The Rio Grande Valley traditionally brings in a strong medal haul at the UIL state track and field meet, and the 2018 season was no different. But only two athletes will be able to boast the title of Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year and Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

The winners will be announced at the 2018 All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet on June 19 at Mario’s Banquet & Conference Center in Mission.

Sean Elliott, a former NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs who now works with the team as a broadcaster, will be the keynote speaker at the event.

The nominees for Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year:

>> Bianca Cardenas, Edcouch-Elsa: Cardenas had a breakout year in the pole vault. She set personal records four different times and became the first girl to reach the 13-foot plateau in RGV history. Along with her stellar pole vault performances, the junior finished second in the 100 dash at the District 32-5A meet. She also earned third in long jump and was a part of two relays teams: the 400 group that won an area championship and the 800 quartet that took first at the district meet and second at the area meet.

>> Luisa Cruz, Los Fresnos: Cruz won gold in both the 100 and 200 at both the District 32-6A and 31/32-6A area meets to qualify for the Region IV-6A meet. The junior was also a part of the Lady Falcons’ regional qualifying 800 relay team.

>> Brianna Robles, La Joya Palmview: Robles swept the District 30-6A 1,600 and 3,200 meter-runs for the fourth straight season. She also added a gold medal in the 800 with a personal record time of 2:18.87 at the district meet thanks to a new rule that allows distance runners to compete in a third event. She swept the same three events at the 29/30-6A area meet during her last run at La Joya ISD Stadium. At her second UIL state track meet, she ran a 10:54.68 in the 3,200 and 5:00.01 in the 1,600 to earn sixth in both events — two spots better than a season ago.

The nominees for Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year:

>> Andres Bodden, Brownsville Veterans Memorial: As a senior, Bodden won a District 32-5A championship in both the shot put and the discus. After district, he placed first in the discus and second in the shot put at the 31/32-5A area meet, then earned gold in the discus and a silver in the shot put at regionals. Bodden capped his season off with two medals at the state meet — a silver in the discus by throwing a personal best 173 feet, 1 inch and a bronze in the shot put with a throw of 53 feet, 6.5 inches. 

>> Dominic Cavazos, Mercedes: The University of Texas at Arlington commit showed why he was a Division I target. Cavazos was a district, area and regional champion in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. He finished fifth at the Texas Relays 3,200 and set a personal record of 9:19.61. In the Class 5A state 3,200 race, he took sixth with a time of 9:40.19. He was disappointed with the run but improved in the 1,600 that evening, reaching the podium and winning his first state medal, a bronze, with a time of 4:18.32.

>> Alex Cordova, Mission High: Cordova spent much of the season as the Valley’s best 400 and 200 runner. His speed put him in the final heat of the regional meet in the 400, where he was just edged out for a gold with his run of 49.10. He was the Eagles’ lone representative at the state meet, where he ran a 49.15 and finished seventh.

The banquet, hosted by and AIM Media Texas in conjunction with the RGV Sports Hall of Fame, will see 33 awards presented to athletes, coaches and teams across all 12 UIL sports. The prestigious Tom Landry Award of Excellence will honor a student-athlete for outstanding achievements on and off the field.

The Monitor, Valley Morning Star, The Brownsville Herald, Mid-Valley Town Crier and RGV Sports Hall of Fame will vote to determine the winners in the sports categories. While The Monitor, the Star and the Herald have previously named their All-Area teams in certain sports, the All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet will recognize the very best across all three coverage areas.

The banquet, which will run approximately 6 to 8 p.m., returns to Mario’s for a second consecutive year. The venue has a seating capacity of more than 500 people. Tickets will be on sale soon at a cost of $40 per person. For sponsorship opportunities, call Marcia Kitten at 956-683-4463 or email [email protected]