The New Mexico Activities Association’s state chess team championships were held April 18-19 at the Marriott Pyramid Hotel in Albuquerque, where Rio Rancho finished third — its best finish in school history.
There were 11 teams participating in three divisions (1A-2A, 3A and 4A-5A), with four teams in the Rams’ 4A-5A division, which included Albuquerque Academy, Los Alamos and Del Norte.
In the first round, Academy defeated Del Norte, 6-0, and Los Alamos defeated Rio Rancho, 4-2. In the second round on Friday morning, Academy defeated Los Alamos, 4-2, and Rio Rancho downed Del Norte by the same score.
In the last round, Academy beat Rio Rancho 6-0 and Los Alamos defeated Del Norte.
“For our efforts, Rio Rancho placed third in our division … the highest achievement that RRHS has ever attained in this tournament,” noted chess team coach Mitchell Robinson, happy to see his team handed a trophy.
Less than a month ago, RRHS finished third in the Central Regional Chess Qualification tournament behind Academy (1) and Del Norte (2). In its individual match, Del Norte beat RRHS, 3.5 to 2.5 to claim second place. In that tournament, RRHS defeated Cibola, 5-1, in the first round; then lost to the Academy, 6-0, in the second round.
“They came together as a team when it all mattered,” Robinson said. “We are planning on having a team celebration on a Saturday afternoon in May to commemorate the season.” The RRHS chess team featured eight players, including two alternates. They are Corbin Gustafson, team captain Ernest Miramontes, Brendan Burke, Michael Mendoza, Aaron Misla and Harrison Lee; Benjamin Fogg and Cameron Coe, who attends The ASK Academy, served as the alternates.