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Marble Falls claims several district titles to highlight a tremendous year in sports

CAPTION: The 2022-23 Marble Falls High School girls basketball team is one of several Marble Falls sports teams to win district championships and advance to the playoffs during the 2022-23 school year. The Lady Mustangs, like the Marble Falls High School boys soccer team, were the favorites to win the district crowns and did it. File photo

The 2022-23 school year is in the books and much of the athletics portion is written in purple and gold.

That’s because the Mustangs and Lady Mustangs assembled a sports year not witnessed in almost two decades thanks to winning district titles in boys cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys soccer and baseball. Add in runner-up district finishes in girls soccer and boys golf and advancement to the playoffs in all of these sports, and it’s no wonder administrators and coaches are pleased with the efforts of their athletes.

Freshman Cooper Womack won the boys singles district championship. Graduate Madison Debarard won the girls golf district title. Sophomore Kylie Roberts won the district and the area championships in the discus.

No team had a better finish than boys golf. In addition to taking second at the District 24-4A tournament, the Mustangs took silver at the Class 4A Region III tournament and finished 10th at the Class 4A state tournament.

And that was in the UIL sanctioned sports.

In powerlifting, the Mustangs were incredible. They won the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters state title in late April where they set numerous records and earned the right to advance to the world championship later this year. A month earlier, head coach Richard Scales and former head coach Robert Draper took the Mustangs to the Class 4A Division II state meet of the Texas High School Powerlifting Association where rising senior Xavier Lopez finished second in his weight class.

“With the talent we had and coaches we have, I’m not surprised at the success we’ve had this year,” said Dr. Jeff Gasaway, Marble Falls Independent School District superintendent. “Our community has gotten behind the Mustangs and gotten excited when we’ve put a good quality product on the field.”

Assistant athletic director John Berkman points to one prevailing reason why Marble Falls was able to do so well.

“One thing we struggled with my first year several years in this position was keeping head coaches in place,” he said. “We now have a lot of stability.”

Each of the head coaches has been on staff for least four years, including girls soccer head coach Abigail Blunt.

“I’ve been here seven years,” Berkman said. “We’ve had three different girls soccer coaches, three in volleyball and three in baseball. It’s hard for kids to settle in and commit to a program where they don’t know if a coach is settling in.”

No one has settled in more than boys soccer head coach Rick Hoover, who completed his 10th year at the helm and guided the Mustangs to a district championship and the Class 4A regional quarterfinals where they lost to Boerne High, the two-time defending state champion.

“There’s consistency at the top,” the director said. “Consistency goes a long ways. Longevity builds trust. They’ll come in and be excited to show they are passionate about this place.”

Berkman believes Marble Falls will get similar results in other sports, too. He noted the softball team, under the guidance of head coach Alex Lozoya, who just completed his first year with the Lady Mustangs, made positive strides. Some players who left the program returned, while others who never played the sport picked it up for the first time in 2023.

“He had more kids out playing this year than last year,” Berkman said. “He was committed to them and told those kids we’re going to have fun and we’ll get better. Coaches are setting up the kids for success. They’re committing to a lot of things that have shown up this year. Our kids figured it out this year.”

One reason for the department’s success may be because the University Interscholastic League realigned Marble Falls to Class 4A instead of Class 5A. For years, the non-football sports district was 25-5A that included both Georgetown schools, four Leander Schools and Liberty Hill. It wasn’t unusual to see at least one team from District 25-5A reach the Class 5A Region IV tournament and advance to the state tournament, no matter the sport.

In Berkman’s sport, which is girls basketball, it might have been worse. Typically two district members reached the regional tournament and played each other for the right to go to state. Cedar Park captured the state championship in 2020-21 and 2021-22. The Georgetown High School baseball team won the state title in 2022.

“District 25-5A was a super district across the board,” he said. “It won multiple state championships and not just in sports. It also won in fine arts and academics. We can compete in every sport. We can compete at a high level. Now it’s a little more leveled out. We’re hoping these years will be our best years.”

Gasaway said he has witnessed Marble Falls athletes of the past show their commitment and dedication to their sports. And they may not have had the results this year’s teams have enjoyed.

“Our kids have been extremely talented,” he said. “One of the challenges we faced is we’ve been one of the smallest schools. We’ve faced powerhouse (programs) that have almost doubled us in enrollment. We have talented kids and hard working coaches and for years have been competitive.”

As happy as he was watching the Mustangs’ and Lady Mustangs on the playing field, he was thrilled to see scoreboards show positive results, too.

Berkman acknowledged there’s been some turnover on the coaching staff and added those who’ve left have gone on to positions that have been right for them. And the new hires have been on point in teaching the department’s standards.

“They’re finding better opportunities because of the success,” he said. “I would say it speaks highly. Those who stay are bringing their best, so our kids will bring their best. They are on track.”

Like Gasaway, Berkman has attended numerous ball games in different sports and has enthusiastically applauded the triumphs on the gridiron, on the court, on the diamond, and on the links, And he believes the results of the spring paved the way to terrific results in the fall.

“It’s laid out the challenge,” he said. “We’re not a one-sport program. We are looking for all our programs to be successful.”

Gasaway said he hopes that MFISD students will attend ball games and support the teams.

“My hope would be it brings out their classmates,” he said. “It would get more kids involved in sports or makes it a destination to go to. I want them to choose to go to Mustang events and support their classmates. We’re going to have some up and down years. We’ll build some traditions of excellence.”

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