FHS, PV qualify individuals for state tourney

Farmington sends 12 individuals, six qualify for PV

Jake Newby

FARMINGTON — After competing in the District 1-5A individual tournament over the weekend, 12 individuals from the Farmington boys and girls teams and six Piedra Vista athletes qualified for this week's individual state tournament in Albuquerque.

Piedra Vista's Kyler Edwards takes on Farmington's Peyton Rasmussen on Friday during the individual district tournament at the Farmington Sports Complex.

The PV No. 1 doubles team of Kalani Aligarbes and Zander Halgryn qualified when they topped Farmington's duo of Nate Benson and Andrew Moss to win district. Aligarbes and Halgryn have been in sync all season and boast an overall record of 23-4.

Kyler Edwards took third overall in the singles tourney for the Panthers. He defeated Miyamura's Christian Belone 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 in comeback fashion after switching up his strategy between the first and second sets.

"We made some strategy adjustments for the second and third sets, we wanted to attack more at the net," PV Coach Jenny Baker said. "Kyler was very consistent, very methodical and very focused the entire tournament."

Six girls will represent the district champion Lady Scorpions in Albuquerque, including Emily Nguyen, who was victorious in the singles bracket. The freshman downed teammate Elise Ballard, who also qualified for state, in the finals 6-0, 6-1.

The dominant Nguyen will likely land a fourth seed at state, said Farmington girls coach Pat McGrath said.

"Emily should be fourth and Elise should be sixth," McGrath said. "Emily is a level above anyone in this area and we are hoping she can finish in the top three at state."

McGrath's No. 2 doubles team of Riley Coleman and Hailie Nygren won the girls doubles tourney by besting PV's team of Samantha Begay and Angelica Sabol 6-2, 6-3.

"They are playing much more aggressive, which they will need to do in the state tournament," McGrath said of Coleman and Nygren.

The FHS doubles team of Michelle McGrath and Katherine Fisher qualified as well, to round out the six Lady Scorps heading to Albuquerque on Wednesday.

Like the Farmington girls, the Scorpions will also send two singles players and two doubles teams.

Ned Merrion kept rolling as Farmington's top singles player by defeating teammate Sol Rascon 6-1, 6-0 in the finals. FHS coach Larry Larson said it was good to see Rascon, his normal No. 5 player, play against an elite player like Merrion ahead of state.

The Farmington girls qualifiers, wearing medals, pose with teammates after Saturday's individual district tournament at the Farmington Sports Complex.

"I was tickled that Sol had gotten there," Larson said. "Sol had a really big upset win against Kyler Edwards, who had the No. 2 seed. (Rascon) was really happy to play Ned because he doesn't get to see a No. 1 very often. They had fun with it, they're friends."

Benson and Moss, along with the team of Elijah Larson and Khaleel Hollingsworth, qualified for FHS as doubles teams.

Though the Lady Panthers No. 2 doubles team of Begay and Sabol fell short of winning the girls doubles bracket, their ticket to Albuquerque was punched when they defeated McGrath and Fisher in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-0.

"They are extremely good at placing the ball, that's where their strengths are," PV girls coach Allison Goff said of Begay and Sabol. "They are both precision hitters, which is really nice. Considering it's Angelica's freshman year, I'm pleased to see them advance. Their abilities complement one another very well."

Sophomore Alyssa Baker sneaked in as a singles player for PV after beating Farmington's Monica Briones 6-4, 6-1 in the consolation final, the same round she lost in last year to FHS graduate Danielle Nguyen, a loss that denied her a trip to state.

The individual tournament will be played on Wednesday and Thursday and the team tourney — also in Albuquerque — happens Friday and Saturday.

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.