WCMessenger.com http://www.wcmessenger.com Wise County Messenger Online Edition Mon, 06 Jul 2015 01:32:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Pilot injured in crash http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/pilot-injured-in-crash/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/pilot-injured-in-crash/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 00:58:19 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92791 imageA small plane crashed Sunday afternoon a mile west of Chico, injuring the pilot.

Harold Love, 64, of Bridgeport was taken by ground ambulance to Harris Methodist in Fort Worth with back pain.

Love was the lone passenger of the 1970s model plane.

Love and another plane were headed to get fuel. When the pilot of othe plane saw no sight of Love, he circled around and found Love and the plane in a field 250 yards south of County Road 1640.

“The buddy circling over head found him,” said Department of Public Safety Trooper Ralph Wallace. “He’d been sitting there for an hour.

Medics and firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 6 p.m.

Wallace said Love was alert and complaining of back pain.

Wallace added that the National Transportation Safety Board would investigate crash.

 

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Aurora woman killed in wreck http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/aurora-woman-killed-in-wreck/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/aurora-woman-killed-in-wreck/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 18:04:44 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92785 An Aurora woman was killed in a head-on collision near Decatur early Thursday morning.

The accident happened around 2:15 a.m. on Farm Road 730 near County Road 4374 about four miles south of Decatur.

Two Vehicle Wreck

TWO-VEHICLE WRECK – The driver of the passenger car pictured, Diane Davis, was killed when she collided with the pickup shown at right. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Greg Reyero said a passenger car driven by Diane Davis, 69, was southbound on FM 730 when it entered the northbound lane and struck a northbound pickup pulling a horse trailer. Both vehicles ended up on the east side of the roadway.

Davis was pronounced dead at the scene by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Jan Morrow.

The pickup driver, Wesley Moss, 34, of Paradise was transported by Wise County EMS to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

Reyero said it is not clear why Davis was in the wrong lane prior to the collision. He said alcohol didn’t appear to be a factor.

The Decatur Fire Department responded as well as the Wise County Sheriff’s Department and Boyd police.

Traffic was reduced to one lane as the scene was investigated and later cleared.

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Record rainfall pace continues http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/record-rainfall-pace-continues/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/record-rainfall-pace-continues/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 18:03:48 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92782 Wise County saw about half the rainfall in June as it did in May.

It was still the fourth wettest June in the last 42 years.

Welcome to 2015’s drought-busting Wise County weather.

Weather watcher Doyle Green in Decatur recorded 10.2 inches of rain for the month, more than double the average amount of 4.41 inches for June.

Most of that rain came in one day, thanks to Tropical Storm Bill. The 7.9 inches recorded on June 17 was the most in a single day since 7.74 inches fell on Sept. 7, 2010, when Tropical Storm Hermine swept through the county.

Since Jan. 1, Wise County has received 44.79 inches of rain, which is already more than the yearly totals in seven of the past eight years. That also exceeds the average annual rainfall amount of 38.29 with six months left in 2015.

In fact, the county is now just a little more than 11 inches away from breaking the annual rainfall record of 55.58 inches, set in 1981, according to records that date back to 1974.

If we see just the average amount of rainfall over the final six months of 2015, which would total about 17.5 inches, Wise County would easily record its wettest year on record.

Temperatures for the month ranged from a high of 95 degrees on June 10 to a low of 56 degrees on June 1.

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Reunion washer tourney claims Guinness mark http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/reunion-washer-tourney-claims-guinness-mark/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/reunion-washer-tourney-claims-guinness-mark/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 18:03:10 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92780 For nearly a year, the status of Amanda Williams’ world record claim remained unchanged.

The Guinness World Records website finally updated the status to “Current record holder” Wednesday. Now, the 2014 “Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is” washer tournament at the Wise County Old Settlers Reunion holds the official world record for largest washer tournament.

Record Holders

RECORD HOLDERS – All 486 participants in the world’s largest washer tournament gathered for a picture the day of the competition, July 22, 2014. Guinness World Records confirmed Wednesday the tournament was the largest of its kind. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The process of making the record and getting it officially recognized began before Reunion last year.

Carey Williams, Amanda’s husband, started the washer tournament six years ago. In the tournament, teams of two stand 21 feet back from a two-by-two plywood box with a hole in the center and throw washers, flat steel circles with holes in the center, at the hole in the box. The team that gets the most washers the closest wins.

Carey wanted to do something big for the tournament’s fifth year. One day while working at his office at James Wood Motors, Carey spotted a Guinness World Records book in the showroom.

“I thought, ‘how cool would it be if we were already having the world’s largest washer contest?’ Thinking it was going to be a simple thing,” Carey said.

Carey and Amanda quickly found that making a certified world record is far from simple.

They contacted Guinness and found it would cost at least $7,500, plus travel expenses, to have a representative from Guinness attend the tournament. Because the washer contest is run through the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit organization, the Williams knew they would never be able to come up with that much money. They would have to do all the work to both set and verify the record on their own.

After choosing to go the self-help route, Guinness sent Amanda a book, a few inches thick, that detailed a laundry list of things to be done before their record could stand.

The tournament had to be filmed and stewards had to verify that everyone who signed up played. Every participant had to sign in with their name, phone number, address, written signature and a photo. The layout of the tournament area had to be drawn out and pre-approved by Guinness, along with a paper the Williams wrote about why they wanted to hold the world’s largest washer tournament record.

And of course, they had to find at least 250 people to play to set the record.

“I told people we’d have around 500 people in the tournament from the get-go,” Carey said. “And it was hard to get people to believe that. I mean, 500 people in a washer tournament, that’s kind of crazy.”

Actually, finding enough people to break the record ended up being the easiest part of the process. Social media campaigning, advertising and local news coverage helped spread the word quickly.

“Everyone was beating the drums when the train started rolling,” Carey said.

As Reunion neared, the numbers of teams registering online climbed rapidly. On the day of the tournament, July 22, 486 players in 243 teams showed up, some from as far as Florida and Canada.

“We had people who had never been to Wise County Reunion before,” Carey said. “They just wanted to be part of a world record.”

The entire grass area in front of the campground pavilion was covered in 100 washer boards, fenced off from the rest of the Reunion. Twenty-five women ran the registration under the pavilion, signing people in and taking their pictures to send back to Guinness. Before the tournament started, every participant gathered for a giant, mandatory group photo.

At one point during the night the computer program that had been written specifically to handle the large tournament numbers crashed. Sixteen teams were accidentally dropped from the roster.

The Williams were then faced with angry teams and the possibility that this glitch might cost the tournament its record.

“We wound up scrapping the computer program and just manually doing all the scoring,” Amanda said.

It took 90 days after the tournament to compile all the paperwork to send back to the main Guinness office in the U.K. Amanda mailed a box full of the tournament information across the Atlantic, only to have it refused at the door and sent back to her. She’s still not sure why that happened.

“It was really aggravating,” she said.

Eventually, the box made it to the New York office, which sent it on its way. Now, almost one year after the tournament, the record is official.

