Area sports teams and individuals had a successful year in 2013. Here is a list of the top 13 sports stories of 2013 as compiled by OST sports editor Scott Vicker.
• 1. Clarke softball — Osceola caught a severe case of softball fever in the summer of 2013, as the Clarke softball team made it a summer to remember.
The Lady Indians battled for a thrilling, come-from-behind win over West Burlington Notre Dame in the regional finals, advancing to the state tournament for just the second time in state history. The only previous trip to state resulted in a state championship in 1995.
Once again, the Lady Indians found themselves playing in the state championship game. But this time, Bondurant-Farrar prevailed, knocking off Clarke 6-3 in the title game.
It was a memorable run to the runner-up trophy for the Lady Indians.
Center fielder Carley Robins, pitcher Libby Bemis and designated player Sarah Pate were named to the Class 3A All-Tournament Team. Bemis would later be named the Class 3A Pitcher of the Year, as she, along with Pate and Crees would be named to the all-state teams.
Clarke was involved in a record-setting semifinal game against New Hampton. The Lady Indians topped New Hampton by a score of 17-8 as the two teams combined for a state tournament record seven home runs.
Clarke also finished with 11 hits in the game, which is the most by a single team in state tournament history. Combined, the two teams managed 27 hits on just three errors and no bunts.
But the Lady Indians wouldn’t have even been in a position to break those records or finish runner-up in the state if it wasn’t for Kennedy Crees’ walkoff hit in the regional final against West Burlington Notre Dame.
The Lady Indians entered the bottom of the seventh inning of the Class 3A Region 6 finals trailing 2-1 and needed a rally to earn the school’s second-ever state tournament berth.
Crees came up with runners on first and second and slapped the ball to the left side, over the head of the shortstop and into the gap in left center.
Head coach Lindsay Diehl was sending eighth-grader Sydnee Redman home from second base the whole way, scoring the winning run and sending the Clarke faithful into a frenzy.
• 2. 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.
• 3. Sarah Pate — Pate excelled in basketball, track and field and softball at a high level statewide and broke record after record during her time at Clarke.
Pate’s senior year followed a similar storyline across each of her three sports — a slow start followed by a big finish.
During basketball season, she averaged just 6.5 points per game over the course of the first nine games of the season.
But, after committing to go to University of Northern Iowa to compete in track and field, her play on the basketball court took off.
She ended the season averaging 10.2 points per game, and averaged 11.2 points per game in conference play.
Pate put a lot of pressure on herself during track season, and wasn’t meeting her own expectations for herself until the Drake Relays, where she finished fourth in both the shot put and the discus.
She went on to sweep the throwing events in rugged competition at the South Central Conference Meet and finished second in the shot put and third in the discus at the Coed State Track Meet.
And she made a huge impact down the stretch of Clarke’s run to through the state softball tournament.
Pate finished the season with a .532 batting average, destroying Diehl’s single-season Clarke school record (.420) by 102 points. She ends with a career .420 batting average, which is also tops in school history.
In August, Pate was named the inaugural winner of the South Central Iowa Female Athlete of the Year Award by the Creston News Advertiser and the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune.
• 4. Murray girls athletics — The Murray girls showed a wide range of success in 2013.
It started with Kate Patton being named a third-team all-stater in basketball by the Iowa Newspaper Association.
She then had a breakout performance at the 2013 Coed State Track 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.
The Lady Mustangs then reached a regional softball semifinal, a regional final in volleyball, and enter the 2014 portion of the schedule undefeated and ranked fifth in Class 1A in basketball.
Murray won a share of its first Bluegrass Conference championship in seven years in softball before losing to Corning in a wild game in the regional semifinals.
The volleyball team had a record-breaking season cut short by Stanton in the regional finals.
Hannah Barber set a school record for kills in a season with 366, leading the Lady Mustangs to a 27-4 record.
Meanwhile, senior setter Patton broke a school record with 666 assists.
The basketball team is off to a 7-0 start to the 2013-14 season and enters the 2014 portion of the schedule ranked fifth in Class 1A. Patton eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career on Dec. 19.
• 5. Clarke tennis — Clarke’s dominance of tennis in the South Central Conference continued in 2013, as both the boys and girls teams won the team titles.
The Clarke boys edged out Davis County for the team title, 20-18, thanks to an upset win by the doubles team of Colin Morris and Jared Jamison over top-seeded Damon Dixon and Austin Ermine of Davis County in the championship match.
The win gave the Indians their 14th conference championship in the past 17 years.
With Davis County leading the team scoring 18-17 heading into the doubles championship match, Morris and Jamison had to win in order to give the Indians the team title.
The junior combination, seeded second in the tournament, did just that, delivering an 11-9 win.
Meanwhile, the Lady Indians picked up their fourth conference championship in a row, easily rolling to the win with 33 team points. Davis County finished second with 15 points.
It was an all-Clarke final in the doubles tournament as the No. 1 Clarke team of Kylar McCann and Libby Bemis lost just one game in advancing to the finals, while the No. 2 Clarke team of Tracy Morgan and Cassidy Bierbrodt also cruised to the final.
McCann and Bemis defeated Morgan and Bierbrodt, 10-3, in the championship match, after winning 10-0 and 10-1 on their way to the finals.
