The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Mother of all weekends

Spring season concludes with busy schedule


May 15, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE — Mother's Day weekend marked the end of the spring season, the end of the 2017-18 high school season.

Local baseball, softball, and track and field teams descended on Albuquerque for state championships. It always seemed like there was a local team competing somewhere just off Avenida Cesar Chavez.

At the University of New Mexico's Santa Ana Star Field on Thursday, the Clovis baseball team's history-tying season came to an end. Portales' season was brought to a close on the same field a day later.

Early Friday afternoon at Isotopes Park - home of the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes — Texico's baseball team blanked Estancia 5-0 to win its third consecutive Class 3A state championship. On Saturday, across the street at the UNM Track-Soccer complex, Clovis' boys track and field team finished an impressive third behind Cleveland and Volcano Vista at the NMAA state track and field championships.

With that track and field competition, the high school season ended, concluding with a busy weekend in Albuquerque.

We will 'Rock' you

The Texico Rockies?

Well, the Texico Wolverines baseball team does have something in common with some current members of the Colorado Rockies. They've all played and won at Albuquerque's Isotopes Park. Friday at that stadium, Texico won its third straight 3A title by shutting out Estancia 5-0 behind Dalton Thatcher's five-hit pitching. The Wolverines also did some bopping, like some former Isotopes/current Rockies once did. In the top of the first inning of Friday afternoon's championship game, the Wolves came a single short of hitting for a team cycle. On successive one-out at-bats, Thatcher doubled, Cole Rohrbach tripled and Nathan Phipps whacked a mammoth home run, all to left-center field.

And they did it in the Colorado Rockies' Triple-A home, the stepping stone for some MLB players.

"It's amazing," Phipps said. "A dream come true."

"It's awesome to think about all the legends that have come to play on this field," Texico senior Brock Thompson said after catching Thatcher's five-hit shutout. "I can't explain how awesome this feels."

Battery runs out

With the conclusion of Friday's championship showdown, Thompson had caught his last game for Texico, had caught Thatcher for the last time. Thompson had already caught senior Ben Crist for the last time.

"I've been very blessed to work with these guys — Dalton and Ben — for four years," Thompson said. "I've grown up with Dalton, I've played with Dalton since Little League."

Green giants

Clovis' boys track and field team had a superb season. That seems a fitting adjective to describe a season that included a repeat District 2-6A championship.Fresh off that crown, with athletes qualified in every event, the Wildcats were hoping to cap their spring with a state title. They wound up third, bringing home a green trophy. Volcano Vista won the second-place red, Cleveland the championship blue.

"Obviously, we didn't get the trophy color we wanted, and I know the kids are disappointed," Clovis boys track and field coach Mark Sena said. "But we still had a successful meet."

Like a Byrd

Nelly Furtado once sang, "I'm like a bird, I only fly away ..."

That would be a fitting theme song for Manzano senior Jordan Byrd, who won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, plus contributed to first-place finishes in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays during Saturday's 6A state championship meet at the UNM Track-Soccer complex. In each of those events, Clovis placed second.

Byrd had initially been credited with a 10.4 in the 100, which would've broken the 1997 mark of 10.5 established by Highland's Bobby Newcombe, but the NMAA late revised the time. Still, Byrd ended up with a record-tying 10.5. And regardless of that tenth-of-a-second difference, he was flying.

Byrd has already committed to play football for San Diego State University, where he will run in the cleat-steps of Pro-Football-Hall-of-Famer Marsall Faulk. Saturday, the Aztec-to-be was hard to catch, keeping the Wildcats from bagging some points that would've made the difference between second and third.

"When you're going against a special athlete, you have your work cut out for you," Sena said. "He got us in the 100, he got us in the 200, he got us in the 4 x 1 for the championship, and the 4 x 2 for the championship. He was the difference. It took a special athlete to beat us."

Also contributing to Clovis finishing just seven points behind second-place Volcano Vista was Hawks' standout Jericho Cleveland.

"The reason that they beat us for second place is because they had a special athlete in Jericho Cleveland who's going to run college track in Colorado," Sena said. "He took first place in the 800, the 1,600 and the 3,200 meters. So when you're going against special athletes, you've got to be at your best, you've got to have a perfect day. And we didn't have a perfect day. So that's one of the reasons that we are in third. That's what we earned, so that's what we'll take."

23 skidoo

In a "Two and a Half Men" episode, Jake was assigned to read "Lord of the Flies". And when his father asked him what the book was about, Jake said it was about a really big fly that all the other flies prayed to.

Obviously, Jake didn't do his homework. In Thursday's Class 6A quarterfinal, Carlsbad seemed to have done its homework when facing Clovis for the second time this season. The Cavemen, who had already seen and lost to Wildcats senior pitcher Connor Langrell in a regular-season game on March 1, seemed ready for everything Langrell was going to throw this time. The Cavemen also seemed prepared for anything reliever Colson Faircloth threw at them.

Carlsbad pitchers T.J. Ruiz and Gaige Madron seemed ready for Clovis' usually-opportunistic hitters. Ruiz and Madron combined on a five-inning two-hitter, allowing one hit each.

The result of it all was a 15-1 Carlsbad victory.

Clovis was eliminated sooner than many expected, but not before making an imprint on Clovis High School history, tying a school record with 23 victories. They'll be co-trendsetters with the 2004 team until some future team bypasses them, which won't be easy.

Langrell, Faircloth, their fellow rotation member Sebastian Nunez, their battery mate Jace Piepkorn, and eight other seniors are now exiting the history-matching team. They'll all have to somehow be replaced.

"That's going to be tough," Clovis baseball coach Richard Cruce said. "Losing 12 seniors is always tough. And especially 12 seniors that have been part of this program — most of them — for five years. We've got a big learning curve ahead of us."


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