The 2015/2016 school year brought two major changes to the athletic departments at Mission and Veterans Memorial High Schools. The one that made the biggest headlines was the resigning of Mission Eagles’ head football coach and athletic coordinator Mario Pena and the hiring of former Mission and Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Koy Detmer to take his place. The other was the reassignment of long-time and highly successful Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots’ head volleyball coach Diana Lerma and the naming of assistant head volleyball coach Vivian Ray as her replacement on an interim basis.
The fact that the Eagles’ head coaching change took place after the completion of their season meant that it had no effect on their 2-4 (4-6 overall) record. However the Lady Patriots’ coaching change took place in-season, which could’ve played a role in the fact that they did not fare as well in the playoffs as they have in recent years. Even so, the Lady Patriots still had a successful enough season to make our Top 10 list.
Veterans Memorial senior Klarissa Blanco capped off her high school wrestling career by earning her third district and regional championships in four years and by qualifying for the state tournament for the fourth year in a row. Blanco, who posted an impressive 30-2 record in her 185 lb. weight class this year, went 5-1 in the UIL State Tournament to earn a bronze medal. Other Lady Patriots’ state qualifiers were Leslie Alaniz (148 lbs.) and Mariah Gonzalez (165 lbs.).
2) Lady Eagles Powerlifters – State Qualifiers and Medalists
Mission High’s Estephany Gonzalez (132 lbs.) and Tabatha Gonzalez (114 lbs.) both qualified for the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association’s (THSWPA) state meet in Corpus Christi in March and both medaled. Estephany earned a silver medal while Tabatha placed 7th. Estephany improved on the bronze medal she earned last year while this was Tabatha’s first trip to state. Estephany’s four-lift total of 890 lbs. was just 10 lbs. less than 900 lbs. the gold medalist lifted. Overall the Lady Eagles placed 11th out of 47 teams that competed at the state meet.
3) Lady Patriots Volleyball Team – District, Bi-District and Area Champions, Regional Quarterfinalists
After back-to-back trips to the Regional Semifinal round of the state playoffs, the Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots fell one round short this year but still had a highly successful season.
For the third year in a row the Lady Patriots swept their district opponents to claim the District 31-5A title then went on to claim Bi-district and Area championships before falling to Victoria West in the Regional Quarterfinal round 3-2. Despite their mid-season coaching change, the Lady Patriots still managed to win 44 games while losing eight on the season.
4) Patriots’ Boys Track – Two Regional Champions, Three State Qualifiers
Veterans Memorial’s Fabian Garcia, Jesus Mata and Luis Trujillo all earned the right to compete at the UIL State Track and Field Meet in Austin this year. Mata did so by taking the district and regional championships in the 800m run, Trujillo placed second in district and at regionals in the pole vault and Garcia took the district and the regional championships in the 3,200m run and second place in the 1,600m run at district and at regionals to make him a two-event state qualifier.
5) Mission Lady Eagles’ Wrestler Jennifer Juarez – State Qualifier
Mission Lady Eagles’ senior wrestler Jennifer Juarez took third at the Region IV tournament to qualify for the UIL State Tournament in the 185 lb. weight class. Juarez took a 24-9 record into the state tournament but did not manage to add any wins to that record as she lost both her matches by way of falls.
6) Patriots’ Baseball Team – District and Bi-District Champions
The 2015/2016 season marked the fourth year in a row that the Veterans Memorial Patriots’ baseball team has claimed a district championship. After posting an 11-1 District 31-5A record to take the title, the Patriots defeated the Mercedes Tigers two-games-to-one in the bi-district round to advance into the Area Round. That however would be where their season would come to an end as the Patriots lost to the Flour Bluff Hornets in the Area round two-games-to-none.
7) Patriots’ Football Team – Bi-District Champions
For the second year in a row, the Veterans Memorial Patriots’ football team claimed a bi-district championship. After going 4-2 in District 31-5A play to earn a playoff berth, the Patriots defeated the Donna Redskins in the Bi-district round of the playoffs, also for the second year in a row, to extend their season at least one more week. However the Patriots would not advance any deeper into the playoffs as they fell to Victoria West in the Area Round.
8) Lady Patriots’ Basketball – Bi-District Champions
The Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots’ basketball team went 8-4 in District 31-5A play (22-13 overall) to clinch the second seed in the playoffs. They then defeated the PSJA Lady Bears 55-40 in the first round of the playoffs to claim the bi-district championship. Unfortunately for the Lady Patriots, they then had to go up against the nemesis of Veterans Memorial playoff teams, Flour Bluff , who they lost to 59-36 to bring their season to a close.
9) Lady Patriots Girls’ Track Team – District Champions
The Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots track team accumulated 136 points in the District 31-5A district track meet to better the second place Lady Rattlers by 21 points and claim the district championship. Senior Mariah Gonzalez led the way for the Lady Patriots with one individual district championship (400m dash) and was a member of two district championship relay teams (400m and 1,600m). She also set a new district record with a time of 58.12 in the 400m dash. Other individual district champions for the Lady Patriots’ were Alexis Vasquez (shot put), Nyla Vela (triple jump) and Charlize de la Garza (high jump).
10) Lady Eagles’ Golf Team – District Champions
Led by freshman Mia Lerma, the Mission Lady Eagles’ golf team took the district championship this year. Lerma placed first in district and was the MVP. She then went on to place 19th in Regionals and was named second Team All Valley. Leah Lerma placed second in district, 20th in Regional and was named third Team All Valley for the Lady Eagles.