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Hurn Named 3A At-Large Coach of the Year

Gilbert Girls Track and Field Coach Led Tigers to 2 State Titles, 5th-Place Team Finish at State

Jodi Hurn knows how lucky she was to coach a team that oozed depth and talent this past spring. Without both, she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to celebrate her own accomplishment earlier this week.

Following a spring track and field season in which Hurn led the girls team to a fifth-place finish in Class 3A at the state meet, the Gilbert head coach was named a 3A At-Large Coach of the Year by the Iowa Association of Track and Field Coaches on Tuesday. Hurn was joined by four other recipients from across the state, and ADM head girls coach Bart Mueller was named the overall 3A Coach of the Year.

“It’s a special (award) because it was such a special season, and it has a lot of meaning because of that,” Hurn said after learning of her much-deserved recognition. “From day one, the girls bought in. They were willing to do the work day in and day out, so it’s their commitment and their hard work that allowed me to win this award.”

Just how special of a season was it for the Tigers? Let’s start with the regular season where Hurn’s crew won seven meet championships and finished second in two others. Gilbert captured the top spot at a 3A State Qualifying Meet and was the runner-up to ADM at the Raccoon River Conference meet. ADM went on to win the 3A crown in late May.

Gilbert took 12 events to state and celebrated a pair of state championships from the 4×800 and distance medley relays. The 4×800 group — Clare Stahr, Sophia Bleich, Keira Andersen, and Sarah Feddersen — won a second straight state gold medal and set a school record in the process. The distance medley — Taylor Banning, Keaton Hanson, Feddersen, and Emee Dani — also set a new school record en route to the gold.

And that was a theme throughout the season for the Tigers. They set — count ‘em — six new school records in the seven relay events. The quartet of Banning, Hanson, Laurel Mizerak, and Gretchen Mizerak set new records in the 4×100, 4×200, and sprint medley relays. Rebecca Schrader, Bleich, Andersen, and Feddersen etched their names on the record board in the 4×400.

In all, Hurn guided the Tigers to seven medals at the state meet. Gilbert was in contention for the 3A team crown late into the final day of competition and eventually placed 5th overall.

In addition to the talent of the student-athletes, Hurn also knows how lucky she is to lead such a dedicated staff of coaches. Laura Kautman and Allison Hilleman served as her assistants, and she also received plenty of help from the boys coaching staff.

“As much as this award speaks to the girls, it also speaks to all of the work of the assistant coaches,” Hurn said. “Laura and Allison are absolutely amazing at what they do and building relationships with the girls. A million percent, it speaks to the amazing staff that I have.”

Congratulations to Coach Hurn and her entire staff. There’s no doubt the team was one of the state’s best, but it’s the coaches that provided the necessary push and allowed that talent to shine.

Nate Graves Named New Leader of Gilbert Girls Wrestling Program

2006 GHS graduate excited to get started

Nate Graves knows what it’s like to wrestle with the red and black G on his chest. And now he’ll have the opportunity to build his own program under the Tigers’ grappling umbrella.

A 2006 Gilbert High School graduate and an assistant coach with the Tigers’ wrestling program since 2018, Graves was officially named the new head coach of the Gilbert girls’ wrestling program earlier this month.

Graves takes the reins from Scott Auderer, who served as the head coach of the girls and boys teams over the past two seasons. Auderer will maintain his role as the head coach of the boys program.

A valued Gilbert assistant coach for six seasons, Graves worked primarily with the girls throughout the 2023-24 season, which made him a natural fit to take over in a head coaching capacity.

“I’m really excited,” Graves said of his ascension to a leading role. “I’ve kind of hoped and envisioned over the years that it might happen in some fashion, and the girls have been really fun to work with over the past few years. I’ve got daughters of my own who are growing up and getting into the sport, so it’s exciting to build something they might fit into someday.”

Iowa became the 34th state to officially have girls wrestling when the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union sanctioned the sport prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, and Graves has played a key role in one of the state’s bigger programs over the past two seasons. Gilbert’s first official team housed 20 wrestlers, and that number increased to 25 this past winter.

Gilbert has sent three girls to the state tournament over the past two seasons. Alex Harswick was a fourth-place medalist in 2023.

