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Goose Creek Memorial High School’s Hailey Pequeno, 10, was one of a number of varsity newcomers to make big impacts on their respective varsity teams during the 2019-20 sports season. Pequeno, a freshman, excelled in both soccer and cross country.

Beginning the summer “Best of” series regarding the 2019-20 sports season, the Baytown Sun kicks off with the Top 5 Newcomers of the Year with today’s honorable mention list. 

Following conversations with coaches and analysis of the season, the Sun will have individual stories on the Top 5 athletes, but not before giving attention to these dozen others who also had strong first varsity seasons as well.

To qualify, a player had to have played varsity regularly for the first time in the sport nominated in and playing in two sports was also taken into account. Also, a team’s level of success and the difficulty of competition played a part in the selection process.

Honorable mention for the 2019-20 Baytown Sun Top Newcomers of the Year

Makayla Johnson, freshman, Barbers Hill track/cross country: Johnson came out strong this year as she was the Lady Eagles top finisher in almost all cross country meets and placed in the Top 10 or 20 in five meets. She was the District 21-5A champ and its Newcomer of the Year. She finished in the upper quarter of the regional meet. While also playing soccer, she was an early force in track, excelling with wins or high finishes in the 800 and 1,600 runs.

Hailey Pequeno, freshman, Goose Creek Memorial cross country/soccer: Pequeno is a force of nature and “big in heart, a hard worker and a good athlete,” according to her coach in both sports, Roman Huizar. She ran nine cross country races and won seven medals, placed sixth at the District 22-5A meet and helped the team finish second. As a soccer player, she started for a 21-1-1 varsity team and was a second-team all-district selection.

Faith Guidry, junior, Barbers Hill softball: Yes, softball was cut short, but the Michigan State commit was huge in pre-district play. That’s where the Lady Eagles load up a powerhouse schedule and Guidry went about striking out 23 batters in 13 innings with a 0.00 ERA and 3-0 record. She was pretty nifty with the bat as she hit .357 with two homers and 16 RBI. One wonders what a full season would have looked like.

Jayson Gipson, sophomore, GCM football: He started seven games for an improved defense and finished with 23 tackles, eight assists, four pressures, two sacks and three tackles for loss. His work earned him a second-team all-district nod. “We are looking for a huge junior year out of Jayson,” head coach Shannon Carter said. 

Garret Hagler, sophomore, Barbers Hill football: He was one of the key young men coming out of the Eagles backfield as they went 11-2 and made the regional semifinals. He rushed for 686 yards and four touchdowns and offered a bright future for the program.

Cameron Chin, sophomore, Sterling track: Head coach Ronald McDowell called it “electrifying speed” that propelled Chin to a 49.75 run in the 400 meters and 22.13 over the 200. The latter mark was a Top 10 time in Class 6A for his class. “He would have easily become an All-Area qualifier and more than likely, a Region 3 qualifier,” McDowell said.

Gloria Martinez, freshman, GCM cross country/soccer: She is a staunch defender on a top defense and was a first-team District 21-5A selection. She started every game. While running, she won seven medals in nine events and placed seventh at the district meet.

Dave Daymiel, freshman, Sterling tennis: He finished with overall records in doubles (13-4) and singles (10-5) through the combined fall and spring seasons for the top tennis team in the area. “Dave played his best tennis in big moments and as a freshman stepped into line one and won a lot of matches,” RSS head coach John Tremmel said. He was a first-team all-district pick in single and second team in doubles.

Ty Joseph, freshman, Sterling volleyball: Playing for a playoff team and doing well got the radar up on this young lady. Joseph finished with 78 kills, 31 blocks and 13 digs. “Ty is a very young player who came in and accepted the challenge to not only be on the varsity team but play significant time once the season started,” Sterling head coach Candace Southall said. “Although she suffered a few injuries this year she bounced back and jumped back in.”

Cadence Sanders, freshman, Barbers Hill soccer: She scored 10 goals and had six assists for a resurgent program heading to the Class 5A playoffs. Noted for her work ethic and practice habits, Sanders played a big role on this year’s squad. “She is the first one to practice, weight room, etc.,” head coach Bonnie Landry said. “She plays club, knows the game well, is a playmaker, game changer with her touch on the ball and intensity on the field. Her teammates respect her and follow her lead as a freshman.”

Josiah Rice, sophomore, GCM football: Carter’s defensive turnaround with the Patriots was sparked by a number of young players and another one was Rice. He finished with 26 tackles, seven assists, three sacks and four tackles for loss while starting nine games. “He had a huge impact on our improved defense,” Carter said.

Landon Corbitt, freshman, Anahuac football: He finished with 350 yards rushing with two touchdowns and 142 receiving and was named second-team all-district as a running back and outside linebacker for a playoff team.

Kearston Gooch, freshman, Sterling softball: She pitched 46 innings striking out 32 and holding strong in the circle with an ERA of three. She hit .467 in the No. 2 hole and had 10 RBI with 10 runs scored.

Up Next: The No. 5 Top Newcomer of the Year

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