By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – A wish is defined as feeling or expressing a strong desire or hope for something that is not easily attainable.
So taking that into consideration, I came up with the following wish list for 10 Hawkeye student-athletes in multiple sports.
Most of the student-athlete on this list have dealt with more than their share of adversity, and it would just be nice to see them get rewarded for staying the course, and for staying strong during tough times.
In no particular order, my 10 wishes are for:
- Spencer Petras to play well next season: Maybe I’m a little biased knowing that Petras also thinks highly of the Grateful Dead, but this wish goes beyond our similar tastes in music.
Petras also has the respect, trust and admiration of his teammates and coaches because he’s a good guy, and a good teammate, who works extremely hard to get better, and is meticulous about his preparation.
Petras still is very much a work in progress from a performance standpoint as he struggled with accuracy and with his touch on shorter passes at times last season. He also poses little threat as a runner, and that makes being accurate even more important.
But Petras is also riding a six-game winning streak as Iowa’s starting quarterback, and he was better at the end of last season compared to the beginning.
He has command of the huddle and is entering his fourth season in the program, which means he knows the offense inside and out.
It now just comes down to getting better and winning games, and we should learn a lot about this Iowa team, and about Petras, in the first two games against Indiana and Iowa State.
Petras, for the second year in a row, won’t have the luxury of facing an overmatched nonconference opponent in the season opener. He will be challenged right from the start, and my wish is for him to rise to the occasion.
2. Josh Ogundele to make an impact next season: Luka Garza leaves behind one of the biggest holes to fill in program history as the 2021 National Player of the Year and two-time first-team All-America selection.
It would be silly to think one player, or even two, could come close to matching what Garza did as Iowa’s all-time leading scorer.
But someone has to play in the post, and my wish is for the 6-foot-10 Josh Ogundele to emerge as a viable option at center for Iowa next season.
Ogundele deserves some good fortune after having struggled through a difficult freshman season from a health standpoint.
He didn’t join the team until late last summer from his home in London, England due to travel restrictions caused by the global pandemic, and then he struggled to stay healthy, and to stay in shape.
He appeared briefly in just a handful of games last season, so it’s hard to know where Ogundele is from a developmental standpoint.
But one thing is certain; there will be plenty of minutes in the post without Garza, and without Jack Nunge, who has transferred to Xavier, and my wish is for Ogundele to earn some of those minutes because he has struggled enough already.
3. Ivory Kelly-Martin to contribute at running back: It’s easy to forget that Kelly-Martin started six games at running back as a sophomore in 2018, including the season opener.
He rushed for 98 yards against Maryland and for 72 yards against Wisconsin, and had nine catches for 78 yards for the season.
Kelly-Martin’s future looked promising, but his career has since been derailed by injuries, and by the competition at running back.
Junior Tyler Goodson is Iowa’s featured running back, and deservedly so, based on what he has accomplished over the past two seasons.
But Goodson can’t carry the rushing load by himself, so my wish is for Kelly-Martin to stay healthy for a change and to be a solid contributor again.
Kelly-Martin could’ve easily transferred from Iowa after he dropped on the depth chart, and after the program was rocked by allegations of racial disparities last June.
But even with the transfer portal making it easy to leave, Kelly Martin has stayed committed to the Iowa program, and that speaks volumes about his loyalty and his resolve.
4. Patrick McCaffery to lift his performance level: Nobody on this list has suffered and struggled more than Fran McCaffery’s second oldest child.
Patrick McCaffery had a malignant tumor removed from his thyroid in 2014, and he still deals with the residual effects to this day.
Patrick also lost one of his best friends to cancer when Austin “Flash” Schroeder” passed away in 2015 at the age of 15.
Nobody should have to experience the kind of pain and suffering that Patrick McCaffery dealt with as a scared and naïve teenager, but life isn’t always fair.
Patrick has shown tremendous courage while fighting to stay healthy, and now as a 6-9 forward, he is a key piece to Iowa’s future in basketball. Patrick played a significant role as a reserve last season, and his minutes should increase next season due to changes with the roster, but also because Patrick is a gifted scorer.
My wish is for Patrick to take his game to the next level because he deserves it, and because his team needs him.
5. Terry Roberts to contribute beyond just on special teams: The Erie, Pennsylvania native has been a force on special teams, and always seems to be around the football.
Roberts plays with great enthusiasm and with keen awareness, but so far, he has played little beyond special teams.
I’m not necessarily saying I want somebody to lose their starting cornerback position to Roberts. It would just be nice to see Roberts rewarded for his unselfishness and loyalty with more playing time.
So that’s my wish.
6. Spencer Lee to win a fourth national with two healthy knees: While it made for an incredible story the way in which Spencer Lee won a third national title in dominant fashion despite having a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, it also came with a heavy price.
Lee had to withdraw from the U.S. Olympic trials due to the injury, and he clearly wasn’t himself during the NCAA Championships.
The fact that Lee still dominated his competition at 125 pounds with just one healthy knee is the stuff of legends.
But my wish is for Lee to build on his legend by wrestling with two healthy knees, and by becoming Iowa’s first four-time national champion.
7. Jack Dreyer to make a full recovery: The Johnston native was expected to be Iowa’s ace pitcher until he was lost for entire 2021 season because of an elbow injury.
Dreyer also suffered a shoulder injury in 2019 and that caused him to miss a majority of the 2019 season.
But when healthy, Dreyer has been a force on the mound as a southpaw.
He was Iowa’s Friday starter during the shortened 2020 season, going 2-1 with a 3.32 earned-run average and 23 strikeouts before the season was canceled because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
My wish is for Dreyer to make a full recovery, and for him to stay healthy, so he can live up to his vast potential.
8. Austin West to continue to improve as a decathlete: The Iowa City West High graduate finished third in the decathlon at the 2021 Big Ten outdoor championships with 7,805 points.
West has made significant progress as a decathlete in a short time, and my wish if for him to keep climbing because it’s always cool to see a local kid have success, especially in something as demanding as the decathlon.
9. Caleb Shudak to perform well as Iowa’s starting kicker: The Council Bluffs native has had to wait for five years to be Iowa’s full-time starting kicker. He handled kickoffs in each of the past two seasons, and performed well in that job.
But now that Keith Duncan has moved on, Shudak will finally have a chance to be Iowa’s full-time starting kicker, and my wish is for him to excel in that role because he deserves it for staying the course, and for staying loyal to Hawkeye football.
10. Monika Czinano to become an All-American: She had the daunting task of replacing Megan Gustafson as Iowa’s starting center, and has since twice made first-team All-Big Ten.
My wish now is for Czinano to become an All-America selection because that would make for an extraordinary story as Gustafson’s replacement.
Czinano has handled the pressure that comes with replacing a legend with poise and maturity. She might not be at Gustafson’s level, but Czinano is already at a level that most players never reach.
My wish is for her to keep climbing.