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Moats after seven feet in high jump

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Jacob Moats is still seeking that elusive mark that all male high jumpers eye.

Moats has his eyes on the seven-foot mark, something that has eluded him during his four year track and field career at Dordt College.

The three-time NAIA All-American in the high jump, twice indoors and once outdoors, is looking to close out his collegiate career with another high place at the NAIA National Championships, but also getting over that seven-foot bar.

“I still want to hit seven feet, it’s kind of my main goal, and take a shot at being national champion,” said Moats after winning the high jump competition at the Red Raider Open. “I feel like I’m right there, just can’t quite get it, so hopefully by the end of the season.”

Moats cleared 6-2.25 and took three attempts at 2.12 meters (6-11.5), which would have been a personal best, but came up just short of getting that during last Thursday’s meet.

“Since I have already made ‘A’ standard for nationals, I thought I could start at a high height, see if I could clear seven feet,” said Moats. “I jumped two meters first height, than went to 2.12 which would have been a personal best for me and made two pretty attempts and one not so good attempt.”

Moats heads into competition at the Sioux City Relays at Olsen Stadium with hopes to finally get that seven-foot jump. The former Knoxville, Iowa prep, who was fifth as a prep senior in the 3A high jump, is looking forward to competitive high jump competition at the Relays.

“It’s a bigger deal, people take it more seriously,” said Moats.

Moats, the 2015 Relays high jump champion, finished second last spring behind South Dakota’s Tyler Frank. Frank won with a 6-9 clearance while Moats cleared 6-6.75 and both athletes will take aim at a second Relays title on Friday.

“Hopefully get to jump against some other quality jumpers, see what we can do,” said Moats. “When you see somebody else clear a high bar, it just makes you want to go after it and get it even more.”

A stronger focus on the high jump later in his collegiate career has allowed Moats to become one of the nation’s top jumpers.

“In high school I wasn’t very great at it,” said Moats. “In college I have sort of started focusing on high jump, stop doing running events. So that’s helped me be able to get better and better at it. I don’t have to worry about other events during the week.”

He was third at the recent NAIA Indoor Championships, clearing 6-10.75, while he was fifth at both indoor and outdoor nationals his junior season.

“I got third place but there was like eight jumpers that could have won it that day, just in the end it’s just kind of how it played out,” he said.

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Musketeers try to close out series with Des Moines

SIOUX CITY | Jay Varady chooses to look at the behind the scenes aspects that some Musketeers fans may not be seeing in this Western Conference Semifinal series against the Des Moines Buccaneers.

One problem was solved during Sunday's 5-0 win as the Anderson Cup champions limited themselves to two penalties, six less than were committed two nights earlier in the 4-1 Game 1 triumph. Puck management was the Sioux City coach's concern after Des Moines outshot his team 11-6 in the second period and had several chances to pull within a goal.

“We played 15 minutes of competitive hockey,” said Des Moines Coach Dave Allison," whose team will host Game 3 of the series Friday night at Buccaneer Arena in Urbandale.

“I don’t think you’re going to beat many teams if that’s what you do when you play a team as good as theirs. I thought we played better this game, but we’re still not there. That’s a good team, man. They keep coming. They’ve been relentless.”

Not relentless enough, according to Varady, who feels better puck management will be the key to a victory, which if it occurs, will close the series.

“We have to take care of the puck way better than we did (Sunday),” said Varady.

And that won’t be easy at Buccaneer Arena, which has one of the USHL’s smallest playing surfaces. The Musketeers avenged a 2-1 shootout loss on Jan. 21 with a 4-2 win on March 10 at the building where Allison’s team, 18-10-2 during the regular season, outscored opponents 14-2 in their final three home wins.

“Everything happens faster there,” said Varady. “It’s a small building. It’s going to be crazy. They’re going to have it packed. They have a great fan base there. It’s old school junior hockey. It’s going to be an intense situation down there. We’re going to have to ready to learn how to play on the road in the playoffs.”

Musketeers goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks admitted to being sloppy in the second period. He counted 10 blocked shots from players in front of him, one of those from defenseman Matt Hellickson on a shot from Tommy Parrottino that would have pulled Des Moines within 2-1.

