Spring was best ever for Lipan sports program

Long known for basketball success, the 2012-13 sports year for Lipan was highlighted by its spring success.

There was no sport in the spring in which the Indians and Lady Indians did not have a team or person in post-district competition.

Highlighting the spring was the track team, which sent a record four athletes to the Class A Division II State Meet. In its history prior to the this year, the program had sent only three athletes to state track.

But this season, Three Lady Indians and one Indian advanced to Austin, Lanie Roberts (800-meter run), Catherine Thormann (1600), Shelby Bontke (300 hurdles) and Jorge Hernandez (long jump). Hernandez led all qualifiers with a sixth-place finish.

Sure, it helped that for the first time, the University Interscholastic League split Class A into Division I and Division II as it has done in basketball for a long time. However, didn’t just improve with the change, they thrived on it.

“I’m just really proud of all of our athletes,” said Lipan track coach Ray Michou. “We have great kids here at Lipan, and they deserve the success they have enjoyed.

“I am grateful to have worked with (coaches) Amber Branson, Cody Chandler and Sara Massey. Their talentes have contributed greatly to the kids’ success.”

“It’s great to work in a place like Lipan.”

Making it even more exciting, the three girls were freshmen and Hernandez was a junior.

Branson coaches the Lady Indians in basketball, leading them to back-to-back state tournament appearances in 2011 and 2012. They also had the No. 1 ranking in Class A Division II for most of this past season before losing in the third round of the playoffs.

Chandler coaches the Indians, and like Branson, several of his athletes also participated in the spring sports and fed off the longstanding basketball tradition of success.

But never before has that success led to what the school enjoyed this spring.

The boys and girls golf teams each qualified for regionals, —- advanced to regional tennis, and baseball returned to the postseason for the first time since 2006 – and only the second time in 18 years.

Principal Mike Permenter took over as coach a few games into the season and inherited arguably the best baseball team in Lipan history.

The Indians finished 10-7 overall and were 9-5 in District 10-A.

In bidistrict they drew a tough Chico team, the runners-up in 9-A. And while they lost the series in three games, they registered the first postseason victory in Lipan history.

Permenter, who served in an interim basis, said he is not likely to return as baseball coach next season. But he called his time at the helm memorable, as he said the entire spring has been for his school.

“I am very proud of all of our athletes who competed this spring,” he said. “We are blessed, even though it is small, to have a great coaching staff who works well together.

“Many of our athletes double, or even triple up sports in the spring, which makes sharing coaches and athletes very important to find the time for all to have the success we had this spring.”

In addition to the sports success, Lipan was represented by — at the University Interscholastic League State Academic Meet.

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