After splitting their regular-season meetings, Top of Iowa Conference rivals Forest City, and Garner-Hayfield Ventura will share the title. Each team finished the conference season with a 12-2, with Forest City falling to GHV and North Iowa and GHV falling to Forest City and Bishop-Garrigan.
For Forest City coach Jeff Jerome it’s his third conference title in 16 years and the Indians first since 2017.
Forest City went through all seven conference opponents unblemished the first time and felt they were in control. Even after their June 16th loss to GHV, the Indians knew they just needed to win out to share the title. It wasn’t until a June 21st, 11-4 beatdown by North Iowa that took some air out their chances, especially after the Indians dominated the early part of the game against the Bison, errors sunk their ship.
For GHV coach Ryley Kozisek, it was a season to prove themselves and all the work, the kids, had put in. The Cardinals hadn’t won the conference since Kozisek was in high school; 2016 was their last.
With Kozisek, a first-year head coach, and some unknowns within the team, the Cardinals were expected to be above average. Though, once they got their full team together after the season had started, the Cardinals quickly proved they were much more than above average. The upperclassmen have been a crucial part of the Cardinals’ success.
GHV’s lone conference loss through the first seven games was to Forest City on May 26th, when they were missing half of their starting line-up due to substate soccer. GHV avenged that loss on June 16th, beating Forest City in a walk-off fashion. They got even better news just five days later when Forest City lost to North Iowa, and the Cardinals went from a game back of Forest City in those five days to a game ahead of the Indians.
Bishop-Garrigan helped Forest City take a deep breath and left the Cardinals a bit frustrated on June 23rd when the Golden Bear evened the conference race again, beating GHV 5-4.
Forest City enjoyed their Fourth of July weekend, clinching a share of the conference title against Lake Mills on Friday. On the other hand, the Cardinals had to wait until last night when they also beat Lake Mills to assure the teams would share the title. The Bulldogs made it tough on both teams. Against Forest City, the Bulldogs took the lead early on a Wyatt Helming two-run homer in the bottom of the first. The Bulldogs did the same to GHV; the Cardinals had to play comeback after Lake Mills opened an early two-run lead.
Winning a conference title is special, but doing it in your first year as a coach will be a special memory for Kozisek.
They will meet for the rubber match and a district title with a second-round playoff victory by both teams.
Zarren Egesdal is the sports director for Coloff Media radio stations KIOW and KHAM. He can be reached daily at email@example.com or 641-585-1073. Do you have a story idea? Feel free to contact him. Zarren is an award-winning journalist providing coverage to all area schools. Throughout the year, you will hear Zarren calling games as the ‘voice of the Forest City Indians’ on KIOW (107.3), the Indians’ flagship station.