With the sun setting on the 2018-19 school year, the Plano Senior athletics program turned in a season that featured a myriad of playoff berths, some noteworthy postseason runs and even an individual state champion.
As a change of pace, let’s look back on the year that was in Wildcat athletics through the lense of some key numbers that stood out from August through May and ultimately set the course for what Plano’s eldest high school showcased in 2018-19.
7: The number of consecutive years the Plano volleyball team has made the playoffs. That figure doubles as the longest active streak in Plano ISD, as the Lady Wildcats continue their torrid run of consistency in what is perennially one of the area’s most difficult volleyball districts.
Plano pushed that streak to the brink in 2018, finishing in a tie for fourth place with a McKinney Boyd team that has been synonymous with some of the Lady Wildcats’ most high-leverage, regular-season volleyball. Behind 18 kills from alum Julia Adams, Plano edged the Lady Broncos for a 3-2 win that was parlayed into a three-round playoff run – their fourth time in seven seasons under head coach Teri Minnis that the Lady Wildcats have advanced to the regional quarterfinals.
16:38.30: The time run by alum Ashlyn Hillyard at the state cross country meet, a mark fast enough to secure a Class 6A championship for the Lady Wildcats’ long-distance star.
Hillyard solidified her status among the state’s elite distance runners long before that Nov. 3 run from Round Rock’s Old Settlers Park, initially qualifying for state as a sophomore and placing third overall as a junior.
During Hillyard’s senior campaign, she took first in 4-of-5 races – the other being a second-place run in the McNeil Invitational – and went out on top with a personal-record run at state that helped her finish seven seconds ahead of second place.
8.6: The yards-per-carry career average for Plano running back Kyron Cumby. In three years on varsity, Cumby authored one of the most crowded highlight reels of any player in recent Wildcat history – blessed with blinding speed and quickness, a true threat to find the end zone on any given play.
He did that plenty from 2016-18, posting career numbers that rank among the best rushers to ever don the maroon and white, but that per-carry average particularly stands out.
Consider the two prolific Wildcat running backs of the century – Rex Burkhead (6.1 yards per carry for his high school career) and Brandon Stephens (6.2) – and Cumby (8.6) has a case as perhaps the most explosive rusher in program history.
2: The number of medals won by senior Alex Sanchez at the state swim meet. Sanchez was one of the area’s breakout stars in the pool during the 2018-19 season, dominating the 100-yard breaststroke all the way to Austin where he placed fifth overall with a 56.21. Earlier in the state meet, Sanchez took fifth in the 100 butterfly as well, clocking a 49.43.
Guiding the Wildcats to a 21st-place finish as a team, Sanchez will be eying a spot on the medal stand during his senior season.
18: The scoring average for girls basketball star Jordyn Merritt during her junior season.
In a district that rostered the most star power of any in the state, Merritt shined among the brightest in her first full season as the go-to option for the Lady Wildcats. She earned 9-6A’s Defensive Player of the Year award, anchoring one of the area’s stingiest defenses to complement an offensive arsenal that punished opposing frontcourts all year long.
Hammering opponents in the paint on drop-steps and put-backs – plus notching the 1,500-point career scoring mark – Merritt helped the Lady Wildcats advance to the regional quarterfinals in a narrow 55-51 loss to eventual regional finalist Prosper.
4: The number of three-set matches played by sophomore Herman Aguirre and senior Edward Shteyn in boys doubles during the spring tennis postseason.
Aguirre and Shteyn became Plano’s first state tennis medalists since 2010 and did so on the strength of a series of pressure-packed wins. After finishing second overall in the 9-6A tournament, Shteyn and Aguirre fell in three sets in the regional semifinals, only to rebound and defeat teammates Benjamin and Andrew McDonald in the third-place match, followed by a three-set playback win over Cypress Ranch’s Julian Hadad and Parker Eads to qualify for state.
In the state quarterfinals, the Plano pair get their momentum rolling with a three-set victory over Austin Bowie’s Stephen Do and Riley O’Connor – with Shteyn and Aguirre ultimately concluding their improbable postseason trek in the state semifinals.
11: The total number of games played by the Plano softball team that were decided by two runs or less. The Lady Wildcats lived on the edge in 2019, playing one close game after another and incurring the peaks and valleys of that tightrope walk.
Plano went just 4-7 in those 11 nip-and-tuck matchups, highlighted by a frenetic, seventh-inning rally to upend McKinney Boyd, 3-2, on April 16 to clinch a 13th consecutive playoff berth.
Once there, the Lady Wildcats advanced to the area round – ultimately falling to Rockwall in a three-game series – but figure to be positioned to make some noise in 2020 with all but two varsity players set to return.