Best of 2015: The G.A.M.E.S.

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By Tony Adams, Sports Editor

2015 G.A.M.E.S. (Great Achievements Making Everyone Successful)

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a three-part series reviewing the teams and accomplishments by Belton-based teams in the 2015 season. This week’s feature will cover some of the great individual and team accomplishments. The features in the Dec. 31 and Jan. 7 issues will review the teams of the 2015 year.

As a community, we are blessed to have athletic opportunities ever present to the modern student-athlete. The athletes of Belton accomplished much to be proud of in 2015 and The Belton Journal Sports Department will take time to recognize accomplishments of the year. There were many and we certainly don’t want to lose sight of any of these feats.

Sidney Holman’s three perfect games in a 20-day span.
It is hard in baseball or softball to throw a no-hitter, let alone a perfect game. Holman managed to throw four no-hitters in 2015; three perfect games in a span of 20 days.
The first perfect game was in Killeen against the Lady Roos (12-0, six innings), striking out 12 hitters.  The second perfect game was against Harker Heights (15-0, four innings), striking out 10 hitters and the third perfect game in Copperas Cove (13-0, five innings) was another classic Holman game, striking out 10 hurling just 62 pitches in five innings of work.
The bottom line: three perfect shutouts, 15 innings, 45 batters and 42 strikeouts. Domination personified.
The team was equally impressive, collecting 40 runs in support of Holman’s efforts.
The three-year starter was locked in during the District 12-6A race last season, managing a 21-7 record in the circle, re-setting her own school record in strikeouts with 241.
These accomplishments earned Holman Co-District 12-6A MVP honors (with her good friend Taylor Ellis of Midway), was on the Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State Team (with teammate Kaitlyn Jones) and Texas Sports Writers Association Second Team All-State honors.

Olajuwon Taylor’s school-record 225 receiving yards against Hendrickson. In the long history of Belton football, there have been fast, shifty wide receivers. One that will go down in Belton history is Olajuwon Taylor.
Taylor, quarterback Peyton Mansell go-to receiver in 2015, cemented his place in the Tiger Football record books with a new school-record 225 yards receiving against Pflugerville Hendrickson on September 4. His performance was part of a rally from an 18-point deficit.
The senior receiver finished 54 receptions, 767 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown and a total of 1,186 all purpose yards.

Wykeyhe Walker sets single game receiving yardage mark against Sul Ross in 62-20 win. UMHB opened the scoring when Zach Anderson hit Wykeyhe Walker on a slant route and Walker scampered 79 yards for a touchdown 4:04 into the game, en route to his school-record 205 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 10 catches on October 10.

Wolf Mahler wins Big XII Heptathlon, becomes NCAA All-American. Former Belton Tiger track and field standout Wolf Mahler put together two outstanding days and six personal bests to win his first heptathlon crown for the University of Texas Longhorns Track & Field program.
The Belton High School alumnus and Longhorn sophomore scored 5,717 points over the seventh events to win by 238 points over Iowa State’s Taylor Sanderson.
Mahler won the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.91 (915 points), took fifth place in the long jump with a jump of 6.68 meters (739 points), placed fourth in the shot put with a toss of 12.70 meters (649 points), was tied for fifth in the high jump with a jump of 1.89 meters (705 points), placed third in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.31 (905 points, won the pole vault with a vault of 5.08 meters (935 points) and won the 1,000-meter run with a time of 2:40.36, 6.09 seconds better than Sanderson (869 points).
Mahler’s dominant finish of the 1,000-meter put a punctuation mark on one of his most crowning accomplishments of his career. The performance could put him in the talks for a potential Olympic appearance in 2016 for the United States in the decathlon.
“Wolf did a great job. He knew he wanted to make it to the national meet, but at the same time he wanted to win a conference title. And what a great feat for him. He’s another kind of silent guy, but there’s not another person out there that works harder than Wolf Mahler,” Texas track and field head coach Mario Sategna said.
Mahler tallied personal bests in six of the seven events, with the only event he didn’t set a personal record in being the 1,000 meters, which was the final event of the competition.
His score places him eighth in the nation before looking at results from other conference championship meets this weekend.
“Wolf is such an amazing competitor and athlete,” Belton head track coach Michael Morgan said. “After what he accomplished in high school, I am always in awe of what he is capable of. He is such a hard worker and we could not be more proud of him. The sky is the limit on what he will accomplish before he is through.”
Mahler went on to earn NCAA All-American honors in the Decathlon in June. The Texas Longhorn track and field specialist finished seventh in the decathlon at the 2015 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Track and Field Championship.
Mahler finished second in the 1,500-meter run (4:20.80), second in the 400-meter dash (47.20), fourth in the 100-meter dash (10.89), fifth in the Pole Vault (16-0), ninth in the 110-meter hurdles (14.90), 10th in the Javelin Throw (168-2), 12th in the Discus (127-3), 14th in the Shot Put (39-5), 16th in the High Jump (6-1) and 21st in the Long Jump (21-9).
He was tied for eighth in the 110-meter hurdles with Oregon’s Dakotah Keys with the time of 14.90. The tie-breaker was the extension of the hundredth of a second time measurement to thousandth of a second. Keys (14.882) just got by Mahler (14.889) by 7/1000 of a second. The points were not affected, but the mere margin between placements was incredible.

