Yes, there was bad. And sure, there was ugly.
But during the abbreviated portion of 2020 that actually afforded us a chance to enjoy prep sports – a mere 10 weeks – there was also an abundance of good, untouched by the coronavirus, to emerge from the general dreariness of this neverending calendar year.
• Despite the final three days being played without fans, the state basketball tournament doggedly forged ahead, with officials intent on completing New Mexico’s centerpiece postseason event, even in an eerily silent Pit.
The Valley High boys completed their second straight state championship season after dropping into a smaller classification, defeating rival Highland in overtime in a riveting Class 4A finale.
Bosque School earned its first boys title in basketball, taking care of Sandia Prep in 3A.
Towering over everyone were the boys from Las Cruces High, who captured the 5A blue trophy in impressive fashion, culminating with a victory over Capital.
The Pecos boys knocked off previously unbeaten Magdalena in the 2A championship game for the Panthers’ fourth straight state title; soon thereafter, Panthers coach Ira Harge, Jr. resigned to become the athletic director at Española Valley.
On the girls side, Los Lunas won its third straight championship, defeating Kirtland Central in 4A. Hobbs was marvelous during its 2019-20 campaign, which ended with a victory over Volcano Vista to cap the 5A postseason.
• The coaching carousel reached three of the metro area’s most decorated boys basketball programs in 2020.
Hall of Famer Frank Castillo retired from La Cueva, opening the door for one of his former players, Brian Joyce, to replace him.
At Valley, Joe Coleman went out on top following his third blue trophy with the Vikings; longtime assistant EZ Panas was named his interim successor for the spring 2021 season.
And at Albuquerque High, one of Bulldog City’s most electric all-time talents, Greg Brown, returned to coach his alma mater after Ron Garcia’s departure.
• In December, nine players from New Mexico signed national letters of intent to play for Football Bowl Subdivision programs, led by Tyler Kiehne of Los Lunas (UCLA), Sam Carrell of Sandia (Washington State) and Cleveland receiver Tre Watson (Fresno State). Sports Illustrated put Carrell and Kiehne on its 2020 watch list, despite there being no 2020 season to watch.
• Piedra Vista became the first school from outside the metro area in 23 years to win the big-school state wrestling title. But that was really the secondary story as for the first time, girls staged their own sanctioned state event on the mat in February.
Miyamura was the inaugural team champion, and Oñate’s Angelita Altamirano was the first individual state champion, in the 100-pound division.
• Los Alamos’ boys, for the first time since 2005, and the Albuquerque Academy girls, for the fourth straight year, claimed first-place finishes at state swimming and diving. Eldorado diver Isaac Newman broke a 39-year-old state record during the meet.
THIS AND THAT: The New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s Hall of Honor inductees for 2020 were longtime Las Cruces High volleyball coach Keith Leupold, longtime Mayfield girls basketball coach George Maya and retired track and field coach Joe Giglia from Cimarron. … Tom Manning, a longtime coach and educator in Santa Fe, along with Dr. Crit Caton, a staple in southeastern New Mexico as teacher, coach, AD, principal and superintendent, and Las Cruces district AD Ernie Viramontes were the newest inductees into the New Mexico Activities Association Hall of Fame. … Oñate High in Las Cruces was renamed Organ Mountain High. … Former Menaul basketball standout Michael Ou was the No. 1 draft pick in the Chinese Basketball Association draft. … Former Volcano Vista basketball standout, Terrin Dickey, signed with Wyoming. … Quint Seckler, who coached La Cueva and Eldorado to a combined 12 state swimming championships before leaving to coach at Adams State in Colorado several years ago, returned to Eldorado.