Killeen ISD experienced another impressive year filled with athletic achievements.
Approximately 30 miles away, however, the small town of Lampasas thrived during a historic 365-day period.
The run began in January, when the Lady Badgers basketball team captured its first win in two decades against area powerhouse Liberty Hill before the state-ranked squad earned its only playoff victory during the same span.
Then, the momentum simply continued to build for Lampasas.
Alyssa Ayers, a sophomore, emerged from the state powerlifting meet with a bronze medal, both soccer teams reached the playoffs, and the Badgers baseball team advanced to the postseason’s second round for the first time since 2006.
In May, inspired by the death of local legend Johnny “Lam” Jones in March, senior Cameron Everts won the 300-meter hurdles state championship along with serving as the anchor leg on the team’s run to the silver medal in the 1,600 relay.
Just days later, the Lady Badgers golf team placed second at state, setting the stage for an unprecedented football season. With junior quarterback Ace Whitehead — the Associated Press Sports Editors Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year — guiding the way, the Badgers secured the most wins (13) in school history en route to the program’s second state semifinal appearance.
The district-champion Badgers saw their 12-game win steak end at the hands of eventual state champion Carthage.
While Lampasas basked in the spotlight throughout 2019, plenty of other impressive performances took place around the area with many occurring at Ellison. The most significant came at the state wrestling meet, where senior Isiah Brown upset the undefeated defending state champion to win the 220-pound title and become Killeen ISD’s first champion in wrestling.
Additionally, Eagles triple jumper Stacy Brown claimed gold at the state track meet, Ellison baseball players Edward Eakin and Preston Mills landed on the all-state second team after guiding the program into the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, the Lady Eagles reached the soccer playoffs for the first time since 2005, and sophomore powerlifter Lagi Ah Sang broke her own state record with a 435-pound deadlift.
Also at the state powerlifting meet, Copperas Cove junior Alyssa Arnold used a state-record 310-pound bench press to propel her to a state championship, and in volleyball, longtime Lady Bulldawgs head coach Cari Lowery collected her 800th all-time victory, placing her among the top 20 most winning coaches in the state’s history.
Elsewhere, Shoemaker’s softball team made its first playoff appearance since 2009, while the Grey Wolves basketball team defeated defending state champion Allen in the area round of the postseason before suffering a 1-point loss in their ensuing game.
On the football field, after failing to produce more than two victories last season, Shoemaker and Harker Heights each rebounded to reach the playoffs, and on the track, Lady Bulldawgs sprinter Nadia Robinson was placed on the all-state track team.
Few runners could compete with Salado’s Jaci McGregor, who won bronze medals at the state track meet in both the 1,600 and 3,200 as a sophomore before opening her junior season by winning Class 4A state cross country championship, though.
At Gatesville, the Hornets saw the end of an era as Kyle Cooper stepped down from his role as athletic director and head football coach after 12 years, ushering in alum Luke Howard as the new head football coach and elevating longtime head volleyball coach Rickey Phillips into the athletic director position.