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Sports Spotlight U.S.A. Inc. 338 SW 6th Street Des Moines, Ia 515.244.1118


CONTRIBUTORS Rush Nigut President

John Streets Business Operations


Tony Atzeni Programming Director

Sam Taylor Art Director

Tork Mason Editor-In-Chief


WDM YOUTH SOCCER EXCELS The WDM Soccer Club U13 team had success in its first major tournament.


Ankeny Centennial’s Keaton McKinney took to the mound on an international stage.

Elizabeth Robinson

Managing Editor

Brianna Laubach Video Production

Juli Smith Graphic Design



Des Moines Roosevelt’s Jalynn Roberts-Lewis established herself as the top performer in multiple events at the Drake Relays.

Kari Elbert Sales Director



West Burlington/Notre Dame boasts two of the state’s best high jumpers.

Editor’s Note:

In this issue, we bring you coverage from the 2014 Drake Relays. Read about Des Moines Roosevelt’s Jalynn Roberts-Lewis, who is ensuring she’s known for more than elite long jumping, and West Burlington/Notre Dame’s Jeff Giannettino and Xavier Williams, who form the state’s best 1-2 punch in the high jump. Also ready up on Ankeny Centennial pitcher Keaton McKinney’s experience playing in Taiwain for the 18U Baseball World Cup.

Drake Relays

PG 10-13


YOUTH TEAM OF THE MONTH: WDM SOCCER CLUB U13 Metro youth took on teams from all across the midwest to come away with a title By Darrin Cline

Winter’s seemingly never-ending grip on Iowa finally broke in early April, and the timing couldn’t have been better. Hundreds of soccer-ready youngsters gathered at James W. Cownie Sports Complex in Des Moines for the 12th Annual West Des Moines Soccer Club Premier Games. Teams from Cedar Rapids to Council Bluffs and from Minnesota to Nebraska made the trip to Des Moines for one of the first outdoor tournaments of the season. Teams ranged from U11 to U14 in both boys and girls divisions. The hosts from the West Des Moines Soccer Club turned in a number of stellar performances, including a championship in the girls U13 Silver Division. “The first tournament is always a struggle, adapting to the big field after playing inside for so long,” WDMSC U12-U14 director and coach Rich Bywater said. “You have to brush off some cobwebs, but our girls did a great job grinding it out.” While the Premier Games may have been the first outdoor tournament of the season, it was far from the first set of games for the girls. The group began playing together as a U8 team, and the roster has remained largely the same over the past five years. “These girls have learned a lot about each other over the last five years,” Bywater said. “Each player knows their role, and as far as technical skill sets,

they are among the best in their age group.” The girls WDMSC U13 White squad brought home the gold behind the play of a stout defense. In the first game of the tournament, WDMSC defeated the ISC Comets, 2-0; the second game was another shut out, this time over Cedar Valley SC. In the final game, the girls struggled in the first half, allowing two early goals. After a few halftime adjustments, they tightened up and refocused on defense, but were unable to find the back of the net and fell to the Minnesota Thunder Academy, 0-2. Despite the loss, the girls team still qualified for the championship match, this time in a second showdown against the Comets. The defense proved to be the difference maker again, as WDMSC edged ahead with a second half goal and collected another clean sheet to win the division title with a 1-0 victory. “The games were fought in the middle third, and we grinded it out to succeed; keeping the clean sheets was a major part of our success,” assistant coach Sam Weeks said. The roster’s depth and familiarity also proved to be a sizeable advantage for the girls. “The situation in the last game called for some specific formations and each girl listened and responded,” Bywater said. “If we needed to, we pulled a player off, talked with them and help them regain

that focus, then put them back on. We’re fortunate to have so many good subs and rotations.” That development, coachability and camaraderie have served the team well thus far. If that attitude continues, the team has the ability to contend for medals all summer. “That’s one of the best parts of being a coach, seeing how they have changed, even in the short time we have been with them. It may be cliché but they’ve moved along quite well,” Weeks said.

