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Sports

6   Ellis County Chronicle   Thursday, June 23, 2011

Alex Riley, Sports Writer 469-517-1456 | alex.riley@wninews.com

2010-11 Red Oak athletes of the year Chronicle sports writer Alex Riley selects his top five senior boy and girl sports standouts from the past academic year Male athletes

1.

Female athletes

Casey Hawkins

1.

Hunter Porter

In today’s high school athletic climate, players are starting to focus on one sport exclusively. Some athletes still take part in two sports but normally they have correlation like powerlifting and football. And then, there’s Hawkins. A true three-sport star, Hawkins saved his best for last by dominating the field of competition this year. In football, he compiled 50 tackles, two sacks, a pass defended, fumble recover, fumble caused and a blocked field en route to second-team all-district honors.

On the basketball court, Hawkins averaged 3.3 points per game to go along with a 4.0 rebounds per game, third highest on the team, earning honorable mention all-district status. His final sports success story came on the track and field team where Hawkins qualified for regionals in shot put and discus. He would finish fifth in discus, Red Oak’s highest regional track finisher this year. Topping it all off, Hawkins was all-academic and an all-state choir selection. Talk about range of talents.

Porter’s signature is her success. Her senior year was an example of signed, sealed and delivered. A two-sport standout in volleyball and powerlifting, Porter capped her high school career the way she started off with – as a winner. On the volleyball court, Porter helped guide the Lady Hawks back to the 4A Region II regional final for the second-consecutive season while earning yet another district title and keeping the district unbeaten streak in-

tact. Along the way, Red Oak beat countyrivals Waxahachie and Midlothian. Porter earned first-team all-district honors, the team MVP and was selected to the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s all-state team. After having to sit out last powerlifting season with a knee injury, Porter raised the bar once again returning to the top ranking slot in the 165-pound class of Region 3. She reached the state meet once again, this time bringing home a bronze medal finish. Porter has signed with Emporia State for volleyball.

2. Daniel Almaguer

3. Garett Thomas

2. Paige McMillan

3. Paige Newcomer

Almaguer leaves Red Oak as arguably the alltime greatest soccer player to ever take the field for the Hawks. A four-year letterman, Almaguer’s 63 goals, 27 assists and 153 total points are all career bests for the program. He won the District 28-4A MVP this season en route to earning TASCO all-region honors. He scored 30 goals this season to help lead the team to back-to-back district crowns, a first in program history.

4. Blake Mirowitz Putting a photo of Mirowitz in a football jersey is a bit misleading but he did play two sports during his years at Red Oak. However, Mirowitz’s biggest impact came on the powerlifting team where the senior was the No. 1 lifter in the 123-pound class of Region 3 pretty much all season heading into the state meet. In Abilene, Mirowitz placed eighth in his class capping a stellar which included multiple appearances at the state meet.

Thomas did just about everything he could for the Red Oak baseball program and his efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Thomas led the Hawks in batting with a .417 average, and earned first-team all-district honors for his efforts. Thomas was also tabbed as the team’s offensive MVP. He also hit his first career home runs this spring – an inside-the-park job at Lancaster and a pair of bombs against Texas High in the area playoffs.

5. Robert Elles The Red Oak baseball team asked Elles to play a big role this year and he responded. Elles led the pitching staff with a 1.45 ERA in district. He also was a major contributor at the plate. Elles biggest performances came when the season was in the balance as he willed the team to a win over Waxahachie to take the third district seed and sealed the bi-district series finale against Bryan Rudder for the program’s deepest playoff run in a decade.

