Things looked grim for East Mills heading into the Class 1-A district final with Council Bluffs St. Albert.
East Mills’ 11th volleyball season represented a breakthrough. Last year, the school district advanced to its first state volleyball tournament. A 24-9 season ended in a 25-10, 25-12, 25-19 Class 1-A quarterfinal loss to Janesville, which swept all three of its matches on its way to the championship.
Janette Schraft of East Mills nearly took the Class 1-A state championship trophy home all by her diminutive self.
The public-address announcer got the attention of Janette Schraft when he was mentioning Payton Wensel’s Drake Relays record in the 400-meter hurdles for Linn-Mar.
Top-seeded Janesville ousted eight-seeded East Mills in a 25-10, 25-12, 25-19 sweep in a Class 1-A state quarterfinal on Wednesday that lasted just 56 minutes. The Wolverines (24-9) ran into a small-school juggernaut that is seeking its third straight state title and fourth of the last five years.
The epiphany for the East Mills volleyball program came from a piece of news.
East Mills used a sweep to defeat Essex for the second time this month and earn its first trip to state on Tuesday night. The Wolverines (24-8) defeated Essex 25-16, 25-14, 25-19 in the Class 1-A Region 2 final at Fremont-Mills High School.
The sophomore has emerged as the Wolverines’ go-to hitter. She is averaging 3.61 kills per set, third-best rate in the Corner Conference. The Wolverines, who placed second in the Corner Conference, open regional play at home against Griswold at 7 p.m. Monday.
It appears a rivalry is beginning to form between East Mills’ Janette Schraft and Tri-Center’s Peyton Pogge. Just don’t tell them that. At the Tri-Center Invitational on Tuesday, Schraft (21:09) and Pogge (21:24) finished first and second, with the next-closest runner 35 seconds behind Pogge.
DES MOINES — Going into the season, East Mills sophomore Janette Schraft and Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto coach Scott Breyfogle had something in common.
Janette Schraft hung back a bit, waiting for the right moment to make her move on the blue oval of Drake Stadium. Normally, the East Mills sophomore waits until she sees signs that her opponents are going to fade, but Thursday, Clarkesville freshman Kori Wedeking wasn’t going anywhere.
Zena Courtier is a senior at East Mills High School in Malvern, Iowa. The 5-foot-5 libero leads the Corner Conference in digs per set (3.67) as a starter for the 13-10 Wolverines. She also runs on the first-year cross country program.
In the past several years when Janette Schraft ran the open roads of Mills County, she always had a conversation with herself.
The East Mills freshman burst onto the western Iowa track scene Tuesday in the rain-shortened Cardinal Relays in Clarinda. In her first high school meet, she turned in the fastest time among the 21 schools in both the 400 (1:03.23) and 3,000 (11:21.89) meters.
Anthony Ossman can’t read how much time is left on the clock when he wrestles. Teammates or coaches have to inform him if a referee raises an arm for stalling.
Kreg Lensch wore an ear-to-ear smile as droves of Wildcat fans surrounded him and his players in celebration on the Glidden-Ralston football field. The long-tenured head coach had watched his team’s season end in the eight-man quarterfinal round three of the last four years. But he felt early on that this year’s group was different.
The Heartland Huskies were on the verge of pulling the biggest upset in Class D1 Thursday night. The East Butler Tigers, the highest scoring team in all of Eight-Man football and No. 6 ranked (Omaha World-Herald) had their undefeated season being challenged by the No. 14 seed Huskies.
Standing 6-foot-8 and weighing 240 pounds, Spencer Brown is usually the one blocking as someone else runs the football. That was true for all but one play in a key Iowa Eight-Man, District 8 showdown Friday night. With his Lenox team clinging to a two-point lead over East Mills in the third quarter, the senior took the handoff and scored from 2 yards out. The sequence turned out to be the beginning of 24 unanswered points as the ninth-rated Tigers pulled away from the Wolverines 38-12.
Sam Phillips looked exhausted. His jersey was ripped, and he was dripping with sweat. It happens when you put a team on your back. Phillips was brilliant for Eight-Man No. 1 Fremont-Mills Friday against East Mills.
The bet was $5. All Josh Hopkins had to do was win a wrestling match against a heavier friend. Hopkins was a seventh-grader with virtually no experience on the mat. Classmate Nick Perkins, with a notable advantage in technique and size, issued the challenge. To make it more fair, Perkins would take him on one-handed.
When he was asked to sum up his team’s mindset after Friday night’s 56-26 victory over East Mills, Fremont-Mills running back Parker Powers was quick to answer.