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Ennis sports in 2006: My Top 10

Having just wrapped up my third year covering all things Ennis when it comes to athletics, it most certainly was another 365 days filled with excitement and achievement.
Thanks to the combined efforts of Lion football and Lady Crusader softball, I’ve had the privilege of covering a state championship victory each year. Let me tell you; that never gets old and there aren’t many stories more enjoyable to write. There are some promising young athletes in this town who will make a splash in the next few years if they haven’t already; so for those teams who hoped for more this past season, don’t forget the sports maxim – there’s always next year.
I changed it up this year to include some individual accomplishments because there were several worthy candidates. I’d like to give out an honorable mention to Price Distributing from the bronco division of the Ennis Little League for a superb run in the district tournament to earn the team a trip to state. My apologies to any deserving candidates for the list who didn’t make it, but it’s hard to remember everything that that goes down on the fields and courts of E-town.

1. Lady Crusader softball repeats as state champion
After rallying from behind to win state in ’05, St. John flat out dominated Frisco Legacy last season for an 11-1 run-rule championship win. Legacy lost the game before it sent a batter to the plate as the Lady Crusaders rolled up nine runs in the top of the first. Pitcher Amber Epps allowed just two hits and no walks in five innings of work while Alysa Pleiner led the way at the plate with a double, a single and three RBIs. Freshman second baseman Taylor Crow might have played her best game of the season as she accounted for a team-high four defensive outs in the win. Epps, Pleiner, Whitney Zmolik, Carli Bragg and Kelsey Lynch were each named to the 1A TAPPS All-State Tournament Team.

2. Lady Crusader volleyball returns to state final four
The Lady Crusader volleyball program has shined nearly as bright as its softball counterpart in the last couple of years, having been one of four teams to advance to the state tournament in each season. The Lady Crusaders enjoyed a stellar ’06 season as they maintained a top 10 state ranking (as high as No. 2) for much of the campaign and finished with a gaudy 28-4 record. St. John was at the top of its game in a thrilling three-game sweep of Denton Selwyn to advance to state: 25-22, 25-16 and 25-18. Amber Epps (seven kills, six tips, two blocks) and Samantha Pleiner (14 points, two kills, two assists) led the way in the win. The Lady Crusaders lost their following match to Alvin Living Stones, which went on to win state. Pleiner and Carli Bragg were both named to the 1A TAPPS All-State Tournament Team for the second-straight year.

3. Ennis High’s Walker wins steer wrestling state championship
It’s hard to follow your father in a sport where he reached the pinnacle of success, but Ennis High sophomore Reagon Walker did just that this past summer. Reagon took home All-Around Champion Cowboy and Champion Steer Wrestler honors at the Texas High School Rodeo Association Finals in Abilene, 30 years after his father Byron won a steer wrestling championship as a senior at Ennis High. The younger Walker nearly won a third championship as he finished second in Boys Cutting. Considering the level of success Walker achieved at the state finals as a sophomore, a steer wrestling championship three-peat isn’t out of the question and such an accomplishment would undoubtedly make him a legend at the high school level.

4. St. John’s Lynch wins state championship in golf
Kelsey Lynch was an excellent golfer for Ennis High as a sophomore when she won district and finished in the top third at regionals. Fast forward a year with Lynch competing for St. John, and she dominated the 1A TAPPS field like Tiger Woods could only dream of doing on the PGA Tour. At the Oakhurst Golf Course in Porter, Lynch won the state championship by an unbelievable 25 strokes. Several weeks before, her score at the district tournament in Glen Rose was better than all of the other 31 participants, including boys. The amazing part of her story is that Lynch broke her shoulder blade two months before her championship win and the aforementioned district tournament was actually her first golf action of the season. She’s another athlete with a shot at multiple state titles as a senior this year.

5. Ennis High’s Alcala rewrites record book on way to state
Amy Alcala repeatedly broke her own girls’ cross-country school record this past fall on her way to the Texas Cross-Country State Championships. The Lady Lion junior set the school record four different times over the course of the season as she won district individually, led the girls’ team to a first-place district finish and finished ninth out of a field of 160 runners at the regional meet to advance to state. There has never been a female distance runner of Alcala’s caliber at Ennis High, as evidenced by the fact that she owns the school’s top seven times and 12 out of the top 14.

