The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

Raptors Claw Their Way to the Top

LASA Sports Make History with Fall Sports Performances
LASA Tennis
BREAKING RECORDS | LASA’s tennis team finished their fall team tennis season second in the state. The team had an undefeated season and advanced further than any other year after tying for third in the state in the 2022-2023 season.

Ranked as the 32nd-best school in the U.S. according to U.S. News and World Report, LASA has long been known for having an athletics program that is overshadowed by its status as an academic powerhouse. However, with the continued success of the Raptors on a competitive stage under new coaching direction, people like head athletics coordinator Derrick Lewis are projecting even greater successes in the seasons to come.

According to Lewis, LASA is projected to move up in the Austin American Statesman annual ranking of Austin-area high school athletic programs. With multiple teams winning district, regional, and state titles in the fall of 2023, LASA’s athletic department as a whole is already showing a significant improvement from last season.

“We were number 12 [last season], and a few of our teams didn’t make the playoffs or didn’t have a winning record,” Lewis said. “This year, our records have increased, so I’m expecting the Statesman to take us up from 12 to somewhere in the top five to the top eight.”

Under Lewis, LASA’s athletics programs have continued to climb in the 5A district. According to Lewis, in the case of volleyball and football, these improvements will only add to LASA’s chances of moving up in rankings where they could have subtracted from its chances last year. The football team achieved a record of 6-4, a boost from last season’s 2-8 record, and the volleyball team finished second in the district.

“With football, we won more games this year than we had in the past three years, so our power ranking in football jumped tremendously to the top 100 in 5A,” Lewis said. “In volleyball, we also made the playoffs. Last year, they didn’t make the playoffs because they lost in the play-in tournament, but this year, they finished second in the district. Competing in playoffs is going to help us to raise that ranking even more.”

In addition to making school history, according to head tennis coach Vincent Vizcaino, LASA also made city history this past fall. After last season’s exit at the state semi-finals, the LASA tennis team kept an undefeated season this year and made it through the area and region competitions again, losing only to Frisco’s Centennial High School in the state final.

“[This season’s run was] the best any school in the Austin Independent School District has ever done in history,” Vizcaino said.

Senior Vance Mader is a varsity captain of the LASA Cross-Country team. In his final season as captain, he led the team to one of the best competitive performances in their history, with all four boys and girls JV and varsity teams taking first place at the 5A district meet. According to Mader, a large part of the team’s success was the new, younger talent unique to this season’s roster.

XC SWEEPS DISTRICTS | The Cross Country team had one of the best performances in its history this season. All four boys and girls JV and Varsity teams placed first in the 5A district meet. (LASA Webmaster)

“Looking back over the summer, we had practices and there were a few freshmen that consistently came to the practices,” Mader said. “They were quite good… I didn’t know how big of a part they were going to be of the team, or how big they were going to contribute to the team. We ended up having five freshmen on the varsity squad that went to regionals with us.”

Not only did the freshman runners improve the team’s results, but they also continued to improve upon their past results with consistency. According to Mader, the team as a whole would see multiple personal bests as the season progressed.

“Quite a few freshmen ran sub-20 (under 20 minutes),” Mader said. “I think over the year, over the season, we had a lot of PRs (personal records) every single meet. A lot of freshmen were improving quickly because they had already started at such a good pace, their improvements meant a lot.”

In Lewis’ opinion, the new and exciting talent coming to LASA across all sports is no surprise. With the increased media attention that comes with LASA achieving exceptional success competitively as an athletic underdog, according to Lewis, investment in athletics from LASA’s existing student body and prospective students will only increase as seasons go on.

“I think part of it is that kids are realizing that we can compete on a high level and that we can be more than just an academic school,” Lewis said. “Kids are starting to see the recognition we’re getting in social media and in the news… They’re seeing that we’re getting the recognition that they’ve been hoping for. It is a kind of correlation to the recognition: it’s turning into expectations.”

More to Discover