“You want St. Mike’s? You got St. Mike’s!”
It was a refrain
St. Michael’s students relished chanting at opponents, especially at basketball games, because it was a source of pride to be the envy of so many District 2-3A and Class 3A rivals. That stemmed from the school’s almost constant contender status in just about every sport ever since the state grew to five classifications in 2000.
Looking upon the walls of Perez-Shelley Gymnasium, one sees the school’s athletic prowess at winning state championships — from football (three since 2000) to basketball (four) to baseball (two) to track and field (seven total for boys and girls). Of course, its Pony Express is the state’s gold standard in dance, having missed getting the state title just twice in the past 21 years.
But over the past five years, the narrative has slowly changed. Another school, just an hour away from Santa Fe, has steadily made inroads into establishing itself as the premier athletic program in the state.
This month might have seen the baton pass from St. Michael’s to Las Vegas Robertson as the team everybody wants to beat. Twice, Cardinals red and black trumped
St. Michael’s blue-and-white in a state championship setting.
After Robertson completed a perfect season in volleyball, capped by a sweep of
St. Michael’s in the 3A final, the football team claimed the high ground Saturday with a convincing 28-7 win over the Horsemen for the 3A title.
It might be the latest sign Robertson is a 3A athletic power. The two team titles gives its athletic program 11 over the past five years, which equals St. Michael’s in that span.
And with basketball season upon us now, Robertson can say it has contenders in boys and girls (especially with the arrival of Pecos standout Mistidawn Roybal), while St. Michael’s can say that about its boys team.
The Horsemen can certainly be proud of its depth among all sports, and it was the New Mexico Activities Association’s 2020-21 Director’s Cup champion in 3A — an award given to the top overall athletic and activity programs in each class. However, when it comes to the premier sports (football, basketball, baseball, softball, track and field), Robertson has had the upper hand for the most part.
And the head-to-head battles seem to go the Cardinals’ way — something that made St. Michael’s special for so long.
Consider this: The football team hasn’t beaten the Cardinals since 2018, and even then, the Horsemen dropped the game that mattered in the 3A quarterfinal matchup. The volleyball team last won in 2019, although it has played in three of the last four state finals.
In basketball, Robertson swept the boys series in the spring and won three of the last five meetings. When the Lady Horsemen beat Robertson at home in April, it was the first time that happened since 2017.
While St. Michael’s dominates soccer and spirit and recently took control in tennis, Robertson owns softball.
Baseball saw St. Michael’s win the district title by beating Robertson 2-1 in the regular-season finale, only to lose the rematch in the 3A quarterfinals the following week as Robertson reached its second straight 3A championship game.
For years, the Horsemen mystique was truly something to behold, and it made for great fodder, especially within the district. Now a new power has risen and Robertson intends to wield its magic for as long as it can.
Still, chanting “You want Robertson? You got Robertson!” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Some things you can’t change.