Top 10 Local Sports Stories of 2019

Chris Carpenter

No. 1-JHS’s Carpenter signs with Colorado

Chris Carpenter launched the next journey in his football life early Wednesday morning when he signed a National Letter of Intent with Colorado University of the Pac-12 Conference. Carpenter (5'-11”, 170 pounds) is rated as a three-star talent at wide receiver. With offers from Power 5 schools including Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Oregon and Virginia to choose from, Carpenter said deciding on becoming a Buffalo was an easy decision. “When I visited the campus and met some of the players and the Colorado coaches, it was like I had never left Texas,” Carpenter said. “Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I really felt I would fit in good at Colorado.” Colorado is coached by Mel Tucker, who just finished his first season as head coach in Boulder. Carpenter said that he is looking forward to playing for Tucker. “Coach Tucker has coached in the NFL and he is a good coach,” he said. “I can't wait to get up and get to work.” Carpenter sports 4.44 speed in the 40 and is a receiver who can carry his speed for a long distance. He has been labeled as a receiver with nice hands, and one who is not afraid of taking a hit, according to various national recruiting evaluators. Chris is the son of Delanna Hollis, who along with Carpenter's grandfather, Lee Carpenter, surrounded him as he signed his paperwork inside the Jacksonville Fieldhouse as other family members, friends and coaches witnessed the event.

No. 2-Moreira a part of TJC national championship team

Alexia Moreira, a freshman at Tyler Junior College and a Jacksonville High School graduate, is a member of the Apache Ladies' National Junior College Athletic Association Division I national championship team. The TJC ladies beat Monroe (New York) College, 4-1, at Orlando Health Stadium in Melbourne, Fla. in late November to claim their fourth national title in school history — TJC also won it all in 2009, 2011 and 2017. “I'm thankful for us being able to win the national championship,” Moreira said. “But, I am also thankful for being able to play along side, and to be able to learn from players from all over the world. This experience is so much bigger for me than what you think.” Moreira paid dividends for the Apache Ladies (22-1) this season. She played in all 23 matches and was in the starting lineup 20 times. The tall midfielder, who is daughter of Jaime and Leticia Moreira of Jacksonville, scored two goals (one game winner), had three assists and was 1-1 on penalty kicks for TJC. Moreira said that the entire season has been a learning experience for her and that in the end she feels like she has successfully made the adjustment from high school to collegiate soccer. “I was super nervous coming into the program from high school,” she said. “The standard is so high (at TJC) and Coach (Corey) Rose is very demanding. We constantly work on so many of the little things in practice.” Moreira went on to say that she had to adjust to the faster pace of the game at the college level and was challenged to think faster as well. That transition was made easier by having so many awesome teammates surrounding Moreira. “We have a great group of girls here, and it was easy to be one of the team,” Moreira said. “I think when I first saw my name in the starting line up I became more confident. To be one of the few American starters really made me proud,” she recalled. Moreira's success didn't come easy, and she vividly described a key point in the season that ended up giving her the lift that she needed for the long stretch of post season games. “Before the match with Navarro (Nov. 3) that determined the conference championship, I looked at my stats, and I didn't like what I saw,” Moreira said. “I remember being in the locker room at halftime, with the score tied 0-0, and staring at the ball and saying to myself that I have to take a shot if I got the chance.” At the 55:57 mark Moreira had her opportunity, and she delivered what was the Apache Ladies' first goal, as TJC went on to defeat Navarro, 2-0. “Definitely one of my favorite memories from the season,” she said. “I kicked the ball with my left leg. That is not my strong leg, and it still went in.” Moreira, who garnered All-Region XIV honorable mention status, mentioned that she wants to share being a national champion with Jacksonville. “I feel that this is good for Jacksonville because it raises the bar high for all the little girls that are playing soccer here,” she said. “I see so many incredibly talented girls coming up in Jacksonville. The future is so bright here. “I would like for each of those girls to know how much they mean to me and how I do what I do to inspire them, just like they inspire me.” Moreira also gave credit to one of her former coaches, Jesus Ledesma, for molding her into the person that she is on and off the field and to Sissy Austin for always being a huge motivator through the years.

