Kelly Krei and Matt Gatens have a lot of things in common.
They both grew up in Iowa City and were Hawkeye fans at a young age.
They went to junior high and high school together. They excelled in two sports and they helped lead City High to state championships in basketball… in the same year.
“It is kind of weird that we both happened to win our senior year,” said Kelly. “It was a great thing for City High and we had some great teammates helping us a lot.”
While Matt was competing in basketball and golf, Kelly was running track and playing basketball.
Kelly has fond memories of the state championship game in which the Little Hawks won on the last play of the game.
City High was tied with Cedar Rapids Washington with four seconds left.
Kim Rickels, who was Kelly’s teammate and plays in Game Time, threw a perfect pass to Virginia Johnson, who was a freshman at the time and is once again Kelly’s teammate at Iowa. She made the lay-up and City won its first state championship in basketball.
“We were either going to go into overtime or make some miracle shot,“ said Kelly. “Virginia just amazingly made the lay-up. Coach McTaggart called a timeout right before and drew it up and it worked just like he drew it up.”
Kelly was named the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year after her senior season. She was also first team all-state as a junior and a senior and was named MVP of the state tournament her final year.
Kelly started running track in seventh grade and by the time she was a senior was one of the best in the state.
She won the open 400 meters and was a member of the sprint medley team that also won state as a junior.
Kelly grew up watching the Hawkeyes and went to some of Lisa Bluder’s camps in the summer.
“I was looking at some of the in-state schools,” Kelly said of her choices when it came time to pick a college. “I wanted to stay close to home. I looked at Drake as well, but Iowa is where I wanted to be.”
She committed her junior year around Christmas and has enjoyed her time as a Hawkeye.
Kelly played in 27 of 32 games as a freshman and the Hawkeyes went 21-11. Kelly shot 81 percent from the free throw line that season.
Her sophomore year, she started in 33 of 34 games, averaged 8.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and had 42 steals, which tied Kachine Alexander for the team lead. Iowa went 20-14, and beat Rutgers in the first round of the NCAA tournament before losing to Stanford.
Kelly was also named to the Big Ten Tournament all-tournament team as well as Academic All-Big Ten.
Last year, the Hawkeyes were 22-9, 10-6 in the Big Ten and Kelly started all 31 games.
She averaged 9.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and had 16 blocked shots which was second behind Morgan Johnson who had 76. Kelly was once again named Academic All-Big Ten.
“I’ve enjoyed all my years at Iowa,” she observed. “We’ve had some pretty good records and we’d like to build on that this year.”
This year, as a senior, Kelly will try to help her teammates get better.
“Just making sure everyone knows where they’re at,” she commented. “Not just on the floor, but off the floor. We’ve got five new freshmen that don’t know the area well. So just making sure everyone feels comfortable.”
Kamille Wahlin has played alongside Kelly the last three years and likes how hard Kelly plays.
“It’s been a good four years with Kelly and obviously we’ve been through a lot,” said Kamille. “I like her competitiveness. She’s grown a lot over the years. She’s more aggressive now. I like the way she looks to shoot and she hustles all the time. Kelly never lets down. She’s always around when it’s crunch time and you can trust her with the ball.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder is looking forward to Kelly’s final year.
“I believe that Kelly is going to have a wonderful senior season,” said Coach Bluder. “She has taken more of a leadership role this summer, realizing this is her last season as a Hawkeye. Kelly has always represented our team in a first-class manner on the court, in the classroom and in our community. I am proud of the example she sets.”
Kelly is majoring in biomedical engineering and hopes to get into med school.
As a two- and probably three-time Academic All Big Ten selection, I’d say the chances are pretty good.
If City High and West High can produce future Hawkeyes like Kelly, Matt and Jordan Stoermer, I have no doubt Iowa fans will be happy.