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Rebel trio redefines ‘four - sport athlete’

August 2, 2015
TYLER STRAND - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

REINBECK - From the UNI-Dome to Wells Fargo Arena and James Cownie Soccer Complex to Principal Park, senior Camden Kickbush and juniors Josh Cooley and Jake Mohlis have been part of it all.

The Gladbrook-Reinbeck trio has experienced a school year unlike any other, riding the wave of four state tournament qualifiers from the gridiron last fall to the diamond this summer where they faced top-ranked Newman Catholic today in the Iowa High School State Baseball Tournament at 5 p.m.

And while the Rebels were expected to do big things in football and basketball, and had come within a game of qualifying for state soccer a few times before, they capped the four-for-four outing with the most unlikely, and arduous journey of them all - between the bases.

Article Photos

From left, Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Josh Cooley, Camden Kickbush and Jake Mohlis have played on all four state tournament qualifier teams for the Rebels this school year including football, basketball, soccer and baseball. The Rebels face top-ranked Newman Catholic today at 5 p.m. in the Class 1A Iowa High School State Baseball Tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Photo by Tyler Strand

"It was definitely more difficult but we knew we had a good chance in football and basketball and we knew we were going to be alright in soccer," Cooley said. "We did all three of them and we're just like 'hey, why not baseball?' That just gave us even a little more motivation to try to get to state one more time, especially for these seniors.

"It's just amazing. Not many schools can say they've done it and we've got a great group of guys here. Without these guys we wouldn't have been able to do any of this, it's all a team sport."

Gladbrook-Reinbeck didn't simply qualify for the state tournaments either - they made their mark as one of the top teams in each. The Rebels followed a runner-up finish in football with an undefeated run to the state title on the hardwood. A third-place finish in soccer delayed the Rebels' preparation on the diamond, but as they've shown in each of their other respective runs, they're playing their best when it matters most.

Riding a six-game win streak and claiming 11 of its last 12 heading into the eight-team tourney, the Rebels (17-11) stunned seventh-ranked Don Bosco 7-2 in the Class 1A Substate 3 game but now face by far their toughest test this season. Newman Catholic returns to Principal Park for the eighth year in a row including runner-up finishes in 2012 and '14 along with a state championship in '13.

With dominant offensive numbers and a strong supply of arms on the mound, the Knights present the ultimate challenge. But if there's any squad that's defied conventional wisdom time after time after time, it's these Rebels. And instead of playing with high expectations on its shoulders, G-R is playing free and loose in a season that's extended beyond what many believed was possible.

"Football, basketball and somewhat soccer ... we've always been near the top there," Kickbush said. "It's just been weird being the underdog for almost each game now but to just battle with these guys, it's been a different experience but no more or no less fun than what the other sports were."

Though mental discipline and focus play a part in any athletic endeavor, they take on greater importance on the diamond, lending the Rebels a better chance of competing with a squad that's otherwise favored.

Balks hampered Don Bosco on Tuesday and enabled G-R to generate enough momentum for a breakaway win. Be it through balks, errors or mental approach, the Rebels believe the same is possible on Friday.

"Size doesn't really matter in baseball, it's just a mental sport and whoever is ready to play that day is going to advance," Mohlis said. "It's different from football and basketball, those teams are usually consistent and it's different with baseball."

G-R hasn't been to Principal Park since 2007, but the experience of playing on the big stage in three other sports this year should help the Rebels avoid feeling out of place in the larger confines.

"It helps, it gives us some kind of idea of what it's going to be like," Cooley said. "Maybe we'll get to stay down there, maybe we'll go home the first day. Being there three times already this year helps give us a little more preparation than what we would have if we didn't go."

Seven more Rebels have been part of two of the previous state tourney teams while four others contributed on one.

However far G-R advances in the tournament, one thing is certain. The Rebels will say goodbye to seven seniors who have been instrumental in leading the program on the diamond as well as the gridiron, hardwood and soccer pitch as well.

"Everyone has their own way of leading. We've got seven seniors and they all have their own unique style," Rebels coach Jeff Charley said. "Some of them are very quiet leaders and lead by example, some of them lead verbally in trying to get them motivated and talking. When one of them is having a great night and the other might not, they pick each other up. It's just the way they blend, work together and practice together and kid around, that's what's unique about this group of seniors."

Perhaps the most imposing opponent facing the Rebels is Father Time as Kickbush knows the clock is winding down on his days competing at Gladbrook-Reinbeck.

"It's been a whole lot of fun and I can't believe it's almost over," he said. "I don't want it to end with these guys. A group of guys like this, you just don't ever want it to end. You want to push the pause button. It's just been a blast and an unbelievable year for all of us.

"(We'll) just play with no regrets because it's going to be our last games together and just cherish every moment."


G-R's seven seniors include Jeff Tscherter, Kickbush, Bryce Ehlers, Phillip Zimmerman, Zach Pierce, Logan Flamme and Brady Kuehl.



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