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MCISD top 10 sports achievements of the year

20140506 MHS Discus Tony Salinas lg-10Athletically speaking, the 2013-14 school year was one to remember for both Mission high schools. With an individual state championship, team district, bi-district and area championships, and one team holding the No. 1 state ranking for over 12 weeks, Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) and Mission High School (MHS) teams and athletes achieved excellence in a wide variety of sports.

With the Patriots and the Eagles competing in the same district for the second year in a row, the two schools’ teams oftentimes found themselves going head-to-head for district titles or playoff berths. In some sports the Patriots got the better of the Eagles, but in others it was the Eagles that rose to the occasion and bettered the Patriots.

With a friendly rivalry between the two schools both schools’ athletes looked forward to facing off against their cross-town rivals every chance they got. With that in mind, here are the VMHS and MHS top 10 sports achievements of the year:

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VMHS tops RGV Sports Hall of Fame awards nominations

20131115 Volleyball CedarPark vs VMHS lg-21Sometimes it seems as if sports awards are a dime a dozen. Some organizations and associations out there give out sports awards almost as if they’re handing out candy to the neighborhood kids at Halloween.

While oversaturation may have caused some sports awards to lose their luster, that is certainly not the case when it comes to the annual Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame awards. Their awards, and to a somewhat lesser degree their nominations, are so hard to come by that they are among the most highly coveted awards that any South Texas high school sports program, team or individual athlete can receive.

So what makes the RGV Sports Hall of Fame awards among the most exclusive of all local high school varsity sports awards? It’s actually two things. First, each of their awards includes all sports, and second, they are Valleywide. As a result each nominee is selected from, and each winner has to beat out, athletes or teams from all sports from all across the Valley.

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Chris Rocha named Pitcher of the Year

20140510 Baseball Palmvew vs PSJA lg-67The La Joya Palmview Lobos baseball team had a season to remember. With their first district, bi-district and area championships, Coach Manuel “Ricky” Garcia’s boys attained heights never before reached by any team in any sport at Palmview High School.

As the Lobos’ ace on the mound, Chris Rocha had as much to do with Palmview’s unprecedented success as anybody. The fact that he was recently named District 30-5A’s Pitcher of the Year is a testament to the fact that he is the best in the district bar none.

Selected as the district’s Coach of the Year himself, Garcia had high praises to sing of his star pitcher both on and off the mound.

“Chris is a great kid and a great leader,” said Garcia. “He is one of the best pitchers in the Valley, if not the best. He proved himself worthy of the selection by the other coaches in the district simply by the fact that he was a threat to win every time he took the mound. As a result I knew that he was going to get something big.”

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Ashley Smith named U.S.A. Junior National

20140530 Basketball Girls VMHS vs Roma lg-31Veterans Memorial High School sophomore Ashley Smith has been selected to participate in the U.S.A. Junior Nationals basketball program. As a result, she will be traveling to Columbus, Ohio as a member of a statewide, all-star team to compete in a five-day tournament against teams from across the country.

As part of the U.S. Basketball Program, the U.S.A. Junior Nationals program began in Atlanta, Georgia in 1980. Since then it has provided high school basketball players from across the nation, as well as Canada, Mexico, Russia, Japan and Europe, the opportunity to improve on their fundamental techniques through competition and to be seen by college coaches who may be looking for players to offer scholarships.

As George Blue, assistant office administrator for the U.S. Basketball Program, explained they are not necessarily targeting athletes that are good enough to play for Division I schools. Instead, they are hoping to attract those players who have the potential of playing at the Division II, Division III and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) level but may otherwise be overlooked by collegiate coaches.

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Lady Patriots’ Alexandria Gonzalez honored

20140520 Alexandria Gonzalez Medals lg-01With only 15 girls from across the state being selected, the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s (TGCA’s) Track and Field All-Star Team is a very select group. That’s 15 girls from all the 4A and 5A schools in the Lone Star State. Of this year’s honorees only one is from the Rio Grande Valley – Veterans Memorial High School’s Alexandria Gonzalez.

Having been nominated by the Lady Patriots head track coach Kathy Howell, Gonzalez met all the criteria established by TGCA. Criteria included being a high school senior, excelling as a track and field athlete and excelling academically. All-Stars were then selected in two divisions: 1A-2A-3A and 4A-5A.

Gonzalez is the only member of the VMHS track and field team that Howell has ever nominated for the honor, as she is the first that has met all the criteria.

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Felipe Valencia takes gold at state

20140513 Gold Medals Galvan Salinas lg-01Palmview High’s Felipe Valencia set a new gold standard at the UIL State Track and Field Meet in Austin last week. For the second year in a row, Valencia earned a gold medal in the state 5A shot put competition.

As the defending gold medal winner in the event, Valencia is now the only two-time track and field state champion in La Joya Independent School District history. Prior to his winning the gold last year, it had been 45 years since then La Joya High junior Noe Hernandez brought the gold home in the 880-yard dash.

“Winning back-to-back state championships and making history at La Joya means a lot me,” said Valencia. “It means even more because all my family was there to support me.”

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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