When freshman David Harper pinned his opponent to give the Baylor wrestling team a win over McCallie and the state duals championship in February, it was the tenth state title for the Raider grapplers. It also marked a milestone for Baylor Athletic Director Thad Lepcio – the school’s 100th state championship under his guidance.
Lepcio took the reins of Tennessee’s most successful high school athletic program in the fall of 2006 and by the end of that school year, Raider teams had won nine state championships. In 2011-12, Baylor squads won 12 titles. Midway through his 13th year, Lepcio has watched Raider teams average nearly eight championships per year.
Deflecting any personal credit for the success of the athletic department (ranked third in the U.S. by MaxPreps.com last spring), Lepcio points to the culture of excellence at Baylor. “Baylor makes a great commitment to excellence in all areas, including athletics. The school provides wonderful resources to our coaches that give our student-athletes the best opportunity to succeed,” he says. “The most important responsibility I have is the hiring of quality coaches to whom our parents entrust their sons and daughters. To me, the hiring of a head coach is no different than the hiring of an AP level teacher. Great teachers and coaches attract great students and athletes.”
Lepcio also cites great teamwork within the department as a factor for success. “One of our biggest strengths is the collegiality and support within the department,” he continues. “Our coaches work hard to support each other, bounce ideas off each other, and share their relative expertise. My job is to see that our student-athletes and coaches to have the resources they need to maximize achievement. Then, I try to stay out of their way and watch them succeed.”
The Spring Fling of 2018 stands out to Lepcio as a special moment as the Baylor athletic director, and as a father. Baylor teams won four state championships in spring sports last year, three in one day. Lepcio’s son, Teddy, was a senior and a leader on the championship baseball team. “As a parent, to watch your son and his best friends and teammates achieve their goal was incredible to watch,” Lepcio smiles. “But what can’t be lost is that Baylor did something no other school in Tennessee has ever done by winning three championships on the same day and four total during the week.”
To see the complete list of state championships in Baylor history, click here.