The Journal’s top sports moments - Part 2
Monday, 14 January 2013 by Tony Adams
Editor's note: This is the second part in a two-part series highlighting the year in sports in Belton.
Last week, we launched the first part of our 2012 review of the best in Belton sports.
2012 was a wonderful year for great triumphs, both on and off the field. Inspirational stories are all around us and some of them the casual fan may or may not see, day in and day out.
There are student-athletes like freshman tennis player Casey Casilhas recovering from brain surgery in December 2011 and inspiring the Belton High School Tennis teams in 2012. Or Kayla Castillo, a Belton Tigers Softball senior who had a torn MCL in her shoulder and demonstrated her senior leadership by inspiring the younger Lady Tigers underclassmen from the dugout.
There is no quit in Belton. Whether you're "True to the Cru", "Big Red-'Nuf Sed" or a combination of the two, loyalty and leadership doesn't take a day off.
I have had the pleasure of talking to a few of the parents of our Belton High School basketball teams. They are so proud of their children's accomplishments and it is an honor to bring them to you by way of The Belton Journal.
Tiger Soccer is starting very soon and the first pitches of baseball and softball for Belton and UMHB are just a month off. Don't forget track and field, spring tennis and golf is not too far off either.
So let's close out 2012 with our review of the Top Stories of 2012. Happy New Year to one and all.
Tiger football finishes 7-4
The Tigers football team had a good season. However, it certainly was not as successful as they would have hoped, finishing 7-4 overall and 3-4 in District 8-5A. With the Tigers outscoring the non-conference opposition 98-42, Belton was victimized by poor officiating throughout the conference season and were locked into some tough battles. Three of the four losses came after fourth quarter rallies and by seven points or less. The Waco Midway game, albeit a 34-16 loss, showed the Tigers resilience fighting back from a 24-0 second quarter deficit to rally Belton within a touchdown at the half.
Belton was well represented on the District 8-5A, All-District Team. Peter Shelburne and Durham Smythe were named to the First-Team offense. Derick Bates and Austin Farr was named to the Second-Team offense.
Joe Guthrie and Kyle Battle were named to the First-Team Defense. Rayshun Jones and Tyler Santellana were named to the Second-Team Defense.
Durham was named to the First-Team Special Teams group as the long snapper. Carlo Mosnia received Second-Team Special Teams honors as kicker.
BHS softball advances to 5A Quarterfinals
Losing seven seniors from a 2011 State Semi-Final run was supposed to land Belton Softball in rebuilding mode. No one told the 2012 Tigers Softball Team that.
The Tigers relied on the on-field leadership of seniors Lauren Ramsey and Billi Farr. The Tigers also got huge all-around leadership support from Kayla Castillo, a senior who was lost for the season with torn shoulder MCL.
The youthful Lady Tigers not only went on a tear of epic proportions in the second half of the district season, as they qualified for the playoffs and advanced to the Division 5A-II Quarterfinals where their season was ended by district nemesis Bryan.
Plenty of district honors came with the historic run. Ramsey, Allyson Bishoff, Shelby Hitt, Alex Wilson, Skylar Stewart and Bekah Alcozer were all named to the District 12-5A 1st Team list. Meredith Langford was named to the the 2nd team.
The team lost seniors Ramsey, Farr and Castillo to graduation. But Coach Matt Blackburn's team brings back a core of veteran talent to challenge in District 8-5A.
Levi Jordan has outstanding year
Belton's Levi Jordan has wrapped up his senior season collecting athletic accolades at all levels — 1st Team All-District 12-5A wide receiver and punter for Tiger football, Class 5A 1st Team All-State punter, Class 5A Region II Discus Champion and a Silver medal in Class 5A Discus at the University Interscholastic League State Track and Field Meet in May at Mike Meyers Stadium in Austin.
BHS girls soccer wins 8th consecutive district title
The girls won their eighth straight district title and haven't lost on 6th Avenue since 2005. They finished the year 21-3-2 and are 87-2-2 in the last six years in district. They finished as Area Finalists, falling to Garland Sachse in a second-round shootout.
The boys also won district with an 18-4-1 mark. Their successful year ended in the second round with a loss to nationally-ranked Dallas Jesuit. Team captain and leading scorer, Luke Villamaria, who is at US Air Force Academy on scholarship, was named the 2012 All-District 12-5A Overall Most Valuable Player to lead the awards.
Honored for selection for the All-District 1st Team were: Cameron Cooper, Logan Hellinghausen, Angel Hernandez, Alvaro Martinez, Carlo Mosnia and Villamaria.
All-District 2nd Team members included: Cesar Cruz, Jorge Guzman, Jorge Marquez, Keegan Valentino and Timothy Williams.
