50 years of girls' athletics: MHS teams had success, struggles in 1970

The first-ever Monticello High School girls basketball team, from 1969-70, taken from the 1970 MHS yearbook. (Special thanks – Don Peters)

The first-ever MHS girls track team, in 1970, taken from the 1970 MHS yearbook. (Special thanks – Don Peters)

Jane Intlekofer, a member of that first MHS girls basketball team, was selected as cover girl for the state tournament program in 1970, as detailed in this article. (from Express files)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     The headline in the March 6, 1969 issue of the Monticello Express told the story:

     “Monticello Community High to offer ‘complete’ girls sports program.”

     It was a clear signal that athletics at Monticello High School were about to change forever.

     The story began: “The door was opened wide for girls interscholastic athletics at Monticello Community Schools by board of education action Monday evening at a special meeting.”

     It went on to say that girls track, golf, tennis, basketball, gymnastics and softball were the sports being considered by the school district. Of those, basketball and track were the first to begin, in the 1969-70 school year. Golf and softball were added in later years.

     “It was about time,” said Jenny (Harms) Lambert, who was a member of the first Panther girls track team. “We were excited about being able to be part of an organized sport.”

     This school year marks the 50th anniversary of girls’ sports at MHS, a history that has been dotted with numerous accomplishments, including state championships in cross country, state trophies in track and field, state tournament appearances in girls basketball, softball and golf, and several outstanding volleyball teams (see separate story on p. A-15).

     “Personally, I was delighted to see (girls’) sports begin,” said Alex Jones (then Marsha Jones), who competed on the first MHS girls’ track team, “but 1969-70 was also a time when we were getting agitated about the limitations placed on us as females. I personally was always very angry that we women were limited by the stereotypes. We were told we didn’t have the strength or the stamina, or we would be hurt.”

     The “Pantherettes” girls basketball team was the first to compete. They were coached by Bob Mullen, the legendary Monticello coach who guided the Sacred Heart girls for 25 seasons and led them to a pair of state tournaments.

     Sacred Heart’s high school closed after the 1968-69 season, during which the girls basketball team went 22-2. Many of those same girls transferred over to MHS for the following school year, so it was little surprise that the Pantherettes found immediate success. Monticello went 15-11 in its inaugurual season.

     “Being part of those first teams was pretty special,” said Jane (Intlekofer) Quint, who was on both the MHS girls basketball and track teams. “We were well-received and I think everyone felt it was a good opportunity for all. It helped that we had a good team, and there were a lot of curiosity-seekers wanting to see what it was all about.”

     Quint added that transferring over to MHS “was exciting and scary. I was going from a class of 35 students to a class of 150.”

     “It was very interesting to have a whole new set of students in MHS,” Jones added.

     The first-ever varsity girls basketball game for Monticello High School was a 73-65 win over Maquoketa Valley, in which Intlekofer (now Quint) scored 46 points in the six-on-six format.

     Quint said she didn’t remember that she scored 46 points, but enjoyed the camaraderie of both her teammates and opposing teams throughout that first season.

     “I made a bunch of new friends in different places,” Quint said.

     “Those Sacred Heart girls were good, and coach Mullen had been working with them,” Jenny Lambert said. “I hadn’t been to a Sacred Heart basketball game, so it was great to have a girls’ activity to attend. Jane Intlekofer was a great basketball player.”

     Mullen’s first four MHS teams all had winning records, and the team went 16-8 in the 1974-75 season. Mullen went on to coach at Cedar Rapids Regis beginning with the 1978-79 season, taking that team to State.

     The Pantherettes began their first-ever track and field season with a meet at Pleasant Valley April 8, 1970. Monticello finished third, losing to Des Moines Lincoln and Pleasant Valley.

     Two days later, Monticello hosted its first home meet, finishing second behind North Linn and ahead of Springville. The Pantherettes won four events that day.

     That first team had 45 members begin the season under coach Clair Bohlen.

     “I remember our track coach was a really nice guy,” Jones said.

     “Track was new to all of us, but that didn’t stop our competitive spirit,” Quint said.

     There was an advantage to being part of a first-year track program.

     “Everyone would be setting a record,” Lambert said with a laugh. “I set records in throwing the softball and shot.”

     Monticello had one athlete reach the state meet in that first season, Jody Himes, who qualified in the high jump.

     “I couldn’t tell you what we won or didn’t win, or who we even competed against,” Jones said. “That wasn’t important to me anyway. I knew the camaraderie we found as a team of women was new and really great.”

     It was only the beginning, for a girls’ athletics program that would enjoy plenty of success in later years, particularly in the 21st Century.

     “Monticello is such a great sports community,” Lambert said, “and to have all these sports activities for girls is amazing. Girls can be pretty competitive, and over the last 50 years they have definitely had a long list of accolades achieved.”

     Jones agreed: “It has meant the world to see these girls go out and be what they were meant to be, when so many of us were never allowed to be more than a stereotype. They are taken seriously and have found a lot of self-confidence and pride that girls of our generation, and those before us, were denied.”

     Quint also pointed out: “I am proud of MHS and their accomplishments over the years, and to have been a part of starting that process. Being part of a team prepares and creates wonderful skills for living in the adult world. Being in a small town gives students more time to focus on sports and develop good healthy minds and bodies."



     A wide range of success stories, including state cross country championships in 2014 and 2016, mark the 50-year history of girls’ athletics at Monticello High School.

     Below is a list of the biggest Panther (or previously called Pantherette) achievements in that time, listed in the order in which they compete during a regular school year.

Cross Country


     State champion 2014

     State champion 2016

     State runner-up 2001

     State runner-up 2002

     State runner-up 2015

     State runner-up 2017

     State third place 1994

     State third place 2000

     State third place 2003

     State third place 2017

     State third place 2019


     State qualifier 2007

     State semifinalist 2008

     State qualifier 2011

     State semifinalist 2018

Track and Field


     State third place 2016


     State third place 1984

     State qualifier 2015

     State qualifier 2018


     State qualifier 2013



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