Game On - Spring 2024

The 2024 spring sports media guide for Gilbert Schools, located in Gilbert, Iowa.

2 GAME ON | SPRING 2024 of a Gilbert team that is the odds on favorite to win a sec- ond straight Class 3A state championship later this spring. Of course, Eden has her own hardware to chase. She’s in her Vokey wedges all boast wear marks right in the center of the face. They may be the most lethal clubs in her bag. Her putting isn’t bad either, al- though that’s the one club she’s had a long-standing love-hate relationship with. More on that later. This is Eden Lohrbach. This is arguably the best girls golfer in the state. And she is the leader J ust watch her once. It only takes a few holes to under- stand, and a full round to truly appreciate. Her Titleist driver is borderline unfair because of the way she can stripe it right down the mid- dle of the fairway each and every time she lets the big dog eat. Her soft as butter Srixon irons that she goes pin hunting with are equally effective, and

“I put too much pressure on myself,” Eden said. “I feel like I know what I should be capable of and still think there are a lot of things I need to prove to my- self. But that’s what I’m working on, making sure that pressure doesn’t get to my playing. “Perfection is not possible. If I try to be perfect with what I’m doing, I’m going to end up up- setting myself internally.” Eden knows golf is a mental game. Having the physical tools and the determination to work hard when no one is watching are important pieces for sure, but the mental grit could be more important than all other components. To be locked in mentally is the goal each time she steps up to the ball. She’s not thinking about her score or the next hole or anything other than that sin- gular shot. Is that hard to believe? Here’s a story.

pursuit of a third individual state crown before she exits the stage for good to a standing ovation and heads to the Uni- versity of Nebraska in the fall to continue her education and gol- fing career. Is she ready? She shrugs at the question without giving away much else. She knows how hard she has worked and will continue to work. She knows her game better than anyone. So while she might not say it, you better believe she’s ready. ••••• On the course, Eden is a brick

wall. Outwardly, her expression never changes. She’s stoic, quiet, and business-like as she dissects the course. To see her game, with the way she can shape the ball or spin it back to- ward the cup, you’d think she had the confidence of a Tiger or Jordan. You’d think wrong. Eden has her moments of self-doubt just like any other athlete. She might not show it, but inwardly she admits she has a habit of beating herself up mentally too much. And that’s what she’s spent a lot of time working on.

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In her prep career, Eden has played 108 holes at the state tournament en route to two ti- tles and a runner-up effort in a playoff as a sophomore — a round she still isn’t all that keen to talk about. She’s recorded 21 birdies, 59 pars, 26 bogeys, and two “others,” meaning a score worse than bogey. So the ques- tion was asked, does she re- member those two “others?” “No, I don’t remember those,” she said. “I have a short-term memory on the course, that’s probably why I don’t remember too much. When I play, I don’t really focus on what I’m doing score wise, I’m just focused on each individual shot so that I don’t get ahead of myself. I’ve always been able to get myself focused.” For your information: those two “others” were double-bo- geys during her freshman and sophomore seasons. Once she was reminded of the specific holes at River Valley Golf

Course in Adel — the par-3 16th in 2021 and the par-4 13th in 2022 — an invisible lightbulb brightened above her head. She smiled sheepishly. “OK, yeah, now I remember,” she said as her words trailed off. She might consider her own mental game as a work in pro- gress, but this story is an exam- ple of why she’s still miles and miles ahead of the competition. While a bad hole is a rarity for her, Eden is able to put it in the rearview mirror quickly and simply focus on the next shot. Usually, that next shot is a thing of beauty. ••••• Now’s the part of the story where, just in case you aren’t impressed enough, we throw some historical numbers at you. Everyone likes statistics.

In 2023 as a junior, Eden led the state — and we’re talking all classes — in four significant categories, including low 9-hole average (34.80) and low 9-hole score (32). Her 9-hole scoring average was just off the school record of two-time state cham- pion Britta Snyder, now a senior golfer at Baylor University, who averaged a 34.6 during her jun- ior campaign in 2019 (Britta’s senior season was cancelled due to COVID-19). Britta holds the Gilbert 18- hole scoring record of 70.5 too, and both are numbers Eden is chasing this spring, even if she won’t publicly admit it. Tigers’ head coach Grant Walker knows those are goals of his prodigy, who has been in love with the game for as long as she can remember. “She knows the numbers that Britta put up and she hasn’t been that far off of them,” Walker said. “If you had asked me when (Eden) was a fresh- man if she could beat those numbers, I wouldn’t have had

the answer. But I think it’s well within her reach to do that.” Walker says Eden is so freak- ishly good from tee to green, that all it’s going to take is an unconscious day with the flat stick for her to have a shot at breaking 30. Yes, that’s right ... breaking 30! “That girl is one hot putter away from a 29 in a meet, and I believe that,” Walker said. “It’s just incredible to me the shots she hits ... and then we joke about the putts she misses.” Aah, yes, the putter. This section may be too tech- nical for non-golfers, but we’ll do our best to relay it in a way that makes sense to everyone. Eden has always used a blade putter, but her stroke with a slight arc is more aligned with a mallet putter. But she thinks she’s found a solution. All it took was a trip to Illinois to the Bettenardi Golf

Britta Snyder (above) was a two-time Class 3A individual state champion for the Gilbert girls’ golf team. She’s currently a senior at Baylor University.


