Tanner Houghton visited the University of Chicago for a weekend this winter, when the temperature was below zero, and he loved it anyway.
Houghton was one of six Highland Park High School athletes who were honored on Wednesday for committing to various colleges in different parts of the country.
“I wanted to find a school where I could get a great education and where I could get to play,” said Houghton, an all-district linebacker for the Scots. “It didn’t matter the size of the program.”
Besides Houghton’s commitment to Chicago, there is swimmer Lauren Murski, who is headed to the University of Pennsylvania, another big-city school known for its academics.
“I really liked the people there. It was a social environment,” Murski said. “I think I’ll fit in on the team there. They’ve had a lot of success with distance swimmers.”
Basketball standout Clayton Murtha and tennis player Abby Zidell both will attend Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.
“It seemed like a perfect fit, both academically and athletically,” said Murtha, who helped lead the Scots to a District 10-4A title this season. “I always kind of wanted to go someplace a little cooler.”
Another tennis standout, Connor LaFavre, will play at Xavier University in Cincinnati, while baseball player Matthew Lillard committed to Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.
“It’s the best academic and athletic opportunity I have,” LaFavre said. “I loved the campus and I love the guys on the team.”
Lillard said the coaching staff at Millsaps, which reached the NCAA Division III World Series last season, based on a compilation of video highlights he sent prior to visiting the campus.
“It was incredible. The coach loved what he saw, and he hadn’t seen me play,” Lillard said. “It’s a small school and a nice campus. It will be academically challenging.”
Four students from Highland Park High School were among the recipients of the 14th annual Tom Landry Scholarship, which honors representatives of participating schools in the annual Tom Landry Classic football games.
Awards went to football players Sam Malone (who received a scholarship from Crest Cadillac) and Cole Feigl (Southwest Securities), as well as Highland Belle Reagan Reid (Bank of Texas), and band member Conner Rambin (Ebby Halliday Realtors).
HP had four of the 15 honorees this year, and has had 54 of the 203 scholarship recipients since the program began 14 years ago. The Scots have opened the season in the showcase for 12 straight years, including a game against Aledo in 2013. They will start the 2014 campaign against Frisco Centennial on Aug. 30.
The scholarships were presented during a ceremony on Monday night at Maggiano’s at NorthPark Center.
He probably had more pressing things on his mind — such as how in the world the Mavericks can beat the San Antonio Spurs in a first-round playoff series that begins Sunday — but Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle took time out from his busy week to visit the Hyer Dads Club on Tuesday.
During the breakfast, Carlisle (a University Park resident, by the way) gave students a motivational speech and answered their questions. The Dads Club showed its appreciation by donating $500 to Carlisle’s charity of choice, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Age isn’t slowing down two Park Cities residents who sprinted to gold medals this month at the Texas Senior Olympics in San Antonio.
University Park attorney Ken Raggio won the 400 meters in the men’s 65-69 age group. He also was the runner-up in the 800 meters and placed third in the 1,500. Hand surgeon Paul Ellis was second in the 200 meters in the men’s 60-64 age group.
Both men qualified for the 2015 National Senior Olympics in Minneapolis, which will include about 13,000 athletes 50 and over competing in 18 sports.
It will be Raggio’s fifth appearance at the national meet, having medaled in three different events in the past.
“All of us need goals to motivate us to exercise and try to stay fit,” he said. “Now we have an incentive stretching into next year.”
Meanwhile, Ellis has been training with his daughter Becka, who is a former track standout at Highland Park High School.
At it turns 20 years old, the Highland Park High School softball program is finally growing up.
Just four years removed from having only 10 players in the program, the Lady Scots have enjoyed the best season in their history this spring.
And even if it doesn’t end with HP reaching the playoffs following tonight’s season finale against Carrollton Newman Smith, there are signs to suggest that the future is bright for a team that has long been considered an afterthought.
“This is the closest we’ve ever been,” said HP head coach Meredith Townsend. “It makes practice a whole heck of a lot easier. They’re more motivated to work hard in practice.”
When Townsend arrived at HP four years ago, she had to generate interest in the sport before she even began working on skills. Now, those efforts are starting to pay off, thanks in part to a promising group of underclassmen.
The Lady Scots reached a couple of milestones earlier this spring. They set a new school record for victories on March 25 against Carrollton Newman Smith, then rallied to upset perennial powerhouse Forney a week later. HP also clinched its first winning season.
“Beating Forney was a huge confidence builder for us,” Townsend said. “We’re very young, so I think we’ve always battled that. This year we’re finally feeling more comfortable.”
This year, the team has just one senior starting in the field — third baseman Ginna Klein — and its infield is comprised almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores. Among the team’s top sophomores are pitcher Katie Bell, catcher Rennie Orr, and second baseman Sunny Bowden.
The team has improved both at the plate and in the field, and Bell is among the leaders in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in strikeouts.
“Her issue last year was walks,” Townsend said of Bell. “She has great speed, but she didn’t have a lot of control. If she develops a third pitch, I think she’s going to be really hard to handle.”
Eight of the nine HP starters are expected to return next year. Besides a core group that has played together during the offseason, Townsend also is encouraged by her JV team, which has a winning record in district play.