Honorable mention Ishmael Harrison, football It’s hard leaving a D-I football signee off the list but injury cut Harrison’s season short in two sports. He was unable to get back completely after the Terrell game and surgery ended his track and field career before the season ever started. Still, Harrison was a second-team all-district football pick thanks to 306 yards receiving with three touchdowns and 403 yards rushing with seven touchdowns. He will play at UTEP next fall. Zach Gonazles, baseball Affectionately known as “Gonzo,” the senior infielder was solid in the field and at the plate. He and Garett Thomas were a doubleplay turning machine and more importantly he was a senior leader who other players turned to in the dugout. He was a secondteam all-district pick. Brandon Hebert, football and basketball Hebert was a starter in two sports, earning honorable mention all-district honors in football and first-team all-district in basketball. He amassed 35 tackles on the gridiron while scoring an average of 9.6 points with 5.8 rebounds in basketball. Ramen Lopez, soccer A speedy ball handler, Lopez earned TASCO all-region honors and was selected to the

Senior Showcase game in Georgetown after being named first-team all-district. He becomes the first member of his family to go to college where he will play soccer. Drew Tyra, baseball Who knew that Tyra had this kind of year in him? Given the opportunity to battle for a starting spot, Tyra came up big time and time again with off-speed pitching that kept hitters fooled. His two biggest outings came when the team needed him the most – on the road at Forney and against Bryan Rudder in game three of the bi-district series. He got the win in both outings. Mandel Dixon, football and basketball Another two-sport standout, Dixon, known as “Beast,” earned second-team all-district in football despite injuries and honorable mention all-district in basketball. He finished with five combined touchdowns between rushing and receving. Dixon has signed to play at Pittsburgh State. Others considered Carlos Pineda (football), Preston Hancock (soccer), Richie Barrientos (football and soccer), Hunter Gnoza (swimming and baseball), Joel Ramirez (soccer), Kirk Brown (cross country and baseball), Nick Giron (football and basketball)

Two-sport stars don’t get much brighter than McMillan. On the soccer field, McMillan was a spark plug, leading the team in just about every imaginable offensive category. She earned offensive MVP of the district and TASCO all-region honors. McMillan also played a key role on Red Oak’s track team running several relay legs and the 200m dash. She has signed with Troy University to do both sports at the D-I level.

4. Kiona Robinson A crafty guard with an extra gear few players have, Robinson shined in every facet of the game this year, forcing steals, scoring points and dominating the court for Red Oak. Robinson averaged 13.3 points per game while doling out 2.3 assists per game to help lead the team back to the playoffs for the second-straight season, after missing out on the playoffs for five straight years. For her efforts, Robinson was tabbed as a first-team alldistrict selection.

Newcomer figured to have a great year as a senior and did just that. Making her efforts allthe-more impressive, Newcomer played soccer and golf at the same time and succeeded in both. She was a key role player on the soccer team but found her true calling on the links. Newcomer’s efforts helped lead the Lady Hawks to a second-place finish in district and a regional berth. Where the capped the year by edging Waxahachie on Newcomer’s final putt.

5. Gabby Pena There’s a reason Pena’s peers voted her “most athletic” for the senior superlatives. Pena shined on the hardwood as starter for both the volleyball and basketball teams. She helped the volleyball team to a regional final game while earning first-team all-district honors in the fall. Once winter rolled around, Pena began her time with the basketball team earning first-team all-district honors there as well.

Honorable mention Kaycie Bird, volleyball You can’t argue with Bird’s body of work over the last four years – district titles, playoff runs and plenty of records. Bird was an assist machine with 1,070 doled out this season alone. She also led the team in points served with 437. Bird was also top five on the team in aces (76) and digs (362). She was key to setting her power hitting teammates up this fall on the road to another district title and deep playoff run. Bird will continue her career at Dallas Baptist next year. Jamie Conkle, basketball With Raquel Dent gone, everyone wondered who would step up in the post for Red Oak this season. Conkle was happy to answer that call. Using her reach, the senior post player swatted away a few shots and played a huge role in rebounding on a guard heavy team. She also provided strong leadership the program will miss next season. Kyla Burke, softball Last season, Burke was a bench player who saw very little action. This year, she was a starter and key part of Red Oak’s success. Burke played third all season long, the only player aside from pitcher Marley Dickert to play one position for the entire season. Her defense was crucial for the Lady Hawks and for her work she was named honorable mention all-district. Burke also became the first

