Athletes of the year

Daniel Martinez

Yeshemabet Turner

2 NORTHSTARS The Santa Fe New Mexican Saturday, June 4, 2011

The best of 2010-2011
The “friendly” rivalry turned Nov. 5, 2010 messy. With a spot in the Class A-AAA state boys soccer championship on the line, the Blue Griffins of Santa Fe Preparatory and the St. Michael’s Horsemen battled through 100 minutes of physical, intense soccer — with most of the bruising done by the Blue Griffins. Eight yellow cards were issued — six to Santa Fe Prep — but the battle was decided by penalty kicks. When Brian Lewis knocked his shot into the net for a 4-1 shootout advantage and a 2-1 win in the A-AAA semifinals, the Blue Griffins were title-match bound. It was their secondstraight shootout win in the tournament, and the program’s first visit to the championship match since 1982. “I knew it would come down to this,” Lewis said. “It’s the two rivals, bringing out our best. After that final PK, it was actually unreal. You didn’t think it would come to this — we’re in the state finals.” A day later, Santa Fe Prep took home a runner-up trophy, as Albuquerque Sandia Prep won 1-0. Blue was a beautiful color on the cross country course at Rio Rancho High School on a crisp,


Nov. 6, 2010

cool November day. A dad wore a medal. So did two familiar faces. Two familiar teams carried home blue trophies. Santiago Pasquale used the vision of his 10-month-old daughter to carry him to the Class AAA individual title. Thanks to three other teammates finishing in the top seven, Santa Fe Indian School repeated as state boys champions. Pecos’ Antonio Varela and Kate Norskog of St. Michael’s assumed familiar positions atop the podium in A-AA boys and AAA girls, respectively. Varela won his second straight title, while Norskog left Rio Rancho with her third straight medal and fourth in five years while becoming the third four-time girls champion in the sport. The Los Alamos girls set the state record for most team titles with their 15th. “The success we’ve had the last 17 years is beyond our wildest dreams,” Hilltoppers co-head coach Rob Hipwood said. “It’s a great place to coach because there’s a strong desire from the people who live there to keep their kids involved. We’ve benefited from that tremendously.” Later the same evening, Los Alamos celebrated again. It had been 24 years since the Hilltoppers hoisted a blue state boy soccer trophy over their heads, but they broke the drought with a 4-1 win over Belen in the Class AAAA championship at the APS Soccer Complex. Yet, it was the journey as much as the destination that made the journey sweet. All too often, Los Alamos couldn’t get past Albuquerque Academy and Albuquerque St. Pius X to hoist that championship. The fifth-seeded Hilltoppers brushed off both — including a 1-0 semifinal win over the top-seeded Sartans for their first win over AAAA’s pre-eminent program in eight years. Against the Eagles, Los Alamos made the outcome academic with three first-half goals. Senior Andy Thoma ended his prep soccer career with the final goal in the 77th minute, which went well with his two first-half assists. Hilltoppers head coach Evan Gartz was beside himself when it all ended. “Beating Pius, I didn’t think I could feel any better than that, “ Gartz said. “But, oh man! This is really nice.”

I’ve never been one to get all mushy over sports. The agony of defeat and the thrill of victory fail to evoke the emotional outburst of, say, a fully stocked hospitality room at the Ben Luján Tournament. Therefore it should be noted that the New Mexico Activities Association’s “Pursuing Victory With Honor” directive, in my opinion, is nothing more than publicrelations spin. That archaic way of thinking changed while enjoying a little down time at the state track championships May 14. Assigned to cover the boys’ meet, I was an observer as the girls’ 400-meter finals were being held. The favorite in the AAAA race was Los Alamos senior Madison Ahlers. In the lane next to her was Roswell Goddard junior Aracely Macias, her primary rival. As the runners got into the blocks and the starter raised his gun, Ahlers jumped. False start. Overcome with emotion, she doubled over with her hands over her face. One would think that watching your rival get disqualified would be a good thing. Not so for Macias. She instantly welled up and gave Ahlers a long embrace. Ahlers was ordered to clear the track and Macias back into the blocks. As the gun went off, Macias was still crying. When she finished — in first place, no less — she was still visibly upset. The first person to greet the new state champion at the finish line was Ahlers. The two hugged once more, this time as friends instead of rivals. “I was clear down at the other end of the track when it happened,” said Los Alamos head coach Paul Anderson. “Just watching Madison’s reaction and how she handled it brings tears to my eyes. That’s her personality shining through. If that’s not sportsmanship, I don’t know what is.” And with that, one of the final events in a season’s worth of games, meets and tournaments turned out to be my most memorable — moreso than the thousands of Española Valley fans who waited outside The Pit after their Sundevils finally won state, moreso than the stunning upset the Los Alamos boys soccer team had over St. Pius at state. Thank you, Madison, for teaching this old dog a new trick. Emotion. Who’da thunk it?
Will Webber Los Alamos senior Madison Ahlers, right, is comforted by Roswell Goddard junior Aracely Macias, her primary rival, after Ahlers false-started in the 400-meter final. Ahlers later greeted her at the finish line when Macias won the race.


Nov. 6, 2010

Liz Gomez wasn’t in the Santa Ana Star Center to keep score. So when the Pojoaque Valley senior hitter rose to meet an overpass by the Portales Lady Rams, her kill brought her teammates to a celebration sprint as the top-seeded Elkettes won their second straight Class AAA volleyball championship. Gomez, though, wasn’t aware of what she had just done. “I thought the score was 23 or something, “ Gomez said in the aftermath. “I had no idea the match was over.” Oh it was, and sooner than expected. Pojoaque won in stunningly quick fashion, 25-16, 25-18, 2511, to complete a 20-4 season. “Coach told us to be ready for a five-game match,” Gomez said. “To beat them in three, it was like, ‘Wow!’ ”

Nov. 13, 2010

Pojoaque Valley rushes the court after quickly defeating Portales 25-16, 25-18, 25-11 for the Elkettes’ second straight Class AAA volleyball championship.