headquarters. Eden visited the popular com- pany recently and got custom- fitted for a putter. It was designed specifically for her; a blade-style putter tailored spe- cifically to her arcing stroke. Does that mean she’ll make more putts? Physically, it could. But it’s her mental confidence in her putting now that could make the biggest difference. Think about the movie Happy Gilmore . Once he got the putter that was pleasing to his eye, well, it was game over. “Putting has been a weakness in the past, but I’m really work- ing hard on that one this year,” she said. “(Putting) is a lot men- tal, in my opinion. You have to be so accurate, but if there’s any little doubt, you’re going to change your speed or the direc- tion.” Even with some putting woes at the state tournament in 2023, Eden still won the individual title by five shots with a 1-under total over 36 holes. All eyes were on her then, just like they are now, and every other player in the state has put beating her at the top of their list of goals. Does that bother the Gilbert senior? Again, she just shrugs. “You can’t really be so fo- cused on the outcome because you can’t control what others do,” she said. “I’m just going to

her teammates either. “Everybody on our team has the potential to continue playing past high school and I know we’ll continue to work hard,” Eden said. “I think we just need to stay focused and not really worry about things. We just need to get better every day.” That’s a message she can de- liver inside her own house to younger twin sisters, sopho- mores Ava and Ella Lohrbach. Eden knows it’s not always easy on her siblings, constantly being compared to their big sis, and Eden sees some of the same self-doubt challenges she has faced. “They’re very hard on them- selves just like I am, but they’re working on it too,” Eden said. “Whatever I shot at their age, they’re expected to shoot, and so it’s a mental battle that I wish I could help them with. But that will come with more playing.” ••••• After talking about herself and posing for some photos, Eden’s next stop was most likely the golf course. She’s always work- ing, always striving for some- thing better. She might get beat at some point — although that didn’t happen last season — but she’s never going to get out-worked. And that’s why betting against her is never a wise decision.

Eden Lohrbach (above) enters her senior season as the sizable favorite to win a third Class 3A individual state golf title.

try to do as good as I can.” There’s another wrinkle to this story, of course. While Eden’s greatness has been talked about plenty, the entire Tigers’ team is an equally huge favorite

to hoist the 3A championship hardware. Gilbert is stacked from top to bottom, and every other team knows it. But, again, Eden says she’s not going to let that get into her head and she doesn’t want to see it happen to


MEMBERS OF THE 2024 GILBERT BOYS’ SOCCER TEAM include (front row, left to right) Gabe Hicks, Chris Fisher, Nery Hernandez, Benji Lenz, Drew Chapman, Jacob Tallman, Eli Hernandez, John Artz, Logan Nelson, (second row) Isaac Holtan, Chase Deike, Billy Terrones, Felipe Maas, Tayton Warg, Zach Schrader, Mitch Walter, Isaac Weary, (third row) Cam Stephens, Nash Hanson, Evan Goetz, Owen Mattson, Zeke Hatfield, Zach O’Riley, Cole Kaptur, Eli Hague, Tyler Holtan, (fourth row) Dylan Terry, Logan Harswick, Jackson Johnson, Matthew Weber, Ayden Folkerts, Tyler Jerkins, Truman Kruckenberg, Preston Stensland, Jack Hackett, (back row) Coach Jeff Rudman, Connor Rash, Coach BJ Jordison, and Coach Kyle O’Riley. Team member Brendan O’Brien is not pictured.




B J Jordison is not one to sit back, relax, and bask in past glory. The leader of the Gilbert boys’ soccer pro- gram for 13 seasons, he’s al- ways looking to what’s next and how can his players, his team, and his program reach even greater heights? That didn’t completely change this past offseason, but Jor- dison admits he did allow him- When you win a state cham- pionship — the first in program history — you do enjoy it, if even for a short while. “I’m usually someone who’s always asking, ‘How do we pre- pare for that next step?’ But I did enjoy last year, it was good,” Jordison said. “We had quite a few good weeks where we let it soak in. But we held our annual soccer camp in mid-July, and by that time I was already on to the next year.” So about five or six weeks, that’s what Jordison gave him- self and his players. And then it was back to work. Because when you win one, you want two. And when you win two, you want three, and so on. self a short window of celebratory reflection. With last season’s run to the Class 2A state title still fresh in the memories of everyone around the program, the Tigers are back on the pitch with lofty goals once again this spring.

SPRING 2024 | GAME ON 9 last season. Because as Jor- dison says, what Gilbert accom- plished last season won’t really help them this spring. “It was definitely exciting last year and I wouldn’t trade that for the world, but this is defi- nitely a new season,” Jordison said. There is talent returning at every level on the field, but let’s start at the back. Jordison does- n’t mince words when he says the Tigers’ defense has been the best in the state — all classes — for a couple of years. It can be really good again, but it will have to replace the heart and soul of the 2023 group in graduates Owen Kautman and Alex Ruba. Both were big, fast, physical, and so, so talented. “That’s a big loss,” Jordison said. “They did the dirty work and unsung work that every team needs every single game. They were those voices that we needed in the times that maybe things weren’t going well.” The good news is two starting defenders return in Nash Han- son and Logan Harswick, and Jordison is confident new starters Dylan Terry and Owen Mattson will live up to the level of excellence he expects. And, don’t forget, goalkeeper Mat- thew Weber, a state all-tourna- ment team member, returns with 94 saves from 2023 as well. “We’re going to be no slouch

Head boys’ soccer coach BJ Jordison receives a hug from goalkeeper Mat- thew Weber following the Class 2A state championship match last spring. Jordison is entering his 13th season as the head coach of the program.

Did they lose plenty of talent to graduation? Yep, they sure did. But do they return a solid group of players who feel they have the ability to make another run at gold this spring? Yep, they sure do. That includes Jordison. “Absolutely,” Jordison said without hesitation when he was asked if his latest crop of players can contend for a state title. “I think it may look a little different, but the goal is still the

same.” That goal hasn’t changed throughout his tenure, and over the past decade Gilbert has been a statewide powerhouse. In the last six seasons, the Tigers have pitched 62 shutouts and outscored their opponents by 234 goals. Over the past two seasons, the team has com- piled a 38-5 record, including a 21-2 mark and 80-goal edge with 14 shutouts a season ago. OK, OK, that’s enough about

again,” Jordison said. Gilbert returns intact in the middle with senior stalwarts Truman Kruckenberg and Jack- son Johnson alongside sopho- more Billy Terrones. They combined for 22 goals and 25 assists a season ago. Flat out, all three can play at an in- credibly high level. “They control pretty much the entire thing,” Jordison said. “They will orchestrate the of- fense and they will snuff out the opponent’s offense. I don’t see teams having a lot of success going over the top, so they’ll have to go through the middle and that will be difficult.” Kruckenberg was one of those unsung heroes at state a season ago. How he didn’t make the all-tournament team is a mystery.

