Fall Sports Wrap-Up
The schools in our readership had a tremendous fall season. Three of them had multiple team championships, and others laid claim to a repeat champion in two sports, two state records, a two-time undefeated champion, and a title after four second-place finishes in five years. Wow!
MICDS won the Midwest Tournament Championship for the third year in a row. The Rams defeated Villa Duchesne 2-1 in the title game. “This was truly a team accomplishment led by some very experienced players,” MICDS coach Lynn Mittler says. “I am proud of the girls for the way they competed through the season and how they trusted each other when it mattered the most.”
The Rams were led by a trio of seniors, Kara Zurlinder, Bridget Condie and Lilly Thiemann, who played all four years on varsity and compiled an 83-13-6 record, which included a streak of 52 consecutive wins over area competition. Condie was named Co-Player of the Year in the Metro League, along with Allie Christopher of Villa Duchesne.
Three area schools played for state championships over Thanksgiving weekend at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. John Burroughs was the only one of the three to win its final game. And it was especially sweet for the Bombers, who had lost in the championship game in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
The Bombers left little doubt about the outcome this year as they raced to a 30-0 lead over Odessa in the Class 3 championship before winning 30-6. Jake Bain capped off an amazing season with 261 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the title game. Bain rushed for 2,172 yards for the season, which was the second most in the entire St. Louis area.
The state title was the ninth for the Bombers, but their first since 2001. Their only loss of the season came against Westminster Christian Academy. Westminster was unbeaten until falling in the Class 4 semifinals to eventual champion Kearney.
Metro Conference teams CBC and Chaminade were defeated in title games. CBC, which averaged more than 50 points per game in going undefeated, lost in the title game to Blue Springs South, 37-28. It was the lone loss in the last two seasons for the Cadets, who won state last fall. Chaminade, which finished 13-2, fell in the Class 5 championship game to Fort Osage, 37-28.
Blue Springs South also ended the season for Kirkwood in the Class 6 semifinals. But the Pioneers bounced back to win their traditional Turkey Day game against Webster, 42-13.
Several individuals from the area had memorable seasons. Brentwood’s Jacob Clay led the St. Louis area with 43 touchdowns. CBC’s Tre Bryant, the area’s top recruit who signed a national letter of intent to the University of Nebraska, was third with 33 touchdowns, including three in the state title game. Bain was fifth with 31 touchdowns.
CBC’s Blake Charlton was second in the area in passing, throwing more than 3,000 yards with 33 touchdowns. Westminster’s Evan Johnson and Priory’s Andrew Rund were also in the top 10. Bain, Clay and Westminster’s Steve Webb were in the top five in rushing.
Lafayette swept the title in Class 4 and did so in dominating fashion. The Lancer boys had 38 points, almost 100 points better than second-place Rockhurst, which had 131 points. The team score and margin of victory were both Class 4 state records. Lafayette’s girls were as impressive in winning their Class 4 title with 55 points. Just as notable as the team accomplishments was the fact that both the boys and girls had one-two finishers individually. Devin Meyrer was the individual boys champion; Austin Hindman was second, and Alex Haines was fifth. Anna West was the individual girls champion; Sarah Nicholson was second.
Westminster finished third in the boy’s Class 3 meet. The Wildcats were let by John Murray, who finished third. Whitfield had top 10 finishes in both Class 2 meets. The girls were fourth, and the boys were eighth. MICDS finished second behind Ste. Genevieve in the Class 3 girls. The Rams had a pair of top 10 finishers. Geneva Lee was sixth, and Alexandra Walsh was ninth. Nerinx Hall finished third in Class 4 girls.
This was one of the few sports in which a local team did not win a state title. Marquette advanced to the state championship in Class 4. The Mustangs, who finished 22-8, defeated Joplin 7-1 in the semifinals in Springfield but lost to Staley 10-6 in the championship game.
Parkway South and Kennedy each advanced to sectionals before losing tight games. Parkway South lost to Eureka 1-0 in Class 4, while Kennedy lost a two-day, 14-inning classic to Bowling Green 4-1 in Class 2.
Two area players were named first team All-State by the Missouri Softball Coaches Association. Parkway North senior Ria Smith was named catcher in Class 4. Smith hit .534 with six home runs and 26 RBI. Kirkwood junior Sadie Wise was picked as an infielder in Class 4 after hitting .500 with five homers and 42 RBI.
Parkway South pitcher Kaylie Wurdack and Marquette infielder Annie Kroeger were second team picks in Class 4, as was Kennedy pitcher Amanda Cabrera in Class 2.