One voice, two hands. Barbie Robertson grabs the microphone, takes a deep breath and sings, “Oh, say can you see …” Mary Louise Romero takes a knee, faces a family and signs, “Oh, say can you see …” One voice, two hands. Robertson, a junior outside hitter and middle blocker for Santa Fe High School, sings “The Star Spangled Banner” on Parent Night, Oct. 16. Her notes are pure, her pitch is perfect. Romero, an assistant coach, follows Robertson’s every word. Her hands’ skill is that of a surgeon. It needs to be. Romero signs for Beth and John, Mrs. and Mr. Robertson, Barbie’s mom and dad. “My mom and dad are both deaf,” Barbie says later. One voice, two hands. Robertson and Romero Mary Louise tells us are more than athlete and deaf people can’t listen coach. Robertson didn’t with their ears. So, survive tryouts at Capshaw they must listen from Middle School in seventh a special place, from a grade. She met Romero deeper place. She tells through her mom, who us they listen from their works at New Mexico School for the Deaf, the heart.” former coaching home of Barbie Robertson on Romero. Mary Louise Romero, A friendship forged — one above dig, one pass, one spike at a time. Romero teaches more than sweat and sacrifice. “Mary Louise tells us deaf people can’t listen with their ears. So, they must listen from a special place, from a deeper place,” Barbie says. “She tells us they listen from their heart. “Deaf people already have that ability when they are born. She’s teaching us to love people and listen from that deeper place.” On this night, others listen to one voice. Two hands allow Beth and John to hear with their hearts.


Pancho Morris

Barbie Robertson, a junior outside hitter and middle blocker for Santa Fe High School, competes against Capital in October. With the help of assistant coach Mary Louise Romero, Robertson’s rendition of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ on Parent Night was signed to her parents, who are deaf.

Saturday, June 4, 2011 The Santa Fe New Mexican NORTHSTARS 3

Dec. 13, 2010
for Estrella Flores. The junior guard for Desert Academy’s girls basketball team dropped 51 points on Tse Yi Gai in a 67-61 win, which was the fourth highest total in state history, according to the stillevolving record book fashioned by the New Mexico Activities Association. She set a state mark for most free throws made (28), which began her march to a season record at the stripe (263). By the end of the year, she broke the benchmark in season 3-pointers (90) and was fifth in points (806). But what did her head coach, Gerald Lovato, have to say about her top player’s performance in this game? “We actually had five other girls who scored because Estrella’s always looking to pass,” Lovato said. That might be the case, but rarely has a player made scoring look so easy. A season of recordbook writing began in Fort Marcy Complex

got a victory against that team.” The words of Pojoaque Valley head boys basketball coach Joey Trujillo never rang truer. After six years, 19 games and countless times he heard, “When are you going to beat St. Mike’s?” Trujillo finally had an answer. Pojoaque 46, St. Michael’s 33. And what better place to do it at than the Horsemen haven of Perez-Shelley Gymnasium? After waiting this long for the sweet taste of victory over a longtime rival, Trujillo and his Elks weren’t about to gloat. “This was a total team effort, and that’s all I’m allowed to say about this game,” said Pojoaque guard Brian Montoya after pouring in a gamehigh 24 points. “We stayed together and played as a team. I can’t say anything more.” What more needed to be said, anyway? What a perfect scene. What a perfect ending — if you go to West Las Vegas. The Cardinals of Las Vegas Robertson were one heavyweight title away from their fifth Class A-AAA team wrestling title in six years. Robertson already celebrated Daniel Martinez’s fifth individual crown, making him the third wrestler to do so. The final match of the state championships in the Santa Ana Star Center pitted Robertson’s

Sam Marquez against the Dons’ Brandon Chavez. Daniel’s brother, Jake Martinez, was officiating the match, which saw Marquez dominate to an 8-0 lead with one minute left. Then … Chavez made a miraculous turnaround. He wrested himself free of Marquez, then on top of him as he pinned an opponent he had not beaten on the mat. In 45 seconds, he turned a blue trophy for Robertson to red — and gave Silver the title in its first year in A-AAA. How did Chavez feel? “Good! It always feels good,” Chavez said about Robertson’s demise. Revenge was never sweeter. In November 2009, Cindy Roybal predicted a West Las Vegas-Santa Fe Indian School Class AAA state girls basketball championship game. Three months after the Lady Braves beat the Lady Dons for the state title in March 2010, the SFIS head coach boldly said her team and Shiprock would play for the state title in 2011. After the Lady Braves repeated as champions in a 43-22 laugher over the Lady Chieftains in The Pit, Roybal didn’t offer any predictions. “I just want them to enjoy the moment,” Roybal said. “Today, they stepped it up really, really big. We had to go inside. Normally, we’re an outside-in team, but today we had to be inside-out.”

If she had, would anyone challenge her assertion? Certainly SFIS will be uttered as one of the two finalists for 2012. Six sophomores played a key role in the repeat, and they will be counted on to make it a three-peat. Little old ladies in pre-shrunk cotton T-shirts depicting cartoon devils running with pitchforks. Frizzy-haired schoolgirls sitting on curbs and squinting into the afternoon sun while twirling red and yellow ribbons. Grown men with toddlers riding on their shoulders and broad smiles spread across their faces. They were among the 3,000-strong in The Pit parking lot to celebrate — finally — a moment six decades in the making. When senior guard Rodney Coles scored the last 14 points for the Española Valley Sundevils to secure a 55-52 win in the Class AAAA state boys basketball championship, the community that supported its boys basketball team rejoiced in its first title. It also ended four straight years of misery for Española head coach Richard Martinez, whose teams had come up short in a variety of ways during that stretch. But no more. “I sure like the color blue, “ Martinez said. So does “The Valley.”