signee for Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s inaugural softball signing class. Morgan Watts, volleyball and track A year removed from earned district newcomer of the year status, Watts showed she wasn’t new to the varsity game anymore. The senior stepped up as the blocking leader for the Lady Hawks with 116 and amped her offense up another notch with 277 kills, third best on the team. For her efforts, Watts was tabbed first-team all-district. She also competed in high jump for the track team bringing home a few top five finishes from various meets. Watts has signed on with Hardin Simmon to continue her volleyball career. Lauren Tamez, softball Tamez showed she could role with the punches this season moving spots in the outfield to help the team under new coach Tatum Thorne’s request. The result was a turnaround that brought the Lady Hawks from the cellar to playoff contenders. Tamez batted .352 with six doubles on the season and earned honorable mention all-district honors. Others considered Lauren Hunter (soccer), Lindsay Prasifka (volleyball), Rebecca Allen (softball), Kara Kistner (basketball), Danielle Barrientez (softball), Shayna Thomas (soccer), Amanda Warner (basketball)


Sports

6   Ellis County Chronicle   Thursday, June 23, 2011

Alex Riley, Sports Writer 469-517-1456 | alex.riley@wninews.com

Mays proving better than average freshman Rookie shows no fear attitude during summer By ALEX RILEY

Chronicle sports writer

WAXAHACHIE – Kajaira Mays could take the easy way out. She could simply say she’s a rising freshman who is simply learning to play basketball at the high school level. She could hit a few shots, play a little defense and worry about becoming a great player later. That was never an option for Mays. At least, not in her mind. “I’m just trying to get the junior high girls and let them know what it’s like at the high school level. Let them know that it’s not like junior high and it’s a lot tougher, more aggressive and faster,” May said. As members of the Red Oak girls basketball team take part in summer league games, Mays has quickly separated herself from the pack with heady play and a no-fear attitude. In back-to-back games against Waxahachie2 and Midlothian, Mays led the Lady Hawks with eight points each game. In the team’s most recent game against a conglomerate of Waxahachie players and alumni, she finished with six points, the third highest total on the team. She isn’t affair to shoot the ball from outside, hitting a handful of 3-pointers since the summer league started. Her defense is strong as well thanks to quick hands and fluid footwork, both signs of a veteran mentality beyond her years. “It’s very important. I have to show how I can communicate on

the floor and move without the ball and even when we’re losing still play aggressive and don’t stop,” Mays said. Mays is so far ahead of her age when it comes to basketball she is being asked to do job reserved for the most veteran of players. Returning varsity player Shelby Dixon will most likely run the point for the Lady Hawks next season. Dixon, the newcomer of the year for District 15-4A last season, is a skilled ball handler who can shoot from just about anywhere on the court and isn’t afraid to drive to the basket against a defense. While she might spend much of the season as the point guard, odds are she won’t spend every second the Lady Hawks are on the court at the position. Mays, as it turns out, just might be the backup option. During summer league games, Mays has periodically taken over the point position when Dixon needs a respite. It remains unseen if such duties will be asked of her, especially when Diamond Lockart and Taylor McCullough, two Red Oak guards currently playing on AAU teams, return to the team. Still, it’s a role she’s preparing for if it’s necessary. “I am (capable of running point). I just like the wing better,” Mays says with a smile. Contact Alex at alex.riley@ wninews.com or at 469-517-1456.

Photo by Alex Riley/The Chronicle

Kajaira Mays watches as a Waxahachie player prepares to inbound a ball during a summer league game. Mays has show flashes of brilliance during summer work.

Baseball camp Photos by Alex Riley/The Chronicle

Athletes of all ages took part in baseball camp last week at Red Oak High School. While the school is searching for a new coach to replace Heath Autrey, players were schooled in the fundamentals of baseball so they will be ready to take the field for the next head coach when they’re old enough.

Volleyball camp Photos by Alex Riley/The Chronicle

Preparation for another district title run is already underway for future Red Oak volleyball hopefuls as coach Hope Porter hosted camp for beginning players from seventh-grade and below in the morning with eighth-graders hitting the court in the afternoon.