“He was super good last year,” Jordison said. “The sky’s the limit with him.” At the top of the Tigers’ attack, there will be some new faces to the starting lineup mixed in with familiar faces. It’s never easy to replace two talents like Zach Holtan and Owen Wirth, who combined for 26 goals and 31 assists in 2023, but Gilbert is not without talent. Tyler Holtan, a junior who could have started on most of the teams in the state a season ago, will take over as one of those key offensive options. Three of his seven goals in 2023 came in the state quarter- final win over Greene County. Isaac Weary (three goals in 2023) will also be added to the starting lineup along with return- ing starter Preston Stensland

(five goals in 2023). “(Tyler Holtan) will get a ma- jority of those touches up top and he’s excellent,” Jordison said. “Isaac brings a little bit of that flash, and Preston is no longer a freshman. He’s a full- grown man now and plays like it.” A glaring absence this spring will be junior Connor Rash, who you might remember for his state championship match pro- wess, including the winning goal in PK’s. A torn ACL at the end of the basketball season will sideline him throughout the season, but Jordison says he’ll still have an impact on the team, albeit in a different role. “It’s a gut punch, not only be- cause of his production on the field, but also he’s that social leader,” Jordison said. “The great news is he’s still around the program on the sideline and his voice is still being heard, just in a different way.” All of this information is confir- mation that Gilbert isn’t going anywhere, not in the race for a Raccoon River Conference title, not in the race for a spot in the eight-team state field, and not in the race for a 2A championship. The Tigers have been to state seven times in program history. No. 8 doesn’t seem far-fetched later this spring.


No. Name

Gr. So. So. Sr. Jr. Jr. Sr. Sr. So. Jr. Sr. So. Sr. Sr. Fr. So. Fr. So. Sr. Gr. So. So. So. So. Fr.

0 Tyler Jerkins


Matthew Weber Preston Stensland Jackson Johnson Tyler Holtan Nash Hanson Cam Stephens Billy Terrones Owen Mattson Isaac Weary Logan Harswick Dylan Terry Jack Hackett Zachary Schrader Mitch Walter Jacob Tallman

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9

10 11 12 13 15 16 18 20 22 00 14 17 19 21 25 26 27 28 29 31 32 33 34 35 36

Truman Kruckenberg Sr.

Eli Hague

Brendan O’Brien


No. Name

Ayden Folkerts Cole Kaptur Zach O’Riley Gabe Hicks Felipe Maas Chase Deike Isaac Holtan Chris Fisher Benji Lenz Zeke Hatfield Tayton Warg Evan Goetz Logan Nelson John Artz

Andrew Chapman So.

Fr. Fr. Jr. Fr. Jr. Jr. Fr. Jr. Fr.

Eli Hernandez ClementeFr.

Gilbert will have to play without its emotional leader Connor Rash (above) this season. Rash suffered a knee injury in late February.

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MEMBERS OF THE 2024 GILBERT GIRLS’ TRACK AND FIELD TEAM include (front row, left to right) Kayla Rash, Chloe Berns-Schweingruber, Lydia Strudthoff, Taylor Banning, Memphis Iddings, Abby Deal, Madelyn Korrect, Raylene Chen, Averie Bruner, Sammy Johnson, (second row) Jazzy Gehling, Sophia Bleich, Maddie Moore, Lucy Kraehling, Kaitlyn Dear, Allie Grandgenett, Clare Stahr, Rebecca Schrader, Natasha Flower, (third row) Sophia Overman, Bia Dan- tas, Keira Andersen, Elle Ellingson, Evie Christenson, Keaton Hanson, Cora Holz, Nora Ryan, Maggie Danilson, Addie Patten, (fourth row) Reese Henderson, Addison Holz, Alex Powers, Ellie Wahlman, London Hibbing, Abby Patel, Mol- lie Schnormeier, Emee Dani, Sarah Feddersen, (back row) Coach Allison Hilleman, Coach Laura Kautman, Claire Grandgenett, Hannah Becker, Laurel Mizerak, Gretchen Mizerak, Claire Koenig, and Coach Jodi Hurn. Team members not pictured include Grace Brosamle and Genevieve Lamm.

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T unnel vision, that’s what Feddersen took into the 2023 state track and field meet inside Drake Stadium in Des Moines. They didn’t care about the stage, the crowd, the pomp and circumstance ... none of it. They were there to win a Class 3A 4x800-meter relay state championship, and 9 mi- nutes, 29.11 seconds later they succeeded. Clare Stahr, Sophia Bleich, Keira Andersen, and Sarah And what does an encore look like for the quartet that comes back intact this spring? Well, for starters, a second state cham- pionship isn’t the only goal. They’re looking for immortality of sorts, which is why 9:17.72 is what they’re now focused on. That’s the time Mount Vernon- Lisbon ran in 2010 to set the 3A state record. A year older, a year wiser, and a year stronger, that number isn’t necessarily safe with this group of Tigers on the prowl. “That group of girls, I don’t think there’s anything they can’t do if they set their minds to it,”

girls’ head coach Jodi Hurn said of her middle distance stars. “If that’s what they say they’re going to do, they’re going to give it every ounce of what they have.” The all-time girls’ 4x800 record (9:09.09, Iowa City West, 2009) and state-meet record (9:09.34, Waukee, 2018) are probably safe, but if early- season results are any indica- tion, Gilbert’s group is conceding nothing. In its first outdoor meet of the season in late March, the quar- tet met the blue standard to automatically qualify for the Drake Relays later this month and currently sits with the fas- test 3A time by nearly 15 sec- onds. “They’re much faster at the beginning of this year than last year, much faster,” Hurn said, noting the foursome set the meet record at IATC indoor in March. That singular relay, the ver- satility of all four runners, and an entire roster of talented

Junior Laurel Mizerak (left) qualified for the 2023 state meet in three events - the 400 meters, sprint medley relay, and 4x400 relay.

runners, throwers, and jumpers all have Hurn excited about the possibilities for her girls’ track and field team this spring. A year ago, the Tigers took 11 events to the state meet and the potential is there for even more this spring. “We all have excitement with how last season ended and we want to be even better (in 2024),” Hurn said. “From what we’ve seen at practice and the limited amount of indoor oppor- tunities, we’re so much further ahead than we were last year.”