March 12, 2011

March 11, 2011

Feb. 19, 2011

Feb. 8, 2010

“This one was for all the Elks who came before this who never


May 5, 2011
One was, though. The Las Vegas Robertson senior was the No. 3 seed in the Class A-AAA State Individual Tennis Tournament the previous two years, but washed out in the semifinals both times. This time, she took the top seed and played to its billing. After finally making her first appearance in the A-AAA singles championship, she swept Paloma Gomez of St. Michael’s 6-0, 6-2 for the state title that eluded her. “This was my last chance, and I focused all my energy into this last run,” Garcia said. “Now that it’s over, it feels so great. My preparation was to concentrate on one match at a time. That was my focus, and it paid off for me in the end.” One factor in Garcia’s favor was that she had never lost to Gomez, a sophomore. Gomez now knows Garcia’s pain — she is 0-for-2 in the A-AAA championship. Perfection was Yeshemabet Turner. Perfection also was the ending to the script of the Class AA State Track and Field Championships. Turner turned in a score of 35 points for all five individual events she won during the weekend. She ended the meet with her first wins in something other than jumping events, as she won the 100 and 200 meters to go with medals in the long, triple and high jumps. Santa Fe Prep’s girls team didn’t know what the feeling of victory was like — until the final event of the day. In one 1,600 relay run, the Blue Griffins earned their first win of the meet and the AA title. They rallied from a 44-31 deficit to defending champion Estancia with 15 points in the final two events for a 46-45 win. “I feel so happy right now,” said senior Kiara Glover, who finished second in the 200 and anchored the winning relay in the last two events. “This team is ... I love them so much, and we’ve come so far this year. I’m so happy right now, but so sad that it’s over. But it’s been an amazing season.” And perfect, too. Three was not the number for Miranda Garcia.

signed, and in that procedure, that is an automatic disqualification (of Davis).” Hope Christian went from a seven-shot win to third place, behind St. Michael’s and Lovington. The Horsemen ended up one shot behind the Wildcats, preventing a three-peat for St. Michael’s. Augustin Ruiz remembers watching little brother Nick Ruiz catching for the Pecos Panthers in the Class A-AA state baseball championship against Albuquerque Hope Christian. That was May 1998. It had been a 13-year wait for the Panthers to almost taste that success again, but they finished one game short of making the program’s second championship appearance. A 17-0 loss to eventual Class AA champion Estancia in the semifinals stopped the Cinderella story on its tracks. The sixth-seeded Panthers beat No. 3 Tucumcari 4-3 in the quarterfinals. “I thought we represented the North pretty well, up to this point,” said Ruiz, Pecos’ head coach. “Not many thought we would get this far. But we reached the semis, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Pecos brought back home a 20-9 record — its most wins since the 21-5 team lost to the Huskies for the title — a District 6AA title and a season to remember.

May 11, 2011

May 7, 2011

Teammates mob Brandon Anaya after his game-winning, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth allowed Pecos to advance to the AA quarterfinals. CLYDE MUELLER/THE NEW MEXICAN

It was 90 minutes to be cherished. If you’ve been to enough baseball games — be it Little League, high school, college or the professional level — you know what it’s like to be a prisoner of the clock. Errors lead to long, drawn-out innings. Pitchers dawdle behind the mound, and batters step out of the box and seem to wait for the weather to change. Sometimes, it’s a conga line of pitchers that can’t seem to get an out. And watching it all play out can be a torturous ordeal. That’s what made the Class AA first-round game May 4 between the Pecos Panthers and the Dexter Demons a sight to behold. In eight innings that started at 3:55 p.m. and ended at 5:25 p.m., the hundred or so spectators at Pecos High School were treated to this: u A total of 167 pitches thrown by Pecos’ Ian Espinosa (82) and the Demons’ Aaron Brown (85) as they went the distance in a well-pitched duel. u Ten hits by both teams, but nary a walk. There were two hit batsman, however.

u Dexter taking a 1-0 lead after a fielding error by Pecos third baseman Jose Carter in the top of the sixth inning, only to have Pecos answer in the bottom of the frame — thanks to a Demons error. It was 5 p.m. by this point. u Both teams stranding the potential winning run at second base in the seventh, forcing extra innings. u The Demons’ go-ahead run thrown out at the plate in the top of the eighth by Pecos shortstop Brandon Anaya on a perfect relay throw from shallow left field. u Anaya’s game-winning, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to allow Pecos to advance to the AA quarterfinals for the first time in four years with a 3-1 win. For those who paid the $5 to watch this game — and even those who didn’t (like me) — it was a moment in which a sport temporarily redeemed itself for all those three-plus hour marathons we’ve all endured.
James Barron

One hole. One stroke. One mess. Albuquerque Hope Christian was one correct scorecard away from winning the Class A-AAA boys state golf title, but it eluded the Huskies because of the details. Tanner Davis, Hope Christian’s No. 3 golfer, penned his name for a second-round score of 78 — only it was off by a stroke. Nathan Martinez, the No. 3 for St. Michael’s, notified New Mexico Activities Association officials that he believed a 4 recorded on the seventh hole for Davis was a 5. After a brief discussion, the error was discovered, but Davis was disqualified for the error. “They went over the sequences of the shots, and he ended up making a five,” Sanchez said. “The scorecard was already

May 10, 2011

There was Chase Ealey, chasing the clock. And opportunity chasing C.J. Berryman. And Amanda Babicke and Aasha Marler chasing each other. And Class AAAA chasing the Los Alamos Lady Hilltoppers. The final day of the prep athletic season provided more medals and one more championship at Los Alamos at the Class AAA/AAAA/AAAA State Track and Field Championships. Topping the list was Ealey, the Lady Hilltoppers’ junior sprinter/thrower, running all over Great Friends at UNM Track Complex, competing in four events (winning the javelin and 100 meters, anchoring the championship 400 relay team and helping the 800 relay to fourth) in two hours. She scored 25 points for AAAA high-point honors to help Los Alamos to a third straight title. Pojoaque Valley’s Berryman came out of nowhere to win the 100, 200 and long jump (he was not the top seed in those events) and score 26 points to top all boys in AAA. Babicke, Berryman’s teammate, dueled with Marler of Hope Christian as they tied for AAA girls high-point honors with 26. Babicke won the 400 and the long jump.

May 14, 2011

Los Alamos’ Chase Ealey scored 25 points for AAAA highpoint honors to help Los Alamos to a third straight track and field title.

Always supporting our local area student athletes. From your friends at
an american revolution

drive Beautiful

✔us out at

Professional Grade



613 Paseo de Oñate • Española, NM 87532 • 505-753-2356 • 800-430-2356 • Fax 505-753-7481

4 NORTHSTARS The Santa Fe New Mexican Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011 The Santa Fe New Mexican NORTHSTARS 5

Maldonado, a 6-foot senior, had a nose for the ball on offense and defense. The first-team Class A All-State running back had more than 1,400 yards on the ground, another 350 through the air and 400 in returns as he managed more than 2,000 yards of total offense to go with 18 touchdowns. As a firstteam middle linebacker, Maldonado averaged 17 tackles per game as the Lobos were the District 1A champions and advanced to the Class A semifinals.

