Last year was a spectacular year for South Tama County High School sports and it ended with the best football season in five years.
In the winter there was a state champion wrestler and a great girls basketball season. During the spring, the Trojans brought home state medals in golf and track, which carried over into improved seasons during the summer. In the fall, STC football made a deep run into the state playoffs. After 12 months of exciting action, the Trojans brought home three state trophies and a trio of individual state medals.
The STC girls basketball team started the successful year as it rolled through opponents during January and early February. The Trojans were led by 2012 graduate Madison Baier, an all-state player who is playing for Iowa State University. Baier had plenty of help from a handful of seniors, along with a few juniors and sophomores.
The Trojans finished their season 21-3. However, they battled late-season injuries, including a season-ending one with senior Kourtne Smith. Their season ended in the regional championship when Emily Larkin of Ballard sank a long-distance shot at the buzzer.
While the girls basketball team's great season ended in a heart-breaking loss, the STC wrestlers were celebrating an individual state champion for the second-straight year. Erik Lux capped off his junior campaign with the 160-pound state title in Des Moines last February.
His older brother, Kyle, won his state title in 2011. Lux is aiming for a second title this winter. He is currently undefeated after the first month of competition. He will be wrestling for the University of Northern Iowa next year.
Action picked up outside in the spring as several South Tama teams had successful seasons. However, the boys track and girls golf teams led the way. Led by a trio of competitive seniors and its relays, the boys track team nearly won a conference title.
STC hosted the North Iowa Cedar League West Division meet in its second year as a part of the conference. South Tama won six events, including two relays, and finished in the top three of six others. In the end, NICL powerhouse West Marshall edged out the Trojans by five points to take the crown.
The Trojans season wasn't finished. They went to Vinton a week later and qualified for the state meet in 10 events. It was the most state qualifiers for the program in many years. At state, Kyle Stephenson finished his junior season with a state medal. He placed sixth in the 100-meter dash.
A few days after the state track and field meet, the STC girls golf team wrapped up its season. The Trojans were strong all season as five of the seven girls were seniors, including Taylor Van Dyk, who placed seventh at state as a junior. Her younger sister Paige Van Dyk, a sophomore last year, wanted redemption for her regional round as a freshman.
The STC girls golf squad won the NICL crown and Class 3A district title, before finishing 3A regional runner-up en route to qualifying for the state tournament as a team. South Tama finished the first day of competition in second place among a tight four-team race for the title. After the second and final day, STC was passed by Charles City, who finished second, and edged out by one stroke by rival Grinnell for third place.
While slightly disappointed after losing to Grinnell, the Trojans enjoyed their fourth-place trophy and medals. South Tama also won two individual state medals at the golf meet. Paige Van Dyk placed fourth and her sister Taylor finished sixth.
Although the 2011-2012 school year ended in May, the Trojans success continued into the summer. The STC baseball team improved its win total from three in 2011 to 15 last summer. South Tama's 15-14 record was the first winning season for the program since 2003. The STC softball squad also improved its wins from three in 2011 to 10 in 2012.
In the fall, the South Tama football team was the talk of the Tama-Toledo area. After winning just two games in 2011, South Tama relied heavily on its senior class for its best season since 2007.
The Trojans began the season 3-0, surpassing the previous year's win total. After a one-point loss at Newton, the Trojans found their niche and won four straight contests. They won a pair of state playoff games before falling to Grinnell for the second time. The Trojans finished the season 9-3 after advancing to the state quarterfinals.
This year could be another stellar one for South Tama. The boys basketball team has already surpassed last year's win total and the girls squad is improving every week. The boys and girls track and field teams have most of their rosters back from a year ago. STC soccer squads could be better with another year of experience. The same can be said for the baseball and softball teams if they can find a way to replace a couple valuable seniors.
Happy New Year and here's to a wonderful 2013! Go Trojans!