With the temperatures in the air beginning to drop and the leaves on the trees beginning to change all different colors, that can mean only one thing — the high school fall season is about to gear up for the postseason.
With just two weeks left in the regular season for football and cross country and the volleyball teams about to embark on their trek to state next week, the stakes are about to get a lot higher.
It all starts Tuesday night on the volleyball courts, where conference championships are about to be settled and rivalries renewed.
Class 1A's third-ranked Holy Trinity will host Central Lee in a key SEI Superconference South Division match tonight at Shottenkirk Gymnasium in Fort Madison, a place where the Crusaders have been virtually unbeatable for the last 12 years. It is a matchup of teams which could very well end up in regional finals before all is said and done. Holy Trinity has eighth-ranked East Union and 14th-ranked Southeast Warren in its path, while the Lady Hawks are on the bottom half of a Class 3A regional which has sixth-ranked Davenport Assumption, eighth-ranked West Liberty and a very solid West Burlington team battling it out on the top side of the bracket.
Speaking of West Burlington, the Falcons will travel across town to face Notre Dame in the renewal of a long rivalry at 7 p.m. today at Father Minett Gymnasium.
West Burlington is led by sophomore Sydney Marlow, one of the top all-around players in the state. Notre Dame has been up and down all season, but there is nothing like the crosstown rivalry, plus the added emotions of Senior Night, to bring out the best in the Nikes.
There will be plenty of high-stakes volleyball on Thursday at the annual Mediapolis Invitational. That tournament brings together Holy Trinity, Fort Madison, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont and host Mediapolis for some high-level, entertaining volleyball, just what those teams need to gear up for postseason play.
In another rarity, Burlington and West Burlington will travel down Highway 61 to play in a triangular at Keokuk. It will be a rare meeting between the Grayhounds and Falcons.
HARRIERS, TOO: A pair of conference meets are on the docket for Thursday.
The annual Southeast Conference cross country meet is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the Elks Fairview Golf Club in Keokuk. The Mount Pleasant boys will be looking for their fifth straight conference team title and sixth straight individual crown. Cody Mertens won last year's race after Logan Murray won the previous four. The Mount Pleasant girls will be looking to defend their title, while the individual race pits longtime rivals Abby Ryon of Mount Pleasant and Ashley Bloomquist of Fairfield, two of the top Class 3A runners in the state.
Burlington, meanwhile, will head to Emma Young Park in Clinton for the annual Mississippi Athletic Conference meet, which is set to begin at 3 p.m.
A pair of smaller meets which should be competitive are on the slate this week. Illini West will host the annual Charger Invitational at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Carthage Country Clun, while the annual Mediapolis Invitational is set for 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Heritage Oaks Golf and Country Club in Morning Sun.
GRIDIRON GREATS: While both New London and Mediapoilis took their first losses of the season last week, each can keep its playoff hopes alive by winning out.
New London travels to North English for a clash with English Valleys at 7 p.m. Friday in an eight-man District 4 game, while Mediapolis travels to Keosauqua to play Van Buren at 7 p.m. in a Class 1A District 6 matchup.
Winfield-Mount Union, on the other hand, wraps up its season a week early with the season finale against Lone Tree at 7 p.m. Friday at Winfield.