Hunter Garrett key interception against Killeen Ellison. In 2015, there was something about Leo Buckley Stadium that had some kind of hold on Belton in first halves of ball games.
The Belton Tigers defense, much maligned at times during the season, had come up with clutch tackles, fumble recoveries and interceptions during the season. Hunter Garrett’s big interception with four minutes remaining helped secure Belton’s 21-point comeback, setting up one the Tigers biggest comebacks in school history.

Davion Peoples and Demetric Brandon combine for 596 rushing yards at Cove on October 2. It’s rare that a team has a 300-yard rusher in a game during a season. During Belton’s game at Copperas Cove, the Tigers had one and came nine yards away from having two 300-yard rushers.
Davion Peoples had 31 carries for 305 yards and two touchdown, while Demetric Brandon contributed 22 carries for 291 yards and three touchdowns.

80 Boards!-UMHB Women set school, conference record in rebounds in a game. In the very competitive American Southwest Conference’s  Women’s Basketball, any team can win on any given night. Every point is scrapped for and every rebound is challenged.
On January 5, The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor women’s basketball team grabbed 80 rebounds, setting a new school record and ASC record, enjoy route to an 80-69 win over East Texas Baptist.
The team out rebounded ETBU 80-44, including 35-13 on the offensive rebound front. Bridjai Chaney had 17 rebounds, MacKenzie Coffey had 13 rebounds and Taylor Tucker and Kourtney Bevers each had 12 rebounds. The quartet combined for 26 offensive rebounds.

Buzzer beater! Jackson McGowan January 13 game-winner vs. Midway.  Belton pulled out to a four-point lead, 43-39, with 6:36 remaining. Midway fought back to tie the game at 43-43. Midway took a 46-44 lead with 2:53 remaining and McGowan tied the game at 46-46 with 2:48 remaining. Bubba Furlong’s field goal made the score 48-46 with 2:27 remaining and again McGowan answered with 2:15 remaining to make the score 48-48. Furlong made the front end of a two-shot trip to the line with 1:18 remaining to pull Midway in front 49-48.
A series of timeouts were called in the final 32 seconds. With seven seconds remaining, an inbounds pass went to Hammond, who came over center court and dished the ball to Russell. Russell went to the left side of the key and passed across to McGowan, who banked the ball off the glass. The horn sounded as the ball when through the cylinder, sparking a wild scene of joyful exuberance from the Belton faithful, both on the floor and in the stands.
McGowan and Russell admitted that the play called in the huddle during the final timeout didn’t work.
“No, the play didn’t work,” McGowan said. “It threw us off a little.”
“The play didn’t work actually,” Russell said. “The play was to get the ball by the volleyball line and look into Jack automatically. But he was playing me up, so I had to throw it downcourt. So I just ran with it. Just when I saw that big dude step over, I got it in there.”
“I told them I was glad that they didn’t run what we set up,” President said. “Throwing the ball back over half court, they got in mind what they wanted to do. Russell drew the defenders on the left and it left Jackson wide open.”
Russell’s grandmother, who was ill in the hospital, was weighing on his mind throughout the game. He wanted to play well for her.
“I told her that I wanted to play well and step up,” Russell said. “It was an unbelievable moment and soon as he put up that layup, I just lost in and jumped for joy.”
“This win is huge,” President said. “We finally got over the hump. I challenged Jackson to finish. He did it.”

