Washington Evening Journal

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The Washington Evening Journal's top 10 sports stories of 2012

By Travis J. Brown, Journal Sports Editor | Dec 31, 2012
Photo by: Travis J. Brown Senior first baseman Lauren Vittetoe receives the team's banner from Washington High School athletic director Bryce Smeins after the Demons qualified for the state softball tournament on July 10.

Listed below are The Washington Evening Journal's top 10 sports stories of 2012, as selected by Journal Sports Editor Travis J. Brown.


10. Highland wins its first-ever conference cross-country title

Led by four all-conference runners, Highland’s boys won their first-ever conference cross-country championship on Oct. 4.

Matt Eden took fourth place to lead the Huskies, and Evan Mahler was right behind him in fifth. Tucker Hall came in seventh, and Keiffer Sexton was 14th. The Huskies finsihed 33 points ahead of second-place Mediapolis.

The Huskies went on to qualify for the state cross-country meet for the second straight year, where they finished seventh in Class 1A.


9. Washington’s Kaleb Rich aces par-4 at WG&CC

Washington’s Kaleb Rich defied the odds when he aced the par-4, 254-yard sixth hole at the Washington Golf and Country Club on May 19. The odds of hitting a hole-in-one on a par-4 are roughly 6 million-to-1.

It was the second career hole-in-one for the 19-year-old Rich, as he also aced the par-3 second hole at the WG&CC in 2008. The odds of hitting a hole-in-one are 13,000-to-1, according to a Golf Digest study, so the odds of hitting two are 169 million-to-1. Add in that one was a par 4, and the odds jump to 78 billion-to-1.


8. Mid-Prairie girls win a share of the CVC title

Following their most dominant performance of the season — a 69-29 win over visiting Tipton on Feb. 6 — Mid-Prairie’s players gathered on the Tim Grady Gymnasium floor to accept their first girls’ basketball conference championship trophy since 2002.

With its win over Tipton, Mid-Prairie finished 13-1 in Cedar Valley Conference play,  with its only loss coming to co-CVC champion Iowa City Regina. The Golden Hawks also extended their winning streak to 13 games.


7. Washington girls cut down nets at old gymnasium

Following their 48-30 win over Fort Madison in a Class 3A regional quarterfinal on Feb. 15, the Washington girls’ basketball players climbed the stepladder one by one to cut down the nets at the Washington High School gymnasium.

The Demons went 12-1 at home last season, the final season the gymnasium at what is now the Washington Middle School was used before moving into a new gym at the new high school. Washington also went 8-0 to win the Southeast Conference championship last season.


6. Don Showalter leaves Mid-Prairie

After 28 years, 446 wins and five state tournament appearances at Mid-Prairie, head boys’ basketball coach Don Showalter felt it was time to move on.

Surprisingly, Showalter accepted the head boys’ basketball coaching position at Iowa City High on April 12.

Chris Kern, who had spent 26 seasons as Showalter’s assistant coach, was hired as Mid-Prairie’s new head man. Kern has the Golden Hawks sitting at 5-1 at the holiday break, while Showalter’s Little Hawks are currently 4-4.


5. Demon golfers return to state for fifth straight year

After winning its fifth straight sectional championship at the Washington Golf and Country Club on May 13 and finishing third at the district tournament at Stone Creek Golf Club in Williamsburg on May 18, the Washington boys’ golf team returned to the state tournament for the fifth consecutive year.

The Demons had a bit of a disappointing performance in Ames on May 26-27, finishing sixth in Class 3A, but that didn’t tarnish another fine season by the Demon boys’ golf team.


4. Washington returns to the state baseball tournament

After losing seven seniors from a squad that reached the Class 3A state semifinals the year before and then an 8-8 start to the 2012 season, it looked doubtful that the Washington baseball team could make a return to Des Moines.

But the Demons finished the regular season strong before knocking off Fairfield, No. 2 Grinnell and Williamsburg in the playoffs in order to return to Principal Park. The Demons gave eventual state champion Dallas Center-Grimes all it could handle in the state quarterfinal before falling 3-2 in nine innings.


