THE EARLY LEAD: The 10 best (mostly) local sporting events of the winter
By BRANDON HURLEY
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Here we are, poised to dive head first into the winter schedule as temperatures hover in the 50s. As strange as the weather may be, with five local teams competing, and excitement brewing, there is plenty for everyone to enjoy this winter. We in the Jefferson Herald sports department have compiled the 10 sporting events we are most looking forward to over the next four months. This list, if anything, should help generate some interest in the casual fan base.
We’ve got basketball, wrestling and swimming dotting the landscape, so for those looking to shake off the eventual Cabin Fever and satisfy their competitive juices, this list is for you.
1. Greene County boy/girl doubleheader vs. North Polk at Wells Fargo Arena (Dec. 15 in Des Moines)
This may not be the best set of games all year, and that’s not putting either of the teams down, but it’s certainly the coolest opportunity.
The Ram boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will face off against North Polk on the sprawling, professional court of Wells Fargo Arena Dec. 15.
The Des Moines appearance will pit two Heart of Iowa Conference squads against each other in an opportunity of a lifetime. Wells Fargo Arena is home to the boys’ and girls’ state tournament each year, and can hold upwards to 15,000 fans at capacity. What a cool moment for the west central Iowa High School.
2. Greene County boys’ bball vs. Grand View Christian, Nov. 6 in Jefferson
This game should be a wild one and could provide a great measuring stick for the Rams. Grand View Christian scored more than 100 points six times last season while cruising to the Class 1A state title. Greene County averaged 68.3 points per game last year, scoring more than 80 points on five occasions, twice cracking the 90-point mark.
Though this game doesn’t mean much as far as conference and playoff implications, it will give the Rams a chance to see how they stack up against the best. The Thunder averaged 84.8 points per game a season ago and compiled a 27-1 record, draining a remarkable 221 threes. Buckle up boys and girls, high-octane offenses will light up the scoreboard in February.
3. Greene County wrestling vs. Carroll, Winterset in Jefferson, Nov. 30 (Already happened)
The Rams dive right into their unfortunately small home schedule as they host Carroll and Winterset, a preview of the Rams’ 2018 sectional opponents in Winterset. Though it’s early, the Rams will get a good look at what they may face in February as well as get a chance to wrestle against a 3A squad. This is also one of just three home meets for Greene County wrestling this winter, with just a single home tilt after the calendar flips into the new year (Jan. 11) with the other meet sandwiched in between on Dec. 7. Get out and enjoy this one.
4. Greene Co. girls’ bball vs. #10 Nevada, #7 (4A) Boone, Week of Dec. 21
This marks a brutal week for the Greene County Rams as they hit the road for back-to-back match ups against top 10 ranked foes. If the girls can keep these two contests close, it will be a huge confidence boost for the program. Both Nevada and Boone qualified for state a year ago while Nevada could have a conference winning streak nearing 25 games at this point.
5. P-C boys’ vs. Ar-We-Va, Jan. 5 in Churdan
The Paton-Churdan boys’ team is the only Rolling Valley Conference squad to have beaten Ar-We-Va in their history in the RVC, doing so back in 2016. The all-Rockets matchup could pit P-C up against a team that has a regular-season win-streak nearing 28 games. Ar-We-Va swept P-C with ease last winter, so revenge will definitely be on the minds of the local squad.
6. P-C girls’ bball vs. #7 Exira-EHK, Dec. 19 in Churdan
Will the Rockets actually be able to stay competitive with the back-to-back state qualifying Spartans now that they have some size? Defensive, freshman center Danielle Hoyle (6’2”) should be able to match up with Sophia Peppers (15PPG & 9RPG in two games last winter), but can she produce enough offensively to keep P-C in the game? It’ll be an interesting test, as P-C has four girls capable of scoring at least 10 PPG in Jenna Beyers, Grace Geisler, Megan Carey and now Hoyle.
7. Greene County boys’ bball vs. South Hamilton, Jan. 30 in Jefferson
This game could essentially be the de-facto Heart of Iowa Conference champion. The Hawks won the league title a year ago by a single-game over Greene County and returns four of five starters from the state-qualifying team. In the second to last conference game of the year, the winner will most likely come out on top as HOIC champion. What a way to close out the conference season. The two teams split the regular season series last winter, I’d certainly expect more of the same competitiveness this time around. Greene County and South Hamilton are the giants of the league.
8. Wrestling state tournament, Feb. 15-17 Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
The spectacle that is the Iowa High School state wrestling tournament is hard to pass up every February. The enthusiasm, excitement and downright insanity it generates is unrivaled in any other high school sporting event in Iowa. Good luck trying to find a parking spot on the Friday of the meet anywhere near Wells Fargo, as most of the parking garages are regrettably sold out by 8 a.m.
Greene County often has a been a staple at the state meet, which makes this a must attend event each and every winter. Don’t miss out on your chance to view one of Iowa’s most famous spectacles, with hundreds of athletes competing for individual glory.
9. Greene County wrestling vs. #9 PCM, South Hamilton, Jan. 11 at Home
The Rams welcome ninth-ranked PCM into town for the season finale. It’s one of the final tune-ups for the Heart of Iowa Conference tournament and should give Greene County a good sense of where they stand within the league as they enter the postseason.
With a bevy of youthful talent nearing the tail end of their second full varsity season, the Rams should only be rounding into form at this point. Could a potential upset be on the horizon?
10. Boys state swim meet, University of Iowa, Feb. 10 in Iowa City
This is a cool opportunity for the high school swimmers in February. The state meet has been moved to the NCAA regulation swimming pool at the University of Iowa Campus Recreation and Wellness Center after 12 years in Marshalltown. The Hawkyes have hosted the NCAA championships in the past and could provide significant motivation for the Greene County swimmers competing on the Boone swim team.