At Albuquerque High School, boys basketball and track and field have rich histories. Soccer? Not so much – not yet, anyway.
Things do change, as demonstrated by Pat Grange’s upcoming induction into the AHS Athletics Hall of Fame. He is the first Bulldogs soccer player to be so honored.
Grange (AHS class of 2000) is joined in the 2011 induction class by track-and-field athletes Del Blanks (1960) and Hiram Carroll (’61), and by basketball players Anthony Aiken and Darren Sanchez (both ’84).
Grange was a four-time AHS letterman and a three-time all-state selection. His club team, FC Classic Red, was a three-time state champion.
After high school, Grange played for the University of Illinois-Chicago before transferring to UNM. As a Lobos senior, he was third on the team in scoring, scored game-winning goals against UNLV and Portland, and scored two goals in the NCAA Tournament.
Grange was diagnosed last year to have Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Blanks and Carroll were teammates on some of Albuquerque High’s finest track teams in history.
Carroll won New Mexico high school titles in the 120-yard high and 180-yard low hurdles and ran legs on three state-champion relay teams. He continued his track-and-field career in the United States Navy. He is a retiree from the city of Phoenix.
Blanks had a long jump of 24 feet, 6 1/2 inches in high school, then had a leap of 25-7 while competing for UNM. In 1960, after his senior year at AHS, he placed second in the long jump at the prestigious Golden West High School All-American meet in California. He died in 2000 after a long struggle with diabetes.
Aiken, a 6-foot-4 forward, and Sanchez, a 5-10 guard, were three-year lettermen for coach Jim Hulsman and led the Bulldogs to a state title in 1984; Aiken hit the game-winning shot in the championship game against Sandia. Both earned all-city, all-district and all-state honors.
Sanchez and Aiken went on to play together at New Mexico Highlands University, where both were NAIA all-district selections. Sanchez, the son of longtime basketball coach Henry Sanchez (who coached them both at Highlands), received All-America honorable mention.
Aiken and Sanchez both went into careers as teachers and coaches – Sanchez in Albuquerque, Aiken in Aurora, Colo.
The “A” Club’s annual Breakfast of Champions is scheduled for Sept. 17 at AHS. The cost is $25 per person. The registration deadline is Sept. 10.
— This article appeared on page C4 of the Albuquerque Journal