Monthly archive

March 2020

BREATHE & HOLD: Boys regional, girls state meets on hold indefinitely

in Powerlifting

On the eve of the Texas High School Powerlifting Association’s Region 2, Division 3 championship meet March 14 in West, the University Interschlastic League (UIL) suspended all UIL-sanctioned contests due to the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). As a result, the THSPA promptly followed suit.

Likewise, the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association postponed the Division 3 State Championship meet scheduled for March 20 in Waco.

For the Clifton Lady Cubs, the uncertainty of what comes next developed after taking third place as a team at the THSWPA Region 2, Division 3 Championships March 7 at Academy. With three Lady Cubs qualifying for the state meet, senior Kamryn Kettler took the gold medal in the 181-pound class to secure her third consecutive trip to state, senior Sutton Finney captured the silver in the 132-pound class to qualify, and senior Katelyn Hunt grabbed the bronze in the 105-pound class and advance.

Other Lady Cub medalists were senior Maddie Burk placing fifth in the 148-pound class, while Grace Countryman finished fifth in the 165-pound class. Sara Slater and Beth Ann McMillan also competed regional and produced their best totals of the year.

“We had a great day,” Clifton powerlifting head coach Brent Finney said. “These girls all lifted their very best at the regional meet and competed intensely. Having three qualify and five medal just shows how hard these girls have worked over the past three or four years.”

Kettler, Finney and Burk competed as four-time regional qualifiers, Hunt and McMillian returned to regionals for the third time, while Slater and Countryman were making their first trip to the regional meet.

For the Clifton boys, senior Joel Santillan advanced to the THSPA Region 2, Division 3 Championship meet for the fourth straight season, looking for his three consecutive trip to state. Santillan qualified for regionals as the sixth-ranked lifter in the 148-pound class with a three-lift total of 1,015 pounds, which included a squat of 375, a bench press of 245 and a dead lift of 395.

“The boys are very young this year with just one returning letterman in Joel,” Finney said. “This break is tough on the kids, primarily because they have to maintain their body weight in the class that they qualified. Not being able to get in the weight room and work out is also tough on them.”

Other Heart of Texas boys regional qualifiers include Dublin leading the way with nine lifers: Miguel Gallegos (123), Ricky Lopez (123), Arnoldo Mareno (132), Stuart Cortez (181), Johnny Jurado (198), Bernie Ortega (220), Michael Stanley (242), Victor Juarez (275), Stran Burrow (SHW); followed by West with eight lifters: Ruben Salazar (123), Ryan Williams (123), Trevor Uptmor (132), Caidn Kocian (132), Billy Gann (165), Silas Prickett (181), Lawson Kendrick (198), Ruben Vera (242); Moody with six lifters: Gavin Green (148), TraShawn Hill (165), Dylan Froehlich (220), Brandon Bartek (SHW), Jayce McBride (SHW), Davis Orr (SHW); Bosqueville with four lifters: Larson Hoffmeyer (165), Dauvo McDonald (165), Jagger Summa (242), Michael Hare (275); Bruceville-Eddy with four lifers: Isrrael (114), Romuoldo Rosas (114), Curtis Hughling (181), Hunter Carter (220); Comanche with four lifters: Yancy Perkins (114), Aaron Suniga (148), Xavier Herrera (220), Jeron Conine (SHW); McGregor with four lifters: Khyran Jones (132), Colby Franks (220), Oliver Jenkins (220), Domeniss McFadden (SHW); Rio Vista with four lifters: Jacob Foster (123), Kody Arsenault (165), Brent Batch (242), Ethan Cumins (275); Whitney with four lifters: Dalton Wooten (132), Colby Bolig (148), Mason Wooten (181), Shawntay Owens (275); Crawford with two lifters: Luis Rodriguez (123), Jake Knuppel (SHW); Hico with two lifters: Jayden Crouch (123), Damon McClary (242); Itasca with two lifters: Bernardo Garcia (132), Robert Scott (SHW); Tolar with two lifters: Braegen Berry (198), Bannon Stump (242); Jacob Bayer (SHW) of Grandview, and Justin Baha (181) of Riesel.

Photos by DAVID HARDING

©2020 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

PANDEMIC PONDERINGS

in Commentary

Sports world on hold with social distancing

Anticipation.

We all have things we look forward to each and every year. But due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, our lives have taken an unprecedented and unpredictable turn. In other words, everything has been put on hold, until further notice.

