One of the more entertaining aspects of covering high school sports in the Metroplex are the interactions – both personal and as a spectator – with athletes.

During my time as a reporter, I have had the opportunity to profile and follow the career paths of some worthy athletes in Lovejoy and surrounding areas. Now, it’s time to look at a handful of student athletes that I think are worth keeping an eye on in 2017-18.

Without further ado, here are five athletes to watch from Lovejoy this school year.

Chase Van Wagoner, football/track

Simply put, Van Wagoner is one of the most impressive athletes at Lovejoy. He had a junior year to remember, earning all-district honors in football after catching 10 touchdown passes and placing third (and medaling) in the long jump at the state track meet. He’s a safe bet to return to state again in track and field, and the Lovejoy football team is expected to make a huge leap forward this year. Watch for Van Wagoner, who committed over the summer to TCU for football, to keep shining.

Rachel Langs, volleyball

On a team with a plethora of worthy choices for this list, Langs get the nod. The senior led the Lady Leopards in blocks last season with 154 as her team stormed to the state semifinals. Now a senior captain on head coach Jason Nicholson’s squad, she forms the backbone of a loaded team with at least three other Division I volleyball recruits. Over the summer, Langs’ club team, Texas Advantage 17 Black, won the gold medal at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior Nationals, and Langs was also invited to participate in the Texas Volleyball All-Star game. She recently committed to Kansas for volleyball.

Grant Lange, soccer

Lange, a senior, has been a mainstay on the Lovejoy soccer team since his freshman year. Now, in his final year on the high school pitch, he’ll look to lead the Leopards to another deep playoff run. Teamed with the now-graduated Cal Cranfill, Lange and Co. advanced to the regional semifinals – including a come-from-behind win over previously undefeated Mount Pleasant in the quarterfinals – before bowing out to Midlothian. The Leopards soccer program is on the rise, and Lange will be a key player this season.

Jacob Terwilliger, baseball

Last year’s 15-5A Newcomer of the Year, Terwilliger is the most intriguing member of the talented Lovejoy baseball team. He’ll team up with fellow junior Jordan Yonder to try and lead the Leopards back to the playoffs in a daunting district. Terwilliger has a strong eye at the plate and a knack for driving in runs; now, in his second year on varsity, he should be even more polished.

Leah Taylor, softball

What a treasure trove of riches the Lady Leopards boast on the softball diamond. Taylor was named District 15-5A Freshman of the Year and is one of the many returning stars for Lovejoy, which looks to build on its impressive playoff season from a year ago. She’ll be in the infield on opening day, but Taylor can also play outfield and pitch, if necessary.

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