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2011-12 Journal Metro Athletes Of The Year

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JULIA WARREN
Volleyball — La Cueva
The 5-foot-10 Warren, a junior outside hitter who will be a future Lobo, was a terror at the net last season for the Bears and is considered one of the region’s top players.
She averaged a ridiculous 28 kills per match for La Cueva, a number believed to have led the state. She also is an accomplished defender, with nearly 500 digs, and a terrific server.
Warren was the 5A player of the year.
And the best may be yet to come.

ASHLEY WILLIAMS
Girls Soccer — Volcano Vista
Like Belen’s Contreras, Williams was an All-America choice by the NSCAA.
The University of Kansas-bound senior forward led Class 5A with 35 goals and 85 points last season as the Hawks reached the state championship game.
What was strange about her goal output was this: her 35 goals were more than her first three seasons at Volcano Vista combined.
She was 5A’s player of the year.

ANIKA APOSTALON
Girls Swimming — Albuquerque Academy
There was no way to go wrong in this sport. It was either going to be Apostalon or Albuquerque High’s Madison Bridges, who was our selection last year. In no other sport could we have chosen co-athletes and had it been more appropriate.
Apostalon, a junior, had an epic showdown victory in the 100-yard backstroke at February’s state meet. She broke the state record and beat Bridges head-to-head in the process. Both are qualified for this summer’s Olympic Trials.

SEAN BAKLINI
Boys Tennis — Eldorado
Baklini had a tremendous 2012, as good as most anyone in relation to his or her competition.
He swept the three major events on the prep tennis calendar — APS Singles, the Albuquerque Metro Championships and the Class 5A state tournament — and did so with a flourish. Baklini not only went undefeated for the season, the junior only lost one set for the year. At state, he dropped only six games total in three matches.

SEAN CARLON
Boys Golf — Hope Christian
The Huskies probably had New Mexico’s best golf team in any classification and capped it off with a victory at state in Class 3A. Carlon was often out front for Hope.
Our individual choice here might seem unusual on the surface, since Carlon, a freshman, played No. 4 for Hope. But on an extremely deep and talented team, Carlon consistently posted the best numbers on the scorecard. His stroke average (73.6) led the Huskies, and he won five tournaments. In four of those five wins, he was under par, including a pair of stellar 70s at the UNM Championship Course. Plus, he was the metro tournament runner-up.

KATERA ELTSOSIE
Softball — Volcano Vista
Eltsosie, a senior, was the best player on the state’s best team.
The hard-throwing right-hander was a perfect 16-0 for the Hawks, who played a grueling schedule — as tough as anyone in New Mexico. For every game she pitched, about half of the outs she recorded were by strikeout.
But that’s only half her appeal. She also batted nearly .500 for Volcano Vista and hit 12 home runs.

JACK FEELY
Boys Swimming — St. Pius
As with girls swimming, there were really only two logical choices. We gave the (very) slight edge to Feely over Valley sophomore Dorian Holler, another multiple state champion.
Feely, one of our repeat recipients from 2011 — the only other one is Cleveland’s Martinez — won two events at February’s state meet at Albuquerque Academy, including the grueling 500-yard freestyle final.
Feely, a senior, also won the 200 free in a state-record time.

DOMINIQUE GALLOWAY
Girls Golf — Cleveland
The youngest member in our all-star gallery this year is certainly worthy of inclusion, and this eighth-grader could very well be a multiple state champion before she’s done with the Storm.
The supremely confident Galloway recorded eight victories during the 2011-12 season. And in two of the weeks she didn’t win — the District 1-5A tournament and the 5A state tournament — she was the runner-up but posted solid scores in both events. She simply was outplayed in those two tournaments, and that was the exception.

COLE GAUTSCHE
Football — Cleveland
This is the only current collegian on today’s list. Gautsche, UNM football coach Bob Davie’s first in-state recruit who just completed his first semester of college, was arguably the highest-profile metro athlete in any sport during 2011-12 — Eldorado’s Cullen Neal would be on this short list, too — and with good reason.
Numerically, there was no other way to go except to choose the 6-3, 210-pound Gautsche. He threw for 3,087 yards and 39 touchdowns for the Storm, and he also ran for another 23 TDs.
The intangibles also made this an easy call, what with his leadership skills in taking a third-year varsity program to an undefeated season and a Class 5A state championship last December.