While we all maintain our social distancing efforts and some of us shelter-in-place, the sports world came to a month-long sustained screeching halt shortly after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic March 11, the first such declaration in 11 years.

It began with the NBA suspending its season March 12. Then, the NCAA stunned the sports world by cancelling all remaining spring and winter championships, which shockingly included March Madness – the men’s and women’s basketball national championship tournaments.

The dominoes continued to fall when the NHL also suspended play. Then one of professional golf’s great traditions and the PGA’s first major tournament of the year – the Masters – was postponed, and the Boston Marathon delayed its race until Sept. 14.

And then, the real bombshell felt around the world went off. The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, scheduled to take place between July 24 and Aug. 9, were officially postponed until 2021 by the International Olympic Committee last Tuesday.

But here’s the buzz, sports fans. There’s still hope that not all has been lost.

For me, the COVID-19 impact on the sports world began hitting where it hurts when the MLB canceled the remainder of spring training March 12, and delayed Opening Day by “at least two weeks.” With the originally scheduled MLB Opening Day coming and going as ballparks remained empty last Thursday, it became clear that “at least two weeks” would not be nearly enough.

As a veteran Texas Association of Sports Officials high school baseball umpire, the shutdown hit home when the UIL suspended all spring academic and athletic activities March 16. To support the health and safety of students and communities across Texas, the UIL announced the news as I walked off the field with my partner from an early afternoon game.

“We are urging our member schools and their communities to stay vigilant and take every possible precaution to remain safe and healthy,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said. “We understand there is a lot of uncertainty during this unprecedented time. Please know UIL leadership is working diligently to adjust to this rapidly evolving situation and will share updates as soon as possible.”

In Texas, shutdowns have occurred only twice before due to two pandemics involving the H1N1 influenza virus: the 2009 swine flu pandemic and the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Although UIL officials postponed all public high school athletic and academic competitions in 2009, Texas schools returned to action after a two weeks layoff. But in 1918, activities were halted in early October and did not resume throughout the remainder of the school year.

But of course, we were just getting started.

On the heels of Gov. Greg Abbott proclaiming a public health disaster in Texas for the first time in more than 100 years Thursday, the UIL extended its suspension of all UIL-sanctioned activities indefinitely due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Texas. In addition, all contests, practices, rehearsals and workouts will remain suspended until further notice.

But with the next breath, the UIL stated, “At this time, the earliest games and contests may resume is Monday, May 4. Prior to this date, the UIL will allow its member schools a reasonable acclimatization period for rehearsals and practices to occur.”

And with that statement, the UIL showed it was not ready to pull the plug on the winter and spring academic and athletic activities just yet.

“We are working diligently on contingency plans to conduct state championships in each of the activities that have been suspended,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “While the immediate future is unclear, we are committed to providing these much-desired activities to all Texas students and will prepare for all possible outcomes, including extended school closures.”

While hope remains for the Texas high school sports seasons, likewise for the MLB season.

At the moment, Opening Day has been pushed back until mid-May at the earliest. While it remains very likely baseball fans will have to wait longer than that, MLB owners and players remain committed to playing as many regular-season games as possible, leaving open the possibility of the schedule going into October and the postseason being played into November.

With that said, rumors suggest that the beginning of the season could start around late June or July, around what would have been the All-Star Break.

For me, the wait for the 2020 season will have been worth it, though. Then, and only then, the drama that has engulfed my beloved Houston Astros with the sign-stealing scandal can finally be put to rest.

While many will be throwing down on the Astros, both literally and figuratively, I will be rooting for Houston – under the watchful eye of the legendary manager Dusty Baker – to rise above the boos once the season begins. The uber-talented core of George Springer, Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, along with future Hall of Fame pitchers Zach Greinke and Justin Verlander will indeed step up and put aside the alleged cheating scandal.

Anticipation. It’s making us wait. But in the end, the wait will be well worth it.

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EXTENDED SUSPENSION

in Reporting

UIL puts all activities on hold indefinitely, hopes to resume May 4 at the earliest

AUSTIN – As we deal with the day-to-day fears and uncertainties that have become a part of life during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) demonstrated precautionary restraint while delivering a ray of hope to students, athletes, sponsors and coaches across Texas.

On the heels of Gov. Greg Abbott proclaiming a public health disaster in Texas for the first time in more than 100 years Thursday, the UIL extended its suspension of all UIL-sanctioned activities indefinitely due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Texas. In addition, all contests, practices, rehearsals and workouts will remain suspended until further notice.