Jordan Russell sinks jumper at buzzer at Midway. The Tigers recovered from a 10-point halftime deficit and Jordan Russell drained a 25-foot, three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Waco Midway 46-44 at Midway High School in Hewitt.
Belton trailed 17-7 after the first quarter and 28-18 at halftime. The Tigers made up the 10 points in the third quarter, tying the score at 35-35. Belton trailed by five points late before putting themselves in position for Russell’s stunner at the buzzer.
Both wins against the Panthers this season were on last-second baskets

Dana Young takes second in state at 148, as a sophomore. The Belton Lady Tigers Powerlifting team sent five of its members to the 2015 Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association’s State Meet at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi. Arianna Garcia (105-pound weight class), Dana Young (148-pound weight class), Autumn Conley (165-pound weight class), Morgan Callin (181-pound weight class) and Abbey Dolan (220-pound weight class) represented Belton and performed exceptionally well.
“I thought we had a really good experience at the State Meet,” Belton Lady Tigers’ Powerlifting head coach Jason Moffett said. “Obviously, Dana had a truly outstanding meet. She set new PR’s on Bench (185) and Deadlift (325) and Total (830)
The sophomore Young finished second overall in the 148 class, squatting 320 pounds, benching 185 pounds and dead-lifting 325 pounds for a total 830 pounds. Karina Garcia of San Benito won the weight class with a total of 960 pounds lifted (380 squat, 190 bench and 390 dead-lift).
“When the dust settled, she was actually tied with the third place finisher at 830 pounds, but Dana weighed less than the other girl, and that’s how they decide the tiebreaker,” Moffett explained. “Dana is an exceptional lifter and I am really expecting to see her continue to improve, as she still has two years remaining.  She just rises to the challenge and doesn’t let these big meets and pressure situations affect her.”
Callin finished sixth in the 181 class, squatting 270 pounds, benching 135 pounds and dead-lifting 335 pounds for a total of 740 pounds. Jased Castro of Los Fresnos won the 181-pound weight class with a total of 990 pounds lifted (420 squat, 220 bench and 345 dead-lift).
“Morgan Callin did very well in her first state meet appearance,” Moffett said. “She finished 6th in the 181’s and I think she will do even better next year.”
Dolan finished ninth in the 220 class, squatting 285 pounds, benching 130 pounds and dead-lifting 295 pounds for a total of 710 pounds. CeCe Sambrano of Alvin won the 220-pound weight class with a total of 1,000 pounds lifted (435 squat, 195 bench and 370 dead-lift).
“Abbey Dolan finished ninth in the 220’s,” Moffett said. “This is also her senior year and I was real proud of her qualifying for state again and ending her season on a high note.
Conley finished 13th in the 165 class, squatting 270 pounds, benching 170 pounds and dead-lifting 315 pounds for a total of 755 pounds. Olivia Espinoza won the 165-pound weight class with a total of 1,015 pounds lifted (410 squat, 240 bench and 365 dead-lift).
“Autumn Conley had an outstanding day in the 165’s,” Moffett said. “Even though she didn’t place very high, she improved her total by 55 lbs.  She really had a great time as she is a senior and this was her first trip to the state meet.  She had her best day ever.”
Garcia finished 14th in the 105 class, squatting 205 pounds, benching 100 pounds and dead-lifting 230 pounds for a total of 535 pounds. Sophie Avila of Los Fresnos won the 105-pound weight class with a total of 720 pounds lifted (270 squat, 125 bench and 325 dead-lift).
“Arianna Garcia was the lone Freshman in our bunch, and she struggled a little on the Squat,” Moffett said. “We kind of got in a hole early that we couldn’t quite dig out of, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. I need to do a better job of preparing her for the big meets.  I am really excited about her future, because she is really strong and driven.  I think she is going to do some really amazing things in the next three years. I wish I had about a dozen kids just like her.”
Young’s second place finish gave the Lady Tigers a team top-10 finish at the meet, finishing 10th overall with five points.
In addition to Belton’s state qualifiers, senior Mia Garcia was awarded a $1,000.00 scholarship by THSWPA and helped Moffett and assistant coach Stacey Meyers with statistics.
“I brought her with us to help wrap knees and keep our charts,” Moffett said. “She is a great kid and a hard worker. She was fortunate to be awarded one of 18 $1,000.00 scholarships from the THSWPA It was really rewarding getting to see her benefit so much from this sport that she has put so much into over her high school career.

