RYAN REEBENACKER, KNIGHT WIRE MANAGER
Over the past three seasons, the Wartburg Women’s Basketball team has experienced deep postseason runs. While much of this comes down to team culture and coaching, Wartburg has seen its recruitment of local talent pay off, especially in the reigning American Rivers Conference MVP Emma Gerdes.
Gerdes, who made state runs throughout her high school career at Cedar Falls, now has found herself making runs at the NCAA tournament year after year.
“State is such a big deal in high school and it’s so fun,” Gerdes said, reflecting on her high school experience. “Just thinking about being the best team in the state. It just seems like ‘oh my gosh it’s so cool.’ And which it was so cool, but now we’re one of the best teams in the nation.”
Gerdes earned the MVP accolade after averaging just over 10 points a game, leading the team in rebounds with 5 and a half, and leading in both assists and steals. Despite the award being an individual accomplishment, Gerdes says the award belongs to everyone on Wartburg’s roster.
“I wouldn’t be the player that I am without all of them,” Gerdes said. “Each one of them deserves it just as much as anyone in the conference. Last year we had a saying ‘we need each other,’ which is so true. Each one of us needs each one of us.”
Gerdes is not the lone Knight on Wartburg’s roster to emerge from Cedar Falls, as Ally Conrad starts alongside her in the back court. The first time in recent history Cedar Falls made the state tournament was due in part by the duo of Gerdes and Conrad.
“It makes me a little teary-eyed, thinking about how this is gonna be our last time playing basketball together,” Conrad said. “But that just makes me realize that I shouldn’t take that for granted or anything like that. It’s bittersweet but I’m excited.”
Playing the game she loves in the community she grew up in is a feeling the MVP calls “really special”.