Author: Evan Ren

CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Stephenville’s Cameron takes final award of 2020-21

Our final Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week for the 2020-21 school year could go to any number of area athletes in the wake of the state track and field meet held over the weekend in Austin. 

We finally settled on Stephenville’s Victoria Cameron, who stunned those in attendance at Mike A. Myers Stadium with an incredible 11.48-second finish in the girls 4A 100 meters — obliterating her personal best by nearly four tenths of a second to take gold. 

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STATE TRACK ROUNDUP (Day 3): Cross Plains boys, girls top Big Country teams on Day 3

With a a combined six boys and girls relay teams heading to Austin, backed by a loud contingent of fans, Cross Plains entered the 2021 UIL State Track and Field Meet feeling as though it had a shot to win two team state championships. Or at the very least, team bronze or silver. 

It just didn’t happen. 

Finishing in fifth place in both the girls and boys 1,600-meter relays, the exhausted Buffaloes were edged off the team medal stand with two fourth-place finishes. They were, nonetheless, the top boys and girls team performers among all Big Country Class 1A participants on Saturday, earning a combined total of four relay medals (two each).

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STATE TRACK ROUNDUP (Day 2): Vancleave wins discus state title at the last possible moment

How many of you once dreamed of hitting a game-winning homerun or shooting the game-winning shot to win a championship?

Hamlin senior Jenna Vancleave experienced the track and field equivalent of the same dream on Friday in Austin, only she had an even greater sense of urgency.

Not only did Vancleave win the girls 2A discus state title on the final throw of the competition at the state meet, but she did it on what she knew would be the final throw of her career. Her performance shares the spotlight with Wylie’s Kylor Aguilar, who took gold in the boys 5A pole vault. 

“I just came in hoping for the best,” Vancleave said. “It was all in God’s hands.

“I was very nervous. My stomach hurt so bad, but my coaches talked to me and calmed me down. They were like, ‘You’ve just got to throw. Let it loose and relax.’ So I took that advice and and apparently it worked.” 

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STATE TRACK ROUNDUP: Cameron pulls off stunning performance, Brock boys win team title

Not since way back in 1982 had any girl wearing a Stephenville uniform clocked a 100-meter dash any faster than Victoria Cameron did on Thursday. 

She picked the right time to do it — ripping through the girls 4A 100 meters in a blazing 11.48 seconds to capture gold at the UIL State Track and Field Championships at Mike A. Myers Stadium. 

Cameron’s effort not only obliterated her previous personal best of 11.85, but it also smashed a 39-year-old school record of 11.70 and left race favorite Kaylee Lewis of Melissa with a distant second-place finish of 11.78. 

Lewis did come back for a measure of revenge, edging Cameron for gold in the 200. But Cameron’s gold-silver combination still stood as one of the top highlights for athletes in the Big Country Preps coverage area on Day 1, which also saw the Brock boys capture a 3A team championship.

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EVAN REN: Handicapping the boys state track meet.

Having already released our picks for the girls state track meet earlier this evening, we now present the boys event, using the same approach. 

We’ll comb through each event involving a Big Country athlete (or athletes) and assess if they are favorites, dark horses or long shots to get on the medal stand. 

Let’s not waste any time. Let’s dive in. 

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EVAN REN: Picking the favorites, dark horses and longshots at the girls state track meet

I don’t care who you are — even if you’re a non-fan when it comes to track and field. 

The excitement of the state meet in Austin will capture your attention if you catch sight or sound of it. It’s inescapable. 

And once per year, it is my pleasure to examine the multitude of Big Country athletes heading to Austin for the event and pick who we can expect to see on the medal stand from our area. 

Let’s begin with the girls side, looking at each event in which a Big Country athlete has qualified for state. 

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BIG COUNTRY SIGNINGS: Three Eastland athletes sign to play collegiately

Eastland ISD conducted a brief signing ceremony on Tuesday for three EHS athletes who have committed to play collegiately. 

Football players Brandon Fielding and Aaron Copeland, along with softball standout Jaeley May all signed at the Eastland Athletic Training Facility, putting an exclamation point on three impactful prep careers. 