Madison Smith wins at Burnet. Junior Lady Tiger top golfer wins BJCA. The Belton Lady Tigers played at the Delaware Springs Tournament in Burnet on March 24 in preparation for the District 12-6A Tournament that was held at Cottonwood Golf Course in Waco.
Belton I shot a 340, good for second place overall. Belton II shot 394 and Belton III shot 444.
Madison Smith won a one-hole playoff against Midway’s Mia Ayer to win the individual championship with a one-over-par 73.

Alexander walk-off vs. Harker Heights after scrappy at-bat. The Belton Tigers achieved their first half goal: to go 6-0 in the first half of District 12-6A play.
They did it in exciting fashion in front of nearly 1,000 fans April 7 at a windy Tiger Field, as Jacob Alexander’s walk-off base hit following a scrappy at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Tigers a 5-4 win.
The win set the Tigers two games apart from Midway and Harker Heights atop District 12-6A at 6-0 and 9-7 overall. The win was also the seventh within their school-record 19-game winning streak.
Shaukind Santos’ RBI single to center in the second inning gave Heights a 1-0. Belton countered in the bottom of the second with Brandon Rudy’s two-out single to left field, scoring Chase Sortor. Starting pitcher Daniel Cole was backing up home plate on the play and attempted to throw Rudy at second and threw the ball into right-centerfield, in which Rudy sprinted in to score to put the Tigers up 2-1.
With Belton leading 4-2, starting pitcher Cameron Whitman pitched a solid game, striking out six Knights in six innings, but ran into trouble in the top of the seventh. Landon Persick hit a hanging curveball for a solo shot to cut the lead in half, 4-3. Seth Dean singled, forcing Belton head coach Eddie Cornblum to dip into his bullpen. He called on left-hander Tanner Frick.
Frick hit Zapata, the first batter he faced, and Zapata and Dean moved up a base on a wild pitch. Kyle Skelton’s flyout to centerfield induced another strong throw from Potvin to attempt to keep Dean from scoring. The throw was a shade up the third-base line and Dean managed to avoid Alexander’s tag to tie the game at 4-4.
The Tigers answered the bell in the seventh, as Quinones singled, Nathan Vail sacrifice Quinones to second and Hiland singled to put runners on first and third.  Collin Mask went into the game to run for Quinones. Alexander fought off several pitches before lining a pitch into right field, scoring Mask and setting off a celebratory dog pile of Tigers between first and second base.
“We’ve had two great back-to-back games. This was awesome,” Cornblum said. “It was almost like a playoff game. It was great to see our kids reacted. Our goal was a 6-0 first half.”

UMHB sets New D-III single game sack record against Belhaven. UMHB broke the NCAA Division III record for sacks in a game by sacking Belhaven quarterbacks 15 times in their 59-13 win on October 3. The previous mark of 13 was set by St. John’s (MN) in a November 19, 2005 game against Monmouth. The Cru also set a new school record by holding the Blazers to -87 rushing yards in the contest. UMHB finished with 336 yards of total offense with 228 of those coming through the air.