But with the next breath, the UIL stated, “At this time, the earliest games and contests may resume is Monday, May 4. Prior to this date, the UIL will allow its member schools a reasonable acclimatization period for rehearsals and practices to occur.”

And with that statement, the UIL showed it was not ready to pull the plug on the winter and spring academic and athletic activities just yet.

“We are working diligently on contingency plans to conduct state championships in each of the activities that have been suspended,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “While the immediate future is unclear, we are committed to providing these much-desired activities to all Texas students and will prepare for all possible outcomes, including extended school closures.”

Clifton athletic director Chuck Caniford saw the announcement as a “bad news, good news” situation.

“The bad news is that they have suspended competitions until at least Monday, May 4,” Caniford said in a Facebook post Thursday afternoon. “The great news is it appears that they intend to do everything possible to finish all of our spring sports seasons. As we have learned in the past week, all of this is subject to change, but I am encouraged by the language of their release today.”

The UIL reminded everyone that all decisions remain flexible and will be consistent with the advice of local, state and federal officials. Officials will continue to provide timely, ongoing updates and is reassessing this ever-changing situation daily.

In the meantime, Meridian athletic director Wade Morton urged Yellowjacket student-athletes to continue working out and conditioning in preparation of resuming competition, offering a home workout schedule.

“Don’t let what you’ve done in the offseason go to waste,” Morton said in his Facebook post. “All facilities are closed and practices cancelled for Meridian ISD until further notice. It’s necessary to allow authorities to get ahead of what’s happening and to not put students, faculty and parents in an environment we truly don’t understand at this point and time.”

UIL shutdowns have occurred only twice before due to two pandemics involving the H1N1 influenza virus: the 2009 swine flu pandemic and the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Although UIL officials postponed all public high school athletic and academic competitions in 2009, Texas schools returned to action after a two weeks layoff. But in 1918, activities were halted in early October and did not resume throughout the remainder of the school year.

As the circumstance with the Coronavirus pandemic remains fluid, the UIL will continue to adjust to the situation and make additional announcements regarding plans for Spring activities as needed.

“It’s hard especially for your seniors that have put in a lot of work for this year since they were in junior high,” Valley Mills athletic director Sam Moody said. “We support the decision and know that it is in the best interest of our athletes and community cancelling events and practices. Our number one priority is the safety of our students, and we will take whatever precautions are necessary to keep them safe.”

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HISTORIC HALT

in Reporting

UIL suspends all sanctioned activities for two weeks

Although the sports world dealt with the impact of a health crisis just 11 years ago, it’s been over a century since a pandemic has hit with such long-lasting and far-reaching implications.

To support the health and safety of students and communities across Texas, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) suspended all UIL-sanctioned contests due to the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), effective March 16 through March 29.

“We are urging our member schools and their communities to stay vigilant and take every possible precaution to remain safe and healthy,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said. “We understand there is a lot of uncertainty during this unprecedented time. Please know UIL leadership is working diligently to adjust to this rapidly evolving situation and will share updates as soon as possible.”

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, the first such declaration in 11 years, leading the UIL suspension of activities. Shutdowns have occurred only twice before due to two pandemics involving the H1N1 influenza virus: the 2009 swine flu pandemic and the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Although UIL officials postponed all public high school athletic and academic competitions in 2009, Texas schools returned to action after a two weeks layoff. But in 1918, activities were halted in early October and did not resume throughout the remainder of the school year.

“As of right now, competitions are scheduled to resume, and the UIL intends to complete all spring sports seasons,” Clifton athletic director Chuck Caniford said. “Obviously, this will mean that there will be significant changes to the remaining schedules. Please be patient and understand that this is a very fluid situation.

“There are many variables that will affect the rescheduling of these competitions. As soon as we have information on the updated schedules, we will pass that along. I do not anticipate that we will have that information until at least late next week at the earliest.”

As the Coronavirus pandemic remains a fluid situation, the UIL will continue to follow the direction of state and local officials to monitor this situation and will make additional announcements regarding plans for Spring activities as needed.

“It’s hard especially for your seniors that have put in a lot of work for this year since they were in junior high,” Valley Mills athletic director Sam Moody said. “We support the decision and know that it is in the best interest of our athletes and community cancelling events and practices. Our number one priority is the safety of our students, and we will take whatever precautions are necessary to keep them safe.”

