Valley Sports, 2017 in review

Adams State runners pose with their latest additions to the trophy case. The women took first with 126 points, while the men did the same with 44.

ASU's Dual Championships
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Adams State University’s cross country program swept dual National Championship titles — both men’s and women’s — in Evansville, Indiana, at the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championships in November.
This was the first time since 2009 that Adams State University swept the cross country titles. The men defended their title for the sixth-time in the NCAA Division II era, while the women captured their second title in three years. In all, five top-15 finisher trophies, eight All-American medals and two National Championship trophies found themselves in the hands of the Adams State Grizzlies.
This was the 13th NCAA Division II title for the men and the 17th for the women. In the 26-year history of Adams State competing at the Division II level, the program has taken 30 of the 52 possible cross country titles. Adams State’s running programs have now garnered 54 national titles.

Track stars shine
LAKEWOOD — Although postponed due to a snowstorm, and condensed from three days to two (making history as the first time since its inception to do so), the 2017 State Track and Field Championships on May 20-21 brought victories to San Luis Valley teams. In all, the Valley garnered 38 medals and four state championships on the weekend. Class 1A was able to get five while Class 2A earned 22 and Class 3A earned 11.
The Alamosa High School 4x800 meter relay team of Oscar Martinez, Caleb Palmer, Chad Jackson and Isaiah DeLaCerda won their third straight championship.
Monte Vista senior Jose Flores-Lauro won the long jump state title and in the process broke the Monte Vista High School long jump record by more than three inches. His final jump was 45 feet, 7.5 inches while the previous best jump in school history was 42 feet, 2 inches.
Creede junior Regnor Vondedenroth won the Class 1A pole vault championship. The champion passed all the way until 13 feet, 3 inches and on his first attempt he was able to clear. He also cleared 11 feet, 9 inches, 12 feet, 3 inches and 12 feet, 9 inches on his first attempt.
Alamosa senior Oscar Martinez demolished his personal record in the open 800 meter and won the race with a time of 1.55.12. Martinez finished his high school career with an impressive mark in the title column as he finished with seven titles, three in cross country, three 4x800 and the open 800.

Wrestlers take gold
DENVER — On February 18 at the 2017 Colorado High School State Wrestling Championships, Alamosa’s Isaiah DeLaCerda and Centauri’s Joe Chavez won state titles.
At 113 pounds, Alamosa senior Isaiah DeLaCerda dominated Grand Valley’s AJ Serna for his third straight championship in his fourth attempt. According to Alamosa Head Coach Gary Ramstetter, DeLaCerda becomes Alamosa’s seventh 3-time state champion as the Mean Moose only had one 4-time champion in Jon Archuleta.
Winning the state championship at 120 pounds was Centauri’s Joe Chavez who controlled his opponent Jimmy Ramirez III of Jefferson.
In addition to the two gold medals, 10 other Valley wrestlers brought home medals from the state championships, and Center High School Head Coach Brian Ullery was awarded a 30-year pin for coaching for the Vikings.

Falcons Football
LA JARA — The Centauri Falcons had aspirations of state from the very first week when they took down championship hopeful Paonia in their most competitive game of the regular season. From there on they proceeded to dismantle opponents en route to a 9-0 regular season record.
In the postseason the Falcons continued to make noise knocking off Colorado Springs Christian, Monte Vista and Limon. Defeating the best 1A football had to offer the Falcons would go into the championship round with a 12-0 record and host Strasburg on November 25 for the championship game.

The title game was strength versus strength. Strasburg's offense was high powered and Centauri  fielded one of the best defenses in the class. After a hard fought battle the game could go either way at 7-7. After double overtime the title game was ironically decided by a field goal. Carson Spence's game winner was the first field goal attempt by either team all season long.
The Centauri Falcons lost 10-7 to the reigning champions from Strasburg who claimed their second state championship in a row.

Trojans go on maiden voyage
ANTONITO — For the first time in school history, the Antonito Lady Trojans earned the right to compete at state in basketball — and were undefeated right up to the state championships. They won the Class 1A District 6 championship on February 25 by defeating Sierra Grande and subsequently clinched a state championship berth with the defeat on March 3 of Ouray. With that win, the team claimed the Class 1A Western Regional championship and advanced to the Great Eight at the state tournament with a 23-0 record. The Trojans concluded their season with an incredible 23-2 record, falling at state to the Fleming Wildcats and Eads Eagles. \

The girls’ coach, Jeremy Romero, was named Class 1 A Coach of the Year by Colorado Preps.
Seven San Luis Valley teams advanced to state basketball championship play: Antonito Lady Trojans; Del Norte Tigers (both boys and girls teams); Creede/Lake City Miners ladies; Sanford Indian boys; Alamosa Mean Moose boys; and Lady Centauri Falcons. Colorado Preps named Creede Coach Robert Koets and Sanford Coach Rhett Larsen Coaches of the Year in Class 1 A and Class 2 A, respectively.

Josh Keaton goes to the Minors
ALAMOSA — Adams State baseball player Josh Keaton was drafted in the tenth round of the 2017 MLB Draft on June 13.
Josh Keaton, of Colorado Springs, became the first player from Sand Creek High School ever drafted when the Baltimore Orioles took him at No. 308 overall. Keaton, who graduated from Sand Creek in 2012, was a senior at Adams State this spring.
Keaton was a 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed starting pitcher for Adams State. Keaton made the transition to starter in 2016. The 23-year-old Keaton was 4-6 with a 5.52 ERA over 75 innings during the 2017 season.
Keaton has since been placed as a pitcher on the Aberdeen Ironbirds  a Short-Season A classification affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The IronBirds play in the New York–Penn League and are based in the city of Aberdeen in Harford County, Maryland. Through ten games  as a pitcher Keaton has struck out 23 batters. As a fielder Keaton has collected 4 assists.

