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Column: Looking back at a tremendous year in local sports

FARMINGTON − I'm supposed to be on vacation this week. Anyone who knows how well I function with nothing to do will tell you I'm terrible at vacations.

That said, I took some time this week to recollect on what was an amazing calendar year in local sports, and with the hope that nothing notable occurs in the next 10 days before we change out one desktop day planner for another, here's a look back at some of the area's highlight moments from 2022.

There were local high school state champions crowned in wrestling, football, basketball, swimming and track and field this year. There were great moments of prep sports teams bonding with their communities this year, and there was always optimism for what was going to happen next.

Perhaps my favorite moment of 2022 was sitting courtside at the Pit in Albuquerque, watching Kirtland Central's girls basketball winning the state championship over Bernalillo. It was a bit of nostalgia for this reporter, who not only got to celebrate with head coach Devon Manning, but also remembered Manning as a student at Kirtland Central, watching him help the Broncos win a state title for the boys team in 2001, their first of three consecutive Class 4A state titles.

Seeing the turnout for the Bloomfield Bobcats, who captured the Class 4A football title last month with a dramatic 13-7 win over Silver was also a highlight of the year. Nearly 1,000 people filled the bleachers at Bobcat Stadium for a chilly afternoon game and a chance to see some history.

Getting to witness the tradition of excellence for the wrestling programs at Aztec High School, and seeing the powerhouse prep program being established at Farmington High School was exciting to report about as well as a learning experience.

I know I've missed recalling on a few moments from this past year. Remember, I'm supposed to be on vacation.

There were great moments away from the local prep scene as well in 2022.

The Connie Mack World Series championship game was easily one of my most favorite experiences of the year. Seeing the Midland baseball team capture their 17th World Series title after holding off a late rally over Dallas-based D-Bat United was not only a thrill for a sportswriter, but an even bigger thrill for a lifelong baseball fan.

A "sense of normalcy", which is still a phrase we're using too frequently these days, returned to places like Aztec Speedway and SunRay Park and Casino during this year. Record crowds came back to those facilities after the pandemic caused them to close their doors less than two years ago.

But like anything else, with the highlights, there's another side to the story.

There's always room for improvement, and the never-ending challenge from coaches, administrators and yes, even journalists, on how to take that next leap forward to even greater heights.

The relationships between coaches and the media can sometimes be tricky. As a sportswriter, my goal is to provide readers with stories about things like home runs, touchdowns and the silly escape from reality that sports oftentimes provides.

But then there's times when it's difficult to get accurate or timely information. There's phone calls that go unanswered, or requests for comment that don't receive replies.

And then sometimes there's that fine line when sports coverage has to cross over to hard news. Because the reality is, words and actions have consequences that occasionally need to be reported.

I'm proud of the fact that we've built a pretty good foundation on the coverage of games and events for the past 17 months I've been working for the paper, but we can still do better.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try and get back to my vacation. I've most likely got nothing to do.