She was just a freshman. But, Tristen Brunson lived up to the hype.
And her name. Brunson highlighted the year for Florence when she won the Class 2A state girls singles tennis championship May 1.
The win, gave Florence its first UIL gold medal since her sister, Ashee teamed up with Kasey Button to win the state doubles title in 2010.
But, she was not alone in claiming a state title. Luis Robles won the state title in powerlifting — a non-UIL sanctioned sport.
However, the highlights were few and far between for the team sports at Florence as they failed to make the playoffs in every single sport.
The football team won its first two games, but finished a disappointing 3-7 and the baseball team, despite a strong pedigree, couldn’t hang tough in the one of the best districts in Class 2A.
Top 5 performances
1. Super fish: Brunson won the 2A state girls tennis title May 1, losing only two sets all season on her path to the title. For that victory and her dominance, Brunson was named the Daily Herald’s All-Area tennis MVP.
The Florence freshman defeated Forsan’s Sydney Holdampf 6-2, 6-0 to win the 2A title, but had a harder time in the semifinals. Up 6-1, 5-1 over Jessey Martinez, Brunson lost seven straight games before rallying to win the last four and ensure her spot in the final.
2. Lifting power: Luis Robles lifted 575 pounds on the deadlift and 1,700 pounds total to win the Division III super heavyweight state title March 27 at the Taylor Expo Center in Abilene.
Robles benched 405 pounds and squatted 705 to lead Barton 1,125 pounds to 1,115 going into the deadlift.
3. On point: Junior quarterback Kaleb Hardy got off to a hot start in his first season under center for the Buffaloes, throwing for 246 yards and running for 75 more in a 35-31 win over Bruceville Eddy. He then followed that up with 107 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in a 42-24 win over Holland.
4. Well-timed hitting: Freshman Tyler Salis hit a game-winning single in the seventh inning and the Florence Buffaloes edged Cameron Yoe 2-1 on March 24 in Florence. Evelio Varela pitched a complete game and only allowed one run for Florence.
5. Taking off: Trey Jett scored 23 points to lift Florence to a 49-34 win over Lago Vista on Jan. 6 to pick up its first district win of the season.
Top 5 players to watch in 2012-13
1. Tristen Brunson: She won the state girls tennis title as a freshman. Now, she has an even bigger challenge — being the girl with a target on her back. Brunson will have three more years to defend her title.
2. Kaleb Hardy: The quarterback had his up and downs in 2011 as he battled through injuries, but still managed to combine for 23 touchdowns. He threw for 1,724 yards and ran for 712 as a junior. Next season, he will have to be even better if Florence is going to make the playoffs.
3. Christian Gomez: The 6-foot-1, 230-pound offensive lineman led a resurgent ground game for Florence this past season. Joining him were sophomores Luke McNeil and Jacob Navarro, who should lead an experienced offensive line for the Buffaloes next year.
4. Dustyn Espinoza: The junior first baseman hit .368 with 12 RBIs and 14 runs scored for Florence this season as they narrowly missed the playoffs again in a tough district.
5. Haley Pluenneke: The junior setter was the captain of the volleyball team and filled numerous holes for the Lady Buffs in 2011. She finished with 96 assists, 52 kills, 31 aces and 90 digs as she played almost every position on the court.