The Wylie Pirates 2022 year was filled with plenty of accolades once again.
From state finalists, playoff dramatics and young student-athletes taking the next step and signing collegiate scholarships, it was largely proven once again to be a successful Pirates sports year.
Here is the 2022 Wylie High School sports year in review.
Girls Soccer: Stout defense leads Pirates to undefeated regular season
The Wylie Pirates clinched their second straight District 9-6A championship, this time in dominant fashion with an undefeated season.
Leading the way for Wylie was a stout defense earned them a 20-0-3 regular season record and 14-0 in district play. The Pirates defeated Tyler Legacy and Lake Ridge in the playoffs before falling to Rockwall in the regional quarterfinals.
“I’m just super proud of them,” Bezner said. “We talked for so many months about how we weren’t sure what our identity was going to be with an almost new group, but this team stepped in and overcame everything. They worked hard and soaked up coaching really well. They’re never satisfied with just a win, they want to know how they can play their best and we’re starting to see the fruits of the labor.”
Wylie finished their season eerily similar to the season before. They outscored their opponents 70-6 over the course of the season, allowing just two goals in district play. Several Pirates earned postseason accolades, including Morgan Brown as 9-6A’s District MVP. Reagan Venditto was the defensive player of the year, Jadyn Leblond was the newcomer of the year and Caleigh Monroe was the goalkeeper of the year for the Wylie defense.
Softball: Pirates’ perfect district record clinches another championship
Another District 9-6A championship was successful enough for the Wylie Pirates softball team, who were eliminated in the regional quarterfinal round of the state playoffs.
Wylie had four seniors on the roster, including Devin Chaky, Madison Gardner, Emma Kloepping and Sarah Roberge. With a majority of the starting lineup returning, coach Heather Damron said the team is excited for the continued future of the District 9-6A champions.
“We’re a young team,” Damron said. “We’re going to have a lot of players go out and compete this summer and we’re looking forward to them coming back and making an impact this fall and getting ready for next spring.”
Wylie (14-0, 31-11) had a perfect record during the district season, led by District 9-6A Pitcher of the Year Jordyn Merrett and Defensive Player of the Year Aubrey Brown. Merrett was one of four Wylie starters this season to help the team to a deep playoff run. The junior was a key leader to the staff.
Brown was the starting shortstop for the Pirates for the second straight season. She was one of the top two-way players on the team, making several big plays on defense.
Wylie had three players named to the first-team all-district and three more to the second team. Leading the way on the first team were senior Chaky and sophomores Sydney Murphy and Hannah Messer. Chaky led the team in hitting the season before, making an all-area team.
Track and Field: Popelka, Berhane medal at state championship
The Wylie Pirates took home some hardware at the state track and field championships in May, earning a silver and bronze medal.
Competing in three events, Wylie had two medalists. Nathanael Berhane started off the day with a personal record in the 3200, placing third overall (9:02.88). He just missed out on a chance to run in the state championships last season and took advantage of his opportunity this year.
After improving over the summer and a top-five finish at the cross-country championships in November, the University of Texas signee was just five seconds off of a first-place spot. Berhane also competed in the 1600-meter race for the Pirates, where he placed sixth (4:12.49).
Logan Popelka also ran for the Pirates, placing second overall in the 400 meters (46.67). He was a tenth of a second off his personal record and just .3 seconds from gold. Popelka enrolled at Boston University after a standout career for the Pirates.
“Last year when I went to state, I learned that everyone is really good,” Popelka said. “When all of the times are so close it really is kind of a crapshoot. Regardless, I’m going to do my best and have fun and we’ll see what happens. I want to do a 46 or even a 45. Everyone is really good and I feel like if I run my race I can get out in front of everyone and put on a really good time.”
Football: Pirates win first playoff game since 2018
The Pirates finished the season 8-4, in a year largely successful across the board. A young team with several new faces on offense, including a sophomore quarterback, was able to win Wylie its first playoff game since 2018 and help the team progress back into the playoffs after missing out in 2021. The sophomore quarterback, Jagger Bale, was named the District 9-6A Offensive Newcomer of the year, while senior Sean Carter was the District 9-6A two-way player of the year.
