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Prep boys athletes of the year

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

To cap this odd high school sports year and decidedly unfilled season, Journal North will be announcing its annual list of the top boys and girls athletes in each sport that was played to its conclusion.

This week, the top boys athletes will be spotlighted, followed by the girls next week. Journal North will then announce its top prep male and female athletes of the year in the ensuing weeks. Congratulations to each of these athletes and to all the competitors who put their heart and soul into their endeavors.

Rafael Sanchez, junior, Los Alamos

Los Alamos cross-country runner Rafael Sanchez. (Courtesy of Blake Wood)

In terms of results, Sanchez fell off a bit from his top-notch 2018 performance when he finished second to lead the Hilltoppers to a state championship. His time this season of 16 minutes, 18.30 seconds was about 12 seconds slower than last year and landed him third on the individual podium. But with Sanchez leading the way, Los Alamos was once again able to hold off rival Albuquerque Academy to win the blue trophy.



Luke Padilla, junior, Capital

Capital running back Luke Padilla. (Gerry Ruelas/via Capital High School)

After less than three complete seasons (he played a total of 13 complete games as a freshman and sophomore), Padilla became the Jaguars’ career rushing leader. A very good case could be made that he is the top returning running back heading into the 2020 season after he compiled a Class 5A-best 1,852 yards on the ground in 10 games with 23 touchdowns, which ranked second among all 5A running backs. Strong, tough and fast, Padilla is a handful to bring down on every carry.

Daniel Dominguez, sophomore, St. Michael’s

Not especially heralded during the regular season, Dominguez had to earn his way onto the field above a senior. But when the bright lights of the state tournament fell upon the Horsemen, Dominguez was up to the task and then some. In the four games – one of which was four overtimes with another going two overtimes – he chucked three shutouts and allowed a total of two goals. What’s more, he came up big in the championship game’s deciding shootout with a clinching save.

Orion Henderson, sophomore, Los Alamos

In swimming terms, the 500-yard freestyle is the leviathan, the monster, the beast. And Henderson slayed that beast in style at the state meet, finishing first in a time of 4:38.42 with a comfortable cushion of more than four seconds. He added a runner-up medal in the 200 free in a time of 1:41:61, just 0.34 seconds out of first. To cap off his resoundingly successful meet, Henderson anchored the Hilltoppers’ 200 and 400 free relay squads, each of which earned silver, spurring Los Alamos to an overall seventh-place finish.

T.J. Sanchez, senior, Capital

Capital High basketball player T.J. Sanchez (Courtesy of Shannon Steven Aragon)

Perhaps the most difficult of all choices, Sanchez gets the nod by the slightest of margins over Santa Fe’s J.B. “Fedonta” White, mainly because of the Jaguars’ postseason success. Sanchez led Capital to the 5A finale, averaging 20 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 3.3 steals per game. A natural guard, Sanchez, who became Capital’s alltime leading scorer, is frequently rotated based on need, playing point, shooting guard and wing as needed.

Andrew Trujillo, Robertson

Las Vegas Robertson wrestler Andrew Trujillo. (Courtesy of Shannon Steven Aragon)

The list of wrestlers with four or more individual state champions is a short one, totaling less than 30, but Trujillo is among them. He completed a dominant prep career by laying waste to the state meet. He won all three of his matches in falls. In the first rounds, his matches were over in less than 40 seconds. Socorro’s Sean McNeal did last until the 3:12 mark of the finale before succumbing.

St. Michael’s boys team

St. Michael’s boys soccer team won its first state championship last fall. (Courtesy of St. Michael’s High School)

The Horsemen did not exactly strike fear into their opponents entering the state tournament, as they came in with a 9-9-2 mark and a No. 8 seed. They were led by a trio of seniors: Esteban Rigales (22 goals, eight assists), Wesley Graham (19 goals, 12 assists) and Berkeley Reynolds (17 goals, 19 assists). The Horsemen had a stout defense, with Daniel Dominguez developing into an icy-veined goalkeeper. St. Mike’s did just enough to win and advance, beating top-seed Bosque, No. 2 New Mexico Military Institute and No. 4 Monte del Sol for the program’s first state championship.