The annual St. Thomas Spring Sports Banquet again provided not only a celebration of individual and team accomplishment but also served as an emphatic declaration that Eagle athletics continues to set the standard as the premier private school program in Texas.
For the seventh consecutive academic year STH has earned the TAPPS All-Sports Award after leading the state’s 5A boys in total points earned through playoff participation and cumulative on-field performance across multiple sports … an embodiment of hard work, dedication and an enduring commitment to excellence.
Leading the charge to distinction was Eagle Track which produced the 100th state championship in school history … Eagle Baseball which enjoyed a historic 30-2-1 season and the first national ranking in the program’s acclaimed history … Eagle Golf finishing a strong second place at the state tournament … Eagle Football and Eagle Basketball each reaching the state playoff semifinals … and regional champion Eagle Swimming contributing a fourth-place result at the state meet.
“Our focus is always on the next challenge but occasionally you have to look back and take stock,” Netzel said. “Honestly the athletic success here was limited during the 1990s and into the next decade. To now consistently separate and lead the pack is incredibly satisfying. And it’s a testament to all our sports. Our student-athletes should be commended for their investment. And I know our coaches are highly motivated in maintaining this mark. Many of them are not full-time employees of the school and to find that individual who’s a great fit for our value system is becoming harder and harder. But we’ll find them.”
Netzel took particular pride in providing a quick recap to the sizeable crowd at Reckling Gymnasium to the near decade of precision that has propelled St. Thomas to its lofty position … that “in the last eight years STH has produced 18 state championships across six sports … 15 state runner-up results in eight sports … and reached the state semifinal round 25 times in eight sports.”
Given that more than two dozen Eagles from the Class of 2016 were honored in May for embracing the opportunity to extend their careers at the collegiate level … Eagle athletics has never demonstrated the depth and width of success that currently exists moving forward.
A moment of mixed emotion swirled when Eagle Golf coach Billy Tuten was given a farewell salute … leaving for the University of St. Thomas after a decade establishing the program and consistently delivering championship contention.
Tuten guided the Eagles to the TAPPS state title in 2012 and then finished with flourish … a pair of second-place finishes in 2014 and 2016 and a third place result in 2015.
“He is going to be tremendously difficult to replace,” Netzel said. “Fabulous coach … swing teacher … great understanding of the mental approach to the game … instilled great confidence and a belief in our players. Billy brought the entire package. His approach developed a series of decent high school golfers into highly competitive high school golfers. And he genuinely enjoyed every team … every player … every year he was here. He’ll be missed but we’re all extremely excited for what he has upcoming at UST.”
Due to the postponement of the TAPPS state baseball tournament the 2016 all-state distinction and individual team recognition was delayed until a further date. James Grant ’16 was recognized with 16th Bryan Selby Award voted on by Eagle teammates and presented to the player who best exemplifies persistent and unselfish dedication to the program … the character traits of Selby ’98.
Most Improved Player: Cameron Condara ’16 (Loyola New Orleans)
Comeback Player of the Year: Nolan Rizzo ’16
Eagle Spirit Award: Curtis Brady ’16
Most Outstanding Player: Henry Fisher ’16 (Texas Rio Grande Valley)
Most Improved Player: Brad Delia ’18
Eagle Spirit Award: Carr Burgoyne ’16
X-Factor: Ryan Miles ’16
Offensive Player of the Year: Riley Lam ’17
Defensive Player of the Year: Jonathan McGovern ’16
Most Valuable Player: Pete Huggins ’16 (Middlebury College, pictured)
Blake Pellerin Most Improved Player: Michael Blanchard ’16
Kurt Page Newcomer of the Year: Seth Deitz ’19
Michael W. Mills Leadership Award: Josh Pane ’16
Kieth Freeman Spirit Award: Seamus Sullivan ’16 (U.S. Merchant Marine Academy)
Johnny Brown Golden Boot Award: Riley Bishop ’17
Coach Wolf Founder’s Award: Grant Guthrie ’16
Chris Lind Offensive Player of the Year: Pane
Frodo Defensive Player of the Year: Sam Yeboah ’17
Andrew Locke Most Valuable Player: Robert Gonzales ’16
Eagle Fight Never Dies Award: Noah Penny ’16 and Paul Simon ’16
Eagle Track and Field
Most Improved Player: Nick Pane ’18 and Jackson Odom ’16
Eagle Heart Award: Wyatt George ’16 and Ishmael Callandret ’16
Most Valuable Performer: Landon Malouf ’16 (Texas A&M)
Newcomer of the Year: George Elarba ’19
Most Valuable Student Trainer: Matthew Hill ’16
Student Trainer of the Year: Trey Palomo ’17 (pictured)
Eagle Fight Never Dies!