Perhaps the most impressive athletes are those who are The Guy without having to tell anyone they’re The Guy.
Exhibit A: Chase Shiltz of Creston. Sure, when you rush for 5,329 career yards and 85 touchdowns and win three state wrestling titles, you tend to have credibility. But with high school kids, jealousies and skepticism can creep in. Not so with Shiltz.
“He brought so much to the program and a lot of it has absolutely nothing to do with his playing ability,’’ Creston wrestling coach Darrell Frain said. “The kids just easily follow him. It doesn’t matter who it is, they all just seem to follow him when it comes to crunch time.’’
For the graduated senior’s impact on and off the field, Shiltz is The World-Herald’s Western Iowa Male Athlete of the Year for the 2016-17 school year.
Even though he dominated in football and wrestling, those in the Creston school district will tell you he’s one of the most well-rounded and well-adapted student-athletes to walk their halls. He also played three years of baseball, two years of soccer and ran one year of track. He was in the school play for two years and a 3.4 student.
Frain said Shiltz consistently greeted teachers with a “hi’’ in the hallways. He could strike up a conversation with a member of the band, the drama department or an athletic team. However, one thing would be missing from the conversation.
“You won’t ever hear him talk about his accomplishments,’’ Frain said.
If he chose to, it would be a long conversation. In 34 career games during his last three years, he averaged 156.7 rushing yards per game and 7.0 yards per carry. He ran for 1,537 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior, 2,542 yards and 35 scores as a junior and 1,250 yards and 24 TDs as a sophomore.
At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Shiltz’s durability was remarkable. He rushed for more than 200 yards in eight of his 11 games as a junior, including perhaps the best four-game stretch of any Class 3-A running back in Iowa history. He ran 49 times for 290 yards and three scores against Dallas Center-Grimes; 28 times for 340 yards and five scores against Atlantic; 48 times for 370 yards and four scores against Harlan; and 46 times for 308 yards and two scores against Pella.
Three of those four programs have won 3-A state titles in the last 15 years, so they know a thing or two about football. The Harlan outburst came in the first round of the playoffs, and Shiltz took a facemask to the hand on the first drive, breaking a knuckle and pinkie finger.
“Sometimes you’re going to have to go through a little bit of pain, but in the end, I think it was definitely worth it,” Shiltz said.
In the regular-season meeting against Harlan in his senior year, Shiltz accounted for eight touchdowns in five ways: He ran 28 times for 307 yards and four scores, caught a 38-yard pass, returned a kickoff 90 yards, threw a pass for 6 and returned a fumble for 18.
He earned first-team INA all-state football honors as a junior and senior after making the second team as a sophomore.
“He’s just a unique kid,’’ Creston/Orient-Macksburg football coach Brian Morrison said. “First and foremost, he’s a tremendous leader. His work ethic is unparalleled to anybody I’ve had. He gets all the accolades, but he’s a selfless person. He’s all about the team.’’
In wrestling last February, Shiltz became the 56th four-time state finalist in Iowa history and the 88th to win three state championships after an 11-3 major decision over Ballard’s Ben Lee in the Class 2-A 182-pound final. He finished his senior year at 58-0 and his career at 189-7, with six of the losses in his freshman year, where he lost 5-2 in the 2-A final at 145 to senior Zach Skopec of Spirit Lake Park.
“Everybody knows it didn’t happen by accident for him,’’ Frain said. “Every season, every meet he brought something special to everything he’s done.’’
The son of John and Dorie Shiltz initially committed to Division I North Dakota State for wrestling. In January, he changed his mind and decided to join the football program at NCAA Division II power Northwest Missouri State.
Shiltz’s college position hasn’t yet been finalized, but Morrison believes he’ll eventually make his way onto the field.
“They’ve got great players at every position,’’ he said. “He’s going to outwork kids there, and he’s going to play. You have to be a pretty elite player to play for that team. They’re not your typical Division II team, but I firmly believe he’s capable of contributing to that football program.’’
Frain was “a little shocked’’ initially when he heard of the switch. But he knew Shiltz was struggling to step away from either sport because he’s invested so much in both.
“Eventually he’ll make it work,’’ he said. “I have no doubt about that.’’