Several Valencia County athletes signed letters of intent recently to continue their careers in college, including a pair of rivals who will soon be teammates.
Tight end Thomas Ordonez, of Los Lunas, and Belen receiver Elijah Romero will soon be catching passes for Division III Willamette University in Salem, Ore.
“I just love the outdoors,” Ordonez said. “Ultimately, that’s pretty much what drew me there in the first place.”
Ordonez connected with the coach on Twitter and sent him game highlights, which eventually led to the scholarship.
“They are building something special,” Ordonez said.
Romero paid a visit to the area and was impressed with “how nice everyone was and how the scenery was nice and green.”
Both Romero and Ordonez are glad they won’t be going to the great northwest alone. Romero called it, “Surreal — going out there with someone you played against since you were little.”
There will be another Tiger-Eagle pairing soon, as Kaden Chavez, of Los Lunas, has signed to play baseball at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo. Chavez will be teammates with BHS graduate Jace Martinez.
“It’s nice to have people that I know over there,” Chavez said.
One reason Chavez selected Adams State was personal.
“My grandparents actually have a cabin close to Adams State and I really like the area,” he shared.
Chavez, who leads the Tigers in home runs and runs batted in, will play outfield for the Grizzlies.
Belen’s Maesyn Lopez signed her letter of intent in the Eagle gym, surrounded by family, friends and her future basketball coach.
Lopez will play hoops for the Trinidad State Trojans in Trinidad, Colo.
“I love the coach and the players,” Lopez said.
She’s hoping to use the junior college as a springboard to a Division I scholarship.
“I’m very grateful and blessed,” she said.
Trinidad State coach Destiny Bragman, an Albuquerque native, loves the versatility of the 6-1 Lopez.
“Her length really helps us out,” Bragman said. “We’re a big pressing team and we need post players who can be mobile.”
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.