invitational was the third straight team title for the Panthers at the meet.
The girls team won the Orient-Macksburg meet, giving the Panthers a clean sweep in the team standings. They also finished second at the Nodaway Valley meet to Class 1A top-ranked Griswold.
Mostek became the first Creston girl to ever qualify for the state meet three times.
McDermott broke the single season school record for individual meet wins with six, and became just the second Creston runner to win the Hawkeye 10 Conference Meet.
• 8. State track success — The 2013 Coed State Track Meet saw the end of several spectacular careers for area athletes, while another area performer had a breakout performance.
Mount Ayr standout and current Northern Iowa track and field athlete Braydee Poore capped off his career with a second-place finish in the Class 2A high jump after an exciting dual with West Burlington Notre Dame sophomore Jeff Giannettino.
Poore also finished second at the Kansas Relays and third at the Drake Relays.
Creston’s Brianna Maitlen, meanwhile, finished her career by going 4-for-4 in placing in the Class 3A long jump. Maitlen finished sixth, jumping 16-6.25.
Corning’s Tiffany Shepherd finished off her career by placing sixth in the Class 1A 3,000 meter run, fifth in the 800 meter run and sixth in the 1,500 meter run.
Murray’s Kate Patton had a breakout performance at the state meet. The then-junior medaled in each of her four events she competed in, despite not having a track to practice on at Murray.
Patton finished eighth in the Class 1A long jump, fifth in the 400 meter dash, second in the 100 meter dash and third in the 200 meter dash.
Creston senior Briar Evans broke the school record in the 400 meter hurdles with his 17th-place finish in 57.12. After taking off the .24 second hand-time conversion, Evans’ time came out at 56.88, breaking Neil Lang’s 2001 record by .09 seconds. Then-sophomore Jay Wolfe also bettered his 800 meter school record time.
Then-sophomore Maria Mostek broke the girls 1,500 meter school record, running 5:06.80 after the conversion to hand time.
• 9. Creston/O-M tennis — The senior duo of Colby Taylor and Bryce McIlravy qualified for the Class 1A state tournament in doubles play, marking the first Creston/O-M state qualifiers since Tony Hartman qualified as an individual in 2006.
The Panther boys came up just short of reaching the state team semifinals, falling to Red Oak in the substate final, 5-3.
Creston/O-M was also third in the Hawkeye 10 Tournament. The Panthers finished the season with a 7-4 record in duals.
The doubles team of Garret Taylor and Adam Bochart was also close to qualifying for the state tournament.
A youthful Panther girls team finished tied for fifth in the Hawkeye 10 Conference and had a season record of 4-5 in duals, beating Saydel in a postseason match.
• 10. Kierra Smith earns All-America honor — In just three short years, Creston native Kierra Smith has gone from a state track qualifier for the Panthers to NCAA All-American.
Smith, then a junior for Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., competed at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 23-25, placing seventh in the 400 meter hurdles to become an All-American.
She entered nationals with the eighth-fastest time in the country, and after cutting it close to not qualifying for finals, Smith ran 1:01.63 for seventh place. Five of the six runners who placed in front of her were sophomores or juniors.
• 11. Frain repeats as first-teamer, Panthers qualify for playoffs — For the second straight season, Creston/O-M linebacker Trevor Frain earned first-team all-state honors from the Iowa Newspaper Association.
Frain, 6-0, 195-pounder who also played fullback and scored 10 touchdowns, was the District 1 leader in tackles with 33 solo stops and 113 assisted tackles during a 6-4 season. The Panthers were a first-round playoff victim of state champion Sioux City Bishop Heelan.
Frain is the likely all-time Creston leader in tackles, in the starting lineup since early in his freshman campaign. He was the team leader in tackles the past three seasons, with 107 tackles on last year’s 7-3 team. He had a team-high 78 tackles for the district champion 8-2 Panther team in 2011. He had 31 tackles as a freshman.
The Panthers, meanwhile, qualified for the state playoffs for the third time in four years under head coach Brian Morrison.
For the second season in a row, the Panthers lost the final regular season game of the season to Lewis Central, sending them to Sioux City Bishop Heelan for the opening round. Creston/O-M bowed out in a 45-7 loss to the eventual champion Crusaders.
• 12. Creston boys basketball — The Creston boys basketball team accomplished something on Feb. 12 it hadn’t done in 33 years.
The Panthers picked up a 56-51 road win against Harlan, marking the first two-game regular season Creston boys sweep of Harlan since the 1979-80 season. Creston’s state championship season of 1996-97 fell within a five year stretch from the 1993-94 season through the 1998-99 season when the two teams played only once in the regular season.
Creston finished second in the Hawkeye 10 Conference with a conference mark of 11-2, behind only Atlantic’s 12-1 record. The Panthers suffered three losses to Atlantic, including in the district finals.
Senior Luke Neitzel was named to the INA’s all-state third team after averaging 11.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
• 13. Rider breaks national record — The versatile Andrew Rider, who set or matched national records for touchdowns on punt returns and interceptions in addition to rushing for 1,557 yards, was named to the INA all-state first team offense as the utility selection.
Rider, who suffered a broken arm late last year and played in the state semifinals with a cast, had a record-breaking senior season. The 5-10, 170-pound speedster scored a school-record 262 points on 43 touchdowns and two two-point conversions, averaging 14.2 yards every time he touched the ball.
Rider, unanimous all-district and special teams player of the year in the district, returned five punts for touchdowns this season (24.3-yard average), giving him 12 for his career for a national Eight-Man record. He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, tying a national record with seven career kick return TDs.
Of his seven interceptions on defense, Rider returned four for touchdowns. He also ran for 29 touchdowns while compiling 1,557 yards on 155 carries. He finished his Murray career with 3,723 yards rushing (8.7 average) and 64 touchdowns. He had 98 touchdowns as a Mustang and 12 two-point conversions.