The West Des Moines Soccer Club U13 team won its division championship at the 12th Annual West Des Moines Premier Games on April 6. (Photo courtesy of Gareth Smith)

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Volume 2 Issue 8

In the

Spotlight Youth This page presented to you by:

Each month we publish youth action photos from around the state. We would love to get yours! Send us your photos at Photos were taken at the James W. Cownie Sports Complex in Des Moines

Volume 2 Issue 8


High School

TO TAIWAN AND BEYOND Ankeny Centennial’s Keaton McKinney experienced a taste of international competition last summer By Devin Tejral

Ankeny Centennial star Keaton McKinney and Team USA took on the world’s best young players in the 2013 18U Baseball World Cup in Taichung City, Taiwan. The Americans came away with their second gold medal in two years. (Photo courtesy of Shelly McKinney)

It was a warm and humid mid-September evening in a venerable baseball stadium halfway across the world. Twenty teenagers, giddy with excitement as smiles rolled across their faces stepped up in unison onto a wooden platform.  The journey had just ended. Team USA just won the coveted gold medal in the 18U World Cup Championship by defeating Japan 3-2 in the championship game. Ankeny Centennial High School senior and Arkansas recruit  Keaton  McKinney  along with 19 of his new best friends were accepting their awards. As they lined up shoulder to shoulder across the elevated podium, the United States national anthem began to play over the loud speakers at Taichung Stadium in Taichung City, Taiwan.  “The one memory I will always remember from this experience is the feeling that came over me when they played the Star Spangled Banner; it was very humbling,” McKinney recalled in vivid detail. “It was definitely a goose bump moment that I’ll never forget.”


Volume 2 Issue 8

The journey actually began a few months earlier in June, when 144 of the top high school baseball players from all across the country were invited to participate in the Team USA tryout that took place in North Carolina. After the gruelingly intense weeklong competition, McKinney  was notified he had made the 40 player cut. The final step in the process would take place in California in August where five exhibition games would be played throughout the Los Angeles area leading up to the final cut. “It was pretty cool - Keaton that one of the venues we played at was Dodger Stadium,” McKinney said. “I hit a home run at Dodger Stadium over the left center field fence.” McKinney’s trip to California actu-

ally began about 10 days prior where he was invited to participate in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. McKinney made his appearance during the nationally televised game on ESPN in the fourth inning.  “We were all in the clubhouse before the game watching the MLB channel and in the lower right hand corner of the screen it said, ‘Watch the All-American Game,’” McKinney said.  “We were all excited knowing that we were going to be playing on the field.”   McKinney McKinney entered the game on the mound and was extremely effective, striking out the side, with a steady mix of a 93 mph fastball and a wicked change-up. 


The week however, was far from a baseball only experience. In the days leading up to the game all 51 players were invited to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado to speak with and observe U.S. Navy Seals in training. “We watched them go through an obstacle course; we wanted to try it but they didn’t let us,” McKinney said. “It looked pretty tough.  But they did make us run everywhere we went. There was no walking allowed.” The boys also had the opportunity to visit cancer patients at Rady Children’s Hospital in the San Diego area. “It was a real special opportunity for us to be able to put a smile on a sick kid’s face,” McKinney said. “Very rewarding.”  McKinney wears a bracelet that was given to him at the hospital that reads NEGU – Never Ever Give Up. He said it’s a great reminder to always keep things in proper perspective. After the week of practice and games in L.A. came the moment of truth. “After the last game we all went into a meeting room. If they called your

High School name you went into a second room where another coach greeted you and congratulated you. It was really nerve racking waiting for your name to be called, but I was the third name called so it was over pretty quick,” McKinney said. The next evening the team went to ESPN Zone where the coaches presented each player his USA uniform. “When I was called up and presented my uniform I got goose bumps,” McKinney said. “It was a dream of mine that came true, playing for USA.  It was a real honor.” The next morning, the team and family members were on a plane heading to Taiwan.  As soon as they got off the plane, the players were hounded for autographs by fans, young and old alike. Twelve countries from every corner of the globe were represented in a round robin and the top three teams from each pool advanced to the playoffs. Team USA went 8-1 during the

