A look back at the San Luis Valley's sports in 2018

The Alamosa Wrestling Team poses on the 3A mat after winning the 11th State title in Alamosa history. (Courier photo by Stephen Jiron)

ALAMOSA — Another year gone and we're all a year older and hopefully, a year wiser. The San Luis Valley had a rather successful year when it comes to athletics. And with the coming of the new year we can look back and reflect fondly upon past success and learn from past failures. Here is a compilation of big headlines from right here in the San Luis Valley.

Alamosa Wrestling takes State

DENVER — The Mean Moose went up to the Pepsi Center in Denver on the third weekend in February for the 2018 Colorado State Wrestling Tournament. Alamosa’s wrestling team came back with some impressive accolades.

Individually Mean Moose wrestlers Davion and Joe Chavez placed first in their respective weight classes. Davion picked up a 6-2 win over his Trinidad opponent to claim first place in the 106- pound weight class, a particularly impressive accomplishment for his freshman year. In the 126 pound championship was Joe Chavez of Alamosa against Caleb Cox. A third period pin for Joe cemented his second state title in as many years.

Alamosa collected 2 second place finishes by Preston Duran and Reis Martinez and a third place finish from Elijah DeLaCerda. As a team Alamosa also picked up two fourths and a fifth place finish to total 164 points as a team culminating in Alamosa’s 11th team title in the schools storied history.

Kandace Thomas buoys Adams State to fifth place

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Adams State University men and women's track and field program concluded the 2018 NCAA Division II National Championship in May. Both teams finished with a combined 10 All-Americans, a pair of Second Team All-Americans and one national title from Kandace Thomas in the women's 100.

It was a strong performance in the 100M dash for the women that would contribute 16 of the women's 39 team points for fifth place. Eilish Flanagan's runner-up finish in the steeplechase was also key to success for the women's top-five finish. Thomas, Dianna Johnson and Oweneika Watson combined for 27 points in the sprints and hurdles, while Flanagan finished with eight points from her runner-up status.

What followed next moved Adams high into the scoring, Watson finishing fourth in the 100 hurdles with a time of 13.51 kicked things off. Thomas and Johnson came up big in the 100. Thomas ran 11.44, the same time she had in the RMAC Championships in late April. Johnson ran 11.62 to finish third. Thomas finished in first place by six-hundredths of a second, making it two consecutive 100 meter titles for the Grizzly women after not having a single title in school history prior.

Thomas was next up on the track once again, coming third in the 200 with a time of 23.48. Her time was a new season-best.

Creede last Valley team standing

ALAMOSA — This Spring the Creede Miners took fourth in the 1A Class after falling 78-52 to Front Range Baptist. As a team they had improved from last year's 6th place finish.

The Miners were derailed by Peetz in a game that went to overtime. Peetz would go on to defeat South Baca and claim the 1A State Championship the following day.

In the 2A class Sanford faced Crowley County falling to the Chargers. Crowley County’s Chargers would end 2018 with their first loss happening in the biggest game of the year, losing the title to Yuma 59-41 on Saturday.

Alamosa fell to the 3A State Champions, Bayfield. After holding a 2-0 record in the regular season, Alamosa would defer the next two meetings to the Wolverines in the Intermountain District Tournament and State Tournament. Rival Bayfield slipped by Faith Christian in a 45-43 game before knocking off Lutheran High on to claim the title on Saturday..

Centauri’s girls went down in the quarterfinals to Colorado Springs Christian’s Lions. The Lions would go on to the state championship game facing St. Mary’s in the third meeting between the two. St. Mary’s avenged their only loss of the season in spectacular fashion to take the girls' championship in the 3A class.

San Luis Valley brings home

first place finishes

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — For the second time in as many years the State Track meet at Jeffco Stadium in Denver experienced heavy rain. Unlike 2017 the State Track meet was not abridged rather the result was an hour postponement, leading to a washed out Saturday at Jeffco Stadium.

