Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sports Year in Review: Faces, footnotes and accomplishments in Las Cruces

We take a look at some personalities that made an impact on the 2012 Las Cruces sports year:

Jim Bradley: This New Mexico football-coaching legend had his health troubles in 2012. After suffering a heart attack in November of 2011, Bradley had a stroke last January that kept him in the hospital and rehabilitation center until August. Shortly after being released, Bradley suffered another stroke, as his health troubles continued to persist. Typical Bradley, he continues to fight on, although this past year was the first since 1994 that he wasn't on the Mayfield sidelines, guiding the Trojans to victory.

Bob Ogas: Another classic sports personality who's made his mark in Las Cruces, like Bradley, Ogas suffered a stroke earlier this year. He was able to recover, and was later elected to the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor last August. The 71-year-old Ogas' legacy will be that of longevity - a standout baseball coach, athletics director and eventual principal at Mayfield High School. He also had a longtime standing as an NMAA administrator and representative.

Jim Miller: In his 15th year as head football coach at Las Cruces High, Miller won his fifth state championship and is now 5-0 in such games. Miller's now won titles in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2008 and 2012. Miller told the Sun-News last week that he currently plans to coach three more years as his son Kameron plays his high school career at LCHS.

Letticia Martinez: A blind swimmer and student at Las Cruces High School, Martinez competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London this past September. Martinez competed in the S11 Division as fully blind swimmer, taking the pool in the 50-meter (Sept. 1, fourth in her heat) and 100-meter freestyles (Aug. 31, fifth in her heat), 100-meter backstroke (Sept. 2, sixth in her heat), 100-meter breaststroke (Sept. 3, last in the finals) and 200-meter individual medley (Sept. 8, third in her heat).

Brad Harlan: The original Pistol Pete at New Mexico State University, Harlan passed away last February from cancer at the age of 56. Beginning with a crimson shirt and jeans, a white vest and a fake mustache, Harlan made his debut as the longtime NMSU mascot in 1973 at an Aggie football game and Pistol Pete's overall theme, by and large, has stuck. A number of different Aggies have worn the outfit and, unlike other college sports mascots hidden behind a large foam-rubber head, each person has brought their own unique qualities to the character of Pistol Pete. It has long been a part of Aggie lore, and Harlan was the first to do it.

Kelsey Crooks: A former Oñate High School standout and New Mexico State basketball player, Crooks passed away this past August at the age of 31. Crooks was a star athlete at Oñate, setting many basketball records at the school, before playing at his hometown college from 1999 to 2004. At 26 years old he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but later it was determined to be something else. Ultimately, Crooks passed away of a long illness.

Courtney Schultz: Coming off one of the best seasons of any cross country runner in New Mexico State history, Schultz will finish her career as one of the most decorated athletes ever to run in the Aggie cross country program. She was named Western Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week on three different occasions during the 2012 season. She finished second overall at the WAC Championships in Ruston, La. and 59th at the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky. Schultz has been named to first-team All-WAC all four years at NMSU and was named WAC Freshman of the Year in 2009. She was WAC Athlete of the Year for three-straight years, spanning 2009-11.

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