NASCAR made a surprise visit to the West Side, the Volcano Vista football team made a surprise visit to the state semifinals and the area also crowned a pair of state volleyball champions.
Those were among the highlights of the second half of the 2012 calendar.
Starting with football, the Hawks barely snuck into the playoffs with a win over Cibola in the final game of the regular season, then beat Valley and Rio Rancho in the postseason to reach the Final Four.
And although Volcano Vista was close with Sandia at halftime, the Matadors pulled away for a 37-5 victory. It ended a madcap season for the Hawks, one that saw them involved in one close scrape after another. They were the first 5A school from the West Side Journal area to get into the semifinals since Cibola in 2007.
In November at the Santa Ana Star Center, Bosque School and St. Pius both earned state volleyball titles.
The Bobcats toppled Class 2A’s perennial power, Texico, in four games, while the Sartans earned a five-set victory over the No. 1 seed, Piedra Vista, in 4A.
For Bosque, it was the school’s first blue trophy in volleyball.
For St. Pius, the victory was as much a relief as a celebration after being the state runner-up the previous four years.
The NAPA Speedway in September hosted NASCAR’s developmental K&N Pro Series West.
The event attracted one of the biggest crowds in the facility’s history, about 3,000, as Californian Derek Thorn captured the 150-lap, 75-mile event.
As part of NASCAR’s visit, two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip competed in a celebrity race.
NASCAR announced during that weekend that it intends to come back to Albuquerque in 2013.
Valley’s football team won its first district title since 2002, and Atrisco Heritage also qualified for the playoffs in its first year as a Class 5A program.
With Volcano Vista and St. Pius also in the playoffs, it was the largest contingent yet of area football teams advancing past the regular season.
On the pitch, a pair of West Side programs played for a state title. But both the boys from Bosque School and the girls from Volcano Vista came up short in 1-0 losses to Sandia Prep and La Cueva, respectively.
Robyn Serge of Bosque School was named the Class 1A-3A girls coach of the year.
Volcano Vista’s boys cross-country team earned a trophy at state as the runner-up to Cleveland. Joe Clark and Zac Castillo of the Hawks earned all-state honors by finishing in the top 10 individually.
Three girls in 5A also were all-state – Cibola’s Kim Chapman, Volcano’s Rebecca Castillo and Valley’s Toni-Marie Gonzales.
St. Pius’ Marissa Nathe and Kelli Reagan did the same in 4A (and the Sartans finished third as a team), and Bosque’s Jacqueline Katzman and Kendall Kelly both finished in the top five in Class 2A.
♦ St. Pius boys soccer coach Ron Allen, also an accomplished amateur golfer, qualified for the U.S. Senior Open in Michigan in 2012. He didn’t make the cut.
♦ Three West Siders were named to 5A’s all-state first team in football, including Atrisco Heritage’s Nate Goode at punter, plus Volcano Vista’s Josh Lubold (linebacker) and Joe Searcy-Ortega (safety).
♦ First-team all-state volleyball players from the West Side were Cibola’s Tatyana Battle in 5A, St. Pius’ Lexi Biondi, Caitlyn Martinez and Mercedes Pacheco in 4A, and Bosque’s Lexi Grady and Alex Corcoran in 2A.
♦ The Petroglyph Little League majors baseball team got to appear on ESPN this year as part of August’s Southwestern Regional.
♦ West Mesa, Valley and Atrisco all began the 2012 football seasons with new coaches. Patrick Johnson from AHA and Enrico Marcelli from Valley led their teams into the playoffs.
♦ Cibola will start next season with a new football coach after Judge Chavez was fired earlier this month after seven seasons. Chavez was the longest-tenured head coach in Albuquerque Public Schools with 18 seasons between Highland and Cibola.
♦ There were a handful of local athletes who signed national letters of intent with Division I colleges in the latter half of the year.
West Mesa wrestler and state champion DeShun Brown signed with Arizona State.
The Volcano Vista baseball team had five players sign, including Andre Vigil with the University of New Mexico. St. Pius outfielder Cody Bower also signed with the Lobos.
♦ Cibola continued to have a strong presence in the NFL, with the likes of Dallas center Ryan Cook and Seattle defensive tackle Alan Branch.
♦ Golfer Joey Tellez of St. Pius competed for New Mexico’s squad at the Jr. Americas Cup.
♦ First-team all-state soccer players from 2012 were: Claire Lynch, Ruth Bruciaga and Hannah Fenske of Volcano Vista’s girls squad; Gabby Campbell and Adrianna Naranjo of St. Pius’ girls; Annie Allison of Bosque School’s girls; Parker Conaway of Volcano Vista’s boys; and Evan Hicks, Kyle Frank, Felipe Galvis and Andres Rivera from the Bosque School boys.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today the West Side Journal concludes a two-part package looking back on the year in sports. Today, July-December.