The numbers have been fantastic, and Graves is hopeful the enthusiasm will continue to grow. The sport is new to many Gilbert student-athletes, but he enjoys the teaching aspect that comes when working with inexperienced wrestlers.

“I’ve always enjoyed the teaching side of it and it’s cool when you get to see a lot of those lightbulb moments,” Graves said. “It’s fun to see a lot of these girls get into it. Most of these girls the past few years, it has been their first time on the mat and so it’s been a lot of focus on the basics and working on core concepts.”

Graves and his wife, Laura, have three children. Daughters Scottie, 7, and Izzy, 4, will attend Gilbert Elementary in the fall; Scottie will be in the second grade, while Izzy will be in preschool.  The couple also has an infant son, Gable.

Congratulations to Nate and the entire Graves family. We look forward to seeing him flourish in his new role with the Gilbert girls wrestling program.

Gilbert Schools Awarded $138,175 Credentials to Careers Grant by Iowa DOE

GHS Agriculture Students have Industry Credentials Opportunities through Grant

In his role as an agriculture instructor at Gilbert High School, Adam Davis is constantly asking himself one question: What more can I do to prepare my students for the professional world?

After all, there is a high demand for careers in both agriculture and manufacturing in the state of Iowa. Mr. Davis works extensively with students who have incredible technical skills, and many of these students have long-term goals of working in the agriculture industry.

It’s Mr. Davis’s job to help prepare his students for their future careers, and he’s always — always — wanting to do just a little bit more.

He’s taken a big step in an attempt to do just that.

In February, Mr. Davis applied for “Credentials to Careers,” a competitive grant through the Iowa Department of Education (DOE) that was designed to help high school students earn industry-recognized credentials (IRC). And in April, the GHS instructor received the good — no, scratch that, great — news.

The Iowa DOE awarded GHS $138,175 to go toward aiding students in achieving their IRC, whether it be with new equipment purchases or other materials.

“It’s really exciting, and it will totally change what we’re able to offer students,” Mr. Davis said. “The goal is to get kids valuable experiences that make for an easy transition and relevant transition into the workplace, whether that’s working in the trades for the summer, or if they’re interested in going to a technical school, or just pursuing a full-time career.”

In all, the Iowa DOE awarded more than $1.7 million to 20 school districts across the state through the Credentials to Careers program.

A significant portion of the funds GHS received from this grant will go back to the students. For the first time, Gilbert will now be able to offer technical certifications free of cost to the students. And the agriculture education welding program is being recognized as a licensed educational institution through the American Welding Society, which opens the doors to students to earn up to 14 credential opportunities worth more than $7,500.

One piece of equipment students will have the opportunity to work with as a result of the grant is the cutting edge Miller LiveArc Welding Performance Management System. This state-of-the-art piece of equipment allows both novice and advanced students the chance to get a hands-on experience welding through an AI program before they strike the arc. It gives real-time feedback on proper techniques throughout the process. Once students are comfortable, they can begin live welding with the same constant real-time feedback, including a composite score on a scale of 1-100 upon completion of a task.

These new teaching techniques will be invaluable, Davis says.

“I think this is going to be a fantastic bridge because sometimes kids are a little intimidated with things like the sound, the heat, and the sparks,” he said. “With this machine, they can see how they’re going to do with all of those (variables) removed. It’s cutting edge as far as what it’s able to provide … it’s able to tell you things that I can’t actually tell them myself, like structural integrity.”

Mr. Davis consulted with a number of businesses such as M.H. EBY, John Deere, Vermeer Corporation, Lane Trailer Manufacturing, and Sargent Meal Fabricating throughout the grant writing process. He says he knew early on how important it was to become familiar with local connections and their processes and equipment, which will help students to attain their IRCs.

“What we quickly realized is we need to update some things and then also make it industry relevant,” Mr. Davis said. “When our kids go into the workforce, are we providing relevant education for them? Because that’s always the goal.”

GHS Principal Cindy Bassett lauded Davis’s efforts, not only with securing funds from the grant, but for putting the best interests of his students at the forefront of his teaching philosophy.

“This grant leads to more opportunities and experiences in our (agriculture education) department,” Mrs. Bassett said. “Funds will help implement training and equipment to prepare GHS students for a variety of pathways. Thank you to Adam Davis for seeking out ways to grow our program!”

