A look back at 2021

Some of the best moments in area sports

By Jeff Yoder
Posted 12/29/21

Over the past year, the Mid-Prairie girls continued their dominance on the track and cross country course. The Golden Hawks won a third straight track & field title in May, and a fifth straight …

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A look back at 2021

Some of the best moments in area sports


Over the past year, the Mid-Prairie girls continued their dominance on the track and cross country course. The Golden Hawks won a third straight track & field title in May, and a fifth straight cross country championship in October. 

Mid-Prairie has been the defending 2A champion in both sports for over 1,300 days. 

The year 2021 was another good one to be a Golden Hawk. 

The Mid-Prairie girls took home seven individual medals from the state track meet and the boys added three more. The girls finished third in the 4x100 and won the distance medley for a third straight time. 

Danielle Hostetler won both the 1500 and 3000-meter races at the 2A state meet as a freshman, and won her second straight cross country championship in the fall as a sophomore. 

Mitzi Evans finished in the top four of the 200, 400, and 800-meter races. Sydney Yoder finished fourth in the 3000-meter run, and later placed seventh at the state cross country meet as a senior.

Thaddeus Shetler also medaled in both track and cross country in 2021. He took seventh in the 1600-meter run in May, and added a state cross country medal with a 14th place finish as a senior. 

With a pair of state championship trophies, the Mid-Prairie girls were the best of the best in 2021, but here are eleven more memorable moments in area sports over the past year:

Hillcrest boys come back to beat Iowa Valley

The Raven basketball team held Iowa Valley without a point over the final three minutes of 41-37 win in the district quarterfinals on Monday, Feb. 15. Grant Bender hit a pair of free throws to give the Ravens the lead and Hillcrest finished the game on a 13-2 run. Eli Ours had a team-high 12 points in the win and stepped up defensively on Iowa Valley’s best player. 

“You can just see that Eli wanted it,” Hillcrest coach Dwight Gingerich said after the game. “And right there late in the last couple of possessions he did an outstanding job. That was maybe the difference in the game, at a point where we were making some plays and then defensively we were getting stops.” 

M-P boys finish 15-8

The Golden Hawks won 15 games for the first time since 2011 and finished the season in the district final, just two wins shy of a state tournament appearance. 

“I’m just extremely proud of what they've accomplished this season,” Lambert said after the loss.

“I told them, over the next couple of days, just think about all the stuff that they have done – much of that stuff that hasn't been done in the decade for Mid-Prairie. They've done a great job putting this program in a better spot than where they got it.”

Mid-Prairie competed for a River Valley South conference title and came up just short, after being edged by West Branch in a pair of tightly contested games. Carter Harmsen averaged over 18 points per game and was named to the All-State third-team by the IPSWA. 

Thompson, Schlabaugh, and Garvey medal at state wrestling

Bryce Thompson and Easton Schlabaugh both finished fifth at the state wrestling meet in February. The Highland senior and sophomore each won four matches at the state tournament to reach the podium in the 113 and 106-pound weight classes. 

Schlabaugh (43-8) dropped his first match at state, but bounced back to win his next three to secure a top-six finish. Thompson (36-5) won his first match by tech fall to reach the quarterfinals, where he lost the next match by a 5-2 decision. His next two wins placed him in the top six as well. 

Mid-Prairie’s Cael Garvey reached the medal stand with a pair of dramatic victories during the state wrestling tournament weekend. He trailed 9-7 with 20 seconds left in his opening match on Thursday, but got a reversal and two nearfall points to advance to the quarterfinals. In the consolation bracket, he was behind 6-1 in the first period but came back to tie the match heading into the third where he secured a medal with a pin. 

Ravens reach SEISC final

After a 2-3 start, the Hillcrest boys soccer team allowed just four goals over the next six games to reach the conference tournament championship with a 7-4 record and a three-game winning streak. Will Kolck scored the only goal in the Ravens’ 1-0 win over Columbus in the first round, and Noah Miller scored twice in a 3-1 semifinal victory over Mediapolis.

