Spring sports in mid-April, dashed by coronavirus, a time to envision state title hopes

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com
Farmington's Kiara Quezada, seen here at the 2019 state track and field championships on Friday, May 17, 2019, in Albuquerque, eyed the all-time state record in the pole vault in 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the 2020 spring sports season.

FARMINGTON — It’s mid-April, a time where some in San Juan County’s spring sports scene would’ve begun envisioning the bigger picture: state championships, state records and much more.

Those are the teams where every win, and other teams’ losses, directly impact how high they’ll be seeded in the playoffs and also forecast how they’ll stack up against New Mexico’s best.

It also applies to individual competitors not only seeking their latest blue trophies in certain events, but also state records within their sport.

However, those dreams were wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s a look at some teams and individual competitors with such aspirations in 2020:

FHS pole vaulter Kiara Quezada

Quezada had unfinished business entering her final year with the Lady Scorpions: secure the new all-time state record of 12 feet, 5 inches.

Quezada was the cusp of breaking the current record of 12-4, set by Eldorado’s Lauren Martinez in 2015, at the 2019 state championships.

Quezada had three good cracks at it, but couldn’t quite pull it off.

On her third attempt, her pole bent the wrong way as she went up, and she barely clipped the bar.

Quezada, a three-time defending state champion in pole vault, was determined to finally get it done in 2020. But COVID-19 prevented her from potentially making state history.

Piedra Vista baseball

The Panthers had state championship aspirations in 2020 because they returned virtually all of their core group from their 2019 state semifinals appearance.

Infielders Tyler Wulfert, Kason Foster and Dawson Walls were back for 2020. Catcher Trent Kiraly was back, and the outfield (Jace Whalen, Matt Swarts and Carson Davis) was intact.

Wulfert, Whalen and Davis demonstrated last year they could get the big, clutch hit when PV needed it. Across the board, however, PV’s returning lineup is stout.

PV opened the 2020 campaign at 6-1 before the season came to a grinding halt.

Piedra Vista boys golf

The Panthers eyed a state championship three-peat in 2020.

PV said goodbye to centerpieces Trey Diehl, Tyler Diehl and River Smalley following its second consecutive blue trophy in 2019, but returned Justin Harris and Quinn Yost for 2020.

Although the 2020 season was squashed, PV has a solid foundation set up for the next couple years. Yost will highlight that group, which also includes Matt Ahlgrim and Sebastian Massey.

The end of an era

Longtime Farmington boys tennis coach Larry Larson retired after more than four decades at the helm.

During his tenure with the Scorpions, Larson, who took command in 1977, oversaw 1990 state singles champion Jeff Clark. Larson also coached Bode Avery and Stacy Ross to state doubles titles in 1987 and 1988.

Start of three new eras halted

Keith Hamilton took over Aztec’s softball program, succeeding coaching legend Roy Johnson. Johnson retired following the 2019 season. The Lady Tigers opened the 2020 campaign at 3-5 before COVID-19 halted the season.

Elsewhere, Jim Belveal was 4-0 to start his first year as Bloomfield’s baseball coach. Danny Nelson opened his first year as Bloomfield’s softball coach at 1-6 before the season was canceled.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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