Two athletes extended their dominance during their respective state tournaments over the past weekend.
Capital (Santa Fe)
junior wrestler Jose Tapia
notched his fourth-consecutive state title and ran his winning streak to 122 matches, while Albuquerque Academy
senior Anthony Kim
again broke his own state swimming records in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly.
Tapia, at 126 pounds, pinned all four opponents in the first period in a shocking display of power. His four wins took a total of just four minutes, 18 seconds.
"Four in a row feels good," Tapia told MaxPreps. "I can't believe I came that far, really."
His only prep losses in-state were by forfeit as an eighth-grader and he has pinned every opponent during his sophomore and junior years. He projected that he probably will compete at 132 pounds next year when he hopes to tie the coveted record of five state championships.
Capital coach Marcos Gallegos noted, "He went out there and took care of business. He goes out there with a mission. We kind of knew there was nobody in the state in Class 5A who could touch him. He just ran through the bracket."
NMUSA coach Eddie Gallegos called Tapia's efforts "completely unstoppable and he did it with a tenacious attitude. But if you talked to either Tapia (his freshman brother, Javier, won at 132 pounds) off the mat, you would have heard the exact opposite. In speaking briefly after their semifinal matches, they were just glad that they both made it to the finals, very quiet and humble in their demeanor."
Kim broke the butterfly record for the third year in a row, this time in 48.55 seconds. He won the backstroke in 50.10 seconds, but broke the record with a time of 48.87 seconds in the preliminaries. He also had a 21.6 split while swimming the butterfly leg on the school-record 200-yard medley relay. He concluded his brilliant career with 13 individual or relay state titles.
The academy superstar noted, "I was pretty pleased with the 100 back, but in the 100 fly I did want to go under 48. I won (both races) by a pretty good margin, ranging from one second and up."
The academy boys team also won its record 23rd state championship - 20th under legendary coach Dave Barney, who called it "a grind-it-out type of meet."
Barney said there is "little doubt" that Kim is the greatest swimmer in academy history, "as much as he owns nine of 12 school records. We never had a swimmer who dominated the records like he has. He's been really, really good at crunch time. That's heady stuff, because we've had a lot of great swimmers over time."
In reply to his coach's comments, Kim said humbly, "I've been pleased to swim for Dave. I'm really glad that I experienced it."
Kim now is qualified in the 100 and 200 back and the 100 fly for the June Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska.
He conceded, "It's more for experience, but, hopefully, after college training in 2020 I'll have a shot at the Olympics."
Kim chose Texas A&M over the likes of Arizona, Arizona State, Southern California and Harvard.
An untimely injury probably cost St. Pius X (Albuquerque, N.M.)
senior diver Natasha Dark
a record third-consecutive state championship. She finished second with 419.6 points to the academy's Miranda Martinez
(428.35). Last year she set a record with a whopping 540.75 points. Her high this year had been 491 while winning the Academy Invitational.
Still the only two-time state champion diver, Dark said that several weeks before the state meet she sprained her ankle while working out on a trampoline.
She explained, "I was doing some tricks and landed wrong. My ankle just folded over when I landed. I heard a loud pop and just fell to the ground. Physically, my ankle was feeling OK (the day of the finals), but I still was probably only 70 percent.
"Honestly, I'm really disappointed. I thought that I was going to come out with the state title. Sometimes things get in the way - like an injury - and that's life. But I'm still very grateful (for all the things she did accomplish during her outstanding career)."