| By Mary P. Walker

Lady Eagles track and field team makes school history

Bryan’s St. Joseph Catholic High School Lady Eagle track and field team earned state championship honors in the Texas Associate of Private and Parochial School (TAPPS) 2A competition on May 6 in Hewitt. Although the school has produced many sports teams that have entered post-season play, this is the first team in the school’s history to win a state title.

Head coach Taylor Schroll said 10 girls qualifying for the state meet in 15 events was quite an accomplishment. Postseason elimination meets were held at the district and regional levels, with only the top four finishers in each event progressing. To become state champs, the Lady Eagles had to beat 22 teams from all over Texas who had also been seasoned by such competition.

“This group of 10 girls knew a state championship was on the line. They all worked hard at every practice, overcame adversity, and did whatever it took to put our team in the best position to win,” Coach Schroll said. 

He cited the exceptional leadership of seniors Clare Najvar and Claire Boyle throughout the season. Najvar has been on the team for four years, and accumulated the most points of any female athlete in 2A competition at the state meet. She earned gold medals in the long jump, 100 meter dash, and 4x100-meter relay. In addition, she won a silver medal for the 200 meter dash and a bronze medal for the high jump. As a result, she was named 2023 Athlete of the Meet. 

“This is exciting and important to me. I love track very much,” Najvar said. She was also quick to praise her teammates. “The team has great chemistry. We had a lot of fun together and were willing to put in the work.” 

Also on the team for four years, Boyle expressed the team’s appreciation for their coaches.

“The coaches are easy to talk to. They are good at giving us positive feedback and telling us what we need to do to improve,” she said.

Boyle received silver medals in the 800 meter and the 4x400-meter relay. This relay was perhaps the most exciting event at the meet. The Lady Eagles had to get at least third place in the relay to accumulate enough points to be state champions. Boyle, and sisters Robin and Anna Eubanks, ran the first three legs. Going into the final leg, the relay team was in fourth place. Anchor Leah Hurley, in a heroic effort, passed two runners near the end of the race, putting them in second place and securing the state championship for St. Joseph High School.

News of the victory quickly spread throughout the school community. Father Brian Eilers, pastor of St. Joseph, echoed the parish’s pride in the team. 

“I believe that excellence in one area of life, such as sports, leads to excellence in the other areas, like mind and spirit. These athletes not only excel in sports, but also in the classroom and in faith. They are growing as disciples of Jesus Christ, which is our primary purpose,” Father Eilers said.

Mary P. Walker has written for the Catholic Spirit for more than 20 years. She and her husband are parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in College Station.