Questa Wildcats ready to embark on new fall sports season
Three of the five coaches at the helm of their respective teams new this year
The start of games and matches are coming. After weeks of organized practices and workouts – in some cases, weightlifting sessions held throughout the summer – the 2018 fall season is finally upon us. In conjunction with the start of the academic school year, Questa student-athlete boys and girls have been making their way to their respective practice areas and getting down to business.
And again, there are a few changes in the athletic department to start the 2018-19 sports season. Since the beginning of the 2016-17 fall season, there have been eight athletic department heads and 10 coaches have come and gone. The high turnover has caused some instability – primarily on the football field – and the result has been a decline in student-athlete participation. This, in turn, has led to forfeits and game cancellations. This year, two of the three fall sports in Questa will see a new head coach on their sidelines.
While a partial schedule of six games was cobbled together after the departure of Jesus Maes in June of 2016, only five games actually took place. Last year, with a very young, small and diminished lineup, only five of eight total games were played. Injuries and a dwindling roster hampered the plans of firstyear coach Chris Torres, and the Wildcats would finish the season at 0-8. Torres was replaced this year with first-year coach Daniel Gallegos.
An advantage for the Wildcats is a schedule that includes teams currently dealing with many of the same issues. This could mean close games – or perhaps even wins – against teams like Dulce, Mission Achievement and Success and Newcomb. Also, not having a season-opening game until the first week in September gives Gallegos a chance to recruit more interested players and work on their conditioning. Look for returning players to try to create a spark for their team early on, but realistic goals and patience is the biggest need for this program as they rebuild. First game is at home against Raton Sept. 8 at 11:30 a.m.
Lady Cat Volleyball
The Lady Cats will have to find an answer for the loss of four starters from last year’s roster to graduation. AnnaMarie Sanchez, Arianna Spears, Larissa Passino and Marisa Vialpando represented the core of the team and were solid front line attackers and blockers, and sound back defenders. Both Spears and Passino were selected to play in the North-South All-Star game
in Albuquerque in June.
Though the Lady Cats have lost height, power hitters and have a new coach, they may just emerge as the team to beat in the midst of a re-build year for the entire district. Under the direction of first-year coach Diane Leon, Questa returns several veterans to the roster. The team opens with a pair of home games against the Cimarron Lady Rams and the Des Moines Lady Demons Aug. 30 and 31 respectively.
On paper, it might be safe to assume that the Wildcats would be facing another rebuilding season. With the roster showing the majority of its players as underclassmen, opposing teams probably equate the listing as one of inexperience. That would be a bad assumption.
Coach Bill MacDonald, in the midst of his eighth year as head coach has high expectations for his squad despite their youth. “We are strong in many areas,” said MacDonald who pointed out that several of his current roster have played significant amounts the last couple of years.
Another point of emphasis is the athleticism and leadership of both Dominic Torres and Miguel Romero who have made huge strides to prepare for the coming season. Due to the needs of other sports, a few soccer players also play football and volleyball, so the hope is that the extra work derived from each of the sports will help compliment the other. A new district will help with parity and win percentages for MacDonald and company. Soccer has the distinction of kicking off the entire fall season with a home game against the Waldorf (Santa Fe) Wolves Aug. 30 at 4 p.m.
Questa senior Derek Vialpando (with ball) runs one of the options out of the “wildcat” formation during a workout at Questa High School Aug. 20. The football team, under the tutelage of first-year coach Daniel Gallegos is slowly building up their ranks as they prepare to start the 2018 season. Vialpando has been a part of the varsity football team since his freshman year and looks ready to lead the Wildcats forward after a rough, two-year patch.
With varsity experience garnered last season, Questa junior Kiana Passino (at right) will be called upon to take up the slack in the “setter” position voided with the departure of her older sister, Larissa, who graduated in May. The Lady Cats are entering the 2018 season with a new head coach and hoping to seize upon the opportunities opened due to a weakened District 5-2A.
At the start of soccer practice, senior striker, Dominic Torres (left) and defensive back, Miguel Romero (center, foreground) lead a combo skill and conditioning drill on the artificial turf at Questa High School Aug. 20. The pair of upperclassmen will each be responsible for their respective sides of the field as the Wildcats take on a new batch of district teams in 2018.
Outside, and on the multi-purpose field for the first half of her dual practices, Questa junior Christina Cisneros runs through a bevy of warm-up drills with the soccer team Aug. 20. Cisneros is a multisport athlete and spends the second half of her afternoon workout routine inside the gym with the volleyball team.