3. Kalona native earns silver medal at Paralympics

Matt Stutzman of Fairfield, the only archer in the 2012 London Paralympics without arms, earned a silver medal on Sept. 3 in the men’s compound open archery finals.

Stutzman advanced to the gold medal round by winning 6-4 in the semifinals. Jere Forsberg of Finland won 6-4 in the finals, claiming the gold medal.

Stutzman, 29, was born without arms, but he displays great dexterity with his feet, aiming with his right foot and inserting the arrow with his left. He releases the arrow using his mouth.


2. Washington wins first home playoff game in 15 years

A late touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Daryn Sebelius sealed Washington’s 28-14 first-round playoff win over Norwalk on Oct. 24, marking the Demons’ first postseason victory since 2006 and their first playoff win at Case Field since 1997.

Alex Coker rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown, and Carl Sivels ran for 103 yards and two scores.

Washington lost 27-21 at Winterset five days later. The Demons finished their surprising season with a 7-4 record.


1. Washington advances to the state softball tournament for the second time in school history

This summer was one full of accomplishments for the Washington softball team.

First, the Demons won their first conference championship in the program’s history. They followed that up by earning the school’s second-ever trip to the state tournament, the first since 1997.

But that wasn’t all. Washington also got its first state softball tournament victory in school history when it defeated third-ranked Carlisle 5-2 at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge on July 17.

The Demons fell to second-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes 2-0 in the Class 4A state semifinal and lost to Clear Creek-Amana 6-2 in the consolation championship, but still finished an outstanding season with a record of 32-10 and a fourth-place finish at the state tournament.

Washington lost only Lauren Vittetoe, who was an all-tournament selection, to graduation, so the Demons should be strong again this summer.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jan 02, 2013 01:29

A Scholar & Athlete
PALS dog and Pflaum

"When Coach Jeff Pedersen texted me in biochem lab saying congratulations, I thought, 'I won an award?'" recalls Kevin Pflaum '13. "I'm not a great athlete."

Pflaum loves track and field — he pole-vaulted in high school and, despite his humility, ranks in the Pioneers' all-time top 10 in the hammer and weight throws. But Pedersen had just congratulated Pflaum for being the fourth Grinnellian in five years to win the Midwest Conference's Roy W. LeClere Award for academic excellence. The award honors the male student-athlete who earns the highest junior-year GPA while lettering in at least two league sports.

Surprisingly, Pflaum found Grinnell while searching for engineering schools, he says. "I was applying to large engineering schools when a family friend told me about 3-2 programs like Cal Tech's [one of Grinnell's partners].

"I didn't know what 'liberal arts' was when I applied. I was accepted into all the engineering schools, but I had a good feeling about Grinnell. At New Student Orientation, I knew I'd come to the right place."

Pflaum's plans changed after taking biology courses like an advanced placement course in high school and Biological Inquiry, Grinnell's unusual introductory course where entry-level students learn biological principles by doing original research. He'd found his passion. "Biology classes are my favorites, far and away. Especially animal and plant physiology and microbiology," he says.

Missing his own dogs, he began to volunteer at the local Poweshiek Animal League Shelter (PALS). He and Andie Quinn '15 later started Pals of PALS to help other student volunteers.

Now, Pflaum says, "I really want to be a veterinarian. I don't know if I've wanted anything more." As a senior, he has already begun receiving interview requests from veterinary schools.

With his adviser, biology professor Leslie Gregg-Jolly — "She's wonderful," he interjects — he crafted his individual curriculum to prepare for veterinary school. He admits he initially dreaded taking literary analysis. "I didn't like English in high school, and don't really like writing. So I was surprised that I loved it. I also really enjoyed Major Western Religion, and took Traditions of Islam because of it."

So how does he balance athletics and demanding coursework? "I've already made a commitment to my health to practice and work out six days a week, so it's not much more. I get a later start on homework than many people, but I accept that that's how it's going to be, and I work around it. Academics is my major focus, but I'm also committed to my sport," he says.

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