Part Three: Houston and Anderson County Schools Capture State Titles

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – After narrowly missing out on state championships in basketball, the area sports teams could have packed it in and called it a year. Instead, the young competitors took a deep breath, regrouped and closed out the year with four state titles.

The Latexo High School math team started things off for the area. While technically not a sport, the amount of practice and preparation put into just making the LHS team is probably more intense than any other competitive high school event in the area.

One does not just show up and join the team. There are tryouts and tests and if the mathlete doesn’t make the grade, he or she is cut. That’s a big reason the LHS math team was the five time defending champion heading into the 2017 UIL competition.

2017 UIL State Championship Latexo Math Team

After the 2017 Spring Academic Meet, that number is now six. Latexo’s Charles Rothrock finished first overall in Class 2A with a score of 310. Camryn Craven was third with a score 0f 240, Sonny Townsend was fourth with a score of 230 and Phoebe Zheng was seventh with a score of 212.

As a team, LHS finished first with a total of 780 outdistancing the second place team from Lindsay by 86 points. A seventh straight title is entirely possible as Latexo only has one graduating senior (Rothrock) this year.

At the other end of the brains/brawn spectrum was Grapeland’s Cameron Riess. While the senior Sandie could give most scholars a run for their money, he chose to pursue a family tradition in the world of powerlifting.

Riess finished second in state in the 181 pound weight class, Division III with a total of 1,505 pounds lifted. His total was comprised of 600 pounds in the squat, 405 pounds on the bench press and 500 pounds in the deadlift.

He was edged out of first place by Michael Rodriquez of Axtell who had a combined lift of 1,520. Riess was also named to the Texas High School Powerlifting Association’s Academic All-State First Team.

Cameron Riess – 2017 State Runner-Up Div. III 181 lb. Class

The competitive juices continued to flow in the world of Track and Field. The Crockett Bulldogs breezed through the district, area and regional competitions and found themselves with a large contingent of athletes in the state championship meet held in Austin.

The Dawgs won the team gold with 41 points. Dallas Life Oak Cliff was awarded the silver with 35 points and Wall took home the team bronze with 34. Dallas Madison was fourth with 30.

Derrick Sherman leapt 22’-01” to finish in fifth place in the long jump.

The 4 x 100m relay team of A.J. Owens, LaTavian Jones, Derrick Sherman and DeMarcus Richardson finished second in the finals as Dallas Madison nipped Crockett by .01 seconds with a time of 41.61 while Crockett ran a 41.62.

DeMarcus Richardson finished third in the 100m with a time of 10.81.

The 4 x 200m team comprised of Joseph Porter, LaTavian Jones, Lucky Daniels and DeMarcus Richardson

Crockett did just that as the Dawgs went out and ran a 1:27.40 which gave them the silver behind Dallas Life Oak Cliff who ran a conference record time of 1:26.31.

Joseph Porter finished sixth in the 200m sprint with a time of 22.30.

Other area athletes competing at the State Track and Field Meet included:

  • Slocum’s Jalyn Fletcher with a sixth place finish in the Class 1A 400m dash with a time of 1:01.74.
  • Cayuga’s Stormi Lane with a fourth place finish in the Class 2A 100m dash with a time of 12.44.
  • Cayuga’s Josh Ingram with a ninth place finish in the Class 2A discus with a throw of 131’-10”.
  • Elkhart’s Ashley Buck with a fourth place finish in the Class 3A triple jump with a leap of 26’-3”.
  • Westwood’s Xavier Billups with a fourth place finish in the Class 3A 200m dash with a time of 22.03 and a ninth place finish in the Class 3A 100m dash with a time of 11.21.
  • The Palestine girls’ 4 x 100m relay team finished seventh in Class 4A with a time of 48.6 and the 4 x 200m finished ninth with a time of 1:43.83.
  • Palestine’s Irric Deyon with a ninth place finish in the Class 4A long jump with a leap of 21’-5.5”.

2017 UIL State Championship Crockett Bulldog Track and Field Team

While the track was still cooling down from the fire of East Texas athletes, another group of competitors found themselves playing for a state championship in the Austin area.

