This past Saturday (February 28) was the most historic athletic weekend in Woodward Academy history where 3 separate events were taking place across the United States and where Woodward Academy students were performing at the highest level. In Des Moines, the Knights basketball team was playing in a Substate final to qualify for the State tournament for the first time in school history. The Knights of Iron powerlifting team was competing in Nebraska in a meet as they continue to prepare for the USAPL High School National Championships, and a WA alum was long jumping in Boston, MA at the USATF Indoor National Championships.
The specifics to each event are absolutely amazing and you can read more about each one after the break. If you just want the details, Cal Lane (WA alum) finished in the top 10 in the long jump event, the powerlifting team won the competition and Julius Walker continued to break his own American Record by squatting 625 pounds in this meet, and the basketball team made a historic comeback to qualify for the state tournament.
USA Track & Field National Championship (Boston, MA)
Cal Lane attended Woodward Academy in 2007 and went on to become a successful high school athlete after he left. For many years, he trained by himself and Woodward Academy has been proud to help support him financially (paying for some travel costs and entry fees to compete at collegiate events) and it has paid off. We have offered the occasional update on his track & field career (when he qualified for the 2014 national indoor meet and when he become a professional athlete) and now can offer another one. On Saturday, he competed in the USATF Indoor National Championships in Boston, MA and jumped 22’9″. It was not his best jump of the year by a long shot and he was a bit disappointed in his performance, but even with that jump, he finished in the top 10 nationally and is continuing to pursue his professional track and field career.
Powerlifting at Peru State (Peru, NE)
The Woodward Academy powerlifting team traveled to Peru State in Nebraska and competed in their third event of the year. As a team, the Knights won the event with several standout performances from from individual lifters. The Knights had three 1st place finishes, four in 2nd place, and 1 third place finish. WA’s elite powerlifter this season is Julius Walker who earned Best Lifter honors when he lifted 625 pounds which is more than his own American Record. He broke the record earlier this season when he lifted 600 pounds in competition. You can check the videos out here and here. The Knights will lift at their home meet on March 14 and then travel to the USAPL High School National Championships in Milwaukee, WI, March 27-29 where they have won 9 consecutive team national titles.
Substate Finals Basketball (Des Moines, IA)
The Knights basketball team played in their first ever Substate final with the winner advancing into the state tournament and being able to play at Wells Fargo Arena. This year’s team has been the most resilient and collected team that Woodward Academy has ever produced, and we’ve reported on some of their great games this season. They had a good win early in the season against a ranked opponent, was a part of the highest scoring game in Iowa high school history, and eventually became district champion leading up to the substate game. The Knights had lost to Panorama twice this season, both by a close margin so they knew they could win.
During the game, Ivan Johnson, one of the Knights top players, got into foul trouble early and the Knights struggled getting into a rhythm. But senior Preston Britain kept them in the game in the first half by hitting three straight three point shots and the game was tied at the half. Head coach Dustin Sperling preached defense in the locker room at halftime and they needed it down the stretch. After a sluggish third quarter for the Knights and being down 12 at one point, the Knights dominated the game in the 4th by outscoring their opponent 21-0 (yes, zero points) on their way to the state tournament. A reporter from the Des Moines Register called the game “incredible” and said that he had never seen anything like it in his career of following high school ball. You can read his article here. The Knights play Monday, March 9 in the state tournament.
With the basketball and powerlifting seasons now entering the final stretch of their season, we’ll obviously have much more on these developing stories.