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Doug Wolter: Drent era going strong at Morningside

Brian Drent was a hugely successful athlete at Worthington High School who became a hugely successful high school coach who is now a hugely successful coach at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.He was one of those high school kids who turne...

Brian Drent was a hugely successful athlete at Worthington High School who became a hugely successful high school coach who is now a hugely successful coach at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.
He was one of those high school kids who turned every sport he touched into gold. Watching him, you just knew he was going to be successful in life, too.
Today, in his fifth year as Morningside’s head baseball coach, Drent leads a team with a 32-11 record which has a chance of matching Morningside’s all-time single-season win record of 42. It should be no surprise that the former Trojan is pushing the envelope; in his first season as the Mustangs’ head coach, the Mustangs won 37 games - the second most in school history.
I caught up with Brian by telephone on Wednesday. He remains excited about his 2016 team.
“We’ve really got a well-rounded team,” he said. “Our pitching staff is probably one of the best in the (Great Plains Athletic) conference. But we’re also hitting .340 as a team. Defensively, we’re no slouch either.”
There is a serious local connection which helps to make Morningside successful.
Worthington High School graduate Blake Rogers, a catcher/infielder, is in his first year with the Mustangs after starting for the previous two years at Iowa Lakes Community College. Lucas Henning, another WHS grad, is toiling with the Mustangs as a pitcher in his junior year of eligibility.
Both are doing well. Henning sports a 5-2 record with a 3.37 earned run average over 34.2 innings. He has walked 12 batters and struck out 24.
Drent loves Henning’s devotion. “He’s willing to pitch in any situation. Never any issue anytime to take the ball.”
As a freshman at Iowa Lakes, Rogers led the team in hitting with a .367 average. So far at Morningside, he’s batting .365 with 14 runs, seven doubles, five home runs and 25 RBIs.
“He’s been phenomenal for us,” said Drent. “He’s a great guy on the field. He’s also a great guy off the field.”
Next season, another area product - Windom Area standout Sam Huska - will join the Mustangs. Drent says he’s keeping an eye on Worthington High School junior Easton Sauerbrei’s high school progress.
Drent entered the 2016 season with a 121-91 record after posting a 35-18 record in 2015.
Before taking over the Morningside program, he compiled a 157-48 record at Sioux City North High School (for a .766 winning percentage) and led the team to Iowa’s Class 4A state championship in 2009. That year, he was chosen the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Iowa Class 4A Coach of the Year.
Drent was a first-team All North Central Conference player at Morningside as a college freshman in 1993. He attended Indian Hills Community College for a year and was drafted in the 13th round by the Chicago White Sox. He spent three seasons in the White Sox’ minor league system.
A Bellevue University graduate in 2001 with a BA degree in business administration, he is married to a Worthington girl, the former Angela Donovan. They are the parents of two girls, ages 12 and 8.
Today, Brian still considers himself a small-town guy with small-town values. He grew up on farms, worked on his grandparents’ farms and “chucked papers” with the Worthington Daily Globe for more than 10 years through his senior year of high school, getting up at 6:30 or 7 a.m. to do it.
That’s good to fall back on when you’re at the helm of a college program and juggling 40 to 50 players.
“I think that having a work ethic is still the best all-time life lesson that anybody can give to someone else,” Brian said.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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