Navajo Times Fall Sports All-Stars

2011 honorees stress importance of teamwork

By Candace Begody
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Feb 23, 2012

(Times photo - Paul Natonabah)

The Navajo Times 2011 Fall Sports awards winners include, from left, Chinle coach Tim Sue Sue Lafau, Chinle coach Shaun Martin, Shiprock's Herbert Beyale III, Chinle's Rolonda Jumbo, Tuba City's Jaime Roe and Tuba City's Harlan Barlow.

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O n Feb. 17, the Navajo Times honored the athletes and coaches of the year for the 2011 fall sports season.

Rolonda Jumbo, a senior at Chinle High, was honored as the Navajo Times Female Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Jumbo won her sixth consecutive state title - two of which were during junior high - at the Arizona Division III cross-country state meet in November.

"That day I knew I didn't have any competition and I just did what I wanted," Jumbo recalled of the state meet in which she finished nearly 200 yards in front of the eventual second-place finisher from Tempe High. "I really wanted to win as a team. Our hard work paid off."

Dominating the race wasn't enough as Jumbo also left the meet with an improved time of 18:27, a five-second improvement from last year.

Jumbo helped Chinle win the team championship, and Page was only three points behind.

The Navajo Times Male Cross Country Runner of the Year is Herbert Beyale III from Shiprock High.

During New Mexico's Class 3A state cross-country meet in November, Beyale raced neck and neck with the heavily favored runner from St. Michael's, Andres Gonzales.

They ran side by side throughout the 3.1-mile race before Beyale captured the state title by just a tenth of a second.

"Winning state," Beyale said of the most memorable experience of his career. "Going into state I wasn't expecting to win. I was looking more for a team title. Even when I won, that was fine with me, but I wanted to see how we did as a team."

The rest of the Chieftains followed closely behind Beyale but their overall score was not enough to take home the first-place trophy. Shiprock finished second to Pojoaque.

Before the state meet, Beyale set a course record at the district meet in Crownpoint with a time of 16:59. He won the state meet with a time of 16:30:70. Gonzales finished second in 16:30:80.

Taking home the Cross Country Coach of the Year plaque was Chinle's Shaun Martin.

Under Martin's leadership, Chinle has earned a total of 12 boys and girls team championships.

"Through those 12, we never talked about winning one," Martin said of the state titles. "Even during a regular meet, we don't talk about winning the meet, we talk about progression and constant improvement.

"This past season was a poster-style season where everything and everyone was progressing the way we wanted," Martin added.

Tuba City's Jamie Roe took home the Volleyball Player of the Year award.

What made Roe's season memorable was the fact that "my coach didn't give up on me," she said. "He just kept pushing me and saying that everything was going to be all right."

Roe was named to the Arizona Republic Division III first team and was nominated as player of the year. She also helped her team to three first-place tournament wins, a final four appearance at the state tournament last year, three total final four appearances, and a state-runner-up finish.

Roe said she has yet to make a decision regarding college, but has been offered a chance to play volleyball and basketball at Division I schools.

Roe's head coach at Tuba City, Harlan Barlow, also took home the Volleyball Coach of the Year award. Barlow has had winning records since he started coaching two years ago and his teams made it to the state playoffs both years.

Barlow talked about the challenges of playing in Arizona's Division III.

"It was a lot harder," Barlow recalled. "We played some easy teams and we played some hard teams, but we saw teams that we had never seen before until the state tournament."

Chinle's Tim Sue Sue Lafau was honored as the Football Coach of the Year.

"It is a privilege and an honor to receive this award," Lafau said. "I never thought about getting a Navajo Times award."

In his first year, Lafau had a winning record of 6-4 and said, "It was a lot of heart and desire of the kids and I am only as good as my assistants, and those who I surround myself with."

Lafau has eight assistants.

His first year was the first time in 20 years that Chinle not only had a winning record but qualified for the 3A state football playoffs. This past season, the team finished with a 6-5 record and was ranked 11th in Division IV.

Aztec's Adam Lucero, a junior quarterback, is the Navajo Times Football Player of the Year.

Lucero led the Tigers to the Class 4A state championship over Goddard. Lucero was named to the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Class 4A All-State football first team and the second team on defense.

In an email, Lucero said, "I would like to thank you for selecting me as the 2011 Navajo Times Football Player of the Year. I am very honored to even be considered for this award."

Lucero, who was competing at the New Mexico state wrestling tournament in Rio Rancho, N.M., at the time, was unable to make the awards ceremony.

Athletes and coaches of the year all received plaques.

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