Moravia enjoyed a couple of impressive seasons from their teams this year with a couple of postseason runs that includes state appearances in wrestling and track and field. Both the boys and girls will lose some decorated seniors but will return some promising talent.
After enjoying a fantastic 2017 where Moravia went 9-2 and earned a trip to the playoffs, Denny Whitlow’s Mohawks would suffer their first losing season since 2014, going 3-6. It started out the way they wanted as Moravia won the season opener for fifth straight year with a dominating 47-8 victory over Twin Cedars. The Mohawks were then on the wrong side of a pair of blowouts, losing 42-0 to New London and 46-8 to Southeast Warren. In a much needed bounce back performance, Moravia would pick up a 52-14 win over Murray that next week. Hunter Arbogast put together one of his best performances of the season completing seven of his eight passes for 146 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for 107 yards and a touchdown. His main target was Casey Smith, who had three receptions for 91 yards with three touchdowns. The defense held strong holding Murray to 14 points while forcing four turnovers, but they would suffer what would end up being a significant blow to both sides of the ball with senior offense and defensive lineman Cole Ballenger going down with an apparent leg injury in the first half.
The former District Defensive Player of the Year would miss the rest of the season as Moravia would miss one of their key anchors on both sides of the ball. Moravia ended the year losing four out of their last five games with their lone win coming in a narrow 30-22 victory against Seymour. After posting a top-three offense in terms of yards and scoring last year, Moravia saw their offensive output take a large step back. They ranked last in the district in yards per game at 210.4, down from 329.6 last season. The Mohawks would also rank second to last in points per game at 21.7 after averaging 49.5 a year ago. Their defense also saw their numbers go the wrong way. After giving up an average of 19.5 points per game last year, they gave up an averaged 35.3 points this season.
Arbogast, the former District Offensive Player of the Year, wasn’t able to repeat his impressive 1,000 yards passing and rushing from last season. This year, he completed 39% of his passes for 798 yards and 13 touchdowns against four interceptions. He also led the team in rushing by a long mark tallying 673 yards on 140 attempts (4.8 yards per carry) with six touchdowns. Sophomore Tanner Cormeny was the second leading rusher as he went through an up and down year with 232 yards on 63 carries (3.7 yards per carry) with three touchdowns. Seniors Casey Smith and Brendan Gray led the wide receivers. Smith caught 15 passes for 317 yards and seven touchdowns while Gray had eight catches for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Arbogast led the team with 84.5 tackles. Bryce Kaster led the way with two interceptions while Smith, Tanner Cormeny and Brett Cormeny all had two fumble recoveries. Moravia would not qualify for the playoffs.
With only two returning letter winners, both lone seniors on the team, Moravia had to shuffle through their girls as coach Derek Reischauer tried to figure out his best rotation he could put on the floor. Because of that, the Lady Mohawks go off to a rough start, losing their first seven matches while only winning one set. Moravia was better after that, finishing the season with a 7-10 record. Moravia had a 0.151 kill efficiency (fourth in the conference) but was near the bottom of the BGC averaging 4.75 kills per set. Their defense and serving were some of the reasons why they couldn’t get into their offense as much as they would’ve liked. They had a .833 serve efficiency and averaged only 4.82 digs per set, both were second worst in the BGC. Both of the Lady Mohawks’ seniors earned all-conference selections with Lauren Perry being voted to the first team while Emily Johnson was selected to the second team. Perry had a team-high 116 kills (1.9 per set) for the Lady Mohawks. Her 0.237 kill efficiency was best among the hitters on Moravia. She also finished with 21 aces on the season, good for third on the team. Johnson finished second on Moravia with 82 kills (1.41 kills per set) to go along with a 0.117 kill efficiency. In her limited attempts, she became one of Moravia’s more efficient servers going 41-for-47 with nine aces. Sophomore Mikayla Fritz joined her senior teammates by earning a second team all-conference selection. Fritz stepped into her first year as a varsity starter and took many of the defensive responsibilities for the Lady Mohawks. She finished with a team-high 119 digs (1.95 per set), that was more than double the next girl on the team. Fritz also finished second the team in aces with 22. Moravia was swept 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-7) by Seymour in the regional quarterfinals.
Boys Cross Country
The boys team had three runners out this year with Carson Underwood and Brady Robinson and Brady Bickel competing in a handful of meets. In the Albia Invitational, Underwood took 56th (28:22), Robinson in 59th (29:27) and Bickel in 62nd (30:03). Robinson (83rd, 26:42), Underwood (86th, 27:20) and Bickel (88th, 28:01) also competed in the Wayne Invite. They would then run against tough competition in Centerville with all three posting good times.
