Neosho student athletes sign letters of intent

Seth Kinker
Neosho Daily News

On Mar. 25, Eder Aguirre (Ecclesia College, Soccer), Carlos Estrada (Ecclesia College, Soccer), Alberto Robledo (Ecclesia College, Soccer), Carlos Hernandez (Loras College, Soccer), Kylie Bickford (Neosho County Community College, Cheer) and Jeremiah Larson (Maryville University, Wrestling) all signed their letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at the next level at Neosho High School.

Aguirre, Estrada, Robledo and Hernandez are a part of what coach James Carter said should be considered the greatest senior class to go through the program, winning a district title every year.

In 2018, they were Sectional champs for the first time in program history, in 2019 they made the programs first appearance in the final four and in 2020 they finished with 17-1 overall with an undefeated conference record for the first time in program history.

In 2020, Robledo was named Class 3 All State Offensive Player of the Year, All Region Player of the Year, First Team All-District and All District Offensive Player of the Year. Estrada was named Second Team All District in 2018, First Team All-District and Region in 2019 and First Team All-District in 2020. Hernandez was named First Team All-Region, All District Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All District in 2019 and Second Team All-District in 2020. Aguirre was named First Team All-District in 2020.

Larson was a two time Academic All State finisher, a two-time state finalist and a state champion.

Bickford, a four year varsity cheerleader and member of the competition  team for the last three years, was chosen as an All American Cheerleader the past two years, finished first at regionals and fifth at states in 2017, third at regionals and fifth at states in 2018 and second at regionals and third at states in 2019.

See the Q and A below with each of them to learn a little bit about their careers thus far and where their next steps will be.

How long have you been competing in your sport?

Eder Aguirre (EA): Probably since I was around five years old.

Carlos Estrada (CE): Probably since I was eight years old.

Alberto Robledo (AR): Since I was nine or ten years old.

Carlos Hernandez (CH): Since I was about seven years old.

Jeremiah Larson (JL): Six years.

Kylie Bickford (KB): Since third grade.

When did you know you might want to continue your athletic career after high school?

EA: After we went to state my junior year. After state I was like, ‘man next year is my last year, I don’t want to stop there, I want to keep going.’

CE: I’ve kind of always known. College was that next step to have that chance and opportunity to keep playing.

AR: I didn’t see myself continuing to play but this year I really thought about it and just decided to keep playing for the love of the game.

CH: I started noticing my career after my junior year. I had a terrific year, defensive player of the year, 1st team All District, I started looking into it after that. 

JL: I think it was probably my first year of wrestling as a seventh grader, it was like, ‘hey, I could do something with this, I enjoy this,’

KB: I knew my freshman year. I loved the team; it was friends and family all together. I wanted to continue that and get the scholarship for school too.

What was recruiting process like?

EA: After our senior season (Carlos Estrada, Alberto and I) went on a couple college visits. We always went together and came to Ecclesia, liked the team and school and decided to go. Coach saw a video of me and recruited me and asked if I’d like to come try and out and I told him yes, and that I had two friends and that one of them (Alberto) was about to make history with Neosho as a striker. Carlos, I’ve grown up with him and he’s one of my best friends. I told coach I had another friend (Carlos Estrada) that led us to states our junior year.

After our first training session (with their team) Alberto scored three goals when we were scrimmaging and Carlos was just running the midfield, coach said he definitely wanted those guys next year.

CE: Eder got recruited and he let them know I would be interested too. I went with him and Alberto to go to a practice and check out the campus. They really liked me so that’s how I got recruited.

AR: We went to train with the team for a bit, played scrimmages and they decided to offer us.

CH: It was me talking to them and asking questions on their programs they had so I could feel comfortable academically wise. They recruited me because they saw how I played these past four years.

JL: I talked to the coaches, went on a visit and talked to other wrestlers there and asked how it was like. Some of them, I’ve wrestled with before because they were from Neosho and I’ve trained with them over the summers.

KB: My coaches helped me a lot, reached out to colleges. I put it out on Instagram and posted about it.

What stood out to you about this program?

EA: The bond they had; I feel like the players trust coach Julio a lot. He looks at them like they’re his own sons. His fire and passion for the game, you could see it in him. I want a coach like that if we want to be improving.

CE: The people were really cool; it was like all my friends here. It wasn’t that different; it was easy to get to know them.

AR: Just the environment, they seem like really nice people.

CH: The soccer team had a good record and I decided to go with it.

JL: The culture there. It’s a bit different than what I’m use to, I like that. I feel like it’ll go well with my personality and how I train. I learned about Maryville my freshman year from an alum that came back. I learned more about it more and more every year and decided to go.

When did you commit?

EA: Beginning of February, end of January.

CE: I committed a month ago.

AR: About a month ago.

CH: Last Friday.            

JL: A couple weeks ago.

KB: Beginning of January.

What was that feeling like, to have your plans after high school settled upon?

EA: I was a little nervous (leading up to the decision). (My parents) always pray for me and wish the best for me. They put their trust in god, I felt like it was a good choice when they both told me it was a good school and I should go. My dad said he’d been praying and once he said that I knew it was a good choice because he had the trust of god.

CE: It was exciting but nervous at the same time, mostly excited about the upcoming seasons at Ecclesia. I think it’ll be fun (playing with Eder and Alberto), we know how we play, and I think it’ll be a good season.

AR: It was a tough decision, I wasn’t sure to do, continue playing or work. One day I said, ‘I might as well continue to play,’

CH: That big decision, it made me happy with the decision I made. I’m taking the next chapter of life to a new level in soccer and education.

JL: It felt good that I knew where I was going.

KB: It was incredible, I felt relief because I knew where I was going and the path I was taking.

Top sports memory?

EA: The two goals Carlos (Hernandez) scored (for a district title this year). I was sad he’s going so far away but those two goals, I was right there (on the field) I saw him take the shot. I saw it go in, him running to the crowd and feeling that energy.

CE: Probably when Alberto got cleated my sophomore year by Lakin House. Not funny at the time but after we laughed about it.

AR: Going to state last year.

CH: Winning the district title, scoring two goals against Webb City. The goal to tie it and the golden goal to win it.

JL: Winning states my junior year.

KB: The competitions, staying in hotel rooms.

What will you major in?

EA: Business.

CE: Business, maybe realty.

AR: Accounting.

CH: Study wise, I want to go into physical therapy or a medical field.

JL: Accounting or Actuarial science.

KB: Elementary education.