Lucero ran in an exclusive club in Class A-AA. The Lady Trojans junior, who stands a shade under 5-foot, was the only Northern New Mexico runner to finish in the Top 10 at the state meet. Her time of 20 minutes, 55.05 seconds was good enough for sixth in a race that was again dominated by East Mountain’s Caroline Kaufman.

It’s not clear if the Horsemen senior ever had a nickname that stuck, but “Eraser” would have been apropos. Against Pojoaque Valley in October, Disch scrubbed Jamal Brown’s name from the top of the St. Michael’s record book for career rushing yards. In leading the Horsemen to the quarterfinals of the Class AAA playoffs, Russell surpassed the 3,600-yard mark for his career and totaled 1,732 yards with 20 touchdowns as a senior. He was also second on the team in tackles.

The hills were Pasquale’s best friend, and it led to a Class AAA state title. He used them to get past Albuquerque Hope Christian’s Eric Fenton at Rio Rancho High School’s 3.06-mile course in a time of 16 minutes, 17.25 seconds, which was eight seconds faster than Fenton. His performance highlighted a quartet of Braves who finished in the top seven, and led to a repeat as AAA champions.

A trio became a quartet in the span of 19 minutes, 21.55 seconds. That’s how long it took the St. Michael’s senior to circle the course at Rio Rancho to secure her fourth AAA individual title, becoming the fourth runner to win four championships. She joined Peñasco’s Elizabeth Gonzales (1982-85), Aztec’s Amy Swier (1993-96) and Gallup’s Felicia Guliford (1998-2001) on that list.

Her official position on head coach Maxine Abeyta’s seniorheavy roster was an outside hitter. Given her lateral quickness, outstanding reflexes and remarkable athleticism, Lexi — a 5-foot-7 senior — played more like a setterhitter hybrid. She totaled 118 kills and 119 pass-assists to go along with 19 aces, 48 digs and 285 total points in leading the Lady Panthers to a 19-win regular season, the District 2AA championship and a berth in the state tournament.

The Blue Griffins definitely owe some of their success to Sides. The senior midfielder was an unstoppable force on offense, recording 24 goals, which was second in the state, and 11 assists on his run to the state tournament. Although St. Michael’s won the District 2A-AAA title, Sides helped his team beat their city rivals in the Class A-AAA semifinals to advance to its first championship appearance in more than 20 years.

It’s not always easy for freshman to find success, but Ashlynn Bennett didn’t let that stop her. The Los Alamos swimmer medaled in all four of her events at the state championship meet. She placed sixth in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2 minutes, 00.73 seconds, and the 500 freestyle in 5:31.67.

The biggest name in prep volleyball last season belonged to a middle-school kid who didn’t even attend the high school she represented. A 5-foot-7 setter who carted away more hardware during her eighthgrade year, Ainsworth — an all-tournament selection at two in-season stops, an all-district pick in 5AAA, a first-team All-State recipient, and the coaches’ choice for AAA’s player of the year — led the Elkettes to their second straight state title while averaging 38.3 assists, 5.7 kills, 4.8 digs and 4.3 assists. Next stop: High school.

Improvement was the only thing on Seth Montgomery’s mind at this year’s State Swimming and Diving Championships. The Santa Fe Prep junior went immediately from the 200 freestyle relay to a second-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke, in 53.88 seconds. It was a vast improvement over last year’s fourth-place finish. Montgomery also placed fourth in the 100 butterfly.

Her first name means “star” in Spanish, and Flores certainly lives up to her name on court. The junior became a premier player in Class A, averaging 28.8 points per game for the Lady Wildcats. Her 806 points this season ranked fifth all-time, according to the New Mexico Activities Association record book. She also set the state season record in 3-pointers (90) and free throws (263), and her 28 made free throws against Tse Yi Gai on Dec. 11 also was a record-setter.

Amid a sea of red and gold in The Pit, “The Rocket” saved his best for last. The diminutive Sundevils guard scored his team’s final 14 points in the AAAA title game against Roswell Goddard, simultaneously handing championship-starved Española its first blue trophy and ending decades of bitter disappointment at state. The indelible image of Coles emerging from University Arena holding the championship hardware will never be forgotten in The Valley.

Speed in a distance race? That’s what Sanchez had, and he used it to claim wins in the 800 and 1,600 meters in the Class AA state meet. He laid in waiting during the 800 and jumped from sixth in a tight pack to first on the final lap to record his best time in the event in 2 minutes, 1.68 seconds. The next day, he followed the same script in the 1,600, trailing in third place before shooting past Jemez Valley’s Troy Madalena to win in 4:36.33.

Berryman, a junior, went from obscurity to prominence in the span of two days in May. Although he was not the top seed in any of his four individual events in the Class AAA state track meet, Berryman walked away with state titles in the long jump plus the 100 and 200 meters. He has a third in the 400 and a point for a sixth-place finish in the 400 relay. Add it up, and the 26 points he accumulated was the high-point total in AAA.



Garcia showed perseverance can overcome anything, as it brought her a coveted state title. In her sophomore and junior years, she placed third in the Class A-AAA singles bracket after losing to Dara McDevitt of Bosque in 2009 and teammate Julianna Guerin last year. This time, the Robertson senior did not face McDevitt (who graduated in 2010) or Guerin, who fell in the semifinals to Paloma Gomez of St. Michael’s. Garcia then bested Gomez in the state final 6-0, 6-2 to cap her prep career.

Coppola is a terror on the soccer field. The 5-11 senior midfielder used her size and speed to dominate the pitch, ending her season with 13 goals and nine assists despite persistent back problems. Coppola’s leadership helped the Lady Horseman to No. 3 seed for the Class A-AAA State Tournament. Coppola’s talent has not been overlooked, as she received a scholarship to play D-I soccer next year at the University of San Francisco.

