The high school sports season closed out in grand fashion for the Strake Jesuit water polo team, which captured its first TISCA State Water Polo Championship.
“This was a remarkable team,” said Crusaders head coach Brian Chambers. “These guys played brilliantly from start to finish. They had all the heart of true champions.”
The Crusaders showed plenty of heart in the Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association state title game, with Nate Zuiker scoring the winning goal in the final seconds of an 11-10 come-from-behind victory over Clear Creek.
For the season, the Crusaders posted a 36-3 record, including a 30-game win streak. “Last year we finished third, and it was tough. We wanted to come back to win it for ourselves and everyone who supported us,” said state tournament MVP Liam Jennis.
Several Crusaders received major post-season awards. Jennis and Zuiker were each named First Team All-Americans by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association. Both were team captains, with Jennis breaking the team’s single-season scoring record and Zuiker setting a school record for assists. In addition, senior Alex Hansen was named 2nd Team All-American, senior Patrick Doyle was Honorable Mention All-State, and junior Michael Stolte was an Honorable Mention All-Region selection.
“This was truly a great team,” said Chambers. “Every one of these guys was special in and out of the pool.”
It was a banner season for the St. John’s School girls track and field team, which won the Southwest Preparatory Conference (SPC) Championship. The title was the second in the last three years for St. John’s, and, as was the case two years ago, the Mavericks had to win the final race of the meet (1,600-meter relay) to secure the championship. The Mavericks won the final race in a school-record time, with Jackie Modesett, Stephanie Guo, Sam Night and Anne Johnson teaming up for the victory.
“We had a real strong team this season,” said Mavericks head coach Richie Mercado. “We had a bad hand-off in the 400-meter relay, which cost us early in the meet, but the girls battled back hard for the victory.”
In addition to running the anchor leg in the winning 1,600-meter relay, Modesett won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. She also finished third in the high jump. “Jackie had another great meet,” said Mercado. “It’s the second time in the last three years she’s won both hurdle events at the SPC Championships.”
Also scoring big points for St. John’s was Guo, who also finished fourth in the 100 hurdles, second in the triple jump and second to Modesett in the 300-meter hurdles. Night added valuable points with her third-place finishes in the 100- and 200-meter dash, as well as running in the two relay events.
Johnson, the lone senior of the group, also finished third in the 800-meter run and second in the 1,600-meter (1-mile) run. It was a heroic effort for Johnson, who ran in the gold-medal 1,600-meter relay just 30 minutes after her second-place finish in the mile run.
Freshman Grace Van Loh finished third in the 100-meter hurdles and seventh in the 300 hurdles. “We had several contributors to this championship. It was truly a team victory,” said Mercado.
The school year closed out with a major honor for Memorial Mustangs senior swimmer Eliza Bornman, who was named the Greater Houston High School Girls Scholar Athlete of the Year. The prestigious award was handed out by the Touchdown Club of Houston at its annual Spring Sports Scholar Athlete Dinner.
“I just think it’s wonderful that they’re honoring athletes who not only excel in their sport, but also in the classroom,” said Bornman. During the ceremony, a scholar athlete of the year was named in each of the boys and girls sports, with Bornman, who’ll study petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University, honored as the overall Girls Scholar Athlete winner. “It just say a lot about all the finalists that we were able to balance our academics and our sports,” said Bornman,
Scholar Athlete of the Year finalists from nearby schools included Bellaire’s Daniel Moore, Devon Jackson and Meredith McKenzie, Memorial’s Drew Tolson, Ellen Anderson, Rebecca Dunn, Edward Pritchard and James Maxwell Tebbe, Strake Jesuit’s Rasheed Sulaimon, Alex Trevino and Kenny Lahart, and Stratford’s Shannon Kelley, Thomas Scaff, Kellie Barranco, Blake Schreiber and McKenzie Martin.
Editor’s Note: Todd Freed is the Emmy Award-winning co-host and producer of the KUBE SportsZone, which airs Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. on Channel 57-KUBE. To submit information for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please email (email@example.com) todd (at) thebuzzmagazines (dot) com.