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 Taos News - - SPORTS - By Arce­nio J. Tru­jillo sports@taos­ The Taos News

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.

Wild­cat Foot­ball

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.

Wild­cat Soc­cer

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.

Arce­nio J. Tru­jillo

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.

Arce­nio J. Tru­jillo

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.

Arce­nio J. Tru­jillo

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.

Arce­nio J. Tru­jillo

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.

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