A Class A-AA state title was twice as nice for the Panthers senior. Sporting a spray-painted “P” on his shaved head, Varela repeated as the individual champion in a time of 16 minutes, 5.25 seconds. He was 28.30 seconds ahead of a longtime rival, Jemez Valley’s Troy Madalena, and credited a summer of running 50 miles per week in preparation for the cross country season

In a little more than a week from now, one of the U.S. Army’s freshest enlistees will head to Virginia for boot camp. Before he goes, he can lean on the knowledge that he was the North’s best player on the diamond after posting an 8-3 record with a 4.04 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 64 innings as the ace for head coach Augustin Ruiz’s deep pitching staff. Ian wasn’t too shabby at the plate either, batting .389 for a Panthers squad that reached the AA semifinals.

It’s hard to stand out in a family of wrestling champions, but Martinez pulled it off. The senior won his fifth state title to equal Carlsbad’s Michael Owen and Rio Rancho’s Max Ortega. Brothers Adam and Jake both won four. To top it off, he became the first Cardinals wrestler to record a perfect season at 37-0. He finished it off with a second-period pin of Luke Sanchez from St. Michael’s.

Last year, she was a part of a second-place team. This year, she flew solo. Rodriguez was the lone Lady Horseman to qualify for the Class A-AAA State Golf Tournament. The junior played well despite strong winds on both days to shoot a 175 over 36 holes on the New Mexico State Golf Course in Las Cruces. It was good enough for seventh place.

After this feisty 5-foot-4 point guard helped dismantle a district opponent in late January, one casual observer tried to pay her a compliment. “She plays like a boy,” the fan said. Boys wish they had Coriz’s game. Aside from leading the Lady Braves to consecutive AAA state titles as a junior and senior, she helped break in the new Pueblo Pavilion Wellness Center and landed a scholarship to New Mexico Highlands after making her third straight appearance on the allstate team.

The senior duo kept the Class AAAA doubles title in Los Alamos, and lived up to their No. 1 billing. Havemann and Lucido earned the top seed for the AAAA individual tournament with an 18-1 record, then defeated Albuquerque Academy’s Brandon Jew and George Cooper in the AAAA championship, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5. Havemann and Lucido enjoyed their second state title this season — they were integral parts of Los Alamos’ state championship soccer team.

The Rangers’ resurgence can be tied in part to the play of the 5-foot-10 senior guard. Martinez led the team with 12.8 points per game, plus he dished out 3.1 assists and grabbed 2.8 rebounds per game to boot. He was steady from the field (48 percent overall field-goal percentage, and 41 percent from 3-point range) and a near certainty at the free-throw line at 80 percent. Martinez was an All-District 2AA first-team member, as Mora went 25-3 overall and won its second straight district title. He is one of three players representing Mora in the Class AA/AAA North/South All-Star Game in Las Vegas, N.M., in July.

Put a Porsche engine in a Mack truck, and you get Ealey. The junior showed her throwing prowess with Class AAAA state crowns in the javelin and the shot put (with a state record of 42 feet, 3 3 ⁄4 inches), but she took the added step of being the state’s 100-meter champion (12.52 seconds) for the third time and anchored the winning 400 relay team. In all, she scored 25 points and was the high-point champion in AAAA.

She has been great before, but the senior was perfect in her finale. She scored a perfect 35-point total in the AA championships, winning the long jump, triple jump, high jump, 100 and 200. The University of New Mexico-bound athlete broke her own state record in the 3 triple jump (37 feet, 7 ⁄4 inches) on her final jump of the event. She added her first sprinting titles to complete an unblemished — and unmatched — meet.

Radosevich, the only senior on the team, led the District 2AAAA champion Lady Hilltoppers in batting at .441 and home runs with four. One of her homers came in the decisive opening game of a 2AAAA doubleheader against Santa Fe High on the final day of the regular season that helped Los Alamos clinch the title. Her effort helped her earn All-District firstteam honors, and she was an alternate on the Class AAAA North/South All-Star roster.

The former Class A-AAA golf state champion could have rested on his laurels, but Marty Sanchez chose to persevere. The St. Michael’s junior was the runner-up at the A-AAA State Championships at the New Mexico State University Golf Course. Sanchez shot a final-round 77, finishing with a total score of 155, 11-over par. Sanchez also helped the St. Michael’s team to second place, finishing with a total of 655.


ON THE WEB: See photos of this year’s NorthStars at

6 NORTHSTARS The Santa Fe New Mexican Saturday, June 4, 2011

ll this over a bowl of cereal. Some of New Mexico’s most prominent prep sports stars can trace their athletic genius to a seminal event from their youth. In the case of recent Las Vegas Robertson graduate Daniel Martinez, his is a breakfast meal. More on that later. For Albuquerque Academy graduate Curtis Beach, he cultivated his worldrecord-setting mark in the decathlon by chasing a horse in an open pasture in the East Mountains back in the mid’90s. At the time Beach was an overactive grade-schooler who didn’t seem to have an off button. In an attempt to offer him a release, his parents turned to the pony to provide a little exercise before supper. Nearly two decades later, Beach has taken his tireless work ethic to Duke University, where he has his eyes set on the Summer Olympics in London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016). In Artesia, the little kid with the Iron Man grip and unusually big hands opened the eyes of his neighbor, Cooper Henderson, when he’d toddle into his front yard and start chucking toys with a perfect overhand delivery. That tumultuous tyke was Landry Jones, and Henderson was — and is — the head football coach of the hometown Artesia High Bulldogs. This coming season, Jones will be one of the nation’s top college quarterbacks as he begins his third year as Sam Bradford’s successor at Oklahoma. The Sooners are ranked as high as No. 1 in various preseason polls. Across the pond — way across the pond — Swedish-born Jeffrey Taylor would chase down loose balls at his dad’s practices and sneak in a jump shot or two when no one was looking. Taylor’s dad was a professional basketball player, one whose sizable genetic traits were passed down to Jeffrey. Now a 6-foot-7 starting forward at Vanderbilt, the Hobbs High graduate with an unflappable persona is regarded as an NBA prospect after leading his prep school alma mater to a Class AAAAA state title in his senior year. And finally there’s the Martinez family of Las Vegas. By now most sports denizens in Northern New Mexico are all-too familiar with them. Brothers Adam, Jake and, most recently, Daniel enjoyed the Midas touch when it came to athletics. Just ask anyone from rivals West Las Vegas, St. Michael’s and Raton for a testimonial. They’ll all likely sing the family’s praises — and revel in the knowledge that all three have finally graduated. Football? An All-State troika. Track? More than 20 individual event state championships between them. Golf and baseball? Mastered the swing without hardly trying. Wrestling? Now we’ve entered an entirely different strata. This year’s recipient of The New Mexican’s 2010-11 Male Athlete of the Year is Daniel Martinez, the youngest and most decorated of the Martinez clan. In February he became just the third wrestler in state history to win state five times. He started as a 103-pound eighthgrader in 2007 and completed his memorable run less than four months ago as a senior at 160. In between he won titles at 130 and two at 152. True to the Martinez way, he did it by employing perfect form and utilizing his taller, angular frame’s built-in advantage of gaining leverage. What most observers will remember about the fair-haired kid is he never got too high or low before, during or after a match, win or lose. And he did lose. Just not often enough to derail the Martinez Title Train at state. What his mom, Leasa Martinez, will carry with her is hard to say. For the time being, the family matriarch can’t get her son’s favorite song out of her head. “This entire senior year he’d get in the shower and sing ‘You’re Gonna Miss This’ every morning,” she says, recalling her emotions less than a day after watching her youngest son walk on stage to get his high school diploma on May 27. “It’s so true. I think maybe he knows it.” The Trace Adkins tune laments a teenager’s desire to grow up quickly. Daniel Martinez doesn’t think he’s growing up too quickly, but he does know that the perks of being one of the most recognizable faces in the Meadow City may soon be coming to a close. Witness a recent traffic stop as proof. Daniel said he has never really been in trouble, so when he was pulled over for failing to come to a complete


