Author: Zach Duncan, Special to Big Country Preps

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Merkel’s Pursley sees potential state title put on hold indefinitely

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What might have been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at

Kaydi Pursley held the highest of expectations for her final high school track season.

After finishing second in the UIL 3A 100 hurdles in 2019, a state title was on the Merkel senior’s mind. Pursley also wanted to medal in the pole vault, too.

But those goals are in limbo right now with the coronavirus pandemic shuttling UIL athletic activities for at least another month and maybe longer.

Pursley has spent the past couple weeks working on staying in shape. Even if she has represented Merkel for the last time, Pursley knows she must be ready in the fall when she joins Abilene Christian’s track program.

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FEATURE: Turner, Lee headline dangerous Clyde softball team

Kaitlyn Turner and Peyton Lee have been impact players on Clyde’s softball team ever since they were freshmen.

Coach Reagan Sewell knows having two college-caliber pitchers at the 3A level is a luxury. The growth they’ve achieved since joining the Lady Bulldogs in 2017 hasn’t been a fluke, either.

“Watching them become the leaders they are right now has been tremendous,” Sewell said. “And you give that up to experience, just having the experiences they have had. They’ve just grown all the way around, it just seems like every year they get better.”

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FEATURE: Hermleigh in uncharted territory after snapping 113-year playoff drought

Photos courtesy of Texas1AFan —Johnna Reynolds.

After achieving an accomplishment that hadn’t been attained in 113 years, a letdown could have been expected.

Hermleigh’s overtime win over Lueders-Avoca drew all sorts of media coverage to Scurry County last week. And with good reason because it was the boys basketball team’s first playoff victory since 1907.

But first-year coach Kia McCarty knew his Cardinals still were focused on their goal of reaching the regional tournament. Second-round opponent Munday wouldn’t just roll over because it was facing a media darling.

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FEATURE: Pied Pipers’ football momentum carries into basketball

Barely losing to Mart in the Class A Division II football championship game unquestionably stung.

But the Hamlin athletes who assembled eight days later for the team’s first basketball practice on Dec. 27 had a forward-thinking mindset.

“They were still kind of disappointed, but we had a good practice,” coach Joe Thomasson recalled. “For the most part, we played as hard as we could (against Mart). Kids are more resilient than we are as grownups. They were like, ‘We lost, let’s move on.’”

The Pied Pipers have certainly done just that, transferring their gridiron dominance over to the hardwood. After sweeping District 14-A, they enter the playoffs with a 12-1 record and a first-round bye.

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FEATURE: Moguls, Mogulettes on a roll after sluggish starts

PHOTOS courtesy of Mandi Perry

Munday’s two head basketball coaches never had doubts despite rocky starts.

First-year girls coach Richard Ramsey didn’t panic during a slow debut because he knew learning his system would be a process with point guard Carlie Willison injured and four new starters.

Boys coach Adrian Daniel knew a difficult football season wouldn’t necessarily translate to hardwood struggles either, not after the Moguls’ playoff success a year ago.

It’s a critical week for both squads as the girls will face either Highland or Roby after a first-round bye, while the boys host Knox City Tuesday night with an outright District 16-A title on the line.

The Mogulettes (20-13) already went undefeated in 16-A and ascended to No. 22 in the state after persevering through a rocky start. Since Wilson’s return from a fractured foot, Munday has won 17 of 19 games with its only losses coming to Guthrie and No. 15 Abbott.

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