Prep notes: Madrid makes tough call to coach at St. Pius - Albuquerque Journal

Prep notes: Madrid makes tough call to coach at St. Pius

Nick Madrid, left, seen coaching Highland’s boys soccer team during the 2018 season, will move to his alma mater and coach girls soccer at St. Pius next season. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

It might seem like a parallel move, but the lure of going home makes it a bit more substantive than that, Nick Madrid said.

Last week, Madrid, one of the top soccer coaches in the metro area, left the Highland boys program to return to his alma mater, St. Pius, where he will coach the girls team starting next season.

“My ultimate dream at Highland was to win a state championship,” Madrid, 34, said. “But for me, the deal with Pius was too sweet to pass up.”

The Hornets qualified for the Class 4A state semifinals in each of the last two seasons.

The 2007 St. Pius graduate inherits a Sartans program that has been in the 4A state final in each of the last three seasons.

“I’m going into something that’s already great,” Madrid said, “and (trying to) make it way better than myself or anyone else could have imagined. That’s truly what I love to do.”

Highland’s boys lost to Hope Christian in the 4A semis last November. The Hornets evolved into a true power under Madrid’s stewardship, and the Highland job creates what should be an attractive vacancy for applicants.

“It was an amazing thing we had going at Highland,” Madrid said. “And I recognize that. It really had to be something special that was going to take me away from that.”

Madrid replaces Abigail Turin at St. Pius, who coached the Sartans for just the 2022 season, making Madrid the third St. Pius head coach in the last three years.

“I couldn’t say ‘no,’ even though I had such a good thing at Highland,” Madrid said. “One of my tasks is to figure out how I can grow the … program.”

METRO SWIMMING: A chip off the old (starting) block?

La Cueva and Eldorado’s girls went 1-2 on Saturday at the Albuquerque Metro Swimming Championships at the West Mesa Aquatic Center, and it represented a familial triumph for Bears coach Megan Rhoades.

Why? Because Eldorado is coached by her father, Quint Seckler.

“I let her win,” a tongue-in-cheek Seckler said.

La Cueva scored 410 points on Saturday, with the Eagles next with 373 points. (The full team standings, and the top three individuals in each event, can be seen in Tuesday’s Journal on page B4).

There were a pair of double champions Saturday: Hope Christian’s Reese Hinnerichs, who won the 100-yard backstroke title, and then also the 200-yard IM in dominant fashion with a 9-second win. She also swam the anchor leg on two winning freestyle relays (200, 400).

Eldorado’s Francesca Benavidez also had a pair of victories, taking first in the 200-yard freestyle final, and also the 100-yard free final. She also anchored the Eagles’ 200-yard medley relay team that place first.

The boys metro meet is this Saturday.

SOCCER HONORS: Some coaches and athletes have been recognized for their talents during the 2022 season by the United Soccer Coaches.

No boy received a higher accolade than Sandia Prep forward Finn Saunders, who was an all-region and All-American choice. Highland forward Yahir Jimenez was an all-region selection, as was La Cueva defender John Mee.

Hope Christian midfielder Ashlyn Salas (47 goals for the 4A state champion Huskies) was honored as a girls All-American, and she also was all-region, as were Albuquerque Academy forward Anna Babinski and Hope forward Savanah Sanchez.

Regional Coaches of the Year in the Far West region included Cleveland High boys coach Shaun Gill and Storm girls coach Greg Rusk in the large-school category, and Sandia Prep boys coach Tommy Smith in the Private/Parochial school division.

The coaches, plus Salas and Saunders (who scored 44 goals for the 3A state champion Sundevils), were officially recognized last weekend in Philadelphia at the USC national conference.

THIS AND THAT: Albuquerque Academy senior Kellan Gehres has become the latest player in the city to reach the 1,000-point mark for his basketball career. Gehres reached that number last Saturday night against Gallup. … Centennial volleyball’s high-powered Tess Fuqua is New Mexico’s Gatorade Player of the Year for the second time in a row. The 6-foot hitter registered over 600 kills last season for the Hawks.

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