Although the UIL declared that rehearsals and practices can be held at the discretion of the local school district, Clifton ISD decided to suspend all extracurricular activities and extend Spring Break for an additional week.

“Because CISD will be closed next week due to health concerns, there will be no high school or middle school athletic practices, open gyms or open weight rooms,” Caniford said. “Once we know when practices will resume, we will pass that information along as well.

“Again, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during this highly unusual and fluid time. We will continue to post updated information regarding UIL activities as soon as we receive it.”

With Meridian ISD taking Spring Break beginning next week, the school district will keep their doors to all facilities closed through March 22.

“All facilities are closed and practices cancelled for Meridian ISD until further notice,” Meridian Athletic Director Wade Morton said. “It’s necessary to allow authorities to get ahead of what’s happening and to not put students, faculty and parents in an environment we truly don’t understand at this point and time.”

©2020 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

LANDING LUNKERS: Clifton’s Urbanovskys win Lake Limestone Bass Fishing Tournament

in Hunting & Fishing

THORNTON – With Clifton High School represented by seven two-angler teams, Westen and Peyton Urbanovsky teamed up to capture first place in the Lake Limestone Bass Fishing Tournament on the Central Texas High School Tournament Trail March 8.

Clifton’s Nolan Davis won the Big Bass award by landing a 7.38-pound lunker.

Clifton High’s Peyten and Westen Urbanovsky show off their trophies and prizes after winning the CTHSTT’s Lake Limestone Bass Fishing Tournament March 8.

Competing in a field of 50 teams from across the Central Texas region, the Urbanovskys came in as one of only two teams with a five-fish stringer weighing 20.55 pounds. Clifton’s Jackson Kettler and Davis placed seventh with three fish weighing 11.82 pounds as five of Clifton’s seven teams brought fish to the weigh-in.

Led by CHS sponsor Greg McNew, other Clifton teams landing fish were Ethan Banas and Tyler Anderson finishing in 14th place with two bass weighing 6.62 pounds; Samual Cecil and Tristin Smith, 15th with one fish weighing 5.86; Jackson Newton and Leslie Davis, 23rd with one fish weighing 3.83.

Consisting of a seven-event season, the Central Texas High School Tournament Trail began Sept. 15 with the first of five qualifying tournaments on Lake Whitney. After the final qualifying tournament at Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir near Belton April 5, qualifiers will compete in the CTHSTT Championship scheduled for April 26 on a lake still to be determined.

To qualify for the championship tournament, an angler must first compete in three of the five qualifying events. Once the angler has met that requirement, one of the next three requirements must be met: 1. The angler has finished in the Top 3 in any one of the five qualifying events, 2. The angler has registered and paid for all five qualifying tournaments, 3. The angler must be in the top 50 percent in points for the school/club they represent.

While Clifton has sent eight teams to at least one event, none of the pairings have competing in all of the previous four tournaments.

Earlier in the season, the Urbanovskys placed fifth in the CTHSTT’s Lake Waco Tournament Nov. 10 with five fish weighing 10.36 pounds. Jackson Roscher and Mason Moore finished in 14th place (three for 5.3), while Davis and Kettler placed 15th (three for 5.05) in the 67-team field.

The CTHSTT provides an opportunity for both middle school and high school students in grades sixth through 12th to excel both academically and professionally by means of competitive bass fishing.  It also provides these students the opportunity to earn scholarship money for their continued education.

The Trail was formed and operates solely to invest in the future of these young anglers and the sport of competitive bass fishing in Central Texas.

Each student team has an adult boat captain who takes on the responsibility of operating the boat while the main engine is running. However once at a fishing spot, it’s up to the boat captain if the students will be allowed to operate the trolling motor.

In addition to operating the boat, the boat captain shares years of fishing knowledge with the next generation of anglers, instruct these young men and women in skills such as: locating fish, lure selection, color, and technique. The team members select their baits, make their cast, and retrieve their catch. But the boat captain is allowed to assist with the netting of the catch.

Photos courtesy of RENEE KETTLER

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DIAMOND GIRLS: Lady Cubs opens District 17-3A competition sharp

in Softball

CLIFTON – Winning six of their last seven games, the Clifton Lady Cub softball team knocked off Maypearl, 8-3, in the District 17-3A opener last Tuesday before playing well while hosting the Clifton Softball Tournament last Thursday-Saturday.