tournament. “The one loss was to Australia 1-0 in pool play so it didn’t hurt us,” McKinney said. Over the course of the week, McKinney pitched 4 2/3 innings only allowing one run, played first base in seven games, and sat out for one.  McKinney was pleased with his performance at the plate, too, w h e r e he  batted .308 and had the winning RBI in t h e championship game.  The only disappointment on the trip for  McKinney  was the food. “It was awful,” he said. We ordered a lot from Pizza Hut and McDonalds.” Next up on McKinney’s plate is his senior year and his goal to lead Centennial to a state title.  He has a 19-2 record heading into his final season and hasn’t lost a game since his freshman season. Jaguars head coach Mark Hey recalls McKinney’s days as a bat-

boy for the varsity team when he was in fifth grade. “We knew there was a good chance of him being pretty special way back then,” Hey said. “In my 20 years in Ankeny, I’ve only had three or four kids start as a freshman at the beginning of the year. And with how hard he works year round, I’m not surprised at all that he made the USA team.”    And then it’s on to Arkansas.  “I’ve always wanted to play in the SEC and when I visited the campus I knew this was the place for me,” said  McKin-

ney, who committed when he was a sophomore. “Another goal is to play in the College World Series.  That would be real cool.” The only thing that could stand in McKinney’s way of achieving those goals? The MLB Draft.  McKinney is currently ranked 30th among prep standouts across the nation by Perfect Game USA. If he’s drafted, McKinney could face a potentially life-altering decision. “Obviously this is what I have been aiming for my entire life,” McKinney said. “I’ll have to sit down with my parents and advisors to help me make my decision.” McKinney is destined to have many more goose bump moments in store for him in his auspicious future.  His path has already taken him from sea to shining sea, and to Taiwan and beyond.  But one thing is certain: the journey hasn’t ended. It’s just begun.

Career Stats W/L Record: 19-2 Innings Pitched: 135.2 Earned Runs Allowed: 25 Earned Run Average: 1.29 Strikeouts: 131 K/BB Ratio: 3.74/1 Photo courtesy of Shelly McKinney

18U Baseball World Cup • Sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) • First played in 1981 • United States medal count: 23 (7G, 11S, 5B) • Country with most gold medals: Cuba (11) • United States: Defending back-to-back champions Photo courtesy of Shelly McKinney

Volume 2 Issue 8




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CLICK IT OR TICKET Ben’s Q & A What’s your favorite sport to play? Why? Soccer. It’s a sport of constant learning and it is always competitive. And [I like] the energy you get after scoring a goal no matter how tired you are. What’s your favorite sports memory? Being able to be a part of the growing soccer program at Bellevue-Marquette. Do you have any fun pre-game “rituals” that prepare you for an event? Handshakes with my teammates before games. Who inspires you? Why? [My] dad. [He is] comeptitive and a leader. What is your dream job? Extreme sports on team Redbull. What’s your favorite subject in school? Why? Service Learning, helping younger kids learn and simply talking with them is rewarding.

Achievements Sports: Football, Soccer, Snowboarding, Skateboarding Athletic Achievements/Honors: Tri State Athlete of The Week - 2013, Football - school field-goal record. Soccer - school goal record College or post-high school plans: Major in Business at the University of Dubuque

Ben Lawrence Bellevue

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JACK OF ALL TRADES Tork Mason | Editor-in-Chief

Des Moines Roosevelt’s Jalynn Roberts-Lewis stood in front of reporters on April 25, still breathing heavily after collecting her second individual title of the day at the Drake Relays. Her first crown, which came in the long jump, was hardly a surprise — she is now a three-time Relays champion in the event. But she got her second in the 100-meter dash, an event in which some seem to forget she excels. Roosevelt has had a string of outstanding sprinters pass through its halls, including former Roughriders standout Agnes Sayeh, who claimed a state championship in the 100-meter dash in 2013 and finished second in the event as a sophomore in 2011. While those athletes brought home the crown in the 100-meters, Roberts-Lewis toiled in relative anonymity on the oval, even after winning the 2013 state title in the 200-meter dash and taking second in the 100-meters behind Sayeh. But now she is at the head of the charge and is finally garnering more recognition for her talents as a sprinter, instead of being known mainly as a long jumper. But Roberts-Lewis said she’s not interested in glory; she just wants to serve as a role model for her underclassmen teammates and even younger athletes who aren’t yet in high school. “It feels awesome to know that someday, maybe girls will look up to me and know that it doesn’t matter where you are or where you go to school, because if you work hard, your times and your jumps will [reflect that],” Roberts-Lewis said.