Girls Cross Country
The girls team a handful of girls out for the squad this season with Melissa Hanson, Alexus Harrington and Cayleigh Whitlow all running for Moravia. In the Albia Invitational, Hanson was 55th (38:44) while Harrington took 62nd (51:21). Harrington then took 75th (42:23) in the Wayne Invite while Whitlow (72nd, 32:55) and Hanson (74th, 35:36) also ran for Moravia. Whitlow (108th, 29:42) and Hanson (125th, 33:14) would run for the Lady Mohawks in the Centerville Invitational.
It was a smaller group of wrestlers this season than Moravia is used to but that didn’t slow them down from being very competitive. Because of those low numbers, the Mohawks didn’t win many duals this year. One of their best performances of the season came at the Knoxville Tournament. Wil Martin took second place while Dalton Erving, Ethan Martin and Zac Knapp all grabbed fifth place and Kaleb Templeton and Spencer Baty ended up with sixth place finishes. Wil Martin would be the only Mohawk to advance to districts as Knapp (third at 138 pounds), Kaster (fourth at 145 pounds), Ervin (fifth at 106 pounds), Ethan Martin (fifth at 132 pounds) would all fall short of moving on from sectionals. For a third consecutive year, Wil Martin had to win a wrestle back to punch his ticket to Des Moines. And for a second straight season, he was able to win that wrestle back to get back to Wells Fargo Arena. Martin got a tough first round draw and would have to face the eventual runner-up in Beau Klingensmith of Woodbury Central. Martin was pinned early in the second round to send him to the consolation bracket. There he would once again be pinned in the second round by Lisbon’s Quincy Happel to see his trip to state come to an end.
Boys Basketball (14-7)
Moravia came out on fire, starting the year with 9-1 record. They would come down to earth after that to finish the year with a 5-6 record. Some of that was their struggles on the road. The Mohawks were 10-1 at home while just 4-6 on the road. They would find themselves near the middle of the pack in most statistical categories but did see two boys selected to the Bluegrass all-conference teams. Carson Brown and Brady Bickel would both be selected to second team all-conference after enjoying successful seasons. Brown, a sophomore, led a senior-filled starting lineup in scoring this season. He averaged 12 points per game while shooting 42% from the field and 42.1% from three while making a conference-high 48 threes this season. Brown also shot an impressive 80.3% from the free throw line. Bickel, a senior, put together a very productive year despite being an undersized center. He averaged 10.1 points per game while shooting an efficient 56.2% from the field. Bickel finished second on the team in rebounding, averaging 4.5 rebounds per game. Moravia fell 53-42 to North Mahaska in the district semifinals.
Girls Basketball (5-14)
The Lady Mohawks battled injuries all year long and that hurt them in a big way as the season went on. Moravia would play 13 girls over the course of the season with only four girls playing in every game. Scoring was a problem for the Lady Mohawks as they only averaged 32.7 points per game while shooting 24.9% (second worst in the conference) from the floor, 21.5% from three and 46.3% from the free throw line (also second worst in the conference). They would end up going 4-1 when scoring at least 40 points and 1-13 when they didn’t reach 40. Moravia averaged 4.4 blocks per game and 33.7 rebounds per game, both were near the top of the BGC. Gracie Hoffman was a big reason why Moravia was successful in those areas, helping her earn second team all-conference honors. Hoffman, a sophomore forward, saw an increased role this year due to an injury-rittled season for Moravia, averaging 5.6 points per game. Hoffman used her strengths in the paint, averaging 6.7 rebounds and a conference-best 2.9 blocks per game. Moravia would lose 82-16 in the regional to Montezuma, an eventual state semifinalist.
Boys Track & Field
The boys enjoyed another strong season that once again ended with multiple events and even another medal at the blue oval in Des Moines. Moravia would take second at their own meet with 100 points. Hunter Arbogast had four wins at the Mohawk Relays, winning the 400, 4x400, 4x800 and sprint medley. Wil Martin had three wins that night, winning the 800 while also finishing second in the long jump with a jump of 17-7.75. The Mohawks were unable to defend their title from last year as they were down a couple of boys on Monday night. They were still able to grab a pair of relay titles in 800 and 1,600 medleys. Brett Cormeny, Chace Hamilton, Tanner Cormeny and Bryce Kaster finished first in the 800 medley with a new meet-record time of 1:39.96, beating their record time from last year. Tanner Cormeny, Kaster, Hamilton and Martin then ran away in the 1,600 medley with a time of 3:51.35. Brett Cormeny also had an individual title on the night in the 400 with a time of 52.91. The boys would qualify three events for state this year. Tanner Cormeny started off the first of three events for the Mohawks by taking 19th in the 400 hurdles with a time of 58.62. He then watched his twin brother Brett along with Bryce Kaster, Hamilton and Martin in the distance medley. With a time of 3:42.27, they would come up short on a medal and would finish in 11th, a 12-spot improvement from their qualifying time. Moravia’s 4x400 qualified for the finals for a second straight year with the quartet of Arbogast, Martin, Hamilton and Brett Cormeny taking sixth place with a time of 3:28.32.
