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Fantastic four

Numerous Big 7 football, volleyball, cross country and tennis teams excelled this fall

The fall 2019 slate of games, matches and meets for the schools of the Big 7 ended this past Saturday and by any measure it was a successful performance. A total of seventeen teams across four sports qualified for competition beyond the regular season, six of whom won or shared district championships. Of the teams who qualified for post season competition a total of six moved beyond their first round games into either area, regional, or state level events. Several individuals had performances worthy of state standards too.

Five of the post season qualifiers came from the gridiron.

Sharyland Pioneer led the way, claiming their first outright district championship in UIL District 16-5A Div. II. The Diamondbacks went a perfect 6-0 in district play and then won both bi-district and area championships for the first time before bowing out in the regional semi-finals last weekend. Pioneer finished as one of the last 16 teams left in the state in Class 5A Div. II.

Coach Tom Lee thanked his seniors first. “This group I’ve known forever . . . it’s a tough one, losing this group. They were the ones that helped us build this foundation.”

Lee then reflected on this season and beyond. “District champs, eleven wins, a bi-district championship, an area championship against some good teams. I think Valley football is getting where we need to get to.”

Mission Veterans Memorial claimed a share of the District 16-5A Div. I title by going 8-1 in district play. The Patriots were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, something that gave Coach David Gilpin mixed feelings.

“While we are disappointed that we were not able to get a playoff run going this year, I am extremely proud that we were able to win a third straight district championship. We measure our success by winning championships and we won a championship.”

The Mission Eagles shared a district title too, going 6-1 in District 30-6A before being eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs.

Mission Coach Koy Detmer spoke about the Eagles title winning season.

“It feels awesome. It took some time to get some things in place. It was a long haul but it feels good in the end. The hard work paid off.”

Detmer was positive about the season when he spoke after their season ending loss in the first round of the playoffs.

“We told our guys (they) have nothing to hang their heads about. It was a tremendous season. It’s tough right now but there were a lot of good things that happened this season for these guys.”

In addition to the three district championship teams, La Joya Palmview and Sharyland High also qualified for the playoffs.

Each was eliminated in opening round games.

Three teams, all from District 31-5A, made it to the post season from the volleyball courts.

The Lady Patriots of Mission Veterans Memorial repeated as champions of the district with another perfect run (14-0) through district competition and advanced to the area round of the playoffs.

Coach Diana Lerma said she was very proud of her senior group for their four year perfect run through district and being able to work with athletes that know the meaning of the quote “Hard work does work”; athletes who have kept the winning tradition alive at Veterans.

Sharyland Pioneer qualified for the 2019 post season with a second place finish in the district, a school record 33 wins and also advanced to the area round of the playoffs.

The Lady Rattlers of Sharyland High made a post season appearance by virtue of their third place finish in the district.

Cross country
The biggest group of Big 7 teams to advance into the post season came from cross country. A total of seven teams advanced to the regional meet and one qualified for the state meet.

The Lady Rattlers of Sharyland High won the District 31-5A meet , place fourth at the regional meet and ended their season at the state meet with an eighth place finish. According to Coach Melissa Dearth it was the highest placing a girls’ team from Sharyland High had ever achieved at the state level.

“It was a very rewarding season,” said Dearth. “We got better every week and I was really pleased with how it ended.”
Other teams advancing to regionals from 31-5A included the girls’ teams from La Joya Palmview and Sharyland Pioneer. The Palmview and Pioneer boys’ teams advanced to regionals as well.

In District 30-6A, the La Joya Juarez-Lincoln boys and the Mission High girls made it to regionals too.

In addition to the Lady Rattlers, Destiny Quintanilla (Palmview), Freddy Calvillo (Juarez-Lincoln), and Leila Arriola (Mission High) qualified for the state meet as individuals.

Team tennis
It was also a successful season for two of the Big 7’s tennis teams.

Sharyland High coaches Mike Salinas and Rosario Palacios-Cavazos had a number of key players to replace due to graduation but the Rattlers went unbeaten in district play to win the 31-5A title and advanced to the third round of the playoffs.

“It was a fairly new group, with little experience,” said Salinas. “Getting district was tough.”

“We were underestimated,” said Palacios-Cavazos. “But we have a lot of talented kids and we told them they had to step it up. The kids really took it to heart and stepped up their game.”

Sharyland Pioneer was the district runner up and won a bi-district championship.

The next rounds of district contests for the schools of the Big 7 are starting soon. District basketball games begin for the girls teams of District 30-6A on December 17 and December 20 for District 31-5A. All Big 7 boys’ teams begin district play on January 3. Area wrestling teams along with swimming and diving are currently preparing too. District meets for swimming and diving are scheduled for late January while the district wrestling meets will be in early February.

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