SPRING 2024 | GAME ON 15 season on the team. So, yeah, the potential is most certainly there. Hurn says the key for her lanky runner is to mentally be- lieve she can compete with the other top runners from across Feddersen, a junior, not only anchors the best 4x800 in 3A, but she has opportunities to leave her mark in other events. She was the bronze medalist in the open 800 in 2023, she an- chored the 4x400 to fifth at state, and she’s pushed the one-minute barrier in the open 400. And this is only her second

the state. “I think she is going to be her toughest critic always, but I think she has a better idea of what she can do,” Hurn said. “She doesn’t seem to let the pressure get to her, which is awesome, and I think she just wants to go out there and do the best she can at everything she can.” The same can be said for other team members. Andersen, just a sophomore, wasn’t far behind Feddersen in fifth in the 3A open 800. Bleich (400 hurdles), Stahr (1,500 meters) and Laurel Mizerak (400) were all individual state qualifiers in 2003 and six others — Ana Dantas, Keaton Hanson, Claire Grandgenett, Rebecca Schrader, Taylor Ban- ning, and Averie Bruner — have state-meet experience in either one or multiple relays.

Grandgenett, Schrader, and Mizerak joined Feddersen on the medal-winning 4x00. Sprints, middle distance, and distance — Hurn thinks her team has them all covered this spring. And if the Tigers can make strides in the field events, they could contend with the elite in the Raccoon River Con- ference. “On the track, we’re really solid,” she said. “Where we’re working on now is the ‘and field’ part. Last year, we knew we had really strong middle distance and distance girls, and this year it’s exciting to see where we’re at with sprinting.” The depth and versatility led to a runaway team champion- ship for the team at the initial outdoor meet — the Roland- Story Early Bird. It was the first of what Hurn hopes will be many team titles.


Gr. So. Sr.


Gr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Jr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Jr. Jr. Fr. Jr. Jr. Fr. So.

Keira Andersen Taylor Banning Hannah Becker

Bayley Hintz Addison Holz

Jr. Chloe Berns-Schweingruber Sr. Sophia Bleich Jr. Grace Brosamle So. Averie Bruner Sr. Raylene Chen Fr. Evie Christenson So. Emee Dani Fr. Maggie Danilson So. Ana Dantas So. Abby Deal Jr. Kaitlyn Dear So. Elle Ellingson Sr. Sarah Feddersen Jr. Natasha Flower So. Jasmine Gehling Fr. Allie Grandgenett Fr. Claire Grandgenett Jr. Keaton Hanson So. Reese Henderson Sr. London Hibbing Fr. “We really want to be compet- itive at every meet we go to,” she said. “We want to lock down everything we think are going to be championship events and hone those. We also recognize there were some things we didn’t see last year until the end. The sooner we can get those things set, the quicker we can drop some times.” Hurn is also eager to see what her talented freshman class can do under the spot- light. Emee Dani, the girls’

Cora Holz

Memphis Iddings Sammy Johnson Claire Koenig Madelyn Korrect Lucy Kraehling Genevieve Lamm Gretchen Mizerak Laurel Mizerak Maddie Moore Sophia Overman

Abby Patel Addie Patten Alex Powers Kayla Rash Nora Ryan

Fr. Sr. Jr. Sr. Sr. Fr. Fr.

Mollie Schnormeier Rebecca Schrader Clare Stahr Lydia Strudthoff Ellie Wahlman

cross country school record holder and state medalist this past fall in the 5K, is certainly at the front of that class. She ran a 2:24.83 open 800 to win gold at Roland-Story and has the capability to shine at 1,500 and 3,000 meters as well. There are also several rookies that could battle their way into the sprints, which only adds to the team’s depth. The overall conclusion? Ex- pect to see a large and strong contingent of Tigers running into the middle of May.

Claire Grandgenett was part of Gilbert’s state medal-winning 4x400 relay in 2023. She ran on two other state-qualifying relays as well.

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MEMBERS OF THE 2024 GILBERT GIRLS’ GOLF TEAM include (front row, left to right) Sydney Zeigler, Rachel Clouse, Abigail Thompson, Madie Spoon, Norah Martens, Elizabeth Thompson, (second row) Violet Flower, Ella Lohrbach, Ava Lohrbach, Josie Dukes, Eden Lohrbach, Reese Kaptur, Abigail Randall, (back row) Jaylyn Light, Bergen Roske, Macy Underwood, Haley Loonan, Addie Winter, and Coach Grant Walker. Team members not pictured include Lillian Dahlstrom, Frieda Hoetzl-Herzl, and Carly Saienga.

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I t’s the worst kept secret in the state of Iowa as the 2024 spring sports season reaches full throttle. Grant Walker knows it. Eden Lohrbach knows it. So do her twin sisters, Ava and Ella, and the senior trio of Josie Dukes, Haley Loonan, and Macy Underwood. The Gilbert girls’ golf team is the favorite to win its second straight Class 3A state cham- pionship next month when the best individuals and teams in the class convene at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course in Cedar Falls. And labeling the Tigers simply as the “favorite” isn’t descriptive enough. Add the word over- whelming and that might not be enough either. Which begs the question: Does this group have impos- sible expectations heaped upon it as it sets out to live up to the hype? Walker, the Tigers’ head coach and reigning state Coach of the Year, doesn’t have an an-

swer. What he does know is he likes the lineup he’ll put on the course this spring, and he’d put it up against any team in the state, regardless of class. “We’re going to be the favorite to win (the state title) again, the girls all know that,” Walker said. “Last year everybody knew it was us. Whenever we showed up, we were going to be the fa- vorite and that’s even more pressure than they’d had the previous year trying to win a state title. But that’s something they really thrived on last year.” What makes us so sure Gil- bert has a stranglehold on 3A, on paper anyway? All you need to do is study last spring’s re-