The Williams were helped by the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, Decatur ISD and many local volunteers.

“It’s a great sense of accomplishment,” Carey said. “I think it’s cool because I don’t know of anything that’s happened in Decatur that the community has pulled together and set a world record. The timing is perfect because our tournament this year is coming up.”

The Williams don’t plan to set another world record – Amanda said they’ll never do that again – but they do anticipate at least 100 teams at this year’s competition.

“The cool thing about it, of all the people that played, there were so many young people that played,” Amanda said of the 2014 tournament. The Williams hope young people keep playing the game.

This year’s “Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is” washer tournament will be held 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, at Reunion. Teams may register that day starting at 5 p.m. The entrance fee is $50, and proceeds go to the Decatur Chamber of Commerce scholarship fund. Cash prizes will be awarded, with the winning team bringing home $100.

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Farm Service Agency to assist producers slammed by recent heavy rains http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/farm-service-agency-to-assist-producers-slammed-by-recent-heavy-rains/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/farm-service-agency-to-assist-producers-slammed-by-recent-heavy-rains/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 18:01:54 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92777 The U.S. Department of Agriculture Texas Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farmers and ranchers across the state of federal farm program benefits that may be available to help eligible producers recover from recent heavy rains and flooding.

“These widespread, significant rain events in Texas have been deemed by some as, ‘the worst ever,'” said FSA Executive Director Judith A. Canales. “As such, many farmers and ranchers are experiencing prevented planting, failed acres, displaced and deceased livestock and property damage.”

FSA offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers in their recovery efforts following floods or similar qualifying natural disasters.

Available programs and loans include:

  • Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) – provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters (includes native grass for grazing).
  • Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) – offers payments to eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather.
  • Tree Assistance Program (TAP) – provides assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers for qualifying tree, shrub and vine losses due to natural disaster.
  • Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) – provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather or other conditions, which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs.
  • Emergency Loan Program – available to producers with agriculture operations located in a county under a primary or contiguous Secretarial Disaster designation. These low interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding.
  • Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) – provides emergency funding for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate land severely damaged by natural disasters, includes fence loss.
  • HayNet – is an Internet-based Hay and Grazing Net Ad Service allowing farmers and ranchers to share ‘Need Hay’ ads and ‘Have Hay’ ads online. Farmers also can use another feature to post advertisements for grazing land, specifically ads announcing the availability of grazing land or ads requesting a need for land to graze. www.fsa.usda.gov/haynet

To establish or retain FSA program eligibility, farmers and ranchers must report prevented planting and failed acres (crops and grasses). Prevented planting acreage must be reported on form FSA-576, Notice of Loss, no later than 15 calendar days after the final planting date as established by FSA and Risk Management Agency (RMA).

“Thankfully, the 2014 Farm Bill reinstated these safety-net programs for farmers and ranchers suffering the devastating impacts of natural disasters such as this epic flood,” said Canales. “Because of the Farm Bill, we can quickly respond to the recovery needs of our producers.”

For information on disaster assistance programs and loans, visit www.fsa.usda.gov or contact the local FSA Office, at 940-627-2268, ext. 2. The office is located at 1604 W. Business 380 in Decatur.

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King brags on Texas, details recent session http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/king-brags-on-texas-details-recent-session/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/king-brags-on-texas-details-recent-session/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 18:01:03 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92775 Rep. Phil King told Precinct 2 citizens last week that the recent legislative session was the most productive in which he’s been involved.

King was among several speakers at the mobile mobile commissioners meeting June 23 at Alvord City Hall.

“Our legislature doesn’t work like Washington does,” he said. “We talk and actually get things done. I deal with a lot of legislators from all of the states, and everyone wants to be Texas.”

He ticked off a list of economic statistics that he said makes the Lone Star State the envy of the nation.

  • “If you go over the last 10 years, a full one-third of all the jobs in the U.S. were created right here in Texas.”
  • “Our economy grew more than twice the rate of the national economy.”
  • “For 10 or 15 years, we’ve led the nation in exports, producing more oil in Texas than every OPEC nation with the exception of Saudi Arabia.”

King went on to say that if Texas was its own country, “which is fun to think about,” it would be the No. 4 producer of natural gas in the world.

He said the legislature approved a budget that will grow at 2 percent per year the next two years, which he said, with inflation, means no growth.

He noted some taxes were cut, including the franchise tax by 25 percent.

“That’s a big signal for businesses to move to Texas,” he said.

King noted that the legislature also approved raising the homestead exemption to $25,000 and cut $400 million in fees, largely in occupational and licensing fees.

He said legislators also found $2.5 billion to dedicate to transportation without having to raise taxes.

King touched on House Bill 40, commonly known as the fracking bill, and border security.

He said HB 40 shouldn’t affect Wise County.

“I don’t think any ordinance in Parker or Wise County will have any challenge to it at all,” he said. “Denton and some others went way over the line, and people couldn’t develop their properties. There was a property rights issue.”

He said he thought it was a “reasonable thing.”

“We pretty well grandfathered people that had reasonable ordinances in place,” he said. “The Railroad Commission takes care of everything down hole and the cities take care of everything above the ground.”

King said in an effort to get a handle on illegal immigration, the state is hiring 250 new Department of Public Safety troopers that will be permanently stationed at the border.

“That will allow us to ramp down state and national guards,” he said. “We can’t regulate immigration, but we can deal with drug trafficking, human trafficking, things like that.

“We put $800 million in this budget to deal with it.”

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Alvord School Board to interview superintendent candidates http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/alvord-school-board-to-interview-superintendent-candidates/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/alvord-school-board-to-interview-superintendent-candidates/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 18:00:23 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92773 The Alvord School Board will meet three times next week to interview superintendent candidates.

Each meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. on consecutive days – starting Monday, July 6; Tuesday, July 7; and Wednesday, July 8.

The school board is in the early stages of its search but plans to make a selection by July 28.

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Auxiliaries give activity reports http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/auxiliaries-give-activity-reports/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/auxiliaries-give-activity-reports/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:59:29 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92771 The presidents of the Wise Regional Health System auxiliaries presented annual reports to the WRHS board Monday night.

Evelyn Lewis, president of the Bridgeport Auxiliary, and Eva Ray Tindol, president of the Decatur Auxiliary, each reported on their respective organizations noting scholarships and equipment that had been provided to Wise Regional from their fundraising efforts.

The Bridgeport Auxiliary, which provided five educational scholarships last year, is looking forward to becoming more active with the expected revival of outpatient surgery services this fall in Bridgeport.

The Decatur Auxiliary donated money for a new liver dialysis machine, which is the first one in service in Texas and one of only three currently available in the United States.

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Extension agents report Roundup success http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/extension-agents-report-roundup-success/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/extension-agents-report-roundup-success/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:58:49 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92769 Six Wise County youth received scholarships totaling $78,000 at last month’s Texas 4-H State Roundup.

“That’s our highest total yet,” said Extension Agent Chrissy Karrer, 4-H and Youth Development.

