Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Lancaster track dynasty shows no signs of slippage
With one event remaining in the University Interscholastic League’s Class 4A track and field meet Friday night, the Lancaster girls trailed Beaumont Ozen by one point. Ozen didn’t have an entrant in the 4x400 relay, so Lancaster needed to finish in the top six to win the team title.
With the speed Lancaster had on the track, the Tigers only needed to keep a firm grip on the baton. And everyone knew that was going to happen.
In Lancaster’s version of the Super Bowl, it was not going to fumble.
The Lancaster boys and girls swept the 4A team titles, adding another chapter to their story of track success. DeSoto also had a thrilling weekend with a sweep of the 5A titles, as the girls won their second straight title and the boys won their first. With lots of young talent, DeSoto could be a budding dynasty.
Lancaster, of course, is already a track dynasty. It has been since the girls started a streak of eight straight titles back in 2001. Since that year, the Lancaster girls and boys teams have won 16 of the 24 titles in 4A, making the school the most enduring track and field powerhouse in state history.
Lancaster’s string of success rivals that of any school in any sport. But other schools have built sports dynasties in recent years.
The Ursuline girls soccer team has won 22 consecutive private-school titles, and that longevity is incredible. Highland Park has had long runs in girls swimming (11 of the last 12 4A titles), boys golf (nine of 11 state titles from 2000 to 2010) and team tennis (eight of the last nine state titles).
Southlake Carroll’s football run from 2002 to ’06 is still mind-boggling. The Dragons went 79-1 during that stretch, played in five straight 5A title games and won four championships. Just winning one football title, as Carroll did again last season, takes talent, hard work and a lucky break or two. Only Austin Lake Travis, which won its fifth straight 4A football title in December, has had such a run among the big schools.
The building blocks for those dynasties are talented, motivated athletes, supportive communities and good coaching. Lancaster has all of that, along with an environment that values track more than any other sport.
At Lancaster, track is No. 1 — yes, even above football.
After all, the football/track stadium is named after Beverly Humphrey, the Lancaster school district athletic director who has coached the girls track team for 24 years. Greg Williams just finished his 15th season as the coach of the boys team, giving Lancaster rare, and extremely important, coaching continuity.
Dozens of athletes have won individual state titles during the long run of success. The girls have had stars such as sprinter Teegan Hill and hurdlers Ashley Starks and Tenaya Hill. Jerrika Chapple, who won four straight state titles in the 400, later was an All-American at Texas. Boys stars have included hurdler Tyler Stephenson, middle-distance runner Howard Shepard and sprinter Rodney Mims.
But the dynasty has been built on depth, with athletes who filled out relay teams to win big points at state meets. Track is mostly a sport of individuals, but one or two stars usually can’t win a state title.
At Lancaster, the star is the team.
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