by Tad Barton
With last week’s graduation ceremonies, the 2016-17 school year at San Juan High is officially over. Seniors will move on to bigger and better things, college, jobs, traveling, or a number of other possibilities.
Wherever life may take them they can always look back on the experiences that helped shape and mold them as they prepared for the new chapter of life they are about to embark on. Here is a look back on what they helped to accomplish this past school year in athletics.
Football had another standout year, going 9-2 in what would be Coach Monty Lee’s final year at the helm. The boys of fall also laid claim to the Broncos 18th Region Championship and made the playoffs for the 40th consecutive year (1977-2016, most consecutive playoff berths in the state.)
San Juan’s biggest win of the season came in week five, their 2A South Region opener against the eventual state champs, Beaver Beavers. The game turned into an overtime thriller from which the Broncos emerged victorious, 13-10 in one of the toughest places to play in 2A.
For their efforts on the field, five Broncos were named First Team All-State: Jordan Blake, Kavika Su’eSu’e, Jaxon Lee, Connor Palmer and Lucas Giddings.
Joining those young men on the Second Team are Zach Brown and Peter Shumway, while Baylr Eldredge and Jay McDonald were Honorable Mention.
San Juan was also represented on the 2A Academic All-State team by Carver Black, for excelling in both the classroom and on the field.
The San Juan volleyball team was dominant once again, sweeping Region 15 (9-0) on their way to a 17-8 record and a 5th place finish at the State Tournament.
Notable wins for the Lady Broncos are victories over Hillcrest (4A), Pine View (3A) and Hunter (5A), all much larger schools than San Juan. This past season saw Coach Cassie Moon coach her last match for the Broncos. Moon led San Juan for 18 years and won eight State Championships, including five consecutive titles from 2003-2007.
The futures looms bright for the Broncos as they return all but two of their All-State honorees next season: Bodell Nielson (So.) – 2nd Team All-State, Tassi Su’eSu’e (Fr.) – Honorable Mention, Keya Black (Jr.) – Honorable Mention, KaeNani Benally (Sr.) - Honorable Mention and Jordyn Moon (Fr.) - Honorable Mention.
The boys and girls Cross Country teams represented San Juan well throughout their season. The Lady Broncos ended their season by taking fifth at State behind strong performances from Rachel Barton (Fr.), Alexis James (Sr.), Nizhoni Warren (Jr.), Jessica Walker (Jr.), Celeste Hillhouse (So.), Jalynn Swenson (Fr.) and Riana James (Fr.)
Three runners from the boys’ team – Thomas Hook (Sr.), Garrett Chamberlain (Sr.) and Kade Francom (Fr.) – qualified for State as well. The boys’ were also represented on the 2A Academic All-State team by senior Jared Ward.
The girls tennis team sent three individuals to the 2A Girls Tennis Championships last fall. In First Singles, Jade Warren (So.) placed second at Region, in Second Singles Halli Black (So.) qualified for State by placing fourth at region. The third player who qualified for State was Sophie Black (Jr.) who also placed fourth at Region.
The boys golf team showed marked improvement, qualifying six golfers for State and placing seventh in 2A. The Broncos were led by sophomore Kyler Johnson, who finished the two day tournament tied for sixth place after shooting a two-round total of 154. Johnson’s teammates who qualified for State are Tanner Johnson, Trez Perkins, Ridge Holt, Ethan Wilcox and Keane Benally.
A youth movement took over the Bronco girls basketball team this season and the youngsters proved they could play. For most of the year, three freshmen started for San Juan but you would never guess it from watching them.
The top scorers and rebounders are all underclassmen, Delaney Palmer (7.9 ppg), Bodell Nielson (7.6 ppg) and Maddison Palmer (6.6 ppg).
While these three young ladies led the scoring attack for San Juan another freshman, Jordyn Moon was the team leader in assists (3 apg) and steals (2.5 spg).
The upperclassmen did their part as well, providing leadership and support to their younger teammates. Seniors Alexis James, Megan Grover and Krystelle Noyes along with juniors Nizhoni Begaye and Ryann Shumway all played vital roles in the success this season.
San Juan’s biggest win came on the biggest stage any of the Broncos had played on up to that point when they defeated a very heavily favored Wasatch Academy team in the opening round of the 2A State Tournament.
