Thursday, October 08, 2015
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

VanDraska gets revenge at MVC meet

WATERLOO - Tysen VanDraska was not happy when he lost to a pair of runners from Cedar Falls at the Cedar Rapids Prairie Invitational back in August at the start of the cross country season.

He did something about it Thursday.

VanDraska used a blistering kick to conquer those same two runners from Cedar Falls and take top honors at the Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet at Byrnes Park in Waterloo.

Sam Schillinger and Isaac Smith of Cedar Falls pulled away from VanDraska in the final stages of the Prairie Invitational to finish first and second in that race, but this time the Prairie senior was ready for them.

VanDraska sprinted away from the Tigers in the home stretch and won the race in 15 minutes, 46 seconds. He beat Schillinger by four seconds and topped Smith by six seconds.

The three premier distance runners ran neck-and-neck for most of the 5K race before VanDraska took control. It was two-against-one for much of the day in terms of strategy, but VanDraska handled the challenge.

"I knew they were going to try and pick on me the whole race and eventually beat me down, so I just tried my best to stay on them as much as I could," he said. "And I knew I could finish with them."


Young J-Hawks play for 'Mom & Dad'

The Jefferson volleyball players call their coaches Mom and Dad. Which seems to fit just fine.

Married first-year co-coaches Amy and Will Norton, both 32, are like new parents raising a young family.

There are only two seniors on the 15-girl roster. Three freshmen are starters and all six ninth graders play prominent roles in the rotation.

The team leaders in kills, assists and digs are all in their first or second year on the varsity.

Yet even with a decidedly baby-faced lineup, the J-Hawks have more than held their own this year against arguably some of the best teams in the state.

An 11-13 record hardly reflects their overall consistent play.

“We’ve only lost to one unranked team,” says Will Norton. “The others have all been ranked in the top 15 in their class.”

Moreover, notes Amy, “We’ve pushed a lot of really good teams. Our record may not show it, but I think we’ve proven that we can play with anybody.”


Neighbors leads Wash to district title

Connor Neighbors will be one of the youngest golfers at the state tournament this weekend at Elmcrest Country Club, but that's perfectly OK with him.

The freshman from Cedar Rapids Washington is accustomed to being one of the youngest kids on the course.

"I probably started when I was 3," the soft-spoken ninth grader said Tuesday, "and I probably took it seriously when I was about 8. I started playing in tournaments at that age.

"It took me awhile to get going," he said, "but I enjoy it a lot now."

Neighbors fired a 2-over-par 73 and led Washington to the district title Tuesday at the Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City. The next step for Neighbors and the Warriors will be the state tournament on their "home" course at Elmcrest on Friday and Saturday.

Five of the six golfers on the Washington team -- including Neighbors -- are members of Elmcrest and know all the nooks and crannies.

"That's my home course. I play there a lot," Neighbors said. "It's a good course.

"I'm sure the greens are going to be very fast. They will be really tough. It's not super-long, so that will be good for me because I'm not a huge hitter."


Mauer enjoyed his time with Twins

MINNEAPOLIS - The Cedar Rapids Kernels fell one game short of a Midwest League championship this season following an emotional one-run loss to West Michigan.

One day later, Kernels Manager Jake Mauer was in the Minnesota Twins dugout beginning a two-week term as a supplemental coach on the Twins’ bench.

Thanks to that assignment, Mauer had a first-hand view of the Twins’ surprising but ultimately ill-fated playoff drive. The Twins were eliminated from postseason contention Saturday following a loss to Kansas City in the next-to-last game of the regular season.


Dralle, Walsh chasing 2,000 yards

Two Metro area running backs – Kennedy's Tyler Dralle and Marion's Kory Walsh - are approaching the 2,000-yard career rushing mark in high school football.

Walsh has 1,973 career rushing yards, including 448 as a sophomore, 755 as a junior and 770 through six games this season. His career total ranks 12th in Metro history, according to MSR records.

Dralle, who topped the 1,000-yard barrier for the season last Friday, has 1,934 career yards for 13th in Metro annals. He had 915 yards last season and has 1,019 this year.

Dralle leads the Metro and is No. 2 in Class 4A in rushing. He trails Sam Cook of Fort Dodge by 154 yards.


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