Earning a prominent role at the varsity level in high school sports is tough enough for any student-athlete. Only a select group manage to do so as freshmen.
A number of first-year high school athletes enjoyed breakout seasons during the abbreviated 2019-20 athletics year, performing beyond their years and laying a strong foundation for their respective teams for years to come.
Several of those could be found all around the Plano area, including these five rising sophomores who will be looking to build off impressive freshman campaigns.
Taylor Haggan, Plano East girls basketball
As a freshman, Haggan wasted no time in carving out a starting role in first-year head coach Jessica Linson’s lineup. There, she helped anchor the paint for an East team that placed second in District 9-6A and advanced to the area round of the playoffs.
Haggan’s inaugural varsity campaign resulted in team-high marks in both points (8.7) and rebounds (5.3) on her way to 9-6A newcomer of the year honors.
The forward built plenty of momentum during the summer as well, playing a key role for her club squad, Team Lex, which went 33-2 on the club circuit.
Braxton Myers, John Paul II football
Myers was a breakout star in the secondary for a John Paul team that enjoyed its most successful season ever in 2019 — finishing as state runner-up in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Division I postseason.
The cornerback tallied 30 tackles, five interceptions and 13 pass deflections during his freshman season — locking down opposing pass-catchers and earning TAPPS all-state second-team honors for his efforts. Myers was the only freshman to earn a TAPPS Div. I all-state accolade.
It didn’t take long for the rest of the country to take notice, as Myers currently holds 13 college scholarship offers — including Oklahoma, Texas and LSU — heading into his sophomore season.
Adayah Wallace, Plano West softball
High school softball season only lasted a few weeks in 2020, but that was more than enough for Wallace to make an early impression as one of the future cornerstones for the Lady Wolves.
Wallace made an immediate impact as West’s leadoff hitter and starting center fielder and flashed plenty of speed on the base paths as well. In just 14 games, Wallace stole 22 bases — good for an average of more than 1.5 per game — while hitting .454 from the plate and scoring 24 runs.
Maguire Martin, Prestonwood football
After spending most of the 2019 season as a backup, Martin was thrust into a starting role behind center for the Lions during their final two regular-season games and a pair of playoff matchups.
The quarterback gained more and more comfort with each start, finishing his freshman year with 743 passing yards, six touchdowns and one interception. He shined during the postseason as well, averaging 244.5 passing yards and two touchdowns in games against Tomball Concordia Lutheran and San Antonio Antonian.
Ashley Castro, Plano Senior girls soccer
The Lady Wildcats were on the doorstep of a return to the playoffs before having their season cancelled by the pandemic. Although it meant a difficult end to the season for the Lady Wildcats’ senior class, the future of the program remains in good hands thanks to players like Castro. As one of just two freshman on the roster, she carved out big-time minutes on the back line as one of the top defenders of a Plano squad that surrendered just 1.3 goals per match during the 2020 season.
Castro was named to the 9-6A all-district second-team.