Scholarship Winners

SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS – Wise County 4-Hers (from left) Caitlin Pruett, Morgan Barnes, Mikayla Martinets and Remington Swensson were each awarded an $18,000 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarship. Submitted photo

Karrer and fellow agents Tanya Davis and Todd Vineyard reported Roundup results to county commissioners at their regular meeting Monday.

“Our buttons are just bursting,” Davis said. “We’re just so proud.”

She said Wise County had youth representation from all four precincts.

“Our results were great. Some were first, and no one was last,” Davis said. “I can tell you, we’re proud of all the efforts of the kids and your support. We appreciate it so much, and you’re seeing the fruits of your support here today.”

Karrer hit the highlights of the results, which included first-place invitational meats team, first-place Nutrition Quiz Bowl, Best in Show in photography, second-place science and engineering technology poster contest, third-place consumer team, third-place Food Challenge and third-place in the fashion show.

Four 4-Hers shared their experiences with commissioners.

Logan Moore with Boyd 4-H said he received two $1,500 scholarships at Roundup and plans to attend Texas State Technical College in Waco to study culinary arts.

He was a member of the winning Nutrition Quiz Bowl team, along with Jennifer Shaffer and Aspen Higgins, who joined him at the meeting. The trio will advance to the national contest in Denver.

Remington Swensson with Bridgeport 4-H received an $18,000 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarship and said she wouldn’t be the person she is today without 4-H.

“It’s taught me how to public speak, and it’s taught me how to communicate with others,” she said. “It’s taught me so many life lessons that I want to give back someday when I become a volunteer and will hopefully get my kids involved.

“Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to go where we go and do what we do.”

Swensson plans to major in biology as part of a pre-med program at Texas Christian University.

Vineyard noted that Decatur 4-Her Lyndi Luttrull was elected to the State 4-H Council at Roundup and follows Slidell 4-Her Caitlin Pruett, who just completed a term on the council.

“It’s pretty good to have Wise County representation two years in a row on the state level,” he said.

In other business, commissioners:

  • reappointed Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White and Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance to the Bridgeport Tax Increment Financing Reinvestment Zone No. 2 Board;
  • accepted $500 each from Alvord and Pleasant Grove cemeteries on behalf of the Public Works Department;
  • accepted a $960 donation from Crimestoppers to the Wise County Sheriff’s Office to pay for two deputies to attend training on investigating crimes against children;
  • awarded lot 69, block 10, Runaway Bay unit 1 to Tony Henry Jr. for a $500 bid;
  • awarded an undivided, one-half interest in lot 17, block 11, Runaway Bay unit 1 to Patty J. Wilson Wiley for an $800 bid;
  • approved a re-plat of Indian Springs Ranch, phase II, lots 9R and 10R in Precinct 4 with a variance on the drainage plan; and
  • approved the final plat of Nicholson Addition, lot 1, in Precinct 1.

The next regular commissioners meeting is 9 a.m. Monday, July 13, in the third-floor conference room of the courthouse in Decatur.

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Hot Shot Cross Fit http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/business/hot-shot-cross-fit/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/business/hot-shot-cross-fit/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:57:48 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92766 Address: 2303-2 Doctors Hospital Dr., Bridgeport

Phone: (940) 255-0833 and (940) 389-2682

Email: billy.hotshotcrossfit@gmail.com

Website: www.crossfithotshot.com

Owners: Billy Prichard and Mike McComis

Hours: Open gym is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Class times are 5:15 a.m., 6:15 a.m., 8:15 a.m., 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.

Products: Functional fitness/crossfit for all ages and skill levels.

Ribbon Cutting

RIBBON CUTTING – The Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting June 26 for Hot Shot Cross Fit. Pictured are Ross Prichard (from left), Nancy Prichard, Billy Prichard, Mike McComis and Kayla McComis. Messenger photo by Laura Belcher

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Team of the Year: Twice as Nice – Lady Eagles fly back to state volleyball title http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/team-of-the-year-twice-as-nice-lady-eagles-fly-back-to-state-volleyball-title/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/team-of-the-year-twice-as-nice-lady-eagles-fly-back-to-state-volleyball-title/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:54:29 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92763 Winning a state title in 2013, the Decatur Lady Eagles etched their spot in history.

But the determined crew that returned its central cast – including four senior starters – was far from satisfied.

“At the beginning of the season, we said how cool it would be to do again,” said Decatur senior setter Stormi Leonard. “To do it once was amazing. To do it twice was unthinkable.”

Back on Top

BACK ON TOP – The Decatur Lady Eagles celebrate winning the Class 4A title in November. The Lady Eagles went 40-10 and won their second straight state title. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

That unthinkable goal became a reality for the Decatur Lady Eagles in 2014. They fought through a brutal predistrict stretch, made another unbeaten run through district and clawed their way for a come-from-behind win in the region final to reached the state tournament. Then with a smash from Courtney Roberts to close an epic four-set victory over rival Argyle, the Lady Eagles reached the top of the 4A mountain and captured a second straight state title that definitely proved to be twice as nice.

“All the coaches told us how hard it is to win a state championship, and it’s even harder a second time,” said senior outside hitter Makayla Mayfield. “We had to just keep focused and not let up.”

In capturing the second straight state title and rolling to a 40-10 record, the Lady Eagles earned the Wise County Team of the Year honor. Coach Claire Gay points out, it truly was a team accomplishment.

“We probably weren’t the best volleyball players but we were the best team,” Gay said. “It was a great team and family. It was exciting to see the girls fulfill their potential and do what they could do. They worked so hard. They earned it and deserved it.”

Going into the season as defending champs, the Lady Eagles knew they had a huge target on their back. They also knew it could be a rocky road back to contention.

The challenges started in the opening weekend at the Adidas Texas Volleyball Invitational in Pearland, facing some of the top teams in the state. Injuries forced the Lady Eagles to play shorthanded. They held their own, scoring a win over Austin Westlake.

But that was just the start. The Lady Eagles followed that initial gauntlet with the Northwest ISD Volleyball Classic and the PSA Lone Star Circle of Champions full of more state-contending 6A squads.

“The Pearland Tournament alone took a toll on us,” Leonard said. “But it never got any easier.”

They didn’t want it to be easier and embraced the challenge.

“It was really hard, but it was also nice to be the underdog the whole time,” Mayfield recalled. “It forced us to play every game our hardest.”

During the tough stretch, Decatur didn’t just hold their own but thrived. They won two-thirds of their matches, going 20-10 in predistrict.

They kept rolling while restructuring their frontline after the loss of middle blocker Dylana Hutchins to a season-ending back injury. Junior Emily Oxford and sophomores Roberts and Kelsie Worley stepped forward to fill the role.

It was the leadership of the team’s seven seniors, including four-year varsity members – Leonard, Mayfield, Cooper Martin and Caroline Lowery – that glued the team together and pushed it toward greatness.

“Ever since we were freshmen, we all loved being around each other and playing together,” Leonard said. “We are with each other for four months a year. We see each other more than our family. We found a way to keep everyone excited.”