“It was a fun team to coach,” head coach Jimmy Carter said. “Off and on this season, we’ve had at least six different sophomores starting games and you’re not supposed to win a lot of games with that many sophomores. It’s been a great senior class with great leadership. We told them that coach-led teams are good, but player-led teams are great. They held that mantra all season.”
Wylie will return potentially eight starters heading into next season, including five from one of the top defenses in the area this season and will be supplemented by a junior varsity roster that went 9-1 this season as well. The team does graduate 37 seniors from its final varsity roster, a group that coach Carter cherishes as one of his first classes as a head football coach.
“This is my third year coaching, so really it’s the first group I worked with from sophomore to senior year,” Carter said. “They are great kids to be around and they play for one another. It’s been enjoyable for me to coach them and they will stand out in my mind. I expect them all to grow up and be successful young men.”
Boys Basketball: Last-second free throws nets Wylie playoff win
The boys basketball team improved throughout the regular season to reach the area round of the state playoffs and finish second overall in District 9-6A.
After defeating Rockwall in the final seconds of the bi-district round of the state playoffs, Wylie’s final game came down to the final seconds, where they lost 56-53 to DeSoto. Prior to that game, Wylie defeated Rockwall with free throws at the end 44-43, overcoming a previous 16-point defeat earlier in the year. Head coach Stephen Pearce was pleased with the growth of the team from start to finish.
The Pirates graduated five players: Jordan Hudgins, Messay Gharbin, Justin Smith, Tijan Singhateh and Gesi Jituboh. Coach Pearce said he was proud of the seniors for the way they worked together and set the expectations for the Wylie basketball program.
“Those five guys set the standard for what we want here at Wylie,” Pearce said. “They all worked hard and sacrificed for the team and it meant a lot to see them find success. You look at how all those guys got to this point and it’s really great to see.”
Powerlifting – Wylie finishes third at state
Wylie, fresh off of a runner-up finish the year before, came in third overall at the 6A meet with 20 points on March 17. The Pirates finished narrowly behind Edinburg Economedes (23 points) and Los Fresnos (32 points) for the team totals.
Wylie had nine medalists at the state meet. Evelyn Bush, Ava Borders, Emily Phillips and Kendall Nalley came in third place in their respective weight classes. Borders won the Outstandings Bench Press Award by pressing 265 pounds in the 148-pound weight class, while Nalley set a new state record for the bench press in the 181-pound weight class. She pressed 285 pounds to set the mark.
Other medalists included Eriana Mbari, Katie Nguyen and Fallon Sanders in fourth place, plus Naomi Williams and Briana Webb in fifth.
Wylie also had seven other powerlifters in the top 14 of their respective weight classes, with Sydney Hathaway finishing sixth in the 148-pound weight class and Samantha Schwarz coming in sixth of the 123-pound weight class. Other placers included Raquel Duran, Alexis Mitchell, Abigail Scoble, Kaitlyn Asante and Kaitlyn Garcia-Allen.
Cross Country – Pirates return to state, Lambert runs in girls finals
The Wylie Pirates returned to the state championship in Round Rock last October, where the team raced in the boys 6A championship meet.
Racing against the state’s best, the Pirates finished 12th out of 16 teams with a total of 250 points. Southlake Carroll (61 points) finished first overall, followed by Austin Vandegrift (81 points) and Coppell (126 points) for the top three positions.
Caden Biltz, Hunter Jackson, Zach Brumfield, Landin Wolfe, Nathan Moore, Mateo Guzman and Euaiel Aklile all raced for the Pirates at the state meet. Biltz was the top runner at state, placing 47th (16:31.00) out of 152 runners.
On the girls’ side, Liv Lambert finished 88th (20:14.9) for the Pirates at the girls 6A meet, qualifying individually. She’ll have a chance to make it three straight state qualifications in 2023, her senior season.
