Cooling off with water sports in August

The people in Zachary making sports news keeps coming in during the hot month of August. It's hard to keep up, and we are only weeks away from the start of the football season.

On a hot day what better place to start than in the water where Zachary’s 13-year old Abby Dunford continues to impress. During the spring, she began competing in open water racing, where the sharks and other fish play, swimming in the waters near Fort Myers and Miami, Florida.

Back in the pool for the Texas Sectionals in July, Dunford set lifetime bests, and on the last night, she raced in the Championship A final placing fifth with a time of 9:06.09. At the 13 and over State Championships a few weeks later, she set a 13-14 girls state record in the 400 freestyle and won the 1,500 freestyle.

Dunford kicked off August by traveling to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to compete in the Senior Canadian Nationals where she was one of the youngest competitors. Previously, Abby made Canadian Olympic Trial cuts in the 400 free, 800 free, 1500 free, backstroke, and 400 individual medley.

Staying in the water, Jay Bennett, of Bennetts Water Ski and Wakeboard School, and team assistant Scott Greenwood, of Little Rock, Arkansas, led members of the USA Ski team to wins in the Pan American Games that were recently held in Lima, Peru. For those unfamiliar with Bennetts Water Ski and Wakeboard School, it is located just west of Americana, has been in the Zachary area for over 40 years and the largest water ski school in the world and have between 500 to 600 full-time students per year. Yes, there will be more on the school in future columns.

Bennett said, “The Pan Am games consisted of 6,600 different athletes from countries all over the world and the infrastructure, time, and money spent to put on the games was astronomical for such a huge and successful event.”

Traveling out of the country the team had high security. “We had State Department security people with us from the time we got there to when we left,” Bennett said.

Under his direction, the team picked up four gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal within the water ski tournament events that took place over four days. “The opening ceremonies were an eye-opener and walking in with all the USA athletes and coaches was spectacular,” Bennett said.

No rest for the weary as Bennett is headed to Malaysia to coach a group of his private students in the world games this week.

Stadium update and other notes

The last couple of weeks has seen the rise in questions from folks I see on the streets, at the grocery store, school or at church in Zachary asking if the stadium is going to be ready for the jamboree.

I was even informed by Zachary football spotter and announcer in-a-pinch Kyle Morris that the Maxpreps website indicated that Zachary would be playing the jamboree at West Feliciana. The latest, as of Aug. 8, coach David Brewerton said, “The jamboree will be played against West Feliciana on Aug. 30 in Bronco Stadium.” Progress continues on the press box and the Broncotron was installed last weekend.

“It’s All about the Z” on Aug. 24 will feature the Lady Broncos volleyball team against an alumni team, Zachary Police and Fire departments and ZHS faculty. The action begins at 10 a.m.

The ZHS Broncos will be in preseason action with a scrimmage against Parkview Baptist on Aug. 22 at Bronco Stadium. The following Tuesday, Aug. 26, “Meet the Broncos” will be held at 6 p.m. in the gym to introduce fall sports teams (football, volleyball, cross-country) and support teams (cheerleaders, band, dance team and color guard).

Season tickets for football are flying off the shelf. If you would like to purchase reserved season tickets for $60 that are within the main bleachers with padded seat and back support, contact Diane Leblanc as soon as possible. Reserved section seats are being purchased at a rapid pace. 

Warren Brady covers sports for The Plainsman. He can be contacted at zachary@theadvocate.com.