Gay watched the four veterans take ownership of the squad and leaned on their unique talents and styles of leadership that ran the gambit from Leonard’s excitable nature to Lowery’s serious and intense demeanor.

“You have to know your team’s personality,” Gay explained. “We had to balance the personalities with mine. We had some kids that responded to Stormi and some with Caroline or Makayla. It was always about how can we get the best from each kid.”

After a sweep against 6A power Coppell, everything clicked for the Lady Eagles. They never lost another match, winning their next 20 – all but three in three games.

Decatur rolled through 8-4A without dropping a set, running its district winning streak to 56 matches.

The first four rounds of the playoffs looked just as easy for the champs as they rolled to sweeps of Venus, Iowa Park, Stephenville and Big Spring. The win over Big Spring put the Lady Eagles in the Class 4A Region I final and a step away from the state tournament.

In the way of a return trip to Garland was the 2A champions from 2013 and the top-ranked team in 4A, Bushland.

Behind middle blocker Anna Graham, Bushland took the first set, 25-19. It was the first time the Lady Eagles had dropped a set since before district play. But there was no sign of panic.

“We hadn’t see that amount of firepower from their middle blocker since early in the season,” Leonard recalled. “But we knew we had more firepower and options. Once we settled down we’d be OK.”

Decatur took the next three games and booked the trip back to state.

The Lady Eagles swept the state semifinal against Robinson to reach the finals where a familiar foe awaited – Argyle.

Argyle ended the Lady Eagles’ season in 2012. Decatur returned the favor in 2013 on the way to a state title.

“Our sophomore year, we were so close when they beat us,” Leonard said. “The way it ended, I was depressed for four days.

“Anytime we played them after that we were not letting them win. We refused to lose that game.”

After splitting the first two sets, the Lady Eagles showed that will in the third game. Argyle grabbed a 24-21 lead and looked on the verge of taking a 2-1 advantage. But the defending state champions refused to let the set get away. Starting with a Martin kill, Decatur went on a 5-0 run to take the set 26-24 on a Lowery tip.

The Lady Eagles rode the momentum from the comeback through the fourth game, finishing off Argyle and the climb to the state title. Roberts’ final kill set off a celebration in the middle of the floor.

“It was almost surreal,” said Leonard, who finished the year with 1,433 assists, earning 4A Player of the Year honors from the Texas Sportswriters and 1A-4A Volleyball Athlete of the Year Texas Girls Coaches Association along with Wise County MVP. “Winning for a second time was the perfect way to end my Lady Eagle career.

“It’s one of the most meaningful experiences because I got to do it for this town. I also loved that I got to do it with my best friends.”

HONORABLE MENTION

Bridgeport Bulls Basketball Team

Led by the talented quartet of Caleb Smith, Keenan Holdman, Ethan Chapman and Devonte Patterson, the Bridgeport Bulls won their final 24 games, including an 83-53 dismantling of Houston Sterling in the 4A state title game.

Decatur Girls Cross Country

Jessi Kyle’s runner-up finish in the 4A race paced to the Decatur Lady Eagles cross country team to the runner-up trophy at the UIL cross country championships. It was the ninth time in 10 years and seventh straight year for the program to end the year on the medal stand.

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Coach of the Year: Setting the standard – Gay guides Lady Eagles to second straight title http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/coach-of-the-year-setting-the-standard-gay-guides-lady-eagles-to-second-straight-title/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/coach-of-the-year-setting-the-standard-gay-guides-lady-eagles-to-second-straight-title/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:53:12 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92760 In the third set of the 4A state final, Claire Gay watched from the side of the court as her Decatur Lady Eagles fell perilously close to falling down 2-1 to Argyle.

The coach did what she rarely ever did during the season – called a timeout.

“I don’t call timeouts often unless I see them frazzled,” Gay explained during the state final postgame press conference. “A lot of times I let them get themselves out of a bind. It was definitely time to talk to them. They just needed to calm down. I needed to remind them they are in this together.

“This is a family. We win as a family or lose as a family.”

Leading the Way

LEADING THE WAY – Decatur volleyball coach Claire Gay guided the Lady Eagles to a 40-10 record and the school’s second straight state title. She earned the Texas Girls Coaches Association and Texas Sportswriters Association’s Coach of the Year honors. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Decatur eventually fought back to win the set in dramatic fashion after the brilliantly timed speech from their coach. The team that truly was a family then went on to claim their second straight title under in four games.

“It was a surreal feeling. When you’re there, you’re like ‘that just happened.'” Gay recalled. “It took a while to settle in.

“They earned it and deserved it. What brings me joy is seeing them get what they wanted and worked so hard for.”

The second state title to cap a 40-10 season may not have been possible according to Decatur players without Gay, who always seemed to have the pulse of the team and refused to let the team become complacent after 2013.

“I don’t think we could have done anything without her,” said Decatur senior setter Stormi Leonard. “She knew how to handle us and what she wanted to do. She also knew how we’d react and how to help us. She’s a big part of our success.”

For guiding the Lady Eagles to repeat title, Gay is the Wise County Coach of the Year for a second time. She also claimed the honor in 2012.

After winning the state title in 2013 and returning most of her starting rotation, Gay knew there was an expectation to repeat.

“For any coach in that situation it’s hard when you’re expected to win again,” Gay said. “But we set a standard for what we expect at Decatur, so there’s always a lot of pressure.”

Since taking over the program eight years ago as a head coach for the first time, the Lady Eagles have become a dominating force in the region. Decatur has made the playoffs each year and won six straight outright district titles. The Lady Eagles have won 56 straight district matches.

“I hate to lose and I was the same way as a player,” said Gay, who came to Decatur originally to teach and had a year of experience as an assistant in Plano.

With a team that matched her competitive personality, Gay sought the opportunity to challenge her veteran squad against the best teams in Texas – regardless of classification.

Gay filled the team’s schedule with only 6A and 5A schools through the first 28 matches. The team’s three tournaments, starting with the Adidas Texas Volleyball Invitational on the opening weekend, were showcases against the top teams in the state.

Gay said it was a challenge her team needed.

“It’s easy to get to the top but harder to stay there,” she said. “That’s why I put together the challenging preseason.

“It was also something the girls wanted. They wanted to play the tougher schools and tougher competition.”

Playing the powerhouses of the state there were highs – a win over Austin Westlake – and the lows being swept by Coppell. With each match there were lessons.

“We competed well at times and at times we didn’t,” Gay said. “But that’s where we built a lot of character.

“[The losses] were the moments that made them hungry for the rest of the season. We walked away from each situation saying what can we learn from this.”

The veterans on the Lady Eagles understood the tall tasks and appreciated the challenges.

“She told us it was going to be rough and tiring, but we had to get through it and it’d help us in the postseason,” said senior outside hitter Makayla Mayfield.

After Sept. 16, the team, never lost a match. They won all but three matches in three sets. While rolling through matches, Gay kept practices tough with drills and intense scrimmages.

“The girls [on the bench] played a huge role with the level of play they brought in practice,” Gay said. “They pushed each other.”

The Lady Eagles went 8-0 in 8-4A and then swept their first four playoff opponents – Venus, Iowa Park, Stephenville and Big Spring.

