Sports Columns

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

Fort Dodge’s Brody Teske (right) and Alex
Thomsen of Underwood shake hands during the Council Bluffs Classic last month.


Pop quiz: name the six wrestlers who finished their Iowa high school careers without a loss. I’m sure some of the sport’s die-hard fans know the answer. Brody Teske could probably rattle them off. Alex Thomsen, too. It’s a rare, historic achievement, without question. But that ...


A newborn wish revisited

Nearly 13 years and what amounts to a virtual lifetime of memories and moments ago, I wrote a column as an expectant first-time father. I remember being filled with an abundance of anxious energy at the time, trying to prepare myself both physically and mentally for this unknown world of ...

AP Photo

Iowa's Akrum Wadley tries to score against Iowa State during the regular season at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.


It may not sound spectacular or even newsworthy to each other’s fanbases, but impartial observers will note that 2017 now stands as a season of historical significance in our state. For the first time in the 120-plus year history of college football in Iowa, both the Hawkeyes and Cyclones ...

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

Cayd Lara of Fort Dodge wrestles in the championship round of the Don Miller Invitational earlier this month.


It becomes easy — in fact, almost routine — to take the good for granted in sports. When that good turns into great, and the great becomes elite, and the elite redefines the standard, and that standard is sustained over time, we tend to lose all logic and perspective. Suddenly, the one ...

Photo by Paul DeCoursey

Iowa Central football coach Kevin Twait shakes the hand of Jacob Giese during the Tritons' finale home game at Dodger Stadium this year.

The legacy of a Triton

Throughout the course of his career and above all else, Kevin Twait preached the value of commitment, loyalty and perseverance to his players. Not just because that's what football coaches do. This wasn't lip service; the future Hall of Famer knew if he held his young men to a different ...

Messenger photo by Eric Pratt

Hawkeye fans rush the field after Iowa’s upset win over third-ranked Ohio State on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.


IOWA CITY — At one point during Iowa’s out-of-body 55-24 dismantling of third-ranked Ohio State on Saturday, my wife turned to me with an incredulous look and said, ‘‘I’ve never seen them do that before.’’ She needed to be more specific. It happened live and in living color ...

AP Photo

Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt throws a pass against TCU on Saturday in Ames.

Face of the program

Matt Campbell deservedly gets the lion’s share of credit for Iowa State’s extraordinary turnaround. The progression of the Cyclones’ defense — especially since coordinator John Heacock went to a 3-2-6 alignment — has been nothing short of remarkable. Bruising tailback David ...

—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 ...