Trailing by two in the final seconds of the game, Nielson drilled a three point shot over defenders to steal the win from the Tigers, 58-57.
The boys’ basketball team finished tied for second in Region 15, but injuries late in the season spelled disaster for the Broncos’ post season.
After beating Emery on Senior Night, 77-69, the Spartans only loss in Region 15, San Juan hit a run of bad luck when Zach Brown and Jaden Torgerson went down with injuries prior to the opening round of the 2A State Tournament.
The loss of nearly 25 ponits per game along with their two leading rebounders (Brown 7.2 rpg. and Torgerson 5.6 rpg) proved to be too much to overcome for San Juan as they lost to the eventual 2A State Champions, the Layton Christian Eagles in the first round of the tournament.
Jordan Blake and Brown were named to the 2A All-State team, Blake to the 2nd team and Brown was an Honorable Mention.
Wrestling saw its fair share of highs and lows and ended with four Bronco grapplers qualifying for the State Tournament.
Grange Simpson led San Juan with a third place finish at 160 lbs. Coleman Black (182 lbs.), DJ Howell (170 lbs.), and Druman Gomez (225 lbs.), were the other Broncos who wrestled at State.
The girls golf team might not have placed as well as they had hoped at the State Golf Championship, but the future looks bright for the team.
Four of the five girls’ who qualified for the 2A Golf Championships are just freshmen at San Juan High. Whitnie Ivins shot a two round total of 132, Brittany Grover and Hope Holliday both shot a 141 and Jalynn Swenson led the way with a two round total of 129.
In spite of having just one senior on the roster, the San Juan softball team competed all season long. At times their inexperience was obvious, while at other times they played with the poise of a veteran ball club.
One thing is certain, these girls had a never say die attitude and fought to win every game regardless of the score. An example of that demonstrated their winning attitude came in mid-April in a Region game against the Emery Spartans.
Down 10-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning these young ladies never gave up. Instead they buckled down eventually tying the game when Nizhoni Lacy blasted a two run shot over the fence in left-center field.
Unfortunately for the Broncos the win still eluded them as they fell to the Spartans 16-10 after eight innings of play.
San Juan’s baseball team found their way back to the 2A State Tournament after missing the post season a year ago and along the way they played some great ball.
The Broncos relied on a combination of savvy veteran leadership from a strong senior class and the inspired play of their younger players both at the plate and in the field to give their opponents fits throughout the season.
The Broncos played with resiliency bouncing back after tough losses with big wins, one example of this came in the State Tournament. After losing to Providence Hall in the opening round, 7-0, San Juan answered by routing Delta in the second round, 21-6.
The only post season awards that have been finalized for the 2016-17 baseball season is the Academic All-State team for Carver Black. Fellow senior Jaxon Lee represented the Broncos on the 2A All-Star team.
The Boys’ Tennis team was well represented at the 2A Boys Tennis Championships. The Broncos had qualifiers in all five divisions. William Heck took second in Region in First Singles to qualify for State.
Spencer Mitchell was the top seed from the 2A South Region and made it to the semi-finals before being eliminated. Representing San Juan in third singles is Grange Simpson who placed fourth at Region.
The First Doubles team of Monson Brown and Jared Webb made it to State by taking fourth at the region tournament. Last but not least the Second Doubles team of Peter Shumway and Dylan Ivins qualified for State by placing second at Region.
The Boys’ Track and Field team recently wrapped up their season at the Utah Track and Field Championships.
San Juan was led by two third place finishes by Peter Shumway in the Shot Put and Discus.
The Bronco 4x100 Relay team of Nathan Nielson, Ethan Vess, Garrett Chamberlain and Jaxon Torgerson took second place. San Juan ended the two day competition in twelfth place.
The Girls’ team also had a strong season winning the Blue Mountain Invitational and placing third at the San Juan County Championship meet.
The Lady Broncos were led by strong performances from Katie Giddings, Rachel Barton, Delaney Palmer, Jessica Walker, Nizhoni Warren, Alexis James and Jordyn Moon.
That wraps up another year of San Juan Bronco athletics. We bid farewell to the seniors who are moving on and to all the others, have a great summer and we’ll see you in August.