A look back at the best sports moments of 2022

By Giovanni Coronel
Posted 1/4/23

Mid-Prairie’s Danielle Hostetler, Mitzi Evans help send Golden Hawks to 4th straight state title 

Not to be satisfied with just three, the Mid-Prairie girls track & field team won …

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A look back at the best sports moments of 2022


Mid-Prairie’s Danielle Hostetler, Mitzi Evans help send Golden Hawks to 4th straight state title 

Not to be satisfied with just three, the Mid-Prairie girls track & field team won its fourth straight state championship in a three day event last May at Drake Stadium’s legendary Blue Oval in Des Moines. 

Continuing their dominance in the Class 2A state track & field meet the Golden Hawks swept the cross country and track state titles. Even in races where things got physical the girls showed the grit and toughness to not be pushed around and in the end the results speak for themselves.

The Golden Hawks’ distance medley team won its race in record time, 4:07.96, with Madeline Shrader, Amara Jones, Danielle Hostetler, and Evans being the ones to accomplish the feat.

Golden Hawk senior Mitzi Evans gave it everything she had in her last track & field meet representing Mid-Prairie and earned herself four individual medals as a result. Evans won her 800-meter race while beating her personal best by about four seconds, 2:12.56, but accomplishing that feat took all she had since she did end up collapsing after crossing the finish line.

It took a minute to collect herself but afterwards Evans was as happy as one could be. Her effort and determination to use everything one has to win encapsulates this Mid-Prairie team as a whole.

Mid-Prairie led the team title race all three days and ended with 65 points in total, ten points ahead of the second place team, making the four-peat a reality. 


Mid-Prairie basketball goes to the state tournament for the first time since 2010. Undefeated regular season, conference champions.

Ending a 12 year drought last March the Mid-Prairie boys’ basketball team was able to break through and punch its ticket to the state tournament for the first time since 2010. This was the school’s eighth appearance in the state tournament and while its season did end in the 2A state tournament quarterfinal in Des Moines there is still plenty of praise to go around for this historic team. 

The Golden Hawks went unbeaten in the regular season, 21-0, and went on a school-record 24-game winning streak. With all that winning it came as no surprise Mid-Prairie also ended up as conference champions, something the school hasn’t done since 2009. 

When the Golden Hawks’ season came to an end at the Wells Fargo Arena in the quarterfinals Mid-Prairie head coach Daren Lambert got a bit emotional when talking about his team. 

“Extremely proud,” Lambert said. “So much love for those guys. You couldn’t ask for anything more.” 


Hillcrest’s Leah Bontrager breaks Hillcrest school record in final race at the 1A state track meet 

It was Hillcrest Academy senior Leah Bontrager’s last high school race and it was one for the record books. At the 1A state track meet in Des Moines last May, Bontrager broke the Hillcrest 800-meter school record with a time of 2:28.97. 

Bontrager earned her chance to run one last time for Hillcrest in the 1A state track meet because she finished first-place in the 800-meter run state-qualifying meet. At the time she was a bit disappointed to not have broken her own personal record, but knew she would get another chance.

Finishing fourth in the race at state she topped her personal best by nearly two seconds and broke a Hillcrest school record that lasted for more than 25 years. 

“It was way faster than I thought it would be,” Bontrager said about the fast pace at the start of the race. “It was good because that’s what I needed, I guess, to get the school record.”

Setting a record in her last race is a glowing testament to Bontrager’s high school career as a whole, which includes making four appearances in the Class 1A state cross country championship race. 


Lone Tree sophomore Zaruba qualifies for state meet

Showing the fortitude to bounce back from adversity Lone Tree sophomore Vivian Zaruba qualified for the girl’s state cross country meet by finishing in sixth-place at a Class 1A state-qualifying meet last October. 

Zaruba’s freshman campaign was hindered by an early-season surgery to get her appendix removed, but this time around she made the most of her opportunity. 

“It means a lot, ‘’ Zaruba said after her qualifying race. “I worked really hard and it is just nice to see it all pay off.” 

She became the first Lone Tree state-qualifier in cross country since 2012 and earned a spot on the all-conference team.

In the state cross country meet that took place last November Zaruba placed 103rd out of 150 runners with a time of 22:19 and she hopes she can use the  experience from the race to place even higher next season.


Highland’s Sarah Burton

finishes third in 1A long jump, conference champ.

For the second straight season Highland sophomore Sarah Burton claimed a conference title in the long jump last May. Jumping over 17 feet Burton cleared all the other competitors in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference North or South divisions by over a foot.  

She was one of three athletes in 1A to jump over 17 feet on the season. At the state track & field meet Burton was able to claim a third place by jumping over 16 feet on her fourth attempt. 

She also participated in the 100-meter dash at the state meet, finishing in ninth place. The state track & field medal she earned in the long-jump was the first of her high school career.

