The cream of the crop in winter sports honored at Times ceremony
By Sunnie Clahchischiligi
Special to the Times
SHIPROCK, N.M., April 11, 2013
(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)
A pril 4 was a big day for local athletes and coaches as the Navajo Times staff honored the best of the best of the 2012-2013 winter season.
Dozens of wrestlers, basketball players who were named to the Navajo Times All-Star list, and coaches filled the Phil L. Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock, N.M. to take part in the awards ceremony.
The ceremony kicked off with a photo session.
Window Rock coach Albert Bettis and Piedra Vista coach Levi Stout were named wrestling coaches of the year.
Bettis took seven wrestlers to the Arizona Division IV state wrestling meet, which is five more than last year. The team finished in 15th place with 37 points.
Stout guided his team to a third Class 4A state wrestling title with 314.5 points just ahead of Los Lunas, who had 138 points. He had 14 wrestlers who medaled with 11 of them making the semifinals and five advancing into the championship round.
This year there were six wrestlers of the year named for each weight division – lower, middle and heavy.
In the lower weight, Page's Kemp Todacheene and Piedra Vista's Jacob Palmgren were named wrestlers of the year.
Todacheene placed third in the 132-pound category at the Arizona Division III state wrestling meet in February and helped lead his team to a 10th place finish.
Palmgren went 38-0 this season and was one of five Piedra wrestlers to compete in the state championships.
In the middleweight division Ryan Shatto from Parker, Ariz., and Adam Lucero from Aztec were named wrestlers of the year.
Shatto was the state champion at 138 pounds in the Division IV state wrestling championships.
Lucero won the 170-pound title at the New Mexico Class 4A state wrestling meet in February. He defeated Farmington's Essiel Carrasco in a 7-2 decision.
Jeremy Jesus of Window Rock and Orrin Kennedy of Bloomfield were named heavy weight wrestlers of the year.
Jesus finished second in the 182-pound bracket. He entered the tournament unseeded but eventually defeated the No. 2 seed on his way to the finals.
Jesus said being named the Navajo Times wrestler of the year was an accomplishment he never thought he'd get.
"It feels really great," Jesus said. "This is really the only biggest thing I've ever got, besides being state runner-up in Arizona."
He said he felt he had a fairly good season and felt deserving of the award especially overcoming an injury early in the season.
Jesus said he plans to attend Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay, Oregon where he plans to study pharmacy.
In basketball, Navajo Pine's Aretha Mariano and Winslow's Jerron Jordan were named girl's basketball coaches of the year.
Mariano led the team to a second New Mexico 2A state title within the last three years. The No. 3 seeded Lady Warrior defeated No. 1 seed Laguna Acoma 64-57 for the state championship title.
Jordan guided his team to the Arizona Division III girls state basketball title after defeating Valley, 45-40.
Demetria Clichee of Navajo Pine and Shandiin Armao of Winslow were named this year's players of the year for girl's basketball.
Clichee led her team with 23 points in the championship game, to a 27-4 overall record, and an undefeated district record at 14-0.
"This means a lot coming from New Mexico and having to compete to get this award with Arizona, it was really competitive it just means a lot to me," Clichee said adding that she is considering Dartmouth College after high school.
Laguna Acoma's Anthony Carpio and Window Rock's Kyler Ashley were named boys basketball players of the year.
Carpio helped lead Laguna Acoma to its first-ever boy's state basketball title. The No. 1 seeded Hawks defeated No. 3 seeded Dexter 51-39 for the title. Carpio led his team with 23 points.
"It feels good… I'm just glad that people see the talent that I put out and notice the hard work that I put into the whole summer…" Carpio said. "It feels very good, not just for the school but for the community. I try my best to make them proud and represent them to the best of my ability."
Carpio was named most valuable player during the state championship game.
Ashley led his team to the No. 1 seed in Arizona Division III state championships. The Scouts fell short 47-49 in round two of the tournament.
Ashley said he was surprised to hear his named being called for the award, especially since his team didn't get very far in the state tournament.
"It's a big honor, especially for Arizona, even though a lot of our boys didn't make it that far in state," he said. "It's pretty tough competition out there but I'm honored to be player of the year for the Navajo Times."
Ashley said he owes much credit to his coach as he's helped him develop in the player he became. So far Ashley has attended basketball tryouts for various college and has had some interest from Northern Arizona University, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Tohono O'odham Community College.
Coaches of the year for boy's basketball were Laguna Acoma's Ryan Peil and Red Mesa's Boyd Johnson.
Peil, who was unable to attend the award ceremony, led the Laguna Acoma team to the school's first boys title since the school opened 64 years ago.
Peil led the same team to a quarterfinal finish last year and is in his third year of coaching the boy's team.
Johnson has coached the Red Mesa boy's team for about four years off and on, but this year he led them to the second round of the state tournament.
His team fell short, 53-29, to Desert Christian.
"I'm still speechless," he said. "I don't expect anything big but everything goes to my team, what we did through state, how far we went was because of my team. I'd like to thank everybody for this, especially my kids my family standing behind me."
He said coming from such a small community, little is expected of a small program.
"They're going to be surprised," he said of the Red Mesa community. "A coach coming from there, especially the basketball team, I think they're going to be surprised."