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Year in Review: 2013 Celebrates Sports
The Poth Pirettes celebrate their Region IV Championship after defeating Schulenburg Feb. 23 in Seguin.
2013 was another great year for local athletes and teams, and the Wilson County News was able to cover much of the excitement.
With more than 1,000 athletes representing the area’s seven schools in a variety of different sports, however, covering everything is impossible. The following are just some of the highlights that helped make 2013 memorable.
All 14 basketball teams covered by the Wilson County News were in the middle of their season as the New Year rolled around. Several teams were even into district play, though most were not.
In girls basketball, East Central, Floresville, La Vernia, Poth, and Falls City eventually all made the playoffs. The Poth Pirettes made the deepest run, reaching the state tournament, but finished a bit short as state semifinalists. Poth fell to Merkel, 56-47. The 2012-13 season also marked the end of a 30-plus-year coaching career for the Pirettes’ Peggy Hosek.
On the boys’ side of things, five of the area’s seven teams made the playoffs. The East Central Hornets and La Vernia Bears both went down in the first round of play, but the teams from Floresville, Poth, and Falls City stuck around for the second round.
Participation in powerlifting continued to grow this past year, and Wilson County once again proved to have a number of the state’s top lifters.
Athletes from East Central, Poth, and Stockdale all qualified for the state meet, and several athletes returned home with hardware. Poth sent Marisol Palacios to the state meet, while Stockdale sent a pair of ladies in Makaley Perez and Katelyn Shaver. Stockdale also sent Darion McMahan and Matt Valadez to the state meet, and the guys each medaled with finishes in the top five. East Central’s Jaelynn Clark was the top performer, though, as she grabbed a state gold medal in her weight class.
Around the horn
While it doesn’t draw the same crowds it once did, there is still a great deal of interest in baseball and softball here in Wilson County. 2013 wasn’t a great year for the local teams, though, as only a handful made the playoffs.
On the boys’ side, La Vernia had a great season, at 21-6, and then went two rounds deep into postseason play before leaving with a loss to La Grange.
East Central and Falls City had the best showings for the girls, and both teams went two rounds deep in the playoffs. Floresville and La Vernia also made it to the playoffs, but both the Jaguars and Lady Bears were bounced out in the first round of competition.
Track and field
Strong track showings and trips to the state meet are typical for area athletes, and things were no different in 2013. Athletes from East Central, Floresville, La Vernia, Poth, and Falls City all advanced to the state meet.
In girls competition, La Vernia won a 13th straight district title, and the Beaverettes of Falls City won a regional title.
At the state meet, Falls City competed in several events. Kayla Kotara, Kaelan Cheatham, Shaw Moy, and Haleigh Blocker led the way with a first-place finish and new school record in the 4x400-meter relay. The Beaverettes also finished fourth in the 4x200-meter relay. Tiffany Dziuk was ninth in the discus.
Joseph Swierc led the Beavers with a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter dash, while Tyler Malcolm finished fourth in the pole vault. The Beaver 4x400-meter relay team also went to the state meet, where it finished seventh.
Olivia Hinojosa of La Vernia finished ninth in the 3,200-meter race, and Alyssa Kallies of Poth High School won gold in the women’s high jump.
Following a short summer vacation, the first group of athletes to begin competing in the current school year were the area’s six volleyball teams. Four of the six teams also had new head coaches, but that didn’t seem to slow any of them down.
East Central put together a decent first season under Coach Todd Dorgan to make the playoffs, but the Hornets went out in the first round of play. Stockdale also made it to the playoffs with its new head coach, Katy Wiatrek. Like the Hornets, though, the Lady Brahmas were bumped out during the first round of competition.
La Vernia had another strong season and won its district, but later fell in the area round of play after picking up a bi-district victory. Floresville had an impressive season under new head coach Starla Jones, as the Jaguars’ new leader guided her team all the way to the regional quarterfinals.
The team that continued to dominate the volleyball headlines, though, was once again the Poth Pirettes. Poth had an atypical year, dropping nearly as many matches in the regular season as it won, but the team was ready for the district, and once again finished as the co-champs. The tie with Schulenburg put them at opposite ends of the playoff bracket, but the two met again five rounds deep as they played for the Region IV title. Schulenburg got the better of Poth again, though, ending the Pirettes’ season for the second straight year.
Distance running isn’t for everyone, and running long distances over uneven terrain is for even fewer athletes, but for those who do enjoy the challenge, cross-country season is always an exciting time of year.
In 2013, all of the area’s schools put athletes out there to compete, but it was once again the runners from La Vernia who garnered most of the attention. The state-ranked Lady Bear and Bear cross-country teams lived up to their billing, and both paved a trail of victories all the way to the state championships.
The girls team qualified for the state meet after finishing second at the regional, and two of the Bear runners qualified for state as individuals. The Lady Bears gave it their all, but ended the year with a sixth-place team finish.
Several other runners had strong seasons, and made good showings at the district and regional meets. Stockdale sent a lone Brahma runner to the regional this year, and Floresville sent a handful of athletes to the regional, as well. Falls City sent six athletes to the regional meet, including five ladies and one young man.
