2023 Pet of the Year Contest

SportzBuzz - November 2023

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John Hajdik

GREAT GOALIE Lamar Texans goalie John Hajdik helped lead the Texans to the UIL District 14 championship. Hajdik was named the MVP of the district tournament with Lamar also winning its second straight district title.

Just one season removed from the adoption of water polo as an official sport by the UIL, the Lamar Texans have emerged as one of the state’s top boys teams. The Texans raised their record to 19-7 after winning the UIL District 14 championship. The Texans victory total included wins over state number three ranked Strake Jesuit as well as the state’s 12th-ranked Pearland Dawson Eagles. For its part, Lamar was ranked 13th in the state at the end of the regular season.

“The guys have great chemistry,” said Texans water polo coach Sally Woolweaver. “Most of our starting lineup competed in Junior Olympics water polo this past summer and it’s really exciting to see how well they’ve come along.”

The Texans were led by the play of goalie John Hajdik, who was named the MVP of the district tournament. “It all goes through our goalie,” said Woolweaver. “He’s just phenomenal. John is great with blocks and feeding the ball and he even leads the district in steals. I really think he’s one of the best goalies in the state.”

On offense, senior Carlos Camarena is the Texans’ top scorer and was named the district’s offensive player of the year. “Carlos plays in the middle and our offense runs through him,” said Woolweaver. “He’s bigger and stronger this year and has been a tremendous player for us.”

Defensively, Texans senior Augie Loredo was a first team all-district selection. “Augie defends the other team’s best post player. He’s really great at locking down opponents and preventing the ball from getting into the post. We also have a pair of sophomores in Carson Banks and Rayce Bagley that have really stepped it up this season,” added Woolweaver.

St. John’s Mavericks

MIGHTY STICKS The St. John’s Mavericks joined several of the nation’s top field hockey teams in rainy Philadelphia for the Max Field Hockey National Invitational. The Mavericks opened the tournament with a victory over national pre-season number one ranked The Hill School of Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

After finishing last season as the nation’s number five ranked team in girls field hockey, the St. John’s Mavericks remain a national powerhouse this season. The Mavericks owned a 10-2 record with a number seven national ranking through the first portion of the season including victories over some of the nation’s premiere field hockey teams.

“We traveled to the Max Field Hockey National Invitational early in the season and beat the Hill School out of Pennsylvania, which was the pre-season number one team in the nation. We have great skills players who work extremely hard and have a special team chemistry,” said Mavericks field hockey coach Rebecca Elliott.

“Our defense is a huge part of our success,” added Elliott. “Senior goalies Juliana Boone and Libby Smith do a really nice job of controlling the backfield and keeping everyone cool, calm, and collected on the playing field.”

The Mavericks are also led by senior captains Kaitlyn Chang, Alexandra Madrid, and Kristina Johnson. “Those are really talented and skilled players who lead by example with their attitude and effort,” said Elliott. 

In addition, a foursome of Mavericks were selected by USA Field Hockey to play in this past summer’s AAU Junior Olympic Games including sophomores Montgomery Ferguson and Josephine VanHoutan as well as freshmen Valentina Baizan and Sofia Ruegg. “It’s a total team effort,” added Elliott. Our girls take great pride on being their very best.”

Lucy Bannerman

HIGH FLYING CARDINALS Bellaire Cardinals outside hitter Lucy Bannerman soars above the net for a block in an early season match. The super sophomore led the team in kills and aces this past season.

In volleyball, the Bellaire Cardinals were well on their way to another undefeated District 20-6A Championship. With its 7-0 start in district play, the Cardinals also raised their district winning streak to 47 straight victories dating back to October of the 2020 season.

This season, second-year head coach Melissa Martin says several players have been major contributors to the Cardinals’ success including senior captain Alexandra Ryans. “Alexandra is our starting setter and runs the court. She leads the team in assists and, as our only senior, the other players look to her for leadership, which she displays through her hustle and hard work.”

In addition, sophomore outside hitter Lucy Bannerman leads Bellaire in kills and aces. “Lucy is quiet but consistent,” said Martin. “She produces big plays at crucial times.” In the middle, junior captain Bentley Sloan is the team leader in blocks and is also second in kills. “Bentley is our vocal leader,” said Martin. “She keeps her teammates in the matches with her positive talk and hustle in the middle position.”

In addition, libero and defensive specialist Christine Dimacali leads the Cardinals in digs. “We look to Christine for both her offensive and defensive leadership,” said Martin. “Her passing and defensive skills are a big part of our success.”

Editor’s note: Todd Freed is the host and executive producer of H-Town High School Sports, which airs Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on CW39 and Monday-Thursday on AT&T SportsNet SW. To submit high school sports news for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please email [email protected].

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