Kamryn Kettler hit a homer and drove in four runs while Kasandra Gaona tossed a complete game striking out eight to lead the Lady Cubs to a convincing 8-3 district opening victory at home last Tuesday evening. Kary Fuentes went three-for-four at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs, and Bailey Ledbetter went three-for-four with three runs scored and an RBI.

Despite being on Spring Break, Clifton (1-0 in district, 7-7 overall) will play back-to-back home-and-away district games against defending co-district champion Whitney, hosting the Lady Wildcats at 6 p.m. Tuesday before traveling to Whitney for a 6 p.m. game Friday.

After advancing to the Class 3A playoffs as the district’s fourth place team in 2019, the Lady Cubs hope to build on that experience and take their game to the next level.

“We are focusing on one day at a time and working in practice to improve the little things,” Clifton softball head coach Sam Ledlow said. “We are working on being consistent in our play and focusing on one inning at a time. I’m excited to see what we will do this season and how we will improve.

“We are continuing to learn different things in our losses that will help us in our district game against Whitney. I’m excited about this team and how coachable and competitive they are.”

Going into this week’s district games against Whitney, Kynli Bearden leads the Lady Cubs with a .636 batting average while driving in a team-high 19 runs, Kamryn Kettler owns a .593 batting average with 14 RBIs, and Ledbetter leads Clifton with 17 runs scored while batting. 548.

While extending their winning streak to five straight, the Lady Cubs opened their tournament with dominating wins over Teague, 11-0, the Class 4A China Spring JV, 9-0, and Tolar, 16-2, before Albany handed Clifton a decisive 7-1 loss. But the Lady Cubs bounced right back to close out the tournament with an overwhelming 10-1 victory over Tolar Saturday afternoon to take third place.

Clifton posted back-to-back shutout behind the pitching of Kassandra Gaona and Kamryn Kettler while the Lady Cub bats pounded out 12 extra base knocks while collecting 38 hits over the first three games of the tournament. Kettler blanked the China Spring JV with a one-hitter, striking out five, before Savannah Gayle tossed a gem to close out the tourney against Tolar.

“We played really good defense and adjusted at the plate each game to win our pool on Friday,” Ledlow said. “I’m proud of how focused we were all weekend playing three games Friday and two Saturday.”

The Lady Cubs lost six of their first seven games of the season, opening with back-to-back losses to Class 4A Lorena, 15-5, and Class 4A Stephenville, 16-6, before struggling in the highly competitive Glen Rose Tournament Feb. 27-29.

In the season opener against Lorena, the Lady Cubs held a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning before things came unraveled. But in the process, Clifton collected 15 hits, led by Bearden’s four-for-four performance at the plate

“We started off really well hitting the ball and playing defense,” Ledlow said. “Pitching was also really good. It all came to a sudden stop in the fifth inning. We took it as a learning experience.”

Clifton went on to lose four of six games in the Glen Rose Tournament, opening with a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to host Class 4A Glen Rose before suffering shutout losses to Class 4A Midlothian Heritage, 10-0, Thursday and Class 4A Venus, 7-0, Friday, then dropping a 7-4 decision to Class 4A Alvarado Saturday morning.

On the bright side, the Lady Cubs crushed Dublin, 21-0, Friday morning, and wrapped up the tournament with an 8-2 victory over Peaster Saturday.

In the offensive onslaught against Dublin, Bearden collected eight RBIs with two home runs while Ledbetter knocked in five runs, and Audrey Anderson hit a home run with four RBIs.

Photos courtesy of SANDRA VASQUEZ GAONA

©2020 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

WINNING WAYS: Cubs take on quality teams in tourneys to open season

in Baseball

CLIFTON – After opening the 2020 Texas high school baseball season with four consecutive losses in the highly-competitive China Spring Invitational Tournament, the Clifton Cubs returned to their winning ways last week.

Coming off a District 17-3A championship and Regional Semifinals appearance in 2019, Clifton snapped the losing streak with an 8-5 home opening victory over Class 4A Gatesville last Monday. Then the Cubs went on to split four games against quality opponents in the Rogers Tournament Thursday-Saturday.

Ranked 16th in the Class 3A pre-season state poll, Clifton (3-6) will stay busy during Spring Break, traveling to Salado Monday for a 7 p.m. game, returning home to host Whitney in the District 17-3A opener Tuesday at 7 p.m., before Tolar visits Clifton for a non-district contest at 3 p.m. Thursday.

