Six district championships, three appearances in state title contests, and one sport still playing – it’s been another phenomenal athletic school year at Kilgore High School, and included yet another appearance at the state tennis tournament this week.
Kilgore seniors Tyrese Sheffield and Ian St. Clair finished their high school careers in style on Friday morning, playing in the UIL state tennis tournament’s Class 4A boys doubles championship at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the campus of Texas A&M University, in College Station.
It didn’t end with a title, as they would’ve liked – Abilene Wylie’s Nikhil Kalla and Davyn Williford did that, dealing Sheffield and St. Clair a 6-4, 6-0 defeat late Friday morning.
But Kilgore’s team still comes home with medals, and the KHS tennis program once again proved it’s one of the best in the state. Coaches Jason Maroney and Rhonda Fletcher have guided Bulldogs to the state tournament in four of the last five seasons.
Several times, it’s been in doubles play. Autria Compton reached state in 2013 as a single, along with doubles players Sabinra Barnfield and Grace Whitfield. Compton finished third, and the girls doubles team finished second.
Compton returned to the state tournament a year later, this time with Barnfield as her partner, and they finished third. Sanjit Lanka and Takashi Thomas went to the state tournament and reached the finals in back to back years (2014 and 2015), finishing second both times, and now, St. Clair and Sheffield also bring home a medal.
Strangely, it’s been Abilene Wylie that’s been victorious each time over Kilgore. But there is apparently no shame in losing to Wylie: in addition to claiming the boys doubles title, Wylie also had entrants this week in the state tournament in girls singles, girls doubles and mixed doubles.
Sheffield and St. Clair gave a good showing. They won twice on Thursday to get to Friday’s final – they defeated Bellville’s Mason Stox and Hunter Morris, 6-2, 6-4, Thursday morning, then beat Andrew Randig and Jacob Mindulencak of Taylor, 6-4, 6-4.
The team didn’t pair up until late in the school year, but got on quite a roll, winning district and regional championships along the way.
It adds even more depth to Kilgore’s fantastic athletic school year: six district titles, including tennis in spring; boys cross-country (four straight years); football (in back-to-back years); both soccer teams, boys and girls; and then baseball, and at press time for this issue of the News Herald, baseball was preparing for a playoff game against Gilmer.
Of course, the boys soccer team won the 4A state title, and the boys 4A 800 relay team of Patrick Jackson, Jonathan Shepherd, Terrell Shelton, and Melek Hamilton (and also alternates Cameron Jackson and Omar Sanders) won state gold just last weekend.