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2012-13 Journal Metro Athletes of the Year

Luis Martinez


You could argue that Martinez was at less than 100 percent physically for the 2012 season, but there is no disputing his results. For the second straight year, Martinez went undefeated in cross-country, sweeping all the biggies, including the UNM Invite, the Rio Rancho Jamboree, the metro meet, plus events hosted by Albuquerque Academy and Los Alamos. And then, finally, he won his third consecutive 5A state title.

Malia Gonzales



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Her male counterpart with the Storm, Martinez, is the school’s superstar, but let’s not overlook Cleveland’s other Class 5A senior state champion. Gonzales not only won state (for the second year in a row), but took several high-profile regular-season meets, including the metro championships, the Albuquerque Academy Invitational and Los Alamos’ Invite.

Romell Jordan

FOOTBALL • Cleveland

Given how much attention he drew from defenses, Jordan’s 2012 numbers for the Storm are that much more impressive. He ran for 1,649 yards and 25 touchdowns in 11 games, and scored another four TDs as a receiver. He averaged more than 200 all-purpose yards a game for Cleveland in his final season before heading off to the University of New Mexico. Great breakaway speed and terrific field vision define Jordan, as is the case with most excellent backs.

Julia Warren


The 6-foot-1 senior outside hitter (who signed with New Mexico) put up huge hitting numbers on a team that didn’t have an abundance of hitters. Would Cleveland have gotten to the state finals without hitter Cassie House or setter Briana Ainsworth? Possibly. Would the Bears have reached the state finals without Warren? No way.

Luke Lawrence


There were some fine options, but here, we decided to keep it simple and take the best player off the state’s best team. Lawrence, a senior, was as consistently productive as anyone in New Mexico; that he managed to score 28 goals with a schedule and in a district (2-5A) as brutal as La Cueva’s is a testament to Lawrence’s abilities.

Ruth Bruciaga

GIRLS SOCCER • Volcano Vista


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Bruciaga, who is already enrolled at UNM, didn’t have the most eye-popping numbers (like teammate Claire Lynch or Albuquerque Academy’s Mackenzie Miller), but there is no way to oversell Bruciaga’s importance to the Hawks or her talents in general. The senior anchored a midfield that reached three straight 5A state finals, and in a close game, defenses were always worried about where Bruciaga was on the pitch.

Bryce Alford


This, along with Cleveland’s Luis Martinez, was perhaps the easiest sport to find our athlete of the year. The 6-foot-3 senior combo guard averaged a staggering 37.5 points last season for the Bears, and broke New Mexico’s single-season scoring record — which had stood since 1963 — with 1,050 points. He was a 3-point machine and had a 52-point game against Eldorado during the regular season. He also assisted and rebounded extremely well.

Teige Zeller


The Tigers’ 6-foot-2 junior post had the numbers to justify this selection; she averaged 17 points and 17 rebounds for Los Lunas, and she blocked about 5½ shots a game. And who knows how many others she altered, or how many times her presence caused an opposing offense to settle for an outside shot when it might have wanted to get into the paint? Her season was capped by a Class 4A state championship.

Paul Mascareñas

WRESTLING • Cleveland

The Storm senior (headed for South Dakota State) went 42-1 last season and won his fourth individual state championship after a victory in February in the 113-pound bracket. Mascareñas was one of those wrestlers who won seemingly with ease, and many times in a match the only points his opponents scored were because Mascareñas decided to allow an escape. He was taken down only once the entire season.

Kristopher Tillery


Choosing the winner in this sport was done with some difficulty, since there was not one clear, dominant athlete in the metro area. But Tillery was a highly deserving choice after sweeping the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle at the APS Metro Championships, and then again at the state meet a few weeks later. Tillery, who will swim for the Air Force Academy, is one of three triplets who are La Cueva alums. His brothers are Kerry and Kyle.

Anika Apostalon

GIRLS SWIMMING/DIVING • Albuquerque Academy

The Chargers standout was simply spectacular last season, never more so than at February’s state meet in Academy’s Barney Natatorium. She set a pair of state records — lowering her marks in the 100 freestyle and then the 100 backstroke. In the case of the 100 free, she lowered the state record by almost a full second.

Ben Albin

BOYS GOLF • Albuquerque Academy

This Chargers sophomore didn’t win either of the two most prestigious golf tournaments on the spring calendar, but he was arguably the most consistent boys golfer in the metro area in 2013. He had a runner-up finish at the Albuquerque Metro Championships, and were it not for one bad hole, he would have been the Class 4A state champion as well. Of note: Albin had six straight birdies in his first round at state.

Dominique Galloway

GIRLS GOLF • Cleveland

Galloway, a freshman, was near-perfect in 2012-13. She won every tournament she played except one, and she was a close second there. She capped her strong season with a two-shot victory at the Class 5A state tournament. Galloway is one of six repeat winners from last year, along with Luis Martinez, Julia Warren, Andre Vigil, Jenna Thurman and Anika Apostalon.

Michael Tran


There was, admittedly, some wonderful depth in this sport with the likes of Academy’s George Cooper, Sandia’s Shepard Moore and Eldorado’s Sean Baklini. But Tran, a junior, gets the nod. He lost only one match during the high school season, to Baklini in the metro finals, and he avenged that loss en route to a victory at the state tournament. He also beat Cooper and Moore.

Melissa Pick

GIRLS TENNIS • Albuquerque Academy

Pick, a freshman, is already a two-time state champion for the Chargers and well on her way to five before she’s through. She had an undefeated 2013, including a tough three-set victory over Albuquerque High’s Chloe Lee in the metro finals, and a straight-set victory over Eldorado’s Susan Baklini in the 5A state championship match. She is a player with solid groundstrokes and grit.

Andre Vigil

BASEBALL • Volcano Vista

Vigil is a repeat selection. The future Lobo was one of the state’s top starting pitchers, and after a slow start he regained his powerful form at the plate. He hit six home runs this year, which allowed him to break the state’s career home-run mark. If there was one player opposing coaches least wanted to see in the box in a clutch situation, many of them likely would pinpoint Vigil.

Jasmine Casados


The Bears senior threatened the state’s single-season home run record this year — and, like our baseball POY, Andrew Vigil — she did break New Mexico’s career record for home runs. She certainly is not built like a power hitter, but she has a keen eye and quick hands through the hitting zone, Casados was a threat in any count, against any pitcher. She swatted 16 home runs and will play collegiately for UNM.

Mustafa Mudada


This was one of the more competitive choices we faced this year; Cleveland’s Martinez or Parker Jones could have gone in this slot, but we went with the Hornets’ senior hurdle and long-jump specialist. Mudada went undefeated in the 300 hurdles and was nearly unbeaten in the 110 hurdles. Those two events, plus the long jump, allowed him to be Class 5A’s high-point individual at state.

Jenna Thurman


The genial Thurman is quite possibly the most unassuming athlete on this entire roster, but don’t be fooled; the Knights’ senior is also one of the most wickedly competitive on the list, too. She simply dominated her two primary distance events this season (the 1,600 and 3,200), and capped her stellar career with state titles in both races.