Another year of new, old and plenty in between
Individual, team accomplishments highlight H-M-S sports in 2022
January 5, 2023
A new sports program and accomplishments by established teams highlighted the high school sports scene during the previous 12 months.
From bowling lanes to the gridiron, ball diamonds, tracks and courts, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn athletes made plenty of headlines in the Sentinel-News during 2022. What follows is a recap of some of their stories.
• New bowling program begins
Increasing interest in recent years and an assurance of enough numbers for the 2022-23 season led H-M-S to establish a high school bowling program. Students wishing to bowl in the past were part of a shared program with Sioux Central.
Julia Meyer is H-M-S's first bowling coach. She welcomed 17 boys and seven girls to preseason practices.
"We had a good idea that we had good interest in bowling at H-M-S, as there has been big interest in the junior bowling and middle school bowling programs at Locomotion Lanes," she said. "I was most definitely pleased with the number of students ready to start the new varsity sport."
H-M-S's first competition was a meet hosted by Sioux Central, in which both varsity teams finished second. The program has some lofty goals for the remainder of the season.
"Our team goals are having a winning season for both boys and girls, and getting to the state tournament," Meyer said. "It will take mental and physical preparedness, determination and, of course, some luck."
• Moving up the awards stand
Competing in the state tournament for the second time, Okoboji/HMS wrestler Nick Bronstad moved up one spot on the Class 2A 285-pound awards stand.
The H-M-S senior lost, 3-1, to Daniel Chavez, of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows, in the opening round of the state tournament. They had battled twice before, with Bronstad winning the sectional title match and Chavez claiming the district championship. After staying alive at state with a 7-0 win in first-round consolation action, Bronstad won a 3-0 decision in the second round and lost by fall in the third.
That set up another battle with Chavez in the seventh-place match. After falling behind early in the match, Bronstad came back to pin Chavez in the third period.
He is the fourth wrestler from H-M-S to place at least twice at state and is the 12th to finish his career with at least 100 wins.
• Haack, Berends reach career milestones
Two other H-M-S athletes reached outstanding career milestones during 2022.
Senior Elise Haack recorded her 500th career dig during the Hawks' volleyball match with MMCRU on Oct. 11. Entering the 2022 season with 276 digs, Haack nearly matched that number last fall (262) to finish her career with 538.
On the basketball court, junior Lance Berends joined the 1,000-point club during H-M-S's game with Hinton on Jan. 31. In three seasons, Berends scored 1,152 points and also grabbed 720 rebounds.
He currently stands third on the H-M-S boys' all-time scoring list with 1,240 points.
• First-time all-WEC runners
A pair of H-M-S runners earned spots on the 2022 all-War Eagle Conference cross country teams.
Junior George Vargas placed 14th in the boys' race and junior Lexi Croatt was 15th among the girls' competitors. Vargas is the first H-M-S boys' all-conference runner since 2018.
"We had our only all-conference athlete from last year graduate, so it was great seeing new athletes step up and receive War Eagle Conference honors," said Hawk coach Kirsten Taylor.
• 3 is a charm for Berends, Ebel
Lance Berends and Kooper Ebel set new individual standards of excellence for H-M-S football. For the third consecutive year, Berends was named the all-district lineman for Class A District 1 and Ebel was named the offensive MVP.
Both appreciated the recognition from district coaches.
"That's just a big token of respect that the other teams in the district think of me that way. It's an honor," Berends said.
"We have a tough district. It showed this year and I think there are a lot of guys that could be up for these two spots, and I think it's an honor that those guys appreciate us and show us respect," Ebel added.
• Hawks again win District 1
For the first time in 25 years, H-M-S's football team won consecutive district titles with an unbeaten record. The Hawks earned the Class A District 1 title in 2021 and 2022 with 6-0 records.
They followed up that success with postseason wins over North Union and Hinton, setting up a quarterfinal matchup with Woodbury Central. In the most competitive of four Class A quarterfinal games, H-M-S trailed twice in the first half but rebounded to take the lead in the third quarter. Woodbury Central would go ahead for good in the fourth quarter to earn the 27-24 win.
The Hawks would finish with an 8-3 record for the second straight season. A group of 12 seniors made their mark on a program that has won 28 games over the past four seasons.
"They're better people than football players. They are some of the best young men I've ever met," said Hawk coach Jay Eilers, who was named district coach of the year for the second time. "The joy that they bring on a daily basis, the friendships that they have are life-long. The example that they've done for our program has created a foundation that will last many, many years."
• Great weekend at Drake Stadium
H-M-S track and field athletes enjoyed a successful three days of competition at the state meet in Des Moines.
Connor Dodd, Ryan Borden, Ethan Diehm and Kooper Ebel ran school-record times in the Class 1A 4x100 relay, in which they finished fifth in the finals, and the sprint medley relay in which they finished 10th. Diehm also placed 10th in the long jump.
"It was fantastic. In most of our races we out-performed our seed placings," said Hawk coach Kyle Borchers.
H-M-S's girls earned medals in three events at state. Jasmine Lux placed seventh in the 400-meter dash and Emily Mutombo placed eighth in the 100. They joined Lydia Harders and Abby Otto to place seventh in the sprint medley relay.
"To close out the season on the blue oval was great," said Hawk coach Kirsten Taylor.
• Process takes positive steps
Ten wins may not seem like much, but to reach double-digits with a team comprised of mostly freshmen and sophomores was a significant accomplishment for the Hawk softball program. H-M-S doubled its win total from the 2021 season and had its first double-digit win season since 2017.
"Overall we had a great season. Going from five wins last year to 10 with a young team is impressive," said Hawk coach Stephanie Bronstad. "We are working to build our softball program and it takes time."
H-M-S's volleyball program also took steps forward, improving its win total by six from 2021. The Hawks compiled an 8-17 record last fall and improved to 3-7 and an eighth-place finish in the War Eagle Conference.
Wins in six of the final seven games gave the boys' basketball team a double-digit victory total for the second straight season.