Category Archives: College Sports

Fencers face off in Christmas Classic

 

Roswell septuagenarian Dave Sourk (left) crosses sabers with Lukas, the pre-teen son of NMMI professor Aonan Tang, at the 2018 Christmas Classic Fencing Tournament.

 

Women’s Open Epée champion, Mary Olvera.

NMMI Sports Press

New Mexico Military Institute cadets enrolled in PHEA 1351 took up arms against former cadets and members of the local community, competing in this year’s Christmas Classic Fencing Tournament on Dec. 6, held on the NMMI campus in the Godfrey Athletic Center gym.

Participants donned their distinctive mesh helms and white fencing jackets, then wielded their weapon, vying for a chance to be the tourney’s top sword-slinger.

For this tournament, that blade was an epée, a heavier French version of the foil, designed for unarmored dueling with thrusting or piercing attacks.

“There are three types of weapons used in fencing: the saber, the foil, and the epée,” explained veteran NMMI coach Jan Olesinski. “This competition uses the epée – it is what we teach here in the class, and this tournament serves as the final exam.”

Open Epée champion, cadet Caleb Allen.

Coach ‘O’, as his students affectionately call him, has trained several Olympic athletes, including most recently, Team USA’s Nathan Schrimsher, who placed tenth in the fencing portion of the pentathlon at the 2016 Olympic Games.

“We had 25 competitors this year,” said Olesinski. “It was a diverse group: male, female, young, old. Some are students in this year’s class, a professor and his son here at NMMI, former cadets, members of the Roswell community. All-in-all, a good turnout.”

Competition began with pool play, a fun and raucous affair. Girls joined the fray against boys; kids jousted opponents who towered above them or sported ages surpassing that of their grandfather.

And once the seeds were decided, brackets were drawn up to determine the champions.

NMMI’s Caleb Allen stabbed his way to top honors in the open division, while the swordplay of Roswell’s Mary Olvera took the top spot in the female division.

Complete Results:

Open Epée
Place     Name                                    Team
1              Caleb Allen                          NMMI
2              Christopher Najar             NMMI
3              Even Staeden                     Roswell
4              Jeremy Pinion                   NMMI
5              Dr. Aonan Tang                 Roswell
6              Dylan Begay                       NMMI
7              Owen Gregory                   Roswell
8              Dave Sourk                        Roswell
9              Apodaca Ortega                NMMI
10           Collin Protzeller                 NMMI
11           Jonah Pinon                        Roswell
12           Lukas Tang                         Roswell
13           Joshua Leible                      NMMI

Women’s Epée
Place     Name                                    Team
1              Mary Olvera                       Roswell
2              Tessa Walker                     NMMI
3              Lauren Leonard                NMMI
4              Allison Langowski            NMMI
5              Kayla Sisneros                   NMMI
6              Erin Brindle                       NMMI

Bronco volleyball ready to reload after third-straight trip to nationals

Team huddle by the Bronco volleyball team prior to their first match against Tyler Junior College at the 2018 NJCAA D1 National Championships in Hutchinson, KS.


NMMI Sports Press

This season, the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco volleyball team earned their third consecutive trip – and fifth in six seasons – to the NJCAA National Championships.

The Broncos compiled a 29-9 overall record on the season, and earned an automatic bid to the 2018 national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas by not only winning the Region V West tournament, where they defeated Midland College in the championship in five sets, but also had to win a super-regional match against 20th-ranked Arizona Western College, which they did soundly, in three straight sets, at home.

At nationals, however, the 10th-ranked Broncos faltered, losing their opening round match against No. 7 Tyler Junior College in four sets, then dropped their initial match in the consolation bracket against No. 15 Laramie County Community College in five sets.

“Honestly, we struggled as a whole. In that [first] match, we just didn’t have anybody on our team who stepped up to the plate like they had been doing during the month of October,” said head coach Shelby Forchtner. “As a coach, it was pretty frustrating to be on the sidelines watching that happen, because that wasn’t just one or two people. That was a team effort. Statistically, when you go and look at it, we got owned.”

“We bounced back a little bit against Laramie County, and I think we had a better start to our match, but then we really struggled in that match, too,” the coach said. “We never even should have let it get to a fifth set, and yet, there we were.”

But still, everyone agrees, there is a lot to be proud of this season.

“Those games were not characteristic of what we had been doing in October and in the regional tournament,” said coach Forchtner. “It’s a sad way to end your season when you had been playing so well late. But again, we’re one of the top 16 teams in the nation, so you kind of have to look at it from that vantage point, too. That this is not what we wanted to have happen, but we’re still one of the better teams.”

