San Juan County's top 5 2017 sports stories
Multiple San Juan County sports teams, and some athletes, had their days of glory at the top in 2017.
But whether a deep postseason run resulted in shiny, colored hardware or not, their circumstances differed.
Without further ado, here are the top five area sports stories from the 2017 calendar year (in no specific order):
1. Piedra Vista's Nick Rino wins third straight wrestling title - Feb. 18, 2017
Rino took down rising Carlsbad star Justin Wood via 3-2 decision in the Class 6A 145-pound championship match.
It was tied at 2-2 in the final seconds, when Rino quickly escaped from Wood's clutches on the bottom and regained his position on top for the final point as time expired.
Rino concluded his junior year with a 31-2 record, all while handing Wood his first and only loss on the season.
With his senior year now underway, Rino looks to make it a four-peat at state.
2. Shiprock girls basketball wins 4A state title - March 10, 2017
After coming up just shy of the blue trophy in each of the previous four seasons, the Lady Chieftains took down Hope Christian, 47-42, in the 4A state championship game at the Pit in Albuquerque.
Hope Christian had ousted Shiprock from the big dance in the 2015 and 2016 state tournaments, but the Chieftains overcame a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter to win it all. SHS attacked the paint and knocked down some big kick-out 3-pointers.
It was Shiprock’s first state title in 15 years.
3. Aztec softball wins 5A state title - May 13, 2017
After being the state runner-up in four of the previous five seasons, the Lady Tigers took down Artesia 7-2 at UNM Softball Field to win the blue trophy.
Up 2-0 entering the fourth inning, Ashlynn Bradley knocked in a two-run single. Paige Adair brought home two additional runs after Artesia missed a chance to get a quick put-out.
Adair, Aztec’s ace of three seasons, recorded the game-winning out in the top of the seventh inning off a grounder coming right to her in the pitcher’s circle.
The Tigers won state for the first time since 2005.
FROM MARCH:Lady Tigers break curse with 5A title
4. Midland Redskins win first CMWS title since 2011 - Aug. 6, 2017
Midland kept its foot on the gas running on the bases, leading to an 11-0 championship game win over the Danville Hoots at Ricketts Park. It was the Redskins' 15 CMWS title in program history.
After defeating the Hoots in his Redskins debut just the day before, Piedra Vista pitcher Chase Silseth closed out the title game.
The fact a local player helped the Redskins most during those final two days of the big amateur baseball tournament makes its place on the list even more deserved.
FROM AUGUST:Midland Redskins win first CMWS title since 2011
5. Farmington football reaches 5A state semifinals - Nov. 17, 2017
The Scorpions took down the Tigers 41-17 in the 5A state quarterfinals.
Although FHS was eliminated by eventual state champion and New Mexico football power Artesia, 47-22 the following weekend in the 5A semifinals, it was one of the Scorpions’ best campaigns in recent memory.
Farmington (8-4) won a district title for the first time since its state championship season in 2013.
FHS’ defense had plenty of speed front to back. They were solid in man coverage, and they were stellar in zone coverage. FHS allowed an average of just 19.7 points per game in 2017, its lowest since giving up just 18.8 points a game in 2009.
Despite being rather up-and-down to start the year, the Scorpions had a six-game stretch scoring 50.8 points per game. They kept plays simple, which allowed them to play quicker and prolong drives.
The way FHS was playing during the final six weeks of the year, they very well could’ve won it all. Farmington just happened to be on the same side of the bracket as Artesia.
But everything considered, this year was hands down FHS’ best campaign since its magnificent 2013 season.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.