Best Moments of 2023

Posted January 1, 2024

2023 was a successful year for Ames High Athletics. Nearly every program saw improvement from the season before and most had notable performances at a high-level. Below is a list of the top-15 best moments from the 2023 calendar year.

Honorable Mention – Softball finished with the program’s third-straight 20-plus win season, the first such occurrence since 2001-03. The Little Cyclones graduated two players who established several new offense records. Ellie Lynch ended with the program’s all-time best marks for RBI, stolen bases, and runs scored while Ireland Buss maintained the program’s all-time home run mark broken during her junior season.

Honorable Mention – Girls golfer Emersen Motl tallied her first career hole-in-one by acing the eighth hole at Fort Dodge Country Club during the 2024 Fort Dodge Invitational.

Honorable Mention – The girls swimming & diving team earned its 16th-consecutive top-5 finish at the IGHSAU Championships. That trumps the next closest program’s seven-consecutive top-5 placings.

Honorable Mention – Volleyball recorded the program’s best season record since 2013, by tallying a 19-16 overall record. The Little Cyclones finished 4-1 at the Iowa Alliance Conference Championship tournament to record a second-place finish.

Honorable Mention – Boys soccer reached the IHSAA state quarterfinals for the 10th time in program history and first time since 2017. The Little Cyclones defeated No. 7 Des Moines East in a substate final before falling to second-seeded Dowling Catholic, 2-1, at Cownie Park in Des Moines.

#10 – Led by sophomores Emersen Motl and Elizabeth Duncan, girls golf qualified to the IGHSAU championship rounds for the first time since winning the title in 2010. Duncan (14th) and Motl (20th) both recorded top-20 individual finishes. The Little Cyclones return all six this season from last year’s state card.

#9 – Boys basketball made it to the IHSAA quarterfinals for the third consecutive season. It was the program’s 24th all-time state tournament appearance, the most in 4A. The run included Ames overcoming a 13-point halftime deficit to Ankeny in the substate semifinal, avenging a loss earlier in the season to the Hawks. The Little Cyclones then defeated Linn-Mar 67-49 four nights later to clinch a spot at Wells Fargo Arena.

#8 – Led by Alexis Winkey’s fourth-place finish at 125 and Lexa Rozevink (5th, 120) and Greta Goodman (6th, 100) earning spots on the medal stand, girls wrestling finished in the top-10 of the inaugural IGHSAU State Wrestling Championships. The Little Cyclones return four of five 2023 tournament point scorers to the room this season.

#7 – Girls cross country qualified for the program’s third consecutive team appearance at the IGHSAU championship meet. At the state meet, Claire Helmers recorded an eighth-place individual finish, becoming the first three-time top-10 finisher in program history.

#6 – Jabari Hinson (126) and Danarii Mickel (195) both reached the title match at the IHSAA Wrestling Championships. Both were underclassmen and are currently ranked in the top-2 this season. It was the first time since 1986 that Ames had two in the finals. Kyler Hall also placed fifth at 285, just a week after earning his 100th career victory.

#5 – Cheerleading took state runner-up in large group Cheer/Dance at the 2023 ICCA Championships this fall, the program’s best team finish since earning gold in 2015. Additionally, Ames took second in its first-ever Coed Stunt entry.

#4 – Boys swim placed third in the team standings and won two events at the 2023 IHSAA Swim Championships. The quartet of Evan Feilmeyer/Joshua Chen/Ian McCorkle/Tristan Day opened the finals with a victory and school record time of 1:33.24 in the 200 Medley Relay before Chen took home the breaststroke title later on in the day.

#3 – With the ultimate goal of a team state championship practically out of reach going into the final event, the Ames senior-loaded 4×400 team of Cameron Moon/Saylor Horras/Ellie Lynch/Ali Frandsen still produced a school record 3:49.49 state title-winning time, also the second-fastest time in state history. As a team, girls track & field rewrote the record books at the state and program level in 2023. Eight new school-best times were recorded on the track (five individual and three relay events) as the team recorded its best finish since 1996.

#2 – Ali Frandsen dominated and swept the individual hurdles events at both the prestigious Drake Relays and IGHSAU Championships. Frandsen posted school record times at both meets: 100M Hurdles (14.08, IGHSAU 4A record) and 400M Hurdles (1:01.16, Drake).

#1 – With enough big moments to have its own proper top-10 list, baseball ended its exciting season and one of the most memorable runs in school history with the team’s first championship game appearance since 1988. After a 2-8 start to the campaign, the squad won 29 of its next 35 games to post a program-best for wins in a season (31-14). Baseball had several exciting finishes in its postseason run:

• Topped Waterloo East, 1-0 (10 inn.), in substate opening round pitcher’s duel
• Defeated No. 1 Ankeny Centennial for first state bid since 1995
• Won thrilling Little Cy-Hawk showdown over No. 2 Iowa City High, 9-7, in state quarterfinal
• Topped No. 6 Cedar Falls on the final, full-count pitch in state semifinal, 4-3