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Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The Woodlands named top athletic program

By Mark Tennis

After successfully defending its Texas Class 5A Lone Star Cup (based on overall athletic success in a season), The Woodlands can claim another distinction: the overall ESPN RISE FAB 50 title.

The Highlanders have been a multi-sport powerhouse in Texas for many years, and the 2008-09 school year was no exception. The Woodlands' boys' and girls' cross country teams and the girls' swimming and diving team took home state titles. The football, volleyball and boys' swimming teams won district championships.


Throughout the school year, ESPN RISE compiles FAB 50 rankings in 13 sports. Check out the final rankings below.

// Baseball
// Basketball: Boys / Girls
// Football
// Soccer (Boys): Fall / Winter / Spring
// Soccer (Girls): Fall / Winter / Spring
// Softball
// Volleyball: Boys / Girls

Go to for track and field and cross country results.

But it was success on the national stage that was taken into account when tabulating the results of the overall FAB 50 title.

The FAB 50 employed the following point system: five points for a No. 1 final ranking, four for a top 10 finish, three for a top 25, two for a top 40 and 1.5 for a top 50. Any school with more than one team in a final FAB 50 also was awarded 1.5 bonus points. In the event of ties, the school with the most ranked teams went first, followed by the school with the highest-ranked team. After that, ties were broken based on other factors, such as teams that were at in contention for a nationally title at one point, or schools having a team that was regionally ranked.

Final FAB 50 rankings utilized for the overall FAB 50 were in football, boys' volleyball, girls' volleyball, boys' basketball, girls' basketball, boys' soccer, girls' soccer, baseball and softball. We obtained a final top 50 team ranking in boys' cross country, girls' cross country, boys' track and girls' track from ESPN RISE's, and also used Lax Power's final top 50 boys' lacrosse rankings.

