The Wylie Pirates 2021 sports season was a return to normal schedules.
Slowly getting away from COVID-19 restrictions, the Pirates’ spring sports seasons saw plenty of success. Wylie featured prominent athletes across all sports, including state champions, district MVPs and some of the best finishes in school history.
Here is the 2021 Wylie High School sports year in review.
Track and Field: Lambert claims state championship
The Wylie Pirates track and field team had two competitors competing at the UIL 6A State Championships, led by Luke Lambert.
After winning the November UIL 6A cross-country state championship, Lambert qualified in both the 1600-meter and 3200-meter long-distance races. He ran them both throughout May 8 and came away victorious, winning both races by narrow margins.
Typically used to more significant margins in victories, Lambert squeaked out a victory in the morning’s first race at the 3200-meter (9:13.75). He finished narrowly ahead of Alfredo Reina Corona of Haltom City (9:14.13) and Christopher Daniels of Klein (9:14.35) to take home his first state championship of the day. It was Lambert’s first state championship in track and field with Wylie High School.
Following the victory, Lambert had to wait until the second to last race of the evening, with the 1600-meter taking place late in the day as he took home first once again, this time setting a personal record (4:14.62). This time he held off Anthony Gregory of Houston Strake Jesuit (4:15.32) and Emanuel Galdino of Houston Stratford (4:16.95), who finished fourth in the 3200-meter.
The other competitor for Wylie at the state championship meet was Logan Popelka, who finished eighth at the boys 100-meter dash finals (10.38). Popelka finished .38 seconds behind the winner of the event, Jose Garcia of Harlingen (9.998). Garcia won the race by one-thousandth of a second over Connor Washington of The Woodlands.
Powerlifting: Ghafoor sets state record, Pirates finish second at state
The Wylie Lady Pirates powerlifting team competed in the 6A state championship on March 18 in Corpus Christi.
Facing some of the top athletes in the state, Wylie came out of the meet with its third straight state runners-up award, finishing with 23 points overall at the state championships. The Lady Pirates finished three points behind the Los Fresnos, who won with 26 points and are now the six-time state champions.
Of the 16 state qualifiers for Wylie, 15 had a top 10 finish in the state. Leading the way was Kalyan Ghafoor, who finished first overall in the 123-pound class for the Lady Pirates with a total of 895 pounds. She also set a new state record with a 185-pound bench press for her weight class during the meet. Ghafoor was also given the outstanding deadlift award during the state competition.
Other top athletes included Tyler Hanson, who finished in second place in the 132-pound weight class, and she also set a state record for a 265-pound bench press.
Cross Country – Wylie boys finish in fifth place
After losing Lambert in the summer to graduation, nobody knew what to expect from the Pirates cross-country teams.
The Wylie Pirates boys cross country team finished with one of its best team performances in school history, coming in fifth overall at the UIL 6A state championships with 145 points. Southlake Carroll won the event, finishing with 65 points, while The Woodlands (96 points), El Paso Eastwood (132 points) and Atascocita (133 points) rounded out the top four.
Nathanael Berhane was the top individual runner for the Pirates, crossing the finish line fifth overall (15:13.6). Hunter Jackson (15:50.9), Caden Biltz (15:58.6), Lyndon Orr (16:00.9), Nathan Moore (16:44.5), Liam Gardiner (17:16.4) and Landin Wolfe (17:20.4) also ran for Wylie.
Jackson was the next best finisher for Wylie, running in 27th. Biltz finished in 47th while Orr ran in 51st.
In the girls meet, Liv Lambert was the lone runner for the Wylie (19:21.0), finishing 76th overall for the Pirates.
Berhane and Orr were the lone seniors on the roster of the state runners.
Girls Soccer – Girls soccer team sees unprecedented success, loses shocker in playoffs
Wylie’s girls’ soccer team finished with one of its best records in team history and a District 9-6A championship.
After a 13-1 district record, Mesquite Horn unceremoniously eliminated Wylie in the bi-district round of the state playoffs. Despite the disappointing finish, the Pirates still earned plenty of hardware.
With the District 9-6A All-District awards announced, the District Most Valuable Player Amelia Leggett led the Pirates. Leggett, a junior, led the team with 34 goals on the season, which was ninth in the Metroplex. She was a consistent presence all year long, providing a number of goals during key district games.
Along with Leggett, Wylie had a number of superlative award winners with Emma Crump winning the 9-6A Defensive Most Valuable Player, Morgan Brown winning the newcomer of the year award and head coach Chris Bezner winning coach of the year.
Baseball – Wiseman wins MVP, Pirates dominate district
The Pirates finished the season 26-12-1 overall after losing in the UIL 6A Region II Quarterfinals to Rockwall in a two-game sweep.
After winning the District 9-6A Championship by a comfortable margin, there was no doubt Wylie’s baseball team would be well represented at the district championship awards.
The Pirates finished the season 13-1 in district play and with a three-game lead over second-place Sachse and Rowlett. With their success, nine athletes earned all-district nominations, led by senior Luke Wiseman, who was named District 9-6A Most Valuable Player.
Wiseman led the way with his outstanding defensive play at third base along with his ability to hit in the cleanupspot for the Pirates baseball team. A two-way player who also was the third pitcher for the Pirates, Wiseman did it all this season for his MVP honors.
