Five months. Three state titles.
And in three of the largest sports, no less.
For high schools around the country, athletics can be an important aspect of the overall experience. From the athletes to the coaches to fellow students and fans, it can become a big ordeal.
So that’s why when a school wins a state championship, the school takes pride in that success and finds a newfound support following that particular’s sports victory.
Or how about three state titles? Now that, is rare. A rarity that Iowa City West triumphed.
Within the last several months, West High athletics has been dominate — there is no other way to say it. Volleyball won a state championship. So did the girls basketball team. And add the boys basketball squad to that list as well. Five months, three state titles. Not too shabby.
“It’s an amazing thing when it happens,” girls basketball star Ally Disterhoft said. “West High has been so fortunate this year to have some great athletic teams … I think this year has just been a really special year in general and unlike any other the community or the school has seen before.”
Not many teams have banners hanging within the rafters of their gymnasium recognizing a state championship. But West High has three, and that is just this school year.
Disterhoft added she’s come to appreciate what has been accomplished, and not simply by the girls basketball team she was on.
“I really enjoyed being apart of it and we all feel very thankful that we’ve had such good fortune throughout the year,” she said.
Heading into the school year, the West High boys basketball team had seemingly the highest expectations. The Trojans were runners-up in 2010-11 and head coach Steve Bergman had his team prepped for another deep run into the postseason.
Then, the entire West High community was shaken.
In August, volleyball player and senior Caroline Found died in a moped accident. The volleyball team, coached by the legendary Kathy Bresnahan (537-159 in her 20 seasons at the helm), went on to win the state championship, albeit a bittersweet one. Bresnahan, who was not available for comment to Johnson County Sports, was named National Coach of the Year for her efforts.
“The most amazing story is volleyball and how that all unfolded,” Bergman said. “I don’t think most people would have picked us to win after some of the things that happened, and I think that’s carried over into everything else.”
Girls basketball head coach BJ Mayer agreed with Bergman’s sentiments.
Following volleyball’s triumph through a tragic situation, the basketball teams kept West High’s athletic profile on top.
Led by juniors Dondre Alexander and Jeremy Morgan — who expressed their emotions via Twitter a lot during the season — the boys squad went undefeated on its way to winning the Class 4A state title. Alexander and Morgan averaged 16 and 14.8 points per game, respectively.
Disterhoft helped lead the girls team, as the Women of Troy went 23-1 on their way to winning state.
“I wouldn’t have bet money ahead of time for us [to win the state championship], but it was plausible after the way volleyball unfolded the way it did,” Bergman said. “It was simply a great year all around.”
While West has had immense success athletically this school year, Bergman said that doesn’t necessarily transition to the entire school as a whole. He added that some students don’t know that he’s the basketball coach — Bergman has coached the Trojans for three-plus decades.
But the success has permeated into other aspects of prep school life. West has also had notable achievements in music, theatre, and in academia throughout this 2011-12 school session.
“We’re a very well balanced school, and I think that has shown up a lot this year,” Bergman said. “We have really strong drama, music, athletics, speech and debate, and the whole thing. I don’t think athletics drives the school, but the kids we have that show up are very supportive.
“I think it’s built up this year. No question.”