Notes from the North

When we last left the Class 3A baseball scene, fans were treated to an All-District 2-3A state championship battle between city rivals Las Vegas Robertson and West Las Vegas. Was Saturday’s district doubleheader split between St. Michael’s and the Cardinals a preview of this year’s championship game?

Robertson, the reigning 3A champion, held off a Horsemen rally over the final two innings of a 5-3 win to open the doubleheader. St. Michael’s responded by scoring all seven of its runs in the first three frames to secure a 7-2 win.

The teams share the district top spot with matching 4-1 records with four 2-3A games left. St. Michael’s is second in the latest MaxPreps Class 3A rankings, while the Cardinals are No. 4. The rubber match in their series is set for the final day of the regular season June 15, with the district title and likely the top seed for the state tournament on the line.

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Ray Birmingham took part in his final home game as the University of New Mexico’s baseball coach Saturday, losing his final outing at Santa Ana Star Field to San Diego State. He announced in April that he would retire at season’s end, ending a 14-year run with the Lobos that led to multiple conference championships and appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

Just a few hours before the final out was recorded, the Albuquerque Isotopes said they would honor the hall of fame coach at their June 5 game. The team will play a tribute video before the game and Birmingham will throw out the first pitch.

Birmingham led the Lobos to five NCAA appearances from 2010-16, winning three Mountain West titles along the way.

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Annie Topal didn’t have much experience in the triple jump, yet she had enough natural ability to finish third at this weekend’s NCAA championships for outdoor track and field in Allendale, Mich.

The New Mexico Highlands senior had competed only three times in the event during the spring season. The 2019 national champion, she had four tries in Saturday’s meet. Her best jump came in her second attempt when she cleared 12.87 meters, well short of the winner from West Texas A&M but good enough to earn NMHU six points to finish 36th in the team standings.

She was the only NMHU athlete to compete at the meet. She also took part in the long jump, finishing 14th.

Topal was a senior this season, but NCAA rules allow her to compete again next season, which she intends to do while pursuing a graduate degree from Highlands.

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One of the more interesting websites for college football enthusiasts is fbschedules.com.

It takes just a few clicks to see the football schedules for every college team in the land, including the pair of Division I teams right here in the Land of Enchantment. UNM’s dates include LSU next year, Texas A&M in 2023, Auburn the year after and, of course, trips to Michigan and UCLA just 14 days apart in 2025.

The Lobos added to that list last week by doing what every single mid-major is doing to balance the W/L column. For every body bag game against the SEC or Big Ten, there’s a date with an FCS or lower-level mid-major. Enter Montana State.

The Lobos added the Bobcats for a home game on Aug. 24, 2024 — or the so-called Week Zero. Teams who happen to have road games against Hawaii are allowed to add a 13th regular season contest, giving teams like the Lobos a chance to either toss in another seven-figure payday against a Power Five opponent or go for the low-hanging fruit of a game against the Montana States of the world.

It means a modest payday for MSU and what should be a mildly competitive but solid W for the Lobos. Three weeks later they head to Auburn. It leaves two open dates in the 2024 slate, one of which will almost assuredly be against a power program.

Take a peek at that website for more details.

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In the mid-2000s, it wasn’t a state wrestling tournament for Las Vegas Robertson if a Martinez brother didn’t bring home a individual title. Now, it’s the Trujillo clan taking center stage.

For the past six years, the Cardinals have had a member of the Trujillo family produce a state champion. Freshman Daniel Trujillo continued that tradition by winning the 106-pound division. Preceding him was Andrew, who won four straight titles from 2017-20, and Jonathan, who won four in a row from 2015-18.

Combined, the Trujillos have won nine state titles, but they trail the trio of Adam, Jake and Daniel Martinez, who won a combined 13 state titles from 2002-11. However, the Trujillos have a fourth brother waiting in the wings.

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The Class 3A 200 meters, triple jump and long jump could have a very distinct flavor. St. Michael’s and Santa Fe Prep are dominating the entries for those events with the small-school state meet three weeks away.

With the New Mexico Activities Association limiting entries to the top 16 times and distances for the state events this year, the two programs own the top six positions in the triple jump, 10 of the top 16 long jumps and seven of the 16 best times in the 200.

However, one name tops the field in those events — Isabel Vionescu. Her long jump of 16 feet, 8 inches bests Olivia Farrar from St. Michael’s by almost a foot. Vionescu also is tops in the triple jump (33-111/2), her time of 27.76 seconds tops the 200 field and can add the 100 (13.18) to that impressive list.

Oh, Vionescu also is one of Prep’s top tennis player and the reigning 1A/3A doubles champion with fellow junior Grace Vivian.

(1) comment

Kevin Hauck

Go Horsemen.

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