Wednesday, October 17, 2018
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20180601 PioneerBoysPowerliftingchampionwinnerWith 12 District championships, eight Bi-district championships, two Area championships, one Regional championship, one Regional Quarterfinals championship, two State bronze medals, two State silver medals and one State championship, it’s been an extremely successful school year for the Sharyland High and Pioneer High varsity sports teams and athletes. Of course, successful sports programs have become synonymous with the Sharyland Independent School District (SISD) and while it’s now been four years that the success has been spread out over two high schools, the fact that the Rattlers and the Diamondbacks are both continuing the winning tradition, should not come as a surprise to anybody that has followed Rio Grande Valley high school sports for any time at all.

Here we will look at what this sportswriter considers to be the Top 10 SISD sports achievements of the year, either by a team or an individual. It is an objective list with the primary criterion used to determine which achievements were included and how those achievements were ranked, was how well a team, or an individual athlete, did at the higher levels of competition, such as Bi-district, Area, Regional and State.

With there being only a handful of local teams and/or athletes that succeed at the State level year-in-and-year-out, any team or athlete that earned the right to go up against the best-of-the-best across the Lone Star State and returned with one or more of the highly coveted State medals and/or trophies, will be ranked highly on this list. And while some may argue that reaching, and subsequently succeeding at, the higher levels is easier in some sports than it is in others, for the purposes of this list, success at the higher levels of competition trumps success at the lower levels, regardless of the sport.

With that in mind, here are the SISD Top 10 sports achievements of the year:

1) Pioneer Boys Powerlifting-State champion and silver medal winner
Two Pioneer boys’ powerlifters qualified for the State Powerlifting Meet and they both returned to the Valley with medals. Obie Hernandez took the gold in the 198 lb. weight class and Robert Saenz took the silver in the 123 lb. weight class. Hernandez lifted a total of 1610 lbs. which was 20 lbs. more than the silver medal winner and 115 lbs. more than the bronze medal winner. Saenz lifted a total of 1210 lbs. which was only five lbs. less than the gold medal winner and 40 lbs. more than the bronze medal winner, Joel Sanchez of Brownsville Veterans Memorial who Saenz came in second to at the Regional meet.

2) Lady Rattlers’ Golf Team – UIL State silver medalists
Not only did the Lady Rattlers’ golf team qualify for the UIL State Tournament for the seventh year in a row, but they claimed the District 31-5A and Region IV team championships along the way as well. In addition, the team, made up of seniors Raquel Flores, Amanda Shinn-Roldan and Laura Rodriguez and juniors Carolina Cantu and Paulina Flores placed second at State. That is the highest any Lady Rattlers’ golf team has ever placed at State and they accomplished this under the leadership of first-year head coach, Ashley Garza.

3) Sharyland Swimmer Luciano Farias-Ramirez,State bronze medal winner
Luciano Farias-Ramirez became the first Sharyland High swimmer to medal at the UIL State Meet by placing third in the 100 yard butterfly. Farias-Ramirez entered the State meet as the fourth seed but his time of 50.43 earned him the right to stand on the podium by four one-hundredths of a second. As a team, the Rattlers were District 31-5A runner-up and the Region VIII fifth place team. Three other Rattlers, Javier Suarez, Brandon McCormick and Alvaro Garza, qualified for State. The Rattlers placed 19th out of 60 teams at State.

4) Sharyland Golfer Jun Min Lee – State bronze medal winner
As a team, the Sharyland boys’ golf team was the District 31-5A runner-ups and placed fourth in the Region IV tournament. The only member of the Rattlers’ team to qualify for the UIL State tournament was Jun Min Lee who took the Regional championship. At the State tournament, Lee had a day one score of 70 and a day two score of 73 for a total score of 143. That was good enough to tie him for third place and earned him the bronze medal. Last year Lee tied for 16th at the State tournament with a total score of 153.

5) Pioneer Boys Wrestling – District champions and State qualifiers
As a team, the Diamondbacks boys wrestling team claimed the District 16-5A title, the All-Valley Championship and the Duals District championship. In addition, 12 members of the team qualified for the Region IV tournament and five qualified for the UIL State tournament. Those that qualified for State were, junior Diego Serna (106 lbs.), senior Brandon Pritchard (145 lbs.), junior Manuel Almanza (170 lbs.), senior Dominique Rodriguez (182 lbs.) and senior Emanuel Huerta (192 lbs.). Serna was a Regional champion in his weight class while Huerta was the highest placing Diamondback boy at State with a sixth place finish in his weight class.

6) Sharyland Mixed Doubles Tennis – State Qualifiers
The Sharyland High mixed doubles tennis team of junior Michael Davis and freshman Andrea Fernandez were not only District 31-5A champions, but they were undefeated in Valley tournaments. They were Region IV mixed doubles finalists and as a result they were one of eight 5A teams to qualify for the UIL Tennis State Championship tournament. Davis and Fernandez are the first Sharyland High mixed doubles team to qualify for the State tournament since Sebastian Arizola and Emilia Ramos won the State championship in 2016.

7) Pioneer Boys Track and Field District runner-ups and Area champions
The Diamondbacks boys’ Track and Field team were the 31-5A runner ups and the Districts 31-32 Area champions. Thirteen members of this team qualified for the Area and Regional meets. Individually, shot putter Johnny Howell was the Area and Regional champion and the only member of the team to qualify for the UIL State meet. Entering the State meet as the gold medal favorite, Howell suffered an injury during warm-ups and as a result was not able to compete.

8) Sharyland Football – District and Bi-District champions
The Sharyland Rattlers football team posted a 7-1 regular season record to finish in a three-way tie with Mission Veterans and Laredo Nixon atop the District 31-5A standings. In the Bi-district round, the Rattlers defeated Brownsville Pace by a score of 59-43 to claim their first Bi-district championship since 2014. In the Area round, the Rattlers fell to the Alice Coyotes in three overtimes by a score of 42-39. Sharyland head coach Ron Adame was named 31-5A Coach of the Year and 12 Rattlers received Academic All-state honors.

9) Pioneer Boys Swimming and Diving – District champions
The Pioneer boys swimming and diving team took the District 31-5A championship. In addition, twelve members of the team qualified for the Region VIII Meet where the Diamondbacks placed third. Andrew Adkins was the only member of the team to qualify for the UIL Swimming and Diving State Meet. He did so in the 100 yard breast stroke where he placed 18th with a time of 1:01.98. Adkins’ time of 1:01.62 at the Regional meet was good enough to earn him a second place finish.

10) Sharyland Girls Soccer – District and Bi-district champions
The Sharyland Lady Rattlers’ soccer team posted a 15-1 district record and accumulated 45 points to claim the 31-5A title. The Lady Rattlers went on to claim a Bi-district championship as well when they defeated Brownsville Veterans Memorial in the opening round of the playoffs by a score of 6-1. The Lady Rattlers’ season came to an end in the Area round of the playoffs however when they fell to Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial by a score of 3-1. First year head coach Mario Ribera was named District 31-5A Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.

Honorable Mentions:
Pioneer Girls’ Cross-Country Team
District 31-5A Champions. Regional Qualifier as a Team to Corpus Christi placed 3rd at the meet. Team State Qualifier. 15th Place

Sharyland Baseball Team
District 31-5A Runner-Up - Bi-District Champions – Area Finalists

Pioneer Softball Team
District 31-5A District Championship Team – Bi-District Finalists