ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — We need an industrial sized truck to load the massive haul of trophies earned by schools on the West Side, Rio Rancho and North Valley during the most recent school year.
Remarkably, seven of the nine schools in the Journal’s Rio West readership area won a state championship during 2013-14.
Several of them – Cleveland, Rio Rancho, Valley – won multiple blue trophies.
It was, by any measure, a spectacular nine months of achievement.
A look back:
We’ll begin with the most recent season, the spring, which saw Cleveland win titles in boys golf and boys track and field, Rio Rancho win the Class 5A state softball championship, and the girls from Bosque School earn a golf crown. (In one of the most agonizing finishes for any local team, St. Pius’ boys golf team had a blue trophy ripped from its clutches by Albuquerque Academy, literally at the last minute with two late birdies. Ouch.)
Was there one championship that stands out above the rest?
That was the Valley boys basketball team, which, just a few hours after the Volcano Vista girls celebrated a title, raced around Bob King Court at the Pit after defeating Atrisco Heritage in the final, to the delight of a huge crowd of hungry Viking fans.
It was, I would say, a terrific school year for Valley athletics, particularly the boys. Valley was the No. 1 seed for the playoffs in both football and boys basketball, and that’s extremely rarefied air, the likes of which we usually see only from La Cueva.
The Volcano girls authored a wonderful run at the state basketball tournament, knocking off nationally ranked – and undefeated – Clovis, in the semifinals before edging Mayfield in the finals.
I’m going to give some love to my alma mater, Cibola, which doesn’t have a huge collection of boys state championships to its credit, but the Cougars in February won a state swimming title, the first in program history.
St. Pius’ girls in November ended the five-year run in Class 4A of Academy and earned a state soccer crown. The Sartans had a magnificent season.
Rio Rancho had the best overall 2013-14 in terms of first-place trophies.
The Rams’ softball team took home a blue trophy in softball, to go with previous championships in boys cross-country and wrestling.
Valley had a second blue trophy at the state spirit competition, taking first in 5A dance.
Cleveland’s boys track and field team was as dominant as just about any team in the state. The Storm not only went undefeated, but it won most weeks by absurdly large margins. And that’s not easy to do, especially in a sport where you generally have the most elite athletes.
The glory was not confined to the team arena.
Individually, the Rio West area produced nearly three dozen athletes who were state champions.
A couple of them were champions in multiple sports, such as St. Pius’ Yale-bound Kelli Reagan, the 4A cross-country champion and also the 3,200-meter winner at state track.
Volcano Vista’s Mike Budick had an undefeated wrestling season at 220 pounds, and last weekend added top-of-the-podium performances in the shot put and discus.
Valley’s Bo Coleman didn’t win any individual titles, but he quarterbacked the Vikings to an undefeated regular season and was the Gatorade player of the year for New Mexico. He was a key cog on that basketball team, and had an outstanding baseball campaign, too. He was the highest-profile athlete from the RW area during 2013-14.
There are too many names to document all those state champions here today, but watch the main Journal sports section in the days to come. I’ve put together a list of every metro-area state champion in every sport, both individuals and teams.
On the football front, Bernalillo got a new head coach in Trent Spencer, and the West Side introduced a new facility – Community Stadium, which hosted the first varsity game of the 2013 season. It’s a terrific venue.
Rio Rancho continued to host a handful of state team events, such as cross-country and volleyball, most of the softball tournament and – along with Bernalillo High – several days of state basketball.
There was much to document, almost all of it positive.
As always, I wish all the graduating seniors much happiness in their future endeavors. Good luck, kids.
By mid-July, I’ll be back, full throttle, getting ready for 2014-15, as we begin our football previews.
Until then, stay cool, everyone.