In singles competition, senior Kacey Klemesrud, seeded second in the tournament, won a close 10-7 match over Chariton’s Emily McRoberts in the championship match.
McCann and Bemis qualified for the state tournament in doubles play, where they won their first match before losing the next two.
• 6. State track success — Clarke senior Logan Weers took third place in the 110 meter high hurdles at the 2013 Coed State Track Meet, capping off a successful career for the Clarke standout.
Weers got out to a quick start in the race, but over the final three hurdles, CMB Baxter’s Bryce Kemp and Emmetsburg’s Cody Henderson caught Weers and edged him out for a state title.
Central Decatur junior Caitlyn Saxton earned her team seven team points by placing third in the 100 meter dash and eighth in the 200 meter dash.
Sophomore teammate Hallie Linhart also scored team points for the Cardinals, finishing fifth in the high jump, clearing 5-2. Linhart had not cleared 5-0 previously during the season, with a best mark of 4-11.
Interstate 35 senior Ellen Lupkes finished off her career with an eighth place finish in the 100 meter hurdles on Saturday. Lupkes ran 16.35 in the race.
The Interstate 35 4x100 relay team of Jenna Sandquist, Maddie Albers, Natalie Johnson and Abby Boyer finished eighth in 51.51.
• 7. 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.
• 8. I-35 softball falls short in regional final — After rallying to send the game into extra innings, the 11th-ranked Roadrunners needed one more rally in extras to advance to the state tournament.
But, Bondurant-Farrar held off Interstate 35, winning a wild regional final game by a 13-11 score.
With the tying run on third and two outs in the seventh inning, I-35 ninth batter Megan Woods beat out a close play at first to extend the game into extra innings, 9-9.
Bondurant-Farrar took a 13-9 lead in the top of the eighth inning, but Caitlin Weeks sparked another rally in the bottom half of the inning, as the Roadrunners closed to within two runs before bowing out against the eventual state champion with a record of 24-6 for the season.
• 9. Clarke girls basketball — The Clarke girls saw a successful season come to a disappointing end against a tough team on Feb. 13, losing 56-49 to fifth-ranked Bondurant-Farrar in the Class 3A Region 7 semifinal.
Clarke played a solid game, shooting 53.8 percent from the field and turned the ball over only 10 times, but the fifth-ranked Blue Jays made enough plays to hold the Lady Indians off.
Clarke finished the season with a mark of 18-5 under first-year head coach Eric Zoske, and also won a share of the South Central Conference, giving the Lady Indians a third straight conference championship.
Senior Kylar McCann was named to the Class 3A third-team all-state by the Iowa Newspaper Association.
• 10. Holly McKinney qualifies for state cross country four times — Interstate 35 senior Holly McKinney put in a lot of hard work in order to achieve her dream.
She might have achieved that goal on Oct. 24 when she qualified for the State Cross Country Meet, but it didn’t really come to life until Nov. 1, when she toed the starting line here at the State Cross Country Meet.
McKinney’s dream was to be a four-time state meet qualifier.
The Roadrunner senior finished 63rd, running a time of 16:51.1. McKinney spent the early part of the race hovering around 25th place, and sat in 30th at the 2-mile mark, but faded in the final half mile.
• 11. Pontier qualifies for state as freshman — Interstate 35 freshman Austin Pontier was the lone area representative at the 2013 state wrestling tournament.
Pontier entered the state tournament with a record of 33-10, and finished the weekend with a 1-2 record in the 106-pound bracket.
He lost his first match by fall to Davenport Assumption’s Darien Collins, but bounced back to beat Perry’s Kade VanKirk in the consolation first round, earning himself at least one more match.
In his consolation second round match, Pontier faced Clear Lake sophomore Ryan Schmalen. Schmalen won a 10-1 major decision over Pontier, and ended up getting fourth in the tournament.
• 12. Central Decatur golfers qualify for state — The Central Decatur girls golf team finished seventh overall on May 28-29 at the Class 2A Girls State Golf Meet hosted by American Legion Memorial Golf Course.
The Cardinals shot a two-day team score of 227-over par 795. Central Decatur shot a 389 on the first day of competition and a 406 on the second day of competition.
A pair of Cardinals golfers finished in the top 20 individually. Kate Havens finished in a tie for 17th with a score of 185, while Sadie Greene finished 19th overall with a score of 186.
Central Decatur sophomore Noah Simon placed 22nd overall in the Class 2A State Golf Tournament here at Spring Valley Golf Course on May 24-25.
Simon shot an 18-hole score of 83 on day one to enter day two eight strokes back of leader Mike Myers of Emmetsburg.
Simon shot a round of 84 on day two to post a 36-hole score of 167 to finish 22nd overall.
• 13. Colin Morris emerges as a star — Clarke senior Colin Morris is off to a torrid start to the 2013-14 basketball season.
Even though the Indians enter the 2014 portion of their schedule with a record of 1-6, they’ve been close in many of those six losses in large part because of the play of Morris.
Morris averaged 13.2 points per game during his junior campaign in 2012-13, but through Clarke’s first seven games this year, he ranks eighth in the state among all classes, averaging 26.3 points per game.
The 5-11 guard is shooting 43.2 percent from the field and and 31.0 percent from behind the 3-point arc.