“The expectations every year is to compete for the district championship and make a deep run in the playoffs,” Clifton baseball head coach Brian Slater said. “We have a large senior class of eight, and we will lean on their experience and leadership to help guide us through the season.

“We look to continue to improve as the season progresses and look forward to competing and maximizing our potential as a team.”

Using a five-run sixth inning, Clifton came from behind to notch its first victory of the season against Gatesville last Monday. Riley Perry pitched the last 1.2 innings in relief of Devin Byrd to earn the win on the mound. At the plate, the Cubs took advantage of four Gatesville errors as Hayden Newton went three-for-four while Mason Ochoa scored two runs.

The Cubs opened the Rogers Tournament by losing to Class 4A Caldwell, 7-3, last Thursday before falling in a rematch against Gatesville, 2-1, Friday. But Clifton responded by winning back-to-back games against Class 4A Silsbee, 2-1, and Class 6A Midway JV, 6-4, Saturday.

Six errors proved costly as the Cubs gave up seven unearned runs in their Rogers Tournament opening loss to Caldwell. Seven walks cost Clifton a win in the rematch walk-off loss to Gatesville, wasting a two-hit, seven strikeout complete game effort on the mound by Ochoa. Perry went two-for-three at the plate, driving in Clifton’s only run.

Sophomore Matthew Bronstad tossed a complete-game gem in a nail-biting 2-1 victory over Class 4A Silsbee Saturday. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Cubs walked off with the victory as Mason Brandenberger and Newton scored in the rally. Bronstad allowed an unearned run on five hits and two walks while striking out three.

On the strength of a five-run first inning, the Cubs held off the Midway JV to close out the tournament with two straight wins. Although the Clifton bats only produced two hits, Perry and Jake Sparkman equally shared the pitching duties, allowing only one earned run and five hits.

The Cubs opened the season at the China Spring Tournament with a rematch against their 2018 Class 3A state championship game opponent, Gateway College Preparatory from Georgetown. In a wild, high-scoring affair, the Cubs came up just short despite a four-run rally in the sixth to lose, 9-8.

Brandenberger led Clifton at the plate, going one-for-one while drawing three walks, scoring a run and knocking in two. Griffin Phillips went two-for-four with a run scored and an RBI, while Ochoa scored three runs and Perry knocked in two.

The Cubs went on to lose three more games in China Spring, falling to New Diana, 6-1, Thursday, losing to Class 4A host China Spring, 5-3, Friday, then stumbling to a 16-8 defeat to Class 4A Carthage Saturday.

Clifton wasted a solid effort on the mound by Phillips against China Spring, allowing only two hits and one unearned run in five innings of work, striking out three. In the loss to Carthage, Brandenberger went two-for-three at the plate scoring two runs and driving in three, while Byrd went two-of-three with three RBI.

Photos by DAVID HARDING

©2020 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

PRESS FORWARD: Lady Cubs lead Heart of Texas lifters to Regionals

in Powerlifting

LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY — Putting an exclamation mark on what has already been a banner season, the Clifton girls powerlifting team will send seven competitors to the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association’s Region 2, Division 3 Championship Meet Saturday at Academy High School.

Led by back-to-back senior state qualifier Kamyrn Kettler, the Lady Cubs head to regionals after winning two invitational meet team titles and finishing as runner-up in another before placing third in the West Invitational  Feb. 22, the final regional qualifying event on their schedule.

Seniors Sutton Finney and Maddie Burk join Kamryn Kettler as four-time regional qualifiers, Katelyn Hunt and Beth Ann McMillian return to regionals for the third time, while Sara Slater and Grace Countryman will be making their first trip to the regional meet.

“We are very excited to have seven girls advance,” Clifton powerlifting head coach Brent Finney said. “Five of them are repeat qualifiers from last year. I want to congratulate the girls for qualifying for regionals and putting in the hard work to get there.” 

Competing in the 19 team field at the West Invitational, Kamryn Kettler won the gold medal in the 181-pound class, Hunt (105), Finney (132) and Burk (148) captured silver medals, while Kambrie Kettler (123) placed fourth, Sara Slater (105) fifth, and Kynli Bearden (165) fifth.

