Approximately 840 miles.
Give or take a few miles, that’s the amount of driving I did across the state of Iowa in a one week span from Monday, July 21 through this past Monday.
In that week, I covered five games at the State Softball Tournament in Fort Dodge, the Shrine Bowl in Cedar Falls and the Iowa Girls Coaches Association Senior All-Star Games in Waukee.
Along the way I picked up big assists from fellow CNA staff members Kyle Wilson and Jake Waddingham, who helped me out by laying out the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune’s sports section last week and also laying out last Friday’s CNA sports section.
It was a long, long week for all of us involved.
But, being able to cover Clarke’s Class 3A state championship in softball made it all worth it.
Part of the thrill in covering this Clarke softball team was that it never failed to make things interesting.
Whether it was a walkoff winner in the regional final, a perfect game in the state tournament opener, a game lasting past midnight at the state tournament, or winning a state championship on a walkoff home run, there was always an interesting storyline.
I don’t know how head coach Lindsay Diehl does it, surviving all those different blood pressure-raising moments.
It’s those moments that Clarke had during its postseason run to the championship that will make this run unforgettable for me.
And for those out there thinking Clarke will be down next year, with this year’s graduating class leaving, better think again.
The Lady Indians are stocked full of young talent. And, perhaps more importantly, that young talent is eager to get better.
The same night the Clarke team returned to Osceola with its state championship trophy, freshman pitcher Alex Boyce sent Diehl a text message asking when open gym started, because she was ready to get to work for next year.
That’s the kind of commitment that the level of success Clarke has had the past several years can build.
We can’t forget about our area athletes who played in the Shrine Bowl, either.
What a way to go out for those seniors. All five area players — Trevor Frain, Keegan Longabaugh, Jacob Sobotka, Andrew Rider and Briar Vogel — had strong performances in the game.
Watching each of them play one final football game in their respective high school team’s helmets made me realize how much I’m going to miss seeing them perform on Friday nights.
It’s going to be totally different not seeing Frain knock people silly with his hard-hit tackles. It won’t quite be the same watching Mount Ayr football without seeing Sobotka steamroll over defenders trying to bring him down.
And Friday nights in Murray won’t be nearly as exciting without the human highlight reel in Rider.
The most disappointing aspect of Saturday’s Shrine Bowl was that Rider never got an opportunity to return a punt. That, alone, would have been worth the cost of admission.
And that brings me to the South Central Iowa Athlete of the Year Award.
We’ll be announcing one male and one female finalist each day next week. All senior athletes in the CNA and Osceola Sentinel-Tribune coverage areas are eligible for the award.
We received a lot of positive feedback from last year when we started the award.
Last year’s decisions were tough and I didn’t think this year’s decisions would be nearly as excruciating.
But boy, was I ever wrong.
The decisions are finally finalized, and I feel at peace with the decisions that were made.
Once all of the finalists have been announced, we’ll open up a fan poll, where you can voice your opinion on who should win the award. It will be interesting to see if the fans agree with the decisions we came to.
Winners of the award will be announced on Aug. 13.
Contact the writer:
Twitter — @scottvicker
Email — firstname.lastname@example.org