History of Ames High Sports

Baseball: The Brookside baseball field, home of AHS baseball, was renamed Ray Smalling Field in 1999. Ray Smalling coached baseball at Ames for 13 years and coached its only state championship in 1961. Smalling served as athletic director from 1964-1979. He had a strong belief in girls sports, and he helped start the girls track program in 1973. Smalling passed away in 2001. Basketball: In the 1985-86 season, six-on-six girls’ basketball ended at Ames High. The girls began to play five-on-five basketball. The last six-on-six state championship game was played in 1993, and the last six-on-six game in the United States was in Oklahoma in 1995. Joel Sullivan, the current girls’ basketball coach, said that “good athletes transitioned faster than average athletes.” This new style of game took some time to get used to. “I remember there being 60 jumps balls in one of the first (five-on-five) games we played. Some players just couldn’t run up and down the court, too.” Sullivan coached six-on-six basketball for two years. Cheerleading: Roughly 60 years ago, the cheer squad had six members: four girls and two boys. “They (the cheerleaders) all did the same things, and there weren’t any stunts or lifts,” said Jack Smalling, a contributor to the Ames High Alumni Association and Ames High alum. “The boys did their own routines, too, which were very popular.” In 1988, Iowa officially recognized cheerleading as a sport. Cheerleaders competed at the state level, and stunts, lifts and acrobatics were developed as a result of this decision. Cross Country: In the 2003 season, English units were replaced by the metric system to measure cross country courses in the state of Iowa. When girls’ cross country first started, a one and a half mile race was run. It was increased two miles later in its history, and it was then converted to a four kilometer race seven years ago. Diving: Boys’ diving ended in 1994. The reason for this decision was decreased popularity across the state. 12 schools had programs prior to 1994, and this figure continue to go down. Ames’ Jeff Symons was a state champion in 1982, setting a new state record and helping the Little Cyclones win its only state championship in boys’ swimming and diving. Ames’ Phil Bishop was a diving state champion in 1986, as well. Drill Team: An all-male division of drill team was introduced in 2008. The boys won state that year and in 2009, they being the only team to compete in 2008. “It’s like I became a man!” said junior Cody Brown, sharing his feelings about winning back-to-back state championships. Brown was a member of both state championship teams. Football: During the 1965-1966 school year, the construction of the new Ames High Stadium was finished. The football team held games at Iowa State’s Clyde Williams Field, also known as State Field, before the new field was completed. Improvements have been made to the facility since then. AstroTurf was installed in the summer of 2009, which would enhance training for the football, soccer and track teams. A tartan track was also installed in the stadium. Golf: Ames High boys’ golf won one of its three state-titles in 1986. Their undefeated regular season, and sectional and district meet championships was a unique feat. Sophomore Bill Hoefle placed first at state that same year. Hoefle went on to play golf at Oklahoma State University, where he was a member of the 1991 NCAA championship team. He also competed on the PGA Tour after college. Soccer: Ames High added soccer as a co-ed sport in 1986. One girl played on the 38-member team in its first year. “Soccer (in Iowa) didn’t have a state championship game until 1991,” current soccer coach Chad Zmolek said. “(Ames) still played other schools before then, but the biggest championship game was at a conference level.” Softball: The south softball field complex at the high school was finished in 1985. The cost was $44,600 to build it. The team held home games at North River Valley Park before this facility was built at the high school. “When we play we can feel more comfortable because we can practice there,” senior Amy Myers said, as reported in the 1985 yearbook. “When you’re comfortable you can concentrate on winning.” Swimming: Eye irritation due to harsh pool chemicals greatly affected swimmers logging miles in the pool. “I’d have to say that goggles made the biggest difference to the sport,” said Mike Wittmer, former swimming coach of 28 years. “This really allowed times to drop.” The introduction of goggles in the late 1960s completely revolutionized competitive swimming. Tennis: Girls’ tennis won its first 2A state championship in 2009, and they were undefeated during the regular season. Evelyn Qin and Jessica King worked together to win Ames High’s first individual state championship in doubles. The girls repeated their state championship in 2010. Track: The announcement was made in 1986 that pole vault would no longer be a held as a field event in Iowa. “This was a sad day for track and field,” said current boys’ cross country coach Tim Mooney, who was a state champion in pole vaulting during his high school career. He explained that a “grandfather system” was put into place so athletes already completing in the event could continue to do so through their senior year. The 1989 state meet was the last meet in Iowa to include the event. 48 states still have the event, and many have added girls pole vaulting since Iowa discontinued the event. Volleyball: “There’s a first time for everything,” was the title of the volleyball page in Ames High’s 1986 yearbook. When the fall softball program was dropped, girls had the chance to try volleyball. Wrestling: The wrestling program began in 1926 with Ames’ first ever state champion in any sport, Richard Cole (105). Cole wrestled at Iowa State and was AHS’ first NCAA champion. His first year as head wrestling coach at Brown University was in 1931. He passed away in 1978. Wrestling ended at Ames in 1934 but was restored by coach Tom Beckman in 1965.