KRUM — As Krum’s boys and girls packed their belongings into the tennis team’s white school van for this weekend’s Texas Tennis Coaches Association Class 3A state tournament, sophomore Mackenzie Ripple was set to start the second leg of her three-week triathlon.
Going to the state tournament won’t be anything new for Ripple. She went to state last week. She’ll go to state next week, too.
At the conclusion of next weekend, Ripple will have been to three state tournaments on three straight weekends in three sports.
Last weekend, Ripple traveled to Austin with the girls basketball team for the 3A state tournament. This weekend she’ll be in Abilene for the team tennis state tourney, and next week she’ll be representing her school again in Abilene for the state powerlifting tournament.
Krum powerlifting coach Allen Oh said finding somebody who is as capable as Ripple is across so many sports is rare.
“She’s so good at everything, and it’s rare for somebody to try to focus on all of the sports rather than their best one,” Oh said. “Sometimes you can tell just by the effort a kid puts in which sport is their favorite and all that. But with her, she gives you 100 percent effort no matter what it is.”
The sophomore grew up playing a bunch of sports, something that runs in her family. Both of her brothers play tennis, her mother played tennis and her dad played football growing up.
Ripple’s brother Zach Ripple, a senior, also will help Krum try to bring home the state title.
At some points, her activities overlap while competing for a limited amount of time. That fact wasn’t exemplified more than in the last month.
As the Lady Cats traveled to the regional basketball tournament, Mackenzie Ripple had a regional powerlifting tournament to attend. Ripple was moved up to the varsity basketball team once the team made the playoffs.
On the first day of the basketball tournament in Commerce, Ripple was with the team when Krum defeated Texarkana Liberty-Eylau in the regional semifinals. Then she was off to Wylie for the regional powerlifting meet, which happened to take place on the day of the regional final.
Ripple and her powerlifting teammates tuned in to the webcast of the Saturday afternoon basketball contest between Krum and Pittsburg.
With 12 seconds left in the basketball game and Krum on the verge of completing a comeback victory, Ripple readied herself for her second to last lift of the day. She turned around and looked at her teammates, who joyously told Ripple her other team had won the regional tournament.
“I think it sent an extra set of adrenaline through me, but it was really exciting,” Ripple said.
After setting the Region 6 Division II bench press record with a lift of 130 pounds, she went on to set the regional record in the deadlift in the 148.5-pound weight class with a lift of 325 pounds and take home the regional honors.
She joined the rest of the Lady Cats for their second state basketball tourney, a trip cut short in the semifinals by Mexia. And as one season ended, another one sprang up.
She was needed on a different court, the one of tennis coach Steven Quy. Quy, who’s also the school’s assistant principal, said he had no qualms with Ripple’s role on the school’s hardwood court.
“It’s a good problem to have, in other words, because the basketball team does so well,” Quy said. “We had just a week left before this to get her back on the court full time and to get her ready, but she stepped right up there like she hadn’t missed a step. That’s the great part about her.”
Ripple will play in the No. 6 singles slot and the No. 3 doubles spot at the TTCA tournament.
TTCA holds the state championships for Class A, 2A and 3A, while the University Interscholastic League sponsors the 4A and 5A championships.
Quy said Ripple will bolster Krum’s lineup, and ordinarily would be among the top five were it not for her lack of practice because of her time in basketball.
Zach Ripple said it’s not too often the two are home at the same time because of the duo’s obligations. Both also are in Krum’s band. Mackenzie plays the trombone and volunteered to play the tuba during the fall, while Zach is involved with the percussion section.
“She’s always out really late. I’m always out really late,” Zach Ripple said. “So it’s like, I don’t know, a few hours at a time, usually like dinner. Maybe.”
Mackenzie Ripple still contends that she has a decent amount of free time for herself. She has plenty of time for her friends, to be involved in her church and to do some homework.
But this weekend, two of the three Ripple siblings will be in Abilene trying to bring home a state title.
“That would be awesome,” Mackenzie Ripple said. “It’d be hard, but it’d definitely be worth it. And if not this year, then next year or the year after, I’m hoping.”
And if Krum can’t come back with the title this weekend, Mackenzie won’t have to wait long for another shot at glory.
There’s always next week.
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com .