It was a great year for the area’s football teams, as four of seven teams won their district titles, and all seven teams made it to the playoffs.
Floresville, La Vernia, Poth, and Falls City all won their respective district titles, while East Central finished in a tie for second place. Stockdale was third in District 15-2A DII, and Nixon-Smiley got into the playoffs thanks to a new rule that allows the fourth-place team into the postseason.
East Central and Nixon-Smiley were both defeated in the first round of play, as was Floresville, which is still searching for an answer to the Port Lavaca Calhoun Sandcrabs. Falls City enjoyed a first-round bye, and everyone else played on.
Stockdale was knocked out in the second round by East Bernard, and Poth suffered the same fate to the same team in round three. La Vernia made its best run in recent history with a trip four rounds deep, but the Bears came up short against Sinton in the Region IV final.
The last team standing was Falls City. The Beavers blew by everyone en route to the state semifinal, but then had a scare with Tenaha. Falls City rallied when it needed to, however, and picked up a 36-34 win to send the Beavers to the state championship for the second time in four years.
Unfortunately for Falls City, Wellington was the better team that day, as the two battled for the state title. The Skyrockets eventually handed the Beavers their one and only loss of the season. With an overall record of 14-1, though, Falls City reinforced its position as a true powerhouse in Class 1A football.
Each year, talented athletes from the area earn the opportunity to compete at the college level. In 2013, senior athletes in and around Wilson County set the bar quite high for future graduates, though. From January through December, at least 20 athletes were known to sign on with colleges and universities across the state and country.
In February 2013, National Signing Day was good to East Central, as five different football players made the commitment to play at the college level. Austin Jupe signed with Baylor University, Andrew Tercek signed with Boise State University, and Matthew Coleman signed on with Texas A&M University in College Station. Christian Jones and Chris Armstrong also signed, with both destined for Cisco Junior College. Vanessa Espinoza also signed out of East Central, and was primed to run cross country and play soccer at Texas Lutheran University (TLU) in Seguin.
Floresville sent a pair of athletes on to the college ranks, as John Handowski inked a deal to play football for TLU, and Shelby Leinneweber signed on to play basketball for the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) in San Antonio.
La Vernia may be a Class 3A school, but that didn’t stop the Lady Bears from sending seven athletes on to the next level. Sage Martinez and Johnna Sturm will play softball in college, as Martinez went to Angelina College, and Sturm is bound for Texas A&M University-Commerce next year. Cat Reed was a multi-sport athlete at La Vernia, but she will compete in track and field for the Cardinals of UIW.
The Lady Bear volleyball program has made a habit of sending athletes to the next level, and things were no different in 2013, as four players signed on with colleges. Brittani Dear went on to play for UIW, Valarie Moehrig signed with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Morgan Mills went to Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, and Brooke Haliscak was the most recent signee with her commitment to St. Francis College in New York.
Stockdale sent four athletes on to the next level. Haley Wallace signed on to play basketball at Sul Ross State University, Jordan Jackson went to Mary Hardin-Baylor to play tennis, and Hunter Pierdolla and Dusty Mosier both signed to play football at TLU. Mosier was also planning to run track for the Bulldogs.
Falls City wasn’t left out of the signings this year, either, as Justin Twine signed on to play baseball for Texas Christian University. Twine was also made several football offers, including one from Baylor, but opted to pursue baseball.
These so-called “traditional” sports weren’t the only ones to grab headlines in 2013, though, and the Wilson County News did its best to cover other sporting action that occurred.
In the world of swimming, Stockdale’s Clayton Lynn was back in the news in 2013 as he once again qualified for the state meet. Lynn qualified in the 200-meter individual medley, as well as the 100-meter breaststroke. Lynn turned in strong performances in both events, but swam well enough to take home a bronze medal in the breaststroke with a third-place finish.
Fellow Stockdale classmate Jordan Jackson also competed in state, as he advanced to the state championships in tennis.
Polo wouldn’t exactly be considered a popular sport in the area, but a local connection brought the sport front and center in 2013. Mike Azzaro, who owns property in the county, and whose parents reside in Wilson County, is a professional polo player who has traveled the world in international competition. In February, Azzaro was honored at the Museum of Polo in Florida, as he was inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame.
Another Hall of Fame inductee in 2013 was East Central graduate Don Denson. Denson was inducted into the Texas Senior Games Hall of Fame for his tireless efforts on the track. Denson began competing in track and field for the Hornets in the late 1950s. In 2011, he was the No. 2-ranked senior sprinter in the 100-meter dash.
Cycle Ranch continued to grow in 2013, as new owner Iain Grae continues his quest to make it the best motocross park in the country. Cycle Ranch built a new night track this year, and began hosting night races under the lights. The new attraction gained the facility national recognition, and continues to bring riders from around the state and across the country to Wilson County.
It is unclear what lies ahead in 2014, but if it is anything like this past year, it will be a lot of fun to watch.
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Grizzlies registration deadline is June 25 (June 22, 2016)
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