No. 3-Brook Hill spikers qualify for state tournament for the first time

Brook Hill Volleyball has advanced to the Final Four for the first time in school history. The Lady Guard (21-7-3), who went through district play undefeated lost to Carrollton Prince of Peace, 3-0, in a state semi-fianl match. The TAPPS Class 5A state championships were held at West High Shool. The Lady Guard defeated St. Michael's Catholic Academy 3-1 on Saturday in a TAPPS Class 5A regional final that took place at Mexia High School. Team members include: junior Kensi Holley, junior Anna Hardee, sophomore Mollee McCurley, senior Laurel Reed, senior Katherine Mondrik, junior Emily Livesay, sophomore Allyson Juarez, junior Lexi Turner, senior Natalie Travis, junior Mary Elizabeth Roberts, sophomore Belle Reed and sophomore Anna Conner.

No. 4-Wells baseball team has history-making campaign

A season in which the Wells Pirates made history concluded in early May with the Pirates losing, 12-2, to New Home in a UIL Class A state semi-final contest. The game was played at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. The Pirates, the Region III champions, end the year with a 16-9 record. New Home scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning to take the early lead, only to have the Pirates fight back to tie the game. Wells scored its first run in the top of the second frame and added another in the third, when the Pirates appeared to be on the verge of having a huge inning. Kaleb Parnell and Logan Tucker led off the segment with base hits and the Pirates were able to load the sacks when Garrett Allen was hit by a pitch. Wells was making its first trip to the state tournament while New Home was eliminated in the state semi-finals last year by Slocum, who went on to win the state championship. Wells seniors Garrett Allen, Tanner Glover, Jakari Hadnot, Dillon Manning, Jackson Scroggins, and Logan Tucker donned the Orange and White for the final time. Bode Stewart then walked Wells' Jackson Scroggins, which forced in the tying run. Stewart than regained control and retired the next three Pirates that he faced to end the inning. Wells was plagued by leaving men on base — the Orange and White stranded 10 runners compared to the Leopards' four. It was all New Home the rest of way, as the Leopards, the Region I champions, plated two men in the home half of the fourth before exploding for eight runs in the sixth, which gave the lads from West Texas a run rule victory. Stewart, New Home's starting pitcher worked five innings and allowed two runs, one earned, off of four hits. He fanned 10 and walked four while earning the win. Stewart also had a stellar game at the dish. He went 2-for-3, with a triple and a double and amassed five RBI. Tucker and Parnell combined to stroke five of Wells' six hits — a Joshua Layton double was the Pirates' remaining safety. Tucker went 3-for-4 and Parnell had two hits in four official trips. Allen drove in a run for the Pirates. Jakari Hadnot, Wells' ace, worked five innings on the mound and surrendered six runs on five hits. The senior righty walked four and struck out eight. Parnell and Tucker came on in relief of Hadnot. Wells was making its first trip to the state tournament while New Home was eliminated in the state semi-finals last year by Slocum, who went on to win the state championship. NOTE: Wells seniors Garrett Allen, Tanner Glover, Jakari Hadnot, Dillon Manning, Jackson Scroggins, and Logan Tucker ended their days as Pirates on Wednesday.

No.5- Tribe Soccer advances to state semi-finals

- Jacksonville's post season run came to an end on Friday night when the Tribe lost, 2-0, to the defending Class 5A state champions from Frisco Wakeland. The defeat came in a Class 5A, Region II semi-final match that was played inside Standridge Stadium in Carrollton. The Wolverines (20-2-5). who were playing in their fourth-straight regional tournament, nailed down the Region II championship by nipping Mount Pleasant, 1-0, on Saturday. The Tribe closes up shop for 2019 with a 25-5 record. Jacksonville, who is coached by Rudy Jaramillo, was making its first regional tournament appearance as a Class 5A school. The Indians appeared in the Class 4A Region III tournament in Humble in 2014.