Claim to the Hall of Fame
VALLEY — The San Luis Valley fared well with Hall of Fame nominations this year.
• Twice inducted into Adams State University’s Hall of Fame (as an individual in 2001, and with the 1988 team in 2016) and named to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference’s All-Time Team in 2009, No. 9 Bobby Saiz is still sitting fine in the mind of the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame—which again included the iconic quarterback on the ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame next year. Twice named an NAIA [Adams State now competes at the NCAA Div. II level] All-American by the time his exciting four-year career concluded in 1990, Saiz passed for 10,169 yards and 87 touchdowns for the then-Indians while averaging 251 yards of total offense per game. Adams State went 28-15-1 overall during Saiz’s four seasons, including a 17-4-1 RMAC record.

• Eight individuals and three national championship teams were enshrined as members of the 2017 Adams State University Hall of Fame class. The Hall of Fame ceremony was held September 29.  The 11 total members marked the largest single class in the history of Adams State’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Athletic accomplishments from this group spanned over a 40-year period; from Jim Vuono’s career on the gridiron in the late 1960’s to Heather Ebert’s softball career that ended in 2008.
Four individual inductees and two teams were from the storied Track & Field and Cross Country programs while two individual inductees were former football student-athletes. Wrestling was represented by one individual inductee and a team, while softball rounded out the class with one inductee.

Inductees were: Jim Bevan ‘84, ’86, Track & Field; Dan Caulfield‘95, ’99, Track & Field and Cross Country; Heather Ebert ’09, Softball; Mary Jaqua, Cross Country; Stacey Mills ‘94, ’97, Track & Field and Cross Country; Bill Stone ’86, Football; Denise Summers ’99, Track & Field and Cross Country; Jim Vuono ’69, Football; Darrell Yohn, Wrestling; 1977 Men’s Cross Country Team; 1980 Wrestling Team; and 1981 Women’s Cross Country Team.

• The Colorado High School Coaches Association announced its Hall of Fame class for the year 2018.  This is the 55th class to be inducted and included two Adams State graduates: Maggie Kilmer, Girl’s Basketball/Volleyball, Prairie High School, who graduated from Adams State College in 1974 and traveled back to northeastern Colorado to begin teaching and coaching at Prairie High School; and Al Snyder, Girl’s Basketball, Simla High School, who received degrees from Adams State College in 1982 (BA) and 1986 (MA).  In addition to a successful career as a Special Education Teacher and Athletic Director for Simla Schools he has been the girl’s basketball coach at the high school. Snyder’s basketball teams have recorded more than 500 victories and are still adding to the number.

• The Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame announced its 29th Hall of Fame class, which included former Alamosa Girls Basketball Coach Kent Smith. Having just retired after 53 years of coaching, Smith is one of the state’s top coaches, regardless of sport. He has been the head boys’ basketball coach at Boulder and Ponderosa, the head cross country coach at Ponderosa and Highlands Ranch, as well as the head boys’ soccer coach at Aurora Central. Additionally, he served as head girls’ basketball coach at La Veta and Alamosa. His teams have won state titles in basketball (twice at Boulder) and cross country (six times at Highlands Ranch).

Girls break into wrestling and football
ALAMOSA — Becca Longo, a senior at Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona, made history this spring when she signed a letter of intent to play football at Adams State University. Longo was  the first female to earn a football scholarship to an NCAA school at the Division II level or higher.
Katie Gallegos made local history by being the first female to kick extra points locally in the Moose 43-0 victory over Florence on August 25. Over the course of the season Gallegos got plenty of experience kicking with 31 extra point attempts hitting on 27 of them. Gallegos also made good on both of her field goal attempts with a long of 26 yards.
Natalie Benavides of Del Norte made huge strides as a wrestler in the 138 pound weight class. Benavides was only the 8th girl to participate in CHSAA's state championship and took fourth. Not only that Benavides also took her place on the football team on the offensive and defensive line registering 2 tackles in the one game she played.

Golfers Qualify for state
VALLEY — Individual golfers represented the San Luis Valley at state tournaments this year. Alexis Ortega and Alana Hackett of the Alamosa girls golf program qualified for the 3A State Golf Tournament at The Broadlands Golf Course in Broomfield on May 22nd and 23rd.
This fall, Luke Hoffstaetter of Monte Vista and Donny Chavez of Alamosa competed for individual titles in the 3A State Championship Tournament on October 2nd and 3rd.

Gymnasts represent at state
ALAMOSA — Alamosa High School gymnasts headed to state this fall. Led by seniors Tona Lavador, Mikyla Johnson, Skylar DeHerrera, and Andrea Rodriguez. The Mean Moose Gymnastics team made state for the first time in the last seven years.
A strong effort from freshmen Shallyn Smith helped the girls achieve ninth place at state. Smith led the Moose in 3 out of 4 events, posting a 7.5 on vault a 6.55 on bars and a 6.6 on the balance beam. Sophomore Amanda Parkins led the Moose in the floor routine with a 7.325.
The Moose were boosted by a  positive team attitude "It didnt matter if you were a freshman or a senior, these young ladies wanted everyone to do well and succeed." said head coach Analicia Lopez. With plenty of young talent they can expect a return trip sometime in the near future.