Alex Riley, Sports Writer 469-517-1456 | alex.riley@wninews.com

Sports

Thursday, June 23, 2011   Ellis County Chronicle   7

The stars of tomorrow Chronicle sports writer takes a look at the names that’ll make headlines for Red Oak next school year Male athletes

Female athletes

Alberto Hernandez, baseball (left)

Whether you call him Alberto or “Votto,” you know Hernandez for one reason – he’s one heck of a defender. The reigning District 15-4A defensive MVP is as surehanded as they come, finishing the district season without making an error at third base. With Garett Thomas graduating, he could move from third to short but the position switch should affect what he does. Hernandez also showed huge strides at the plate as the season rolled along and ended up being one of the better hitters as of late. His range, arm strength and accuracy make him the real deal on the baseball diamond.

Caleah Wells, volleyball (left)

There is a long-standing tradition of tall blocker at Red Oak who have dominated opposing attacks with the ability to reject shots. Wells falls into line to be the next great player in that lineage. Last season, Wells showed she has exactly what it takes to stop a would-be kill and send it back over the net. The difference – this year she won’t have Morgan Watts to help her out and a lot of the responsibility for leadership and heady play will fall on her shoulders. She’s fully capable of carry that load but the district newcomer of the year won’t be sneaking up on anybody this time around.

Marley Dickert, softball

Alec Saucedo, track and field and cross country

Dickert was on this list last year and unless she magically turns into a senior overnight she’ll probably be in this category for quite some time. It’s problem coach Tatum Thorne is glad to have. Dickert was Red Oak’s lone pitching option again this season and once again did her best to carry the team. She has shown a mental toughness that few other players have and that will be key to getting the Lady Hawks back to the playoffs. Expect a huge season from Dickert this year as long as she stays healthy.

Claud Person, football and basketball (right)

Kennedi Coleman, volleyball and track and field (right)

A state qualifier in 2010, Saucedo came up short of reaching a second-straight state track meet but did make the cross country run. Just a rising junior, Saucedo figures to only better his situation each year and this coming season could be his best chance to get into state title contention. He’s got the endurance and speed to run with the best distance specialists in the state. As long as Saucedo keeps going like he has, he’ll be a top state prospect in no time. For his senior season, Person would be the person to keep your eye on in two different sports. Last fall, he split time with senior James Satterwhite at quarterback. Now, he’s the only signal caller with varsity experience and from the look of things could be the one and only quarterback Red Oak calls on next season. As if that weren’t enough, Person might have sole point guard duties for the basketball team as guard Brandon Brady and his family have moved out of state. If that stays true, Person will be the most likely candidate running the show in two of the biggest men’s sports. A good senior year might be in order.

Brandan McMillion, baseball

Wherever McMillion is on the baseball field, good things are soon to follow. During Red Oak’s playoff run last year, McMillion was key on defense, at the plate and on the mound. A first-team all-district pick, McMillion has range, speed and a strong arm. He can also hit just about anything thrown at the plate which is why he was always a top four hitter. Whatever the next coaching asks him to, McMillion will probably shine while doing it.

Jose Flores, soccer (left)

Coleman burst onto the Red Oak scene last year after moving in from a private school. She quickly rose to favor on the volleyball team and shined on the front line. She’s got a lot of energy and raw talent that was easy to see. For her efforts, Coleman was named second-team all-district. She then transitioned to track and field where she ran some sprint relay legs and helped the Lady Hawks reach regionals in two of three races. Her speed is hard to match and she could be ready for an even bigger statement this year.

Samantha Gonzales, soccer

Losing teammate Paige McMillan will be a true test for Gonzales as the duo made each other look good but if anyone can keep the strong play up it would the rising senior. Gonzales is solid striker who can score on just about any defense thanks in large part to her ability to control a possession. Gonzales and the Lady Hawks are already building something special, how far they go will be related to what Gonzales is able to do on the field. She was a first-team all-district pick this season and should be a superlative contender shortly.

