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Prep notes: Huitt steps away as Sandia Prep coach

Paul Huitt, front, shown in 2015 during a Sandia Prep game against East Mountain, is retiring as Sundevils baseball coach . (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

After over two decades and six state championships at Sandia Prep, baseball coach Paul Huitt has retired.

“It just got to the point where it was time to step away and do something different,” Huitt, 51, said. “The passion was starting to get lost – the passion and the fight.”

The Sundevils have been a small-school powerhouse under Huitt, who spent 21 seasons at Sandia Prep as a co-head coach or head coach.

Sandia Prep won state titles in 2001 (as a co-head coach with D. McCall), 2005, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2016 with Huitt coaching. He continues to teach at Sandia Prep.

Huitt is a former University of New Mexico player and, for seven seasons, assistant coach. He also coached one year at Yavapai Junior College in Arizona.

“I had made a decision at Christmas that I would step away from baseball,” Huitt said, adding that he’s been involved with the sport for 29 years on a year-round basis.

He said he had planned to tell his team early in the 2020 season about his stepping down, but then the coronavirus pandemic came along and delayed his announcement.

“I knew it was the right decision for me,” Huitt said. He posted a 378-178-1 record with the Sundevils.

Huitt said he may coach a couple of middle school sports, but he is retiring from high school baseball “for sure.”

“The thing I take away are the relationships I built with those guys over the 21 years,” he added. “It was a special, special group of people.”

RAISING MONEY FOR CANCER: Tyler Jenson, now a football player at Cleveland High, is setting out to raise $2,000 for the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center. He has been asked by the Lobo Cancer Challenge to put together a team to participate in a 5K run/walk Sept. 19 at Albuquerque Academy.

People can put together their own teams, at $40 apiece, or individuals can do this on their own and contribute as much money as they’d like, Jenson said. They can do their 5K on any date prior to Sept. 19. Jenson is a cancer survivor who has been in remission for 18 months. He has raised almost $900 so far.

Those interested in taking part can sign up at www.lobocancerchallenge.org.

DIRECTORS CUP: Volcano Vista (Class 5A), Albuquerque Academy (4A) and Sandia Prep (3A) are among the 2019-20 winners of the New Mexico Activities Association Directors Cup.

Points are awarded to schools based on success in athletics, activities and sportsmanship.

Volcano Vista scored 1,320 points in two-thirds of a prep sports calendar, with Rio Rancho (1,140), Cleveland (1,100), Hobbs (960) and La Cueva (940) rounding out the large-school top five. Academy’s 1,600 points were 180 better than second-place Los Alamos in 4A, with Los Lunas (1,020), Highland (980) and St. Pius (940) occupying places 3-5.

In 3A, Sandia Prep scored 1,100 points. St. Michael’s (780), Socorro (680), Robertson (660) and Albuquerque’s Cottonwood Classical Prep (640) were next on the list.

Pecos (2A) and Melrose (1A) were the small-school first-place finishers.

BEARS RANKED: La Cueva, the two-time defending big-school state volleyball champion, will open the 2020 season with some national recognition. The Bears are ranked fifth in Region 8 (Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming) as published by USA Today and rated by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

MOVING FORWARD: Los Lunas Schools on Monday said it will participate in fall sports – golf, cross country, volleyball – despite remaining with an online learning model for this semester.

The district is allowing teams to return to workouts starting Tuesday. First day of official practice for schools in New Mexico – that are choosing to compete – is Oct. 5.

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