MISSION — The stars were out and shining Thursday night as the top athletes from across the Rio Grande Valley gathered for the 2019 All-Valley Sports Award Banquet at Mario’s Banquet & Conference Center in Mission. Thirty-three awards were handed out to players, coaches and teams who excelled in their respective sports.
One man who used to wear a star on his helmet, former Dallas Cowboys and NFL Hall of Fame member Randy White, was the guest speaker and spoke to the RGV’s best about his days playing under coach Tom Landry and along Ed “Too Tall” Jones.
“I’m honored to be here, and especially with the Tom Landry Award being given out. I had the honor of playing football for Coach Landry for 14 years and he was a special person to everybody he came in contact with. He always would say God comes first, then family, then football and whatever else,” White said during his speech. “All those years of success I was a part of for 14 years, what made us successful? To me, I always like to pick three things that I like to talk a little bit about that really I feel like are important when you’re on a team or in a group — empathy, drive and strength.”
Los Fresnos’ Isis Delgado earned the Tom Landry Award of Excellence — an award that represents the values which Landry stood for: integrity, sportsmanship, character and teamwork, as well as off the field areas. Delgado, the valedictorian of her senior class, was a volleyball player, a member of the National Honor Society and UIL math and science team. She also founded the Rancho Verde Elementary Volleyball Club, where she teaches volleyball to fifth-graders. Delgado will be pursuing a degree in Biochemistry at the University of Incarnate Word in the fall.
“It means a lot because all this work really paid off, all these sacrifices. It’s really an honor to know that my parents’ sacrifices and my own and my school helped me get this award,” she said.
GILPIN CROWNED TWICE
Mission Veterans quarterback Landry Gilpin, the 2018 Mr. Texas Football award winner, added two more honors to his collection as the dual-threat quarterback took home the All-Valley Football Player of the Year and Sub-6A Athlete of the Year.
Gilpin threw for 4,544 yards and 50 touchdowns while rushing for 2,112 yards and 32 more scores. He said he was proud to receive the award among elite athletic company.
“To be able to get an award out here in front of all these other great athletes — whether it was in track, whether it was in football — it was pretty special, especially with all the talent in this room,” he said.
PSJA TRACK ATHLETES SHARE TITLE
PSJA Memorial’s Cruz Gomez and PSJA Southwest’s Diego Treviño both won gold in May at the UIL Class 5A state track meet in Austin. The two PSJA ISD athletes shared the big stage once again at the AVSAB as Gomez and Treviño were named Co All-Valley Track and Field Athletes of the Year.
“It means a lot because we’re part of the PSJA family. Our schools are like eight minutes away from each other, so it’s cool to have these awards,” Treviño said.
“Winning gold and then winning probably the most prestigious award an athlete can get in the Valley, it’s an amazing feeling,” Gomez said.
Gomez also took home the All-Valley Cross Country Athlete of the Year award.
PIONEER ON THE RISE
Sharyland Pioneer took home two awards as winners of the Sub-6A Program of the Year and the baseball squad as the Sub-6A Team of the Year.
The Diamondbacks qualified for the postseason in 21 of 21 sports, including the baseball team which worked its way to the UIL 5A state tournament in Round Rock, the first RGV team to do so since Harlingen South in 2007.
Baseball coach Casey Smith said his team put in the work and their hard work paid off, while the Diamondbacks athletic programs continue to rise.
“It’s an honor to be considered with these teams that were up for this award and we appreciate that. As far as the work that we put in, we have a sign on our door that says you reap what you sew when you walk into our locker room. It couldn’t be more true as far as the hard work you put in is going to lend its benefits to you at the end of the road and our kids learned this year,” Smith said. “The credit goes to our administration, from our athletic director to our principals, for setting up the structure for us to be successful. We’ve had a couple of good years and we look to continue to push the envelope and continue to be a little better.”
NAME THE GAME
Choose a sport, any sport, and one of the winners of the All-Valley Athlete of the Year probably excelled at it.
PSJA High’s Trey Guajardo was named the 6A Male Athlete of the Year for his performance on the gridiron and on the diamond. Guajardo helped lead the Bears to district titles in both football and baseball, said winning the award is an honor.
“Going up against a lot of talent here in the Rio Grande Valley, it’s a tremendous honor. One that wouldn’t have been possible without my family, friends and coaches,” Guajardo said. “I put in a lot of hard work, and being my senior year, I wanted to go out with a bang, so winning this award is a huge honor.”
Mercedes standout Mika Vento made it happen wherever she took her game, be it on the track, volleyball court, or basketball court. Vento was named the Sub-6A Female Athlete of the Year for her athletic performances, but she was also a cheerleader under the Friday night lights and raises livestock with FFA. How does she make it all happen?
“Time management, I guess. Studies are always most important, so it’s always school work first and extracurricular after. It’s a huge honor. I’m blessed to be here, just making the top three was an honor and to win it was even more so,” Vento said.
McAllen High’s Lexi Gonzalez took home the 6A Female Athlete of the Year as the junior was a key piece on the Bulldogs volleyball and soccer teams. Gonzalez, an Oregon State volleyball commit, said the support around her allowed her to succeed.
“It really means a lot because my family and my teammates pushed me to be the best I can. Having all that support really helped me to become the person that I am,” Gonzalez said.
Edinburg Vela pitcher Nico Rodriguez was named the Baseball Player of the year as the Kansas State commit led the SaberCats into the third round of the playoffs with a 12-1 record, a .064 ERA and 121 strikeouts. Rodriguez also had 24 RBIs and three home runs.
Two PSJA ISD athletes won both wrestling awards as PSJA High’s Nayeli Hernandez and PSJA Memorial’s Abel Alvardo took home the All-Valley Girls and Boys Wrestlers of the Year titles.
Weslaco High sophomore Amity Ebarb won the All-Valley Female Track and Field Athlete of the Year award after qualifying for the state meet in three different events.
Edinburg Vela was named the All-Valley 6A Program of the Year as they went deep into the playoffs in nearly every sport.
Sharyland High’s Jimmy Lee earned the All-Valley Boys Golfer of the Year award after winning the state championship in May.
McAllen Memorial’s Jocelyn Everage earned the All-Valley Volleyball Player of the Year award, and fellow Mustang Stacia Beñitez was named the All-Valley Girls Swimmer of the Year.