Area teams swept the state championships in girls golf. Marquette captured the Class 2 title at River Cut in Springfield. The Mustangs finished with a score of 662, nine strokes better than second-place St. Joseph’s Academy. “Our five golfers did an amazing job of playing great golf when everything was on the line,” Marquette coach Eric Schweain says. “We didn’t play perfect golf at state, but we minimized our mistakes. The girls had a strategy and stuck with it. These five girls, who have very different personalities, came together and will always be linked as state champions.” Sarah Lewis was the top Marquette golfer, finishing eighth.
Other area Class 2 golfers who finished in the top 10 included: Westminster’s McKenna Montgomery (third); Kirkwood’s Sophia Roth (fourth); and Parkway West’s Rebecca Li-jia Su (fifth).
MICDS captured the Class 1 title at the Twin Hills Country Club in Joplin. The Rams finished with a score of 669. Pembroke Hill was second with 681. Shannon Gould led the Rams with a third-place finish overall. “We had never won a girls golf championship until 2014, so to repeat against solid teams throughout the state was a huge accomplishment,” says MICDS coach Steve Johnston. Senior Abby Schroeder finished 15th at state, capping off a consistent high school career. Schroeder placed in the top 15 all four years. She will play golf at Navy. As a team, the Rams finished 28-1 the last two years.
It was an all-area championship match in Class 1 at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield. John Burroughs would come back after trailing doubles to defeat MICDS, 5-3. The Bombers also had to come from behind in the semifinals when they beat Pembroke Hill 5-4. “I am so proud of the girls,” Bomber coach Wendi Sock says. “It is all them. They dug so deep. I never had any doubt about the effort although I didn’t know about the outcome. We had to beat two really strong teams.”
Senior Grayce Nieberle had an unforgettable final two high school matches. Nieberle trailed Bella Foote of Pembroke Hill 6-4, 4-1 in the final before winning the last 11 games at No. 5 singles. If she had not come back, the Bombers would have been playing for third place instead of for the championship. Nieberle then won the clinching match against MICDS.
St. Joseph’s got to the Final Four in Class 1. The Angels lost in the semifinals to Notre Dame de Sion but came back to defeat Kickapoo to finish third. Individually, Lafayette’s Caroline Pozo capped off her second consecutive undefeated championship to capture the Class 2 singles championship. Area players also finished second (Ellie Burger of St. Joseph’s) and third (Elena Wilner of Parkway Central) in Class 1 singles.
Marquette’s Ellie Lewis and Athena Zeng were third in Class 2 doubles. Villa Duchesne’s Riley Clarke was third in Class 1 singles while Kiki Peters and Maddy Duncan of John Burroughs were third in Class 1 doubles.
Vianney’s Nick Alexander capped off an amazing career with a pair of state records in the state meet at the Rec-Plex in St. Peters. Alexander, who signed a national letter of intent to swim at Mizzou, set records in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke in both the prelims and again in the finals. His state record time in the 200 IM is 1:47.55 and the new record in the 100 back is 48.99. It was his third state title in the backstroke and his second in the IM. “Nick is driven to succeed in swimming,” Vianney coach Bill Alexander says. “He is always the hardest worker even though he tends to make things look so smooth and easy.”
The area also had the state diving champion as Lafayette senior Matt McCool won with a score of 516.35.
Webster Groves defended its Class 3 championship, scoring in the final minute to defeat St. Dominic 3-2. Antoine Givens scored the winning goal with 39 seconds left. “Coming from a public school more known for its success in football and basketball, the first title was very special,” Webster coach Tim Cashel says. “We were not a secret this year, but I think the second time around was a bit easier because we had a lot of returning players and they had a belief they could do it again.”
Senior Sheriden Smith had an amazing tournament for the Statesmen. Smith, who was Player of the Year in Class 3, scored all the Statesmen’s goals in a 3-1 semifinal win over Helias and then scored twice before Givens’ heroics in the title game. Smith will play next year at Missouri State University.
Principia won its first state soccer championship and only the second team title in school history with its Class 1 title. Kaleb Keller, who was the state’s player of the Year in Class 1, scored in the second overtime to defeat St. Paul Lutheran 2-1. “Our run to the state title began last year with our loss in districts, which I think strengthened the resolve of the returning players,” Principia coach Kipp Keller says. “Leading up to the start of the season, I saw a focus and determination in many of my players that they weren’t going to get beat because of lack of effort.”
DeSmet fell in the championship game in Class 4. The Spartans, who finished the season with a 22-8-1 record, defeated Nixa 4-1 in the semifinals but lost to Francis Howell 1-0 in the championship game.
CBC’s A.J. Palazzolo, who will be attending the University of Indiana, was named state’s Player of the Year in Class 4. CBC’s John Huber and SLUH’s Ty Frederking were co-winners of Goalkeeper of the Year. Nick O’Brien of John Burroughs was Goalkeeper of the Year in Class 2, while Webster’s John Conley was Defensive Player of the Year in Class 3.
Photo: MICDS Field Hockey