That didn’t stop the various valley teams from top-flight performances. From Alamosa both the girls’ relay team made up of Lilly and Emily Lavier Alyssa Romero and Tara Sowards took home gold in the 4x400 meter relay. Alamosa also got strong contributions from juniors Amaya Atencio and Chad Jackson. Atencio placed first overall in the girls’ shot put with a distance of 39’ 1”. Jackson ran a 49.91 400 Meter dash to take first place and claim his own individual title.

The Alamosa girls placed third overall at state while the boys took eleventh in the team standings.

For Sanford Brady Lenz earned an individual state title with a first place finish in the 2A boys’ triple jump hitting a distance 42’ 2.5”. Other notable performances included Alamosa boy’s relay team earning a second place finish in the 4x400M Relay and Sangre de Cristo’s Avery Palmgren finishing with a third place finish in the 1A girl’s 100M dash.

Valley teams achieve perfection

ALAMOSA — This past year two teams were able to achieve perfection during the regular season, Alamosa’s volleyball and Mountain Valley-Moffat Football.

Alamosa Volleyball's 2017 season finished with a 13-11 record and a playoff berth. Alamosa’s year ended with a 0-2 record at Colorado Academy’s regional triangular. With a second year head coach Annie Rice and a strong return starters from last year Alamosa started 2018 anew.

A strong campaign in the regular season was highlighted by big wins over 4A class Battle Mountain and 3A class Centauri. Alamosa junior Jordan Mobbley finished the year ranked 16th in the state for assists with 847. Alamosa closed the season with an impressive 25-0 record. At the state level Alamosa got rolling late and earned an opening day victory over Resurrection Christian in a 3-2 match. The two losses that would eliminate them from the double elimination tournament came at the hands of the two teams that would make it to the championship, Colorado Springs Christian and 3A state champion Lutheran. 

In 2017 Mountain Valley-Moffat football finished the year with a 2-5 record. In 2018 the All-Valley Co-Coach of the Year Joel Johnson whipped his squad into shape. Mountain Valley-Moffat overcame league opponents Cotopaxi and Sierra Grande to collect a perfect 7-0 record through the regular season. They'd narrowly miss homefield advantage in the post season.

Senior Isiah Wellman led the team in rushing with 1,261 yards going for 17 touchdowns.  In round one of the playoffs Mountain Valley-Moffat fell to Granada in a 40-7 game.

Demison earns All-American status

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The 2017-18 season for Adams State University wrestling  was something of an up and down year. In head-to-head duals the Grizzlies didn’t look very impressive closing the regular season with a 2-10 record. By the time the RMAC Tournament started the Grizzlies still seemed to be in hibernation placing seventh as a team with three placers, the Grizzlies failed to place any higher than seventh at any meet up to that point.

It wasn’t until the NCAA DII Western Regional Tournament that ASU really began to flex some muscle. In Las Vegas, NM Adams State would finish in third place with 90 team points qualifying 5 wrestlers to nationals; Darek Huff, Dylan Udero, Natrielle Demison, Koery Windham and Nevada Bencomo.

At the DII National Tournament things started off a little rocky for Demison as he was pinned by the seventh ranked wrestler in the nation George McGuire of Gannon in the opening match of the tournament. McGuire would fail to place in the tournament’s top-eight.

In his following bout, Demison faced Nate Trepanier of Lindenwood where he earned a 5-2 decision to move on to the match into the All-American rounds. Among the nation’s best Demison pinned Grine to secure his spot in the top eight.

At the consolation quarterfinals he would  face the then No.2-ranked wrestler in the nation, Taylor Misuna of Notre Dame. Misuna would defeat Demison setting up a seventh place match with the then fourth-ranked wrestler in the nation Efe Osaghae of Fort Hayes State.

Demison’s 3-2 decision victory gave him seventh place in the tournament and All-American status.