ESPN RISE FAB 50 overall athletic program rankings
Rank School (Location) Points Comments
1. The Woodlands (Texas) 17.5 The Highlanders had top 10 finishes in boys' track and boys' cross country. The girls' track and girls' cross country teams were both in the top 25, while the girls' soccer squad ended with a top 40 finish. The Woodlands is the only school in the nation with FAB 50-ranked teams in five different sports.
2. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 15.5 The Monarchs were in the running to be No. 1 in both boys' and girls' basketball, and were near the top in baseball and boys' volleyball. Only the volleyball team won a state title. Mater Dei's score would have been much higher had it more other state championships.
3. Fayetteville-Manlius (Manlius, N.Y.) 14's No. 1 team in girls' cross country -- and one of the best teams ever nationally in that sport -- and was outstanding in boys' cross country (top 25 finish). Fayetteville-Manlius was a top 25 team for girls' and a top 50 for boys' track.
4. Loyola (Los Angeles) 12.5 The Cubs were FAB 50 national champs in boys' volleyball. This, coupled with their usual success in distance running (top 25 in both cross country and track) helped the Cubs become the top single-sex school on this list.
5. Shenendehowa (N.Y.) 12.5 The Empire State is home to several schools that enjoy success in track and cross country. Shenendehowa boasts top 10 finishes in boys' cross country and girls' track, plus a top 25 ranking in girls' cross country.
6. Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 11.5 The Jackrabbits reached their 11.5 point total by finishing nationally-ranked in three sports: girls' basketball, football and top-ranked girls' track.
7. Collins Hill (Suwanee, Ga.) 11.5 Being ranked in three sports pushed Collins Hill higher than Dana Hills and Mitty. Two of those three -- girls' cross country and girls' track -- were in the top 10. Collins Hill was also in the top 40 in boys' soccer.
8. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) 11.5 Archbishop Mitty was the only school to earn two different ESPN RISE FAB 50 national titles. In the fall, the 42-1 girls' volleyball team accomplished the feat; in the spring, the 32-0 softball squad took home the title.
9. Dana Hills (Dana Point, Calif.) 11.5 The Dolphins led the CIF Southern Section with four championships, and were top 10 in the nation in boys' track. They also were top 25 in both girls' and boys' cross country.
10. Shoreham-Wading River (Shoreham, N.Y.) 10.5 Shoreham-Wading River was top 10 in boys' lacrosse, and was No. 11 in boys' track -- which gave it the edge at 10.5. Shoreham also was ranked in the top 40 in boys' cross country.
11. Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) 10.5 The Mustangs gained a bit on two others at 10.5 because they were close to the No. 1 ranking in both boys' and girls' volleyball during the regular season. The girls' cross country team chipped in with a top 40 ranking.
12. Wilson (Long Beach, Calif.) 10.5 Nearby Long Beach Poly usually gets more multi-sport publicity because the Bruins are often superior in athletics. This year, they finished in the top 10 in boys' volleyball, top 25 in girls' volleyball and top 40 in girls' track. These FAB 50 all-sports rankings don't include aquatics sports, but if they did, Wilson might get a national ranking in all four.
13. McDonogh School School (Owings Mills, Md.) 10.5 A top 10 finish in boys' lacrosse lifted McDonogh. The school also was in the top 25 in girls' soccer and top 40 in boys' soccer.
14 Norco (Calif.) 10 The Cougars missed earning a 10.5 by just one spot in the final baseball FAB 50. Norco's softball team finished No. 3, and the boys' volleyball team also finished with a FAB 50 ranking.
15. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) 9.5 No, the Spartans didn't get their highest FAB 50 ranking of the year in football -- although they were in the top 40 -- because the boys' soccer team finished in the top 10. The boys' basketball team also finished in the top 40.
16. Naples (Fla.) 9.5 The Golden Eagles are still flying high over their No. 1 final finish in baseball. They also were in the top 25 in softball.
17. York Community (York, Ill.) 9.5 A No. 2 finish in boys' cross country combined with a No. 3 ranking in boys' track gives York an edge among those that finished at 9.5.
18. Melbourne (Fla.) 9.5 The Bulldogs were top 10 in the final FAB 50 rankings for both boys' and girls' soccer.
19. Saratoga Springs (N.Y.) 9.5 A perennially strong distance-running school, Saratoga Springs, was No. 6 in the final rankings for girls' track. The school also was a top 10 finisher in girls' cross country.
20. Newton South (Newton, Mass.) 9.5 Newton South owns top 10 finishes in girls' track and girls' cross country.
21. Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.) 8.5 A final No. 1 finish in girls' basketball put the Giants in front of others at 8.5. They also were considered a top 40 team in boys' track.
22. Carmel (Ind.) 8.5 Carmel was ranked in the top 10 in boys' cross country and top 25 in girls' cross country. We gave Carmel an edge because the school's football team was in the FAB 50 for much of the season as well.
23. St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) 8.5 The Gray Bees were a contender for the national No. 1 ranking in boys' basketball before finishing the season at No. 5. They also were a top 25 team in boys' soccer.
24. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) 8.5 The Ironmen earned a top 15 position in the final FAB 50 football rankings. They also were in the top 10 in boys' cross country, and were nationally ranked for most of the season in baseball.
