Five Northern athletes sign to play at college level

May 14, 2019

While last week was the beginning of the end of the 2018-19 prep season, it also served as the beginning of a handful of college careers for some Northern New Mexico athletes.

In the span of three days, five athletes signed letters of intent to continue playing their respective sports at the “next level.” They were:

u Santa Fe High boys basketball player Antonio Lovato, who signed with New Mexico Highlands University on Thursday. The Cowboys get a player who was a second-team Class 5A All-State who helped the Demons reach the state championship game for the first time in 41 years. He was the first of two Santa Fe players to sign with the program.

u James Bridges of Santa Fe Indian School also signed with the Cowboys, who are piloted by 2005 Capital graduate Mike Dominguez. Bridges was a first-time Class 4A All-State selection who helped the Braves reach their first championship game in 30 years.

u Pojoaque Valley’s Javier Tapia, a four-time state champion wrestler, signed to compete at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, Wyo., on Wednesday. Tapia went 146-7 in five seasons at Capital and Pojoaque, winning state titles at 132, 152 and 170 pounds (twice). He was one of two Elks to announce his college intentions on that day.

u Elks senior Gabe Huerta also signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., at the same signing day event. Huerta hit .344 this season and led Pojoaque with 23 RBIs.

u Santa Fe Waldorf’s Rose Moon will continue her volleyball career at NCAA Division III school Pratt Institute in New York City. Moon was a three-time Class 1A All-State performer and one of the best hitters in the state, regardless of class.

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Congratulations to the St. Michael’s girls tennis team, which reached the Class 1A/4A finals on Saturday before falling to Albuquerque Academy, 5-0, on Saturday.

In doing so, the Lady Horsemen had to beat one of their fiercest rivals in Las Vegas Robertson, a team they hadn’t defeated in at least a decade at the state team tournament. St. Michael’s cruised to a 5-2 win over the Lady Cardinals in the semifinals at Ventana Ranch.

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New Mexico Highlands University has renewed its football rivalry with Eastern New Mexico, ending what will be a five-year drought between games pitting the Cowboys and Greyhounds.

NMHU will travel to Greyhound Stadium in Portales in 2020, marking the first appearance for the Cowboys in ENMU’s new stadium. The Greyhounds had played at Blackwater Draw for years before the current stadium was opened in 2016.

The teams last played in 2015 down in Portales, the most recent meeting in a 45-game series that dates to 1941. ENMU leads the overall rivalry 32-13, although Highlands has won three of the past five.

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The St. Michael’s girls golf team finished tied for third place at the Class 1A-3A state tournament, held Friday and Saturday in Hobbs. The Lady Horsemen, however, came home with a trophy by virtue of a tiebreaker.

They entered the final round tied for third with Texico but ended up tied with Socorro after it was all said and done.

Speaking of golf, Robin Martinez brought up an interesting point that we’ve all probably experienced at one point or another while traveling. The St. Michael’s head coach was in her Hobbs hotel room trying to get an update on the weather on KRQE-TV and she noticed how on-air personality Mark Ronchetti kept positioning himself in front of the southeast corner of the state map where Hobbs is located.

“I kept telling the TV to have him move over so I could see the satellite map over Hobbs,” Martinez said.

It’s one of those things you never pay much attention to until the spot you’re looking for is covered.

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While this weekend’s state small-school track meet was a moment to honor champions and trophy-earners, let’s recognize New Mexico School for the Deaf for its performance in the 1A meet. Thanks in large part to Deven Thompson’s 12 points for winning the shot put and taking second in the discus, the Roadrunners finished tied for seventh place with 20 points. It was the highest point total and best finish for the school in two decades.

Helping out with that performance were senior Jacob Stevens, who was runner-up in the 1A 100 and sixth in the 200, and eighth grader Kieran Vollmar, who took fifth in the 100 hurdles.

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Make no mistake, the 3-point shot has changed the way hoops is played. Starting next season, it could be just a little more difficult for teams in Division I college basketball to capitalize on it.

A proposal brought forth by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee calls for the 3-point shot to be pushed back to 22 feet, 13/4 inches for the 2019-20 season.

That’s the same distance as the international 3-point line, and more than a foot further than the current distance of 20-9. The original 3-point line of 19-9 was universally adopted by the NCAA in 1986, then pushed to its current distance in 2008.

The committee also wants the shot clock reset to just 20 seconds after an offensive rebound and for a Flagrant 2 foul called any time a player uses derogatory language directed at an opponent or official.