CHLOE LEE
Girls Tennis — Albuquerque High
The Bulldogs’ junior has a fierceness that Maria Sharapova would probably endorse. Lee — who can be quite vocal during high-stakes matches — almost seemed to will herself to a marathon, three-set, three-hour victory over Eldorado’s Susan Baklini in the 5A girls state singles final earlier this month.
Lee won two of the three head-to-head matches with Baklini this season, including the APS singles title early in the season.

LUIS MARTINEZ
Boys Cross-Country/Track and Field — Cleveland
While the football team laid waste to the rest of Class 5A with a perfect season, Martinez was unbeatable on an individual basis.
The junior won every race he entered in the fall. His 10 victories included wins at the four elite races on the prep calendar — the UNM Invitational, the Albuquerque Academy Invite, the Rio Rancho Jamboree and the Class 5A state meet, which he won for the second straight November.
On the track, Martinez, as one might expect, was the dominant force in the 3,200 and 1,600, with wins across the board every time he competed.

ERIC MONTOYA
Wrestling — Volcano Vista
Always stalking. That’s the Hawks’ Montoya, who in February won his fourth Class 5A individual state title — a feat that hadn’t been reached by any wrestler in Albuquerque Public Schools since 1987.
Montoya only had one blemish on his 2011-12 record — a loss to a wrestler from Texas. He thoroughly dominated his rivals in the Land of Enchantment, and he rarely seemed to be working very hard, which was part of his gift. His smooth movements and relentless style translated brilliantly on the mat.
CULLEN NEAL
Boys Basketball — Eldorado
This could just as easily have gone to his cohort, La Cueva’s Bryce Alford. The tiebreaker was probably this: the Eagles beat the Bears for the state championship in March.
Neal, a 6-foot-4 junior who verbally committed to St. Mary’s, is a tremendous shooting guard for the Eagles, and he’s capable of incredible bursts of points. He is as explosive an offensive talent as Albuquerque has seen for many years and already is Eldorado’s career scoring leader.

GINA OKOYE
Girls Basketball/Track and Field — Eldorado
The talented, athletic and quick-footed Okoye accomplished just about everything a player could achieve individually during her career.
In basketball, she’s an All-State selection, the metro area’s top 5A scorer and defender, and for 2011-12 she was named the state’s Gatorade player of the year.
The 5-10 senior forward, whose quick hands and long arms created scores of turnovers in the last couple of years, was always a game changer.
In the spring, Okoye added three individual state titles — the triple jump, long jump and 100-meter high hurdles. She has the same type of versatility in the sport that former Albuquerque Academy standout Curtis Beach had.

RICARDO PEREZ-CONTRERAS
Boys Soccer — Belen
The nimble-footed senior from Valencia County last fall broke a New Mexico state scoring record with 52 goals for the Eagles.
He led all classifications in points and goals, in fact, as he led Belen to its second consecutive Class 4A state championship game.
Perez-Contreras was a first-team All-State selection and also was named an All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

JENNA THURMAN
Girls Cross-Country — Del Norte
Choosing a clear-cut best in this sport was one of the more difficult tasks this year.
And Thurman might be the only athlete here today that excelled at his/her sport while only doing it part-time. The Knights’ immensely likeable junior was also a soccer standout and splits her practice time between the two sports.
But the quiet, unassuming Thurman apparently didn’t need to do cross-country full-time. She was awfully effective and persistent on any course, managing to capture the metro championship, then district, then the Class 4A state title.

ANDRE VIGIL
Baseball — Volcano Vista
Vigil is so certain his future is in baseball that he has given up football to concentrate on baseball full time.
The Hawks’ junior second baseman/pitcher drove in 38 runs. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly since he was not a factor the previous year, he also proved to be Volcano Vista’s stopper on the mound. As the Hawks’ ace, Vigil — who has verbally committed to UNM — pitched his team to several key wins in 2012.
After swatting 17 homers in 2011, he had three this year with the switch to wood/composite bats.

— Compiled by Journal Staff Writer James Yodice

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