The SPC Journey

Sam Chambers
St. John's Mavericks held nothing back in their journey to Dallas for the 2014 Spring SPC Championships.
The bus hydraulics hissed.  The door sealed shut, and another season of St. John’s Maverick athletics was in the books.  Rolling back to H-Town, the Mavericks were traveling light without any SPC Spring Championship hardware for the first time since 2007.  St. John’s loaded up with second place trophies in Girls’ Lacrosse, Boys’ Track and Field, and Girls’ Golf.  Softball and Girls’ Track and Field finished 3rd, Boys’ Tennis 4th, Boys’ Lacrosse 5th, Girls’ Tennis 8th, Baseball 8th, and Boys’ Golf 11th.
 
Last spring Girls’ Lacrosse, Softball and Girls’ Track & Field, all won championships on SPC Saturday.  While this season lacked a title, Maverick hearts came up strong once more in Dallas. The purpose, preparation, and pride in 2014 was the same as years past. After Baseball defeated Kinkaid 7-1 in the last regular season game, all teams made the cut for D1.  St. John’s had two first seeds (Softball, Girls’ Lacrosse) and high hopes for top performances all around.  Star M signage, banners, tents, t-shirts, cowbells, coolers full of fuel, and proud Maverick fans were widespread at venues along Midway Road, Forest Lane, and Preston Road
 
Softball won their first round game 10-0 over Casady, and dropped the semi-final to Houston Christian 17-4.  The Mavericks were pitted in the third place game against Kinkaid, a team which run-ruled them in their last regular season game.  After the Falcons took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, St. John’s broke out the bats in the bottom of the 6th with a three-run barrage good enough for the win.
 
“I told the team not to wait until the last inning, but to get it done in the 6th,” said Head Coach Dan Mushalik.  “It was a great way for our seniors to finish.”
 
“I’m really happy we got to have a comeback, and make D1,” said Captain Sarah Gow ’14.  “It was a great season.”
 
After going 1-1 in their first two rounds, Boys’ Tennis competed for third place against St. Andrew’s.  SPC tennis rules have no restrictions on the order of team line-ups.  St. John’s mixed their singles and doubles line ups, only to fall short 3-2 and finish fourth.   Preston Ray ’14, usually a doubles player, gutted out a 7-5,7-5 win in the #2 singles spot in the team loss.
 
“We played the percentages of getting a good match up against our line up,” said Head Coach Steve Gleaves.  “Our guys battled to give us a chance to win.”
 
Girls’ Lacrosse found themselves in an unfamiliar spot trailing early in the second half 7-3 to the Hockaday Daisies.  Looking for their fourth consecutive SPC title, the Mavericks jumped out to a 2-1 lead on goals by Eden Epner ’14 and Lindsey McKone ’16.  Hockaday tied it and went up 5-2 before McKone got her second goal of the game.  The Daisies answered with 2:55 on the clock and took a three-goal lead into the break.
 
After Hockaday made it 7-3 with 18:17 to go, St. John’s found a way to get back in it. 
Nell Copeland ’15 scored with 15:44 to go followed by back to back goals from Elizabeth Cregan’15 (assisted by Kara Wollmers ’16, and Epner).  Kate Copeland ’17 made it 7-7 before Hockaday retook the lead with six minutes to go.  On the next possession Winnie Brandfield-Harvey ’16 made a point-blank save only to have Hockaday get the rebound and take a 9-7 lead with 2:37 to go.  Alice Chambers ’16 answered a minute later to cut the lead to 9-8.  With 55 seconds to go, St. John’s won the draw, caused a turn over on a ride, cleared it back to the offensive side of the field, hit pipe on a shot, and picked up multiple ground balls including a loose ball on the crease. It still wasn’t enough to beat the clock and Hockaday, a team the Mavericks might see next weekend at the state playoffs.
 
“I am proud of the girls for fighting to the end,” said Head Coach Angie Kensinger.
 
“We worked on playing our individual roles within the team,” said Cregan.  “We are strong as our weakest player, and we work hard on helping everyone play their best.”
 
Boys’ Track and Field finished second place and earned an SPC runner up trophy for the first time since 1987.  The Mavericks were led by Lee Hampton ’15, who was 2nd in the long jump, 2nd in the triple jump, 3rd in the 200m, and first in the 100m!  Lee also set a new school record of 44'9.25".  Akshay Jaggi ’15 and Joe Faraguna ’16 both placed in the 3200 and 1600, with Jaggi all-SPC in the 3200m.  William Mercado ’14 finished all SPC in a 3rd place tie in the high jump, and Hunter Hasley ’16 placed 4th with a season best in the discus throw.  Unfortunately, Risher Randall ’14 went down with an ankle injury after putting the team in the 4x100 finals, but Toby Emiola ’16 came on and the team placed fifth.  The 4x800 also ran well.  
 
On the girls side, St. John’s had a very good meet, but suffered some disappointments. Jenny Melcher ’15 fell in the 400 meters but came back big as the 4x800 relay team finished second. Peyton Brown ’17 was 3rd in the 3200m and 2nd in the 1600m, Margaret Trautner ’16 ran a great 800m to finished 2nd, Isabelle Paine ’17 was 3rd in both hurdles and 4th in the long jump, Caroline Ankoma-Sey ’16 was 2nd in the 200m and 3rd in the 100m, and the 4x100 placed an important 4th. There were also big highs, summed up in the 2nd place 4x800 relay, and in the valiant team effort in the 4x400 relay.  Ankoma-Sey, Trautner, Melcher, and Paine ran their hearts out knowing they had to be Kindaid by 4 points.  They led the whole race until arguably the best 400/800 runner in the nation came on and caught the Mavericks in the last 30 meters.  The girls finished 3rd overall, put up a great fight, and will be back with a vengeance next year!
 
Event though Girls’ Tennis and Baseball could not find a team win on the weekend, they managed to make it to the D1 bracket with outstanding play in the regular season.   Girls’ Tennis won 26 matches in SPC play for a solid S3 seed.  Baseball defeated Kinkaid 7-1 in a must-win regular season finale.
 
“It was a great team win and our boys played hard,” said Head Coach T Riley, in reference to the D1 clincher over Kinkaid.
 
Hardware or not, St. John’s was the only school besides St. Mark’s to compete in every D1 spring sport.  Our teams found a way to bounce back, pick themselves up, and climb back in the race.  The Mavericks got off the bus in H-Town knowing they left it all in Big D.  The journey was more than a two-day competition and an eight hour bus ride on I45.  2014 SPC Spring Championships commanded confidence, tested character, and created camaraderie to last a lifetime.
 
Sam Chambers- Athletic News with Richie Mercado on Track and Field

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