“In our coaches’ eyes and in our players’ eyes, that’s not necessarily what they’re shooting for,” said NMMI athletic director Jose Barron. “They’re shooting for that top spot, and I have no doubt that if we continue on the trajectory we’re on, one day we will get that top spot. We’re going to play at the right tempo at the right time and go for all the marbles, as they say. Going from third last year to 10th this year is not what the expectations of our team is, but it’s still a super tremendous feat for any team at NMMI, let alone anywhere, to be one of the best teams in the nation.”

But that’s the past, and despite the loss of eight sophomores to graduation, Forchtner is expecting the team to be right back in the thick of things next season.

“We really like our freshman crop. We love them,” Forchtner exclaimed. “This is by far one of the most athletic group of kids as a whole that we have ever brought in. And just watching Day 1 of the offseason shows it.

“You’ve got the two West Point kids (Ha’ahulakaleikaimana “Hula” Crisostomo and Peyton Schendt) in there who work hard. They work hard in the gym; they do everything you ask them to do out here. But on top of that are two phenomenal athletes: Gabriela (Langi), from Utah, and Nyanuer (Bidit), from Alaska. Both of them just need a little bit of tweaking in terms of technique. Then there’s Yumeno (Nawa), very technical but needs the strength and endurance because she’s never done that type of stuff before. Barbara (Celar), also very sound in technique, but needs the strength and endurance and needs to be pushed mentally and physically because she’s never had that before. Violeta (Mendoza Quintana), from Mexico, could very easily have started for us this year if she could just have gotten over that mental hump because she’s a very athletic volleyball player.”

The big question is whether Crisostomo and Schendt will be accepted to the Academy, and they’ll have to wait until spring to find out whether they’ll get that opportunity. Meanwhile, they’ll continue the off-season training, along with two more freshmen who round out the talented class: opposite-side hitter Coralys Maldonado and middle Katelynn Gutz, both of whom had extensive playing time this season.

“We could step out and play with these kids right now,” Forchtner said. “We just need to keep this class together, keep them healthy during the spring semester workouts, keep them growing, and keep them happy at a military school. And even if we had to replace Hula and Peyton, which are two huge pieces to replace, we still have a lot of phenomenal athletes there.”

And because injuries are always a possibility, and because you get two years to develop talent at the junior college level, Forchtner already has been recruiting, trying to bring in a new crop of freshmen who will fill in the gaps.

“Our major, major recruiting focus right now is a middle. And possibly two,” said Forchtner. “But we’ve already signed a new setter to replace (sophomore) Brigitte (Needham) in the spring. It will be nice to work with her for an extra semester. Plus, we’re already tracking two really good middles – one whose father has been in the military so that’s kind of a good thing for us too – and we’ve had a really, really, really good setter and another great walk-on come on campus, along with another really great kid from Utah coming to us check out. So already some really good things happening along the recruiting front.”

But that recruiting is just a part of what makes the NMMI team so successful. Barron said.

“We have a coach who puts our team through a tough regimen: pre-season; in season; and the post season. We have what I would call a premier program, and our coach does a fantastic job of keeping those girls engaged throughout the year, getting ready for the next year and reloading with the right players.”

“If we can keep this freshman class together and we just do a solid job of recruiting, we have a chance to be just as good (as 2018), just because this class played,” Forchtner said. “As freshmen, they were all out there. Peyton was out there. Violeta played at times. Langi was out there. Nyanuer played at times. Katelynn started in the middle. Barbara set almost every game for us. Hula started every game in the libero. Yumeno played every game defensively. These kids had a ridiculous amount of experience their freshman season. So if they just grow in the offseason, we will be really good next year. And we’ve got some really good natural leaders in this class, which is really, really helpful.”

Especially if they hope to keep the amazing string they’ve accumulated over the past two years going.

“We have not lost a conference game in two years in the WJCAC,” stated Barron. “That’s an amazing feat. Undefeated not once, but twice, in consecutive years of conference play.”

“This was a great year, even following up last season’s third place finish,” Forchtner said. “That’s the highest national ranking the school has ever received, so that’s obviously what everyone is going to compare our future seasons against, and what we’ll strive to beat. But this season was very similar. We were 10-0 again in conference, all year long we were nationally ranked and very competitive, and this year we not only won the Region V West tournament, but also a really good Arizona Western team to go to nationals. If we would have played like that at the national tournament, we would have been right back sitting in the 1-2-3 spot, very easily.”

Broncos win big against Strength N Motion

Keith Deloatch drives into the paint then stop to shoot the short-range jumper. He finished with 10 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds in NMMI’s Dec. 4th home contest against Strength N Motion International. Photo courtesy Rene Aguilar.


