16 for '16 – the top Monticello sports stories of the year

The girls cross country team won its second state championship in three years. (Express file photos)

The boys track team was state runner-up.

The girls track team finished third in the state meet.

Matt Manternach earned four golds at the State Boys Track and Field Meet.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

Champs – again


     Monticello carried the burden of being top-ranked in Class 2A for most of the 2016 girls cross country season, high expectations after winning a state title two years ago and finishing second in 2015, and the pressure of going into the most recent state meet as a clear-cut favorite.

     The Panthers handled all of this successfully, winning the state championship by 38 points for their second title in three years.

     It was a strong and deep team, with, as head coach Dan Sauser noted, “no weaknesses.” And none of the state meet runners were seniors.


More boys track hardware


     Monticello added to its long history of outstanding State Boys Track and Field Meet finishes, collecting state championships in four events and earning the Class 2A state runner-up trophy.

     It was the third second place finish for the Panthers at State, to go along with the school’s four state championship trophies under head coach Greg Williams.

     Monticello won the 4x800-meter relay at State for the fourth straight season, and has now won at least one event state crown in each of the past seven years.

     At the forefront was Matt Manternach, who ran 1-2 with his brother Derek in the 800-meter run, and finished with four gold medals.


New heights for

girls track


     Shattering one state meet record and with five entries finishing in the top five in their events, the Monticello girls track and field team recorded its highest-ever finish at the state meet, placing third to come home with a team trophy for the first time.

     The 4x800-meter relay team (see related item on p. A-16) broke its own school record, and topped the previous state meet record by more than two seconds.

     The Panthers also had a runner-up finish in the distance medley relay, part of the unprecedented success of the team, coached by Darren Reade.


Manternach earns

four State golds


     Winning one individual state championship at the State Track and Field Meet is a significant achievement. Winning four in the same state meet is downright spectacular.

     Matt Manternach did just that, winning the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, and anchoring Monticello’s state champion 4x800 and 1,600 medley relay events. The 800 was particularly dramatic, with Matt and his brother Derek finishing 1-2 in the race for the title.

     Monticello has had a long and storied run of success at the state meet, but this was the first time a Panther athlete came home from Des Moines with four golds.


Sinking a drought


     Monticello reached the State Boys Golf Meet for the first time since 1980, in an impressive turnaround from what had been a season of struggles.

     A side story was that Jacob Bergman, who led the Panthers to a district runner-up finish, is the son of Kevin Bergman, who was on that 1980 Monticello team that reached State.

     The state meet proved very tough; the Panthers finished ninth despite every single member of the team shooting his best round of the season.

     The Panthers also won the River Valley Conference Tournament.


Make that 20


     Perhaps the most telling note about the string of state meet appearances for the Monticello boys cross country team is that the streak began before any of the 2016 Panthers were born.

     Monticello made it 20 straight trips to Fort Dodge, but this was a rarity – a year in which making State wasn’t a foregone conclusion. The unranked Panthers finished second in the state qualifying meet, however, and made the trip again.


Relay routs records


     Monticello’s 4x800 relay team of Paige Holub, Keeley Anderson, Jordyn Patterson and Corinne Gadient had earned a rare achievement in Monticello’s home girls track and field meet in April, crushing the school record by an astonishing 16 seconds.

     At the state meet, the foursome did even better, setting a new state meet record – by more than two seconds – while winning the Class 2A title.


Special titles for Special Olympians


     A pair of Jones County basketball teams showed their prowess at the State Special Olympics Winter Tournament, winning state championships in two divisions.

     Winners included the Jones County Bulls, coached by Shannon Poe; and the Jones County Jaguars, coached by Josh Brenneman.


Dancing stars


     The Monticello High School dance team needed plenty of vehicle space to haul back the trophies they won at the Iowa State High School Dance Team Competition.

     The Panthers brought home a second place trophy in Class 3 Jazz, a third in Class 8 Pom, a distinguished academic award, and the trophy of which coach Amanda Hackney was most proud – the overall Sportsmanship Award out of more than 100 teams.


Max-imum amount of success


     Junior Max Keleher broke four school records during the 2016 Monticello football season. Most notably, he smashed four of them in one game.

     On Oct. 9 at Oelwein, Keleher carried 53 times, rushed for 403 yards, and scored seven touchdowns, including a scoring run of 98 yards. All four were school records.

     He also set the Panther season record of 1,377 rushing yards.


A division crown


     Since Monticello joined the ultra-competitive River Valley Conference, winning conference titles has become more difficult.

     That didn’t stop the 2016-17 Panther girls basketball team from wrapping up the North Division title, by three games over Camanche, with a 13-4 conference record.

     The Panthers went on to win a regional quarterfinal game over Camanche before falling to Cascade in the semifinals, and finished 17-6.


Making State as a frosh


     Freshman Chase Luensman capped a 43-4 season with a trip to the State Class 2A Wrestling Tournament.               

     Luensman finished second in the 106 pound class at the district meet to earn the trip to Des Moines. Luensman wound up losing two matches, but gained valuable experience on the sport’s biggest stage.


15 up, 15 down


     Senior Panther baseball pitcher Mason Newhard fired the 49th perfect game in Iowa high school baseball history, blanking Midland 12-0 in five innings.

     Following in the tradition of Parker Kray, who threw a perfect game the previous year, Newhard retired all 15 batters that he faced, striking out nine of them. It was part of the Panthers’ 21-9 season that included a berth in the district championship game.


Ries on the rise


     In a season in which the Panther girls golf team won the River Valley Conference title, sophomore Lauren Ries emerged as an individual qualifier for the State Class 3A Girls Golf Tournament in Ames.

     Ries tied for fifth place individually at the regional meet to advance to State, where she finished in a tie for 17th place out of 61 golfers.


Coach of the year



     The credentials are numerous. Four state championships, three state runner-up finishes, and top-five finishes at the state meet for nine consecutive years, and 13 times in 22 years.

     It was little wonder that Panther boys track and field coach Greg Williams was in the running for National Coach of the Year honors by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.


St. Louis blues


     Monticello’s baseball team got the rare opportunity to travel to St. Louis, as it was scheduled to play a high school game against Wilton following a Major League game between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.

     But with wet conditions and more rain in store for Busch Stadium, the Cardinals made the decision that the high school game would not be played. The hundreds of Panther fans who made the trip made the best of it, seeing the sights in St. Louis and enjoying the Cards’ game.



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