In the region final against the 2013 Class 2A state champion Bushland, the Lady Eagles dropped the first set. After being tested in the preseason against some of the best teams in the state, Decatur just made adjustments to Bushland’s strong attack and won the next three games and captured the region title.

“[Bushland] had a great volleyball team. Their strengths were not ours so we knew it would be an interesting matchup,” Gay said. “The first game was more of figuring out what needed to be done. We made the adjustments and were able to win.”

It wasn’t the last challenge for the Lady Eagles. After a semifinal win over Robinson, Argyle awaited in the state championship. It was the third straight year for the two to meet in the playoffs.

“It was exactly what our girls wanted,” Gay said. “These girls play with each other and against each other in club. They know each other’s strengths.”

Gay also knew it would bring out the best in her team, explaining: “Losing to Argyle was not how they were going out.”

The Lady Eagles showed that, winning in four and getting back to the top of the 4A mountain.

“It was a great team and family. It was exciting to see the girls fulfill their potential and do what they could do,” Gay said.

Graduating four four-year players, including the state final MVP in Mayfield, state MVP in Leonard, and all-staters Caroline Lowery and Cooper Martin, Gay knows Decatur will face new challenges this year. But she’s looking forward to them.

“Every year is different and you always have to be willing to learn and adjust,” Gay said.

While players may change, the standard for Decatur volleyball after nine years with Gay on the bench remains the same.

HONORABLE MENTION

Alan Green, Bridgeport Boys Basketball

In his second season as the Bridgeport Bulls head basketball coach, Alan Green melded together a nearly new team with only one returning starter into the Class 4A state champion, going 35-4. Green also coached the Bridgeport girls golf team that made the state tournament.

Danny Henson, Bridgeport Football

A season after going 0-10, Danny Henson and his staff guided an unprecedented turnaround in 2014. The Bulls went 8-4, finished second in District 3-4A Division II and made the second round of the playoffs.

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Denny Deady Sportsman of the Year: No single focus – Team success kept Slidell’s Pruett moving http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/denny-deady-sportsman-of-the-year-no-single-focus-team-success-kept-slidells-pruett-moving/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/denny-deady-sportsman-of-the-year-no-single-focus-team-success-kept-slidells-pruett-moving/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:52:10 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92757 Caitlin Pruett has been running long-distance races for much of her athletic career.

It means a lot to her, but not as much as her team.

When Pruett crossed the finish line of the Class A Region III cross country race, she immediately knew that her seventh-place finish had earned her a spot in the state meet. But that wasn’t the priority.

Medal Collecting 1

MEDAL COLLECTING – Slidell senior Caitlin Pruett garnered several medals in track, cross country and UIL academics, but she put her individual success behind the team glory. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The Slidell senior rushed to cheer on her teammates and any celebration was put on hold until the team could celebrate a state bid together.

“She cares so much about her team,” said coach Cody Vanover. “It shows. When you talk to her, it’s genuine. She gives a lot of credit to a lot of good players and runners. We had some great athletes. She pushes and encourages at the same time.”

Pruett said that despite cross country being her third favorite sport, winning the regional meet as a team stood out more than any other accomplishment this year.

“I think the reason I pick cross country is because we went as a team,” Pruett said. “I’m very social and team-oriented. I loved my girls this year. They were the best. Seeing the look on their faces when we realized we were regional champs and we were going to state was really heartwarming. We worked so hard and set that goal a long time ago.”

Because of her personal drive, and the team-first mindset that she has displayed throughout the year, Caitlin Pruett is the 2015 Denny Deady Sportsman of the Year.

This is the second year for the award named after the former Messenger sports editor and writer. The annual award is dedicated to honoring the Wise County athlete who displays acts of inspiration, teamwork and sportsmanship.

Cross country was just the start of Pruett’s unparalleled senior season.

She was named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s all-state team after leading Slidell to the District 21-A title and the third round of the playoffs in basketball.

In Slidell’s final game against Dodd City in the Class A Region III quarterfinal, Pruett provided a memorable moment in the wake of her team’s imminent elimination.

Facing an insurmountable deficit in the final few seconds of the playoff game, Pruett continued taking the ball to the basket.

“She got clobbered as she went up to the basket,” Vanover said. “She started to cry a little bit and the emotions are going everywhere. She looked at me at the free-throw line. She gave me a look and kind of cleared her head and sank the bucket. Her last act as a basketball player is getting clobbered when she knew it was over.”

Pruett earned Wise County Co-Offensive Player of the Year, putting up monster numbers – 18.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 3.6 steals.

Pruett’s year didn’t stop after her exceptional cross country and basketball seasons.

She moved on to a track season that culminated in possibly the biggest individual athletic achievement of her career.

Pruett took gold in the 800 at the area meet with a time of 2:24.56.

She followed that with another gold at the Class A Region III meet with a time of 2:28.31, qualifying Pruett for the state track meet for a second straight year.

On the state’s biggest stage in Austin, she took the silver medal with her time of 2:23.30.

Despite all of the impressive accomplishments, Pruett’s athletic journey wasn’t always smooth sailing.

There were times when her intense training regiment and non-stop schedule got the best of the Slidell star.

“She had her share of pitfalls,” Vanover said. “When she was in eighth grade at the Alvord cross country meet, she collapsed. She was in the hospital for a week dehydrated.

“She had another one her sophomore year, she got passed in the 800 and dropped from first to third. It made me figure out how I wanted to train the track team. We developed a better training method. She was willing to do whatever it took to do better.”

Pruett, who was Slidell’s valedictorian, finished fourth at the University Interscholastic League state academic meet in persuasive speaking. She also earned honorable mention all-star cast in at the state one-act play contest.

UIL academics gave Pruett one last chance to bask in another team accomplishment as Slidell won the Class A title.

It was a memorable year by any means, but in true Pruett fashion, she gives credit to everyone else.

“My brother told me, ‘you know, you pretty much went to state or made an all-state team in everything you did,'” Pruett said. “I hadn’t really thought about it. I’m just thankful that I had such great teammates and people to help me along the way. My family and coaches have all played a big role in the success I’ve had.”

DENNY DEADY AWARD

Denny Deady is not only a beloved member of the Messenger family, but also respected and held in high regard across Wise County.

Her generous spirit, kind heart and sincere interest in people were the basis for her successful newspaper career and remarkable community involvement.

“To say that a person is the ‘heart and soul’ of an organization may seem trite, but without a doubt, for the Wise County Messenger, that honor goes to Denny Deady, who was a part of the staff for more than 30 years,” said publisher Roy Eaton.

Deady, who retired in the fall of 2010 after 33 years with the Messenger, held various positions and played an integral role in making the paper a community cornerstone. She started as a staff reporter, also covering sports, and was eventually named sports editor. She later moved to the ad department, where she served as manager, and she retired as the Messenger’s special projects manager.

“Denny was a great writer and covered many of the newspaper’s biggest stories during her career,” Eaton said. “But to just stop there would not do her justice. Her generosity with her time and talents is legendary.”

