Waukee Boys Mesh With New Coach
A change in head coach for the Waukee boys' baskeball team means a new face on the bench, but returning starts mean the season's prospects are bright.
Matt Woodley guided last year's team to a conference title and a state tournament appearance. He accepted a job in Missouri as Truman State's head basketball coach, and now it's Justin Ohl at the helm of the Warriors.
Ohl comes to Waukee via Drake University in Des Moines, where he was a player from 1997-01, and then a graduate assistant until promoted to assistant coach in 2004.
He says he wasn't actively planning to leave Drake, but Waukee was enticing enough for him to move.
"Eventually I thought I'd probably become a head high school coach once I had a family," said Ohl. "And once Waukee opened, it was one of those deals where it was too good of an opportunity to pass up."
Ohl, who just had his first child, is coming into a pretty good situation. Judd Welfringer is gone, and will himself be a Drake Bulldog. But all-conference selections Chad Gutschenritter, Cole Pederson and Jordan Strotts all return, leaving Ohl optimistic.
Ohl says his team will play an up-tempo brand of basketball, and Truman State recruit Gutschenritter will be the catalyst.
"We're going to try and play fast," said Ohl. "I think Chad as a point guard, he's very capable of pushing it, and we're going to try and run as much as we can."
Gutschenritter has a very good shot at becoming the all-time assist leader at Waukee this season, Ohl said. Pederson, who just wrapped up an All-Conference campaign quarterbacking the football team, can help his teammate reach that milestone.
"I really enjoy Cole," said Ohl. "Watching him play football you can see his toughness; you can see his love of the game. Watching tape from last year, he can really shoot it well and seems to do those little things that every team needs."
Even with the talent returning from a state-qualifying team, Ohl's main goals are more character-driven than trophy-driven.
"I want us to be our best, not only in basketball, but in the classroom and around town," said Ohl. "I want them to be better at all those things socially."
Girls Looking for Fifth-Straight Trip to State
New team, same expectations.
That's how ninth-year head coach Chris Guess would characterize his team's outlook for the upcoming season.
Guess's Warriors have been to the state tournament four straight seasons. The last two ended in heartbreaking fashion in the semifinals.
All-State selection Laura Brewer is at Drake playing softball. But a wealth of talent returns, including All-Conference selections Megan Goodson, Megan Shryack and Britany Boland.
Guess said that experience on the roster will harvest the same expectations this fall and winter.
"To win the conference tournament and to get down to the state tournament and get as far into the state tournament as possible are always our goals, and this season is no different," said Guess. "So we've set our sights on, number one, trying to qualify for state and, number two, not being satisfied with that qualification. Let's make a nice run once we get there, if that opportunity presents itself."
Point guard Megan Goodson will be the floor general for the Warriors this season. Last year as a junior she was was a first-team All-Conference selection. Guess expects big things out of her this season.
"She is an outstanding point guard, and will be one of the state's best point guards," said Guess. "With a good season she will be the all-time career leading three-point shooter at Waukee. She gets it, she's a winner, and we will rely on her to lead this team."
On paper the girls have another legit shot at making a fifth-straight appearance at the state tournament. But Guess understands that it's high schooler and is most proud of the people his players have become.
"They're just great people," said Guess. "They're great students, they're great leaders off the court. They're all somebody that younger kids can look up to, they set great examples."