sults to know it’s true. The Tigers went unbeaten during the 2023 campaign and put an exclamation point at the end of the sentence with a 19- stroke win over 36 holes at the state meet. Eden Lohrbach, who will play collegiately at the University of Nebraska, won her second individual state cham- pionship by five shots. Flash forward to the rosters of the top teams for this spring. Gilbert returns five of its state- tournament players and six that had considerable varsity time a year ago. Returning state runner-up Dubuque Wahlert re- turns only three of its six varsity players, while third-place fin-

isher Clear Lake was gutted, losing five of its six players. Is there a 3A team out there somewhere that had a transfor- mation, or gained an influx of talented freshmen over the past 12 months? It’s possible. Still, that’s probably not enough to push past Gilbert. At their best, the Tigers are a runaway freight train that will smash anything in their way. “This group is motivated,” Walker said. “They want the (school) record book to just be the Class of 2024. I hope they don’t get too caught up in that, but I also think they have the potential to do all of those things.” This senior quartet of Eden Lohrbach, Dukes, Loonan, and Underwood have never lost a regular season meet. The only blips on the résumé are back- to-back runner-up state finishes in 2021 and 2022. “This group is used to win- ning,” Walker said.

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SPRING 2024 | GAME ON 23 ago. She averaged — aver- aged! — a 34.80 in 9-hole meets as a junior, as well as a 73.14 in 18-hole tournaments. Over the next two months, she’ll take aim at a third state crown and several school records held by two-time state champion and Baylor University senior Britta Snyder. And Walker sees the potential to better all of those numbers this spring. “The girls have been more ac- tive (in the offseason) this year than in the past,” Walker said. “I know Macy has gone and had lessons already; she’s more en- gaged and ready to play. Eden is getting ready to play at Ne- braska, Haley is going to play in Boone at DMACC, so I assume that level of focus is going to be heightened because they have to get prepped to go to college.” It all starts with Eden Lohr- bach, a golfing savant who has a great case for being the state’s best player. A state champion in 2021 and 2023 Gilbert is coming off a 2023 season in which it led the state — all classes — in low 9-hole scoring average (156.40), low 18-hole scoring average (328.86), and low 18-hole ad- justed scoring average (337.71). It also posted the lo- west 9-hole score (148) and broke the 18-hole scoring school record with a 312. and individual state runner-up in 2022, she fired a 36-hole total of 1-under par at state a season

24 GAME ON | SPRING 2024 Underwood, Dukes, and Loo- nan provide consistency and depth — a luxury other teams simply don’t have. Underwood followed the twins in 18th place at state in 2023, while Dukes was 24th. All three have the tal- ent to shoot in the 70s as well. Walker points to Dukes as the lynchpin to Gilbert’s dominance a season ago. Should she con- tinue to improve, well, good luck “They’re starting to live and breathe it like Eden always has,” Walker said. “They have definitely gotten a lot more fo- cused on getting better at golf themselves, so my assumption is they’re going to be closer to that 78 to 80 scoring average over 18 holes. Eden Lohrbach will likely be pushed by several other tal- ented 3A golfers, highlighted by Clear Lake’s Meghan DeLong, who was third at state in 2023. DeLong’s older sister, Rebecca, was the 2023 state runner-up and currently golfs collegiately at Concordia University. “Meghan is returning, so that will make Eden be on her game,” Walker said. Twin sisters Ava and Ella Lohrbach had successful fresh- man tours a year ago, as they tied at state and placed 16th and 17th, respectively. But Walker has seen some changes in them, and it has him thinking he’ll see more scores in the 70s from them this spring.



Eden Lohrbach Macy Underwood

Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr.

Josie Dukes Haley Loonan

Sophomore twins Ava and Ella Lohrbach turned in memorable freshman seasons in helping Gilbert win the 2023 Class 3A state title. Both are ex- pected to be even better this spring.

Abigail Thompson

Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr.

Rachel Clouse

Frieda Hoetzl-Herzl Abigail Randall

rest of the state. “Josie last year was the most improved player on our team and had the biggest impact from somebody who was play- ing in that four or five spot,” Walker said. “She was a very important piece to what we had last year because you could al- ways count on her. That makes my job a lot easier.” Underwood has shown she can shoot in the 70s, and Walker describes Loonan as a truly great ball striker. “The way (Loonan) hits the ball on the range ... she just gets up there and rips driver after driver right down the mid- dle. She hits the ball so well,” he said. I know what you’re thinking: So it’s a foregone conclusion Gilbert will roll to another state title? This is golf, after all. It’s never that easy.

On paper, yes, it’s not that close. But golf meets and tour- naments aren’t won on paper. To prepare his team for the pressure moments, Walker added to the strength of Gil- bert’s regular season schedule. The Tigers will play more 18- hole tournaments against 4A competition, including against reigning 4A state champion Pleasant Valley. Now that will be fun to watch. Maybe Gilbert won’t go through the regular season un- beaten, and that’s OK with Walker. What matters is what happens in late May. “A lot of the meets we have on the schedule this year, there are teams that aren’t going to be scared of us,” he said. “We’re going to get everybody’s best shot. For me, I don’t care (about an unbeaten regular season). It’s the banners and the tro- phies at the end of the season

Ava Lohrbach Ella Lohrbach Bergen Roske

So. So. So. So. So. So. So. Fr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Fr.

Lillian Dahlstrom

Jalyn Light

Madelyn Spoon Sydney Zeigler Violeta Flower Reese Kaptur Norah Martens Carly Saienga Addie Winter

that we’re working for. “We want to be state cham- pions. All of the other accolades that go with them are nice.” If you enjoy golf and even if you don’t, make time to watch this team this spring. It may be the best team Gilbert has ever seen. It may be one of the best teams the state has ever seen. And that’s something everyone can appreciate.

