Favorite Iowa Sports Moments
By ABC5 Sports Director Dave Zawilinski
I've been fortunate enough to be covering sports in Iowa for a decade. During that time I've witnessed some great teams, spectacular moments, and amazing individual performances. Here are some of my most memorable memories.
Without question the 2007-2008 Drake basketball season is the highlight of my professional career. It was a team led by a former walk-on, Adam Emmenecker. The Bulldogs were picked ninth in the preseason MVC poll. Yet somehow Keno Davis put all the pieces together and led Drake to a historic season. The dogs won a remarkable 21 consecutive games. They won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title and tournament title one week later at Arch Madness. The highlight of this amazing run came on February 23rd. Drake faced Butler in the ESPN BracketBuster game. It gave me a chance to travel to Hinkle Fieldhouse - an arena made famous from the movie Hoosiers. The Bulldogs overcame a second half deficit to defeat Butler on national television quieting the thousands in attendance. I'll never forget the silence in that building as the Drake players and coaches walked off the floor.
The easy answer is the 2005 Capital One Bowl. I was standing on the field, under the goal post behind the end zone in which Warren Holloway scored his only career touchdown as Iowa stunned LSU on a last second Hail Mary. Like I said, this is the easy answer. Let's go back six weeks earlier. It's November 20th, the final day of the regular season. Iowa was playing host to Wisconsin. The Hawks rattled off six consecutive wins after starting the year 2-2. As the 2:30 p.m. kick time approached an important message flashed on the big screen inside Kinnick Stadium. Ohio State 37, Michigan 21. That result meant Iowa could win a share of the Big Ten title if they defeated Wisconsin. From that moment on, Kinnick was electric. As day turned to night, and the sun set behind the Kinnick press box, the Hawks routed the Badgers 30-7. The fans stormed the field and Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawks were presented with the Big Ten trophy on the field. It was quite the scene.
Iowa State Cyclones
In the fall of 2002 I was a sophomore at Drake. I had just begun my internship at ABC5. Believe it or not, I had never been to a college football game. My first assignment was to tag along with John Walters and Chuck Fisher to cover the annual CyHawk game inside Kinnick. We arrived at exit 242 in Iowa City shortly before 2:00 p.m. for the 5 p.m. kick. It took three hours to get to our parking spot next to the stadium. I was in awe of the thousands of fans that showed up to support their teams. Growing up in Connecticut and Texas I truly had no rooting interest in this game. In fact, before the game I couldn't even tell you where Iowa City and Ames were located let alone which team played in what city. When the Hawkeyes took a 24-7 lead into the break I remember rooting for the Cyclones in the second half. Here's a guilty secret from all sports reporters in the business; we root for great storylines and most importantly great games. The second half I witnessed that day was one I'll never forget. From the Seneca Wallace play on third and long, rolling out to his left in his own end zone and throwing back across his body to pick up the first down, to the Brad Banks and Ed Hinkel fumbles that sealed the deal, I will never forget my first college football game and who ultimately won it.
In 2009 I was fortunate enough to follow the Panthers to Oklahoma City for the NCAA tournament. UNI defeated UNLV in the opening round thanks to a clutch shot from Ali Farokhmanesh. But this was just the appetizer to the main dish two days later. The Panthers shocked the college basketball world by defeating the top seeded Kansas Jayhawks. Ali came up big once again by drilling a deep three pointer on a fast break in the final minute to seal the victory. After the game the Panthers stormed the court, Jordan Eglseder popped his jersey to the camera, and Gary Rima yelled "Oh baby I love this team." I remember the joy in the UNI locker room and the misery and disbelief in the Kansas locker room. It was another reminder of how great and how cruel the NCAA tournament can be. Luckily for me and my fellow Iowa reporters, we were on the right side of this outcome thanks to a Panther performance for the ages.
These are just a few of my favorite moments from the past decade. Others include following the ISU Women to the NCAA Elite Eight at Cal Berkeley, two trips to the ESPY awards in LA, and bowl trips to Miami and New York among others. Hopefully the next decade will treat me and the Iowa sports fans just as well if not better!
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