6. Trio of Lady Lion pole vaulters break school record, sweep district
The Lady Lion pole-vaulting school record was broken repeatedly last spring by sophomore Kim Hernandez, along with freshmen Nikki Thornton and Lauren Hodges. At the Indian Relays in Waxahachie, Thornton and Hodges both vaulted 8’6” to shatter the old mark of 8’0” set by Kaycee Knight in 2005. A month later at the 14-4A District Meet, Ennis swept the event with Thornton setting a new record of 8’9”, followed by Hodges and Hernandez respectively. A couple of weeks after that Hernandez broke the record yet again with a height of 9’0” to finish in second place at the Mansfield Regional Qualifiers Meet. Considering that the trio combines for eight years of varsity eligibility, expect the record to crash and burn once again in ’07.

7. Lion baseball conquers Corsicana to clinch second in district
Waxahachie’s Richards Park has proven to be a home away from home for Lion baseball in recent years. In Ennis’ final 2006 regular season game, Corsicana dominated the action at home for a 7-0 victory. Less than 24 hours later, the Lions delivered dramatically in a tiebreaker with a 6-5 win over the Tigers in Richards Park to win the season series and clinch second place in district. Justin Howard had a memorable ballgame with a homer, a double and three RBIs, but the game’s biggest moment belonged to a younger Lion. The Tigers rallied from a 5-2 deficit to tie the game in the sixth only to see Weston Montgomery blast the game-winning homer off of Corsicana’s top pitcher to lead off the bottom of the inning.

8. Lion football beats Waxahachie to win district title
It was supposed to be Waxahachie’s year. The Indians were finally going to get the maroon monkey off of their collective back and take down E-town. So much for green delusions of grandeur. The Lions erupted for 28-unanswered points during a 10-minute stretch of the first half to dig Waxahachie a hole it couldn’t climb out of. Quarterback Blake Hart ran for 164 yards and a score, yet also found time to throw the game-winning touchdown on fourth down. Aaron Blackshire rushed for 86 yards and three touchdowns, while Stanton Beckham and Hershel Hunt combined for 36 tackles in the team’s biggest win of the season.

9. Lady Lion softball avenges loss to Red Oak in dominant fashion
When the Lady Lions lost 5-3 in Red Oak last spring due to several late-game miscues, the result had fluke written all over it. Ennis proved that to be true several weeks later by taking the Hawks to the woodshed, 8-1. Magen Butler had a performance for the ages as she tossed a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts and blasted two home runs in the victory. Tonya Wood also smashed a homer to go with a single and two RBIs. Ennis had a couple of other noteworthy wins during the season, including a 3-2 triumph over eventual state-tournament participant Justin Northwest where Butler won a pitchers’ duel with a career-high 16 strikeouts and a 2-1 victory over Burleson, which was ranked No. 4 in the state in 5A at the time.

10. St. John’s Bragg wins state in the long jump
There is a Jack-of-all-trades, or better yet a Jill, when it comes to Ennis athletes and that queen of versatility is Carli Bragg. Already a standout in volleyball, basketball and softball, Bragg decided to try her hand at track and field last spring by entering the district meet as a freshman with no prior experience. Competing in four events, Bragg won the long jump, took second in both the 100 and 200 meters along with a third-place finish in the triple jump. In her second career meet at state in Waco, Carli took fifth in both the 100 and 200 meters, but more importantly came out on top in the long jump with a distance of 14’10”. Add her to the list of underclassmen in the Bluebonnet City mentioned above who are destined to pad their portfolios of athletic achievement down the line.

That brings us to the end of my 2006 Top 10 list. Hopefully you were well aware of many achievements mentioned above, and if not, where were you the past 12 months? Champions are made in Ennis and reality will back me up on that once again in 2007.

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Posted by on Dec 30 2006. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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