No. 6-JHS girls XC team qualifies for regionals; Gutierrez runs in state meet

Jacksonville's Fightin' Maiden cross country team successfully repeated as District 16-5A champions.. The Maidens scored 29 points to finish ahead of second place Nacogdoches (68) and Lufkin (72), who came in third place in the team standings. All three schools punched a ticket to the Class 5A Region II Championships, Rounding out things in the team standings were Pine Tree (105), Hallsville (119), Whitehouse (158) and John Tyler (172). The quintet of Jacksonville runners all ended up finishing in the top 10 to easily give the Fightin' Maidens the district title. Taylor Gutierrez (2nd, 18:59) was the first Maiden to cross the finish line on the brisk morning. Reyna Muñoz was clocked in 20:45 and ran fourth while Lesly Muñoz took the sixth position, running a 20:53. Alexia Davis (7th, 20:58) and Aly Toledo (10th, 21:07) rounded out things for Jacksonville. Michelle Medellin was timed in 21:11.1 and Madison Soultanova stopped the clock on 21:11.3 The race winner was Carolyn Hale of Hallsville, who was timed in 18:51. Jacksonville's average time was 20:32. Gutierrez froze the timer at 18:30 on Monday when she finished fifth in the Class 5A, Region II Cross Country Championships, which were held at the Jessie Owens Memorial Complex in Dallas. Varsity Boys The Tribe will be represented at regionals by sophomores Kevin Nava and Marco Hernandez. Nava finished in seventh place in the individual standings and was timed in 17:16, which was his fastest time of the year. Finishing in 10th place was Hernandez, who ran the configuration in a time of 17:31. Any participant finishing in the top 10 that was not on one of the top three teams earned a trip to regionals as well. Nava was excited about his time and the result that it produced. “I am pleased with my finish,” he said. “At the beginning of the race I was just trying to keep up, and at the end I knew I had to have something left to finish strong. “Practice is all about being in condition come race time. We work a lot on breathing correctly and that really helped me in this race.” Tribe head coach Rudy Jaramillo said that considering how young his team is he was pleased with their efforts. “It's a tough road when you have four sophomores and two freshmen,” he said. “There was only about six seconds separating us from finishing third as a team, so that is something to be proud of.” Adan Hernandez (16:33) from Lufkin was the first to cross the finish line. Junior Varsity Lufkin scored 15 points (a perfect score) to win the team title in the JV Boys segment. Tallying 114 points, Jacksonville came in fourth place. Lufkin's Marcus Alday (17:36) was the race's winner, with Ramiro Alvarez (19:41) and Jacinto Flores (19:41) leading the Tribe to the wire by finishing in 14th and 15th place respectively. The top three schools in the JV Girls division were Lufkin (39), Nacogdoches (37) and Jacksonville (50). Stopping the timer on 14:51 gave Lufkin's Esperanza Cuevas the individual title. The top performers for Jacksonville were Dayana Muñoz (6th, 15:24) and Destiny Garcia (7th, 15:27).

No. 7-Rogers makes 5 tackles in Blue-Grey All-Star game

In mid December Monday Sean Rogers fulfilled a chance of a lifetime to play in a football game at AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) in Arlington. The Rusk High School senior played for the West squad in the Blue-Grey All-American High School Football game. Rogers, a 6'2” 185 lb. linebacker, made his presence known by making five tackles in the game, which was won by the East, 41-15. “Sean had a real good game,” Rusk head football coach Jowell Hancock said. “In addition to the tackles he (Rogers) was in on a lot of action. “I am so proud of him and the desire he has to compete and improve daily. Sean has already given his best for the Rusk Eagle Family.”

No. 8-Tribe Team Tennis has best season since 2010

Jacksonville Tribe Tennis completed its most successful fall campaign of team tennis since 2010 by advancing to the Class 5A, Region II Area round matchup that took place in Wills Point. Jacksonville fell 10-0 to a season kaufman team in the semi-final match. The David Hanna-coached Tribe finished second to Whitehouse in the Distirct 16-5A race, which wasn’t decided until the final regular-season match between the rivals.