Her father, Patrick Lewis, who is an assistant coach at Roosevelt, said it’s good to see his daughter earn more recognition for her overall skills, but it didn’t come easily. She put in countless hours of work into perfecting her crafts, even travelling out of state to compete on the AAU circuit. “I’m a big believer that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” Lewis said. “And in track, you have to keep those muscles firing and that muscle memory going all the time.” Roberts-Lewis got people’s attention with her performance in the 100-meter dash, but she still made bigger waves on the runway. At Drake, she entered an elite club by jumping 19-0, a mark she had been chasing for nearly two years. I’ve been trying to get 19-0 since I hit 18-0 in the summer going into my junior year,” Roberts-Lewis said. “So to hit it [at Drake on April 25], with all my friends and family here watching, was just awesome. Nineteen feet is huge, because you can place with a 19-3 at the NCAA [championships]. Just thinking that I can do that right now, without being in college and getting that training, is awesome.” Roberts-Lewis said having friends and family to see her in action wasn’t the only benefit to competing at Drake Stadium, though. “Honestly, I get more nervous at the smaller meets than I do at the big ones, which is really weird; you probably wouldn’t think that,” she said. “But these meets are a lot more fun, so I just try to relax. And when I have fun, I do my best.” Her father said she also has the special ability to always come up with her best efforts when



Volume 2 Issue 8

Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley


DRAKE RELAYS Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley

it truly counts. She’s at her best when the pressure is at its highest, which was evident when she finally stuck her career-best leap after posting several disappointing marks during the competition at Drake Stadium. Now, Roberts-Lewis is in the unique position of owning the top time among all runners in the 100-meters and the best long jump mark this season. And Lewis doesn’t see that changing.

Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley

“I honestly believe it’s more of a situation where she feels, ‘I want to take ownership of the long jump and I want to take ownership of the 100[-meter dash],’” he said. “People sometimes see Jalynn as just a jumper, but she’s a sprinter that jumps.”

Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley


RAISING THE BAR Tork Mason | Editor-in-Chief

Jeff Giannettino was all smiles on the afternoon of April 25. He’d just cleared 7-0 in the high school boys high jump at the Drake Relays, setting a new personal record and earning his second-straight Relays title in the event. This year, though, he had some familiar company near the top. Giannettino and fellow Falcon leaper Xavior Williams each took home top-3 finishes in the high jump after Williams bowed out with his own personal best mark at 6-8. The two teammates were the only competitors from the same school in the field, and they announced one of the nation’s biggest stages that they’re both forces to be reckoned with. The heights they reached made them the best 1-2 punch in the country as of April 28, according to, which tracks the performances of high school track and field athletes nationwide. “Just because we’re small, doesn’t mean we can’t compete with the bigger schools, the big dogs,” Williams said. “Because we can, in almost everything we do. We’ve got a good team with a lot of talent.” Falcons head coach Corey Lamm said this season has been a thrilling ride, and he realizes how special it really is. “[Having two elite high jumpers] is something you never expect, being at the school we’re at, the size we are,” Lamm said. “It’s not something you expect to have. It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime



