• Allen Honored With Landry Coaching Award

    The Landry Award holds special meaning for Highland Park coach Randy Allen and his wife, Carolyn.

    The Landry Award holds special meaning for Highland Park coach Randy Allen and his wife, Carolyn.

    Highland Park head coach Randy Allen has honored Tom Landry for years by wearing a coat, tie, and fedora on the sidelines. Now the Landry Award committee has honored Allen.

    The legendary HP coach added to the awards in his trophy case this week, when he was honored with the Landry Award Coach of the Year during a ceremony at Communities Foundation of Texas.

    The award is given to a coach that not only wins on the field, but exemplifies Christian values and teaches life skills as well through a commitment to leadership, selflessness, maturity, respect, and kindness. The recipient is chosen in part by the leadership of the DFW chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

    The Landry Award also gave its player award on Monday to Allen quarterback Kyler Murray, who will try to lead the Eagles to consecutive state titles on Saturday.

    By Todd Jorgenson Dec. 19, 2014 | 7:47 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • Scots Hope to Mold Youngsters on the Mat

    Highland Park senior Connor Creek, center, listens to head coach Tim Marzuola during a recent workout. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    Highland Park Connor Creek, center, listens to coach Tim Marzuola during a recent workout. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    How can a wrestling team with two returning state champions be in rebuilding mode? Allow Highland Park head coach Tim Marzuola to explain.

    “We’ve got a small core of really good kids, but our numbers are kind of thin right now,” Marzuola said. “We’ve got to build up the younger kids.”

    His statement makes sense. During his prior tenure as HP coach from 1982 to 2007, Marzuola built the Scots into one of the state’s powerhouse programs starting in the late 1990s, including five UIL titles and eight state-dual titles during a 10-year span.

    He retired, then moved to South Carolina for a few years and coached there, before returning to HP in 2013. Now he’s trying to get the Scots back to prominence.

    Last year, when HP had two state champions for the first time since 2005, was a good start. And fortunately for the Scots, both Connor Creek and Stephen Dieb are back this season.

    Creek won the state title last year in the 160-pound weight class, while Dieb took first place at 145 pounds. They will again form the core of a squad that generally lacks depth and experience but includes returnees Keegan Martin and Michael Thornton, who each made it to the state semifinals a year ago.

    The current roster for the Scots has just four seniors along with several incoming freshmen that should help to boost the numbers, especially after football season is over. That’s when Dieb, Thornton, and others will be on the mat every day after school.

    One of Marzuola’s strategies for building local interest in the sport is developing a solid program at the middle-school level, and he’s gained school board approval to launch that this winter. He also wants to restart a youth club program he ran previously, and said some clinics he ran last year were successful in that regard.

    “We’re trying to put everything back together the way we had it before I left,” Marzuola said. “Once we get these things in place and once people hear about them, hopefully we can get back to being competitive year-in and year-out.”

    By Todd Jorgenson Dec. 18, 2014 | 3:31 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • Joint-Use Natatorium Could Have Some Issues

    Can University Park support a joint-use indoor aquatic center in Curtis Park or elsewhere? The better question might be whether the city chooses to support it.

    The City Council heard the results of a feasibility study on Tuesday from a Colorado firm, which suggested that while the community demographics could support such a facility, there would be plenty of questions about logistics and operating costs.

    The study, of course, stems from a proposal between UP and Highland Park ISD to build a natatorium that would house the swimming teams at Highland Park High School. The district hopes to eliminate its existing natatorium at HPHS in favor of additional classroom space as part of an upcoming bond initiative. The only site mentioned thus far has been Curtis Park, adjacent to the existing Holmes Aquatic Center.

    The council didn’t take any action on Tuesday but will likely discuss the issue again on Jan. 20.

    According to the 89-page report from Ballard King & Associates, the single-story building under consideration would cost about $16.7 million, would require space for both a competition pool and a leisure pool, and would consume up to 3 acres of land including parking and setbacks. That would be quite a squeeze for that park space.

    From a financial perspective, it might also be problematic. The report estimates that such a facility would experience an annual shortfall of about $233,000 when comparing revenues to expenses. Such a revenue disparity is common for public pools of this sort, said Ken Ballard, president of Ballard King.

    “There’s really not the ability to cover the cost of operation from revenues generated from the facility itself,” he said. “The fact that this facility would operate at a loss is not unusual.”

    Ballard said the smaller leisure pool would provide about two-thirds of the revenue from the facility, since the main pool would be used so frequently by the school district for practices and meets. He also cited water depth and temperature as reasons for the second pool.

    If the partnership proceeds, it’s likely that HPISD would pay for building the aquatic center while UP would provide the land and be responsible for its operation. But some issues would still need to be negotiated.

