Top 5 San Juan County sports stories of 2018

Matt Hollinshead,
After coming up short in 2017, the Piedra Vista boys golf team won its first state championship on May 8 at Piñon Hills Golf Course in Farmington. PV's journey toward winning the blue trophy was among the top San Juan County sports stories of 2018.

Piedra Vista boys golf team wins state title

The Panthers won their first blue trophy back on May 8, also the school’s first and only championship in the now-defunct Class 6A, in their own backyard at Piñon Hills Golf Course in Farmington.

PV had to settle for being the state runner-up in 2017, due to a scorecard error. That fueled the Panthers as 2018 progressed. It was first place or bust, and PV redeemed itself.

Even as its lead over 2017 state champ Cleveland decreased during the final holes, PV didn’t fold and kept battling. Every time they hit bogeys or double-bogeys, the Panthers immediately responded with multiple pars.

PV had a three-stroke edge over Cleveland to win the title, but ended the state tournament with a whopping 45-stroke advantage after CHS made a scorecard error of its own. Even so, the Panthers were beyond determined to finally get the job done.

And with all top-five players (Trey Diehl, Tyler Diehl, River Smalley, Quinn Yost and Justin Harris) back for 2019, PV eyes back-to-back state titles.

Aztec wrestling makes history, restores glory

The Tigers won their first state title since 2002, and they also crowned their first-ever girls state wrestling champion.

Bella Wells, who held her own against her male counterparts earlier in the season, pinned Sandia's Tiana Ring six seconds into the second round to win the 106-pound girls title.

Josiah Griego (120-pound division) and Christian Robison (126) both won individual state titles, while Zane Chapman (138), Bode Wooley (145) and Logan Thorpe (170) all placed third in their respective weight classes.

Lady Scorps tennis team wins 7th state title in 10 years

FHS, which won its 13th straight district title and earned a first-round bye at state, plowed through its competition. Farmington topped Alamogordo, Los Alamos and Albuquerque Academy by a combined score of 19-0 from the quarterfinals onward.

The Lady Scorps look to continue their dominance in 2019, as five of their top seven players will return this spring.

FHS baseball team wins first blue trophy since 2008

Pitchers Jac Cordova and Isaiah Jaramillo propelled the Scorpions to a 5-3 win over 2017 state champion Goddard at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque.

Cordova started on the mound and kept grinding out strong innings, and Jaramillo had a strong day throwing in relief. The duo combined for six innings of work.

FHS (24-5 last season) won 19 of its final 20 games to win it all. Farmington won its 10th state title since 1991.

Bloomfield teams in finals after long hiatuses

It was a special year for the BHS girls basketball and football teams.

The Lady Bobcats reached their first state girls basketball championship game since 1984. Nine months later, Bloomfield's football team played in its first state championship game since 1990.

The girls hoops team was a cohesive group of talent that included Brandi Alcantar, Alyssa Quintana, Mattie Waresback, Sierra Ortiz and Halle Payne. The Lady Bobcats thrived against tough competition, going 26-6. They won the Hope Christian tournament along with the district regular-season and district tournament titles.

Bloomfield, the No. 2 seed, lost 48-43 to top-seeded Los Lunas in the finals on March 9, but BHS handed Los Lunas the first of its two losses all year during the Hope Christian tournament.

In football, bad breaks on special teams and on offense were Bloomfield’s undoing in its 14-7 loss at Taos in the finals on Dec. 1, but the defense kept the Bobcats' title hopes alive.

Bloomfield defenders displayed great speed all season long, creating constant pressure up front and well-timed plays in zone coverage.

Averaging just 14.3 points allowed per game, BHS (9-5) tallied 120 total tackles for lost yards, 37 sacks, 22 interceptions, 15 forced fumbles and 23 fumble recoveries.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.