“The third period was a lot easier because most of the time, we were in their zone,” said Kivlenieks. “It’s always tough to play against Des Moines. They’re fast. There’s odd-man rushes. It’s always like three on two or four on two. (Sunday), they had three breakaways. I have to pay attention to that.”

Allison has several concerns, beginning with the turnovers which led to the first three Sioux City goals tallied from Brady Ferner, Carson Vance and Odeen Tufto in Game 2.

His team was outshot 50-22 in Game 1, yet seven Buccaneers launched at least two shots. Outshot 34-23 in Game 2, that number dwindled down to four.

“We had two guys with (a total of) nine shots,” said Allison. “The rest of them had one or two. Our team is too good to feed the wrong goalie. We have to get pucks behind them and get after them.”

Kristian Pospisil leads all Clark Cup Playoff scorers with five points (1 goal, 4 assists). Charlie Kelleher (2, 2) and Tarek Baker (4 assists) are among four players tied for second with four points.

Playing hard and heavy will be keys to having success at Buccaneer Arena, said Varady.

“It’s a tighter building, so there’s not as much space there,” said Varady. “You have to be competitive and you have to have your nose over the puck. You have to be ready to have your teeth knocked out if you want to score a goal because it’s going to be that tough.”

“Coach Varady always says the most dangerous animal is a wounded animal because they’re fighting for their lives,” said Ferner. “When we go to Des Moines, it’s at their home barn where they’re going to be fighting for their playoff lives. It’s going to be the toughest game yet so far.”

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal 

Sioux City's Odeen Tufto controls the puck as Des Moines' Cameron Orchard defends during Musketeers playoff hockey action at the Tyson Events Center.

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Cook moves to TE; QB battle continues

IOWA CITY – There is one less candidate in the ongoing chase for Iowa’s starting quarterback position, but as Drew Cook settles into a new role as a tight end the new-look Hawkeye offense remains a work in progress.

With only two practices remaining this spring, including Friday’s 7 p.m. spring game at Kinnick Stadium, first-year offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz is good with that.

“We’ve gotten in what we need to evaluate guys and to find out what we’re good at,’’ Ferentz said Wednesday.

He said the emphasis remains on building an understanding of a new scheme first introduced to players about a month ago and encouraging growth through competition.

Ultimately, that will create Iowa’s season-opening depth chart.

“We’re not married to anyone. We’re going to do what’s best for Iowa football and what’s best for Iowa football is great competition,’’ Ferentz said.

That’s what he sees developing at multiple positions, including at quarterback.

Sophomore Nathan Stanley and junior Tyler Wiegers continue to battle for the chance to replace C.J. Beathard, with Ryan Boyle still in the mix on the next tier after Cook shifted to tight end four practices ago.

Ferentz does not expect a starting quarterback to be determined until fall camp although he said both Stanley and Wiegers have made progress through the team’s first 13 spring practices.

“They’re competitive guys. It’s pretty even and it’s been well documented that no one has really separated. I think that’s good,’’ Ferentz said. “Again, it goes back to there are no incumbents. Nobody is owed anything or deserves this or is entitled to that.’’

That’s one reason he has no problem letting the two compete into preseason camp.

“At some point we’re going to need to make a decision and some separation would help, but right now I’m encouraged because they’re both pushing forward,’’ Ferentz said. “It’s a matter of both doing a nice job.’’

Coach Kirk Ferentz said picking a starter at this point would basically be “throwing darts at a board.’’

He also announced the position change for Cook, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound sophomore who made the move last week.

Kirk Ferentz said he has been pleased with Cook’s progress at quarterback, but said there were too many other younger candidates in the mix to realistically provide him with an opportunity there.

“I think he can help our football team win sooner at tight end than at quarterback, so it was a decision that we kind of came to as a staff,’’ Kirk Ferentz said. “He was excited about it and is engaged in it. He has a tremendous upside and a great attitude about it.’’

The son of former Hawkeye all-American tight end Marv Cook fits into the mix of tight ends currently angling to replace George Kittle in the Iowa lineup.

“When you talk about moving positions, he’s not a guy you worry about,’’ Brian Ferentz said. “He’s a guy that you know will jump in and do the best he can. He has the physical attributes and has a real chance to be successful there.’’

