—by Todd Thorson

The Roland-Story 7th and 8th grade recently finished their fall sports seasons, with plenty of participation and success to applaud the students’ efforts.

This year’s middle school cross country team had a record amount of participation this year, with 16 boys and 10 girls out, not to mention four managers lending their help as well. The cross country teams were coached by Tony Gustafson. The 7th/8th grade cross country meets scheduled included Ballard, Story City, Hickory Grove in Nevada, Webster City, Jewell and the Iowa State course in Ames. They also had one meet rained out.

"The boys had a great showing, with top four finishes (or higher) in four of the six meets," commented Coach Gustafson. "The girls showed lots of determination and improved on their times as the season progressed."

The 7th grade volleyball team had 32 girls out this season. The Norse played nine matches this fall, including eight sets per scheduled match. Teams they faced (with their overall set record) included Greene County (13-3), South Hamilton (5-11), Nevada (6-10), Saydel (8-0) and Gilbert (7-9). Overall, they won 39 sets versus 33 losses.

"The girls showed lots of improvement in their skills and aggressiveness throughout the season," said Coach Kris Vinson. "They were a great group of girls!"

Mary Lettow coached the 8th grade girls, and managed to guide them to an overall set record of 48-24. They also played a total of nine matches against the likes of Greene County, South Hamilton, Nevada, Saydel and Gilbert.

Mark Billerbeck, along with Jeff Staker, coached the 8th grade football team, while Leland Schwartz, Greg Polaski and Bret Johnson handled the 7th grade football team.

The 8th grade finished with a 2-3-1 record, tying the South Hamilton Hawks to start the season, then losing three in a row to Gilbert, Nevada and Saydel. Against Greene County, the eighth graders knotched their first win of their junior high career, and then closed out the season with another victory over North Polk.

"These young guys continued to improve throughout the season," said Billerbeck. "They played hard and were very close in all their games, and once they got that first victory things clicked, and they started a winning streak. The team that finished the season was much different than the one that started the year. If they can keep their numbers up they can contribute at the next level."

The 7th grade squad had a lot of talented kids out this season. Approximately 33 or 34 kids came out for football this fall and it was at times difficult to get them all some adequate playing time, especially when only an A game was played. The 7th graders had an impressive 4-2 record, losing only to South Hamitlon in their first game of the season and then to North Polk in their last game of the season. Sandwiched between those losses were victories over Gilbert, Nevada, Saydel and Greene County.

According to Billerbeck, this seventh grade group has been playing well together for quite awhile now, having stuck together since Charger football. If they remain together they should become pretty successful when they get into high school.

"This was a fun group to work with," added Billerbeck. "They practiced hard and played hard. The coaches really enjoyed this year."