It seems like Flores should have been off this list a long time ago and contending for an MVP spot as a senior but the truth of the matter is he’s still a young player. Now a rising junior, Flores has become one of the most sound defenders in all of Texas high school soccer. Someone else in the district will have to put up an amazing effort to take Flores out of contention for the district’s defensive MVP honor next season. His length and range have kept opposing offenses from getting clean looks at the goal each of the past two seasons. That trend only figures to get better as he gets older and wiser. If Flores plays up to his potential, the Hawks will be next to impossible to score on and could be looking at a third-straight district championship.

Luke Eubank, basketball

Eubank was an unknown coming into last season with just sub-varsity experience. Now he’s a fairly seasoned player who should be ready for more work in the low post next season. On a team that’s losing three of their five primary interior players, Eubank could be a player called on very quickly to fill one of those roles. He’s got an extremely physical player but instead relies on finesse shooting to earn his points. That’s fine, especially with a few guys willing to battle for the tougher points. His rebounding will have to get a little stronger but overall he could be a big, but pleasant, surprise next year.

Jeremiah Gaines, football and basketball (right)

Continuing to put Gaines on the “rising stars” list is a little redundant. His star has not only risen but it might be one of the brightest spots in all of Red Oak athletics. Gaines has gone from stud linebacker to up-and-coming halfback on the football field. With Mandel Dixon now graduated, Gaines will likely get a plethora of touches next season and become more of an offensive player, although don’t be surprise to see him on defense too. Basketballwise, he was named newcomer of the year for the district thanks to his natural ability to run the point and play the post. Gaines is a top tier prospect who will be a big name junior plenty of recruiting services will want to talk to next season. If you’re looking for “the next big thing,” look no further.

Cameron Bausley football

Bausley might part in track or powerlifting but his most vital spot will be the football team. After moving into the Red Oak area, Bausley proceeded to lead the Hawks in rushing with 621 yards on 112 carries. He also caught 21 passes for 163 and combined for five touchdowns. His shifty footwork and ability to hit the open hole make him an elusive back capable of carrying the load for the Hawks next season. If he can stay healthy and get some help from his offensive line, don’t be surprise if Bausley pushed for 800-plus yards in the regular season and tops 1,000 with a few playoff games.

Amber Tucker, softball (left)

Anytime you’re a team getting back your only first-team all-district player and your team MVP, it’s a good thing. Tucker is just that to the Lady Hawks. She’s as sound a defender as you’ll find on a softball field, even with position changes. Tucker moved from second to centerfield this year and shined in both slots. She’s got great range and a strong arm that translates into either slot. Her bat is consistent and fairly powerful. Tucker will be counted to do the right things and be a leader next season. With a relaxed attitude, she is the right person for the job.

Katie Boyce, basketball and softball

Boyce is simply a natural athlete who just wants to play and both the basketball and softball teams will have open slots for her, possibly as a starter. She spent a good portion of the season as a reserve for coach Melissa Fullmer’s basketball team but when she did enter the game she was impressive. Boyce isn’t afraid to shoot and plays stout defense. For the softball team, she was a defender until a reoccurring shoulder injury limited her field time. She did however spend a lot of time in the batter’s box and a designated player and produced a good number of key hits. Her responsibility will only grow next season.

Morgan Fairbanks, soccer (right)

The funny thing about Fairbanks is you’d never know she was a “newcomer” by her play. Voted the district newcomer of the year, Fairbanks looked the part of seasoned vet from the time she set foot on the field. Despite being a little undersized, Fairbanks battled with opposing players who had her beat in height, weight and strength and managed to stand tall time and time again. Expectations will now soar as she begins year two on varsity but don’t believe her production will drop off.

Jaimi Munoz, softball

There’s a reason Munoz ended the year as the district utility player of the year – she can do just about anything she puts her mind to. Munoz spent the season at a slew of positions from the outfield to infield. She batted leadoff much of the year and set the tone night after night. If she continues to produce like she has over the past two years, Munoz will be wearing a target next spring as a player opposing teams must always be aware of. Pressure isn’t something that seems to bother Munoz so don’t think she’ll change her approach.

