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Year in Review Rebels reign in 2016

Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s second-straight football title the peak of prolific season

January 1, 2017
Reinbeck Courier

It's been a year. Not a great one, not a poor one, but just a year. We lost sports greats such as Muhammad Ali and Arnold Palmer, while a great portion of the country - heck, maybe even parts of the world - rejoiced in the Chicago Cubs finally winning the World Series title that's escaped them for 108 years. And while the Reinbeck Courier didn't necessarily cover those events extensively as the Chicago Tribune or Los Angeles Times did, there was a lot that went on around the area.

As the 2016 year comes to a close, the sports staff looks back on the top five stories that happened in our area.

5. Clement named to the IHSBCA Hall of Fame

Article Photos

Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior Matt Roeding (5) celebrates the Rebel football team’s second-straight Class A state championship after a 20-19 win against Bishop Garrigan in the Nov. 17 title game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
Photo by Stephen Koenigsfeld

In 2005, Marshalltown graduate Jeff Clement was taken by the Seattle Mariners as the third overall pick in the MLB Draft. On Jan. 23, Clement was inducted during the 48th annual induction banquet in Des Moines.

Clement shared stories of his days as a player in the minor leagues and major leagues, where he spent time with the Mariners, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Minnesota Twins and their farm systems. While injuries plagued a hopeful professional career, Clement batted .218 with 14 home runs and 39 RBIs in his time as pro player.

Clement still holds the Marshalltown and state of Iowa record for home runs in a career with 75 dingers. As a four-year varsity player, Clement hit .515, tallied 221 RBIs, struck out just 28 times and holds eight MHS school records. He's also the state and national leader in walks in a season (72), walks in a career (214) in addition to career home runs. Clement went on to be an All-American player at USC before being drafted by the Mariners.

Clement was a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Iowa baseball team for a brief stint and now resides in Ankeny with his wife and four kids.

4. Marshalltown boys' bowling team

Back-to-back state appearances in 2015 and 2016 by the boys' bowling team has showcased the prominence of the sport in Marshalltown. A program that hadn't done much in the postseason reached the pinnacle of the sport in 2015 when it won the Class 3A state title. In 2016, the Bobcats returned, taking fourth.

A variety of senior leadership and underclassmen talent helped give the Bobcats a chance to defend their title in February.

The MHS bowlers also earned numerous postseason awards, with Ray Wiegand earning Bowler of the Year from the West District, graduated senior Brandon Freese was named to the first-team, all-state squad and now junior Richie Thomas was a second-team, all-district selection.

Boys' head coach Roger Taylor Sr. and girls' head coach Andy Schwandt have their respective bowling teams headed in the right direction.

Despite coming short of their goals for the 2016, the Bobcat boys are carrying a rich tradition through the 2016-17 season. And not only are the boys holding one of the highest match score averages (2,960.3 pins per game), the girls' team is also on the uptick as well.

3. Grundy Center volleyball state tournament run

If you ask anyone in Grundy Center, they'll discount any claims of their unranked team making it into the state volleyball tournament earlier this fall as a Cinderella story. The Spartans went through two ranked teams (No. 9 Woodward-Granger and No. 5 Tri-Center,) on their way to the regional championship.

Of the 40 teams that appeared at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, the Grundy Center girls were the only ones without a ranking. In fact, they weren't ranked at all the entire season.

But as the team figured out its identity late in the season, the Spartans quickly became a force to be reckoned with.

As the lowest seed, Grundy Center pulled No. 1 Western Christian - which went on to another Class 2A state title - in the first round of the tournament. With a team that returns all but one player on its roster, the Spartans will seek for another state berth in 2017.

2. BCLUW softball advances back to state

After a six-year hiatus from the state softball tournament, BCLUW paraded its way back to state behind lightning pitching from then-senior Olivia Callaway and precision coaching.

After head coach David Lee retired in 2010 - a season that ended with a second consecutive Class 2A state title - the postseason berths seemed to leave with him. Lee decided to return this past summer, under the condition of 110 percent effort, every day until the final sunset.

And behind Lee and pitching of Callaway and junior Samantha Ubben, the Comets made it back to the state tournament. To get there, they went to No. 2 Cascade to claim the regional championship, and followed it up with a victory against No. 1 Durant in the first round of the state tournament.

Losses to No. 6 Van Meter and No. 3 Logan-Magnolia followed, resulting in a fourth-place finish. But the rebound of spirit and caliber of softball was nothing short of electric for fans from the BCLUW communities to watch throughout the summer.

1. Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys' sports

If you're paying any attention to the Class A/Class 1A levels of boys' sports in the state, you'll recognize the immense accomplishments the Gladbrook-Reinbeck athletes have had throughout the past couple years, maybe more so in the 2016 calendar year.

The fall season was capped off with the second-straight Class A football championship, and the Rebels became the first team in the state to make it to three consecutive Class A state title games.

The No. 2 Rebels ran through a slew of ranked teams before knocking off No. 1 St. Ansgar in the semifinals and No. 3 Bishop Garrigan for the state championship.

The title follows a successful summer season that saw the soccer team take third at the state tournament, losing to No. 5 Kuemper Catholic in the semifinal round. The Rebels took down No. 2 Iowa City Regina for the second time in 2016 to finish third at the state tournament.

Running back earlier in 2016, the Rebels took fourth at the boys' state basketball tournament behind consecutive electric performances from now-senior Joe Smoldt. The Upper Iowa-commit led the Rebels through the season with a nearly unblemished record (24-4) before losing their final two games of the season at Wells Fargo Arena.

But what's maybe more impressive than any of the state titles or postseason runs is the way the Rebels are winning.

In the most simple of ways, these small-town Iowa kids are defying the limits set in front of them, be that size, money, access to club sports or seasonal camps. In a time of depopulation of rural American towns, the Rebels are using raw talent, coachability and high sports IQ to beat the best teams around the state.



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