Miller would lead the Ravens with nine goals for the season, while John Hughes had four goals and a team-high four assists. 

Hawks make substate final

The Mid-Prairie boys soccer team was just one win away from the state tournament in 2021. The Golden Hawks started 7-0, but had lost four of their last six games heading into the postseason.

Mid-Prairie defeated Pella Christian 3-0 in the substate quarterfinals and faced No. 8 Albia in the semifinal. Justice Jones made seven saves as the game remained 0-0 through regulations and two overtimes. Owen Trimpe’s penalty kick gave Mid-Prairie a shootout victory. 

Bell’s home runs lift Lions

Tyler Bell is a guy you want at the plate when a game is on the line. 

During the past baseball season, he drove in 30 runs and had four home runs, including a pair of game-winning shots. Bell’s seventh-inning grand slam at Van Buren gave Lone Tree a two-run lead in a game that the Lions went on to win 11-10. And in the postseason he came through again. His two-run blast to left field gave the Lions a 5-3 walk-off win over Wapello during a district quarterfinal in Lisbon. 

Huskies beat WMU in 14 to reach regional final

Things were looking good for Winfield-Mt. Union in the 13th inning of a scoreless regional semifinal on Monday, July 12. A single, an error and a passed ball put a runner at third base with no outs. But Grace Batcheller struck the next batter out and got a pair of infield fly outs to extend Highland’s softball season. Sarah Burton put a bunt down and reached third on a throwing error in the 14th.  She scored on a wild pitch and Highland advanced with a 1-0 win. 

Payton Brun was 3-for-4 with three doubles and three RBIs as the Huskies were edged 8-6 by Lisbon in the regional final. 

M-P baseball wins conference, district titles

The Golden Hawks clinched the River Valley Conference title with a 12-1 win over Regina on Monday, July 5. Aidan Rath was 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs in the first game of a senior night double header. Mid-Prairie finished the season 19-8, one win short of a return to the state tournament.

The Golden Hawks scored twice in the seventh inning to walk off with a 5-4 win over Williamsburg in the district final. Karson Grout hit a leadoff double and scored the tying run and Collin Miller delivered the walk-off single. Rath was named first-team all-state by the IPSWA. 

Lions finish with a win

Lone Tree played the spoiler in the final week of the regular season, keeping Iowa Valley out of the postseason with a 42-40 win. Cade Shield completed 20-of-38 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 105 yards and three touchdowns, accounting for all but five yards of the Lions’ total offense. Cade Patterson caught nine of those passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.

Iowa Valley scored twice in the final Iowa Valley scored twice in the final three minutes of the game and completed a pass that went to the 1-yard line as time expired. Ethan Bockelman made the game-winning tackle. 

Mid-Prairie beats Northeast

The Mid-Prairie football team dealt with illness and injury during a 1-2 start that included a forfeit to Regina, but the Golden Hawks went 4-1 in district play to clinch a home playoff game. 

Tyler Helmuth and Braden Hartley each rushed for over 100 yards during a 35-28 win over Northeast in the first round of the postseason.

Mid-Prairie took a 28-7 second-quarter lead on Will Cavanagh’s touchdown pass to Jack Pennington. Hartley had two touchdowns and led the Golden Hawks with 8.5 tackles as Mid-Prairie advanced to the round of 16. 

Bontrager goes 4-for-4

Leah Bontrager qualified for the state meet for a fourth straight year, placing fourth at the 1A state-qualifying meet in Iowa City on October 21. 

“It feels really good,” Bontrager said after the race. “I feel like I’m in as good a shape with what I went through this summer and stuff, and my foot, and everything. I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in my life. It feels really good, the ability that God’s given me and He’s healed me.”

Bontrager finished 39th in the state meet in Fort Dodge on October 30. Bontrager finished seventh in the SEISC meet at Heritage Oaks to claim first-team all conference honors for the fourth straight season as well. 


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