    For example, Ballard estimated the need for about 120 new parking spaces to support the center. Yet it’s not known if those would be above or below ground, or who would pay for it, or how much that would cost. The funding source for potential capital replacement costs also hasn’t been determined.

    The proposal has generated significant opposition from Save Curtis Park, a coalition of residents near the site who have expressed concerns about traffic, safety, parking, operational costs, and environmental impact.

    UP Mayor Olin Lane said that if the city chooses to proceed with the idea, it would follow-up with a traffic study and environmental impact study on the affected neighborhood.

    “These numbers look like we’re looking through these rose-colored glasses,” said UP resident Lon Houseman. “I think the city shouldering this burden is not what the residents want.”

    HPISD has not publicly disclosed any alternative plans for a new natatorium if the Curtis Park proposal doesn’t pan out.

    By Todd Jorgenson Dec. 17, 2014 | 11:27 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • Sibling Swimmers Make Waves

    Felix Van Cauweleart, left, is a freshman while his brother, Jasper, is a junior for the Highland Park High School swimming team. (Photo: Don Johnson)

    Felix Van Cauweleart, left, is a freshman while his brother, Jasper, is a junior for the Highland Park High School swimming team. (Photo: Don Johnson)

    Jasper and Felix Van Cauwelaert want their names on the records board inside the natatorium at Highland Park High School. The problem might not be achieving the necessary times, but finding the letters to spell them out.

    The siblings are competing together this season for the first time — with Jasper as a junior and Felix a freshman — and are leading a resurgence in boys swimming on the Blue Wave roster that saw HP win a regional team title last year and could result in several milestones being set in the next few seasons.

    “The two of them are very determined swimmers and want to break those records so bad,” said HP assistant coach Hannah Ferrin. “They definitely push each other.”

    Jasper already holds a school record in the backstroke and as part of the medley relay. He placed fifth in the 200-yard individual medley last year at the Class 4A state meet, where he also competed on two relays.

    The brothers were born in the United States but also have citizenship in Belgium, where their father, Jeroen, was a soccer player and swimmer before moving to the U.S.

    Jasper and Felix also tried both sports when they were young, but found themselves gravitating toward the pool in elementary school.

    “We happened to be better at swimming, so we just stuck with it,” Jasper said.

    The Van Cauwelaerts have been active in the prestigious Dallas Mustangs club program for several years, but rarely have swam together because of the two-year age gap. For both, their work ethic is a primary contributor to their success, with a typical weekday consisting of an hourlong practice at 7 a.m. at HPHS, and an after-school workout with the Mustangs that doesn’t bring them home until about 8 p.m.

    This season, they’re both swimming on the Blue Wave’s powerful freestyle relay and medley relay quartets. Because of their different specialties, they don’t match up individually often, except in the middle-distance IM, and both look forward to such opportunities.

    “It makes it more interesting because we always want to be each other,” Felix said. “Whoever wins gets bragging rights.”

    While they achieve similar results, their styles are different. At 6-foot-3, Felix is more of a power swimmer, while the shorter Jasper relies on technique. That contrast proves valuable when they team up on relays for HP.

    “I’m able to critique his stroke more because I’m more familiar with it than anybody else,” Jasper said. “I’m able to pick apart his stroke.”

    Indeed, Ferrin said their relationship on the pool deck is more about constructive criticism than sibling rivalry.

    “They’re competitive with each other, but not in a negative way,” Ferrin said. “They definitely complement each other.”

    By Todd Jorgenson Dec. 15, 2014 | 10:00 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • HPHS Harriers Join Relay For Dallas Marathon

    Rico Lara and Hope McLaughlin were the top cross country runners at HPHS this season.

    Rico Lara and Hope McLaughlin were the top cross country runners at HPHS this season.

    After competing at the state cross country meet last month, Highland Park High School standouts Rico Lara and Hope McLaughlin will participate in the annual Elite High School Relay Challenge on Sunday as part of the Dallas Marathon.

    Both Lara and McLaughlin will be part of a team of 16 of the top distance runners in the Dallas area, in which the boys will run two-mile segments on the 26.2-mile course while the girls will run one mile each. Lara is slated to run miles 4-6, followed by McLaughlin. That happens to be the section of the course that passes through Highland Park.

    Other runners who will take part in the relay include: J.T. Graass (St. Mark’s), Reese Walters (Shelton), Daniel Cope (St. Mark’s), Avery Culpepper (North Crowley), Trevor Montgomery (Whitney), Connor O’Neill (Jesuit), Mayleen Cantu (Bishop Dunne), Lili Clark (ESD), Fred and Sam Vincent (Ovilla Christian), Emma Pfundheller (Woodrow Wilson), Luca Chatham (Woodrow Wilson), and Alexandria and Matthew Arndorfer (Prince of Peace).

