VAN WADE: Well-earned State trips for local athletes highlight exciting stretch

Published 12:18 am Wednesday, May 4, 2022

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There will be quite the Orange County vibe in the Greater Austin area in the next couple weeks.

That’s for sure after two Orange County tracksters punched their tickets to compete in the University Interscholastic League State Track & Field Championships that will be held May 12-14 at the University of Texas.

Congrats go out to Bridge City senior Caryss Carpenter and Orangefield senior Hunter Ashworth for qualifying for the glamorous meet after great showings at Regionals over the weekend.

Carpenter soared 5 feet, 6 inches to win the girls high jump Saturday and came back and blazed the track in the 100-meter hurdles, winning the race in 15.06 seconds.

Meanwhile, Ashworth notched a second-place finish in the boys shot put, heaving the heavy ball 50 feet, 5 inches.

What makes it so special is I have had the opportunity to watch those two kids grow off and on the courts and fields in their respective sports.

Carpenter was part of two straight District 22-4A volleyball championship teams, while Ashworth was a key cog in helping the Bobcats football team to three playoff appearances.

It would be awesome to see them both come back from Austin with medals, but they are champions in their own right already, as Carpenter will take her track talents to Sam Houston State University in the fall and Ashworth will head to Mary Hardin Baylor to pursue more football action.

  • Little Cypress-Mauriceville’s Montana Dileo, after winning the 4A Region III girls golf tournament, will head to Kingsland Course, which is near Austin, to compete in the Class 4A Girls State Golf Tournament May 9-10. This is certainly not Montana’s first “rodeo,” as she will be making her third state appearance.
  • The Orangefield dynamic golf brother tandem of Xander Parks and Lincoln Parks qualified for the Boys Class 4A State Golf Tournament after playing superbly at the Class 4A Region III Championships.

Xander Parks notched a second-place overall finish with a 150 (77-73) and fired the best round of the tournament on Day Two. He finished just two strokes behind champion Chandler Cooke of Lake Belton, who had a 148 (74-74).

Lincoln Parks finished in a tie for fifth after a 163 (86-77) as he had an excellent Day Two as well.

The relationship between those two is so top-notch. They push each other hard but root for each other all the way, too.

The Parks will tee it up at the Kingsland Course May 16-17 as they look to be in the medal chase.

  • It will be a busy end of the week for our local diamond teams as they look to take their respective best-of-three series.

The Bridge City Lady Cardinals look to advance past Wharton in the area round of the softball playoffs.

In baseball, the 22-4A champion Orangefield Bobcats will battle Liberty to open up their playoff run.

Meanwhile, the Bridge City Cardinals will play host to the Huffman Falcons for their entire bidistrict series as the Cardinals got lucky in determining the site. I never consider the Cardinals lucky though, after all, it will be the 21st straight year the Redbirds have made the postseason.

The visiting Falcons will be entering a “loud” Chuck Young Field, too, and they better be prepared for that “rowdy” Cardinals cheering section that stands up in the corner of the football stadium and yells for the Cardinals. They are not afraid to pick on opposing teams and their fans. But it is all with fun spirit, nothing harsh.

Van Wade is the sports editor for the Orange Leader. He can be reached at