With 2020 on the horizon, many reflect on the milestones of the previous year. The Perry Chief had a handful of big sports stories over the past 12 months.

Here are some of the top sports stories from the Perry Chief from 2019:

Denied no longer: Cody Fisher finally crowned state champ

After two straight seasons of coming up just short of a state title, Woodward-Granger’s Cody Fisher finally punched through, capturing the Class 2A 220-pound state crown. In both 2017 and 2018, Fisher took to the 195-pound weight class and finished in second place at the state tournament. This time around, however, the junior would not be stopped as he bested familiar foe Kaden Sutton of ADM for the official state crown. That officially marked Fisher as Woodward-Grangers’ first-ever state wrestling champion. As he did at the beginning of the season, Fisher officially ended his junior campaign atop the Class 2A 220-pound rankings. He also bumped up his overall record for the season at 44-1.

Fisher wasn’t the only Woodward-Granger wrestler at the state level.

Tyler Lawrenson (285-pounds): Fellow Woodward-Granger teammate Tyler Lawrenson didn’t have as strong of a start to the state tournament as Fisher. Lawrenson fell in his opening match in a 3-1 decision before picking up his first state tournament victory in a 5-0 decision win over Storm Howard of Clarinda. That sent Lawrenson to the consolation bracket but his attempt for third place fell short with a sudden victory defeat in the consolation quarterfinal bracket.

There were also three Bluejay wrestlers to grace the state tournament.

Kaleb Olejniczak (138-pounds): The collegiate bound senior once again made himself comfortable at the state tournament, his fourth trip to Wells Fargo Arena overall. It was another strong start for Olejniczak that put him quickly in the winner’s bracket for day two. Once day two arrived the day began with a 7-3 decision win before the second-ranked 138-pound wrestler was matched up with top-ranked Jack Thomsen of Union High School. It truly was a battle of top-ranked wrestlers that unfortunately fell against Olejniczak in an overtime thriller. The senior ended up picking himself up for a third-place finish.

Jacob Nelson (132-pounds): Jacob Nelson’s (32-16) tournament experience ended on opening night after suffering consecutive losses. His first bout was against junior Jalen Schropp (38-2) of Williamsburg, who took his junior adversary down with a 15-0 Technical Fall.

In his consolation match, Jacob drew Louisa Muscatine’s senior Cody Calvelage (31-6). The two went the distance with Jacob losing by just five points, in a 12-7 decision.

Cole Nelson (106-pounds): For freshman Cole Nelson, his tournament began with a first-round match against the tournament fifth-seeded Carter Fousek (37-4) of Crestwood High School.

The two 106-pound competitors went the distance using all three periods and the combined nine minutes before a win was claimed. Unfortunately for Nelson, he found himself on the wrong end of the 8-4 decision.

Later that evening, Cole redeemed his loss when he earned his first-ever win. In his first round consolation match, the young freshman earned the right to move on after needing just 97 seconds to eliminate Atlantic High School’s freshman Garrett McLaren (40-14). Cole moved on to day two, where he ultimately fell.

Various athletes find themselves collegiate bound

One of the major goals of nearly every high school athlete is to punch a ticket to the collegiate athletic scene. For several Perry and Woodward-Granger athletes, such an opportunity presented itself this past year.

Cody Fisher: The historical trend-setting junior followed up becoming Woodward-Granger’s first-ever state tournament winner with the school’s first-ever division one athletic commit. Fisher officially gave his notice that he will continue his wrestling career within the confines of Iowa State University next season.

Gabby West: While Kaleb Olejniczak was the only Perry wrestler moving on to the collegiate level, softball was also represented with several stars including Gabby West. The senior gave her commitment to the softball diamond to play for Iowa Lakes Community College for the following collegiate softball season.

Adriana Eastman: Adriana Eastman basically lived on the softball diamond so it was only fitting to see the high school senior take her next step in that manner. Eastman officially signed her letter of intent to play softball at Grand View University for the following softball season.

Molly Lutmer: The hardwood was also well represented across both Perry and Woodward-Granger schools. That included Perry girls hoops star Molly Lutmer. Following her senior campaign at Perry High School, Lutmer will continue her basketball career with the University of Sioux Falls in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Should she keep up her scoring efforts into the 2020 campaign, Lutmer will have paced the Jayettes in scoring each of the last three seasons.

Keghan West: For most high school signees heading off to tackle athletics in college, they do so within the realm of just one sport. That’s where Perry’s Keghan West comes in. The senior inked his way to play both baseball and basketball once he steps foot on the campuses of Central College in Pella. West produced 25 strikeouts on the mound with 13 hits from the batters’ box during his junior baseball stint while second in scoring on the hardwood for Perry during the 2018-19 season.