Her community involvement was widespread, and as a breast cancer survivor, many of her activities centered on women’s health issues. Her baking, especially her sweet rolls, is legendary, and she has donated dozens to community fundraisers. At one event car dealers James Wood and Karl Klement got in a bidding war for them, and when the hammer fell, the rolls had sold for $4,000 with all the money going to charity.

Denny and her husband, Brian, a retired teacher and football coach, now live in Magnolia to be near their daughter and son-in-law, Guinness and Brent Collins, and grandsons Eoghan and Finn.

The Messenger now annually honors an athlete from Wise County that best exemplifies the same traits as the Denny Deady Sportsman of the Year.

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Female Athlete of the Year: Equal to the task – Mayfield reaches own high bar to repeat as top athlete http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/female-athlete-of-the-year-equal-to-the-task-mayfield-reaches-own-high-bar-to-repeat-as-top-athlete/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/female-athlete-of-the-year-equal-to-the-task-mayfield-reaches-own-high-bar-to-repeat-as-top-athlete/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:50:51 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92754 As a junior, Makayla Mayfield guided the Decatur Lady Eagles to a volleyball state title along with earning the Class 3A Player of the Year honor.

She added to the magical year, coming off the bench in the Class 3A Region II area basketball final to drain a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Lady Eagles a victory over Princeton.

Heading into her senior year, Mayfield knew the bar was set high for her.

Repeating the Feat

REPEATING THE FEAT – Decatur senior Makayla Mayfield earned Wise County Female Athlete of the Year for the second straight year after helping the Lady Eagles to a state title in volleyball and district title in basketball. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I just knew it was a big year to follow,” Mayfield said. “It was my senior year and I wanted to make it as good as I could.”

Whether handling the pressure of being a defending champion on the volleyball court or a new member of the starting five in basketball, Mayfield lived up to the description of her coaches and teammates from the year before – unflappable.

“She’s always calm and you never see her freak out,” said Decatur senior setter Stormi Leonard. “You always need that person that’s not freaking out. If she’s calm, it’s going to be OK.”

Decatur girls basketball coach Billy Garner added: “As I’ve said before, the best thing about her is she keeps an even keel all the time to go along with all her athletic ability.”

The Decatur senior garnered another huge share of awards, earning Texas Sportswriters Association 4A first team and Wise County Defensive Player of the Year in volleyball. On the basketball court, she earned 8-4A and Wise County Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Another stellar year for the Decatur standout ended with Mayfield earning Wise County Female Athlete of the Year for a second straight year.

“It’s a big surprise. I’m so excited for it,” Mayfield said.

After her strong junior year, Mayfield looked calm and collected in nearly every venture as a senior.

Playing alongside fellow seniors Stormi Leonard, Cooper Martin and Caroline Lowery, Mayfield filled any void her team needed, hitting or playing defense. She put down 496 kills, second on the team and just three behind Lowery. She finished the season with a hitting percentage of .312. She was also second in serving with 65 aces and 93.4 percentage. Mayfield led the team with 543 digs – 61 more than libero Maclaine Lowery.

“She’s one of those athletes that it comes naturally to,” said Decatur volleyball coach Claire Gay. “She can make it look easy.”

Like her teammates, Mayfield welcomed the challenge of trying to repeat as champions. She said coaches told them the journey would be difficult.

“We just had to keep focused and not let up,” Mayfield said.

Decatur rolled through 8-4A unbeaten and into the playoffs, where Mayfield elevated her game to another level.

In the playoff opener against Venus, Mayfield buried 12 kills. She also served out the final 11 points of the second set of the sweep.

She followed that with 20 kills in the next round against Iowa Park. She registered a team-best 14 kills along with 14 digs in the region quarterfinal victory over Stephenville.

It was just before the Stephenville match that Gay said they made a slight rotation switch with Mayfield that helped her.

She had nine kills in the region semifinal victory over Big Spring.

In the clash of state champions from 2013 in the 4A Region I final, Mayfield teamed with Caroline Lowery to spark a comeback after dropping the first set. Mayfield put down 18 kills to help Decatur take the final three sets and earn a spot back in the state tournament.

A chance to return to Garland and the state tournament was an opportunity that Mayfield relished.

“The first time we went to state I was so nervous and didn’t do well,” Mayfield said. “This year, I felt a lot more comfortable, knowing I could do it.”

Her determination was evident in the semifinal sweep of Robinson, burying a team-best 15 kills, including the match clincher.

After that win, Argyle awaited Mayfield and the Lady Eagles in the state final.

“I knew it was my last match to play with everyone and as a Lady Eagle, and I wanted to do my best and put it all on the floor,” Mayfield said.

The Lady Eagles needed her at her best. Mayfield got Decatur off to a fast start with seven of her match-best 21 kills in an opening set win.

But Argyle wouldn’t go away. It won the second set and got to game point in set three before Decatur made a dramatic comeback to steal the set and go up 2-1.

Decatur finished off Argyle and the state title climb in the fourth set.

“It was real exciting but also sad at the same time,” Mayfield said about the final moments of the title win. “I was thinking that I’m not going to play with any of these girls again.”

After the initial celebration and awards ceremony, Mayfield was named the state final MVP for her 21 kills, 16 digs and two aces.

“It was a big honor. I was very excited,” Mayfield said. “I freaked out the year before. I just had to keep myself calm.”

Mayfield didn’t celebrate the title long, immediately joining the basketball team and the starting lineup.

“It was a lot different, but I liked the bigger role,” Mayfield said.

According to Garner, it didn’t take her long to get up to speed.

“Her coming in after the [volleyball] playoffs, she really picked up where she left off last year,” Garner said. “Her quickness and length made us good defensively.”

Mayfield’s uncanny ability to jump passing lanes allowed her to average 2.6 steals to go along with 9.1 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Mayfield was at her best in the biggest moments. With a chance to wrap up the district title against rival Bridgeport, she tossed in 11 points and made five steals. She also held the Sissies’ leading scorer Bailey Thompson to six points in the Lady Eagles 8-4A clinching win.

With the Lady Eagles behind in the fourth quarter against Springtown, Mayfield got a steal and the go-ahead layup in the 64-54 win that finished off an unbeaten run in 8-4A. She led the team with 14 points.

“[The district title] meant a lot,” Mayfield said. “Last year was real exciting with the three-way tie but we wanted to win it fair and square.”

The Lady Eagles’ season ended with at 22-7 with a loss to Stephenville in the area round. But it did not spoil the year.

“It was a lot of fun even though didn’t end the way I wanted it to,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield didn’t stop her career there. She helped the track team earn a few points on the way to an 8-4A crown, finishing fourth in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump. She was fifth at the area meet in the triple jump.

Her time competing for Decatur is now over, and Mayfield will start a new chapter this fall at Texas Woman’s University with the Pioneers volleyball team.

“It’ll be different starting at the bottom again and having to earn a spot,” Mayfield said.

But she admits it’s hard to move on.

“I couldn’t ask for a better four years. My mom and friends laugh at me because I don’t want to leave high school,” Mayfield said.

