This year was a busy one for sports in Nodaway County as many of the teams and athletes were coming off seasons affected from the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like previous years though the local teams found a way to overcome and the results was plenty of championships and memorable performances. The moments were also shaped by the people who have helped make Nodaway County sports special over the years and some of their stories were told this year as well.
Here are the top-10 sports stories of the year according to Maryville Forum sports editor Jon Dykstra. The stories include a brief summary, but all the complete stories are available on maryvilleforum.com.
1. Bearcats win third national championship in record-breaking rout
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (March 27, 2021) — The Bearcats completed the most dominant NCAA Division-II Elite Eight run in the history of the event with an 80-54 win in the finals over West Texas A&M.
The winning margin in the three Elite Eight games was 78 points which broke a record set in 1970.
Forward Ryan Hawkins was named the Elite Eight’s Most Valuable Player and coach Ben McCollum won his 300th game and third national title at the helm of the Bearcats.
“It’s a great day to be a Bearcat right now, that is for sure,” Hawkins said at the time. “The feeling never gets old.”
2. ‘A Servant’s Heart’: Carroll completes 50th year of coaching
(Aug. 5, 2021) — David Carroll has coached kids across many sports in the past 50 years, but it has been his Trojanette softball teams which have fueled that passion the most.
Carroll started the program in 1983 when his daughter Tiffany was two years old with the hope of winning a state championship when Tiffany was 12.
He accomplished that and in addition to the many other kids who have gone through the program over the years, he now coaches his granddaughters in the program.
“He does love it,” his daughter Tiffany Kirkland said. “My dad and my mom both have a servant’s heart and they give back. My dad does it not just to keep him happy, but he does it because he wants to help these kids. Whether it’s youth baseball when he first started or youth softball, it is to give back.
“It is more than teaching these players about the rules of baseball and softball, it is about providing them with the skills that they need in life as they go on and giving them something to do while they are growing up.”
3. Platte Valley caps perfect season with state championship
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (March 13, 2021) — The Platte Valley girls basketball team finished a perfect season with a 56-44 victory over Leeton in the Class 1 State Championship in Springfield last season.
Freshman Maggie Collins led the team with 19 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Senior Malia Collins was second on the team with nine points.
“That is something I’ll never forget,” Malia Collins said of playing with her sister. “You can’t replace that. That is an experience. I loved it. She loved it. I’ll never forget it.”
4. ‘Full Circle’: Blackney carries on mother’s coaching legacy
(June 17, 2021) — Maryville High School graduate Hallie Blackney was named the MIAA Softball Coach of the Year for her work at Missouri Southern.
Blackney followed in her mother’s footsteps as a softball coach. The late Kathy Blackney was the Spoofhounds’ first softball coach in school history.
“I was fortunate enough to be coached by my mom in high school and that is something that I am forever grateful for,” Hallie Blackney said. “She was a Hall of Fame player at Northwest.
“My mom and I are very similar people. She is feisty. I’m feisty. I don’t think it was probably always the easiest setup, but it was something I wouldn’t trade the world for. I’m forever grateful for that.”
5. Spoofhounds roll past Fair Grove for third at state
FENTON, Mo. (Nov. 20, 2021) — The Spoofhound boys soccer program completed the greatest season in team history with a third-place finish at the state tournament in November.
The Hounds defeated Fair Grove 5-0 in the third-place game. Sophomore Kason Teale had a hat trick in the match.
The Spoofhounds were the highest finishing public high school in Class 1 and gave eventual state champion Lutheran (St. Charles)their closest match of the tournament.
“It feels amazing actually,” Maryville senior James DiStefano said. “… We ended on a win. Not many people can say they ended their high school career on a win, and I can so that feels great.”
6. Riley Blay adds his own state title to family collection
COLUMBIA, Mo. (Nov. 6, 2021) — Nodaway Valley sophomore Riley Blay made it back-to-back championships in cross-country for the Blay family after his older brother Tyler Blay won the Class 1 title last season.
Riley Blay improved from finishing 16th as a freshman to run a 16:05.9.
“It feels amazing,” Riley Blay said. “I dreamed of this day forever. I never thought it would happen until my brother won last year and I trained with him all summer.”
7. Sundell scores 43 as Hounds upset Jefferson City
MARYVILLE, Mo. (Feb. 20, 2021) — After rolling to an undefeated Midland Empire Conference record, the Spoofhound girls’ basketball team welcomed Class 6 No. 3 Jefferson City to the Hound Pound.
Kansas State recruit Serena Sundell led the Spoofhounds to a 64-63 victory over Jefferson City with 43 points. Jefferson City had three Division-I recruits with Missouri signee Sarah Lithicum, Drake signee Hannah Nilges and 2023 recruit Hannah Linthacum.
Sundell scored the final 11 of the game for Maryville including a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and then a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left to win the game.
“We love her,” Maryville sophomore Rylee Vierthaler said of Sundell. “You can always count on her when we need her in tight games.”
8. Watkins earns state medal despite torn ACL
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (March 11, 2021) — Maryville senior Keiren Watkins tore his ACL playing rugby in the fall before his wrestling season. Watkins wrestled the entire season with a torn ACL.
The senior finished fourth at the state tournament at 195 pounds.
“This was the end goal,” Watkins said. “This was where I wanted to be. Accomplishing my No. 1 and hardest goal. It is just indescribable.”
9. Holtman captures pair of state championships
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (May 30, 2021) — Maryville junior Brooklynn Holtman won two state championships at the Class 3 state meet in Jefferson City, winning the 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash.
Holtman was just the second individual state champion in the history of Spoofhound girls track — joining Jordan Stiens.
“Freshman-year Brooklynn would be mind-blown,” Holtman said.
10. Sundell wins Miss Show-Me Basketball
(March 24, 2021) — Maryville senior Serena Sundell was named the Miss Show-Me Basketball award by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association.
Sundell is just the second Midland Empire Conference player to earn Miss Show-Me Basketball. Lafayette and Northwest graduate Janet Clark was the only other MEC player to win the award in 1986.
Sundell led the team in scoring at 25.9 points per game and holds school records in career points, rebounds, 3-pointers, steals and assists.
“The legacy that Serena Sundell has set for Maryville and for Maryville girls basketball — she graduates this year, but she will be with that program for many years to come,” Maryville coach Quentin Albrecht said.