ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The timing was perfect for Eric Orell, even if he didn’t know it.
On the same morning he resigned as the boys basketball coach at Bosque School a few weeks ago, David Gibson did the same later that day at Manzano.
“I was prepared not to coach next year,” Orell said.
But the longtime Manzano assistant, who led the Bobcats to the Class 2A playoffs in each of his three seasons on the West Side, found an unexpected opening and now is going home.
Or staying home, if you prefer.
Orell, who is Manzano’s dean of students, was recently hired to take over the Monarchs from Gibson, who had expanding work commitments at Sandia National Labaratories that made his staying on with Manzano unfeasible.
Orell spent eight seasons at Manzano as an assistant, first under Greg Brown and later for Travis Julian. He was part of three Monarch teams that played for the Class 5A state championship.
“It’s exciting,” said Orell, 36. “It was exciting when I came in with Greg and we built something and won a state championship. To be able to get to three state championship games, two with Greg and one with Travis, that’s what I want to get back to. The opportunity presented itself and the administration had somebody in-house they felt comfortable with.”
Manzano is coming off a 12-14 season and did not qualify for the postseason.
“It’s coming back home,” Orell said of the program, “but at the same time, I want to put my own stamp on it.”
Orell was 63-27 at Bosque School. Ironically, he was coaching Gibson’s basketball class at Manzano last season because of Gibson’s day job.
“I have a vested interest in this place,” Orell said.
Orell said he resigned at Bosque because the demands of sharing one gym among many teams in multiple sports was proving difficult on the family dynamic. He and his wife are expecting their second child around the start of next season.
GOING NEXT LEVEL: Atrisco Heritage’s wonderfully explosive backcourt will be playing in college. Just not together.
Corbin Waquie and Joe Brooks, who led the Jaguars into March’s Class 5A state championship game, have signed their letters of intent.
Waquie will play for Northern New Mexico College in Española. Brooks has signed with Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. The duo, both first-team all-state players last season, combined to average about 40 points a game for Atrisco Heritage.
BRIGGS RETIREMENT: Manzano baseball coach and athletic director Jim Briggs has coached his last game for the Monarchs. After 21 seasons, Briggs has retired.
“It was time to give somebody else a shot,” said Briggs, 53.
Briggs’ son, Wyatt, will be a senior baseball player at La Cueva next year and has verbally committed to UNM beyond that.
“I’m gonna move on and watch my only kid play and just be in the stands,” Briggs said.
Manzano has already hired Shawn Morris to take over AD duties, and the Monarchs will soon interview candidates for the baseball position.
RIO RANCHO HIGH SIGNINGS: Cross-country runners Troy Lawton and Abran Ramos have signed with New Mexico State. Melissa Newsome is going to play basketball for the University of Manila in the Philippines.
State champion wrestler Jordan Lara signed with Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. Two baseball players – Vic Chavez and Grant Templin – will play for junior colleges in Colorado. Chavez signed with Otero JC in La Junta, Templin with Trinidad State.
Girls basketball player Chelsey Nicol is also going to Trinidad State, while shot putter Colby Stinson is headed to Western State in Gunnison, Colo.