    By Todd Jorgenson Dec. 13, 2014 | 8:28 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • Lady Scots Cruise in District 10-6A Opener

    Highland Park's Julia Jenevein shoots during a 51-34 win over North Mesquite. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    Highland Park’s Julia Jenevein shoots during a win over North Mesquite. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    MESQUITE — The script couldn’t have been written much better for Highland Park’s debut in Class 6A girls basketball.

    The Lady Scots secured a big early lead and cruised to a 51-34 victory over North Mesquite in the District 10-6A opener on Friday.

    HP showed its progress in the up-tempo system of head coach Nicole Villarreal by controlling the pace and forcing a flurry of first-quarter turnovers. The Lady Scots (7-6, 1-0) opened up a 20-point lead midway through the second quarter and were never threatened.

    “They’ve absorbed it and have really bought in,” Villarreal said about the new style of play. “They’re doing a good job so far.”

    HP controlled the boards while the Lady Stallions (6-6, 0-1) struggled to find the basket before halftime.

    Although the implementation of the new system has led to some inconsistency early in the season, Villarreal said HP gained some confidence with its play last weekend at the Curtis Culwell Invitational tournament in Garland, where the Lady Scots took fourth place and were competitive against strong opponents such as Mesquite Horn and Sachse.

    “The momentum from that tournament really carried over to this first district game,” she said. “We talked about getting our focus and coming out in the first quarter. We jumped out scrappy.”

    HP will return to action on Dec. 19 when it hosts Richardson Pearce.

    By Todd Jorgenson Dec. 12, 2014 | 9:24 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • Lady Scots to Host Free Soccer Clinic Tomorrow

    Highland Park High School girls soccer players and coaches will host their annual clinic for Park Cities elementary school students at 10 a.m. Saturday at the HPHS Multi-Purpose Activities Center across from Highlander Stadium.

    The Lady Scots Soccer Academy is free and will last about 90 minutes, including soccer activities and lessons, posters and autographs. You can RSVP with coach Stewart Brown at brownste@hpisd.org.

    By Todd Jorgenson Dec. 12, 2014 | 1:41 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • Send This Hoops Junkie to the Fan Hall of Fame

    For University Park resident Tom Bowen, the NCAA basketball tournament truly brings out a case of March madness.

    For more than 30 years, Bowen and two friends — Jim Wikman and John Ries of Coppell — have made an annual trip to watch games in person on each weekend of the tournament. They typically attend 18 games per year over three weeks, including 12 games in one four-day stretch.

    That equates to almost 400 games, including 26 Final Fours, in cities and arenas throughout the country. And the trio, known as The Basketball Mavens, has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

    At any rate, Bowen and his friends have been selected as one of 10 finalists by a panel of judges in a nationwide ESPN contest to enter the Fan Hall of Fame. If they are chosen, they will be inducted at a ceremony at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. And in true fan-friendly fashion, this will be determined by a public vote, so you can help them get there by voting here.

    By Todd Jorgenson Dec. 9, 2014 | 3:34 pm | 1 Comment | Comments RSS
  • Chad Morris Officially Inherits SMU Football

    Chad Morris

    Chad Morris

    Following a nasty exit by former head coach June Jones earlier this season, Clemson University offensive coordinator Chad Morris has been named the new head football coach at SMU, per a campus event this afternoon. SMU has been tweeting photos from the gathering to express the campus’ excitement.

    SMU spokesperson Kim Cobb tweeted that Morris called the opportunity a “goldmine” and expressed his hope to secure a new football staff as early as Christmas, including some Texas high school coaches.

    Morris, a 1992 graduate of Texas A&M, was named the AFCA National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2013.

    “It’s got to be a culture change from the get-go,” he said of his hopes for the program.”We’re not going to back down from anybody.”

    The Mustangs are 0-11 this season entering their season finale on Saturday against Connecticut.

    By Sarah Bennett Dec. 1, 2014 | 4:23 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • Watson Earns All-State Honor From TGCA

    HPHS senior Eleanor Watson earned all-state recognition from TGCA. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    HPHS senior Eleanor Watson earned all-state recognition from TGCA. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    Congratulations to Highland Park senior Eleanor Watson, who has been named to the Class 6A all-state team by the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Only 40 players statewide were honored.

    Watson, who signed a letter of intent to play college volleyball at Mississippi State, also was recognized last year by TGCA at the Class 4A level.

    This fall, she helped lead the Lady Scots (31-16) to the 6A Region II semifinals, where they fell to eventual state champion The Woodlands. HP finished its first 6A season ranked No. 26 in the state by Lonestarvolleyball.com. The site combines all classifications in its rankings.

    By Todd Jorgenson Dec. 1, 2014 | 4:07 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS
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