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Murr holds up a strand of souvenir net. "I hope Buck saw us tonight," he says, gravel voice cracking. "I think he did. We won the state championship for Dike High School, and for him." Murr shakes his head, as if to clear it. This is no time for tears. He has to stay alert. Every time he turns around, a Bobcat mauls him.
Next morning, Sunday, the Bobcats—perfumed, pearled and pinned with orchids—are greeted with applause at Des Moines's Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ. Darci is demure in navy blue. Dawn is all flash in pink slacks and blouse, heart-shaped earrings and white boots. Murr wears a clean gray suit. After church the champions pile into a bus for a raucous ride home. The bus is jammed with balloons, pillows, duffel bags and voices:
"Can you believe my brother didn't come to see us play because he had a date?"
"Men are weak."
"Oh no! I took a picture of the inside of my purse!"
Driving the bus is Al Meester. "I suppose I'm real proud, a proud father," he says. "My sons never quite worked out athletically, never stuck with it like the girl. It was hard to believe that was my daughter out there yesterday."
Dawn dances. Darci, her golden-brown eyes placid as ever, stretches her long legs across the aisle. "This is great," she says. Def Leppard pours from a boom box. Darci lip-syncs, Dawn kicks.
Riebkes, of Sue Defense fame, wears mirrored shades. Asked her opinion of a Southeast Polk player, Sue says, "I wasn't crazy about her hair."
Half an hour from home, the Bobcats open their windows and fill the rolling fields of Grundy County with song.
Four fire trucks and three police cars, sirens wailing, meet the bus and escort it east to Reinbeck. Bobcat fans parked in their driveways wave, honk their horns, pull out behind the bus and follow it between fallow corn and soybean fields frosted with yesterday's snow. Soon the caravan is three miles long.