Belton-Woodlands redux in Mumford. The most heartbreaking series are where you come so close, yet end up so far.
That was the series for the Belton Lady Tigers against The Woodlands May 22 and 23 in rural Lady Mustangs’ Field in Mumford.
Belton’s season ended with losses of 3-2 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday.
The irony of the scores is that they were the same scores in 2011, just in reverse.
“It struck me while I was talking to the girls after the game,” Belton head coach Matt Blackburn. “Trouble is that I don’t want to have to think about it for another four years.”
The first game featured several great plays by Lady Tigers’ shortstop Meredith Lusby.
Bekah Alcozer hit a blistering line shot off of The Woodlands’ starting pitcher Abby Langkamp’s knee, that ricocheted to Stavinoha at third base and she threw out Alcozer.The Woodlands offense went to work in the bottom of the inning, as Roma Thornton’s single, Aubrey Leach’s walk, Seneca’s sacrifice bunt and Stavinoha’s groundout got The Woodlands on the board 1-0.
Belton went down in order in the fourth inning and The Woodlands got a two-out single from Shelby Dublin. She tried to steal second on an 0-1 count and Shelby Hitt threw a hard throw that beat Dublin by a step, but it was ruled that Dublin left the base early and was out ahead of the putout.
But Hitt’s arm sent a message to The Woodlands runners attempting to steal that she was up for the challenge.
The Lady Tigers went to work in the fifth inning. After the first two batters were retired, Holman worked Abby Langkamp for a walk. On the 0-1 pitch to Hitt, Lady Highlanders’ catcher Kelcy Leach threw down to Dublin at first trying to get Holman leaning and the ball went into right field. Holman bolted dow to second base on the error. Hitt walked and Andrews singled home Holman to tie the game at 1-1, bringing the Belton fans and the Belton Bang Crew to a fever pitch. Jorgensen lifted Abby Langkamp from the circle and inserted Emily Langkamp. She walked Destynie Moore and struck out Brittany Bass to end the inning.
To every punch came a counterpunch in the ballgame and The Woodlands answered with a salvo in the bottom of the fifth inning. Martinez walked and Thornton singled, setting up Aubrey Leach’s sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third respectively. Seneca knocked in Martinez and Stavinoha’s fielder’s choice scored Thornton to make the score 3-1. Holman forced the next two outs, as Belton went back on offense in the top of the sixth.
Kaitlyn Jones, Alcozer, Edwards and Stewart all walked to start the inning, scoring Jones to narrow the score to 3-2. Emily Langkamp settled down and struck out the next three batters to any further Belton threat in the inning, being forced to throw 39 pitches in the inning and surrendering four walks and three strikeouts without allowing a ball in fair territory.
Holman retired the side in the bottom of the sixth inning and Belton was unable togged the equalizer in the top of the seventh inning to end the ballgame with a 3-2 defeat.
“Our biggest issue was we got the leadoff batter on base just once tonight,” Blackburn said. “When you don’t get a leadoff batter on base to start an inning, it makes it hard to generate any offense. The inning that we got on, we scored the run. We need to do it more in game two if we expect to win.”
Holman pitched six innings, allowing three runs on five hits, walking just one and striking out one. Lusby had seven ground ball putouts at shortstop in the ball game.
In game two, The Woodlands got the first run in the top of the first. to put the Lady Highlanders up 1-0.
Alcozer started the bottom of the second inning with a triple in front of a diving Thornton in right field. Abby Langkamp kept the next three outs within the infield, inducing a pop-fly to Aubrey Leach at shortstop, a ground out to the circle and a strikeout, to strand Alcozer at third.
Belton threatened in the third inning. Hitt, Andrews and Moore singled to create their second, bases-loaded-with-no-outs situation. Abby Langkamp picked up a strikeout and fielded a short pop-up and threw to third base for a double play to end the inning and get herself out of a major jam.
The Lady Tigers’ returned the double play in the fourth inning. With one out, Dublin singled up the middle. Kelcy Leach lined out to Holman, who turned and threw out Dublin at first to complete a double play.
The Woodlands picked up a run in the fifth inning, as Martinez reached on an error and stole second base. Aubrey Leach singled up the middle and Martinez barely escaped Hitt’s tag at the plate to make the score 2-0.
Belton narrowed the gap back to one in the bottom of the fifth inning. Lusby walked and advanced to second on Hitt’s groundout. Jorgensen again made the switch from Abby Langkamp to Emily Langkamp in mid-inning. Emily struck out the first batter she faced before Moore’s RBI double brought home Lusby.
Holman allowed a single in the sixth inning that she stranded on first base. With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Alcozer walked and Edwards’ sacrifice bunt moved her to second base. Alcozer was stranded on second with a strikeout.
Lusby walked to start the bottom of the seventh. Hitt sacrificed her to second base and Lusby moved up to third base on a ground out. On a 1-1 pitch, Moore got under an Emily Langkamp rise ball and popped it towards the backstop. Kelcy Leach immediately popped from her catcher’s stance to field the foul out to end the game and the series, advancing The Woodlands to the regional finals against Lake Travis. The Lady Cavaliers defeated Midway 3-2 Friday night in a one-game, regional semifinal at UMHB.
Holman allowed two runs (both unearned) on five hits, two walks and two strikeouts.
The Lady Tigers got four of the seven leadoff batters on in the ballgame. It was scoring them that was the challenge in the game, scoring just Lusby in the fifth inning. Six of the seven runners left on in the ballgame were in scoring position in game two. Of the 14 runners left on in the series, 10 were left in scoring position.
Blackburn has no doubt while losing Alcozer, Bass, Hitt and Stewart to graduation, the remaining core of the team and up-and-coming underclassmen will keep the Belton Softball tradition going.
“We will be in the reloading phase ourselves,” Blackburn said. “I fully expect to be right back here in the mix next year.”