She does leave after making a big mark and plenty of history. But Mayfield wants to be remembered for more than just titles.

“I hope people remember me as a humble player that just wanted to do her best for the team,” Mayfield said.

HONORABLE MENTION

Jett Preather, Paradise

The Paradise senior three-sport star helped the Lady Panthers reach the playoffs in volleyball, basketball and softball. She was the Hitter of the Year for Wise County in volleyball and Co-Defensive Player of the Year in softball.

Caitlin Pruett, Slidell

The Slidell senior earned state trips in cross country and track. She earned the silver medal in the Class A 800 race. The Lady Greyhound also earned Wise County Co-Offensive Player of the Year in basketball.

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Male Athlete of the Year: Rumbling to top – Powerful Alvord runner created highlights on field, track http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/male-athlete-of-the-year-rumbling-to-top-powerful-alvord-runner-created-highlights-on-field-track/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/male-athlete-of-the-year-rumbling-to-top-powerful-alvord-runner-created-highlights-on-field-track/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:49:28 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92751 Joe Randall’s senior year was littered with moments that forced fans, teammates and spectators to take notice of the kid from Alvord.

From dominating a game and season on the football field to overcoming injury and making a trip to Austin for the state track meet, Randall’s work ethic and determination allowed him to accomplish great things during 2014-15 and earned him the title of Wise County’s Male Athlete of the Year.

But the one singular moment perhaps came on the grid iron Halloween night against rival Chico.

Like most games between rivals, there was plenty of talk beforehand.

Strong Finishing Run

STRONG FINISHING RUN – Alvord’s Joe Randall ran for more than 1,800 yards and 26 touchdowns in his senior season for the Bulldogs. He finished the year by making the state track meet. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Alvord had won three straight district games and hoped to secure the District 5-2A Division I championship. Chico was coming in with a renewed confidence following a 76-21 win over Trenton.

“They were talking trash and some of our guys were talking trash,” Randall said. “All week, I could tell that some of our guys were getting nervous, worried about losing the game. Chico had some really good players. A group of seniors and me got together and talked about doing everything we could to win the game. I wanted to make sure I did everything in my power to get the win.”

He did that. Randall ran the ball 12 times for 340 yards and scored a school record seven touchdowns in the decisive 72-14 win that night.

The game was a spectacle in which Randall single-handedly stunned the in-county rival in one of the most important games of the season and Randall’s career.

“From a coaching perspective, that was probably his greatest feat,” Alvord coach Pete Hart said.

Living up to the expectations of the moment is nothing new for Randall, who was moved up to the varsity team one game into his freshman season.

That year, he rushed for 543 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed it with a 1,085 yards in his sophomore campaign and 1,251 in his junior season.

He continued to improve, accumulating 1,841 yards his senior season with 26 touchdowns. The year earned him honorable mention All-State honors from the Associated Press and the Texas Sportswriters Association.

He also finished the year with 75 tackles and two interceptions on defense as he led his team to an undefeated district championship.

“Winning district was big for me and the team,” said Randall, who was also named the Wise County MVP in in football. “That’s a big deal for Alvord and I got to do it with the guys that I’ve been friends with for a long time.”

According to Hart, Randall’s leadership and work ethic drove him to new heights during his 2014-2015 campaign.

“Joe the kid is special,” Hart said. “He’s very respectful. Not only the work ethic in athletics, but the way he handles himself in class is impressive. He’s a silent leader that people follow because of what he does. When you ask him to do something, you don’t have to check that he’s doing it right.”

Randall attributes his lead-by-example style to his upbringing.

He said his parents, Tim and Tracy, raised him and his three older sisters- Clair, Mary and Ellie – with calm guidance and a conviction to give their all in every aspect of life.

“Dad always told me to give 100 percent no matter what,” Randall said. “That has always stuck with me.”

Randall’s three siblings showed their brother that mom and dad’s teachings could be applied to goals in life.

Clair, 27, graduated from Alvord High School as the salutatorian.

Mary, 24, finished her high school career as Alvord’s valedictorian. Ellie, 22, finished top 10 in her class.

“My sisters are all really amazing,” Randall said. “They set a high standard for me.”

Not only did Randall learn to be great from family, he also learned how to overcome adversity.

After tweaking his hamstring during his freshman and junior track seasons, Randall met real adversity during the 2014 area track meet his junior year.

“There was a false start and we all came out of the blocks and that tensed it up,” he said. “We started again and about 10 meters from the finish line I heard a pop and everything went numb.”

The hamstring pull took two months to heal and soured Randall on the 100-meter dash itself.

During the middle of the track season a year later, Hart finally convinced Randall to give the race another shot.

“He had it in his mind that he wouldn’t run the 100,” Hart said. “I finally said, ‘Joe, are you going to run the 100 or not?’ He and I talked about how to run it and stay relaxed. He overcame the mental block by listening to what we talked about and putting that on the track, running more relaxed and not straining.”

Randall took the advice and won the District 11-2A race with a time of 11.10.

He then took first in the area meet with a time of 11.19 and finished second at the 2A Region II meet to qualify for state with a time of 11.49.

Hart said that the incredible run to the state meet was another of Randall’s great moments.

“In every other sport there are other guys contributing to his success,” Hart said. “In track it’s just you. To watch him compete at that level in a really talented field was great. Everything he put in to get to that point shows all the hard work and effort he put into it.”

Randall’s ninth-place finish at state highlighted a career that was filled with great moments.

Now, the Alvord graduate will take that momentum to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls where he will play the safety/linebacker hybrid position for the Mustangs.

“There’s been a lot of discussion and I think Joe will go on to have a successful career at Midwestern,” Hart said. “He’s one of those guys who will do whatever those coaches ask him to do. He’s going to put in the extra effort to succeed.”

HONORABLE MENTION

Keenan Holdman, Bridgeport

Hauling in 76 catches for 1,069 yards and 16 touchdowns on the football field, the receiver helped the Bulls reach the second round of the playoffs and earned Wise County Offensive Newcomer of the Year. On the basketball court, he took on the team’s toughest defensive assignments, earning Wise County Defensive Player of the Year and helping Bulls to the state title.

Tyler Melton, Chico

On the football field the Dragon offensive lineman recorded 44 pancake blocks and finished with a 97 percent grade, earning honorable mention all state. On the baseball diamond, he earned Wise County MVP, batting .525 with seven home runs. He went 7-0 on the mound with a 1.91 ERA.

