The Iowa Girl
The Iowa girl is epitomized as a well-rounded young woman, active in both her school and her community. The following Iowa Girls have taken the life lessons learned by participating in IGHSAU-sponsored sports and have gone on to do great things.
Governor of Iowa
Interstate 35 High School
Class of 1977
Iowa’s first female governor is originally from St. Charles, Iowa, and was a multi-sport athlete for Interstate 35 High School, graduating in 1977. In addition to competing in athletics, Governor Reynolds was involved with the high school newspaper and a member of the National Honor Society. Before becoming governor, she was Clarke County Treasurer, a state senator and lieutenant governor under Terry Branstad.
Mt. Ayr High School
Class of 1978
Peggy Whitson hails from Beaconsfield, Iowa, and is a 1978 graduate of Mt. Ayr High School, where she was an honor student and athlete. Peggy graduated from Iowa Wesleyan in 1981 and received her doctorate from Rice University in 1985. From 1991 to 1997, she was an adjunct assistant professor at the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. After serving as a project scientist for the Space Shuttle Mir program for six years, Ms. Whitson was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996. In 2002, she was part of the Expedition 5 crew, where she was the first female commander of the U.S. Space Station. In 2017, Peggy was the first female astronaut to command the International Space Station twice and broke the American record for the longest time spent in space. When her mission ended in September of 2017, she had collected 665 days in space over her career.
Spencer High School
Class of 1977
The incredible career of Lieutenant General Michelle Johnson began in Spencer, Iowa, where this Iowa farm girl was both a National Merit Scholar and star basketball player at Spencer High School. After graduating in 1977, she attended the Air Force Academy, where she played basketball and ended her career as the Academy’s career scoring leader. Lieutenant General Johnson earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford and finished graduate school in 1983. She became the first woman to serve as Cadet Wing Commander (the senior ranking cadet). Johnson was promoted to major in 1991 and colonel in 1999. From 1992 to 1994, Johnson served both President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton as an Air Force aide. She was also on joint staff of the Pentagon. She was promoted to Major General in 2010 and Lieutenant General in 2013. She became the first woman to lead a United States Department of Defense service academy when she was named the 19th superintendent of the United States Air Force in 2013, a position she held until 2016.
Sports Medicine Physician
West Lyon High School
Class of 1999
Cheri Blauwet is a 1999 graduate of West Lyon. When Cheri was 18-months old, she suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident that left her in a wheelchair. In high school, she began competitive wheelchair racing and became a girls state champion in the 100 and 200 meter races. She still owns the Iowa State Track and Field Meet records in the 100 and 400 meters and was inducted into the IGHSAU Track and Field Hall of Fame. Cheri attended the University of Arizona, where she continued to race competitively. She was a member of three United State Paralympic Teams and captured seven medals, including a gold in the 800 meters at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. Turning her focus to distances, she won the New York City Marathon women’s wheelchair race twice, the Boston Marathon twice and the Los Angeles Marathon four times. Cheri also excelled in the classroom. Graduating with honors from Arizona, she attended Stanford’s School of Medicine. She was the chief resident in physical therapy and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. She is currently an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Cheri is a strong advocate for disability rights and has traveled internationally to promote and enhance disability rights. She is the chair of the International Paralympic Committee’s Medical Commission and serves on the Board of Directors for the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Roosevelt High School
Class of 2000
Lolo Jones is a three-time Olympian, national collegiate champion and Iowa record holder. Jones starred at Des Moines Roosevelt and was a state champion hurdler and sprinter. Jones won four individual state track titles and owned the 100 meter hurdles state mark. She went on to run for Louisiana State University and earned All-American honors 11 times and was a four-time NCAA national champion. Her professional racing career began in 2004, winning a national championship in the 60-meter hurdles at the USA Indoor Championship in 2007. The following year, Lolo placed seventh in 100 hurdles at the 2008 Olympic Games. Four years later, she placed fourth in the 2012 Olympic Games. In addition to success on the track, Lolo was a member of the USA Olympic Bobsled Team that participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
University of Nebraska Assistant Volleyball Coach; Olympic Athlete
Wahlert Catholic High School
Class of 2007
From high school to college to the Olympics, success has followed Dubuque native Kayla Banwarth. Banwarth became just the second Iowan to earn a spot on the United States Olympic Volleyball Team, where she was the starting libero for the bronze-medal winning 2016 U.S. Volleyball Team. Banwarth was one of Iowa’s most decorated prep players, starring for volleyball power Dubuque Wahlert, leading the Golden Eagles to three state championships and was named to the IGHSAU Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2012. Despite finishing her high school career with more than 1,000 career kills, Banwarth transitioned to defense after walking on to play for national power Nebraska. She became a starter midway through her freshman season and ended her collegiate career as the Cornhuskers’ career leader in digs.