Flipping Great

El Campo junior Alexander Figirova flips a tire during the Lineman Challenge at Spring High School this past summer. The Ricebirds went on to win Spring Lineman Challenge, which featured 5A and 6A schools. Also pictured cheering on Figirova (l-r) senior Albernie North, Carter Hlavinka, Christian Jasso, Tristan Harper, Kerry North and an event official, who seems pretty impressed. The Ricebirds went on to win the state championship later in the summer.  


El Campo didn’t win a UIL state championship, but they did earn a state honor this summer, highlighting an athletic year filled with big moments. 

From Louise powerlifters to El Campo’s standouts in Kate Bubela and Rueben Owens II earning high honors, this area had a lot to be proud of these last 12 months. Below are some of the best stories dating back to last January. 

El Campo linemen steal the show

The El Campo defensive and offensive linemen took the state by storm, winning the state lineman challenge at Hardin-Simmons University in June. 

El Campo dominated 4A schools en route to their DII Championship, which consisted of 4A and below schools and private schools. El Campo’s linemen were so good their times and numbers in different events could have competed for the DI Championship as well. 

“On our schedule, it said 1 p.m. leave with the trophy and that’s it. We were following the schedule,” senior Albernie North said. “We put a 125 percent (effort in) no backing down and no giving up.”

El Campo finished first in the sled relay, the farmers’ walk, the obstacle, the medicine ball throw, the monster sled and dumbbell relay. The Ricebirds also came in first place in the bench press. 

Three El Campo athletes to compete in college

A basketball player, softball player and cheerleader signed their national letter of intents to compete in college this past year. 

Now graduated Reagan Spenrath, who was a first-team all district player for the Ricebirds basketball team, signed to for Mary-Hardin Baylor last season. Now graduated Makenzie Cortez signed to competitively cheer for Ottawa University last January. Ladybird senior Jaleena Macias still has one more season of softball, but next year she’ll play for Houston Victoria, signing in November. 

Louise powerlifters turn heads

The Louise Hornet powerlifting program was the second strongest in Region IV last season. A group of nine Hornets came two points away from besting Holland for the regional championship. 

“I’m beyond proud of my (team),” Louise coach Daniel Gaona II said. “Many of them are multi-sport students and they all squeeze in workouts in an already packed schedule, so to see them be this successful is amazing. We have great kids that work hard.” Freshman Imanoal Mendez, junior Christopher Vasquez and junior Daniel Gaona III all were regional champions in their respective divisions. 

Between the boys and girls, 11 Louise athletes competed at the state meet last season. 

Louise baseball makes history

The Louise Hornets had never made the playoffs as a 2A program, until last season. The Hornets in district finished 6-6 and came in fourth place. A 12-1 win over Yorktown to close out district, earned them their playoff berth.

“It’s incredible to make the playoffs after 15 years,” senior Daylon Machicek said. “We did something that hasn’t been done in a long time.”

The Hornets had last made the playoffs in 2006. 

Louise lost in the first round to Holland.

El Campo slugger belts out blasts

El Campo Ladybird, now junior Kate Bubela tore the cover of the softball last season. Bubela hit over .500 while crushing 16 softballs for home runs. The El Campo sophomore had the 13th most home runs in the second, while playing the second least amount of games.

“From my first at-bat I knew it was going to be on,” Bubela said. “I felt that swing and it was so good and I was seeing the ball real good. So I knew that season was going to be good.”

The El Campo sophomore was named a first-team all state player by the Texas Sports Writers Association.

El Campo swimmer breaks streak

El Campo now graduated senior Gage Garner took the swim program back to state after a three-year absence. Garner had a time of 59.94-seconds in the 100-yard breaststroke and was the second-fastest in Region 7, earning a trip to state. He also had a bronze medal finish at regional in the 50-yard freestyle, with a time of 22.23.

El Campo running back runs past everyone

El Campo junior running back Rueben Owens II had a year that won’t be forgotten soon, scoring 49 touchdowns and rushing for close to 3,000 yards. Behind a senior-heavy offensive line and a senior fullback, Owens glided through defenses this past season. He was named the district MVP. Owens had the sixth most-rushing yards in the country (2,989 yards) and the second-most touchdowns, according to Maxpreps.com stats. Owens is one of three juniors in the running for one of the states highest honors, Mr. Texas Football.

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