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Best of Sports 2014-2015: Photos of the Year http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/best-of-sports-2014-2015-photos-of-the-year/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/best-of-sports-2014-2015-photos-of-the-year/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:44:27 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92748 Decatur Season Opener

Dark clouds fill the sky before the start of Decatur’s season-opening football game at Springtown. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Maclaine Lowery

Maclaine Lowery jumps for joy after Decatur’s region final win in volleyball. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Devonte Patterson

Bridgeport’s Devonte Patterson drives the ball to the basket in the 4A state final. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Jaston McBee

Jaston McBee hit for the cycle in just two innings of a Chico win. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Bridgeport Bulls Basketball

The Bridgeport Bulls basketball team celebrates the 4A state title in San Antonio. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Storm Leonard

Wise County volleyball MVP Stormi Leonard takes a seat behind the bench at the Wise County Courthouse. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Jesus Gam

Decatur’s Jesus Gam slides under the tag at third base. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Jessi Kyle

Decatur’s Jessi Kyle nears the finish line in second place at the state cross country meet. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Decatur vs Stephenville

Stephenville players celebrate at the end of the overtime victory over Decatur. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Marco Martinez

Boyd’s Marco Martinez prepares for his run at the state cross country meet. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Seth Keener

Bridgeport’s Seth Keener defends a pass against Boyd. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Gavin Buchanan

Decatur’s Gavin Buchanan closed out his tennis career and will join TAMS this fall. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Decatur Girls Track

The Decatur girls track team takes a victory lap after winning the 8-4A crown. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Alvord Softball

Alvord’s Regan Guthrie and Mikena Mader collide going for a ball. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Dusty Crafton

Boyd volleyball coach Dusty Crafton gets emotional after a point. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

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Sydney Chase Payne and Seth Miller http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/lifestyle/weddings/sydney-chase-payne-and-seth-miller/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/lifestyle/weddings/sydney-chase-payne-and-seth-miller/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:30:25 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92731 Sydney Chase Payne of Alvord, daughter of Rick Payne and Shari Standridge of Duncan, Okla., will marry Seth Miller of Alvord, son of Penny Miller of Decatur and the late Gerald Miller Aug. 22, 2015, in Bowie.

Payne Miller

Sydney Chase Payne and Seth Miller

Bill Cleveland with the First Baptist Church in Alvord will officiate.

The bride-elect is a 2008 graduate of Duncan High School. She works at Wise Chem Safe Pest Control.

The prospective groom is a 2005 Alvord High School graduate, and he is employed by Smith Oilfield Services.

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Creepers and Crawlers http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/photo-features/creepers-and-crawlers/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/photo-features/creepers-and-crawlers/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:29:05 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92728 Creepers and Crawlers 1

CREEPERS AND CRAWLERS — Kids in the Decatur Public Library’s summer reading program were treated to a presentation of different animals at Zooniversity day. Among the animals they saw were lizards and spiders. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Creepers and Crawlers 2

CREEPERS AND CRAWLERS — Kids in the Decatur Public Library’s summer reading program were treated to a presentation of different animals at Zooniversity day. Among the animals they saw were lizards and spiders. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Summer Fun

SUMMER FUN — Children listen to the Zooniversity presentation Wednesday at the Decatur Public Library. The next event for the library’s summer reading program is Professor Brainius, July 8 at 10:30 a.m. and noon. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

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Program needs community’s help http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/columns/program-needs-communitys-help/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/columns/program-needs-communitys-help/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:25:15 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92721 Summer brings back many childhood memories for me.

Baseball games.

Vacations.

Snow cones.

Swimming.

But I also remember participating in something a little more charitable: delivering meals to seniors in my community.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

Actually, it was my grandmother who was delivering them, and I went along occasionally to help. We’d stop by the senior citizens center there in my hometown of Itasca. Inside, the kitchen would be buzzing with activity.

The meals would be packaged in containers and loaded into the car. We’d then deliver those meals to homes around town.

Those memories surfaced when I received an email last week from the new executive director of Wise County Committee on Aging, Craig Maroney. WCCA operates the Wise County Meals on Wheels program.

While my small hometown only required a handful of volunteers to keep the program running, Maroney’s task is a bit more challenging: serving the hunger needs of seniors around the county.

It’s not a small task.

WCCA currently operates with five volunteers and two staff members who deliver approximately 71 meals per day through four routes. Not all volunteers are available every day, meaning delivery time can sometimes take three to four hours to complete, the maximum time allowed under their federally funded nutrition program.

His goal is to find eight volunteer drivers who can deliver daily Monday through Friday on the following routes:

  • One volunteer for Boyd (10 homes)
  • Two volunteers for Bridgeport (16 homes)
  • Two volunteers for Decatur (19 homes)
  • One volunteer for Chico and surrounding area (10 homes)
  • One volunteer for Paradise and surrounding area (6 homes)
  • One volunteer for Newark/Rhome and surrounding area (9 homes)

If they can achieve their goal of eight volunteers daily, Maroney calculates that the meals can be delivered within one-and-a-half hours and relieve the paid staff to focus on other program goals such as congregate meals, senior benefits seminars, community outreach and awareness and fundraising.

But perhaps even more importantly, the extra volunteers can deliver something equally beneficial to local seniors: extra time to check on their well-being.

I can remember the smile on the faces of so many of those seniors in my hometown when we’d deliver the meals.

For many, we might be the only human contact they would have the entire day.

If you’ve got the time to serve, and the desire to bring a smile to the face of local seniors, WCCA would appreciate the help.

Volunteers must be licensed, insured, pass a background check and be at least 18 years old. Training and orientation is provided.

Call 940-627-5329.

Brian Knox is the Messenger’s special projects manager.

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Remember how it all began, happy Fourth http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/columns/remember-how-it-all-began-happy-fourth/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/columns/remember-how-it-all-began-happy-fourth/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:24:21 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=92719 Two hundred and thirty-nine years ago, the 13 American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and the United States of America was born.

We all know this story pretty well.

After signing the Declaration of Independence, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail:

Travis Lisle

Travis Lisle

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.

“It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Yes, Adams was off by a couple days, but it’s amazing how some of the things Adams wrote about have carried over to our celebrations today.

Parades, shows, games, sports, guns (I guess), bonfires and illuminations are all still big players in how we get our party on every Fourth of July.

I also find it interesting to see that manifest destiny was already on Adams’ mind, despite the fact that the American colonies still had about 2,600 miles to cover before reaching the Pacific Ocean.

When he says, “from one end of the continent to the other,” it’s a pretty sharp prediction.

The author of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, and Adams were the only two men who signed the document and were also elected to the presidency.

Both men died on July 4, 1826. Jefferson was 82, and Adams was 90.

Although Adams’ last words were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” Jefferson had actually died five hours before Adams.

The two had an interesting relationship that began as a friendship in the revolutionary days.

As time and politics got involved, things became tumultuous.

The two were caught in an argument as old as the United States.

Adams wanted a strong central government to rule the land, while Jefferson was in favor of states governing themselves for the most part.

Prior to the presidential election of 1800, the two attacked each other through print constantly.

It wasn’t until Adams reached out to Jefferson in a letter sent on New Year’s Day of 1812 that the two reconciled their friendship that continued for 14 years until they both died on the same day.

Adams’ son, John Quincy Adams, was president at the time of their deaths.

I always find the story of Adams and Jefferson’s friendship to be one of the great tales in our nation.

I hope everyone enjoys their fair share of parades, shows, games, sports, bells, bonfires and illuminations this weekend.

Stay safe out there and enjoy each other’s company.

Travis Lisle is a Messenger reporter.

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