QUEENS OF THE NEW AGE
By BRANDON HURLEY
Editor’s Note: This is the second and final part of a series detailing the County All Decade prep sports teams. In today’s issue, we reflect on some of the great females of the past 10 years.
The previous decade of girls’ prep athletics was highlighted by one of the most dominant two-year runs by one team in county history as well as the one the most uniquely talented and charismatic track athletes in recent memory.
The county’s prep athletes first battled through a merger as East Greene and Jefferson-Scranton combined to form Greene County High School, but they’ve seemed to have settled in athletically. Before that transition, the county enjoyed a few short years early in the decade with three separate high schools taking to the field. Then, we witnessed the merger, which happened in 2014. For the past five or so years they’ve been known as the Greene County Rams.
Naturally, many new Greene County records have been set time and time again, while several of the final East Greene athletes left their mark on a school that is with us no longer.
Let’s not forget, Paton-Churdan has enjoyed its fair share of athletic success over the last decade, holding their own on the basketball and volleyball court, and at times on the track.
While I’d love to comb through the years and create all-decade teams for each sport, I don’t believe it’s feasible. For one, I don’t have the time and two, I don’t necessarily have the knowledge to create the best team for each sport. Many of these players I never saw in action. Which means I am going solely by stats and rehashed accounts. Regardless, a heavy amount of research has been put into this project.
Two comprehensive, all-sport teams separated between boys and girls should do just fine for now. Hopefully, a trip down memory lane will help you all remember a decade full of tremendous individual feats.
This week, The Jefferson Herald releases the County All Decade girls team.
Here we go:
Jennifer Kennedy (Greene County Class of 2013)
Jennifer Kennedy cemented her place among the greatest hitters in history with a dazzling five year career.
Kennedy batted an outstanding .532 as a junior thanks to 66 hits and 23 RBI. She struck out just twice in 124 at bats while she collected 29 stolen bases, guiding the Rams to a 26-8 record and a share of the Heart of Iowa Conference championship at 13-3. In fact, during Kennedy’s final two years, the Rams secured back-to-back shares of the conference crown. During that same junior season, Kennedy was 18-7 in the pitcher’s circle to go with 136 strikeouts and a 1.31 ERA. Kennedy tallied 231 career hits to go with 89 stolen bases and 59 RBI.
Kennedy was nearly untouchable in the pitcher’s circle, compiling 394 career strikeouts. She was 17-7 her senior year with a 1.73 ERA and 120 strikeouts.
Kennedy was also quite the basketball player, averaging 17.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game her senior year, dishing out a team-leading 52 points to go with 22 total blocks.
Carleigh Paup (Paton Churdan Class of 2016)
A true, multi-sport star if there ever was one. Paton-Churdan’s Carleigh Paup led Class 1A in scoring in back-to-back seasons, easily surpassing the career 1,500 point mark.
Paup led the state in scoring her senior year (24.7 points per game) and became the first player in Paton-Churdan’s five-on-five history to crack the 1,000 career point mark. She achieved the feat midway through her junior season. Paup averaged more than 20 points per game for three straight years, including a career-best 25.2 points per game during her junior season, which again was the top mark in the state. Paup wrapped up her four-year career with 1,833 points and 124 three pointers made. Paup was also one of the most lethal defenders in school history, swiping 456 career steals. She tallied one of the best statistical games in county history back on Jan. 10, 2015 in a win over Woodbine, scoring a career-best 42 points to go with nine steals, six rebounds and five assists. She was also a ridiculous six-of-12 from three and 12 of 13 from the foul line. That insane stat line came not even 24 hours after pouring in 36 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Boyer Valley. Paup was an absolute machine. Paup helped the Rockets secure 50 wins across her four year career, guiding P-C to its most recent winning record during the 2015-16 season.
She was also one of top hitters in Greene County softball history as well, a vital member of back-to-back state tournament trips.
Emily Christensen (Greene County Class of 2015)
Greene County’s Emily Christensen could really eat at the dish during back-to-back runs to the softball state tournament, each of them resulting in a third place finish.
Christensen was an incredibly consistent batter, earning consecutive second team, all state honors as a shortstop. Christensen tallied a remarkable 213 hits and 143 career RBI in addition to 56 total doubles.
Megan Durbin (Greene County Class of 2018)
Megan Durbin is the only two-time Drake Relays champion in school history, and the most recent athlete to capture a state championship. Durbin won the 2016 state high jump title as a sophomore and became one of the most successful high jumpers in state history.
Enough said. The former Ram never once placed lower than second in the girls’ high jump during her four trips to the state meet. Durbin is an absolute legend at Greene County and within the four corners of Drake Stadium. The 2018 Greene County graduate is currently on scholarship with the Iowa State track and field tea.
