On Aug. 18, the 2017-18 high school athletics season in the state of Iowa gets underway with the start of football season.

This will be the start of my 17th fall covering sports for the Nevada Journal and Tri-County area teams. But when I head out under the bright lights next Friday, I do so knowing that one of the high schools that had been with me my entire time as a sports reporter will no longer be part of my coverage area.

Last August, Baxter voted unanimously to end its sports-sharing agreement with Collins-Maxwell, thus splitting up a Collins-Maxwell-Baxter athletic program that began back in 1988.

While I am excited to begin a new journey with the Collins-Maxwell Spartans, the Tri-County coverage area does not include the newly formed Baxter Bolts.

It saddened me greatly when the fate of the CMB program was decided last August.

I saw such love and respect toward each other between the athletes and coaches of both Collins-Maxwell and Baxter, as well as the parents and citizens of the communities for both schools. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to make the trek to Baxter a few times every year, even if it was the farthest distance I had to travel for home games among my coverage area teams.

Not getting to continue my professional relationship with the Baxter athletes and coaches is a difficult pill to swallow. I truly appreciated working with them over all 17-plus years of my career thus far.

I would like to thank every athlete and coach and administrator from Baxter, in tandem with those from Collins-Maxwell, for providing me with fond memories.

Thank you for the 2014 undefeated regular season in football.

And for the respective third and fifth-place showings at state by the 2005 and 2016 girls’ cross country teams.

And for the countless participants and place-winners at state track.

And of course, for the magical summer of 2016 that saw both the softball and baseball programs make state for the first time.

Those are the moments that stood out off the top of my head. There are certainly many more great moments that took place from 2000-2017 — too many to list in this column.

I would also like to send out a special thank-you to Rob Luther and Neil Seales.

Rob has been with me since the beginning as the CMB football coach and Neil as a boys’ track coach up until his retirement after the 2015 season.

Both were both very instrumental in helping me get my career off to a great start. I truly enjoyed witnessing all the success their teams had over the years and my working relationship with both of them — you will not find a better quote machine than Rob Luther.

But though I won’t get to cover Baxter athletics anymore, I will definitely be following the program closely. Especially with the Bolts being a part of the same conference (Iowa Star Conference) as not only Collins-Maxwell, but another one of my coverage teams, Colo-Nesco.

It will be strange seeing athletes from Baxter and Collins-Maxwell competing against each other. But it will be fun still getting to see Baxter athletes like Will Clapper, Sailor Hinegardner, Jordynn Wesselink, Braydon Aker and others in action from time to time.

I wish Baxter athletics nothing but the best, and hope to see many great things from the Bolts in the future.