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Sydney Hearn

Independence

Senior

Volleyball

Hearn’s play has helped returning state qualifier Independence open the season 14-2 with a No. 5 ranking in Class 4A. Last weekend, the Mustangs’ senior libero collected 55 digs as Independence defeated No. 10 West Delaware to complete a 5-0 run through the West Delaware Invitational. Hearn ranks sixth in 4A with 204 digs on the season. “Sydney is definitely an emotional leader of our defense,” Independence coach Joe Schmitz noted. “She just works so hard on the court. Her defense on Saturday was outstanding, especially at the end of the day against West Delaware. She is one of our key leaders.” Hearn is also a state qualifier in track and softball, and is a National Honor Society member.

Jackson Leistikow

Cedar Falls

Senior

Football

Leistikow is a valuable veteran within the Tigers’ offensive line for Class 4A’s No. 2 Cedar Falls. The third-year starting right guard helped anchor the line during Friday’s 29-23 win over previously unbeaten Bettendorf. His run blocking was crucial during Cedar Falls’ go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter. “Jackson has been very consistent for us in our first four games this year,” Cedar Falls coach Brad Remmert noted. “He is a very physical run blocker. Jackson has done a great job as a captain providing leadership for our program.” Leistikow is also a state track and field qualifier in the shot put.

Isaac Tolbert

Waterloo West

Junior

Football

Tolbert was brought up last season due to injuries at the running back position. Coach Lonnie Moore noted his focus and work ethic in the weight room allowed him to become an impact player at the position this fall. The Wahawk junior rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries during Friday’s 60-28 win at Des Moines Hoover. The 5-foot-7 running back is averaging 8.6 yards per carry with four TDs through four games. “He’s small in stature, probably the smallest running back I’ve had, but he plays like he’s 6-2,” Moore said. “He runs hard. He runs physical. He’s not going to back down. He knows when to cut off different moves, and sometimes he puts his head in there and gets the extra yard.” Tolbert also competes in track and field.

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Hailey Wallis

Grundy Center

Senior

Volleyball

Wallis is a third-year starter who has translated impressive offseason work into a dominant senior campaign. The 5-foot-9 outside hitter tallied a team-high 10 kills as Class 2A’s top-ranked Grundy Center (21-0) recorded a win over 4A’s No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier in the championship match of the Benton Tournament. Wallis is averaging 2.36 kills per set on .283 hitting, and 2 digs per set. She is among the team’s go-to attackers and a primary serve receiver. “I have known she was a special player since she was in fourth grade,” Grundy Center coach Lori Willis noted. “Her ability to jump and hang is absolutely beautiful. ... I often say to our setters, set it high and let her fly.” Wallis is a first team basketball all-stater and multi-event state track placewinner. She is also a talented singer and artist, active in musicals and student senate. Wallis plans to play basketball at Minnesota State University Mankato.

Ray Seidel

Columbus

Junior

Football

Seidel was the spark plug that helped Columbus pull away from Vinton-Shellsburg Friday during a 51-33 victory. The Sailors’ running back needed just 12 carries to accumulate 240 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He recorded two runs over 65 yards in the second half. Seidel is averaging 11.4 yards per carry this season and has nine catches for 68 yards. “Ray is one of the hardest workers I’ve been around,” Columbus coach Brad Schmit said. “He has an infectious, positive attitude that sets the tone for his teammates. He practices hard and leads vocally as well as by example.” Seidel also participates in wrestling, soccer and basketball.

Dara Hulstein

Cedar Falls

Senior

Volleyball

Committed to playing volleyball at the Naval Academy as she works towards her goal of becoming a Marine, Hulstein is making the most out of her first season in the main varsity rotation for Class 5A’s top-ranked Cedar Falls (22-0). The middle/outside hitter is averaging 2 kills per set on an impressive .454 kill efficiency. She helped the defending state champion Tigers remain perfect last weekend with a tournament title at Waterloo West. “Dara is an intense, goal-driven athlete who plays and practices at a consistently high level,” Cedar Falls coach Matt Johnson noted. Hulstein also plays club volleyball with Six Pack VBC.

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Sports reporter for The Courier

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