Malarie Gilley (East Greene Class of 2010)
Even though East Greene’s Malarie Gilley played just a portion of her career during this decade, she most certainly deserves recognition. The 2010 graduate is easily one of East Greene’s most dominant interior players in school history. An absolute rebounding machine who earned three consecutive all state selections for her play on the hardwood. Gilley never averaged less than 15 points and 12 rebounds per game during that ridiculous span.
The former Hawk led East Greene in scoring, blocks and rebounding in back-to-back-to-back seasons. She scored at a rate of 15.4 points per game during her senior season (2009-10), which was fourth-best in the conference. She also hauled in a team-high 12.5 rebounds per game (3rd in the West Central Activities Conference) to go with 3.8 blocks per game (84 total), good for eighth in the state (1A). Gilley averaged 16 points and 14 rebounds per game during her junior season the year prior. She never averaged less than 10 points per game during her four year varsity career, averaging 10.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game during her freshman year.
She saved one of her best performances for last, securing a rare 20-20 double-double during her senior season, pouring in 24 points to go with 23 rebounds in a win over West Central Valley.
Gilley also led the softball squad in batting with a .443 average, 27 hits, three home runs and 16 RB in her senior season.
Kaitlyn Gannon (East Greene Class of 2011)
Kaitlyn Gannon twice led East Greene softball in batting, with a career-high average of .492 during her sophomore year back in 2009.
She batted .364 as a senior with 16 hits in just 44 at bats, swiping a team-high seven stolen bases.
The 2011 graduate batted .400 as a junior in 2010 with 24 hits and 11 RBI. 7 steals
During her career year in 2009, Gannon collected 30 hits to go with nine doubles and 5 RBI.
Marissa Promes (Greene County Class of 2015)
The legendary Marissa Promes was an absolute beast for the Greene County Rams midway through the decade, helping steer GCHS to consecutive state tournament appearances and back-to-back wins in the third place game.
The star hurler was named to the all-state first team in back-to-back years (2014 and 2015) and followed up her breakout junior campaign with an even more remarkable senior year. Promes produced a sizzling 30-4 record to go with 241 strikeouts while maintaining an ERA of 2.16. She didn’t disappoint in her only two years as a full time starter, racking up 55 wins over the next two years and 467 strikeouts. Promes finished her career with 561 strikeouts. The former Ram won 25 games her junior year and struck out a staggering 226 batters, fourth in the state) to go with a 1.45 ERA. She helped the Rams capture four consecutive upsets over ranked teams during their run at 2014 the state tournament.
The former Indian Hills Community College pitcher also was a more than substantial batter. She tallied 202 hits to go with eight career home runs and 120 RBI.
Sydney Koch (Paton-Churdan Class of 2016)
Yet another marquee, multi-sport athlete. Dominated the softball diamond – tallying more than 100 career hits – while playing a pivotal role for the Paton-Churdan basketball and volleyball teams.
Koch tallied 113 assists during her senior season on the girls’ basketball team, an average of 5.1 assists per game. She provided a more than formidable sidekick to Carleigh Paup – also on this list – becoming one of the program’s most consistent long range shooters.
Koch drained 100 career three pointers while dishing out 264 assists in addition to swiping 286 career steals. The former Rocket really made her presence felt on the volleyball court, which later led her to Grand View University. Koch compiled 663 career kills to go with 135 career aces.
Megan Carey (Paton-Churdan Class of 2019)
Paton-Churdan’s Megan Carey was a perennial all-conference selection in volleyball, basketball and softball, even earning an all-state selection following the 2019 softball season. She was one of the most feared outside-hitters in the Rolling Valley Conference and became quite the reliable lead-off batter for the Greene County softball team, collecting more than 100 hits throughout her career. An easy choice here.
Rachael Danielson (Greene County Class of 2018)
Rachael Danielson is the only three-time state golf qualifier in school history. A three-time Heart of Iowa Conference champion. A career that also possessed several what-ifs thanks to a knee injury that cut her senior season short. Danielson is now a vital member of the Central Dutch golf team.
Haley Hall (Greene County Class of 2018)
A multiple swimming state qualifier and a state qualifier in cross country.
During the fall of her senior year, Hall competed in both swimming for the Boone Toreadors and the Greene County cross country team. The dedication was rewarded when she surprisingly qualified for the state meet.
Danielle Hoyle (Paton-Churdan Class of 2021)
If this current academic season was completed within the decade Danielle Hoyle would easily make the cut. Heck, I may kick myself for not already including the junior. Hoyle has been one of the most dominant centers in Paton-Churdan five-on-five history just two and a half years into her career. But there’s too much eligibility left to crown her. She’s a double-double machine and was third in 1A with 86 blocks last winter. She’s an easy shoe-in for next decade’s team. She’s now a vital contributor for the Marshalltown Community College basketball team.