Other Heart of Texas regional qualifiers include West leading the contingent with 10 lifters: Lainey Willis (97), Reece Griffin (114), Kylee Schroeder Howard (114), Trinity Vidrine (123), Ally Holloman (123), Hunter Klish (148), Chloe Kaluza (148), Jenna Maler (165), Trinati Montes (165), Hannah Hlavenka (181); followed by Crawford with seven lifters: Sadey Paniagua (97), Kennadi Witt (97), Kealey Witt (105), Sally Love (114), Jessica Pessin (165), Erica Ivey (198) and Laila Bermudez (198); Dublin with five lifters Daisy Almazan (97), Jimena Vazquez (105), Morgan Kent (148), Analise Burciaga (181), Callie Estes (198); Whitney with four lifters Alli McCreey (97), Reagan Wilkerson (132), Stephanie Speights (181), Alli Saucedo (220); Moody with four lifters Ania Belvin (97), Alicia Cortez (114), Kinlee Kollaja (132), Lyleigh Mach (220); Comanche with four lifters Summer Furlong (105), Emily Guerrero (148), Carly Rodriguez (198), Leticia Salas (259+); Bosqueville with three lifters Riley Valles (148), Maci Smelscer (181), Madison Walker (259+); McGregor with three lifters Carli Evans (97), Cheyenne McDonald (220), Leslie Alvarez (220); Hico with two lifters Alexis Gustavsen (105), Cydney Morgan (198); Bruceville-Eddy with two lifters Lucy McCann (148), Cristal Sanchez (181), along with Rio Vista lifter Baylee Brown (259), Valley Mills lifter Jessica Chavria (259)and Hamilton lifter Lorraine Herd (259+).

Photos by DAVID HARDING

©2020 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

TAKING THE NEXT STEP: HOT athletes sign collegiate letters of intent

in Reporting

It’s the day dreams come true for many high school athletes across the country. And for a number of student-athletes in the Heart of Texas, they began living the dream on National Signing Day.

Traditionally, National Signing Day has been the first day that a high school senior can sign a binding National Letter of Intent for a collegiate sport with an NCAA. Although all NCAA sports have at least one National Signing Day, college football’s signing day held the first Wednesday of February has always been by far the most widely followed by fans and sports media.

Consequently, at least 10 Heart of Texas athletes playing sports in the Class 3A and Class 2A classifications made their decisions known Feb. 5 as signing celebrations were held at high schools across the area.

In football, six players signed letters of intent, including Clifton wide receiver TJ Ferch joining Cisco College, Clifton wide receiver Colby Caniford heading for Hardin-Simmons, Bruceville-Eddy wide receiver TJ Jarmon choosing Austin College, McGregor offensive lineman Michael Ramos joining Concordia (Neb.), Whitney athlete Devin Wilson heading for Cisco College and Whitney wide receiver Kolby Tanner choosing Southwestern Assembly of God University.

Clifton’s Ferch garnered Associated Press Class 3A All-State first-team honors after leading the Cubs to their third straight District 8-3A, Division II title by catching 78 passes for 1,341 yards and 16 touchdowns, while Caniford was well on his way to a banner season before getting it cut short by injury.

“I’m really proud for both of these young men,” Clifton Athletic Director Chuck Caniford said. “Anytime you get the opportunity to help kids play at the next level, it is always exciting. 

“Both of these young men are very deserving of this opportunity. They have worked extremely hard and will be an asset to their college programs.  I’m excited to watch them continue to grow, both as players and as young men.”

Then on Feb. 21, Clifton Cub senior pitcher Mason Brandenberger signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Temple College.

“Mason is a great competitor, and we are extremely excited about him having the opportunity to play at the collegiate level,” Clifton baseball head coach Brian Slater said. “I am looking forward to watching him in his senior season as he continues to develop his game and improve on the skills that he has.”

After earning a fourth consecutive trip to the Class 2A Cross Country State Championship Meet, Meridian’s Dakota Cassidy signed a letter of intent to run track at Southern Arkansas University.

“Dakota has worked so hard all her life to achieve this goal of running track in college.” Meridian Girls Athletic Coordinator Jill Kendall said. “I am super proud of the effort I have seen her put it in the last four years. I am glad that she is realizing the culmination of all her hard work. She will do great things in college.”

Other area athletes signing letters of intent on National Signing Day were Valley Mills’ Taylor Fouts to play volleyball at Cedar Valley College, Bruceville-Eddy’s Julian Spotster to play basketball at Murray State (Okla.), and Crawford’s Dakota Anderson to play tennis at Howard Payne.

Courtesy Photos

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