I talked to quite a few administrators, parents, coaches and even kids before the start of the fall sports season this past August, and just about all of them were skeptical that football and volleyball would be able to complete their 2020 campaigns.
Most felt cross country was the safest and most likely sport to be able to make it all the way through due to the built-in social distancing, but most felt even that sport was also likely to succumb to COVID-19 at some point this fall just like everyone else.
Well, as we now enter late October, I am here to state that miracles can indeed happen, because honestly, back in August, I also thought it would be a miracle if all three sports would be able to make it to this point.
I guess that’s why so many programs held their Senior Nights so early in the process, because most everyone felt the likelihood of getting them in at the end were basically slim-to-none.
What a wild and crazy ride it’s been.
Area Athletic Directors have been extremely busy attempting to juggle schedules all fall long as other schools have had COVID issues, which then directly relates to each of their programs as they scrambled not to lose coveted contests.
Anamosa AD Bret Jones has done a brilliant job of making sure the Anamosa football team didn’t lose any of their games, as ones against Monticello and West Liberty were lost due to COVID before Jones stepped in and found the Raiders games against Waterloo West and Iowa Falls-Alden.
Midland and Springville have been forced to juggle schedules as well, and have masterfully worked their way through the maze to be able to get all of their fall sports programs to this point.
There’s no doubt without the efforts of everyone, teachers, parents, coaches, athletes and fans, we wouldn’t have been able to be here right now as the Anamosa, Springville and Midland football teams all opened their playoff journeys last Friday night while Anamosa and Midland have started their regional volleyball playoffs.
Anamosa, Midland and Springville/Central City cross country teams take to their state qualifier meet courses this afternoon (Thursday, Oct. 22), and all three programs face challenging tests to try and earn berths to Fort Dodge and the state meet Saturday, Oct. 31.
Raider cross country coach Ken Sunseri has been incredibly encouraged by the gradual upward trend of both his girls’ and boys’ teams during the course of the 2020 season, and are ready to take that big final step at the qualifier meet in Jesup.
Each of the girls’ and boys’ teams will have to top three state-ranked teams in order to make it to state as a team.
The Anamosa girls, led by seniors Liz Riniker, Lily Rogers and Natalie Hersom, will do their best to get to state going against the likes of Tipton (ranked third in the state), host Jesup (No. 6) and Starmont (No. 9).
The Raider boys, who have seen the emergence of sophomore Shea Keister and junior Drew Pate this season, are led by senior Kole Haverly who has been turning in some of his best times and placings right now.
Tipton (No. 2), Waukon (No. 14) and North Fayette Valley (No. 15) are the favorites coming in to secure the top spots at the boys’ qualifier while Crestwood, New Hampton and Jesup are listed as teams to watch.
Also taking part at the 2A qualifier are Beckman, Waterloo Columbus, Northeast, Oelwein and Osage.
I also can’t end this column without mentioning the Anamosa volleyball team.
For years it had been a struggle for the Raiders to put a competitive team on the floor in volleyball, but watching their games against Monticello and West Liberty this last week, I’ve been marveled at the incredible level of play these girls can compete.
Anamosa volleyball has arrived on the state scene (I thought they should have cracked the 3A state rankings weeks ago, too, but I’ll fully admit I’m a little bit biased), and while the Raiders were given easily the toughest regional tournament draw in all of class 3A, there’s no doubting that the 2020 campaign was an amazing success.
Seniors Kylie Chapman, Delaney Frater, Jaiden Neuhaus, Kelsey Scofield, Grace Lubben, Lauren Martensen and Lexi Bright have been incredibly instrumental to the remarkable turnaround this program has made over the past four years, as has coach Caitlin McVay, who oversaw the Raiders’ run for another River Valley Conference title that came up just short after the thrilling five-set loss to the Panthers last Tuesday (Oct. 13) night.
Anamosa’s come-from-behind 25-24 playoff win at Center Point-Urbana last Friday night was another testament to perseverance.
The Raider program hasn’t had too many playoff histrionics, but Friday night had to be the best ever as far as post-season drama goes
Somehow, we made it through the fall sports season, can we do it again this winter? I’m hoping and praying we can, because it would be absolutely heartbreaking to see seniors lose their last chance at playing high school basketball and wrestling.
COVID already claimed track, soccer and golf this past spring. That’s enough.