By Will Webber The New Mexican

Daniel Martinez

In February, Las Vegas Robertson’s Daniel Martinez became just the third wrestler in state history to win state five times. LUIS SÁNCHEZ SATURNO/THE NEW MEXICAN

Martinez is tackled by Hatch’s Manuel Serrano in November. His exploits on the gridiron drew an invitation to walk on as a defensive back for The University of New Mexico this fall, but Martinez plans to walk away from sports altogether, at least for now. LUIS SÁNCHEZ SATURNO/THE NEW MEXICAN

Martinez finished his track and field career with 12 career gold medals — one more than big brother Adam.

stop at a residential intersection, he admits he felt a little out of sorts. Until, that is, the police officer recognized him and let him slide with a warning. Being a source of public pride for pinning people to padded mats apparently has its benefits. “I do get in trouble, though,” Daniel says. “I make mistakes and my parents will get on me, but a lot of people that I don’t know do know who I am.” So just how much trouble has the youngest of three rough-and-tumble boys gotten into? There’s the time he drove the family SUV, an Expedition, down a Las Vegas alley with the sun in his eyes and smashed into a pole, dislodging the axle and bending one of the wheels into a parallel position with the road. Other than that, he’s pretty much a homebody. “Most nights he’s at home and in bed by 9 o’clock,” Leasa says. It was Leasa’s decision not to let the brothers have an Xbox or a Wii. It was her decision to prevent them from affixing themselves to a computer console or spending hours in front of

the TV on the living-room couch. Some vacations were spent camping or riding horses. Most free time was spent shifting from one sporting event to another. Leasa and husband Richard, a Robertson graduate and the school’s wildly successful wrestling coach, laid out the family’s one-story house with a wideopen floor plan; a wise choice given the physical toll three boys can take on furniture, decor, walls and windows. “Can’t tell you how many broken corners and damaged fixtures we’ve had,” Leasa says. “There hasn’t been too much broken glass, but I’m still waiting for that to happen. Daniel doesn’t leave for college until August.” Daniel grew to be the toughest while simultaneously becoming the most easy-going simply because he had to. Such is the nature of being the baby: If you want to keep up, you have to learn patience while growing thick skin. “Gosh, how many times would he be outside playing with the other two and all their friends, then come in crying after getting hurt?” Leasa says. “I’d tell him it’s safer to stay inside with me. Next minute he’s right back out there.” Daniel Martinez’s success in football and, in particular, wrestling landed him a few scholarship offers. He led the Cardinals to the Class AAA semifinals in football and was part of a track and field team that took second at last month’s state meet. His exploits on the gridiron got the attention of University of New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley. Locksley invited Daniel to walk on as a defensive back for the Lobos this fall. Instead, Martinez will follow in

the footsteps of a handful of New Mexico’s premier prep athletes and walk away from sports altogether. Like former St. Michael’s stars Thomas Romero and Jeremy Templeman, the Robertson standout is ready to turn his back on college sports and enter the school of his choice — in this case UNM — as an Average Joe freshman. “This is just the next stage of life and I think he’s ready for it,” Richard Martinez says. “Sports are such a small part of each of my boys’ lives. If you decide you don’t want to do it in college, you have to be ready to move on, and I think Daniel is.” “I need that first year to just go to class and see how much I’ll miss it,” Daniel says. “If I can’t do without football or wrestling or whatever, I might come back and try it. For now I just want to focus on school and study (engineering).” Like any great athlete, Daniel went out on top. He ran the second leg of Robertson’s 1,600-meter relay in the final event on the final day of the Class AAA state meet. As if on cue from a Hollywood producer, the Cardinals won the race to give Daniel 12 career gold medals — one more than big brother Adam. “He was there talking trash the whole time,” Daniel says. “It was all fun, though. Of course he started making excuses as soon as it was over, saying that he had tougher competition and all that.” And thus the million-dollar question, one that each of the Martinez boys has been asked dozens, if not hundreds, of times: Who wins a death-cage wres-

