MISSION — The best of the best high school athletes, coaches and teams from the 2018-19 school year in the Rio Grande Valley were recognized at Thursday’s All Valley Sports Award Banquet at Mario’s Banquet & Conference Center in Mission.
There were 33 awards in 12 UIL sports presented at the annual event presented by RGVSports.com, which is the website of the Valley’s three daily newspapers — The Brownsville Herald, the Valley Morning Star and The Monitor.
Among those honored with an All Valley award from the Harlingen area were San Perlita’s Tige Johnson (Boys Basketball Player of the Year), Lyford’s Cristian Alaniz (Boys Tennis Player of the Year), Harlingen South’s Valeria Montero (Girls Tennis Player of the Year), Mercedes’ Mika Vento (Sub-6A Female Athlete of the Year), Harlingen South Lady Hawks soccer (6A Girls Team of the Year), Lyford softball (Sub-6A Girls Team of the Year) and Lady Hawks soccer coach Omar Pedroza (Girls Coach of the Year).
The 6-foot-7 Johnson is a senior-to-be at San Perlita, so he still has another season to lead the Trojans to success in basketball. He helped them get to the 2A regional tournament this past season.
“A lot of hard work pays off,” Johnson said. “I’ve been working my butt off since my freshman year by coming in early every morning and staying late after school. It’s a pretty good award, and I’m thankful for it.
This (award) is an added motivation for me,” he added. “My freshman and sophomore years we dropped out of the playoffs in the third round (before making it to the regional tournament this year). It was a blessing to go to the regional tournament. Hopefully next season we can get over the hump and get past the third round again and go even farther.”
Lyford’s Alaniz made it to state in 3A tennis in boys singles this season for the first time, so it was a senior year to remember for him. Getting the All Valley award was pretty memorable, too.
“It’s an awesome feeling to win an award like this,” Alaniz said. “I don’t have the right words to describe it, honestly. To be playing tennis only two and a half years, and to win something like this is a huge accomplishment. It’s a huge honor. To me, it really means a lot.”
The top honors for South girls soccer came toward the end of the banquet as the Lady Hawks earned the 6A Girls Teams of the Year award for advancing five rounds in the state playoffs and making it to the Region IV-6A Tournament final. The Lady Hawks, 23-4, came within one win of advancing to the state tournament in Georgetown.
“I think we surpassed a lot of people’s expectations,” said Reid Davis, the Lady Hawks’ recently graduated senior goalkeeper. “We came out and proved people wrong. We’ll remember this season a long time. It’s an honor to be here and an honor to get this award and be recognized as one of the best teams in the Valley.”
Added South teammate and fellow 2019 graduate Mellory Grannum, “This award means a lot to me and it is definitely a great way to end the season (as a graduating senior). I’m just so proud of everyone — all my teammates, the coaches, my parents and my sister (and teammate Caroline) — everybody who supported us throughout the year. It couldn’t have happened without them.”
Pedroza was gracious in accepting his award for Girls Coach of the Year.
“This award is a reflection of the kind of players that I have,” said Pedroza, who just completed his 23rd season as the Lady Hawks’ coach. “You don’t get nominations and awards like this unless you have the kind of players I have. I have some incredible student-athletes. That’s all I have to say.”
Some of the other top awards went to McAllen High’s Lexi Gonzalez (6A Female Athlete of the Year), PSJA High’s Trey Guajardo (6A Male Athlete of the Year), Mercedes’ Mika Vento (Sub-6A Female Athlete of the Year), Mission Veterans’ Landry Gilpin (Sub-6A Male Athlete of the Year), Brownsville Hanna football (6A Boys Team of the Year), Sharyland Pioneer baseball (Sub-6A Boys Team of the Year), Mark Guess (Boys Coach of the Year for Hanna football), Edinburg Vela (6A Program of the Year), and Brownsville Veterans and Sharyland Pioneer (a tie for Sub-6A Program of the Year).
The final and most highly regarded honor of the night, the Tom Landry Award, went to Los Fresnos’ Isis Delgado, who was a four-year standout of the Lady Falcons’ volleyball team as a libero and was the valedictorian of her school’s 2019 graduating class of 917.
Delgado was chosen based on her extensive athletic and academic achievements along with her character and community service.
Randy White, former NFL All-Pro with the Dallas Cowboys, NFL Hall of Famer and Super Bowl XII Co-MVP, was the banquet’s featured speaker.