As Salado prepares to drop back to the more-comfortable surroundings of Class 2A, its showing in its last season in 3A should have the rest of 2A shaking in their boots.
There were no state champions or district championships to speak of. Heck, there werent even any extended playoff runs. Nevertheless, the improvements should all mean big things for Salado next year.Not that 2011-12 was anything to scoff at.
It began with the Eagles football team, which was out manned nearly every game, managing to quadruple its win total from the one-win debacle of a year ago, finishing 5-5 and missing out on the playoffs by a single game.
Along the way were playoff trips for volleyball, boys and girls basketball, and baseball, all of which dealt with the graduations of key figures from the previous years. Also making waves in 3A was the Salado boys cross country team, which advanced to the 3A state meet and finished ninth overall, with senior Jada Kornegay leading the way with a 43rd overall individual finish (17:26.98).
But the most impressive feat likely came from the boys soccer program, which advanced to the Class 4A area round of the playoffs in the programs inaugural campaign.
Finally, the year ended with a pair of bronze medals for senior Robert Emrick (shot put) and sophomore Ryan Simmons (discus) at the Class 3A state track and field meet.
Emrick capped his career with a throw of 54 feet, 9½ inches on his final shot attempt and Simmons, who struggled all day with his form and finished fifth in the shot (53-11½), took bronze in the boys discus with a toss of 162-9.
1. Bronze bonanza: Qualifying for state in both throwing events, Emrick and Simmons each scored third-place medals at the Class 3A state track and field meet May 12 at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. That same day, the Eagles 400-meter relay (Joe Owens, Reece Nicholson, Austin Silva, Peyton Best) finished fourth in a school-record time of 41.97 seconds.
2. Super soph: With sophomore ace Casey Frazier dealing on the mound, tossing a two-hit shutout, Salado (29-13) won its third-straight run-rule playoff game, 10-0 in six innings over Wimberley, in Game 1 of their best-of-three area-round series May 11 in Austin.
3. Soccer flurry: Salados Daniel Lemus bookended a three-goal flurry in a 7-minute span late in a 3-1 4A bi-district playoff victory over China Spring on March 30 for the Eagles (14-11) first-ever playoff win.
4. Devine roll: For the second straight season, the Lady Eagles basketball team advanced three rounds deep after backing into the playoffs, including a 64-51 area-round upset of Devine on Feb. 17. Carling Urben led with a game-high 25 points, 11 rebounds nd five blocks.
5. King for a day: Despite not winning homecoming king, Peyton Best put on a king-worthy showing with five touchdowns and 194 yards of total offense as the Eagles racked up 427 yards of offense in a dominating 56-2 victory over West on Sept. 23 at Eagle Field.
1. Ashley Adams, cross country/track: Qualified for the state meet in both cross country and track, but faded in both races after strong regional performances. Adams will undoubtedly be gunning for greater success as a junior next year.
2. Chase Crenwelge, boys soccer: The District 34-4A Newcomer of the Year came on and helped carry the youthful Eagles soccer team to the second round of the playoffs in its first varsity season as a sophomore.
3. Mike Richardson, football: In his first year on varsity, Richardson emerged in the run-heavy district with 2,190 yards on 123-of-204 passing and 23 touchdowns as 25-3As first-team quarterback.
4. Ryan Simmons, football/track: Just a sophomore, Simmons made his impact both on the track and the gridiron, where the versatile quarterback earned 25-3A Newcomer of the Year while combining for 757 yards of total offense and leading the district with 106 total points.
5. Kase Spears, boys basketball: The District 25-3A co-Newcomer of the Year stepped up and held down the point guard position as a sophomore and will be expected to continue to improve as the Eagles seek an eighth playoff trip in the last nine years.