Girls Track & Field
The girls didn’t have that many girls out for the team this year and that would hurt them in the team standings. Moravia would take eighth at their own meet with four points. The Lady Mohawks were led by a fifth place finish by Brianna Beaty in the 100 with a time of 14.93. Moravia would also take sixth in the 4x100 and 4x200. They would finish in a tie for 10th at the Bluegrass Conference Meet. Moravia was led by a pair of ninth place finishes by Beaty in the long jump (13-8.5) and the 200 (32.20). Ronnie Cormeny competed in both throwing events while Giorgia Francesconi took 15th in the 100 and 200. They did not qualify anyone for state.
Head coach Darin Fisher and Mohawk boys golf team had the task of trying to replace their number one golfer, and sectional qualifier, from a year ago. Moravia would finish 12th among the 19 teams at the annual Mohawk Invite at The Preserve. Kaden Whitlow led the way with an 85 while Carson Brown (88), Casey Smith (95) and Isaac Dowdy (103) rounded out the top four. Cole Ballenger also golfed for the Mohawks, carding a 111. On the season, Whitlow led the team by averaging a 93 (18-hole average). Smith averaged a 95.25 while Brown averaged a 96.6. Whitlow also had the low-score on the season, carding an 85.
The Lady Mohawks saw their numbers increase from five to 11 girls out for the team this year. Morgan Heaberlin continued to improve and led Moravia in scoring again. She would own a nine-hole average of 51.33, 12 shots better than any of her teammates. Megan Duecker (63.43 average) and Charity Croteau (67.33 average) also put together some good outings. Heaberlin qualified for the second round of regionals for a second straight season. She got off to a tough start, going 14-over through her first five holes. But she would golf well the rest of the way, finishing 11-over in the last 13 holes, only three girls played better over that stretch, to card a 97. The senior would shoot a 104 in the regional final to finish seven shots shy of a trip to state.
A couple of close loses, especially down the stretch of the season, hurt Moravia as they still put together another season to be proud about. The Lady Mohawks ended the year in a 1-5 skid that included three loses by two or less runs. On the season, Moravia was 4-8 in games decided by three runs or less. A couple of those could’ve gone either way for the Lady Mohawks, who were in the top five in most statistical categories in the conference this year. Mikayla Fritz was a first team all-conference selection while Jessica Self, Anaya Keith and Emilee Howard earned second team honors. Fritz, a sophomore catcher, would finish with six home runs (second most in the conference) and 19 RBIs with a team-high 19 stolen bases to go along with a .347 batting average. Fritz also threw out three baserunners. Self, a senior pitcher, ended up with a 8-8 record to go along with a 3.29 ERA and 120 strikeouts against 34 walks in 104 1/3 innings. At the plate, Self had a .347 batting average with one home run, 30 RBIs and a team-high nine doubles. Keith, a sophomore shortstop, led the team with a .435 batting average and 32 RBIs while only striking out once all season. She also had a solid year on the mound with a 9-5 record and a 3.22 ERA with 65 strikeouts against 33 walks in 82 2/3 innings. Howard, a junior outfielder, was limited to just 19 games this year but she made the most of them. Howard would hit .294 with seven RBIs while finishing in a tie for third on the team with eight stolen bases. Her biggest strength was her defensive play as she went without an error in her 19 games in the outfield. Moravia’s season ended in a 10-0 loss to Melcher-Dallas in the regional quarterfinals.
Moravia saw a couple of long streaks come to an end this season as they finished just short of a fourth consecutive 20-plus win season (lost five one-run games) and their four-year conference championship run was snapped. Despite that, the Mohawks were one win away from a trip to substate. Something they couldn’t do in recent years. The Mohawks were a very disciplined team at the plate this year, which helped and hurt them in some situations. They led the conference in walks (179) and were third in strikeouts (206). Cason Butz was a third team all-state selection while Hunter Arbogast earned first team all-conference honors and Casey Smith was chosen to second team all-conference. Butz, a junior, had a big year as Moravia’s centerfielder and key pitcher. Butz finished third in the conference in batting average (.479) and first in doubles (15) while batting leadoff for the Mohawks. He also had 20 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. On the mound, he had a 5-0 record to go along with a 3.40 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings. Arbogast, a senior, finished off a great high school career with another big baseball season. His .363 batting average was second best on the Mohawks while also driving in 18 runs and stealing 19 bases. Arbogast also drew a conference-best 34 walks this year. He got hot on the mound down the stretch and would finish with a 2-4 record along with a 3.05 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings. It was a difficult end to Moravia’s season as they were upset at home in a 7-3 loss to Central Decatur in the district final.