Mean Moose baseball earns first IML title since 1990

ALAMOSA —This past year was a first for the Alamosa baseball club. A fantastic season turned into a historic season. Alamosa went 11-4 into their final league meeting of the season, a double-header with Montezuma-Cortez. Taking two wins from the visiting Panthers Alamosa would claim the intermountain title for the first time since the Space Shuttle Discovery mission launched the Hubble Space Telescope.

Alamosa was led by their senior presence, Tyler Zimmerman and Chance Strand. Both boys finished the season with team high batting averages of over .470 on the season (min. 5 at bats.) From the mound both Zimmerman and Strand also anchored a Moose defense that allowed an average of four runs per game as both boys held their earned run averages below three.

With their league title Alamosa would host their regional tournament. The Moose finished 1-1 relenting the regional tournament to visitor Peak to Peak after an 11-10 battle of attrition that went 9 innings.

Distance running for Adams State

ALAMOSA — The cross-country teams at ASU added to their accolades. Both the men and woman cross country teams advanced to the national championships.

The women placed third at the NCAA DII Championships while Adams State’s men finished fourth in a field of 34 teams at the NCAA Division II National Championships.

For the women it was a combination of sisters Eilish and Roisen Flanagan. Both of which would be named to the national cross-country team in their native Ireland for the 25th Annual SPAR European Cross Country Championships.

For the men Sydney Gidabuday had a record year. The Adams State distance runner has been a tour de force for the Grizzlies. The Adam State senior set the NCAA Division II Indoor Track record for the 5000M with a time of 13.56. Gidabuday also sped his way into the Adams State Record books as the first male to garner six individual track national titles.

Come fall, Gidabuday was a big help on the cross-country team as well with two first place finishes and a second place finish. During the Joe I. Vigil Classic Gidabuday breezed to the top spot falling just 42 seconds short of setting the course record at Cattails Golf Course.

Girls’ soccer squads make some noise

ALAMOSA — Alamosa and Del Norte were the hub of girl’s soccer talent this past year. And both teams seemed to follow similar paths through their seasons.

From within the 3A class a 10-4 season from the year prior loomed heavy over Alamosa’s girls as despite the winning season they still missed the post season. In 2017, their inaugural varsity season, Del Norte finished the regular season with a 6-7 record.

As luck would have it the two teams would meet to start the 2018 season, the Mean Moose would take the win by a score of 2-1. From there Alamosa would build a 13-2 record in the regular season to advance to the playoffs. Del Norte’s 11-4 record also advanced them into the playoffs.

Both clubs hosted first round playoff games. Del Norte would defeat Colorado Springs School in a 3-0 shut-out in their first playoff action of the spring. Likewise Alamosa’s victory followed a similar path as they would dispatch Atlas Preparatory School by an identical 3-0 score.

The following Friday Del Norte would fall to Fountain Valley their fates seemingly connected Alamosa suffered a defeat the following day to Lutheran.

Condon at U.S. Senior Amateur

EUGENE, Ore. — Monte Vista’s Greg Condon accompanied by his son Luke traveled to Eugene Country Club in Oregon to compete in a field of 64 other golfers for the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship. The 64th annual U.S Senior Amateur featured the likes of 12 individual USGA champions, and two past Walker Cup captains.

Condon tied for the lead in stroke play with Jeff Wilson of Fairfield, CA both scoring five under with a stroke count of 139. In the beginning of match play Condon held the number one seed in a field of 64 golfers facing No. 64 Kirk Wright of Oklahoma City, OK. Condon would dispatch Wright with a four-hole lead with three holes remaining to advance to a field of 32. Condon would face Buzz Fly of Memphis Tennesse in the next round. Fly would take the first hole and hold a one-hole lead until the pair began the final nine, where Condon would even the count. Fly would claim holes 11 and 13 for a two-hole lead that would stand giving him a 2-and-1 victory. Second seeded Jeff Wilson would go on claim the championship in a 2-and-1 victory over Sean Knapp.

 


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