Thorndale girls: Class of '09 was one of dogged determination
I started covering Thorndale Lady Dog sports about five years ago. That year was exciting, but hopes were high for the next year when the incoming freshmen class would join THS athletics.
From cross country to volleyball to basketball to softball and track, Thorndale girls athletic director Bradley Dickerson knew he had a special group of young ladies coming into the high school program.
For the last four years I have watched this group of young ladies take the Lady Dogs athletic program to new levels and sparking attention across the Lone Star State.
It has been a pleasure to watch the girls evolve into better players and even better people.
Their athletic skills and the fact that they wear their heart and love of the games on their shoulders make it so exciting for reporters like me to watch them play.
For the past four years, the Thorndale girls cross country team has gone to the state meet. The precedent was set before they entered high school but Morgan Youngblood, Lindsey Youngblood, Kalyn Brymer and Olivia Unnasch have kept the program as one of the top in state. They finished as high as fifth at the state meet.
Atkins has signed to play at Texas A&M Commerce and will be a great addition to their squad. Coach Julie Downs will have big shoes to fill.
No other group has done more in the Lady Dog basketball program as this group of seniors.
The Youngblood twins, Atkins, Angel Bigan, Courtney Glenn, and Samantha Vasquez have set all sorts of school records and helped lead their team to the first girls state basketball tournament appearance in school history.
They have brought home four district titles, and reached the regional tournament and region finals three years straight, that's not including a handful of all-state honors.
Morgan and Lindsey Youngblood aren't done with their hoop careers yet. I'm sure I will not be the only one catching some Angelo State basketball games when they come to the area. These girls should have prominent college careers in West Texas.
The diamond darlings of this senior class have seen the softball program from getting its first postseason win in program history to going as far as the regional finals in their four years at THS.
Pitcher Bigan and catcher Vasquez have been the dynamic duo for Thorndale, while fellow seniors Rainey Simank and Lauren Hairston were also crucial to the Lady Dogs success. Bigan will go out of state to continue her career at Sterling College in Kansas.
On Friday, Jaynellen Stokes and Morgan Youngblood will make return trips to the state track meet and will be joined by fellow senior Kali Pachl and other underclassmen.
Stokes has set the bar high for girls pole vault at Thorndale, being the first ever in that event to reach the state meet from THS.
Youngblood reached the state meet three of her four years and Pachl will make her first trip to the state. They are sure to compete well, as they always have.
The group was also huge in helping the Lady Dogs capture the school's first ever girls regional track championship last month.
I'm sure I forgot to mention a Lady Dog name or two, but know that you are all a special group of young ladies.
This group not only got it done on the court but in the classroom too. There are eight Lady Dog athletes who are honor graduates this year. That includes the salutatorian, Lindsey Youngblood.
There are a couple of girls that hold a closer spot in my heart that the others, but all have been so much fun to watch.
Good Luck Class of 2009 in all your future virtues and know that your impact on Lady Dog athletics has been noted. Friday will be a sad day for us all but hopes are undoubtedly bright in each of your futures.