The Grapeland Sandiette Golf Team of Hannah Chipman, Madelyn Conner, Jenna Lawrence, Sayler LeBlanc, Carly Parker and Callie Richburg traveled to Austin during the middle of May to take part in the two day, UIL Class 2A State Golf Tournament.

While they came up a little short in the quest for a state championship, the Sandiettes played a great two rounds of golf. Their two day total of 786 was good enough for sixth place in the state behind teams from Memphis (729), Forsan (738), Wellington (754), Hamilton (765) and Mason (784).

Chipman tied for 11th place individually, Lawrence tied for 19th place individually, Parker finished in 35th place individually, Conner finished in 43rd place individually and Richburg finished in 68th place individually.

2017 UIL Grapeland Seandiette Golf Team – 6th Place at State Championships

The Latexo Lady Tigers also had two individual golfers competing in the state tournament. Jordan Davenport shot a round of 99 on the first day and a round of 96 on the second day to finish with a 195 and 24th place, individually.

Latexo’s Kelsey Patterson was also in Austin and recorded rounds of 104 and 106 for a two day total of 210 and 37th place, individually.

The following week, the boys took over the links and the GHS Sandies brought home a state title.

After finishing as the runners-up in 2016, the Grapeland Sandie golf team was on a mission in 2017. On Tuesday afternoon, May 23 the Sandies completed their mission and captured the Class 2A State Championship in golf.

The team was comprised of:  Josh Ackley, Case Boyd, Brayden Cheatham, Riley Chipman and Rick Frauenberger

The Sandies shot a two day total of 600 which was 53 strokes better than the second place finisher, the Hamlin Pied Pipers and 71 shots better than the Vega Longhorns who finished third.

In addition, Frauenberger’s two day total of 139 earned him the gold medal as the low scoring individual while Cheatham’s total of 148 put him in fifth pace, just two shots away from the bronze.

Saylem Maddox from Memphis finished in second with a total of 145. Wyatt Koricanek of Yorktown was third with a 147 and Carson Grawunder from Vega was fourth with a score of 147.

2017 UIL State Championship Grapeland Sandies Golf Team

Chipman finished with a two day total of 156 which was good enough for a 14th place tie with three others. Boyd finished with a total of 157 and sole possession of 18th place while Ackley carded a two total of 255.

At the conclusion of the tournament, Grapeland Golf Coach Cannon Earp remarked, “As far back as I can find, that is the lowest two day total ever of any team champion in our classification.”

Also in action – at the Class 1A level – was Kennard Tiger Garrett Hoy who finished with rounds of 85 and 83 for a total of 168 which placed him 10th in the 1A tournament.

The final state championship of the year belonged to the Slocum Lady Mustangs’ softball team. The girls of the diamond had a first round bye and then blasted the Martinsville Lady Pirates by a score of 16-5.

Following their win over Martinsville, Slocum took on the Kennard Lady Tigers and galloped by them into the Regional Finals with an 11-0 win.

2017 UIL State Championship Slocum Lady Mustangs Softball Team

In the Regional Finals, the Lady Mustangs took on the Sulphur Bluff Lady Bears in a best-of three series. Slocum won the first game 5-0 and turned around to win game two by a score of 10-1.

The Lady Mustangs’ series win over the Lady Bears moved them into the state semifinals against the Bartlett Lassies. The Slocum bats continued to sizzle as they hammered the Lassies by a final of 10-5 to move into the state championship game.

The first pitch of the title game was scheduled for 9 a.m. against the Hermleigh Lady Cardinals. While it was an early wake-up call for both teams, it appeared as if the girls from Slocum were the only ones to get any sleep the night before as they hammered the Lady Cardinals by a score of 10-0 and captured the Class 1A State Championship in softball.

Whew!!! What a year, what a year! Four state titles, a state runner-up, two state semifinals appearances, numerous All-State selections and a core group of talented underclassmen returning for another shot at a glory.

Can 2017-2018 live up to the accomplishments of 2016-2017? You never know, but in just over a month, we’re gonna start to find out.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.