Wrestling – Farley, Qattan advance to state
Both Wylie wrestlers Hussein-William Qattan and Dane Farley picked up victories in the state meet but in the end were unable to place. Qattan lost a tough opening match in the heavyweight division by a final 1-0 decision but bounced back to pin Southlake Carroll’s Dylan Vaughn.
Qattan won two more matches, including a sudden victory over Keller Timber Creek’s Riah Ostrander. With a chance to advance to the fifth-place match, Qattan lost to Marcus’ Kadence Murry by a 7-3 decision. Qattan finished 26-9 for the Pirates.
Farley was the only other state qualifier for the Pirates, losing his first-round match in the 220-pound weight class by a 9-4 decision. He would bounce back by defeating Katy’s Dimitrios Katsigiannis by a pin before losing to Plano East’s Peyton Madawi. Farley finished the season 27-13 overall.
Girls Basketball: Wylie overcomes injuries to make playoffs
Wylie overcame several key injuries in 2022 to finish the year with 18 wins and tied for second place in the 9-6A standings. With several first- and second-year students on the roster this season, coach Joel Zuniga believes 2022 will be a building block moment for the young players. The Pirates eventually fell in the bi-district round of the playoffs to Rockwall.
Lynn Nwachukwu, Emily Sherrard and Zahria McCray are the graduating seniors from the Wylie team. With two lining up as starters, the Pirates will have to work in new players going forward. Coach Zuniga said Wylie would miss their leadership next season.
“All three are great kids who I think will be successful in life,” Zuniga said. “I’m proud of all three of them and accomplished things they haven’t accomplished before this year. Two of our kids were first-year varsity kids, then Lynn was a third-year varsity player who overcame a lot of injuries.”
Boys Soccer: Pirates just miss out on postseason with young roster
Wylie (5-9, 8-11-2) finished the season sixth in the 9-6A competition. After losing 2-0 to North Garland on March 8, Wylie responded with a 9-2 win over South Garland to finish the regular season on a high note.
Despite missing seven players to injury, eight different Pirates found the back of the net in the game to seal the victory. Coach Scott Dillon was proud of his team’s performances, despite missing the postseason.
“You see the kid’s potential, but it only means something if you work to realize it,” Dillon said. “Last year we played six freshmen and we were still playing several underclassmen. We will continue to push the guys to get better and we saw significant progress.”
The Pirates graduated five seniors from the 2022 team, but only a few starters. Coach Dillon felt like the team had chances to win some games that the Pirates ended up on the losing end, and finished the season five points off of a playoff spot. Coach Dillon is eager to continue building forward into the new season.
Baseball – Co-district champions reach first round of the postseason
The Wylie Pirates gave Tyler Legacy all it could handle in the bi-district round of the state playoffs, with the three-game series coming down to the final inning.
Unfortunately for the Pirates (11-3, 16-15-1), they fell short in three games, losing the final game 3-1 on the road. Wylie outhit Legacy 5-3 in game three, but the Raiders scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to win.
Called up from junior varsity earlier this season, Brady Baker got the pivotal start in game three. He did everything he could to help the Pirates to victory, striking out eight and surrendering only three hits in six innings of work.
The young Wylie Pirates were co-District 9-6A champions this season, with 12 seniors on the roster. Several starters will return for next season.
Volleyball – Wylie finishes season second in District 9-6A
Wylie finished tied with Wylie East for second place in District 9-6A, losing in the first round of the playoffs to Mesquite Horn.
Facing Mesquite Horn in the first round, Wylie lost several close sets in a 3-1 (25-21, 22-25, 21-25, 20-25) on Nov. 1. After winning the first set, Horn’s outside hitters took control of the game and outplayed Wylie throughout.
Jaidyn Hartsfield led the Lady Jaguars with 19 kills, while Madison Mosley added 15 for Horn. This marked the second season in a row that Horn knocked Wylie out of the playoffs. The Pirates ended the year with 28 wins, improved by four wins from the season before.
The Pirates will graduate seven seniors from the varsity roster, including Lauren Morano, Trinity Blackwood, Alexa Ossei, Kara Childress, Alana Evans, Lorena Ware and Kyra Zeilan.
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