tling match between the siblings? And like a person who’s been asked that question dozens, if not hundreds, of times, Daniel says being a five-time state champion means nothing when dealing with his brothers. “They know all my moves,” he says. “Besides, it’s a big brother syndrome. They can never lose to me because I’m the youngest.” All of which brings us back to that bowl of cereal. Back when he was in high school, Richard Martinez was something of a basketball star for the Cardinals. Already the school’s record-holder in the 110-meter hurdles, he truly excelled at hoops. One of his closest friends was classmate John Lucero, a wrestler. When Martinez wasn’t working out in the gym, he’d swing by the wrestling room and spend time with Lucero. “I always thought basketball was pretty political in my time,” the elder Martinez says. “Even then I’d tell John that if I ever had boys of my own — and this was 30 years ago — that I wanted them to learn to wrestle. I really liked the individualism of the sport. I enjoyed basketball, but I was drawn to wrestling.” So 15 years later — in 1996 — Lucero swung by Martinez’s house. There at the table were Adam, Jake and 3-yearold Daniel. Lucero wanted the boys to practice a few moves right there on the living-room floor. All of them balked. “I’ll give the winner a bowl of cereal,” Lucero says. “That’s what got us,” Daniel says. “We really wanted that bowl of cereal. None of us knew anything about wrestling, but we were hungry enough to try it.” The winner that day? “All of us got a bowl, I think,” Daniel says. The real winner just may have been the entire state of New Mexico because that one challenge from Lucero — who’s now the head wrestling coach at Bernalillo High — launched a grappling dynasty not seen in this state since the fabled Owens family from Carlsbad dominated the sport a generation ago. “I’ve been lucky,” Daniel says. “I’ve never been sick or hurt my entire life. I’ve been allowed to do this, and I’m lucky to have had the great coaches and really supportive parents. … If I could do half as good a job of raising my kids as my mom and dad with me, I’d be happy.”

age 5. That’s where you found Yeshemabet Turner one year ago. Now look. She’s our Cover Girl. Our girl of letters. Our athlete for all seasons. Our NorthStar. “It’s more than I expected,” Turner says of her senior season at Pecos High School. “A lot of good things happened this year.” Good. Great. Historic. List, please? Turner, a 5-foot-7 outside hitter, helped the Lady Panthers earn the 10th seed for the 16-team Class AA State Volleyball Tournament in November. Turner, a point guard who averaged a double-double in points and rebounds, directed Pecos to the 10th seed for the 16-team state basketball tournament in March. Turner, a state-meet record-holder in the triple jump, raised that mark en route to a school-first five victories and a perfect 35 points at the state track and field championships in May. Wait. There’s more. Turner earned honorable mention All-State recognition in volleyball, first-team All-State accolades in basketball, and a University of New Mexico scholarship offer to compete in track and field, which she happily autographed prior to state. “It’s hard being at a two-A school and getting recognition from a D-I school,” Turner says. “For me, the biggest accomplishment is that they are looking at in-state athletes. Knowing two girls are going to restart the jump tradition is exciting.” Aasha Marler of Albuquerque Hope Christian signed her national letter-ofintent with New Mexico after leading the Lady Huskies to the Class AAA state championship, exactly one week after Turner’s 35 points left Pecos fourth among 27 teams. “Coming into the season I didn’t think about individual accolades,” Turner, who won the triple jump, high jump, long jump, 100 meters and 200, says. “I wanted a team trophy.” It was a dream that didn’t come true. One day after the state basketball tournament concluded, only two other girls showed for the first track meeting. “I was really discouraged,” Turner says. Pecos had three girls for its first meet. Cheerleaders helped fill uniforms, but only a quartet of Lady Panthers advanced. “Fourth with four girls was definitely nice,” Turner says. “We didn’t get a trophy, but winning five events and getting high-point was definitely the ultimate accomplishment. “It’s something my coaches and I have been working so hard for since eighth grade. I’m so proud of how things turned out.” Sal Gonzales saw this coming. Gonzales, Pecos to his soul, was head coach of the track and field program at his alma mater in Spring 2009, Turner’s freshman season. “I don’t think that there’s anything she’s done that is surprising,” Gonzales says from Rio Rancho High School, his new home since Fall 2009. “The potential’s always been there. What’s different now is her confidence. And, her physical and emotional growth.” Turner’s best growth spurt was her four-inch sprout between eighth and ninth grades. Her internal evolution was less noticeable to some, but not all. “When she was first learning about track and field, she lacked that killer instinct,” Gonzales says. “She overrespected the older girls, put them out there. When she started to put herself up there, she never cracked. She was so mature about it. Now, it is others talking about her in hushed tones.” Gonzales says high school coaches can take athletes only so far. He sees Turner’s learning curve ascending. “She’s going to get better, which is the exciting part for me,” Gonzales says. “She could have been in any of the classes and she could have won five medals, and she is going to excel in jumps. “I don’t think my eye is fine-tuned enough to see what jump she is going to do the best in. In my opinion, it is the triple jump. She’s jumped 37-38 feet with a weak second phase. One she gets that second phase cleaned up, she’s a 40-foot jumper without her getting any stronger.” A hop. A skip. A jump. That’s the triple jump for everyone, save Turner.


Saturday, June 4, 2011 The Santa Fe New Mexican NORTHSTARS 7

By Pancho Morris The New Mexican

Yeshemabet Turner

After winning the triple jump, high jump, long jump, 100 meters and 200 this season, Turner is headed to The University of New Mexico on a track and field scholarship. NATALIE GUILLÉN/THE NEW MEXICAN

Yeshemabet Turner averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game to earn first-team All-State accolades. LUIS SÁNCHEZ SATURNO/THE NEW MEXICAN

“It was different for me this year,” Turner says. For her. For KeeAnna Trujillo. For Olivia Cicci. First, Trujillo. The Pecos eighth-grader qualified for the triple jump. During the three preliminary jumps, there was Turner, coaching her teammate every step of the way. “Usually, I just use the prelims to get into the finals. But I was focused on KeeAnna doing well,” Turner says. “It was refreshing. Looking at her, I had a flashback of me in eighth grade. But no one was there for me. “It released a lot of stress for me.” Turner entered as two-time defending champion and the state-meet record holder in her class at 36 feet, 81⁄2 inches. When Trujillo finished ninth after the prelims, three places shy of making finals, Turner had one final chat with the future of Pecos track and field. “I told her, ‘I’ve got to get this together.’ She understood and appreciated all the help I gave her,” Turner says. “Being the number-one seed, everybody is gunning for you. But I like when people are pushing me to go further.” Turner led after the prelims, then extended the gap on her first two jumps of the final. Both, though, were record short. “I wanted to push it even further,” Turner says. With the state crowd clapping in rhythmic cadence, her final high school triple jump was a record-setting 37-73⁄4. “When the light was shinning the brightest, it would be easy for anyone to sit there and soak up all the attention,” Leroy Barela, Pecos head track and field coach, says. “Yet, Yeshem is always thinking about someone else. To watch her coach her teammate instead of sitting there and enjoying every second that she’s earned, shows you the type of person she is. “Above and beyond her successes, she does an excellent job of representing her school and her community. She’s a five-tool athlete, but also a fivetool person.”

