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2020 in hindsight – Part 1

A look back at the year in Big 7 sports – Pre-UIL shutdown

On this, the first day of 2021, we are taking a look back at 2020 and some of the Big 7 sports highlights. While the COVID-19 pandemic affected local high school sports in ways nobody ever imagined possible, the effects of the pandemic on Big 7 sports will not be the focus here. Instead we will focus on some of the sports achievements of the teams and individual athletes from the Mission, Sharyland and La Joya school districts that we were fortunate enough to cover last year.

There are many ways of looking back at a year in sports. The old standby is to list the top 10 (or whatever number the writer chooses) sports achievements of the year. This method is highly subjective and it almost always results in some worthy accomplishments being left off the list.

That is why we have decided to go with a different approach. We are taking a look back at our sports stories for the year and featuring those that include accomplishments by Big 7 teams and individual athletes that we feel are worthy of being remembered. These are stories written by yours truly, Luciano Guerra, and John Hamann before the UIL suspended all high school sports due to the pandemic. We are also including highly condensed versions of those stories in order to give you, the reader, an idea of the accomplishments included in each story. Next week we will do the same with stories written subsequent to the resumption of Big 7 sports through the end of 2020.

The stories listed here are all available for viewing online on our website, Therefore if you missed any of these stories at the time they were published, you can go online and read them now. Or you can simply revisit some of your favorite stories and possibly share them with family and friends.*

Wrestle Fest – By John Hamann, Jan. 24, 2020 Issue

The Diamondbacks took top honors in the boys division of the Sharyland Pioneer Grapefruit Bowl Wrestling Championships getting individual championships from Angel Avila (126 lbs.) and Ethan Garza (220 lbs.)

The Lady Diamondbacks finished fifth in the girls division, tops among the six Big 7 schools entered. Edinburg North won the girls team title. Like the boys, the Lady Diamondbacks crowned two individual champions. Dani Roman won the 148 lb. division and Crystal Palafox was first in the 215 lb. division.

Other boys winners from the Big 7 included Alberto Mendoza (Sharyland High – 106 lbs.), Jacob Gonzalez (La Joya High – 145 lbs.) and Dante Lopez (Mission High – 285 lbs.).

Jerilyn Perelez (Sharyland High – 95 lbs.) and Natalie Rosas (La Joya High – 138 lbs.) won individual titles in the girls division.

Fifteen Big 7 wrestlers state bound – Luciano Guerra, Feb. 21, 2020 Issue

Here is a list of the Big 7 State Championship qualifying wrestlers by school and weight class:

5A Boys

Sharyland Pioneer: Angel Avila (126 lbs.), Daniel Huerta (145 lbs.), Ethan Garza (220 lbs.), Orlando Camacho (285 lbs.)

Sharyland High: Alberto Mendoza (106 lbs.)

La Joya Palmview: Joseph Zieske (138 lbs.)


6A Boys

La Joya Juarez-Lincoln: Carlos Doria (126 lbs.)

La Joya High: Jacob Gonzalez (145 lbs.)

Mission High: Dante Lopez (285 lbs.)

5A Girls

Sharyland Pioneer: Emily Trevino (119 lbs.), Vanessa Ramirez (138 lbs.), Camila Flores (215 lbs.)

Sharyland High: Jerilyn Peralez (95 lbs.)

La Joya Palmview: Brooklyn Garza (128 lbs.), Judith Rivas (165 lbs.)

Lady Patriots and Lady Diamondbacks advance – Luciano Guerra, Feb. 21, 2020 Issue

The Lady Diamondbacks (14-0) and the Lady Patriots (10-4) basketball teams claimed bi-district championships by defeating the Edcouch Elsa Lady Yellow Jackets and the Valley View Lady Tigers respectively.

Pioneer basketball team reaches Sweet Sixteen – John Hamann, March 6, 2020 Issue  

The Sharyland Pioneer boys’ basketball team defeated Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial by a score of 71-58 in their 5A Region IV quarter-final game. By doing so, the Diamondbacks advanced to the 5A Region IV semi-finals, the Sweet Sixteen, against San Antonio Harlan.

Big 7 schools, athletes continue to excel – John Hamann, March 13, 2020 Issue

A look back at the success Big 7 winter sports teams achieved.

Both the girls and boys basketball teams of Sharyland Pioneer won their respective district races in District 31-5A, both going undefeated in district play. The Lady Diamondbacks went on to claim a bi-district title while the Diamondbacks boys advanced into the fourth round.

Mission Veterans had bi-district round victories by both their girls and boys basketball teams but both lost in the area round.

The La Joya High girls and boys basketball teams and the Palmview boys team all qualified for the playoffs but were eliminated in the first round.

The La Joya Juarez-Lincoln boys were the only Big 7 team to win a wrestling district title.

The Sharyland Rattlers and Lady Rattlers were the only Big 7 swim teams to win district titles. The Mission Veterans Lady Patriots and the Pioneer Diamondbacks’ boys swim teams both were district runner-ups.

Big 7 soccer teams go the distance – John Hamann, March 20, 2020

While the UIL suspended all high school sports due to COVID-19 with one game to go in District 30-6A play, the La Joya Juarez-Lincoln boys’ team stood alone atop the standings at 13-0 at the time of the shutdown.

District 31-5A soccer teams did get to complete their regular seasons before the shutdown, with the Sharyland High boys’ and girls’ teams both claiming district titles; the Rattlers boys with a 14-0 record and the Lady Rattlers with a 12-2 record. The Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks also recorded a 12-2 district record but lost the title by one point.

(On March 13, 2020 the UIL announced that effective Monday, March 16 it was “suspending all UIL sanctioned contests, rehearsals, practices and workouts due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Texas through March 29.” It was later announced that the UIL had extended its suspension until Monday, May 4. These suspensions eventually became a complete shutdown of all UIL sanctioned high school sports across the state for the 2019-2020 school year.)

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