Matt Sluss entered his senior season with the Harker Heights swim team with one particular goal in mind.
This past Saturday, he achieved it, qualifying for state for the first time in his high school career.
On Thursday, Sluss achieved another first, winning the KDHPressbox.com Player of the Week award in his first nomination.
“It feels pretty good,” Sluss said. “I’m just thankful for all the people who voted for me and all the support I got.
“That feels good knowing all these people support me.”
Sluss received 1,832 votes, good for 57 percent of the final count. Ellison freshman basketball player Madison Hattix-Covington was runner-up with 1,381 votes.
Lampasas senior Gary Spencer and Harker Heights senior Cameron DeLaney were also nominated.
Heading into the contest, Sluss said he was simply excited to be nominated as a swimmer.
But as the week went on and his vote count climbed, Sluss began to suspect he had a legitimate shot at winning.
“I thought I had a pretty good shot,” Sluss said. “I knew in the swimming community, we usually root for each other, so if one of us gets nominated for something, we usually support each other.”
The 1,800-plus votes Sluss received helped him beat Hattix-Covington, who also topped 1,000 votes after scoring 18 points in the Lady Eagles’ win against Shoemaker, which clinched their first perfect district season under head coach Sherry McKinnon.
Spencer, meanwhile, was nominated after scoring seven of Lampasas’ 10 points in overtime of a 47-45 win against Gatesville, which clinched the Badgers’ first playoff appearance in 12 years.
DeLaney was nominated after averaging 17.5 points in wins against Copperas Cove and Belton for the eventual district champion Knights.
But it was Sluss that emerged victorious, only adding to what was already a great week for the senior. After erasing the memory of missing state last season with his qualification Saturday, Sluss was pleasantly surprised to find out how many in his community were behind him.
All 1,832 of them.
Contact Jordan Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7562