NMMI Sports Press

The New Mexico Military Institute Bronco basketball team picked up their first home win of the season, downing Strength N Motion International, 93-74.

The Institute never trailed in the contest, but it was a back-and-forth game early, until NMMI went on a five-point run midway through the first half. With less than eleven minutes left in the first period, Keith Deloatch hit a an NBA-range three, then assisted Jermaine Carter on an inside pass for an easy two, to put the Broncos up 27-20 – their first of seven seven-point leads in the half.

Deloatch also had a steal and a buzzer-beating three to put NMMI up by ten, 43-33, to end the period.

A fired up Bronco squad extended that lead to 20 in the first three minutes of the second half, then protected that lead, despite lots of playing time for members of the NMMI bench, for the rest of the game.

Five Bronco players poured in double-figures in points, led by freshman guard Isaiah Francis with 21. Francis only had one three-pointer and one free throw in the first half of play, but came alive in the second half while playing primarily in the shooting guard position.

“Kaleb Hicks’ 16 rebounds and 14 points really stands out, “ said head Bronco coach Sean Schooley. “That’s going to work” “And Keith Deloatch really ran the show from the point guard slot tonight, which let Isaiah play the 2-spot a bit more and showcase his offensive skills.”

Deloatch came close to a triple-double, with 10 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds; 6’7 guard Jermaine Carter had 17 points and eight rebounds; and 6’8 wingman GWarren Douglas contributed 14 points and six boards to round out the rest of the top five.

“I was just proud of the effort,” said Schooley about his club. “We finally got to get loose a little bit and show their athleticism. It was just a much better game all the way around. Strength N Motion is a good team. They play a lot of games and a lot of other junior colleges. But we had 50-plus rebounds as a team tonight, along with shooting above 45 percent. That was the difference. It was the first time this season that we’ve hit both of those team goals. We could have used a few of those shots the other night against NMJC, but it was good for our guys to just relax and play. They really needed this win and I’m very proud of them.”

“We still had too many turnovers,” continued Schooley. “But it’s not nearly as glaring when you rebound and shoot the ball that well. That’s something we’ll just have to continue to work on.”

The Broncos won’t have any time off just yet, however, as the team that has played 11 of their 13 games this season on the road, will resume their road-warrior ways tomorrow night with a contest in Plainview, TX versus Wayland Baptist University JV.

“That’s another game that we just need to take care of business,” said Schooley. “Then get back home and get these guys on a Christmas break.”

Bronco football players ‘Pay It Forward’

Members of the Bronco football team help out by leading several of the games and contests at Valley View Elementary School’s annual Fall Festival.


NMMI Sports Press

The Bronco football team has four parts to its mission statement: To use every available resource to help the students succeed and excel academically; to become a better man; to win a championship; and to earn a scholarship to a four-year school.

No. 1 is a daily part of life here at NMMI, which was ranked by CNN Money as the second best junior college in the country, based on a 89% success rating for enrolled college students.

No. 3 is always being worked towards, with three bowl game appearances in the last 9 years; the most recent a 32-16 victory over Arizona Western College in the 2013 El Toro Bowl.

No. 4 is accomplished by a large percentage of Institute athletes each season, with over 100 talented Bronco football stars signing in past four years, including standout Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.

And the second part of that mission statement has been just as much a priority for sixth-year head Bronco football coach Joe Forchtner.

“That part of becoming a better man, I think a lot of that is being able to go and serve other people, especially those who are less fortunate than us,” Forchtner said. “Sometimes I don’t think people in general, especially young people, understand how good they’ve got it. It’s always kind of a, ‘Oh, woe is me. I’ve got to be at a military school and do this.’ You don’t have it bad. You have it great. I think it’s definitely good for us to go out and do some work to help out the people and programs in our community.”

So as part of that, coach Forchtner has made time – always a critical and scarce resource at the Old Post – for several community service projects.

About five or six years ago, the Broncos began going to elementary and middle schools around Roswell to help with the fall festivals. Wearing their jerseys, they go into the classrooms to meet the students and help with cake walks, and other fun – and often silly – games. “It’s great for the kids. It’s great for our guys, too, to actually go out and serve others,” said Forchtner.

And in the schools — which this year included Valley View Elementary and Berrendo Middle School — Forchtner said, the football players are thought of as heroes.

“They’re bigger than any human these kids have ever seen,” he laughed. “They’re wearing a college football jersey and those kids look up to them. So it’s cool for our guys to be in that role where they know somebody is looking up to them and they have to act accordingly. They should be acting like that all the time, but it’s never more at the forefront of their minds than when they’re around a bunch of little kids.”

This fall, Forchtner added a second community project to the mix.

With the reopening of a men’s homeless shelter in Roswell, the coach has several different groups of players helping out wherever and whenever needed at the shelter.