25. St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio) 8.5 Coach Chuck Kyle's football team got the school year going with a Division I state title and top 10 national finish. The Wildcats also were top 25 nationally in boys' soccer.
26. Tatnall (Wilmington, Del.) 8.5 Tatnall boasts a No. 3 finish in girls' cross country and a top 25 ranking in girls' track.
27. Serra (Gardena, Calif.) 8.5 The Cavaliers were a top 10 school for girls' track and a top 25 school for boys' track.
28. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (Burnt Hills, N.Y.) 8.5 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's top 10 finish came in girls' cross country, while its girls' track team earned a top 25 ranking.
29. San Clemente (Calif.) 8 The Tritons were near the top of the girls' soccer winter FAB 50 rankings, and earned a top 25 score. They also were top 40 in girls' cross country and top 50 in boys' volleyball.
30. Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) 8 The Aztecs were top 25 for one sport (boys' volleyball), top 40 in a second sport (girls' soccer) and were top 50 in a third sport (girls' cross country).
31. Hinsdale Central (Ill.) 7.5 Hinsdale Central was the only school with a 7.5 score that got there with three teams. It earned top 40 rankings in girls' soccer, boys' volleyball and girls' cross country.
32. La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) 7.5 The Mavericks were No. 2 in the final FAB 50 for girls' volleyball, and arguably should have been No. 1. LCC's top 40 team was in boys' volleyball.
33. Lancaster (Texas) 7.5 Lancaster boasts a collection of boys' track athletes that were nearly as good as -- some would say better than -- the group at New Bern (N.C.) that was No. 1 in the team rankings. Lancaster also was a top 40 team in girls' track.
34. Naperville North (Ill.) 7.5 Naperville North's football team is accustomed to earning the headlines, but in 2008-09, it was ranked in the top 10 in boys' cross country and was top 40 in girls' soccer.
35 Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) 7.5 This school is known for its track athletes, and this year the girls' team was regarded as top 10 in the nation. The girls' basketball team also was outstanding, and was ranked in the top 40 of the final FAB 50.
36. Gonzaga Prep (Washington, D.C.) 7.5 The Bullpups boys' basketball team finished the season at No. 10. The other team ranked in a final FAB 50 was boys' soccer (top 40), and did not involve the same athletes like track and cross country sometimes can.
37. West Windsor-Plainsboro North (Plainsboro, N.J.) 7.5 With sophomore twin distance running phenoms Joe and Jim Rosa, this school could be even better next school year in cross country and track. Coach Brian Gould's cross country team was top 10 nationally and one of the best in state history. The track team picked up two points for being ranked top 40 in the nation.
38. Klein Oak (Klein, Texas) 7.5 Klein Oak was No. 1 for several weeks in softball before winding up with a No. 11 final ranking. The school also was ranked in the top 25 in boys' cross country.
39. Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) 7.5 The Crusaders earned top 25 rankings in boys' and girls' cross country. They also were regarded as one of the top all-sports schools in the Northwest, with state title-contending squads in numerous sports.
40. Elder (Cincinnati) 7.5 Elder was a top 20 team last fall in football, and was top 25 in the spring in boys' volleyball.
41. Geneva (Geneva, (Ill.) 7.5 The Vikings earned a top 25 ranking in boys' and girls' cross country.
42. Punahou (Honolulu) 7 This school won 21 state titles in various sports, but only two teams were able to garner a top 50 national ranking. The Buff 'n Blue boys' volleyball team was No. 2 in the final FAB 50. The girls' soccer team ranked in the the top 50.
43. Saugus (Calif.) 7 A girls' cross country team that is regarded perhaps as the best-ever team from California was the highlight of the year for the Centurions. Saugus also was ranked in the top 50 in girls' track.
44. St. Anthony's (Huntington, N.Y.) 7 The Friars were battling for the No. 1 FAB 50-ranking in boys' soccer last fall before ending at 22-0-1 and settling for No. 2. The school earned its other FAB 50 ranking in boys' lacrosse.
45. St. Charles East (Ill.) 7 This school finished just one spot higher in the top 10 in girls' volleyball than Santa Margarita, so it also was one spot higher in the overall FAB 50. St. Charles East added a top 50 finish this school year in girls' track.
46. Santa Margarita (Rancho SM, Calif.) 7 The Eagles earned a top 10 national ranking in girls' volleyball, and were in the final FAB 50 in boys' volleyball.
47. Whitney Young (Chicago) 7 Whitney Young squeeked into the top 10 in girls' basketball, and was top 50 in boys' basketball.
48. Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.) 7 The Bears won the CIF Central Section title in softball, and jumped into the tail end of the FAB 50. Earlier in the school year, they were dominant in boys' cross country, and were one of the nation's top 10 teams.
49. Plant (Tampa, Fla.) 6.5 There was a tie between 10 schools with a 6.5 score, but Plant got the nod over all of them because it finished just missed the top 10 (No. 11) in football. The school also added a top 40 ranking in girls' volleyball.
50. Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.) 6.5 The Bulldogs were arguably the best school nationally for boys' sports combined, but didn't get FAB 50 points in swimming, golf or soccer. They did finish in the top 20 in baseball, and were in the top 40 in football.

Mark Tennis is a deputy editor of ESPN RISE.