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Chase Turley: Tennis – Center College
CHASE TURLEY TAKEN ON THE GREATEST CHALLENGE OF HIS TENNIS CAREER LAST SPRING.
No, it wasn’t the fact that he was chasing another TAPPS Tennis Doubles State Championship. It was the fact that he was indeed doing this, but with a brand new and younger doubles partner.
“I felt like a leader,” Turley said. “I would tell him what to do and what not to do at certain times. He stuck with it. He learned from his mistakes. We worked well with that.
In the end, Turley and Michael Barton defeated the Saint Mary’s Hall-San Antonio duo in straight sets (6-2, 6-2) to win the TAPPS 5A Boys Doubles State Championship in May.
“The work and dedication that we put into it, a lot of people don’t see it,” Turley said. “It was a great feeling to have finished and end my senior year with a first place medal.”
Turley is signed to continue his playing career at Center College in Kentucky.
“I love the guys there,” he said. “Centre is a big city. Lots of great people. I love the coach, I love the atmosphere.
As for his legacy, leaving LSA as the state champion in back-to-back boys’ doubles, Turley wants to be remembered for his “dedication to tennis.”
“It’s not just school. A lot of people don’t see tennis as a difficult sport, but it is,” he said.
Ayana Mallard-Smith: Athletics – Sam Houston
WHILE WALKING THROUGH THE CORRIDOR, THE SOUND OF METAL ON METAL CAN BE HEARD. IT COMES FROM THE PLETHOR OF MEDALS THAT DANGLE AROUND AYANA MALLARD-SMITH’S NECK.
The decorated LSA elder heirloom is cast in gold, silver and bronze.
“I saw myself growing up just because my time kept going down,” Smith said of improving from his freshman year to senior year. “I just felt confident in what I was doing.”
In her freshman year, Smith went to State in the long jump (6th – 15ft 10.5in), 200 meters (2nd – 26.18) and 100 meters (2nd – 12.45). In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, the season was canceled after March.
Returning in 2021, her junior year, Smith returned to the state and won gold in the 100 meters (12.82) and long jump (18ft 10in), and won silver in the 200 meters (26.25) .
As a senior this year, she returned to the state and capped her career as the back-to-back state champion in the 100 meters (11.75).
“It was something that I felt really capable of doing because I knew I had it in me,” Smith said of the back-to-back wins. “But if you had told me that in first year, I wouldn’t have thought I would go this far.”
Despite her decorated career at the oval, the Sam Houston signee hopes people will remember her for more than her legacy on the track at LSA.
“Off the track, I hope they remember me for who I am besides being an athlete,” she said. “What I showed at school and in the hallways. On the track, my dedication. See how much everything means to me and how serious I am about it.
Joel Hutchins: Athletics – Stephen F. Austin
CHOOSE A SEASON, THEN FIND A COURT OR TRACK AND YOU’LL MOST LIKELY FIND JOEL HUTCHINS.
The Lutheran South Academy eldest was an all-state catcher for the Pioneers in the fall, tried his hand at football in the winter and finished as a state champion in the spring.
“Every day I come in, I see the people I love,” Hutchins said. “Just hanging out. Go out to train with good coaches and have fun.
Last season, Hutchins led the Pioneers football team in receiving with 1,311 yards and 20 touchdowns on 78 receptions. Hutchins finished his high school career with 3,180 yards and 46 touchdowns on 174 receptions, averaging 18.3 yards per catch and 90.9 yards per game.
After football and soccer were over, Hutchins turned to the hardtop.
Hutchins won gold in the 100 meters (10.67), won bronze in the 200 meters (22.71) and was part of the bronze medal team in the 4×100 meters relay. In the end, the LSA Boys Athletics finished with 103 points, good enough for the TAPPS 5A State Championship.
“It was a lot of fun. I knew at the start of the season that we had a lot of talent,” Hutchins said. “I didn’t think we had a chance to do it, but we got together, we had fun and we did.”
Hutchins has signed on to race at SFA at the next level, which is a “dream come true,” and hopes his legacy at LSA is for people to chase and break his school records.
“Since I’ve broken a lot of records, I think I’m just something for them,” Hutchins said. “Maybe he beat me. Someone to look up to.