As deep as Iowa is at tight end, it is equally thin at receiver where Adrian Falconer and Devonte Young will be the only scholarship players in uniform Friday as Matt VandeBerg continues to rehab a foot injury and Jerminic Smith sits because of academic issues.

Their absence has provided others, including walk-on junior college transfer Nick Easley, with opportunity.

“I’m just looking to find a way to help the team, whether that’s on special teams or offense, whatever I can do,’’ said Easley, who competed last fall at Iowa Western Community College. “That’s my whole focus, finding a way to help the team.’’

Brian Ferentz indicated that role may include catching passes.

“Nick Easley has done a nice job. He’s not on scholarship, but he’ll play,’’ Ferentz said. “He’ll play more than maybe he anticipated because we are looking for the guys who can go out there and do things the way we want them done.’’

That’s where summer evaluation by Hawkeye coaches begins.

“What this spring has been about is finding out who are the guys we want to create match-ups with,’’ he said. “I think we have a better idea of that, but I don’t think it’s totally going to play out until (fall) camp.’’

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Dordt's Jacob Moats attempts to clear the bar in the high jump at Red Raider Open.

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Warriors get PK victory over Knights

SERGEANT BLUFF | All good soccer teams practice penalty-kick situations and Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s boys are no exception.

Goalkeeper Brennan Sitzmann made a key save and teammate Tavian Sanchez booted the game-winning kick that clinched the Warriors’ 2-1 win over Unity Christian Thursday night at the Sergeant Bluff Recreation Complex.

Sitzmann, the winning goalkeeper in a 2-1 PK win over MOC-Floyd Valley on April 11 at the Warriors’ home turf, made the PK save on a shot from the Knights’ Adam Viet.

“I just read the guy, stay calm and hopefully make the right guess,” said Sitzmann. “I really didn’t think I made a save. I just stuck my hand out. I really didn’t expect to save it. But I saved it and got the team a ‘W.' It’s all that I could ask for.”

Following Sitzmann’s save, teammate Tim Sorge blasted the kick past Unity Christian goalie Luke Nieuwendorp that at the time, gave Coach Aaron Witmer’s team a 3-1 PK lead. The Knights were outshot 5-3 after Sanchez’s game-clinching PK.

“Every day in practice, we take PK’s,” said Sanchez. “I practice on same left side. It’s nerve-wracking when you hear the referee’s whistle and you step up to take it. Other than that, standing at the line, you’re pretty calm. Watching my teammates make them, it definitely makes you feel like the goalie’s beatable and know that he’s not on his game.”

“Tavian Sanchez won both of those shootouts,” said Witmer. “He was the fifth kicker today and he was the sixth kicker last time. He’s our finisher. He did it confident. Brennan Sitzmann is very comfortable taking those PKs and I can always count on him to make one or two saves. We’re confident in our players to sink all five of those shots.”

Sergeant Bluff-Luton (3-2) has won three of its last four games since a season-opening 2-0 loss to Glenwood. The Warriors were unable to take advantage of a 20-mile per hour North wind which was at their backs in the first half.

Sergeant Bluff-Luton had a 7-1 shots on goal advantage in the first half. Playing against the wind, the home team didn’t take long to score in the second half as Dylan Klynsma started the scoring charge, threading fine passes to Marco Dotti and Colin Margellos.

Margellos hit a shot that deflected off Nieuwendorp. Sorge scored his first goal of the season on the rebound for a 1-0 lead with 37:58 remaining in regualtion.

Unity Christian (1-2) tied the game with 22:50 left on Willem Taylor’s third goal of the season. Three minutes later, Viet attempted a shot that hit the left pole.

Sitzmann combined for 18 saves in regulation and the two overtimes while Nieuwendorp had 13 saves for the Knights.

“We would have liked to win this one in regulation,” said Witmer, whose team has already equaled the win output of a year ago.

“We did have our chances and that’s what my postgame speech was, closing these out. We work on that in practice. We’re just a few small things away. If we do those small things, we’ll have a very successful year.”

Dylan Riebeling’s goal gave Unity Christian a 1-0 junior varsity win over the Warriors.

Sergeant Bluff-Luton will start a three-game week next week hosting North on Monday.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal 

Sergeant Bluff-Luton's Tim Sorge controls the ball as Unity Christian's Willem Taylor defends.