Here are some more highlights from the 2015 season:

Chase Sortor’s grand slam, Hobey’s 3-run dinger drains Cove.
Tanner Frick pitches a gem against Midway in 4-1, eight-inning win.
Swimming wins third straight district title…on both boys and girls sides (more on this accomplishment in the Best of 2015 Teams review).
Courtney Dippel’s school-record shutout mark for Belton Lady Tigers Soccer.
Watson medals in 300 hurdles, Alcozer medals in discus at Texas UIL Class 6A State Track & Field Meet.
Jacob Bell’s header with 2:24 to play advances Tigers’ Soccer into area round.
Boys soccer trounce Irving MacArthur at Wilson Kerzee Field during area round of 2015 playoffs.
Bad Spring weather-related problems shortens Big Red Relays, cancels Hit and Run Tournament, makes for crazy Highland Park Tournament schedule, has coaches scrambling for dry venues in playoffs and hampers Tiger Field turf/track replacement.
Boys golf district championship, girls runner up.
Baseball’s 19-game winning streak.
McKenzie Ralston wins NCAA Division III Womens Golf Championship.
Six inducted onto Wall of Honor: Jared Janczak, Andrew Paysse, Cager Jack, Alyson Bishoff, Durham Smythe and Angel Hernandez.
7-on-7 goes to state.
Memorable first night of TTAB 10U Open Base State Tournament with a perfect game and a triple play (July 20).
Belton Bears withstand semifinal loss, comeback to win 10U state championship.
Belton Volleyball thrilling rally to beat Gatesville, return to playoffs.
Gilmore, Holden qualify for state cross country.
Tiger Football comeback against Ellison (21 points down).
Tiger Field new field-turf surface.
Three crazy games-Cove, Midway, Rowlett.
1-2 punch: Vaughn interception on 2-yard line, Peoples sets school record with 98 yard run against Rowlett.
Don’t forget to pick up your copy of The Belton Journal next week for the second part of this series.