No. 9-Jacksonville College men’s basketball team successfully defends South Zone title

Playing in their final home game of the season , the Jacksonville College Jaguars stormed past Blinn College, 79-65. The victory enabled the Jags to clinch the Region XIV South Zone championship, even though JC had two regular-season games left on the docket. JC moved to 20-8, 10-5 following the win, with the Buccaneers dropping to 19-9, 6-9. Jag head coach Aaron Smith reflected on the magnitude of his team's accomplishment. “It is so hard to win just one game in this league,” Smith said. “To think that we have been able to win the South Zone championship proves how hard these guys have been working and how much they have improved.” Saturday's game had some peaks and valleys for the Jags. After hitting five treys in the first eight minutes of the game, JC led Blinn by 13 points, 26-13, with 12:10 to play in the first half. But after a couple of timely 3-pointers by Kai Tease in the final two minutes of the half, the Bucs managed to go on a 12-2 run and tie the score at 37 going into intermission. The first six minutes of the second half was a back-and forth affair, with JC making its move at the 13:41 mark when Joel Polius drained a couple of shots from the charity line that put the Jags up 50-49 — JC was able to not only hold on to the advantage, but build on it as the final 20:00 played out. “Coach (Smith) told us at half time that we needed to play like grown men and go out and get the win,” Christopher Corley, a freshman from Evergreen, Ala. said. “He told us if we could take care of things on the defensive end then we should be ok.” JC outscored Blinn 42-28 in the second half. Corley was one of several Jags that stepped up in the game. With Blinn trailing 74-63 with just over two minutes left in the game, Corley, who is not recognized as a 3-point shooter, set up shop in the corner and drained two-consecutive treys that sewed up the win for JC. “Other teams don't defend me as a 3-point shooter,” he said. “But that is a part of my game that I have worked hard on improving in practice.” Corley had made just five triples all season going into play Saturday. The Jags were able to close the game on an 8-2 run to secure the triumph, thanks largely to Corley's rainbows. Six Jags ended up in double figures, with Jordan Mitchell putting in 15 and Jermaine Drewey knocking in 13. Shea Rax added a dozen points and Polius scored 10 to compliment his 12 rebounds. Corley had 10 points and nine boards and Akili Vining scored 10 points. Jalin Brown led all players with 21 rebounds. He also scored six points. Brown came into the game averaging eight boards a night. As a team the Jags pulled down 53 rebounds to the Bucs' 30. JC had 18 offensive rebounds compared to Blinn's nine. “They (Blinn) beat us by four points when we played them (in Brenham), so they knew what we would be doing, and we knew what they would be doing. It just came down to execution,” Smith said when asked what the key to victory was for his team. Tristen Ikpe poured in 19 for the Bucs. JC will head to Lufkin to play Angelina College at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

No. 10-Alto Football goes undefeated in regular season

The Yellowjackets of Alto capped of their first undefeated regular season since 2007 on Friday night at Cam'Ron Matthews Field at Yellowjacket Stadium by blasting Union Grove, 50-15. Alto (10-0, 5-0) went on to rout Cayuga, the fourth place team from District 9-2A-I, in a Class 2A-I bi-district game that was played at the Historic Tomato Bowl in Jacksonville. Alto was never threatened in the game Friday — the Mean Sting led 28-7 at halftime and never looked back. The Lions drop the curtain on the regular season with a record of 4-6, 1-4. Cayle Irvin ignited the Alto defense by making 14 tackles and three tackles for loss. Harmon West added nine stops, Josh Castillo tossed in six, while Foster Hall was credited with five stops. Alto's defensive unit limited the Lions to a total of 132 yards in the game. Aaron Skinner recorded another huge night for the Jackets. Skinner carried 20 times for 220 yards and had a 1-yard touchdown. Vi'Darious High toted the rock 10 times for 195 yards and scored touchdowns of 97 and 17 yards, respectively. Skyler Atkins jetted to pay dirt from 48-yards out for the Jackets. West, as quarterback, ran for a 1-yard score and connected with Todd Duplichain on a 7-yard scoring strike.

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