State wasn’t an aberration of character. Rather, a continuation. Enter, Cicci. The Santa Fe Preparatory sophomore was part of the 18-competitor field, placing 14th overall. Cicci did not qualify for state by distance. She didn’t have to. At the District 4AA championships, Turner purposely stepped away from certain victory, knowing that the top two finishers earn state tickets. “It’s not about that for me,” Turner says of placing winning above everything. “I was in her position at one point. I was watching the whole time and saw her triple jumping. “I didn’t need to jump. I had already qualified by distance. In my mind, there would be no point in jumping. Why not let her go? It just made complete sense for me to pull out and not jump.” Barela had to be convinced. Sort of. “Honestly, he wanted points,” Turner says, laughing at the memory. Barela told Turner to talk to her parents. She did. The decision was unanimous. “If somebody would have done that for me, I would have loved them forever,” Turner says. “When she found out I didn’t jump, she was elated. It was a good feeling for me. But I know it was way better for her, knowing she is going.” Kaya and Allen Turner raised their daughter — the youngest of their nine children — right. First, in Philadelphia. Then in Pecos, where the family relocated in 2002. There also was a brief stay in the Virgin Islands in 2006. Yet, it wasn’t until the end of the basketball season that a father stamped his approval on his daughter’s athletic achievements. “He never glamorized any of the accomplishments I got, but when I was named first-team All-State, that sealed the deal for him,” Turner says. “For me, to get chosen, exemplified everything. “I was shocked. I had never gotten anything for basketball.” It wasn’t just All-State. It was NorthSouth, too. Turner found out about North-

South the day after Peñasco eliminated Pecos from the state tournament in a quarterfinal. But it was New Mexico Highlands University that broke the news about All-State. “They posted something on my wall on Facebook,” Turner says. “It was interesting, the way I found out.” There was nothing routine about her senior basketball season, either. First, Turner was the lone point guard. Second, opponents guarded her the moment she stepped off the bus, or into her home gymnasium. Third, the Lady Panthers were devastated by the death of Amanda Byrne, a Pecos senior killed in the middle of January. Byrne was running on railroad tracks when she was struck by a train and died from the injuries. “It was a hard year for us,” Turner says. “We prayed for Amanda, we made shirts for Amanda, we wore ribbons for Amanda. “Knowing how short life can be really had an effect on us. We cried a lot, obviously. The sadness stayed with us throughout the basketball season.” Still, games were played. And, Turner shone. She averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. “A lot of weight was put on me,” Turner says. “I’ve never been the only point guard before. I had to take on a lot of duties for the team and control the whole game.” Opponents didn’t care. Turner had a constant companion. Sometimes two. For good reason. “Physically, she’s a tough, tough matchup,” Anika Amon, Santa Fe Prep head coach, says. “She jumps high, is quick, and has the whole package. We threw everything at her and it never seemed that effective.” Sarah Ihlefeld got a Nike-to-Nike lesson from Turner. “She knows how to get around players and keep herself open,” Ihlefeld, Prep’s wonderfully gifted freshman, says. “We wanted to keep the ball from her, but she somehow always got the ball whenever she wanted. “You want to know where the ball is, but mostly you want to know where she is. Mainly, I didn’t let her out of my sights.” Neither did Benny Gallegos, Pecos head basketball coach. “We head-butted freshman and sophomore years, but junior and senior years we got on the same page,” Gallegos says. “You don’t get a chance in life to coach a natural athlete like her very often. You never know what they’re going to do. A lot of times, it’s pure instincts, pure natural ability. There are times you watch and say, ‘Wow!’ We saw that at practice a lot.” Turner’s head was as hard as Gallegos’. “We had completely different views,” Turner says. “But what made this so special is we worked together. I

finally saw what he wanted in me and tried to give him what he wanted.” Father’s advice was two-fold: Work your hardest, play even harder. She did. She left sweat at both ends of the court. It wasn’t the first moisture on the court, which was drenched during volleyball season. “Volleyball was so different for me,” Turner says. “It wasn’t a sport I thought I would be doing.” Not as a freshman. Not with a cross country uniform already in her bag. “The coach said, ‘Come one day. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to come back.’ I didn’t like it,” Turner says. Yet, she returned. The next day. The next season. The two seasons after that. “It turned out to be one of my best moments,” Turner says of the memory of competing at state. Turner missed the state volleyball tournament as a junior because she was in Ethiopia, which is her heritage, her ethnicity. Yeshemabet means “Lady of a Thousand” in her native language. There is no ending. To her name. To her talent. To her legacy. To her future. “I’m still a work in progress,” Turner says. “Things are going to start changing. I’m excited for that.” And grateful for what she left behind. “I came into this community not knowing anybody, and sports was what helped me connect with the community in so many ways,” Turner says. “It was so nice getting embraced the way I was. “I can’t thank my family, my coaches, my community enough for what they’ve done all these years. I just hope the younger athletes look at what I’ve done and know that it is possible for them, too. That if they work hard they can achieve their dreams.” Turner’s latest dream-come-true happened today. Check out the cover. “When I was first in NorthStars, I told myself, ‘Senior year, I’m gonna get athlete of the year,’ ” Turner says. When photographer Natalie Guillén first contacted Turner, she told her she was our track athlete of the year. “I was like, ‘Oh, well, thank you very much.’ I was disappointed,” Turner says. “Then she called back and told me I was also athlete of the year. I almost went crazy and got into an accident. “I feel so honored.” It was more than a hop, skip and jump from Page 5 to Cover Girl. It was about the athlete Turner became. And the person she’s always been.

8 NORTHSTARS The Santa Fe New Mexican Saturday, June 4, 2011