Pleasanton’s stellar track season ends with historic finish at state
Rounding out the list of the top five stories from the spring sports season is one of the best finishes at the state track meet Atascosa County has seen.
The Pleasanton Eagles closed out their historic season by setting another historic mark with their fifth place finish at the Class 4A state meet in Austin on May 6. It’s the best finish in school history at the state meet.
The Eagles had six athletes compete in five events in Austin and every single one of them scored points.
Highlighting the state performance was freshman Jayden Palacios, who finished third in the 400-meter with a personal record of 49.32 seconds. Pleasanton’s 1600-meter relay team of Palacios, Juan Lopez, Sean Ramos and Este’van Jackson ran a school record time of 3:21.51 to finish fourth. That relay team consisted of two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman. They’re going to be ready to get on the podium in 2022.
“I had all the faith in the world that these young men were mentally and physically prepared to compete against the best in the state,” Head Coach Rudy Franco said. “They killed it out there and guess what? I get them all back!”
For Palacios, the state meet was a good eyeopener at the work he’s going to have to put in if he wants to be on the top of the podium at future state meets. He had never felt his legs that fatigued in any of the previous meets in 2021.
“This offseason, I’ve just gotta work really hard and give it all my effort,” Palacios said after claiming his bronze medal. “I’ve gotta work hard to get first next year.”
Also scoring points at the state meet for Pleasanton was freshman pole vaulter, who finished fourth with a PR of 14 feet.
Two weeks earlier, the Eagles also almost nabbed the program’s first regional track title at the Region IV-4A meet at Javelina Stadium in Kingsville. Pleasanton scored 62 points and finished two points behind Wimberley.
Pleasanton’s secondplace finish was led by the 1600 relay winning with a 3:23.49 after running a 3:23.51 in prelims. The Eagles also got first place finishes from Palacios in the 400 and senior Ashon Thompson in the 100.
Thompson went into the meet knowing he had to lay it all on the line against Bay City’s Brice Turner. The duo led the qualifying times in the region and Turner was the top seed.
In the prelims, Turner turned in a top time of 10.65 with Thompson running a 10.66. Thompson had the last laugh, running a 10.47 to win the regional title.
“It made me push harder,” Thompson said. “We tried to take ice baths [Friday], but I didn’t get in. I just had to push harder and give it my all.”
Pleasanton’s historic year also came in the first full year under Franco, who had served as the Head Coach for the junior high. After having his first year cut short in 2020, Franco was ecstatic to see the success his young team was having in 2021.
“I knew we had a great chance of sending quite a few guys to the state meet,” Franco said. “I knew there was a huge potential for success with these guys.”
Poteet’s Gonzales rises to challenge on biggest stage
Poteet’s Noah Gonzales had arguably the most memorable run of area seniors.
Gonzales, who is set to walk on for the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi track team, finished his senior season with a fourth place finish in the Class 3A state high jump. The Corpus-bound 2021 graduate hit a personal record height of 6 feet, 6 inches at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. Prior to that, Gonzales’ PR was 6-2.
“It feels so good. I came out to compete and I think I did a pretty good job at that,” Gonzales said after state. “Finishing at a height of 6-6 is insane to me.”
Winning is all Gonzales seemed to do during the 2021 season. Poteet’s star jumper won each the district, area and regional titles in consecutive meets to make it to Austin. He was also one for rising up to adversity.
In winning the Region IV-3A title, he was down to his final attempt at the opening height and was close to missing qualification for state. He also had to battle on his final attempt at 6-4 at state. He cleared that height for a new PR before clearing 6-6 on his final attempt to finish fourth.
His mental fortitude was the reason he was successful and became the first Aggie boy to compete at state since Adam Hebert in 2009 in the eyes of Head Coach Martin Alvarez.
“Mental toughness is one of his best qualities,” Alvarez said. “I personally don’t think this is the last time we’re gonna see him high jump.”
But part of that is Gonzales’ love for competition. He relished the opportunity to hit new heights in pressurepacked situations for Poteet in 2021. That’s what he looked forward to most in the buildup to state.
“I’m loving every second of it,” Gonzales said before the state meet. “The idea of going to state is so mind-blowing to me. I never thought I’d make it this far. So, actually seeing it come to fruition is amazing.”
Now, Gonzales will look to bankroll his success in his senior season and translate it to success at the collegiate level.
Gonzales’ mark of 6-6 is one inch off the top mark of 6-7 set by Islander jumper Zach Sherman at the 2021 Southland Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Eagle golf cruises to first regional crown
Entering the 2020-2021 school year, Pleasanton only had one regional championship in team sports.
A historic year by the Pleasanton Eagles golf team brought home the school’s second such championship and the first for the boy’s golf program.
The Eagles won the regional championship at The Club at Colony Creek in Victoria by shooting a two-day total of 650 (321-329) to beat Kingsville King. Senior Travis Garcia led the way with consecutive rounds of 75 for a two-day score of 150 that placed him second in the field.
That marked the ninth consecutive tournament the Eagles had won. It was simply one of the best groups to play for Pleasanton.
“It’s very special,” Head Coach Michael Guerra said after the regional tournament. “This is probably the best group of boys I’ve been associated with as far as playing together as a team. They play well together, they do everything together, they practice well together. It’s a true total team concept with these guys.”
Pleasanton got to the regional tournament by winning the District 27-4A tournament at River Bend Golf Club in Floresville with a seasonlow score of 626 between Travis and Matt Garcia, Reed Foster, Jake Casias and Brady Stevens. Both Travis (145) and Matt Garcia (159) finished first and second at the twoday tournament.
Travis fired an even par score of 72 during the final day of the tournament to lock up the individual district crown. Winning the individual and team titles at the tournament gave the Eagles plenty of confidence.
“It’s pretty nice. I feel really good about it,” Travis Garcia said after the district tournament. “I have to be humble about it. But I feel really good, I feel really confident about regionals coming up.”
After winning the regional tournament, Pleasanton made it to state and finished eighth as a team at Plum Creek Golf Club in Kyle.
The tournament was shortened to 27 holes due to rain. The Eagles shot a team score of 497 through those 27 holes. Travis Garcia shot a score of 113 at the rain-shortened tournament.
Though it was the first time in 10 tournaments that the Eagles didn’t claim the team crown, the experience was something the team relished.
“That was really sweet, especially to have the team there with me,” Travis Garcia said after state. “I had fun. That’s the most important part, that I had a lot of fun. I didn’t do my best. There were some little things that I’ve gotta work on and that’s it.”