Shelby Dixon, basketball (left)

Dixon’s first season in high school ended with a playoff berth and a district superlative – newcomer of the year. Now she’ll get to prove she can contend for more than that. While she might be pushing 6-foot, Dixon will most like run the point next year for Red Oak allowing Diamond Lockhart and Taylor McCullough to roam freely and score. More than that, Dixon can create her own offense when her teammates are covered up. She isn’t afraid to drive to the hoop and has the ability to make opposing defenses look like they’re standing still. Dixon’s numbers were strong last year (6.3 points per game, 1.9 rebounds per game) but she’ll have a lot more of the load this season with only four varsity returners coming back for the Lady Hawks. Despite that lack of depth, Dixon’s got enough talent and supporting cast to get the team back in the playoffs.

Shay Pate, soccer (left)

Daniel Almaguer left Red Oak as arguably the greatest soccer player to ever come through the program. Pate will do his best to top that status and he doesn’t have far to go. With his 30-goal performance last season, Pate is almost a shoe-in to top Almaguer’s career numbers in goals scored and points. He’s faster than fast with an ability to break away from defenders. He’s also extremely physical with opposing defenders and can work his way into an open shot with ease. Pate will end up being a top soccer prospect in the state of Texas possibly on the national level. Don’t be surprise to see him move on to a major university when his career his done.

Wade Regas, baseball

By the end of last season, Regas had quickly risen from reserve player to playoff starter. His defense at first base was impressive and it’s a spot he’ll probably end up anchoring down this coming spring. When he’s not playing defense, Regas could be asked to pitch. A lanky right-hander, Regas has solid stuff that includes a knuckleball, a feat rarely seen in high school baseball. He can hit the ball when he gets in a groove but his plate efforts will need to get more consistent. Don’t be surprised if he’s an all-district pick as a defender and pitcher.

Others of note:

Dylan Morales (baseball), Charles Crosby (football and powerlifting), Luke Lamb (football), Ben Blakely (football), Michael Amlong (baseball), Sam Jenkins (football and powerlifting), Jacob Lindsey (baseball), Johnny Jimenez (cross country and track), David Valencia (soccer), Ridge Milke (baseball), Tanner Hunt (football and track), Gabe Guzman (baseball), Arron Alonso (soccer), Jordan Dulworth (track), Quinton Slaughter (powerlifting and track)

One final note...

Samantha Gilmore, softball and golf

Gilmore is a two-sport standout in two sports that just so happen to go on at the exact same time. Yet somehow, she finds a way to make it work. Gilmore brings a solid bat to the softball field but could land at any number of positions when assignments are handed out. She started last year off at shortstop after being a third baseman the year before. She finished the 2011 season behind the plate but was still a consistent offensive threat. By that same token, Gilmore was a key member of Red Oak’s golf team which reached the 4A Region II tournament. She’ll be the veteran on that squad next year so expect nothing short of her best.

Others of note:

Diamond Lockhart (basketball), Lianna Vallejo (golf), Marisa Perez (soccer), Averi Walker (volleyball and soccer), Lauren Eshelman (soccer), Bailey Hebert (basketball), Hailey Sutton (volleyball and soccer), Kaitlin Callier (softball), Morgan Dufour (softball), Emmalee Smith (volleyball), Brittany Davis (soccer), Kayla Fernandez (track and field), Mallory Bolin (volleyball), Justine Lopez (soccer), Dori Richard (basketball and track and field)

Just wanted to say thanks once more for everything over the last two years. It has been a true pleasure to work in Ellis County covering the athletic excellence these schools put out. Again, I might be in Cheyenne, Wyo. working the Tribune-Eagle

but if there is ever anything I can do to help you please don’t hesitate to give me a shout. My email address will remain permanent at alex.riley21@gmail.com. Thanks for everything.

Chronicle Sports 6-22  

Alex Riley's final sports section in the Ellis County Chronicle. A look at the top 5 senior athletes and a peak at the up-and-coming stars.

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