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MEMBERS OF THE 2024 GILBERT BOYS’ GOLF TEAM include (front row, left to right) Cam Zehr, Tyler Weber, Ryan Lynch, Landon Witek, Tommy McGuire, Grant Johnson, John Spiker, Cody Puck, (second row) Avery Dolan, Isaac Brown, Kyler Grooters, Josh Baldwin, Elliott Dyche, Taylor Dukes, Gray Woodin, Mason Griffin, Johnny Bouska, (third row) Logan Youngberg, Reid Jones, Connor Mattson, James Speck, John Hales, Easton VanCleave, Carter Winter, Henry Gustafson, (back row) Coach Holly Lester, Joey Currans, Hudson White, Brody Hague, Eli Roske, Ian Roske, Zach Wilson, Coach Sawyer Hansen, and Coach Austin Emery. Team members not pictured include Davis Cowan, Nick Hock, and Mason Wibholm.

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28 GAME ON | SPRING 2024

A third-place finish at the state golf tournament is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the majority of teams ac- ross Iowa would be ecstatic about a spot on the first page of the leaderboard. High-fives and hugs between teammates and celebrations back inside the school building would occur. But the Gilbert boys’ golf pro- gram isn’t like other programs, not in the eyes of the players anyway. They hold themselves to a higher standard, to a gold standard, if you will. A state championship is the goal every spring, and while that’s not realistic in some years, the 2023 season was a chance for the Tigers to attain their third consecutive crown. Sometimes though, the ball just misses the fairway, or takes a funny bounce into the trees. Sometimes those six-foot putts don’t fall either. In a nutshell, that was the 2023 Class 3A state tournament for the Tigers, and the result was a third-place finish and an end to their class dominance. And the players held them- selves responsible, probably unfairly. “Their self-expectations are so high that it hinders things some- times,” Holly Lester, Gilbert’s longtime boys’ golf coach said when thinking back to last spring’s state tournament. “I was hoping for second and I

think we were all a little dis- appointed because we were only two strokes out, but with that on their shoulders, they will work hard and push further.” With a bit of a chip on the shoulder, coupled with plenty of talent, Gilbert will again look to play a central role in deciding the 3A state champion over the next two months. The 3A state meet will return to Veenker Me- morial Golf Course in Ames once again and, as always, Lester thinks her team has the ability to factor into the out- come. “I think the expectations have gotten to where we expect to participate (in the state tourna- ment) every year,” she said. “That’s where we need to be. We need to be contenders every year.” Five of the six players that helped the Tigers fire rounds of 330 and 315 at the 2023 state meet return this spring. Yes, that one loss to graduation — University of Missouri recruit Brock Snyder — is significant, but neither the players nor Lester are going to lament what they don’t have. Their only focus is this season and im- proving as much as possible. “These guys are a year older, a year wiser,” Lester said. “We have three seniors who know where they’re going to play (col- lege) golf next year and that’s going to be a big load off them.”

Junior Hudson White has been a part of Gilbert’s last two state tournament teams. He helped the Tigers win the Class 3A state crown in 2022 and place third in 2023.

Zach Wilson, who had a tre- mendous 36-hole tour of Veenker last spring to finish sixth individually at state, is headed to NIACC in Mason City. Ian Roske, who is ex- pected to contend for a varsity spot this spring, is headed down the road to Boone to play at DMACC. And Joey Currans, a holdover from the Tigers’ team state championships in 2021 and 2022, will trek all the way to Phoenix to attend South Mountain Community College. Throw in returning varsity

SPRING 2024 | GAME ON 29 Lester will look to Currans and Wilson to guide the ship in April and May. Currans has been a steady figure in the Tigers’ players Ryan Lynch, Hudson White, and Logan Youngberg — all juniors — and you under- stand why the Tigers continue to maintain lofty expectations. Lynch put up a 77 over the final 18 holes of the 2023 state meet to vault into 17th place individ- ually, and White was on the 2022 varsity roster when Gilbert won the second of its back-to- back 3A titles.

lineup throughout his high school years and is looking to push through into individual contention during his senior campaign. Wilson played in the No. 5 or 6 spot for the Tigers throughout the 2023 season and saved his finest play for the final 36 holes. And both have spent plenty of time over the past 10 months improving every aspect of their games. “Zach has put in tremendous work,” Lester said. “Knowing you’ve been there and done that, sometimes it’s hard to re- peat. But with him being sixth (in the lineup in 2023), he

knows he’s got a little ways to go. “For Joey, it’s just going out and doing it. His confidence around short shots has not al- ways been there, so he’s worked a lot around the greens and he’s talked to different pros to help him out.” If every returning player can shave a stroke or two off their 2023 averages, Gilbert should be right in the thick of things again. And who will be its biggest competitors? You don’t have to look much further than right in its own backyard.

Raccoon River Conference rival ADM was right behind the Tigers at the league and state tournaments, and returns its en- tire 2023 roster intact this spring. Returning state runner- up Knoxville and sixth-place fin- isher Waverly-Shell Rock join Gilbert with five returners, and fifth-place finisher Solon brings back three players. MOC-Floyd Valley, which owned Veenker en route to the 3A team title in 2023, only re- turns one player. Also back is Washington’s Roman Roth, which claimed the individual crown by a whopping 10 strokes. Can Gilbert content with all of these talented teams toward the end of May? “I think so,” Lester said. “ADM will be tough and we’ll run into them at conference.” To prepare for the postsea- son, Gilbert has continued to ramp up its schedule. The Tigers will play a number of 18- hole tournaments on the tough- est of tracks, such as Blue Top Ridge Golf Course near River- side, and Lester’s crew should see many of the strongest teams in 3A throughout the sea- son. “Back in the day, the only 18- hole tournament we played was conference before sectionals, but I’ve tried to work our sched- ule over the last four or five years to try to give us that com-



Joey Currans

Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr.

Ian Roske

Zach Wilson Avery Dolan

Henry Gustafson

Reid Jones Eli Roske

Carter Winter Ryan Lynch Hudson White Logan Youngberg Isaac Brown Brody Hague John Hales Tyler Weber Davis Cowan Mason Griffin Kyler Grooters Tommy McGuire Easton Van Cleave Joshua Baldwin Taylor Dukes Elliott Dyche Grant Johnson Connor Mattson Nick Hock James Speck

Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr.

So. So. So. So. So. So. Fr. Fr.

Fr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Fr.

Cody Puck John Spiker

Mason Wibholm Landon Witek Gray Woodin


Zach Wilson, a senior, was perhaps a surprise medal winner at the 2023 state tournament. He won’t be a surprise to anyone this spring.

