When it came time to rank the top sports stories from Bee County for the 2019 calendar year, it wasn’t hard to pick No. 1, but it was a monumental task in ranking the rest of the field.
1 The clear winner in this year’s list is the historic season of the Beeville Trojan football season.
With Chris Soza once again at the helm of the Trojan football program, Beeville completed the first perfect regular season in program history.
The Trojans routed King 49-21 in the season opener at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Soza’s first game back atop the program.
Wins over Orange Grove, Tuloso-Midway, Sinton, Antonian Prep and San Antonio Central Catholic followed as Beeville entered district play with a perfect 6-0 mark.
The Trojans, who were picked to finish fourth in District 15-4A Division I by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, beat district favorite La Vernia 49-28 in the district opener.
They followed that with a dominating win over Gonzales, a road victory over Boerne and, finally, a triumph over Pleasanton back at Veterans Memorial Stadium to complete a 10-0 campaign.
It was the first undefeated regular season in the program’s history and also the first of Soza’s career.
The Trojans then won a bi-district title by routing Zapata, before their run came to an end against a stout El Campo squad in the area round.
The 11 wins tied the school record for victories in a single season. The 2001 and 2007 squads both won 11 games.
The 11-1 campaign gave Beeville its fourth straight winning season, the first such streak since the 1983-1986 teams.
2 The No. 2 story on this year’s list of top sports stories comes from the sport of track and field, particularly the latter of the two.
Beeville’s Allie Estrada and Skidmore-Tynan’s Katryna Hernandez both won silver medals at the UIL state meet on back-to-back days inside Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.
Hernandez was the first of the two to win her medal, finishing second to Jacksboro’s Baylee Thompson in the shot put at the 3A state meet.
She led the field after the first set of throws, but Thompson passed her with her fourth throw.
Hernandez posted her best throw on her fifth attempt, 42 feet, 3/4 inches, but it wasn’t enough to catch Thompson.
The next day, during the 4A meet, Estrada became Beeville’s first girls state medalist since 1997 with a second-place performance in the triple jump.
The sophomore posted the two best jumps of her career during the event.
On her second attempt, she broke her own school mark with a jump of 38-9 1/4.
Silsbee’s Honestee Holman moved in front of Estrada in the third round and stayed there for the remainder of the event.
Estrada, with the silver already locked up, broke her own school mark again on her sixth attempt with a leap of 38-9 1/2.
She became the first Lady Trojan to medal at the state meet since Demetria Jefferson, who won a silver in the 400-meter dash in 1997.
3 The No. 3 story on this year’s list is really two stories in one about a pair of girls basketball teams that made historic runs in the early part of the year.
The Beeville and Skidmore-Tynan girls basketball teams both made deep playoff runs, reaching their respective regional tournaments before bowing out.
Skidmore-Tynan won the 29-3A district championship with an 11-1 record before embarking on a playoff run that would eventually land the Lady Cats in the 3A Region IV championship game.
The Lady Cats (29-10) won bi-district and area championships before finally getting over the hump in the regional quarterfinals, which had proven to be the round of doom for the Tim Stowe-led Lady Cats.
They then held on for a win in the regional semifinals to claim a spot in the regional championship for the first time since 1975.
Poth ended Skidmore’s run 54-32 to advance to the 3A state tournament in San Antonio.
For the Beeville Lady Trojans, San Diego State-bound post Kamaria Gipson led her team to a school-record 30 wins and just the second regional tournament berth in program history.
The Lady Trojans went into the postseason as the No. 3 seed out of District 31-4A, but beat Rio Hondo, Devine and Orange Grove on their way to the 4A Region IV tournament in the gym their coach used to frequent as a youngster growing up in Kingsville.
With Texas A&I alum Paul Yuma stalking the sidelines, the Lady Trojans were in front through three quarters over Burnet at the Gil E. Steinke Physical Education Center on the campus of Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Burnet exploded for 19 fourth-quarter points, though, and claimed a 44-31 win to advance to the regional final, which they won over Liberty Hill to advance to the state tournament.
The Trojans finished the season 30-8.
4 The No. 4 story on this year’s list also comes from the sport of basketball with a tale about the end of an era in the sport.
Longtime Beeville boys basketball coach Mike Luce retired at the end of the 2018-19 school year, ending a teaching and coaching career that spanned more than four decades.
He spent the last 33 of his 43 years in the profession at Beeville, and was the head boys basketball coach for 27 of those years.
He won 432 games at Beeville, produced eight 20-win seasons and 16 winning seasons.
In total, the former Baylor Bear won 490 games over 30 seasons as a head coach.
The 1970 San Antonio Lee alumnus moved to Beeville in 1986 after a three-year stint at George West.
He produced winning seasons in four of his first five seasons at the helm, including a 17-11 campaign in his first year.
The breakout season came in 1991-92 when Luce led the Trojans to a 26-8 campaign and broke the program’s 24-year playoff drought on the way to the regional semifinals.
His 1996-97 team posted 27 wins, which would prove to be the most by a Luce-led squad.
Two teams after that posted 26-win seasons, including the 2017-18 team that also reached the regional tournament and nearly upended eventual Region IV champion Wharton in the regional semifinals.
5 The No. 5 story on this year’s list of the top sports stories takes us the sport of powerlifting where a long track record of success continued for the Beeville Lady Trojans.
Desiree Gonzales and Amidy Moreno won medals for the Lady Trojans at the state powerlifting meet, marking the fifth straight year that a Lady Trojan lifter has won a medal at the state meet.
Gonzales won the silver medal in the 165-pound weight class in 4A, while Moreno was the bronze medalist in the 148-pound weight class.
Gonzales was atop the standings in her weight class going into the dead lift before Snyder’s Saraya Velasquez posted a personal-record pull to leapfrog her in the standings.
Gonzales finished second to Velasquez by 25 pounds with a total of 950 pounds.
Moreno, who had battled the flu the week leading up to the state meet, nearly bombed out in the bench press before flying up the standings in the dead lift to win her bronze medal.
She was seventh after the squat and then missed her first two attempts in the bench press.
On her final attempt, she easily drove up 190 pounds to stay alive and climb to sixth in the standings.
She then posted the second-best pull in the dead lift in her class to climb three more spots to third.
Shepherd’s Erieanna Lopez was the only lifter to best Moreno on the dead lift platform on her way to winning gold in the class.
Ten other sports stories were considered for a spot in this year’s top five.
Those stories, in no particular order, were:
•Kamaria Gipson goes for 45 and 50 points in same week for Lady Trojan basketball team
• Gipson scores her 2,000th career point for the Lady Trojan basketball team
•Coastal Bend baseball team wins first ever regular season region championship
•Peyton Knapp finishes fifth at state wrestling meet, becoming just eighth Trojan to medal
•Beeville girls soccer team makes historic run through postseason on way to berth in regional tournament
•Beeville boys soccer team earns first playoff bid in seven years
•Jerry Bomar resigns as athletic director and head football coach at Beeville for same positions at Groesbeck, where he won state title in 1991
•Beeville softball team claims fifth straight bi-district title with 9-0 win over Port Isabel
•Beeville Little League major boys all-stars win Texas East District 29 Zone 1 championship
•Jada Johnson becomes first Beeville cross country runner to qualify for state since 2014