(Editor’s Note: When the Virgin Valley High School Graduating Class of 2012 looks back on its senior year in high school, many of the memories will be attached to Bulldog sports, not just for the athletes who participated, the cheerleaders and the band, but for the students in the stands who cheered for the home team throughout the year. MLN sports reporter Lou Martin was there and has provided this reminder of the good times, and not-so good times.)
School year 2011-2012 began with the normal expectations for sports greatness or failure. It ended with a little bit of both. The year actually began prior to classes going into session as football coach Kirk Hafen started pre-season conditioning exercises at the ‘Dawg Pound. About 30 prospects began initial workouts before attrition through grades and injuries cut down on the number of players suiting up at the end of the season.
The Bulldogs started strong winning their first three games against 4A competition. The Bulldogs went 2-5 the rest of the year losing in the playoffs to archrival Moapa Valley High School 13-12.
“I went into the year believing we could win them all, “ said coach Hafen. “We began to wear down against the bigger and stronger teams. Ineligible players and injuries hurt down the stretch. We just didn’t have enough players.”
Bulldogs Chappo Urias, Dee Bowler and Kasdan Feldshaw were named to the Southern Zone offensive team. Bowler, Urias and Nolan Tanner were named all-league defensive team. Urias was named league offensive player and Tanner defensive players of the year. Hafen surprised the community when he announced his retirement on Jan. 9 after 21 seasons as coach. Hafen went 166-66 leading the Bulldogs, stressing tough defense and grind-them-out offense. A new year will begin in August as new coach Chris Sawyers takes the helm.
Soccer coach Bob Snell had both experience and depth going into the 2011-2012 Virgin Valley school year. It paid off in the end as the ‘Dawgs went 13-9-3 for the season winning 3A Southern Zone Championship and advancing to the Nevada State soccer tournament.
The Bulldogs lost in the semi-finals.
Midfielder Will Lara was named to the Nevada State All-State Team. Brothers Gabe and Danny Medina with Jaime Macias were named to the All-State second team. Lara was named Most Valuable Player for the Southern Zone while Snell was named Coach of the Year.
Four Virgin Valley girl soccer players received post-season honors. Karson Bryant, Kailee Ogden, Samantha Cunningham were named to the first team Southern Zone League and Goalkeeper Cassidy Crandall was named Southern Zone defensive Player of the Year.
It was the year of retirement for major sports as basketball coach Rich Bohne announced prior to the season that this would be his final year courtside. The Bulldogs went 14-17 during Bohne’s last season. The ‘Dawgs lacked height but made up for it with quickness and enthusiasm. Guards Chappo Urias and Dee Bowler were named to the Nevada State Basketball All-State second team.
Urias, Bowler and Nolan Tanner were named to the first team All-Zone Southern Zone team. Basketball news ended for the season when assistant coach Sean FitzSimons was named head coach for the Bulldogs on March 13.
Coach Shimane Creer had high expectations beginning the year for her smaller but quicker girls basketball team. Her confidence was right on as her charges won 19 games and lost 11 for the season. The Lady Bulldogs won the Southern Zone Championship and advanced to the Nevada State3A tournament in Reno.
The Bulldogs lost to a strong Elko team in the semi-finals.
Sophomore guard Abbie Barnard was named Southern Zone Most Valuable Player and first team All-State. Barnard averaged 16 points per game for the Bulldogs. Coach Creer was named Coach of the Year for the 3A Southern Zone. Center Cassidy Crandall and Nikki Arquette were also named first team Southern Zone. The Bulldogs will return all players except for Crandall who will be moving on to college.
Wrestling coach Skyler Woods intense conditioning paid off for the ‘Dawg wrestlers as they placed second in the Southern Zone Championship. Winning Zone were Brock Williams at 106 pounds, Juan Dominguez at 120 pounds., Jade Jensen at 132 and Nathan Beaumont at 285. Jensen and Dominguez made it to the state finals taking second place overall.
But it was a disappointing year for Ilona Robison’s girl’s volleyball team after practicing intensely during summer ball. The Lady Bulldogs went 7-18 for the season. Blocker Alora Bonner was named to the second team all-state.
Becca Hunt’s softball team experienced a losing season with a record of 10-20 but made the finals of the Southern Zone Tournament before losing to the Boulder City High School Eagles. Injuries to key players made a difference down the stretch. The Bulldogs will lose seniors Cassidy Crandall, Tania Avelos and pitcher Halle Wakefield.
Coach Kirk Hafen’s golf team performed well this year with leader Ryan Baeza taking it all by winning the 3A State Championship with a round of 143. Baeza outdistanced his nearest competitor by 11 strokes to win easily.
Track and field ended the school year with 14 athletes qualifying for the State Tournament in Reno. Jaime Macias led the Bulldogs with a first place finish in the 300-meter hurdles. McCall Grajek continued her leadership for the Lady Bulldogs by bringing home three medals. Pole Vaulter Tyson Teerlink dominated his event all year breaking the Southern League 3A record with a leap of 14 feet 6 and ½ inches. An injury prevented Teerlink from winning State.
It was a tough year and hopefully a rebuilding year for the Bulldog baseball team and coach Brian Fanning as they managed to win but one game this year. The Bulldogs overall record was 1-22. Only 12 players were available at the beginning of the season and only nine finished. The team had to forfeit games this year for lack of players. Almost every player on the squad took the mound during the season. Le’s hope their final game of the season is a harbinger of things to come as they lost by only 7-6 to league champions Boulder City.
As the year ended so did 3A sports, as we know it. A more meaningful competition will begin for Virgin Valley athletics as they enter a realigned conference. The Bulldogs will be part of a new division called 1A. It will consist of two conferences, Sunrise and Sunset. The ‘Dawgs will join traditional rivals Boulder City and Moapa Valley High Schools plus Sunrise Mountain, Chaparrel and S.E.C.T.A. in the Sunrise Conference. The Sunset Conference will include Pahrump Valley, Cheyenne, Clark, Faith Lutheran, Mojave and Western High Schools. Playoffs for most sports will be held with the top four teams in each conference playing for two spots in the State Tournament.