Both Hellinghausen and Villamaria were also picked for the 2012 Waco Tribune Super Centex Team.
BHS tennis has solid season
Belton High School's Tiger tennis team had a good year — The boys were District 12-5A runners-up and the girls finished in third place; a trio of players, Jacob Daugherty in singles and Daniel Barron and Ryan Jones in doubles, advanced to regionals; and second-year head coach Kyle Larson was named District 12-5A Coach of the Year.
In the Spring 2012 Awards, Barron and Jones were honored for being Regional Doubles Qualifiers and Daugherty was lauded for advancing as Boys Singles Regional Qualifier.
It was an impressive year for Tiger tennis. The team "fought hard and left it all out on the court" is the way coach Larson put it. "They have jelled as a team, endured a lot and grown so much as individuals."
Tiger Tennis lost seven players to graduation who contributed much to the program — Jordi Alfeche, Samantha Alvarez, Daniel Barron, Phillip Cesani, Jessica Grogan, Krista Harvey and Kaila Martin — "great kids", as Larson referred to them.
Tiger Tennis finished a great Fall 2012 campaign at regionals, eventually losing to El Paso Coronado.
BHS golf teams qualify for Regionals
Coach Lauren Sanders' navigated the Lady Tigers through another treacherous 12-5A to lead Belton to its second consecutive district championship. She also picked up District Coach of the Year, a well-deserved honor.
Her 2011 team nailed the district title in her first year leading the BHS golf program. The coach was a three-year varsity player on the Belton golf team (1995-98) and the team won district and she also won individually in both her junior and senior years.
Belton's first team posted a first-day-best 354 total, 20 strokes better than A&M Consolidated's first team — and then the following day, the red-hot Lady Tigers (354-356-710) comfortably clinched the district title as they extended the winning margin to 32 strokes over Consol (374-368-742).
Senior Alessa Gonzales (89-97-176) finished in fourth place individually; senior teammate Kimberlie Sniggs (98-82-180) was seventh; and junior Kyler Tormey (86-96-182) was eighth. Fellow first team seniors Codie Robinson (86-91-177) and Hannah Sims rounded out the district championship team.
The Lady Tigers finished eighth at the Regional Qualifier at Cottonwood Golf Course in Waco.
Belton Boys Golf also qualified for the Regional Qualifier and finished ninth.
BHS welcomes new coaches
Stacy Meyers was hired as the new head coach of the BHS Volleyball. Replacing Justine Coulson, Meyers is a former coach at Waco Reicher, China Spring, and Copperas Cove High Schools. The Lady Tigers vastly improved their 2011 0-13 mark with a 27-14 overall record 2012 effort. Meyers also serves as the junior varsity Lady Tigers' basketball coach.
Charlie Lewis was named head coach of the BHS Boys' basketball team, replacing the departed John Osborn who left to accept the same position at Hurst L.D. Bell. Coach Lewis spent the previous five years on the basketball staff here in Belton and has made an immediate impact on the boys' team, implementing his brand of hard-work-pays-off philosophy.
Wendi Knight was named to the head coaching position of the Belton Lady Tigers soccer team. Knight, replacing Barry Elkins who moved on to coach the women's soccer program at UMHB, is a Texas A&M graduate and previously was a head coach at Richardson, Rockwall Heath and Richland High Schools. The Lady Tigers will kick off District 8-5A action in February.
UMHB fills positions
Lisa Curliss-Taylor was hired in April to head up the Women's basketball team replacing Kim Kirkpatrick-Thornton, who accepted a faculty position within UMHB Exercise and Sport Science Department. Curliss-Taylor previously coached Missouri-St. Louis and at East Texas Baptist, where she built a powerhouse in the American Southwest Conference. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and also played for two seasons at Oral Roberts University.
Also in April, Barry Elkins was named the new head coach of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor women's soccer program. The job is a homecoming for Elkins, a UMHB graduate and four-year letterman for the Cru men's soccer program. Elkins completed a successful 13-year run as head girls' soccer coach at Belton High School last spring. He had compiled a 243-63-28 record and led the Lady Tigers to 10 district championships and 13 straight playoff berths. Named Super CenTex Coach of the Year in 2008, Elkins coached a state semifinalist, 24 All-Region players and a pair of All-State selections during his tenure at Belton.
In May, UMHB named Ben Shipp as Head Baseball Coach. Previously the Crusaders' head coach from 1986-1996, Coach Shipp has been the Athletic Director at UMHB since 1995 and Vice President of Athletics since 2002. He was instrumental in UMHB's transition to NCAA Division III status. Coach Shipp also coached the Crusaders to a runner-up finish at the 1992 NAIA World Series and coached two NAIA All-Americans in that time as well.