“They’ve been working really hard, and I think they’re finally putting it together,” Townsend said. “It’s good to see some progress.”
There’s a timeless quality to this photo of the Highland Park High School football captains, who were recently named for the 2014 season. After all, these captains’ photos don’t vary much through the years. Yet here we are in a new age, when all four captains are on Twitter:
— Park Cities People (@pcpeople) April 11, 2014
By Randy Jennings/Special Contributor
CARROLLTON — Highland Park’s lofty goal of a third straight trip to the UIL girls state soccer tournament was dashed by the narrowest of margins.
Wylie East defeated the Lady Scots in the Class 4A Region II title game, 1-0, on a windy Saturday afternoon at Standridge Stadium.
The only goal came in the 58th minute in fluke fashion when a clearance pass by a Highland Park defender ricocheted off a teammate and into the Lady Scots’ net.
The scoring chance began with a shot by the Lady Raiders’ Asia Revely that Highland Park keeper Mariay Molina came off her line to deflect. The ball scooted to Molina’s right, setting up the chain of events that led to the goal.
“If we had scored that goal to win one-nil, I’d say it was a great win,” Highland Park coach Stewart Brown said. “It depends on what side of the field you’re standing on. Sometimes a goal like that win games.”
In a scoreless first half, Highland Park (21-5-1) controlled possession and enjoyed an edge in scoring opportunities despite going into the wind. Those chances were reduced in the second half until a desperate flurry in the final 18 minutes.
“The defenses for both teams did well,” Brown said. “The wind was a huge factor. We had the feeling it would take something special to decide it.”
Hope Hyde, who came into the game with 15 goals in her last seven matches, led the late Highland Park assault along with Sara Summers. Brooke-Lynn Scroggins, keeper for Wylie East (23-1-1), made an alert save to stop perhaps the Lady Scots’ best chance, a low Summers drive from seven yards with three minutes remaining.
“Getting to state twice is an accomplishment,” Brown said. “So is making it to the regional final. I couldn’t be prouder of my team. They represent the school and the community so well.”
By Billy Wessels/Special Contributor
CARROLLTON — They say the post is the goalie’s best friend. That wasn’t the case Friday.
Highland Park sophomore Hope Hyde scored two of her three second-half goals off shots that caromed off the post in the Lady Scots’ 3-1 win against Waxahachie in the Class 4A Region II semifinals.
“I was aiming for the corner, not the post,” Hyde said. “But as long as it goes in, it’s a goal.”
After a scoreless first half, Hyde opened the scoring just two minutes into the second with a point-blank shot that went off the post and past a diving Elizabeth Gish, Waxahachie’s senior goalkeeper.
Hyde then scored off a laser shot from 25 yards out that once again came off the post and into the net with 28 minutes left in the contest.
Just seven minutes later, she got a breakaway and easily beat Gish to put the game away.
Hyde said her team is used to this stage and wasn’t concerned about a scoreless tie at halftime.
“We got a great halftime talk and came out ready to play,” Hyde said. “We were fired up and did what we had to do to win. We’re a mature team; its our third year here, my second, and we just did what we needed to do.”
Hyde has scored nine goals in the last four playoff games.
“She’s been very hot lately. The service we’ve been getting to Hope has been fantastic,” Highland Park coach Stewart Brown said. “Whether it’s been Kate Summer or Savanna Jones or Lauren Echols, she’s been putting it away nicely, and we’ve been fortunate.”
Highland Park was playing against the wind in the first half and had several scoring chances, but couldn’t take advantage of them. When the wind changed in the second half, so did the Lady Scots’ fortune.
“We settled. In the first half, we played well, but with the wind, it was difficult,” Brown said. “For us, we want to get the ball down and play. In the second half, once that first goal went in, we just wanted to continue it.”
Waxahachie’s lone goal came on a 25-yard free kick from junior Mackenzie Posey with 2:57 left in the game to prevent the shutout.
Highland Park advances to the Region II championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against either Red Oak or Wylie East.
— Daryl Reaugh (@Razor5Hole) April 11, 2014
Congratulations to Park Cities person Daryl “Razor” Reaugh, who has received a contract extension from the Dallas Stars. Consequently, we hockey fans have renewed our prescriptions for “mind vitamins” like this.
In the playoffs, it’s not about how you win, but only whether you win. So the Highland Park girls won’t complain after a 3-2 overtime victory over Forney on Tuesday in a Class 4A Region II quarterfinal.
Sara Summers scored the game-winner in the first overtime for the Lady Scots (20-4-1), while Hope Hyde scored both of the regulation goals, giving her eight in four postseason games.
The win sends HP back to the regional tournament, where it will face Waxahachie, a 1-0 winner over Whitehouse in another regional quarterfinal on Tuesday. That game will start a semifinal doubleheader on Friday at Standridge Stadium in Carrollton.
It was the second time this season that the Lady Scots knocked off the Lady Jackrabbits, including a 2-1 win during a season-opening tournament in January at Highlander Stadium. It also marked HP’s 12th consecutive victory overall.