First, Shonderius Howard won at state. Then, he won online.
On the heels of his first-place performance in the high jump at the Class 3A State Track & Field Meet, the Lampasas senior beat out a trio of gold-medal caliber competitors to be named KDHpressbox.com Player of the Week.
Howard received 66.6 percent of the vote en route to earning the honor, capping off a stellar year.
The multisport athlete’s sophomore and junior seasons ended in agony as the Badgers finished one game out of the playoffs in basketball each year, while the track team narrowly missed winning a pair of district championships before consecutive second-place finishes at state ended each year for Howard.
In 2014, however, everything fell in place.
As the Badgers leading scorer, Howard helped Lampasas earn its first postseason appearance in basketball in a dozen years.
Then, he embarked on his quest to finally conquer the competition at state. Along the way, he broke the school’s high jump record, and his first-place finish at district propelled the Badgers to their second district championship in program history.
In between, Howard cleared 6 feet, 11¼ inches at the Texas Relays, garnering the attention of Oklahoma recruiters, and by the beginning of May, he committed to the Sooners.
On top of everything, Howard overcame his second-place curse at state, winning the high jump with a leap of 6-10 last week at Mike A. Meyers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.
The performance made Howard the fan favorite among online pollsters, receiving 589 of the 885 votes cast.
Salado senior Rachel Hildebrand finished second in the voting after winning first place in the shot put at the Class 2A state meet. One year after placing second in the event, she capped off her high school career with a gold medal, delivering a throw measuring 39-10.
Hildebrand received 237 votes, while schoolmate Ryan Simmons swept the throwing events at the state meet and finished third in the voting.
Simmons won the shot put with a throw measuring 57-0 and his 170-10 showing in the discus was more than six feet further than second place.
Two-time defending state champion Tricia Williams rounded out the nominees. The Lometa senior defended her Class 1A, Division II state titles in the shot put (44-1 ½) and discus (134-1), breaking her own conference records in the process.