Seniors contribute in a variety of ways
Hunter Blaylock is a tough, old-school ballplayer. Baseball was the only played baseball in high school, and he excelled in all facets of it.
Blaylock’s career included many trips to tournaments with Albuquerque Baseball Academy teams. He’s hoping he can go on to as stellar a career with the University of New Mexico’s Division I program as he did at Belen High for four years.
In his senior season at BHS, Blaylock took on a different role than what he’d known before. The graduating classes ahead of him had talent and leadership, but Blaylock ended up being one of only four seniors on the 2011-12 squad, and he had to do more leading by example and being patient with his young teammates than most typical seniors.
Blaylock handled his role humbly, mainly by playing as hard as he could and trying to help his team win. He didn’t seem to complain, and didn’t sulk or throw fits — not that those are in his nature. He handled a frustrating season admirably.
The UNM Presidential Scholarship qualifier has devoted much of his life to a sport he loves, and he needed to call upon many of his attributes to help the Eagles this season. However, it takes many kinds of seniors to lead a team, and there are so many types of seniors that can help a team.
The Class of 2013 and all who will graduate in the years ahead could learn a lot from Blaylock. His dedication to his club and high school teams is fantastic, and there are many ways to emulate his work ethic, no matter how many years a sport has been played.
One of Blaylock’s teammates, Joe Castillo, is a perfect example of another type of helpful senior. Castillo battled through an injury in the middle of district, and though his baseball future does not appear to be headed the same direction as Blaylock’s, he still left it all on the field in every game.
Other seniors take risks to help sports in which they had not participated much at the varsity level prior to being seniors. Los Lunas High senior Mario Garcia put his basketball ankles on the line went he went out for the Tiger boys soccer team as a senior.
Other Class of 2012 seniors fought hard just to get back on the playing field.
Valencia’s Kaylee Newey battled back from a torn knee ligament just so she could be the VHS volleyball team’s setter and a top track and field sprinter. She ended up with a medal in track as a member of the state-champion medley relay team.
Belen’s Natalia Sedillo gutted out a finish in the District 6-4A cross country meet despite having been slowed by a leg injury all season. Another Lady Eagle, Justine Stambaugh, worked her way back from an early season knee injury in soccer, and went on to play basketball as well.
No one knows exactly when seniors will be called upon for their sense of calm and experience with pressure situations. For Gabriel Almager of Los Lunas, football was his main sport, but as a wrestler, he got a huge pin to give the Tigers a comeback win over Belen, and in track in field, her made in to the state championships in the shot put.
Troy Littlefield and other Belen High track seniors helped get relay teams and other entries to the state meet. In her final year as a Valencia High softball player, MariSol Martinez brought leadership to a very young team.
Jadee Lewis didn’t play volleyball her junior year, but she came out for her senior season at Los Lunas, and wound up being a major contributor. Another volleyball player, Belen’s Jessica Hoehne, was sort of in the same situation as Blaylock in terms of being on a young team, yet she persevered.
There are many more examples from 2011-12 and every school year, and I’m sure the next few years will feature exciting, and at times, unexpected performances from seniors. It’s important to remember that senior pranks aren’t going to be what leaves a graduated class’s mark — it’s the effort level and persistence the class shows in its most visible settings.