A look back at Van Meter's sports highlights in 2021

Sean Cordy, Correspondent
Special to Dallas County News
Van Meter's baseball team celebrates with the trophy after winning 10-2 against Centerville in the Class 2A state baseball championship final at Merchants Park Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Carroll, Iowa.

With teams getting back to action in the new year, take a look back at some of Van Meter's biggest moments of 2021.

Boys basketball runs to state

The Bulldogs have kept up right where they left off last season, and should that path continue, they’ll be right back in the state tournament to make three appearances in four years.

With the exception of Taylor Birks graduating, the team you’re watching this season is largely the crew that finished second in the WCAC and held a 17-7 record. Between Chris Schreck, Clark Fiala and Casey Trudo, Van Meter was one of only two schools to have three players in the top 15 scorers. In turn, the Bulldogs ranked third with 60.5 points per game and were second in average defense with 48 points allowed.

Van Meter's Casey Trudo shoots the ball during 2A quarterfinals between Aplington-Parkersburg and Van Meter. Aplington-Parkersburg won 68-41.

Girls golf claims state title

Van Meter was on a different level on the green this year when they took home the Class 2A title for the second time since 2018

It was a scorecard dominated by Bulldogs seniors. Kylie Carey achieved her ultimate dream and took home the team’s first-ever individual title, while London Wille placed third after previously placing 12th and 16th in her previous state performances.

Members of the Van Meter girls golf team pose for a photo after claiming the Class 2A state title in Marshalltown. Front row, Jenna Linde (Mgr), Regan Bernhardt (Fr), Dani Jones (Fr), Emma Bruins (Fr), Kaylie Golwitzer (Jr). Back row, Mike Linde (Head Coach), Kylie Carey (Sr), London Wille (Sr), Shae Bernhardt (Jr), Addison Boughton (Assistant Coach).

First-ever track champions

For all the banners the Bulldogs have put up in the rafters, a state title has evaded Van Meter for the school’s entire history. That is, until the girls 4x800 relay team came through to win the Class 2A bracket.

Clocking in at 9 minutes 42.03 seconds, the team consisting of Mary Kelly, Maya Herman, Norah Matt and Clare Kelly gave the Bulldogs their first-ever state gold medal and had three seconds to spare for the win. With the exception of Matt graduating, the odds are in their favor to claim another crown in 2022 with three of the four girls set to return.

On her own, Clare Kelly nearly took a solo title as she took silver in the 1500 meter run. 

Van Meter's Clare Kelly competes in the Class 2A 4x800 meter relay, during the Iowa High School Track and Field Championships, on Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Des Moines.

Baseball looks unstoppable

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, “Van Meter baseball wins state title.” It could be the first words of your kids at this point. It’s just a regular occurrence and state of fact: Water feels wet, if you build it he will come, and Van Meter baseball wins championships.

For the fifth year in a row, the Bulldogs found themselves in the state tournament, and were crowned Class 2A champs for the third straight season.

With a record of 31-7, it may be not have been as clean as previous campaigns with just five losses combined in 2019 and 2020, but the result was all the same when the Bulldogs cleared through the title game with a 10-2 win over Centerville thanks to all but one player getting on base and Jack Petit’s four RBI performance at the plate while allowing just four hits from the mound in seven innings.

Van Meter's baseball team celebrates after winning 10-2 against Centerville in the Class 2A state baseball championship final at Merchants Park Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Carroll, Iowa.

Football state champ

Another trophy was added to the collection two months ago when the Bulldogs were crowned the Class 1A champs with a 17-14 win over West Sioux, giving Van Meter its second-ever football title.

Along with earning redemption from 2020’s championship, the Bulldogs finished a perfect 13-0. The 2017 team was the only other squad in program history to finish with an undefeated record.

While Jack Pettit’s 36 total touchdown took center stage again during the fall after notching the win for baseball’s championship in July, nine more Bulldogs were named to the all-state team, giving Van Meter one of the deepest rosters in all of Iowa.

Members of the Van Meter football team celebrate a 17-14 Class 1A state football championship win over West Sioux, Hawarden on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.