By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The Belton High School Athletic Department added six distinguished athletes to the Belton High School Athletic Wall of Honor as part of the 2015 Wall of Honor Induction Ceremony last Saturday in the Tiger Gymnasium Foyer.
The Wall of Honor, created in 2001 by Dr. Billy Wilbanks, has seen a great number of inductees over the past 14 seasons. The inductees also include Belton’s five state championship teams: the 1909 Tiger track and field team, the 1958 boys’ Tiger basketball team (of which Wilbanks was a member), the 1985 Lady Tigers golf team, the 1988 Lady Tigers’ golf team and the 1994 Tiger baseball team.
The members of the 2015 induction class were: 2013 Class 5A State Individual Boys’ Champion Andrew Paysse, four-year starter/all-state first baseman Alyson Bishoff, 2012 All-State tight end Durham Smythe, two-time District 8-5A MVP/two-time all-state pitcher and utility player Jared Janczak, 2014 Class 5A 400-meter dash runner-up Cager Jack and 2013 All-State soccer player Angel Hernandez.
Smythe was technically a member of the 2013 induction class, but he was unable to attend the ceremony and was given his plaque Saturday.
All six of the inductees are attending college. Paysse is at Texas A&M, Bishoff is at Abilene Christian University, Smythe is at Notre Dame, Janczak is at Texas Christian, Jack is at Texas Tech and Hernandez is at University of the Ozarks.
“Any time you get a bunch of Tigers together, it’s a family get-together,” emcee Joe Pirtle said. “These are people that are important to people and this is a special day where we get to recognize some special Tigers. Young people that have brought great honor to the Belton athletic tradition.”
Pirtle recognized members of the BISD School Board in attendance, which included Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon and President Randy Pittenger, as well as Belton athletic director Bob Shipley. He also recognized Judy Owens, Denise Petter and Mike Morgan for the arrangement of the ceremony, as well as the Wall of Honor Committee.
He also recognized longtime trainer Craig Bower for his 33 years at Belton, Bower is retiring at the conclusion of the school year. The attendees gave Bower a standing ovation.
“He was there during the day, he was there during the night,” Pirtle said. “He has always been there for the kids. He is kind of like a mother hen to them, looking after all of the kids.”
Paysse, a 2014 graduate, won the 2013 Texas UIL Class 5A championship with a two-round score of 138. He was on four straight regional finals teams and lettered all four years while a member of the Tigers. He was introduced and inducted by Belton boys’ head golf coach Jim Hellums.
“For a freshman to step in and do what he did in 2010 with the level of talent we had in the program said a lot about Andrew,” Hellums said. “I called him into the office as a freshman and I was concerned. I knew his level of talent and I told him most likely he was going to be playing in the number one position on a top 20 5A golf team. He said ‘I got this, coach’. He had it.”
Bishoff, a 2015 Second Team All-Southland Conference awardee, hit .309 with three home runs and 26 runs batted in. In one game against Southeastern Louisiana, she had a grand slam homer and two-run double, giving her a six-RBI game. She is the Lady Tigers’ all-time leader in several statistical categories, that includes home runs and runs batted in. She was a member of several All-District First teams and was a member of the Texas Girls Coaches Association and Texas Sports Writers’ Association All-State Teams in 2014. She was introduced and inducted by Belton head softball coach Matt Blackburn.
“She had significant impact on our playoff successes, starting in her freshman year,” Blackburn said. “Her freshman year, she had two game-winning home runs in 2011. She never ceases to amaze me. She walked on this year at Abilene Christian University. She went in and made a statement, making second team All-Conference. For a preferred walk-on, that’s amazing with the level of talent in that conference. She embodies what a true Belton athlete represents and is representing Belton well at ACU.”
Smythe is hopeful for making an impact for the Fighting Irish in 2015. His lone catch for Notre Dame came at Arizona State last season for seven yards. A three-year starter for the Tigers, He was an instrumental part of the football team as a dual-threat tight end, being a great receiver and blocker. He had 66 receptions for 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns for his career, highlighted by his senior season of 2012, in which he had 38 catches for 547 yards and six touchdowns. He was introduced by Belton special teams coach Mike Morgan.
“His senior season indicated how much he meant to the program,” Morgan said. “When you start getting into statistics like Durham has during that season, it was no question why schools touted him during that year. He ended up choosing Notre Dame, who has a great history of developing great tight ends. They were interested in Durham, especially being a great blocker and pass catcher.”
Jack was a key part of the 2014 Belton Track and Field team and is a key part of depth on the Texas Tech Track and Field team. He was the Class 5A State Runner-up in the 800-meter run. He was introduced and inducted by Morgan.
“We were running off-season conditioning 400-meter runs and saw Cager blow past the pack by 40 or 50 meters,” Morgan recalled. “Coach (Corey) Parham and I looked at each other and told Cager he was running track the next season. He ended up having a great career and really filled a need that year, because we knew that we had a special group of quarter-milers, two of which are in college for football and two are in track (Texas’ Wolf Mahler in first leg, Jack on second leg, UMHB’s Nate Mitchell in third leg and Naval Academy’s Kyle Battle on the anchor leg).”
Jack was dominant in the 400-meter dash and 800-meter run his senior season. He set personal records in five meets in a row and helped anchor a 4 x 400 team that featured speedsters Olajuwon Taylor, Calvin Johnson III and Malik Green.
Janczak was the District 12-5A newcomer of the year in 2011, District 8-5A MVP in 2013 and 2014 and was a member of the 2014 Texas Sports Writers All-State team. He graduated in 2014 as a four-year letterman and is waiting his chance to crack into the Horned Frogs starting lineup. He was unable to attend the ceremony, as he is playing in the Coastal Plain League this summer for the Wilson Tobs.
“When we had an arm injury to Tyler Vail, we had to make a choice to bring Jared up to be a starting outfielder as a freshman,” Cornblum recalled. “We were in tournament play, playing down at Stony Point in 2011. We thought ‘let’s just go with it, he’s going to be okay.’ At the time, we were losing 10-3. Jared hits a triple to lead off, starts a rally and we went on to win the game. That started his career with us.”
Janczak was particularly on point when it came to big game pitching, with several key games against Waco Midway.
“I remember Jared pitching against Midway and he was on,” Cornblum said. “He was really into it and pressed on for four innings, doing what he does. And then the crowd started getting into it and getting onto him. It got louder and got more intense the further on the game went. It was a tie ball game late. I called him into the fieldhouse when we got back to the school and asked him if he learned anything about the game tonight. He said, ‘Yes sir. I just have to learn to stay calm and collective. I will be better because of this game tonight.’ That’s the kind of player he was. Led by example, led on the field.”
Hernandez was a key forward on Ciso Mosnia’s 2013 team that went to the playoffs that season. The Tigers were 80-15-7 ties in the lineup and was on a team that was ranked number five nationally by ESPN. He was introduced and inducted by Belton boys’ soccer assistant coach Ben Bralley.
“It has been neat to see Angel develop into a great soccer player,” Bralley said. “I remember when his brother Jonathan played with us, Angel would be on the field with us at Wilson Kerzee. He would be kicking the balls into the goal and making all of these moves and juggling and I thought to myself that this kids has something. As a freshman, he was on varsity and for his career had 59 goals and 22 assists. In his senior season, we had to rely on him and Carlo (Mosnia) to be the leaders on the team. Angel did it amazingly. An all-around great guy and people tend to follow those type of people.”