No N’West Iowa high school teams were involved in the state softball tournament last year, so fans heading to Fort Dodge to support Gehlen Catholic will notice a major change since the last time the region had a team at the event two years ago.

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union eliminated the fifth-place game and the seventh-place game in all classes last summer.

“Softball is the only sport we have with any consolation competition at the state tournament level,” said IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger, who also serves as the organization’s softball administrator. “When we took a look at it, there were mixed reviews. Personally, I don’t think I have seen any of the teams that have lost three games or even two games and are in the consolation round accepting the participation trophy and certainly not an eighth-place trophy.”

State qualifiers still are promised at least two games in the tournament, but if a team loses in the opening round that is all it gets.

“Some schools liked the old format, some did not,” Berger said. “It seemed to be related to the demographics of the teams and class size. Schools with younger teams wanted more experience for their players. Teams who were junior and senior dominated just wanted to be done. Smaller classes tended to want to play it out while larger schools did not.”

The new system is a compromise.

“School administrators, for the most part, do not favor consolations, feeling that it has been a long season and it’s time for the kids and the parents to have a break and maybe get in a family vacation before volleyball and/or basketball camps start,” Berger said. “So the lose and one more game format seemed to be the middle of the road approach.”

Nothing quite yet on TV

A report in The Des Moines Register this week noted that the Iowa High School Sports Network’s contract with NBC Sports Chicago is expiring and the Iowa High School Athletic Association is hopeful a new agreement will make the broadcasts available statewide instead of through the regional network.

Not so fast my friends.

I received an e-mail from Ken Krogman, owner and president of the IHSSN, on Friday that would neither confirm or deny anything about the contact situation.

It stated: “The current IHSSN contract with NBC Sports Chicago is a nondisclosure agreement. We have been working diligently to establish a broadcast and streaming network for the 2019-20 championship season. When this has been accomplished the IHSSN will issue a news release or post it on the IHSSN Network.”

Brooks Golf to stay open

Good news for N’West Iowans who enjoy a round of golf in a pristine setting.

The Dickinson County Conservation Board voted on July 11 and has decided that Brooks Golf will remain a golf course.

The matter had been in question since the Dickinson County Conservation Board took ownership of the land in March after an anonymous donation of $3 million was given to the Conservation Foundation of Dickinson County with the idea of purchasing the course. The purchase was of 230 acres of land, including the pro shop, clubhouse restaurant and maintenance structures. Minerva’s Restaurant and Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center are owned by a different group and were a not a part of the purchase.

The main idea behind the purchase was to place a conservation easement on the land to protect it from development in perpetuity. The board is working with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on the easement and expects it to be in place by November.

With that in mind, the next natural question was if the golf course would remain or if the board would chose to let the land grow back into native prairie ground.

The board’s vote resolves the main question, though the board is looking for lease proposals for management of the course beginning in 2020. Once the proposals are in, with the deadline being the end of July, the board will review and rank the proposals. It will also discuss remaining questions such as the length of the lease and if the course will continue to be a 27-hole venue.

Dordt hires Bacon as coach

Dordt University has announced that Nathan Bacon has taken over as head coach of the Defender baseball program.

Bacon has served as an assistant coach at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, AR, since the 2015 season while also serving as the director of fitness and facilities and working as an adjunct professor at the school.

The 2018 University of the Ozarks baseball team qualified for the American Southwest Conference postseason tournament for the first time in a decade. Bacon also has been a pitching coach at Summit Christian Academy in Lee’s Summit, MO. He has been the head coach, general manager and vice president of the Puerto Rico Collegiate League since 2015. He also has head coaching experience with the Beach Collegiate Baseball League, which is based in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The strong sense of community on campus became apparent very early on and was a catalyst in my decision to accept the position to lead Dordt University baseball,” Bacon said. “Additionally, I believe the support the university offers its student-athletes creates a foundation of success for Defender baseball both on and off the field for many years to come. God made it clear to me and my family Dordt University is where we are meant to be. I am excited to begin working and building relationships on campus.”

Bacon holds a bachelor’s degree from Avila University of Missouri, where he played baseball. He was a two-time all-conference pick and finished with a 20-6 career pitching record. He also has a master’s degree from the University of Missouri.

Along with coaching baseball, Bacon will be a professor in the health and human performance department at Dordt.

College football talk

It may seem a little early to be talking college football, but a sure sign the season is right around the corner is the publication of preseason magazines and honor lists.

The 2019 College Football Yearbook America is out and it has issued some high praise for Sioux County’s two squads.

Northwestern College is ranked 14th in the NAIA Preseason Top 30 published by the magazine. Dordt University is 25th.

The yearbook also released its NAIA Starting Lineup, which is its version of a preseason All-America team. Kansas Wesleyan University had the most players on that list with four. Four other programs, including Northwestern, put two players on the list.

Red Raider junior quarterback Tyson Kooima made the team. He has 5,772 passing yards and 45 touchdown passes in his two years as a starter at Northwestern. He also has 1,156 rushing yards and 23 TDs. Junior wide receiver Shane Solberg was on the list after setting school record with 84 catches and 1,374 receiving yards last year. He caught 13 TD passes.

Dordt was represented on the honor squad by junior defensive back Nathan Kabongo. He had six interceptions and 13 pass breakups last season. He was a part of a defense that forced 19 turnovers.

Northwestern senior linebacker Tanner Machacek is on the list of finalists for the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, an annual award given to college football players for the impact they make off the field. Machacek, a three-year starter for the Red Raiders, has worked for a local program called Delivering Hope. He organized a collection of items at the Red Raiders Spring Scrimmage for comfort bags for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments.