Student-athletes in the greater Houston area excel in a variety of different sports. While football, basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball garner most of the headlines, in 2016, track and field gets to take a bow on center stage. Not one but two Houston area high school track and field powerhouses brought home state championship trophies. Four other Houston schools got to the state title game in other sports and came up a tad short. Here are the top 10 stories.
Stafford takes track
Stafford High School won its first boys’ state track and field championship by amassing 50 points in the Class 4A state meet and outlasting a five-hour lightning delay and the best efforts of runner-up Atlanta (36) and third-place Dallas Hutchins (32). Spartans junior Cam Montgomery won three medals, including a gold medal in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.70 seconds. Montgomery joined teammates Christopher Brantley, James Brown and David Allison to finish second in the 4X200 relay. The Spartans came within an eyelash of a state team title in 2015.
Marshall boys repeat
Fort Bend Marshall repeated as boys’ Class 5A state track and field champs with two relays claiming a gold medal. With 52 points Marshall held off both Lancaster and Waxahachie with 36 points. Members of the Buffalos 4X100 (40.13) and 4X200 (1:24.19) relay teams included Shamon Ehlemua, Cedarian Lynch, Jarmaiz Whitaker, John Isom and Jeremy Smith. Ehlemua also won a gold medal in the 200-meter dash. Marshall already has its sights on a three-peat in 2017.
Klein runner wins big
Imani Nave of Klein High School made history when she won a gold medal in the Class 6A girls’ 200-meter dash at the state meet in Austin. Running out of lane eight, normally less than an ideal spot, Nave crossed the finish line in 23.66 seconds to become the first sprinter since the school opened in 1938 to place first at state. Nave credited a great start out of the blocks for propelling her to victory. Just before the state meet Nave signed a track scholarship to Stephen F. Austin University.
Atascocita upset at state
Atascocita High School was the home of the No. 1-ranked boys Class 6A basketball team from preseason all the way to the state title game. Unfortunately, nobody gave No. 4 DeSoto a script for the Eagles’ storybook ending. Atascocita won its first 38 games of the season only to be derailed 73-54 by DeSoto in game 39. DeSoto earned the state title and Atascocita settled for runner-up. Carsen Edwards led Atascocita with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Atascocita defeated Houston Math, Science and Technology (formerly Sam Houston) 78-67 in the state semifinals. Fabian White is the lone returning starter for the Eagles.
Dekaney girls advance
The Spring Dekaney girls advanced to the Class 6A state championship game in basketball only to face unbeaten juggernaut Duncanville. Dekaney finished the season 37-2 following a disheartening 76-42 loss to the Pantherettes. Since 2012 Dekaney has made two trips to the state title game and two trips to the regional finals. Jaelyn Richard-Harris was a four-year starter for head coach Stacy Stroman.
Pearland falls short
Fourteen Pearland High School seniors harbored grand visions of winning the school’s third state softball title before going their separate ways to college. All 14 had signed scholarships to play softball on the collegiate level. Yet after defeating Weslaco 4-0 in the state semifinals to advance to the Class 6A state championship game, disaster struck. Keller defeated the Oilers 5-0 to win its school’s third state title and first since 2005. Top Pearland players included Alyssa Denham, Lindsey Stewart, Sydney Gutierrez, Madison Clements and Ashlynn Walls.
Elkins comes close
Fort Bend Elkins advanced to the boys’ state basketball tournament for the first time in school history and was the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A bracket. After defeating Beaumont Ozen for the Region III-5A crown, Elkins knocked off Fort Worth Dunbar 101-73 to earn a berth against defending champion Lancaster in the 5A championship game. Lancaster ousted Edinburg Vela (79-58) in the other 5A semifinal. Trailing by 13 points, Elkins came within 55-54 with five minutes to play before succumbing 67-64. Standouts for the Knights included Ken Busby, Ansu Sesay, Eddie Everline, Chad Bowie, Tyrik Armstrong and Chandler Jacobs.
Langham Creek in semifinals
The Langham Creek Lobos flourished in the role of underdog while completing the most successful baseball season in school history. The 30-12 Lobos were fourth-round playoff casualties the past two years before a break-through performance in 2016 that landed Langham Creek in the Class 6A state baseball tournament. While eliminating state-ranked Westside and Pearland, No. 1 nationally ranked Deer Park and defending state champion Cypress Ranch, Langham Creek captured six elimination-game victories. Eventual state champ Dallas Jesuit ended Langham Creek’s season (2-0) in the state semifinals.
Woodlands receiver excels
Receiver Kesean Carter of The Woodlands High School is a standout player on one of the top high school football teams in Texas. The Highlanders won 14 consecutive games to open the 2016 season and qualified for the state semifinals in Class 6A Division I. Against defending state champion George Ranch, Carter recorded four touchdown passes in a single game. Highlanders quarterback Eric Schmid, son of head coach Mark Schmid, has a dynamic receiving corps that includes Carter, Christopher Stewart and Dylan Casey. When Carter returns for his senior season, he’ll be a blue-chip college recruit.
Hightower gets gold
The Hightower High School girls’ mile relay unit of Birexus Hawkins, Jyria Smith, Tyler Rose and Evette Blanks was the best in Texas and one of the tops in the nation in 2016. In the grand finale at the UIL state high school track and field meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Hightower overcame bad weather and won the gold medal with a time of three minutes, 42.06 seconds. Cypress Springs placed second and third place went to McKinney Boyd.