CLINTON — Reaching the top in one's sport is always the goal, but it's also something most athletes and teams only dream of accomplishing each season.
Prince of Peace's Sydney Laufenberg, Clinton's Deshond Robinson, Camanche's Courtney Sowle,
Erie/Prophetstown's Paige Rus, an E/P relay unit and the Clinton River Queens girls tennis team happily became exceptions last spring when they won state titles. The championships highlighted the 2013 calendar year for area sports teams and individuals, although several others came close to winning it all.
The River Queens scored back-to-back 5-4 victories against defending state champion Ames and Urbandale to capture the state tennis crown in Cedar Rapids. A year earlier, Clinton lost to both of those teams as it placed fourth at state.
The top individual finishes came at the state track meets.
Laufenberg capped a successful freshman season by uncorking a throw of 120 feet, 4 inches on her first attempt in the Class 1A discus competition. That wound up beating the next-best throw by more than a foot. It came a day after she placed fourth in the shot put.
Robinson captured the Class 4A state crown in the 400 meters, winning in 48.71 seconds.
Sowle claimed her title in the Class 2A 400-meter hurdles in 1:03.71.
Rus earned the Illinois Class 1A state title in the triple jump (36 feet, 9.5 inches), and she and her
Erie/Prophetstown teammates just missed capturing the team title. Courtney Cobert, Peyton Rus, Heather Strike and Rachel Cobert captured the gold in the 4-by-100-meter relay, but the Panthers were edged 60-56 for the team title by Moweaqua Central A&M. A week later, the Erie/Prophetstown boys took third at state, led by a runner-up finish by Devin Johnson in the long jump.
Among other top team performances at the high school level:
• The Camanche girls bowling team took runner-up honors in Class 1A, as Morgan Determan led the way with a second-place finish in individual competition with games of 214 and 213. Dubuque Wahlert won the team title with a 2,855-pin total. The Indians finished with 2,762, and Central DeWitt placed fifth (2,584).
• Clinton knocked off second-seeded Ankeny 10-8 in the first round and advanced to the semifinals of the Iowa Class 4A baseball state tournament. Sioux City East then beat the Kings 6-1 in the semifinals.
• Marquette Catholic advanced to the semifinals of the Iowa Class 1A girls basketball state tournament before losing to Newell-Fonda.
Among the top individual accomplishments of 2013:
• Camanche had another successful year in girls tennis, with Kylie Vogel and Lindsey Grams teaming up to finish second in Class 1A doubles competition, falling 7-6 (4), 7-6 (11) to the Waterloo Columbus duo of Lindsay McGonegle and Lindsay McManus.
• Camanche had three runner-up finishes at the boys 2A track state meet. Derek Harksen was runner-up in the 400, Drake Sachsenmaier placed second in the wheelchair 100-meter race and the shuttle hurdle relay group of Thomas Brantley, Devin Norman, Shykeem Williams and Mike Osaro finished second.
• Northeast's Rylee Dickey, Aleenah Marcucci, Tierra Hildebrandt and Danae Diedrich took second in the Class 2A girls 4-by-200 relay.
• Clinton's Hunter Genco won five consecutive matches in the wrestlebacks after a first-round loss and placed third at 120 pounds in the Iowa Class 3A wrestling state meet. Teammates Dustin Caldwell (fourth at 152) and Dillion Chase (fifth, 160) also earned places on the awards stand.
• In track, Marquette's Sarah Lampe (2A 200 meters), Calamus-Wheatland's Justin Alden (1A long jump) and Maquoketa's Aubree Taylor (3A 400 hurdles) all placed third at state, while Clinton's Brady Ernst was fourth in the 4A high jump and Alden took fourth in the 1A 200.
• Jacob Kruse and Ryan Schroeder combined for a sixth-place finish in doubles for Clinton at the Class 2A boys tennis state tournament.
• Bellevue's Andrew Meyer (fourth in 1A) and Northeast's Eli Kaczinski (ninth in 2A) earned top-10 finishes at the Iowa cross country state meet, while Kyle Marti of Central DeWitt just missed, placing 11th in 3A.
Success wasn't limited to local high school athletes, though.
Ashford University enjoyed several successes, highlighted by a trip to the NAIA men's soccer semifinals. The Saints nearly made it to the finals, too, losing on penalty kicks, 5-4, to eventual champion Martin Methodist (Tenn.).
In professional sports, the Clinton LumberKings once again qualified for the Midwest League baseball playoffs.
Highlights of their season included the 22nd no-hitter in franchise history — a 1-0 victory at home against Lansing on July 17 by Victor Sanchez — another pitcher, Tyler Pike, being named a postseason all-star and having the Seattle Mariners send their first-round draft pick, D.J. Peterson, to play in Clinton. The latter highlight had a sad ending, though, when Peterson's season ended when he was hit in the face by a pitch on Aug. 22, breaking his jaw.