CEDAR RAPIDS - Soccer took Drew Russell halfway around the world and back.
The Mount Vernon native chose an unorthodox professional soccer path by leaving home a decade ago at age 16 and pursuing his athletic dreams in Europe.
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Cedar Rapids Washington has had a good week.
The Warriors have discovered their winning ways, opening the week with three straight wins over ranked teams.
Washington swept Class 3A sixth-ranked Dubuque Wahlert on Monday and captured the first game of a doubleheader split Wednesday against Cedar Falls, which is ranked seventh in 4A.
“We’re putting things together finally,” Washington Coach Scott Brune said. “They’re playing the well they are capable of playing.”
The Warriors entered the week with just four wins and held a 7-13 record before Friday’s Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader against Cedar Rapids Prairie.
Brune expected a young team and the Washington starters include about four sophomores and a freshman.
“They just needed to get some experience under their belt and build some confidence to know they can play with any team in the league,” Brune said. “I think we’re starting to get that effort. The kids have stayed the course and kept believing. We’re finally seeing some success.”
The Warriors benefitted from a three-hit shutout from Chris Harrington in a 10-0 win over Wahlert in six innings. Washington’s improved offense rapped 15 hits, getting three hits and three RBIs from freshman Trey Leonard.
The Warriors’s Johnny Dobbs through a five-hitter in a 3-1 victory over the Golden Eagles. Dobbs also scored and added an RBI.
The Warriors didn’t suffer a letdown, topping the Tigers, 4-3, two days later. Jared Thorson earned the win and Matt Troendle had two hits and two RBIs.
“We’ve had consistency from our pitchers,” said Brune, noting Harrington, Dobbs and Thorson provide deep, quality starts. “Our defense has picked it up as of late as well as our approach at the plate.”
In addition to the pitching trio, Brune praised the contributions of Leonard, Landen Akers and Alex Herzog.
The latest stretch provides something to build on, approaching the postseason.
“We’re starting to put everything together,” Brune said. “We’re doing all three aspects of the game, pitching consistently. We’re starting to play even better defense and having better approaches at the plate, helping us get a lead and put pressure on the other team.
“They have stayed the course and bout into the concepts we were trying to instill in them.”
The Iowa High School Athletic Association released district and substate assignments for Classes 3A and 4A. One of the 4A substates include power Iowa City West and a much improved Cedar Rapids Jefferson. They will compete in the postseason against Burlington, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Washington and Iowa City High.
Jefferson and West were within a half-game of each other before their MVC doubleheader Friday night in Iowa City. They are the front-runners for the top-seed and a key bye.
The J-Hawks viewed the draw, but aren’t focused on it. They will take care of what is in their control.
“Rankings, seedings and stuff like that doesn’t really matter with our mindset,” Jefferson Coach Kyle Rodenkirk said. “We’re just going to try to win every pitch, every inning and that’s just part of our makeup.”
The tough field will present a strong challenge to qualify for July’s state tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines. Rodenkirk said the substate champion will have earned the reward. Plenty of work remains for Jefferson.
“We’re at a pretty good spot right now,” Rodenkirk said. “I told the boys don’t look into it too much. We still about a third left of our season. I still think we’re going to play our best ball going forward.”
Third-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Linn-Mar are in a 4A substate with Bettendorf, Davenport West, Muscatine and Pleasant Valley.
Cedar Rapids Xavier and Marion will compete in districts hosted by Maquoketa and Western Dubuque. Maquoketa will host the substate game that could include Anamosa, Davenport Assumption, DeWitt Central and Dubuque Wahlert.
The Lisbon Lions earned an impressive win, beating Class 1A eighth-ranked BGM, 7-3, Wednesday at Brooklyn.
The Lions improved to 16-7, handing the Bears their second loss of the season and their first to a 1A team, according to quikstats.com.
Connor Woodward led the Lions with two hits, two runs and two RBIs. Brock Givens added two hits and Ryan Schrantz had two RBIs for Lisbon. Woodward earned the win, throwing three innings of two-hit relief.
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