Sunturians Honor El Paso High School Athletes

by Ray Sanchez

 

The Sunturians, a civic organization committed to the growth and development of El Paso, has been honoring our high school athletes for years.  The 2009 ceremonies last month were especially outstanding, thanks in large part to Sunturians president Rigo Flores.

 

Honorees were treated to an elegant banquet at Double Tree Hotel and presented exquisitely crafted trophies. The banquet room was packed with recipients, relatives and friends.

 

THE SUNTURIANS awards are extra special because the winners are selected by a panel of experienced local media. Included in the selection process are Fred Albers and Beau Bagley of KTSM-TV, Lenny Jurado and Aaron Bracamontes of the El Paso Times, Steve Kaplowitz of KROD Radio and your friendly sports columnist.

 

Awards are presented to 12 monthly winners and several special individuals. In addition, a college Athlete of the Year is chosen.

Cory Falvey of Socorro High Schools state baseball championship team was named the overall high school Athlete of the Year. UTEP basketball super star Jareica Hughes received the same honor in the college division.

 

MONTHLY WINNERS were: January Jesus Delgado of Montwood (basketball), February Teisha King of Americas (basketball), March -- Stephanie Han of Irvin (wrestling), April -- Leslianne Ericson of Franklin  (softball), May Ramon Garcia of Austin (track and field), June Bobby Mares of Socorro (baseball), July Jake Hartley of Coronado (swimming), August Caroline Brown of Coronado (volleyball), September Isaac Anthony Spencer of Austin (cross country), October Samuel Z. Brown of Coronado (football), November Corinthean Sanchez of Chapin (football), December --Jordan E. Baeza of Del Valle (football).

 

A VERY SPECIAL honor went to Jacqueline Rios. She won the Special Olympics Award.  Alexia Heist won the Jesse Sosa Sportsmanship Award named after the late former golf honoree. Zach Markowski won the Leo Cancellare Academics Award named after the late swimming coach. Timothy Meek took the Jerry Wright Memorial Award for boxing excellence and sportsmanship named after the former Sunturian. The high school Athlete of the Year award was named for late Sunturian Jim Meeks

 

FLORES, WHO is also president of Capital Bank here, obviously went all out to honor these great young athletes. He says he had a lot of help from assistants Yadira Hinojos and Lupe Robles.  Also coming in for pats on the back were selection chairman Bobby Gonzalez and assistant Adrienne S. Pedroza. Thanks, Sunturians. Youre one swell group.

 

TRIVIA QUESTION:  Who was the first high school student to officially break the four-minute mile barrier? Answer at end.

 

WHAT A GREAT Christmas gift! I got to play nine holes with Steve Haskins, who will be playing on the Champions Tour next month. Actually, it was a pre-Christmas treat but it felt like Santa Claus had come early.

I had been asked to do a story on Haskins and friendly fellow that he is he asked if Id like to play a round with him. Does the sun shine in El Paso? I protested saying there was no way I could keep up with him. He shrugged it off and said it was just for fun. Boy, was it.

 

FRIENDS AND fans keep asking me what it was like playing with such a talent.  Oh, man. It was like watching a world-class violinist perform, a chess master make his moves, Michelangelo paint. He hits his drives high, far and straight. His second shots are on the green. His putts are true. He even got on in two on the 551-yard par five No. 7 hole on the Dagger Course at Santa Teresa Country Club.

 

You have every shot in the book, I told him.

 

You have to if you want to compete with the best, he said.

He invited me to play with him again soon. Eat your hearts out, folks.

 

ANSWER to trivia question: Jim Ryun.        

 

Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at rayf358@yahoo.com or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com