Deep pool of talent produces six nominees for Wrestling Athlete of the Year awards

The Valley has established itself as a wrestling hotbed in recent years, and the 2017-18 season was no different. From a large contingent of state qualifiers, only three boys and three girls remain in the hunt for Wrestling Male Athlete of the Year and Wrestling Female Athlete of the Year.

The winners will be announced at the 2018 All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet on June 19 at Mario’s Banquet & Conference Center in Mission.

Sean Elliott, a former NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs who now works with the team as a broadcaster, will be the keynote speaker at the event.

The nominees for Wrestling Male Athlete of the Year:

>> Emmanuel Huerta, Sharyland Pioneer: On a relatively young Pioneer wrestling team, Huerta provided the senior leadership. He was a part of a group of nine Diamondbacks (boys and girls) who competed at the state tournament in Cypress. He finished sixth in the 195-pound weight class, ending his season with a 38-12 record.

>> Caleb Muniz, Weslaco High: The 138-pound Panthers wrestler adjusted to a coaching change well. In his senior season, he earned a 31-6A championship and regional crown at 160 pounds. The 5-foot-11 senior reached the state tournament again and performed well, even though his season ended on a close 9-10 decision.

>> Diego Serna, Sharyland Pioneer: Serna had a strong junior season for the Diamondbacks. Already a two-time district champion, he added another district crown as well as a regional championship at 106 pounds. Serna was one of nine Diamondbacks to qualify for the UIL state meet in Cypress.

The nominees for Wrestling Female Athlete of the Year:

>> Serena Cervantes, McAllen High: Cervantes competed in multiple sports again for McHi but stood out on the wrestling mat. She entered the state tournament with an unblemished 42-0 record. The 128-pound wrestler reached the state semifinals along with three other undefeated wrestlers and two former state champions before finishing fourth.

>> Vanessa Doria, La Joya Juarez-Lincoln: Doria was a force at 102 pounds as a senior. Her season didn’t start smooth, but she was dominant when it counted, earning district and regional championships. At the UIL state meet in Cypress, she was one of the last wrestlers standing, finishing sixth. She finished the season with a 27-5 record.

>> Mia Padilla, Sharyland Pioneer: Padilla took the field by storm during her sophomore season with the Diamondbacks. She was the top finisher at the UIL state meet out of nine qualifying Pioneer wrestlers, finishing fifth in Cypress. Her final record stood at 47-17 with 41 pins (87.23 pin percentage in wins).

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 athletes, coaches and teams across all 12 UIL sports. The 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.

The banquet, which will run approximately 6 to 8 p.m., returns to Mario’s for a second consecutive year. The venue has a seating capacity of more than 500 people. Tickets will be on sale soon at a cost of $40 per person. For sponsorship opportunities, call Marcia Kitten at 956-683-4463 or email mkitten@aimmediatx.com.