The selection of our annual Top 10 stories usually involves ample discussion about which highlights make the cut.
Last year, of course, there was no reason to debate the story of the year, as high school sports coped with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in a cancellation of the spring seasons and affected all athletics for the remaining months.
While athletics in 2021 have still been affected by the pandemic, particularly of late, a majority of the sports were able to complete their seasons and crown champions without too many hitches, allowing us to focus on the more positive side of life.
Here are the second five installments from The Frisco Enterprise’s Top 10 Sports stories from the past year.
5. Wakeland girls soccer reaches state final match
The Wakeland girls soccer team has a resume few can match during the last dozen years.
Not only have the Wolverines not missed the playoffs since 2009, they have captured seven district championships and advanced to the state tournament three times, including winning titles in 2011 and 2018.
They nearly added another state championship to the trophy case in the spring.
9-5A co-coach of the year Jimmie Lankford once again had a number of talented players, including midfield player of the year senior Ally Perry and utility player of the year sophomore Bella James.
Wakeland also featured first-team honorees in seniors Natalie Cox and Ashton Shepperson and juniors Sophia Pehr, McKenna Jenkins and Drew Stover and second-team seniors Kayden Amador and Lauren Rosas, junior Sydney Deckert and sophomore Katy Gregson.
The Wolverines actually shared the district crown with Memorial, but they were just getting warmed up.
Wakeland did not allow a goal in its first four playoff matches as it picked up victories over The Colony (2-0), Sunset (4-0), district rival Reedy (1-0) and Forney (6-0).
That brought the Wolverines to the regional championship match, where they edged another power, Highland Park, in a 2-1 victory.
Wakeland was able to claim a 3-2 win over Grapevine in the state semifinals to advance to the title match, but it was Dripping Springs that was able to pull out a 2-1 victory to deny the Wolverines their third championship.
4. Liberty girls basketball earns state runner-up
The Liberty girls basketball team is no stranger to success.
Not only have the Redhawks qualified or the playoffs in 13 of the last 14 years, they have made some noise in the postseason as of late.
Liberty has made four trips to the state tournament in the last six years, highlighted by winning the 5A championship two seasons ago.
The Redhawks were hoping to go back-to-back, but fell one step short.
In a testament to the strength of 9-5A, Liberty actually lost four games and finished third in the final district standings.
But as always, Liberty saved its best for last.
The Redhawks boasted plenty of talent, with all-state junior Jazzy Owens-Barnett, second-team senior Maya Jain and sophomore Journee Chambers, as well as co-6th woman of the year Lily Ziemkiewicz coming off the bench.
Liberty opened the playoffs with a low-scoring 29-27 win over McKinney North, followed that up with a rout of Carrollton Newman Smith and then knocked off its district co-champion Memorial to advance to the regional tournament.
They were not finished, as they rolled over North Forney and edged Wylie East in the Region 2 final to return to the state tournament.
The Redhawks pulled out a 39-37 win against Lubbock Cooper in the state semifinals but could not conger up the same magic in the title game, dropping a 46-39 decision to Cedar Park.
3. FISD tennis players bring home three state titles
As Frisco ISD started rapidly expanding two decades ago, it has become a talent hotbed in many sports.
Given the results of this year’s state tennis tournament, one can add that sport to the list.
After a dominant effort at the Region 2 tournament, FISD earned eight berths at the state event and that group claimed three state championships on May 20-21 in San Antonio.
FISD swept the singles titles, with Lebanon Trail’s Nathan Tserng winning the boys title and Heritage’s Sriya Leesha Gourammagari taking the girls crown, and they were joined by the Heritage girls doubles team of Tamiya Lintz and Saundarya Vedula.
Tserng was actually part of a all-FISD finals as he squared off with Frisco’s Mohan Yechuri. The finals was one of the most competitive of the tournament, with Tserng finally prevailing for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory.
Gourammagari lifted the state championship trophy after a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Nedarland’s Megan Do in the finals.
The Heritage duo of Lintz/Vedula put together one of the most dominant runs in the tournament, dropping only five total games in six sets.
They set the tone in the quarterfinal with a 6-0, 6-0 sweep of Friendwood’s Leah Block and Elle Moss.
They followed that up with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial’s Sophie Dieng and Jenny Su, and then in the finals, they took down Highland Park’s Cambrelle Henderson and Hayden Bethea in a 6-0, 6-2 win.
2. Liberty boys win state track and field title
After being denied an opportunity to compete for much of the 2020 season, the Liberty boys track and field team made the most of their spring by winning the Class 5A state championship.
The Redhawks join such distinguished local teams from the past such as the Frisco girls, who won four straight championships in 1981-1984, the Rowlett boys, who captured back-to-back titles in 2008-2009, as well as the Lone Star girls (2013) and Sunnyvale girls (2016).
Liberty finished with a total of 54 points, which was enough to hold off Manvel (45.5) for the crown.
The Redhawks were led by Evan Stewart, who captured four medals, including a pair of golds, and had a part in every one of their 54 points.
Stewart blew away the field in the long jump, as his mark of 24-06.50 was more than a foot-and-a-half further than the runner-up (22-11.25).
Stewart also captured silver in the triple jump, as his best of 48-09.00 was behind only Manvel’s Jalen Walthall (50-04.00).
Stewart joined Chris Johnson, Cameron Wooley and Bryson Wyatt on the winning 4x400 relay, whose time of 3:15.39 edged Manvel by a tenth of a second. Johnson, Wooley, Stewart and William Ashmore also teamed up to claim silver in the 4x200 relay.
1. Wakeland boys soccer wins championship
There are a number of FISD teams with rich traditions, but the Wakeland boys soccer team might be the most successful of all.
Fro 2009-2019, the Wolverines made the playoffs every season and qualified for six state tournaments, winning the title in 2010, 2017 and 2018.
After being denied a chance to avenge a title-game loss in 2019, Wakeland came out determined to write a new chapter in the spring.
The Wolverines ran away with the 9-5A title, outdistancing the field by 15 points to earn the top seed.
Competing at a top level on an annual basis means a program can reload year after year and Wakeland was certainly equipped for more postseason success.
Junior Brennan Bezdek was named offensive player of the year, senior Connor Pettigrew was tabbed goalkeeper of the year and they featured first-teamers in senior Jak Keith and juniors Ryan Greener, Micah Kelley, Jacob Rulon and William Heidman and second-team seniors Marlon Williams and Parsa Zabihpour and juniors Riley Garza and Kyle Davis.
The Wolverines rolled to playoff wins over Prosper Rock Hill and Adamson and then survived a scare in the regional quarterfinals when they outlasted Carrollton R.L. Turner in a shootout.
Wakeland knocked off Nacogdoches in the regional semifinals and edged Longview, 1-0, in the regional title match to return to the state tournament for the seventh time.
The Wolverines doubled up El Paso Del Valle, 4-2 in the semifinals and then took care of business in the championship match, getting goals from Bezdek, Kelley and Keith to propel them to a 3-2 win over Humble Kingwood to put the finishing touches on a magical season.