Sports Columns

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 ...

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 ...

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

St. Edmond players celebrate head coach Adolph Kochendorfer's 500th career victory in the Gael gym on Saturday.

What matters most

It took a milestone victory to remind us that, when all is said and done, winning is neither everything nor the only thing in sports. St. Edmond’s Adolph Kochendorfer secured the 500th triumph of his career on Saturday night, becoming just the ...

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

Fort Dodge wrestlers (left to right) Drew Bennett, Brody Teske and Cayd Lara greet Dorian Franklin after a match earlier this season.

HOMEGROWN: Teams still about family first at FDSH

It didn’t take long for athletes and fans to create a special environment inside the Fort Dodge Senior High gym last Thursday and Friday. The recent success obviously helps. After all, the powerhouse Dodger wrestling program is ranked third in the state and unbeaten through 11 duals. Fort ...

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Stuck in the middle

In case you missed it, Messenger-area schools Bishop Garrigan and Webster City played in two of the six thrilling state football championship games last week at the UNI-Dome. Iowa City Regina finally lost its grip on a six-year gold stranglehold. West Des Moines Dowling and Pella kept their ...

Tighe gave his heart and bared his soul to the game he loves

What will you be doing when you're 86 years old? Let me preface this by saying most of us would consider ourselves lucky just to see 86. There are less than six million Americans 85 or older as we speak. Only one-third of males in ...

A pennant for the people

Baseball fans wait. Patience just comes with the territory. The sport is played at a methodical - some would say almost hypnotic - pace. No clocks. No time limit. No instant gratification for a society seeking just that in ...

The end of the innocence

Many sports fans are sequential critics these days. It's a very unattractive result of our instant-gratification, social media-driven society. We build our heroes up at a rapid-fire rate, then tear them down the second they fall short of our inane expectations. We want entertainers to be ...

Hard work has turned FDSH into a contender

An impressive new 8-by-21 foot panel listing all of the Fort Dodge swim program's school records now conspicuously sits high above the Dodger pool.Maybe the athletic department should have invested in a dry erase board instead.The current roster is turning 40-plus years of accumulated FDSH ...

A sizeable problem

There are typically a number of variables on the football field that ultimately determine whether this will be a Hawkeye or Cyclone state in any given year.Home-field advantage. Quarterback play. Special teams. Turnovers. Red-zone efficiency.The list goes on.Line play is another top priority ...