30 GAME ON | SPRING 2024

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MEMBERS OF THE 2024 GILBERT GIRLS’ SOCCER TEAM include (front row, left to right) Taryn Hicks, Lily Cassady, Adi Siegel, Bryanna Hernandez, Raya Mueller, Izzy Terrones, Mayson McQueeney, Lila Kruckenberg, Lulu Smith, Kayla Rash, (second row) Lily Shedarowich, Isla Wadsley, Allie Grandgenett, Kennady Hansen, Madisen Powers, Annika Yoder-Stoulil, Alex Weary, Sammy Johnson, Noreen Diaconu-Voinea, Greta Platts, Mai-Anh Nguyen, (third row) Kwin Deike, Keaton Hanson, Elle Ellingson, Anna Saltzman, Elle O’Brien, Katie O’Brien, Sarah Thatcher, Mady Hermsen, Mia Kautman, Kaylin Richards, (back row) Coach Tom Isenhart, Coach Heather Currans, Abby Patel, Claire Koenig, Ella Gebhart, Taylor Pyle, Mollie Schnormeier, Coach Kelly Herbers, and Coach Danny Jones. Team member Carly Saienga is not pictured.

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34 GAME ON | SPRING 2024

R egardless of the talent on the roster, the philosophy has not changed. It never will either, not as long as Danny Jones and Heather Currans captain the ship that is the Gil- bert girls’ soccer program. Be good students. Be good teammates. Be good people. And the rest will take care of it- self. That’s a winning philosophy in life. As it turns out, that’s a win- ning philosophy on the soccer pitch as well. The Tigers have reached the girls’ state soccer tournament 10 times in program history, in- cluding six of the past seven seasons not affected by COVID-19. It culminated with a trip to the Class 1A state final a season ago, and although the outcome didn’t go the Tigers’ way — they fell to Sioux City Heelan, 2-0 — the message rang out loud and clear: Gilbert is a state power. The co-head coaches believe all the success goes back to the foundation of the program. “Our expectations are to be the best you can be as an indi- vidual and the best you can be for the team, and if that puts us among the best in the state, that’s great,” Jones said. “Our goal is to win the game every time. But if that isn’t the case, you ask did we give everything we had? If the answer is yes, then we can live with the result.”

This isn’t to say Gilbert is the state favorite or that there won’t be blips along the way. The Raccoon River Conference is the Raccoon River Conference, after all, where landmines ap- pear on a nightly basis. But the coaches love their roster. As people, and as players. “This group is great,” Currans said. “They are not selfish at all and they’re highly coachable. They truly want what is best for the team and they care about one another.” Replacing seven full- or part- time starters won’t be easy, par- ticularly when one of the departed graduates — senior Sydney Lynch — accounted for 25 goals and 15 assists a sea- son ago. Replacing the majority of the back line won’t be easy either. But if coaching was easy, ev- eryone would do it. “In my mind, this is a brand new team,” Currans said. “I can have those memories and I can reminisce (about last season), but every year is a new year. Danny says it all the time, ‘If you lose yourself in the team, you get better and the team gets better.’ I believe it. For the most part, the success has come because the players buy into that.” This “new” team does include plenty of holdovers from last

Claire Koenig (1), a junior, piled up 12 goals a season ago to help Gilbert reach the Class 1A state championship match.

That “be all you can be” idea translated into a 14-6 record in 2023, and five of those six losses came against two state champions and three other state qualifiers. The Tigers also knocked off 2022 1A state champion Des Moines Christian in the state semifinal round, avenging one of those regular season losses. And it was that earlier loss that let Jones know his team was for real. “We got done playing Des Moines Christian in the second game of the year and I knew then we were either going to see them in the state semifinals

or state finals,” he said. “As the year went on, this group felt to me like a team that was going to make the finals. The tough- ness was there and that’s kind of a hallmark of our team.” Now the question must be asked: Can the Tigers do it all again?If the early-season re- sults are any indication, let’s just say the prognosis is trend- ing upward. Ranked No. 4 in the opening 1A poll of the season by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, Gilbert promptly went out and toppled No. 5 Nevada and No. 1 Des Moines Christian by matching 1-0 scores.

SPRING 2024 | GAME ON 35

season though, featuring seven players that either started or saw considerable minutes. Key- ing that group is the senior trio of twin sisters Elle and Katie O’Brien, and Sarah Thatcher. Elle O’Brien blasted in the goal that sent Des Moines Christian packing in the 2023 state semi- final round — one of her 12 goals on the season — and she was named to the all-tourna- ment team. Katie O’Brien, who will shift back to a midfield posi- tion, scored five goals as a jun- ior, and Thatcher, who will move up top to forward, col- lected eight goals a season ago. Yeah, that’s a pretty good place to start. “Katie’s like that velociraptor, she just hunts,” Jones said. “She will devour ground and

win soccer balls. Elle’s grown in confidence, and her success comes from hard work. And Sarah is one of those girls who devours ground too.” Anna Saltzman and Claire Koenig return toward the front as well. Koenig punched in 12 goals last season. At the center-mid attack, both coaches are excited about the prospects of sophomore Ma- disen Powers, who was a key figure in last season’s success as a rookie. Powers’ speed and skill make her one of the team’s most dangerous players. “Teams are going to focus on Madisen because she is so le- thal,” Currans said. “But she can do a lot of things. She will be passing, she will be defend- ing, and if someone loses a

ball, she’ll be fighting to get the ball back.” “She’s turned into quite a le- thal shot artist,” Jones said of Powers. The Tigers will rely on a number of players to hold the back line, including Taylor Pyle, Ella Gebhart, Keaton Hanson, Mia Kautman, Sammy Johnson and Greta Platts. In goal, Gil- bert must replace multiple-year starter Braelyn Thomas, and the coaches say both Mollie Schnormeier and Annika Yoder- Stoulil will see time in net. “They’re both working hard and doing well,” Jones said of his goalies. “I think we have a couple of good options there.” The talent is there, and the character is there. The Tigers now have a little less than two months to put it all together to make a run at state. And stand- ing in their way is a difficult league slate that incudes a showdown with No. 5-ranked (2A) North Polk, as well as a regular season-ending bout against defending 2A state champion Dallas Center- Grimes. “It’s going to take growth and the ultimate belief that we are as good as we think we can be,” Jones said about the post- season possibilities. “It will take buy-in too, and I think we’ve got a lot of buy-in. We don’t have to sell that much.”


