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Sunday, May 19th

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Fall sports wrap-up

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Talking to the coaches who led their teams to the playoffs

NEW COACH TAKES GALLUP TO THE PLAYOFFS

David Foley started his first season as Gallup High’s head football coach on a rocky note, finishing the first half of the season 1-4, but the team was able to pick up the second half, going 4-1, and that’s what helped them enter the playoffs.

Their  first playoff game  against Bloomfield ended with a score of 49-0. Foley discussed some of the reasons Bloomfield was able to outplay them.

“They had some big kids up front, we thought we’d be able to handle them better, but they were a really strong team and we didn’t move their defensive front the way we needed to [in order to] have more success in the game,” Foley said. “But we’re always trying to focus on ourselves and our own improvement as a team.”

Despite how the season ended, Foley said he was proud of what the team accomplished,  especially with the new coaching staff.  And he’s already looking onwards to next year.

“As far as next year, we need to have a great offseason. We’re going to be very young, and we don’t have the strength and size, just looking at the kids coming back, to compete against the schools in 5A right now,” Foley explained. “But if all our guys, including linemen and defensive backs, get a bit more muscle mass and get a little more conditioned and a little more speed, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

Sickness and struggling to find a gym to practice in didn’t stop the Gallup Bengals Volleyball team from having a successful season. They finished 14-11 and made the state championship. Unfortunately, they lost in the second round to  Los Alamos and Pojoaque Valley.

Gallup High School’s gym was under construction this volleyball season, so the girls had to shuffle from their home gym to four other gyms: Chief Manuelito Middle School’s gym, UNM-Gallup’s gym, Miyamura’s gym, and Rehoboth Christian’s gym.

Despite this challenge, head coach LaRena Moris said the team stepped up to the challenge.

“They played the best game they could every single game that we played,” Moris said. “I’m really proud of how far they’ve come this season with what little that we had, especially in regard to practice times and places. I think they’ve worked extremely hard and extremely well with one another to get as far as they did and making it to district as district runner up and then making it to state.”

Besides the lack of a home gym, Moris also noted that during the last two weeks of the regular season, a majority of the team came down with the flu. Moris said that really affected how the girls played those last games, especially the district championship against Aztec.

“I think if we were at 100% and everyone had been healthy, I think we would have given a good run at state,” Moris said.

Moris also said that a part of the reason the team was able to make it as far as they did was their ability to trust and push each other. She said the team is already looking forward to next year.

“They’re already so enthusiastic to come back next year,” Moris said. “They’re already talking about the things they want to do, the things they want to change.”

A TEAM EFFORT

Cross country may appear like an individual sport to the untrained eye, but Gallup’s cross country coach Kyle Benally says it’s the complete opposite.

The Gallup boys and girls teams did well this year, both making it to state and placing eighth. Benally noted that the placement is the best either program has done in a while.

“Once we got there, although we dealt with some injuries, and I’m not making no excuses, we performed at the best we could at that particular moment,” Benally said. “It may not have been what we were looking for, but overall it gives us that confidence going into next season knowing we’re a lot better than where we had been the last couple of years.”

This is Benally’s second full season as the cross country head coach, and he said he’s already looking forward to mapping out a plan of success.

“It’s my second season, and I feel like there were a lot of things I did wrong. Someone on the outside looking in might say ‘oh you guys made it to state, you guys didn’t do anything wrong,’ but I’m not satisfied with us getting to state; I want to be there and competing for the podium, because I want these athletes to experience what it feels like to win,” Benally said.

Benally explained that he tries to get the athletes to believe in themselves and that he doesn’t want them to think of cross country as an individual sport.

“If I relate it to other sports, not just one person can score 100 points and win the game by themselves in basketball,” Benally explained. “It’s the same thing with cross country. Just because you may win the individual first place title for state, how does that help your team if your team is not wanting the same thing?”

Benally’s philosophy is “team first,” and he’s already looking forward to next year.

“I want to see how hungry they get. They all got a taste of the state competition, what the state championship is like, so hopefully now the nerves and the overall fear of these big schools like Albuquerque or the northern schools, they can get that out of the way,” Benally said. “Now they know what it feels like to be in the big game so to speak, the big race, so now hopefully they’re able to put that into positive energy and use it correctly on the course.”

By Molly Ann Howell
Sun Correspondent