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Wylie’s Farrar pitches her way to honor

As a sophomore in her first playoff action, leading a fourth-place team against a district champion, no one would have blamed Wylie pitcher Reese Farrar for having jitters in the opener of her team’s Region I-5A bi-district series against District 3-5A champ Amarillo High.

If she did, she did a darn good job of hiding it.

All the right-hander did was pitch a six-inning no-hitter with 10 strikeouts to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a 10-0 victory in Game 1 and set the tone for a big series sweep, earning our Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week honor in the process.

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GAME STORY: Coahoma rallies to defeat Clyde in rainy Game 1

HERMLEIGH — Among those who keep tabs on area softball, the general consensus was that the Coahoma-Clyde Class 3A bi-district series would be a slugfest. 

And on Friday night at Hermleigh, through three hours and 10 minutes, two rain delays, 26 combined runs and 25 combined hits, the two area powers managed to demonstrate why.

Kenzie Canales was 2 for 5 with a double, a home run and three RBIs to lift Coahoma (22-5) to a 16-10 win in Game 1. The Bulldogettes, who trailed 6-0 early on before heating up offensively, can lock up the best-of-three series with a win in Game 2 at noon on Saturday in Hermleigh. 

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FEATURE: Hamlin bids farewell to an old friend

Photos courtesy of Gary Ford

HAMLIN — The first time Charlie Shira sat behind a microphone to work PA at Hamlin High School, Ronald Reagan was President, “Dallas” was the top-rated show on television and the Space Shuttle had yet to get off a launch pad. 

That’s a long time ago. 

Some four decades later, Shira was honored prior to Tuesday’s Hamlin baseball game with Forsan in a brief ceremony to commemorate his years of service to HHS and to acknowledge his retirement from PA announcing. 

It brought to a close a career that included 40 years of track, 30 years of baseball and 25 years of football as the “Voice of the Pipers.” 

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Clyde’s Phillips earns this week’s spotlight

In a week filled with unforgettable moments, several of our nominees handed in by area coaches could justifiably be called our Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week. 

We finally settled on Clyde sophomore Payton Phillips, who stunned attendees at the Region I-3A meet by taking gold in both the long jump (18 feet, 6 inches) and the 100 hurdles (15.12) — breaking school records that were 25 and 15 years old, respectively. 

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CLASS 1A REGIONAL TRACK RECAP: Cross Plains boys, girls have big showing in San Angelo

The Cross Plains girls and boys track teams topped the list of Big Country teams competing at LeGrand Stadium in the Region II-1A meet on Friday and Saturday. 

Fueled by wins in the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relay teams , the Cross Plains girls (60 points) earned a second-place finish behind regional champion Irion County (71.33). 

Cross Plains’ Addison Long, Tori Taylor, Abbigale Shepard and Katie Goins combined for gold in both the 400 and 800 relays.  Cadence Wediking joined Long, Shepard and Goins for the win in the 4×400. 

Other top area teams included Munday and Blackwell, which tied for fourth in the 30-team field, along with Roby, which finished sixth. 

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FEATURE: Poise, pitching, power, bringing Sweetwater softball team to new heights

SWEETWATER — Much of what we are seeing from the Sweetwater softball team in 2021 may have happened a year ago, when the COVID-19 lockdown forced a complete halt to spring athletics. 

The Lady Mustangs have patiently waited for an entire year to demonstrate why. 

The newly crowned District 3-4A champions recently locked up the first league title in the program’s history, backed by consistent pitching, a set of dangerous hitters in the middle of the lineup and an uncommon level of poise. 

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REGION I-3A TRACK DAY 1: Clyde enjoys double gold on first day of meet

ABILENE — While there is still much to be decided in the Region I-3A meet at Abilene Christian University, at least two Clyde Bulldogs can rest assured that their tickets to Austin have already been punched. 

Payton Phillips, a sophomore girls long jumper and Jacob Roberts, a senior boys high jumper, both claimed regional gold on Friday, clinching a berth in the UIL State Track and Field Meet on May 6-8 at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. 

The pair was part of a group of several athletes from the Big Country Preps coverage area to lock up trips to state. Wall’s Tate Williams and Brock’s Nathan Jones had already finished 1-2 in the boys’ shotput  earlier in the day, shortly after Kylee Willis of Breckenridge had claimed silver in the girls high jump.

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