Mr. Davis’s communication with EBY not only helped to serve as a reference for the grant, but it also provided an avenue for the company to play a role in the education of our students. He says EBY has already provided a $15,000 aluminum push-pull welder and buckets of material to practice with. The company is also providing a professional welder to help with individual lessons for students in advanced welding courses.

“That was unexpected, but a very welcomed opportunity,” Mr. Davis said. “The goal is to get kids career opportunities, and what better way than working with kids one on one?”

Let’s end this the way we began with Mr. Davis’s question: What more can I do to prepare my students for the professional world?

Mr. Davis, you have certainly answered your question.

GHS Science Olympiad: Where Learning, Friendship, and Competition Meld

Twenty-one Gilbert High School students milled around Room 403 on a Friday afternoon earlier this month, enjoying a few refreshments while they chatted away with their fellow classmates. The large group has formed a bond over their passion for science, and it’s a group that biology teacher Cara Rinehart is proud to oversee.

The get together turned serious for only a few brief moments, as Mrs. Rinehart lauded the students for their work throughout the school year. But this was just the start, she said. She sees the potential, and she sees a group that can be even better during the 2024-25 school year.

More than several heads nodded in agreement.

Mrs. Rinehart is the leader of the GHS Science Olympiad team, and these 21 students are her pupils. She encouraged them to continue on their studies, to work with their teammates in their free time, and even to seek guidance from experts in various fields.

What is Science Olympiad? We’re glad you asked. It’s a nationwide competition for middle school and high school students with the goal of raising the interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), as well as providing recognition for outstanding achievement in team events.

These GHS students are incredibly smart and incredibly talented. And in them, Mrs. Rinehart sees a team that can and will continue to raise the bar and compete with the best teams the state has to offer.

GHS sent these 21 students in two teams — Gilbert Red and Gilbert Black — to the 2024 Iowa Science Olympiad state tournament on the campus of Iowa State University on April 6. The competition included 23 events within earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering. The events included things such as Air Trajectory, Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry Lab, Code Busters, Experimental Design, Ecology, and Flight, just to name a few.

The teams did well, placing 13th and 14th, respectively, in the high school division, and three students — Raylene Chen, Sean Wu, and Lena Dinsmore brought home medals.

Dinsmore and Wu finished second in the Detector Building competition, a complex project where they were tasked with designing, coding, and building an instrument that detects voltage and NaCI (sodium chloride) content of water from 0-5000ppm (parts per million). Chen and Wu placed third overall in the Tower event.

Next up for the students is their quest to close the gap between themselves and Ames High School, the 2024 state champion and a regular at the top of the leaderboard. Ames will be joined by state runner-up Cedar Falls and third-place finisher Mount Vernon at the national competition in Lansing, Michigan, in late May.

But it’s about more than medals and the competition for our GHS students. Toward the end of the get together, Mrs. Rinehart asked all of her team members to jot down their answers to one simple question: Why do you take part in Science Olympiad? Their answers show how important learning and camaraderie are as well.

“I like participating in Science Olympiad because I like getting to learn new things about topics that interest me,” one student said.

“I love being part of a team that can do more advanced work,” said another student. “The atmosphere is fun and friendly and yet we still do college-level work. The challenge each event brings will never be easy to solve, but doing well is incredibly rewarding.”

“I like to participate in Science Olympiad because it’s really easy to be involved and it’s a great way to make friends,” said another student.

Learning. Friendship. Competition.

Science Olympiad is all of that. What more could you want?


SENIORS: Jaden Wilson, Raychie Chen, Madeline Lamm, Kalyn Schmidt, Alice Zhang.

JUNIORS: Tyler Anderson, Tristan Limoges, Aldo Schwartz, Andrew Soupir.

SOPHOMORES: Alyse Beyer, Chloe Chen, Maks Koziel.

FRESHMEN: Avery Wilson, Lena Dinsmore, Canaan Dunn, Raylene Chen, Sean Wu, Chloe Lee, Matthew Zhang, Wyatt Jones, Jordan Martinek.

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Gilbert Community School District

Gilbert Community School District

103 Mathews Drive, Gilbert, Iowa 50105  |  (515) 232-3740