The Española Valley bowling team may not be the most prominent, but it can compete with the best in the state.

    Eighth-grader Raymond Archuleta and senior Autumn Vigil had especially strong seasons and gained individual recognitions at the state tournament. Vigil, who has received many awards through her high school career, is proud of these Sundevils.

    “I’d have to say this was my best year,” Vigil said. “I had the best team I could ask for. Everyone was always there to back me up. And if anyone was down, you could depend on the team to follow up on you and make sure to pick you up.”

    In early February, at the senior tournament for 12th-graders, Española’s David Martinez placed third, winning a $400 scholarship. Martinez had the highest qualifying score in his division. He defeated bowlers from Cleveland, Los Lunas and Kirtland Central high schools in bracket play to win third place.

State tournament

    The next week was the state tournament. The eight-member team traveled to Rio Rancho’s Tenpins & More to compete against the best from the state, including Artesia High School, the 4A champions three years running.

    The Sundevils started well in the first round, ranking in the top two early in qualifying. Ultimately, they placed third for the qualifying round, making the finals. They battled with Pojoaque Valley and Del Norte for the right to face Artesia, the top qualifying team, in the championship. Española fell short, and ranked fourth in the state, while Artesia took the crown yet again.

    But the Sundevils stood out on the individual side. Vigil won both the highest individual score at 202, and the highest 3-game series, bowling a 537, giving her the state individual championship. Archuleta also won an individual medallion for the second-highest boys individual game score, a 246.

    Española coach Robbie Garcia pointed out that other schools in the competition have much larger teams.

    “So, it’s good to see our team, which is smaller, perform well against bigger schools,” he said.

    Pojoaque finished second at the state tournament, and junior Xavier Kitchens also made the boys all-state team.

    Archuleta had his own share of successes in individual tournaments. In November, he placed first in the U15 division of a youth tournament hosted by the United States Bowling Congress. That win qualified him for the 2020 Junior Gold Championship, scheduled for July in Las Vegas, Nev.

    Vigil said she’s earned nearly $1,500 in scholarship money through bowling over five years. Next year, she plans to attend Northern New Mexico College, while remaining with the team as an assistant coach. Vigil is excited about what the team can bring.

    “I see a lot of potential in the kids coming up for next year,” she said. “And Raymond, especially, he has a bright future in bowling and I see him doing great things.”

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