It’s been one month and two days and both Allan Ramirez and Sergio Martinez are still riding high.
The two helped capture the first soccer state championships in Northside history May 17 and were both subsequently named to the All-Star team.
Because they played in 7A/6A-Central, they’ll be on Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Games’ East team with plenty of unfamiliar faces, save Southside’s Kristian Rivera, during kickoff tonight at McConnell Field in Conway.
Things couldn’t be better for the Grizzlies.
“It’s surreal,” Martinez said. “It still hasn’t kicked in that we’re state champions.”
Northside went from two wins a season ago to one loss this year, knocking off defending state champ Springdale in the process to win gold in Arkansas’ biggest classification.
As if that weren’t reward enough, Ramirez and Martinez will have a chance to test their individual mettle against the elite from across the state in every class.
“It feels good to represent Northside,” Ramirez said. “The way we changed last year only winning two games to this year being 25-1, I’ll never forget that. Hard work pays off.”
Of their 21 teammates other than Rivera, only two are players the Northside duo knows. They faced off in conference play against Russellville’s Mason McNeil and Little Rock’s Catholic’s Ryan Mason during the regular season. Everyone else, the two said, is totally unfamiliar.
“Don’t know them very well,” Martinez said. “It’ll be fun seeing them play and learning what everyone does well and stuff.”
That might come in handy, too. Rivera has already committed to play soccer at Central Baptist College next season and both Martinez and Ramirez are considering joining him there.
“I think Sergio and I might be attending Central Baptist College in the fall. We were offered scholarships for soccer,” Ramirez said.
In the girls game, Greenwood’s Hannah White represents the River Valley. The Lady Bulldogs’ stalwart sweeper was the team’s best player all season.
“It’s a pretty big honor,” White said. “Not something you can do as a freshman, sophomore or junior. You have to wait until you’re a senior. It’s kind of like anticipating it for all four years, so it’s pretty exciting.”
And she’ll have an opportunity to play against an old friend, too. An added bonus.
Bryant’s Lexie Ballisterri played on the same travelling team as White when the two were younger. Ballisterri’s Bryant-based team broke apart, but she continued to practice and caught on with White’s squad for tournaments.
“When I saw her name I was really excited because I haven’t seen her in a couple of years. It’s really neat,” White said.
Mostly, White, Ramirez and Martinez are simply cherishing their last opportunity to play representing their high schools. For White, whose Greenwood team fell to eventual 6A runner-up Siloam Springs in the state tournament in May, it’s especially bittersweet.
“(The All-Star Game) is going to be fun, but it’s, I’m still thinking about how I won’t be playing next year. When I see tweets about practices, I’m not going to go. It won’t be my team anymore. Just a strange feeling. But this is going to be fun.”
Clarksville’s Luis Cabello is on the boys’ West roster.
High School Sports
Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Games
at McConnell Field, Conway
Girls, 7 p.m.
Boys, immediately following