Photo courtesy of Corey Lamm

chance to have somebody even close to seven feet, and to have two of them up there at 6-8 and 7-0 — it’s unexpected and will most likely never happen for me again.” The only other instance Lamm could recall in which a small school had two high jumpers of similar caliber was Lynnville-Sully from 2001-2003, when Cale Van Genderen and Jaron Van Maanen both claimed state titles in the event. Williams said having such great competition in practices and regular season meets, as well as at the Drake Relays, has helped push both he and Giannettino higher. “A lot of kids where we’re at don’t get past 6-0,” Williams said. “These kids [in the Relays field], they’re getting 6-7, 6-8. It’s good to have someone pushing you to get up there, and you want to beat the bigger kids and be bigger than them.” Giannettino agreed. “I’m lucky to have Xavior with me all the time,” Giannettino said. “He usually puts up a good fight and we push each other over higher heights. Then you come here and you have a great field of jumpers — that was an amazing field out there — it’s great to push you higher and help each other get new [personal records].” For Giannettino, clearing 7-0 never even registered as a possibility when he first started competing in seventh grade. But Lamm said it’s something that’s been in the back of the junior’s mind for a while now, and now that he’s reached that milestone, Giannettino can focus on going even higher without the added pressure of friends asking when he’ll hit the magic mark. And breaking it at the Relays was even more special. “With this crowd and the jumpers I was going against, it was just a great atmosphere to do it in; perfect place, perfect time,” Giannettino said. “I couldn’t ask for a better time to clear it.” Williams’ performance, on the other hand, has been more of a surprise. His best jump as a freshman last season was 6-2, but Lamm said he’s made tremendous improvements to his


Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley

Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley

DRAKE RELAYS technique that have quickly made into one of the state’s best leapers. Giannettino said it was always a matter of when, not if, Williams would make that transformation. “We know he has it in him,” Giannettino said. “He has more in him, too; we just have to go back to the drawing board and keep working on it.” Lamm said having two elite jumpers is great, but he knows he can’t just kick back and revel in his good

Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley

fortune. He wants to help both boys go as high as they can, and he dedicates himself to finding every way possible for them to achieve that goal. But he still said it’s tough not to be amazed at times. “It’s mind-boggling to watch those guys go over the bar as high as they do,” he said. “It’s awesome to see and it makes track a lot of fun for people who are watching them.”

Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley

Ripslinger has had a strong open this season. She currently owns the third-best 200-meter dash time in Class 3A at 25.90 seconds and holds the fourth-best time in the 100-meter dash at 12.24 seconds.

Washington has hit his stride very early in the season this year and currently holds the secondbest time in the 100-meter dash and the fourth-best time in the 200-meter dash this year.

Huber’s only played five games, but she leads Class 2A and the entire state with 17 goals. She tallied five goals and two assists in a 10-0 rout of Fort Madison on April 8. If the Grayhounds are to make a run this year, it’s a safe bet that Huber will be the driving force behind it.

Photo courtesy of Linn-Mar High School

Luzindya is currently among Class 3A leaders in goals scored (10) and is a big reason for the No. 5 Lions’ 8-1 start this season. He’s also one of the state’s best at generating scoring chances. He’s in the top 10 statewide with 18 shots on goal.

Rebekah Topham Photo courtesty of Ed Adair

Topham qualified in the 400-meter hurdles, 800-, 1500- and 3000-meter runs at the 2014 Drake Relays. She has the third-best time this season in the 400 hurdles and top-five times in the 800- and 3000- meter runs in all classes.

Isaiah Mundell

Senior | Waverly-Shell Rock

Photo courtesy of Jill Evans

Daniel Luzindya

Junior | Griswold

Sophomore | Burlington

Elyse Huber

Junior | Linn-Mar (Marion)

Photo by Tork Mason

Senior | Davenport Assumption

Junior | Fort Dodge

Rose Ripslinger

Cray Washington

Photo courtesy of Waverly-Shell Rock High School

Mundell leads all players in points (39) and holds the top spot in goals scored (17). His prolific scoring is powered, in part, by outstanding accuracy. Mundell has taken just 22 shots, 19 of which have been put on goal.

In the

Spotlight High School This page presented to you by:

Each month we publish high school action photos from around the state. We would love to get yours! Send us your photos at Photos were taken during the 105th Drake Relays in Des Moines from April 24-26. Photos by Tork Mason and Adam Wesley.

Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley

Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley

Photo courtesy of Adam Wesley




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Sports Spotlight Vol. 2 Iss. 8  

As part of our Drake Relays coverage, read about Des Moines Roosevelt's Jalynn Roberts-Lewis and how she's more than just an elite long jump...