Along with Wiseman, Luke Lianthong was named the District 9-6A Newcomer of the Year and Reese Bassinger won the Utility Player of the Year award. Lianthong, a sophomore for the Pirates, was one of the top defensive center fielders in the district all season, along with his ability to lead off Wylie’s batting order. His ability to get on base and steal bases were key to Wylie’s small-ball offensive approach at the plate.
Softball – Pitching leads way to district title
Wylie ended the season 27-7 after clinching a share of the District 9-6A championship with a 13-1 record.
The Pirates had a successful season that led to a deep playoff run but were eventually eliminated in the regional quarterfinals by Rockwall in three games.
Leading the way for Wylie was Averie Gunther, who was the District 9-6A Pitcher of the Year. Gunther had the seventh-best ERA in the Metroplex. She finished the year with a 9-1 record and a 0.78 ERA. Gunther also had two postseason wins for the Pirates and contributed at the plate with 39 RBIs on the season, good enough for third-best on the team.
Boys Soccer – Injuries derail Pirates in district
The Wylie boys soccer team, which finished 7-12-4 overall and 5-11 in District 9-6A play, had multiple all-district award recipients. Goalkeeper Alessandro Sanchez was named the Freshman of the Year for the season. He was also named to first-team all-district for his efforts, along with his senior teammates in forward Mason Monroe and midfielder Jazden Paul.
Junior defensemen Tyler Sullivan and Carter Cascaddenwere voted second team, while Jacob Booty, Bryce Summers and Bolt Adegboye were honorable mention players.
Tennis – Team tennis has best season ever
Under head coach Andy Cariens, the Wylie tennis program has continued to grow to new heights.
After finishing the year with its fourth straight district championship, Wylie had its best playoff run ever. Wylie completed the team tennis season 11-2 and was undefeated in district play; Wylie won the bi-district playoff round for the second year in a row, defeating Horn 12-1.
This season saw even further growth, with the Pirates winning the area championship round for the first time. Wylie beat Mansfield Lake Ridge 10-8, advancing to the regional quarterfinals for the first time. For coach Cariens, it was a culmination of six years of work for his seniors.
Wylie eventually lost to Rockwall in the regional quarterfinals 10-7 but Cariens was happy to see the team improve and make it even further in the postseason.
Boys Basketball – Wylie reaches playoffs despite roster turnover
Wylie’s finished the season 15-9 overall and 8-4 in the District 9-6A competition. The Pirates, who were semifinalists in the state tournament last season, could not find the scoring necessary to make a postseason run again this season.
Kwame Massally, Kobe Wiggins, Joe’l Solomon, Tyler Booty and Kosi Achebe all graduate as seniors for the Wylie Pirates.
Girls Basketball – Five seniors lead Pirates to postseason
Wylie’s season came to a close with a 16-8 record overall after finishing the district season 11-3 and tied for second overall in District 9-6A. The Pirates lost to Tyler Legacy in the bi-district round of the state playoffs, losing 53-48 on the road.
Five seniors graduated from the Lady Pirates – Bailey Harris, Sianne Hill, Ding Kir, Klarke Cheatham and Makaylee Morton.
Football – Fuller leads way as Wylie just misses postseason
The Pirates finished the season 3-7 overall and narrowly missed out on a playoff berth in District 9-6A. Coming down to the final week, the Pirates needed to defeat North Garland to reach the playoffs, but lost 30-14.
Blake Fuller led the way for the Pirates on offense. The first-team all-district running back scampered for 1,092 yards rushing and had 15 total touchdowns on the season.
Defensively, Pirate standouts Canyon Hall and Tristan Steward were named to the first-team all-district.
Hall led the Pirates with 79 tackles and five pass deflections for the season, adding a forced fumble and interception. Another senior captain, Hall’s leadership on and off the field as he’s learned multiple positions and excelled is an attribute that stood out to coach Carter.
Wrestling – Four wrestlers reach regionals
The Pirates sent four wrestlers to the UIL Region 2-6A wrestling meet, with one placing at the meet. Jake Spokely finished fourth overall in the 170-pound weight class, reaching the semifinals before losing to Logan Mezger of Jesuit by a fall at 1:36.
Triston Nguyen, Sulienman Alhazma and DezmondAdamson all qualified for the regional meet, but they failed to place.
Volleyball – Wylie makes playoffs after major turnover
The Pirates volleyball team, after making the regional finals the season before, lost in the bi-district playoff round in 2021 with a young roster.
Rebuilding after losing all six starters from last season, Wylie finished the year 24-17 and 12-2 in district play. Leading the way was district newcomer of the year Karson Barclow. The freshman emerged as a six-rotation player for the Pirates and finished second on the team in kills and blocks. Sadie Warren was also named the 9-6A server of the year, leading the team with 50 aces.
Libero Lauren Morano and defensive setter Cori Westfall also made the first-team all-district for the Pirates.
Golf – Golf team finishes 11th at regionals
The Wylie boys golf team finished 11th at the UIL Region 2-6A golf tournament with a total of +104. Jack Jurrieswas the top golfer for the Pirates team, finishing tied for 50th place with a +21, while teammate Toby Duong came in 56th with a +26.
The girls team finished 14th out of 16 teams in the same tournament, with a total score of +337. Marissa Armendariz was the top golfer overall for Wylie shooting a +33 and finishing tied for 39th overall.
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By Kyle Grondin • [email protected]