Sports Columns

—AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell celebrates with linebacker Tymar Sutton (43) after the Cyclones' upset victory against the third-ranked Sooners on Saturday in Norman, Okla.

ISU hopes this is just the beginning

When a 31-point underdog upsets the nation’s third-ranked team on the road — a landmark win boasting both historical significance and series rarity — the natural reaction is to celebrate. Not just in the postgame locker room, but well into the night. Or the next day. Or the rest of the ...


CIML: Changes Impacting Modern Landscape

When the Fort Dodge football team won at West Des Moines Valley in 2010 to clinch the CIML Iowa Conference championship, nearly 2,000 Dodger fans in attendance celebrated an undoubtedly-momentous occasion. It took all of the Dodgers’ heart and soul — and their best teams in 15 years — to ...

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley scores against Penn State on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Glass half full

IOWA CITY — Crestfallen Hawkeyes spent all night Saturday and most of the day Sunday grumbling ‘‘what if’’ scenarios to themselves over and over again. A walk-off loss to the fourth-ranked team in the nation in what amounted to a picture-perfect home environment will do that to a ...

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

Trey Mosley of Fort Dodge slips through a tackle on Friday night against Ames inside Dodger Stadium. For more photos, please visit


Slowly but surely, the Fort Dodge football program has established an impressive level of consistency under the direction of head coach Matt Miller. Since the 2009 season kicked off, the Dodgers have an overall record of 44-38. While that may not mistake FDSH for West Des Moines Valley or ...

AP File Photo

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, and Iowa State coach Matt Campbell talk before last year's game in Iowa City.

Opposites on track

Given I have no vested interest in the annual Iowa-Iowa State football game – I keep close tabs on both teams as the season progresses for professional purposes, but faithfully maintain my neutrality – it's typically not difficult for me to spot the true favorite in a given year. That ...

AP Photo

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor pose together at a press conference in Las Vegas.

Style vs. substance

Last Saturday, two of the toughest men on the planet took center stage and, with the pressure on, delivered the performances of a lifetime. No, this isn’t about Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. Some eight hours before the self-proclaimed ‘‘Fight of the Century’’ transpired in Las ...

Messenger photo

Sports Editor Eric Pratt displays the 59 different Messenger football previews.

60 years of significance

I was first introduced to the inner workings of The Messenger’s annual football preview as a know-nothing 17-year-old kid in the summer of 1995. As the low man on the totem pole in the sports department at the time, I figured it would be a perfect opportunity to get my byline in print and ...

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla 

Keaton Dornath makes a play for Fort Dodge last fall inside Dodger Stadium.

The concussion discussion

Earlier this week, a study with plenty of shock value hit the general public like a defensive end blindsiding a quarterback: the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the degenerative brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy — commonly known as CTE — had been ...

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

Pocahontas Area's Elle Ruffridge and Grace Meyer were not only all-state basketball players, but cross country runners and track team members. Meyer also played softball at PAC.

Keep the plate full

I was a run-of-the-mill high school baseball player some 20 years ago, trying my best to hone my craft and find a competitive edge. Somewhere along the line — I guess specifically during the fall months of my junior year — I got the bright idea that if I just stopped playing basketball and ...

Messenger file photo

Joe Shanks coaches for the Gael baseball team earlier this season.

Personal touch

St. Edmond has spent the better part of the last 20 years perfecting the art of winning. The Gaels have been nothing short of an aggregate juggernaut since the turn of the century. Their athletic department has captured five state championships, earned two dozen North Central Conference ...

Photo by Justin Rogers

Ed McNeil Field, at Dodger Stadium, before the first night game in 2015.

The right direction

When I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in the spring of 2000, I returned to Fort Dodge and accepted a position at The Messenger — my home away from home for nearly six years prior. I had enjoyed working in the sports department on a part-time basis while attending both Fort ...

Photo by Brian Ray, Iowa Media Relations

Iowa’s Jake Adams (35) is greeted after hitting his 27th home run this season during the Big Ten Tournament.

Hawkeyes’ Heller thrives as a ‘players’ coach’

Long before the University of Iowa realized it made a home-run hire by bringing baseball coach Rick Heller on board four years ago, Tim Flattery and Terry Reiners both knew. Flattery, a former St. Edmond all-stater, and Reiners, an ex-Fort Dodge Senior High standout, played for Heller at the ...

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla 

A player dives for a ball during a 12U youth softball tournament at Rogers Park last season.

Balancing act

While doing a typical Sunday night social-media scroll through pictures of youth teams winning tournaments and precocious individuals slowly but surely conquering the sports world, one particular post caught my attention because it wasn’t about either. Andy Jepson, a former standout athlete ...

AP Photo

Iowa's Akrum Wadley runs the ball against Purdue in Lafayette, Ind. last season.

Got your goad

As Iowa football fans fired another round of angry calls, e-mails, texts and tweets in Colin Cowherd’s direction this past week, the Fox Sports personality continued to laugh all the way to the bank. Cowherd has devoted quite a bit of time over the last two years to poking and prodding the ...

AP Photo

San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives around Memphis player James Ennis III on Monday night.

Virtuous virtuoso

He isn’t LeBron James, the most physically gifted player on the planet until Father Time says otherwise. He isn’t Russell Westbrook, the triple-double maestro. He isn’t James Harden, the scoring machine. He isn’t Steph Curry, the shooting prodigy. He isn’t Isaiah Thomas, the ...

AP Photo

Chicago head coach Fred Hoiberg meets with his team this past week in Detroit.

Misdirected anger

Fred Hoiberg doesn’t deserve the cold-shoulder treatment. Let me preface this by saying I am not completely convinced Hoiberg’s home should be on the NBA sidelines. I never have been. And I didn’t like his move to Chicago from the start for a multitude of reasons. This isn’t about ...

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Pocahontas Area celebrate a win over Sioux Center during Class 3A Championship on Saturday

Deep community roots made this team a family — and one for the ages

DES MOINES — When her high school career officially ended and there was nothing left to do but celebrate, Elle Ruffridge exhaled and looked down at her Pocahontas Area uniform. ‘‘There were so many things going through my mind at once,’’ said Ruffridge, the state’s all-time ...

AP Photo

Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm, center, stands with seniors (left to right) Merrill Holden, Stuart Nezlek, Matt Thomas, Darrell Bowie, Deonte Burton, Monte Morris and Naz Mitrou-Long on Tuesday night in Ames.

Passing the test of time

Statistically speaking, Iowa State’s senior class has already secured its spot among the very best in program history. For as successful as they’ve proven to be both individually and collectively, though, the four outgoing Cyclone starters — Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long, Matt Thomas and ...

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

The Fort Dodge wrestling team stands with its state runner-up team trophy on Saturday night in Des Moines.


DES MOINES — Like most sports, wrestling is all about the bottom line. It’s a no-nonsense world defined by wins and losses. There’s gold, and there’s everything else. There’s a champion, and there’s everyone else. Despite an inspiring run of tournament success over the last three ...

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

Drew Bennett of Fort Dodge wrestles Waukee's Kyle Biscoglia during Class 3A semifinal action on Friday in Des Moines. For more photos, please visit

Never alone

DES MOINES — In a moment of personal celebration and historic achievement, three Fort Dodge state wrestling finalists immediately shifted the attention away from themselves and toward a brother in need. Previously-unbeaten Drew Bennett suffered another crushing state tournament loss to Kyle ...