No. Name


1 2 3 4 5 6

Claire Koenig Raya Mueller Elle O’Brien Adi Siegel Madisen Powers Anna Saltzman Keaton Hanson Greta Platts Sarah Thatcher Sammy Johnson Abby Patel Kayla Rash Kwin Deike Mia Kautman Katie O’Brien Taylor Pyle



Mollie Schnormeier Jr.

Sr. Sr. So. So. So. Sr. Jr. Jr. Fr. Jr. Fr. Sr. Jr. Sr.

10 11 12 14 16 17 24 25 26 32 35 53

Noreen Diaconu VoineaFr.

56 Sr. 13/39 Annika Yoder-Stoulil So. Ella Gebhart


No. Name

Gr. So.

7 8 9

Lila Kruckenberg Lillian Cassady Elle Ellingson Isla Wadsley Kaylin Richards Taryn Hicks

Fr. Sr.

15 18 23 27 28 31 34 41 42 44 50 52

Bryanna Hernandez Fr.

Jr. Jr. Jr.

Allie Grandgenett Fr. Mayson McQueeney Sr.

Izzy Terrones Mady Hermsen Alex Weary Carly Saienga

Fr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Sr. Fr.

Lulu Smith

Sophomore Keaton Hanson will take on a bigger role as part of the defense for the Gilbert girls’ soccer team this spring.

Kennady Hansen

36 GAME ON | SPRING 2024

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MEMBERS OF THE 2024 GILBERT BOYS’ TRACK AND FIELD TEAM include (front row, left to right) Dhruva Math, John Artz, Jack Dyche, Zain Mueller, Sam Kuennen, Brayden Howard, Aldo Schwartz, Matthew Zhang, Emrick Ryan, Jace Tickle, Micah Leyva, (second row) Mitch Walter, Logan Bleich, Liam Trampel, Tayton Warg, Andrew Soupir, Martin Onnen, Jonathan Stoker, Bennett Congdon, Spencer Weydert, Aidan Rash, (third row) Cael O’Brien, Adrian Wal- lace, Sean Wu, Coach Austin Kavanagh, Coach Joel Franzen, Coach John Ronca, Coach Aaron Thomas, Coach Everett Charlson, Coach Pat Schoenfelder, Harrison Kraehling, Nolan Zehr, Ethan Rash, (fourth row) Ryan Hock, Danny Buss, Paul Marpe, Ethan Wilcox, Charlie Schreck, Carson Squiers, Wyatt Pink, Blake Bell, Gabe Fierce, (fifth row) Ean Eldred, Zach Noe, Ely Doerder, Landon Lucht, Nathan Baldwin, Emerson Congdon, Will Soupir, Jordan Martinek, Tristan Limoges, (back row) Bo Kruse, Eli Hague, Will Hawthorne, Emmett Barber, Dillon Zwanziger, Brady Hurn, Preston Stensland, Ayden Folkerts, and Ben Hammes. Team members not pictured include Daniel Block, Maksymillan Koziel, and Alden Short.

38 GAME ON | SPRING 2024

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40 GAME ON | SPRING 2024

J oel Franzen is a tinkerer. He’ll see something he likes and he’ll try to figure out a way to make it even better. Sometimes it works and sometimes he realizes it’s better to leave well enough alone. Other times, he’ll see something that isn’t quite right and go through the steps of bringing it up to the acceptable level. So goes the life of a Iowa track and field coach throughout the spring months. Every coach wants his team to have success throughout the regular season, but they all know what really counts are those three days in- side Drake Stadium in Des Moines come the middle of May. “In one meet we might try this, or the next meet we’re going to try that because we’re always asking what can make our team better when we think about championship time?” Franzen, the leader of the Gilbert boys’ track and field program, said. “I’m not one of those coaches that says we’re going to win all of the (regular season) meets. We’re going to do what’s best for our kids and try to put them in a position to be at their best (in the postseason).” What does that mean? It means you’ll see many different relay combinations from the Tigers as they attempt to find the perfect foursome. It means you may see some kids try new events to see if they fit their tal-

SPRING 2024 | GAME ON 41 stage. Throw in talented fresh- man Logan Bleich, an all-state cross country performer, and Of course, the distance group, which boasts five of the six indi- viduals who helped Gilbert win the 3A state cross country championship this past No- vember, should be strong. Squiers is a year older and stronger, and guys like Mueller and Kraehling know what it takes to reach the grandest son Squiers were both individ- ual qualifiers; Stoker placed 17th in the open 800 meters, while Squiers was 17th in the 3,200. Preston Stensland, Harrison Kraehling, and Zain Mueller all ran a leg on the Tigers’ 11th- place 4x800 relay, while Will Hawthorne is the lone holdover from the distance medley relay group that placed 10th. Hurdlers Charlie Schreck and Brady Hurn were two pieces of the shuttle hurdle relay quartet that broke the school record a season ago, and they have their eyes on making it to state. And so it goes throughout the lineup, one which Franzen feels has enough talent to help Gilbert take a busload of events to state. “Our hurdlers have had some success, and I’m really excited for some of the sprint stuff as well,” Franzen said. “Our sprinters were young last year, but we have a lot of those guys coming back.”

Zain Mueller (facing) is one of six returning runners that competed at the 2023 state meet for the Gilbert boys’ track and field team.

ents. It means, from one meet to the next, things will change. “On some nights, some of our guys might only run two events, and then another night they’ll do three or four,” Franzen ex- plained. “When we have two meets a week, we’re not going

to run all of our guys hard at both meets. We’re going to choose.” At Franzen’s disposal is a large and deep team, keyed by six athletes who competed at the 2023 state meet in Class 3A. Jonathan Stoker and Car-

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