Kayley Dresback: Following a strong season for Woodward-Granger girls basketball in 2018-19, the Hawks saw their own Kayley Dresback punch her ticket to collegiate athletics. The senior signed to play on the hardwood for Buena Vista and fulfilled a life goal.

“It’s been a dream of mine to play at the next level,” Dresback said. “I’m ecstatic for what’s to come and all my time here at Woodward-Granger has been a big stepping stone leading up to the opportunity to play college basketball.”

Perry legend Davis a testament to finding success beyond sports

Every high school across the United States goes through ebbs and flows, winning seasons and losing seasons. Unfortunately for Perry High School, athletics as a whole lately has been on a downfall. That included three separate sports programs going winless over the span of the last few years followed by even more hard times. While nowhere close to a losing culture, such hard times could take a toll on individuals especially at the high school level. For some schools, that would be the end, but not for Perry and the Bluejay way. One person who embodied that and still does to this day is Bluejay legend, Ron Davis.

Davis was more than an athletic star for Perry, setting two national and seven Iowa track records. He never came close to experiencing a losing season and was basically the very definition of a successful athlete. Part of that comes with the mindset that if you put in the work, things will get better and that sports are not everything.

“One thing that I would want any young athlete to know at this stage in the game is, education is first,” Davis said. “I had a natural ability. I went to meets where I knew I was going to get first place.”

Today, Bluejays and Jayettes walk through the halls and see signs about the “Bluejay Way.” Among the five tenents is a desire to “Dream big” and “Commit to excellence in academics & activities.” Davis was a big part of that and the city of Perry got another glimpse of that when he arrived for Perry’s homecoming festivities.

Brendan Ivory sets record; helps Perry hoops back into win column

It hasn’t been a secret, the Perry boys basketball team has fallen on hard times recently with a season without a win across 2018-19. That scenario definitely acts as quite the barrier to success but that sure didn’t stop a historical push by Bluejay hoops star Brendan Ivory. Verging on 23 straight losses going back to last season, the Bluejays were trying all they could to find a win and thanks to a 45 point performance by Ivory, Perry found the win column. The win set several historical tones including the fact that it marked the first victory in 23 games for the Bluejays. It also put Ivory into the history books with 45 points to break the single-game school record previously set by brother Rashon Ivory back in 2017. Going further, the historical night also marked the first time both Perry girls and boys won on the same night since Dec. 16 of 2016. It was an amazing feat not likely to be repeated by others but in the end, it was something head coach Aaron Lyons knew would happen.

“I’ve known him since his freshman year. He could have given up, transferred to do whatever he wanted to do but he stayed true to himself and he’s a great basketball player,” Lyons said

All the way through the holiday break, Ivory has accumulated an average of 39.5 percent shooting from field goal range and 30.7 percent shooting from three-point range.

Success on both tracks

There was plenty of success to go around within the running circle across both Perry and Woodward-Granger High School. On the track and field side of things, both the Hawks girls and the Perry boys had several individuals grace the hallowed grounds of Drake Stadium for the state track meet. For Woodward-Granger, that meant the 4x800 meter relay of Anna Tague, Ava Petersen, Josie Noland, and Emma Drake. The foursome earned their way as the fourth seed within the Class 2A ranks courtesy of a time of 10:15.26. It was a strong race but in the end not the best outing for the foursome who collected a final time of 10:58.92. That came despite a season-best split time from Teague who had an estimated individual time of 2:28. Emma Drake herself was an individual state qualifier, punching her ticket in the 800 meter run as the 14th seed with a qualifying time of 2:27.11. She came into the race as one of over 14 runners in the field and left in ninth-place, courtesy of a season-best time of 1:24.92. That marked nearly three full seconds ahead of her prior season-best.

On the Perry side of things, the athletic pair of Kaleb Olejniczak and Kato Dougan represented the Bluejays at the state track meet. The year before they entered the same event but this time around, Olejniczak punched his ticket in the 400-meter run while Dougan’s work was done in the 100-meter dash event. Olejniczak’s entrance to state came by way of a 51.45-second state-qualifying time in the 400-meter dash. That seeded the senior eighth and in the end, he walked away with a 12th-place finish and a time of 50.98 seconds. Dougan qualified for state with a time of 11.76 seconds in the 100-meter dash. He walked away from the state meet with a 23rd place finish.

Cross Country - Jaylene Karolus Perry

There was a lot of excitement surrounding cross country at Perry High School, especially when it came to distance phenom Jaylene Karolus. As just a freshman, Karolus ran her way into the state cross country meet. With yet another year in the books, yet another trip for Karolus to the state cross country meet. The talented sophomore toppled her 70th place finish from a year prior and took on the over 100 runner field even stronger. So much stronger in fact that she captured a 48 rank improvement and placed 22nd overall with a time of 19:38.

“She ran a great race,” head cross country coach Ryan Marzen said. “You can’t ask for anything more. Just a great day for her. A great day for a lot of other girls as well.”