Six state qualifiers from Hidalgo county comprise the nominees for Boys Wrestler of the Year and Girls Wrestler of the Year.
The winners will be announced at the 2017 All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet on June 10 at Mario’s Banquet & Conference Center in Mission.
Former San Antonio Spurs forward Robert Horry will be the keynote speaker at the event, which is being put on with help from presenting sponsor Lone Star National Bank.
The nominees for Boys Wrestler of the Year:
>> Guadalupe Rodriguez, Mission High: Rodriguez finished sixth at regionals a season ago before using that standing as motivation to ramp up his training and improve. At the regional tournament this year, his work paid off in the form of a gold medal following his victory over Killeen Shoemaker’s Robert Hall. His performance earned him male outstanding wrestler of the Region IV-6A meet.
>> Diego Serna, Sharyland Pioneer: Serna, a sophomore, showed a glimpse of his potential this season, gaining muscle mass to reach his target weight of 106 pounds. At the District 16-5A tournament in Rio Grande City, he earned gold. His win went a long way in securing the Diamondbacks’ narrow, 199.5 to 197.5 upset win over host Rio Grande City. He went on to win the regional title in what ended up being a rematch of the district championship a week before, this time in a 10-1 major decision.
>> Dillion Toavalu, Edinburg North: Toavalu, a senior, showed multiple times he was the best 195-pound wrestler in the Valley. He defeated fellow top contender and intercity rival Mike Mendez (Edinburg Vela) in the district championship as well as the regional round. Toavalu’s combination of speed and power helped him rack up 33 wins and reach regionals and state for the first time in his career.
The nominees for Girls Wrestler of the Year:
>> Alexis Altamira, Edinburg Vela: The small but mighty Vela senior led a solid group of SaberCats wrestlers this season. She collected 36 wins and only 3 losses, two of which came at the state tournament. She won the district tournament and finished third at regionals after winning the consolation bracket.
>> Amanda Alvarado, McAllen Memorial: A focused wrestler who is always looking to improve, Alvarado made the move from 138 pounds to 148 as a senior. The decision to wrestle at the heavier weight allowed her to come into most matches with more speed than her opposition. The switch resulted in her most successful season, taking her only losses in the state and regional finals to finish with a 38-2 overall record.
>> Rose Ramirez, La Joya High: The senior 119-pound wrestler ended her season and career strong. She was one of two Coyotes gold medalists that helped La Joya High edge out La Joya Juarez-Lincoln for the district championship. She finished third at regionals but came back strong at state, reaching the championship match against Xochitl Mora-Pettis of Klein.
The Banquet, hosted by RGVSports.com and AIM Media Texas in conjunction with the RGV Sports Hall of Fame, will see 33 awards presented to standout athletes, coaches and teams across all 12 UIL sports. The highly prestigious Tom Landry Award of Excellence will honor a student-athlete for outstanding achievements on and off the field.
The Monitor, Valley Morning Star, The Brownsville Herald, Mid-Valley Town Crier and RGV Sports Hall of Fame will vote to determine the winners in the sports categories. While The Monitor, the Star and the Herald have previously named their All-Area teams in certain sports, the All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet will recognize the very best across all three coverage areas.
Tickets for the catered banquet, which will run 6 to 8 p.m., are available through each newspaper’s website at a cost of $40 per person. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information, contact Marcia Kitten at 956-683-4463.
Horry won seven NBA Championships and earned the moniker “Big Shot Rob” for clutch performances during his 16-year NBA career that included stints with the Spurs, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.
Lone Star National Bank, first opened in Pharr in 1983, has grown to include more than 600 employees at 33 locations across South Texas. As part of its mission statement, Lone Star National Bank is committed to “helping our communities grow, and serving them with pride and integrity,” according to the bank’s website.
“Lone Star National Bank has a history of being a great community steward,” The Monitor Publisher Stephan Wingert said. “We are pleased to announce that Lone Star National Bank will be the presenting sponsor for the 2017 All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet. Thanks to their support, we will be able to celebrate the Valley’s best and brightest student-athletes.”