Iowa Western has one loss with a month to JUCO World Series


Check out a video of the Reivers’ Grand Junction Challenge:

You think teams won’t do anything they can to qualify for the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series?

Iowa Western Community College, which won the 2010 JUCO championship and is ranked No. 1 in the nation, had a five-day “Grand Junction Challenge” after its fall season ended.

“We knew we had a special group of kids in so many different ways,” Iowa Western coach Marc Rardin said Wednesday after the Reivers swept a doubleheader at Southwestern (Iowa) Community College to run their winning streak to 27 games.

“We thought the talent part on the field might not be our problem. It’s gonna be injuries, a kid making a bad decision away from the field, or a toughness thing.”

Rardin split his team into groups of six players and put them through a series of 21 challenges, ranging from a two-mile timed run to tire tosses and a “Towel War,” a two-man tug-of-war on the pitcher’s mound.

As that was going on, two others raced to second base to retrieve a tire and lug it back to either first or third ­— two players fought over the tire for more than six minutes.

So far, the Reivers have carried the GJ Challenge onto the field, going 44-1.

Iowa Western, which received all 10 first-place votes in this week’s poll, won 17 straight to open the season. A month ago, the Reivers dropped a 7-3 decision to Indian Hills (Iowa) before winning its past 27.

A four-game sweep of Muscatine last weekend clinched the ICCAC regular season title for Iowa Western, which will host the Region 11 tournament starting May 11.

Central Alabama (36-7) is ranked No. 2 in the rankings, followed by Cisco (Texas) College (38-9), Columbia State (Tenn.) Community College (35-8) and Salt Lake Community College (34-6).

The JUCO World Series begins one month from today at Suplizio Field.

General admission passes ($35 adults, $25 students/senior citizens) are on sale, and fans can buy GA passes or reserved seats at Colorado Mesa University’s baseball game Friday night at Suplizio Field.

Rardin said he and the Reivers want to return to Grand Junction not only to play for a national title but to see the stadium improvements. He’s hoping his Grand Junction Challenge gives them an edge in qualifying.

“The coaching staff and I sat around and said with our resources, what can we do?” Rardin said of the various challenges, which included a bonus round of sitting in an ice bath (up to their chins) in three-minute increments for a maximum of 12 minutes. All but one player lasted all 12 minutes.

“We wanted to make it grueling but not try to hurt anybody.  Our saying was, ‘it has nothing to do with baseball and everything to do with baseball.’ ‘’

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