“It was fun,” Burton said about competing in the state meet. “I was pretty pleased with the results overall, with the 100 and the long jump. I think the 100 helped me with the last one, just getting warmed up a little bit before getting my last jump in.” 


Hillcrest’s Jace Rempel 

qualifies for state golf

Becoming the first Hillcrest golfer to reach the state tournament since 2013, junior Jace Rempel showed he has what it takes to play on a state-championship stage. 

Rempel qualified for the Iowa Class 1A state championship by earning an individual spot with a 12-over-par 84 in the state qualifier. 

Last June Rempel was able to make his school proud with his play, finishing in the top 20 in his first state golf appearance, and he made sure to enjoy the moment for what it was. 

“The first tee on both days. They had tents set up and it said PGA Iowa selection and it was just a surreal moment,” Rempel said. “I just realized I had to take it all in, you know.”

Making it his goal to finish in the top 20 Rempel was able to snag a 16th-place tie. He played stronger as the tournament went on, scoring pars on four of his last five holes to improve his ranking on the leaderboard. Making such impressive strides in his play over the year, the expectations for next season will no doubt be higher but Rempel has matured enough as a golfer to meet those expectations.


Highland baseball finish 

top-2 in the conference 

For the first time since 2017 Highland baseball reached 20 wins with a 22-4 record. Losing only four games for the first time in over a decade. Reaching the district title game last July Highland made this a season to remember. 

In the district title game down 8-3 entering the sixth inning Highland was able to mount a comeback and tie the game 8-8, showing how this team would not go down easy.

“We’re a team that’s never going to give up,” Huskies head coach Seth Milledge said. “There’s a never-say-die attitude. We’re going to fight ‘til the last out. That’s exactly what we did.”

Ultimately losing to Lynville-Sully, 10-8, this scrappy Highland team was defined by its fight. Coming up two games short of participating in the state tournament for the first time in Highland baseball history, the close loss was a bitter pill to swallow, but the success they earned throughout this special season won’t be easily forgotten.


Golden Hawk baseball team make some noise in the


Finishing the season with a 19-11 record the Golden Hawk baseball team made it to the 2A state semifinals before its season came to an end against No. 2 Estherville Lincoln Central last July. 

The Golden Hawks won a state tournament banner for the second time in three seasons when they defeated West Marshall, 3-1. 

Embracing an underdog mentality Mid-Prairie  was able to topple No. 3 Cascade to advance to the state semifinals.

“This year, we’re kind of underdogs,” junior Cain Brown said during the season. “We were fourth in (the RVC South) and no one really thought we were going to be anything much. But we played a decent schedule to get here, and we obviously just beat a really good Cascade team.” 

Learning from experience the previous year when they were eliminated in the substate finals the Golden Hawks had a new attitude this year. They were staying loose, playing with conviction, and most importantly having fun. This team’s confident mentality was a big reason for its success. 

In the game against Estherville Lincoln Central injuries to pitcher position left the Golden Hawks short on pitching experience. Even so, Mid Prairie was able to build a 3-0 lead, before ultimately falling 7-4. 

“We wanted to get the championship, but what this team did this year was absolutely remarkable,” Mid-Prairie coach Kyle Mullet said. “For us to get here with the guys that we did says a lot about our program.”


Mid-Prairie football defeats Northeast 7-6 on the road in postseason 

The Mid-Prairie football team ended its season with a 6-4 record, but they were able to get a close-fought victory in the postseason against Northeast. 

It was a nail-biting game last October when the Golden Hawks managed to pull out a 7-6 win over Northeast. In a defensive battle it took Mid-Prairie five trips to the red zone to finally punch in a touchdown and that proved to be the difference in such a close game.  

“We had a rough drive right before (the touchdown) and we knew that we just had to come back and keep grinding like we had been all game and we knew that it would come eventually,” said senior lineman Jack Zahradnek. 

Mid-Prairie won the time of possession battle by a wide margin and keeping Northeast’s offense to just six points was vital to the eventual Class 2A playoff victory. Those hard-fought victories are valued abundantly more than any blow-out win and this Golden Hawk team would definitely agree with that.


Danielle Hostetler wins third individual 2A state cross country championship

The trifecta was completed last November when Mid-Prairie junior Danielle Hostetler captured her third individual 2A state cross country championship, making it seven straight years Mid-Prairie has earned the honor. Hostetler finished the race with a time of 18:41, becoming the eight athlete to win three individual IGHSAU state cross country titles. 

“I definitely didn’t feel as confident this season,” Hostetler said after the race. “I didn’t have as good of training and I was pretty discouraged this summer. So I’m so happy that I could end it on a good note.”

Just one second ahead of the closest competitor at the one mile mark, but she was able to widen her lead to ten seconds over the course of the second mile, showing the mental prowess she gained from previous racing experience.