Seventeen students from Sulphur Springs High School qualified for the State Academic UIL Meet with their strong finishes last weekend at the Class 4A, Region II meet.
SSHS took 22 students to the regional academic UIL contest and came home with 11 individual medals, had two teams recognized and came in second overall for the regional sweepstakes title. The 17 students who earned the right to compete at the state meet in Austin May 20-22, did it either individually or as part of a high scoring team.
In accounting, Jarred Cowley placed first, Justin Mathews placed second and Evan Meek placed third at the regional contest. The team, which also includes Devin Mitchell and Abby Tipps, placed first. They are advancing to state.
The spelling and vocabulary team which includes Jackie Tovar Yanez, Ivon Gonzales, Rachel Mattison and Ashley Clegg won top honors at region and is advancing to state. Individually, Tovar Yanez won first place honors, Gonzalez third place honors and Rachel Mattison was recognized for finishing sixth.
Carrolin Rodgers placed second and Maddie Millsap placed fourth in literary criticism. The team, which also includes Jessica Boyd, McKenzie Hohenberger and Will Horton, placed second. Ordinarily, second place teams do not advance to state. However, this group will; their team score was high enough to earn the wild card spot.
In computer science, Shawn Tucker won second place honors and Karl Sehnert was recognized for placing fifth. Tucker scored high enough to advance to state.
Rounding out the regional winners was Ariel Gonzalez. She won first place and is advancing to state.
The success at region reflects a lot of hard work on the part of both staff and students and shows their determination. This year, redistricting placed SSHS in a new competitive district, pitting them against Hallsville and Pine Tree — two powerhouse schools academically.
The 14-4A District Academic UIL meet March 22-23 concluded with Hallsville High cleaning up with a whopping 565 points overall. Pine Tree was second with 358.5 points and Sulphur Springs third with 278 points. Texas High came in a distant fourth with 172 points. Mount Pleasant High trailed in fifth with 55 points and Marshall High sixth with 44 points.
For SSHS, which is accustomed to either capturing or narrowly missing the district title, that was a big upset, but not an insurmountable one. The last time SSHS lost a district sweepstakes title in academic UIL was in 2010; Hallsville took the title that year, too, and Pine Tree finished third.
“It was a tough, tough battle. We knew going in what we were up against. I don’t know if we really knew how tough Hallsville is. Pine Tree and Hallsville are both forces to be reckoned with. Hallsville just knocked it out of the ballpark. We know we have to revamp our UIL program. I’m proud of our sponsors and students,” SSHS UIL Coordinator Gina Wilder told school trustees earlier this month. “Of the 10 wild card teams [advancing to region], seven were from our district [14-4A], of them, four were Hallsville. They had four of the strongest second place teams to advance. We want the name of our school to be one people fear in UIL. We don’t want you to think if we didn’t have as many place the sponsors didn’t do their job. Kids are pushing very, very hard.”
“I’m a competitive person. I’d like to note we did leave Hallsville home with One Act Play. I knew we were changing districts, knew it includes Hallsville and Pine Tree. Our kids are just as good. We have to do a game plan. We have 22 kids going to region and OAP to area. The more kids can advance, the greater our chances are to win our kids scholarships,” said Judy Tipping, SSISD director of support services, who also used to be SSHS principal.
And, if this weekend’s results are anything to go by, the students and staff have already dug in and are rebounding.
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