By Shiela K. Haynes
Reese Lindley and Crayton Klika were selected as Most Athletic by their peers. Lindley is a three-year varsity player for the Lady Raiders basketball team. Klika is a multi-sport standout with two years of varsity experience each in football, basketball, and baseball.
Klika is a natural athlete who has taken advantage of the weight room in building up his already long frame. A two-year starter in three sports, Klika was the primary ball carrier in football this past season, played a significant role in basketball, and showed prowess at the plate as the four-hole hitter in baseball.
He especially enjoyed the physical nature of football. A fearless player, he did not shy away from contact.
“We have pads and a helmet, why not throw your body out there and go as hard as you can,” he said.
While football may be his favorite sport, his favorite high school memory was hitting a two-run homer to take the lead over Chapel Hill in the top of the seventh inning. Part of an outstanding season, Winnsboro went on to claim the No. 1 seed out of District 13-3A heading into the playoffs.
Head football coach and boys athletic director Josh Finney said Klika is set apart by his grit.
“He is one of the toughest players I have ever coached. He has a lot of athletic ability. He is very long, tall, long arms, long frame. That helps him,” said Finney.
“There are a lot of tall people who don’t capitalize on being tall or long. His toughness and tenacity, he has some grit to him, never quit. That is what separates him from other kids his size. He got after it in football, basketball, and baseball. He has worked hard throughout the summers in the weight room and made himself.”
Klika turned the corner with a commitment to summer workouts prior to his sophomore season.
“I got tired of getting dogged around by those big dudes, figured I would get bigger,” he said.
The investment paid off with added size and strength.
His advice for athletes coming up behind him, “Trust the process, stay in the weight room, and achieve the goals you’re going for.”
Klika had a share of adversity this spring when he fractured a bone in his ankle early in the season. It limited his play on the field, but he was still able to hit for power and provide vocal leadership for the young team.
Finney said the senior performs best when his back is against the wall.
“In football, basketball, and baseball. Embracing that role of fourth and one, give me the ball. Embracing that role in basketball. Embracing that role in baseball – it can be two strikes, two outs, I don’t mind, I will go up to bat. Embracing those situations where a lot of people are nervous or anxious, he relishes those situations.”
Klika was pleased to step up in difficult circumstances.
Referring to his stance on baseball, he said, “This year, I wanted to be the last one to hit because I am a senior and I know what it is like to screw up. I would rather it be on me than one of those younger kids, so they don’t have to think about that next game.”
Klika is the son of Landis and Amberly Klika. He will attend Blinn College in College Station this fall with plans to pursue a degree in occupational safety.