Local Athletes Continue Careers at NM State
Courtesy: New Mexico State University  
Release:  06/21/2012

By Kyle Purcell

For NM State Media Relations

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (JUNE 21, 2012) - Every year, athletes from the local high schools in the Las Cruces area attend New Mexico State University and continue their athletic and academic careers.

On the baseball diamond, two former local prep athletes helped the Aggie baseball team reach the NCAA Tournament this season.  Senior starting pitcher Micheal Ormseth, a former Mayfield Trojan, led the team in wins with eight, while striking out 62 batters.  Senior pitcher Randy Montoya, from Onate High School, made 18 appearances last season in relief while posting a 2.19 ERA.

"It's always great having local players on the team," head baseball coach Rocky Ward said.  "They have a pride in our town and in our University that is hard for out of town players to match."

Sophomore running back Brandon Betancourt headlines the Las Cruces locals on the NM State football team.  Betancourt played at Mayfield before earning a scholarship to NM State.  As a freshman, he rushed for 24 yards on six carries in limited action.  Redshirt freshman Brock Baca, a kicker from Mayfield, is also on the team.

"This just proves that we have Division I players in this area that we want to keep around," head football coach DeWayne Walker said.  "People talk about keeping Las Cruces players here to bring more fans to the game but I don't look at it from that point of view. I look at it as keeping the best players in town. When we evaluate these players we first make sure they can play at this level and want to give them an opportunity to play Division I football."

The swimming team has two athletes that also share a family bond.  Juniors Alessandra and Brianna Zuniga, both attended Onate and are twins on the swim team.  Alessandra Zuniga recorded lifetime bests at the 2012 WAC Championships in the 50 free (25.54) and 100 butterfly (1:00.17).  Brianna Zuniga also set lifetime bests at the same meet in the 100 back (1:00.99) and 200 back (2:09.09).

Women's track and field has the most athletes from the surrounding high schools with five.  Sophomores Jenna Banegas, sprinter, and Taylor Black, pole-vaulter, both graduated from Mayfield.  In 2012, Benegas was a second team All-WAC selection in the 60m while Black set a career high mark of 3.00m for the pole vault.   

Representing Onate on the women's track and field team is senior distance runner Liz Matta, junior jumper Zoe Meade, and sophomore sprinter Kendra Walker.  Matta is also the only member of the Cross Country team to attend high school at a locally.  Meade was named first team All-WAC in pentathlon after setting a school record in the event, as well as second team All-WAC in the 4x400m relay.  Walker, the daughter of NM State Head Football coach DeWayne Walker, posted a season best time of 8.02 in the 60m at the Air Force Invitational.

Sophomre guard Terrel de Rouen is the only player on the men's basketball team to graduate from a local high school.  He went to school at Onate where he helped his team win the state championship in his senior year. In his first year with the Aggies, de Rouen played in six games, averaging 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds.

Former Mayfield Trojan Elena Holguin is currently the only player on the women's team that is from the Mesilla Valley.  Holguin was redshirted last season and did not play.

The women's soccer team, which is going into its fourth year at NM State, has two players with local ties.  Senior midfielder Cassie De Leon of Mayfield High School made appearances in 17 matches for the Aggies last season and was named to the Academic All-WAC team.  Cat Acosta, a representative of Las Cruces High School, will join the Aggies in the fall for her freshman season.

"Having local kids on the team helps get the community even more involved with the program," head NM State soccer coach Blair Quin said.  "People love to see the kids who were successful in high school soccer stay and succeed and grow and improve here with us. Having local kids on the team can bring a ton of people to our matches and additional support to the team."

The women's volleyball team recently added a graduate from Gadsden High School.  Nathalie Castellanos played a major role in helping the Gadsden Panther to back-to-back state championships and will play and study at NM State next fall.

Redshirt sophomore infielder Kristi Covarrubia played at Onate before moving on to NM State.  Covarrubia started 30 games last season with a batting average of .357.

For more information on Aggie athletics and all the local Aggies, go to NMStateSports.com.

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