On April 25, with barely two months remaining in the school year, Salado was tied for 30th in the UIL Lone Star Cup standings just one year after setting the record for a Class 2A point total in winning it.
Even that was better than where Salado stood Jan. 10, when the school had accumulated zero points toward the standings.
Yet there was Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny announcing Salado as the 2014 Lone Star Cup champions at the Salado High School graduation, nearly a week before the official announcement by the UIL.
“I’ve been unofficially announcing it for a few weeks now after we knew we clinched it,” Novotny said, “because I wanted the seniors to get to celebrate it as part of it. Because otherwise it’ll be a week after they graduate before they even know about it and then they won’t be around anymore.”
In addition to the past two school years — when Salado has set and tied its own record for points with 82 — Salado also won the Lone Star Cup in 2008, placing it in elite company.
“I know that less than 10 schools in the entire state, 1A-3A, have won it three times,” Novotny said. “It’s an outstanding achievement for our students and our teachers and coaches and sponsors and the parents, the community.”
The Lone Star Cup goes to the school that accumulates the most points based on finishes in each sport plus academics and One Act Play.
The UIL updates the standings six times during the school year, but early on, there wasn’t anything for Salado to celebrate.
In the first standings update Nov. 29, and the second one Jan. 10, the Eagles had no points.
“We were tied for last out of 235 schools,” Novotny said.
But then Salado started making up ground — fast.
By the March 14 update, Salado had scored 10 points thanks to girls and boys basketball — good for a tie for 91st place.
By April 25, Salado had added eight points from girls and boys soccer for a total of 18 points — good for a tie for 30th.
But Salado was just getting started.
By May 16, the second to last update, Salado had moved into eighth place by doubling its point total thanks to the state-bound girls golf team and the state-champion boys golf team.
Salado vaulted to the top of the final standings by scoring 46 points between its regional finalist softball and baseball teams, its state runner-up One Act Play and its state-champion Academic UIL team.
In a race that primarily centers on sports, Salado is equally proud of its academic team, which has now won nine state titles.
“Of all the high schools in the state of Texas, 1A-5A — there’s over 1,500 of them — there’s only one high school that’s won more academic state championships than we have,” Novotny said.
Novotny crunched the final numbers himself once the Eagles’ athletic teams were eliminated from the playoffs and didn’t take long to begin announcing the victory.
In addition to the high school graduation, he also announced it at the UIL Awards Night and the National Honors Society Luncheon.
After all, the community deserved to hear it, Novotny said.
Despite the early standings, they had earned it.
“It’s really just a culture of excellence,” Novotny said. “We have great kids that work very hard and are very dedicated, great staff, employees that are very hard-working, very caring, also very committed and dedicated to bring out the best of our kids in a very supportive community.”