Along with Coach Shipp's hiring, he added his sons Kyle and Nathan to the Crusaders staff. Kyle was an assistant coach at Southwestern University in Georgetown for the previous five seasons and was a four-year letterman at UMHB. Nathan, a 2012 graduate of Southwestern, was a four-year letterman for the Pirates.
UMHB also added longtime LPGA Professional Nancy Taylor-Capps to pilot the Women's golf team in August following the promotion of Darla Kirby to Associate Athletic Director. Taylor-Capps became the head coach of the UMHB women's golf program on August 6, 2012. She is just the second head coach in the history of the highly successful Cru women's golf team. Taylor-Capps joined UMHB after spending the past two years as a volunteer assistant coach at Winthrop University.
Wilbanks inducted into THS Hall of Fame
The Valedictorian of the Belton High School Class of 1958 and state champion athlete, Dr. William Lee (Billy) Wilbanks was officially inducted into the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame at a Saturday ceremony in San Antonio.
The small number of honorees exhibits the selectivity of the Hall regarding its members. Only a few more than 100 former players have been inducted into the group over the years and Wilbanks is the ONLY former Belton player to be so honored.
Wilbanks is only the second BHS athlete EVER selected to any state Hall of Fame. Three-sport All-State Tiger and University of Texas quarterback Bret Stafford was named to the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Dr. Charles Briethaupt of the University Interscholastic League introduced Wilbanks as he received his plaque as a "contributor" for his 12 years of research of Texas high school sports and also as a "player", due in part for his role in the greatest comeback/finish in the history of the state basketball tournament — Belton's double-overtime 58-56 victory over New London in the 1958 Class 2A state title game.
"It was a great weekend. The greatest day of my life other than the '58 game. Those two events will always stand out," said Wilbanks. "It was obviously very emotional."
Nearly 60 people travelled from Belton to share in the special occasion including nine of the 12 members of the championship team and the then-assistant coach Joe Pirtle.
The 5-11 All-State senior guard, praised for his "uncanny" shooting, was having a bad night in the state title game when Birtchet called time-out and told him, "Willie, keep shooting, that's how we got here"
"I said a brief prayer and walked away from the huddle," Wilbanks said, and he hit five of the last six field goals and with 20 seconds left in regulation, sank a jumper to send the game into overtime. He then pulled off the same shot with 15 seconds left to advance the big game into double OT where James Brantley tossed in a pair of free throws to seal the victory!
"I had struggled for three years to receive coach's praise but he had always been sparing until he approached me in the locker room after the game, put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Son, I am proud of you!' That was my most memorable moment."
Former Belton football coach Jim Rodrigue (4/5 issue), Former Tiger football great David Bartek (2/9) and longtime Belton Journal Sports Editor Chuck Kelly
We lost key members of Belton's rich sports history in 2012. We lost Tiger football great David "Bull" Bartek on January 31st, former Belton football coach Jim Rodrigue on April 1st, and Belton Journal Sports Editor Chuck Kelly on August 2nd.
David "Bull" Bartek, who many said was perhaps Belton's best-ever football player, passed away Jan. 31 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Called "Bull" by his teammates, died unexpectedly of natural causes.
He was named First Team 3A All State as a fullback and linebacker in 1969 and 1970 and led the 10-2-1 Tigers to the state semi-finals in 1969. Bartek rushed for 3,253 yards in his career.
He was also named All-State in track and field, throwing the shotput 60'5" and twice finishing second in the state.
After being awarded numerous athletic honors in high school, he was highly recruited by Southwest Conference schools and chose to attend the University of Texas. He was the starting fullback on the 1971 freshman team with a 5.6 yards per carry average and was second team linebacker on varsity as a sophomore before a knee injury ended his season.
Bartek was moved to fullback as a junior and was backup to two All-Americans that all college football fans remember — Roosevelt Leaks in 1973 and the great Earl Campbell in 1974.
He received his BBA from UT in 1975 and worked as a sales representative in Austin for several years before moving to Las Vegas in 1997.
Former BHS football coach Jim Rodrigue passed away on April 1st in Blanco. Rodrigue was the BHS head football coach from 1988-1996. He also served as mayor of Blanco, principal at Smithsom Valley High School, and was Athletic Director at Comal County ISD.
Belton Journal Sports Editor Chuck Kelly passed away on August 2nd. Serving as the Journal's Sports Editor from 2006 until his passing, Kelly was a huge part of the fabric of Central Texas sports, as a broadcast journalist and radio talk show host for 50 years. He was a friend to the Belton Athletic Department and everyone he came into contact with.