Girls basketball: Amaya Brown, sr., Cibola
The state’s best player leaves Cibola as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and last season became the state’s single-season rebounding record holder. After missing all of her junior year with a knee injury, the speedy, electrifying guard came back better than ever last season, averaging 20.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and leading the Cougars into the state final. Signed with Florida State.
Football: Diego Casillas, jr., Belen
This was one of the trickier assignments on the board, and I could have gone several ways with this selection. But I feel perfectly comfortable honoring Casillas, who was a massive difference maker as he rushed for nearly 2,700 yards and 33 touchdowns last season as he led the Eagles into the Class 5A state championship game. Tellingly, he surpassed 240 yards no fewer than seven times.
Boys basketball: Anthony Chavez, sr., Valley
Chavez was a special player in the North Valley from the first time he had the ball in his hands for the Vikings, going back to the start of his freshman season. This program has had its share of wonderful, play-making guards, and Chavez would have to be very near the top of that list. His senior season was a terrific one, as he averaged 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Will be a preferred walk-on with the Lobos.
Boys cross country/boys track and field: Jericho Cleveland, sr., Volcano Vista
Enjoyed robust seasons in the fall and the spring. On the course, he won the Albuquerque Academy and Albuquerque Metro Championships, and was runner-up to Kirtland Central’s Kashon Harrison at the UNM Invite and the Rio Rancho Jamboree. On the track, he swept the distance titles at state (and was high-point individual) and shined in out-of-state competitions, too. Signed with Colorado.
Girls tennis: Ivana Corley, sr., Eldorado
New Mexico will remember Corley as a fierce, powerful force of nature, certainly one of the most dominant players the state has ever seen come through these parts. She didn’t lose a match this season, capping her year with a routine victory in the state tournament, her third state singles title during her Eagles career. She likely would have won four, but skipped singles her junior season. Signed with Oklahoma.
Boys golf: Bowen Davis, sr., Manzano
This was probably the single most difficult decision of any sport, as both Davis and Cleveland’s Alejandro Armijo posted nearly identical résumés. Davis gets the slight edge because of his overall scoring average — 73.1 to Armijo’s 73.9 — plus that sensational 68 he shot to win the prestigious Shootout in the Desert. Finished third at the metro tournament, and also at the Class 6A state tournament. Will walk on to play at UNM.
Volleyball: Jaedyn Fuqua, sr., Sandia
Can’t ignore the tremendous season authored by Sandia Prep’s Catherine Kelly, but Fuqua was a magnificent and ferocious hitting machine last fall for the Matadors in their Class 6A state championship season. The 5-foot-10 Fuqua got her money’s worth on nearly every swing she took for Sandia, and finished the season with 294 kills. Awfully fun to watch when the sets were there for her to put away.
Girls golf: Jacque Galloway, jr., Cleveland
Except for Corley, no choice in a sport was easier to make than this one, with the Storm’s phenom winning everything in sight, including the big three: metros, the Shootout in the Desert, and finally the Class 6A state tournament. She is a three-time state champ for Cleveland, and committed to the University of Iowa during the school year.
Boys soccer: Carlos Gutierrez, sr., Albuquerque High
The Bulldogs’ potent forward was out front in AHS’ 2017 season, which culminated with a Class 6A state championship. And the best player from the best team is rarely the wrong way to go when choosing an AOY from a team sport. He led AHS with 26 goals, and scored the game-winner in the state final on a penalty kick. Signed with UNM.
Wrestling: Orion Gutierrez, sr., Rio Rancho
Don’t be deceived by the fact that Gutierrez lost four matches last season — all of them occurred at out-of-state tournaments, including one to a kid from the top-ranked team in the country. Gutierrez finished 40-4 and cruised to championships at the metros, and also ripped through the 160-pound division at February’s Class 6A state meet.
Boys swimming: Josh Harlan, sr., Cibola
Harlan is one of handful of repeat selections from last year, along with Mayoral, Cleveland, Corley, Davis and Galloway. Set a pair of state records at February’s state championships, lowering the marks in the 200-yard individual medley (putting his versatility on full display) and also the 100-yard breaststroke. Gets the nod over La Cueva junior Jack Hoagland. Signed with West Virginia.
Softball: Brook Leger, jr., Volcano Vista
From the metro’s best team, Leger was almost certainly its most valuable player. She was the Hawks’ No. 1 starting pitcher, and she delivered a string of important victories in key games, especially in District 1-6A where she was the co-player of the year. And she also proved to be potent at the dish, giving Volcano Vista perhaps its most consistent threat at the plate in the second half of the season.
Girls cross country/track and field: Amanda Mayoral, sr., Cleveland
For the third straight year, she went through her regular season having won every meet she entered in the fall, and then went out and won every distance race she entered (13 of them) in the spring, too. She won four state titles — the distance trifecta in track to go along with her victory in cross country. She also won the prestigious Nike regional cross country meet. Signed with Oklahoma State.
Baseball: Jack Pineda, sr., La Cueva
What a tremendous table-setter Pineda was for the state champion Bears. He led the team in RBIs (unusual for a leadoff man) and hits, and was second in runs scored and stolen bases. At shortstop, the slick-fielding Pineda committed only two errors on 128 chances. He also delivered the game-winning RBI late in the Bears’ state semifinal win over Carlsbad. Going to College of Southern Nevada — Bryce Harper’s school.
Girls soccer: Kat Robinson, sr., La Cueva
The tall (6 feet), athletic Robinson, who signed with the University of Pittsburgh, let in only three goals the entire 2017 season for the state champion Bears — each one, as she admitted, very much nagging at her — and finished with a goals-against average of .118. And that was against a relatively difficult schedule. Those long arms repelled pretty much everything that came her way.
Girls swimming: Sara Vianco, sr., ABQ Academy
It wasn’t until the eve of February’s state meet at her home pool that Vianco decided she’d swim the 200-yard freestyle, in addition to the 100 free. (She had done the 50 and 100 at state since the eighth grade). Her decision was the correct one, as she set a state record in the 200, in a time of 1 minute, 48.45 seconds. She also added a title in the 100, as well. Will swim collegiately with the Naval Academy.
Boys tennis: Abraham Yohannes, jr., Albuquerque Academy
Yohannes didn’t encounter a whole bunch of resistance during his stellar season in which he didn’t drop a match — or a set, for that matter — on his way to the Class 5A state title. He won all 24 of his matches, either in a singles tournament or a team format. The closest anybody came to taking a set off Yohannes was when 6A state singles champ Georgio Samaha of Eldorado played him to 7-5 in one of their sets.