“Having a social responsibility, to me that’s just so huge,” he said. “I think that’s something that often gets lost in our society. It’s always, me, me, me, me, me, but everybody’s got a social responsibility to the people around them. If we start working for each other, then all of a sudden, just bit by bit, the world gets better. Not to get too preachy or anything like that, but it’s part of our job, I think.”

Coach Forchtner is hoping that teaching such a ‘Pay It Forward’ type attitude will instill life-long values and provide lasting benefits to community, his players, and the Bronco football program.

Seven sophs sign before season start

Bronco baseball signees. Left to right: Cedric Reynaud, Eric Estrada, Miguel Soto, Adrian Arpero, Gerry Lerma, Gabriel Perez Torres, and Rafael Perez Guzman.


NMMI Sports Press

The season opener is still almost two months away, but seven Bronco baseball players have already signed to move up to four-year colleges.

“I think we’re up to 20 sophomores (on the team) and these seven guys have had opportunities to present themselves,” said coach Chris Cook. “They felt really good about their offers and have decided to make their commitments.”

Those seven (in order of signing) include Adrian Arpero, Rafael Perez Guzman, Gerry Lerma, Gabriel Perez Torres, Eric Estrada, Miguel Soto and Cedric Renaud. They’ve signed with D-I and D-II schools all across the country, and several will be joining former teammates.

El Paso’s Arpero is headed to Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., a D-I school in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

“They (the Tiger Coaches) saw him throw in the All-Star game this fall,” Cook said of the pitcher from El Paso.

“It was a good choice. The school is pretty good and the offer was good,” Arpero said.

Rafael Perez Guzman, a Venezuelan native, picked D-I Bethune Christian University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“He did a heck of a job recruiting himself,” Cook said. “I think he got that process started with an email.”

Perez said he picked the Wildcats because it’s close to where his family is now living in Florida.

“I’m looking forward to seeing my mom in the stands,” the pitcher said.

Both Lerma, from Sahuarita, Ariz., and Roswell High’s Perez picked D-II powerhouse Lubbock Christian University.

“We haven’t had anybody sign there since I’ve been here,” Cook said. “I think it was a combination of seeing them play in Albuquerque and Tucson, and talking to (NMMI) coach (Jermaine) Van Buren and his connection with coaches on that staff. So that’s a heck of an opportunity for those two guys.”

“It gave me good options in baseball and it’s a great DII school,” said Perez, a shortstop who added that he’ll play any position he’s needed.

“I chose Lubbock Christian because it’s just a great program overall,” Lerma, a right-handed pitcher, agreed.

Estrada and Soto, both from El Paso and both former Montwood High players, will be joining former Bronco Kirby Pimental at DII Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

“They both just kind of felt it was a perfect fit,” Cook said, and the pair agreed.

“I thought it was the best program to let me follow my dreams,” pitcher Estrada said.

“It was the best choice for me and my family,” second-baseman Soto said.

The most recent signee is Cedric Reynaud, who’ll be heading north to Alamosa, Colo., where he’ll join former Dexter and NMMI pitcher Dominic Lomeli at D-II Adams State University.

“He’s fired up about that,” Cook said. “I know they need a catcher and he should walk in and get a chance to earn a lot of playing time.”

“It’s very exciting,” the Centennial High, Las Cruces, grad said of playing with his former teammate. “I’m looking forward to it. He’s looking forward to it. He’s been telling me a little bit about the program and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

And while the future is already looking good for the septet, there’s still another NMMI season to go, and everyone agrees it should be a good season.

“I really like our team,” Soto, who will study criminal justice, said. “We have a lot of good guys who take it very seriously and are going to grind every day. We’re going to be really good this year.”

“This season is going to fly by but we’ve got to enjoy every second of it,” Reynaud, who’s got both liberal arts and criminal justice on the radar, said. “I love these guys to death but we’ve got to get to work. Every single game we’ve got to be locked in – our main goal is to make the regionals and beyond.”

“I’m very excited, Gabe Perez, another criminal justice major, said. “I’m sure we’re going to get a lot of wins this year. We’ve got a lot of potential.”

“I think we’re strong,” Rafael Perez, who’ll study business while keeping an eye on the MLB draft, said. “We’re like a family this year. We have a really good pitching staff and we’re working on our hitting.”

And with another 14 or so sophomores still unsigned, Cook expects a lot more good news between now and the end of the season.

“We obviously still have more sophomores who are going to be finding opportunities between now and the summer, and we’re looking forward to getting them placed,” he said. “We’re excited about this group of guys. They all work hard. They’re all good kids and they’re all really pumped up about the opportunities they’ve got next year at their new places.”