Navajo Times All-Stars

Spotlight shines on best of winter sports.

By Alastair Bitsoi, Candace Begody, and Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, April 5, 2012

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TOP: Brandon Garnenez
THIRD FROM TOP: Jaimen Bennalley
FOURTH FROM TOP: Julius Descheenie
FIFTH FROM TOP: Raquel Woody
BOTTOM: Raul Mendoza

B ased on nominations from coaches and athletic directors and Navajo Times sportswriters, the following are the 2011-12 Navajo Times All-Star teams and athletes and coaches of the year for winter sports.

Girls' basketball

Tuba City's Jamie Roe and Kirtland Central's Raquel Woody were voted co-players of the year for girls' basketball.

Roe, a senior, has already received numerous college offers to play volleyball and basketball.

Roe is explosive, athletic, a shot blocker and hustles.

She also wears many hats on her team and is most effective as a point guard.

Woody is a clutch player, has really good sportsmanship and no matter the situation, always tries and gives it her all.

Woody led the Lady Broncos to two state championships in New Mexico's Class 4A.

Kirtland Central's Kevin Holman and Many Farms' Tracy Todecheene are the coaches of the year for girls' basketball.

As a second-year head coach, Holman coached his team to their school's 19th girls state basketball title and contributed to the legacy at Kirtland Central.

KC entered the state tournament as the No. 4 seed and eliminated No. 1 Grants before earning the state title in one of the most competitive fields in New Mexico.

Under Todecheene's leadership, the Many Farms Lady Lobos went further than any other team in school history.

During the regular season, the Lady Lobos surprised local teams and proved they were a force to reckon with after winning the Coca-Cola Classic at the Wildcat Den in Chinle.

The Lady Lobos entered almost every game as the underdogs but came out with surprising victories over quality teams like Monument Valley, Winslow, Chinle and Camp Verde.

Despite competing in Arizona's Division III as a smaller school, Many Farms defeated Monument Valley to earn a spot in the state tournament's Sweet 16 round but were eliminated by the eventual runner-up, Winslow. The Lady Lobos earned an overall record of 28-3 and 8-4 in Division III.

Todecheene had a contingency plan for every defense his team played. Their bread and butter was defense - he had his girls play defense and he was an inspirational talker.

Girls' basketball All-Stars

The girls' basketball Navajo Times All-Star team includes the following players.

  • Dustine Abeyta, Alamo-Navajo.
  • Shinaye Vicenti, Alamo-Navajo.
  • Teal Webster, Blue Ridge.
  • Lynniah Curley, Chinle.
  • Rebecca Becenti, Crownpoint.
  • Kaydrea Stevenson, Crownpoint.
  • Chaez Ortiz, Cuba.
  • Chenoa Simpson, Farmington.
  • Cheyenne Corley, Farmington.
  • Kirsten John, Farmington.
  • Celia Herrera, Gallup.
  • Farrah Hood, Gallup.
  • Shelby Nelson, Gallup.
  • Nicole Curley, Ganado.
  • Teige Zeller, Grants.
  • Kallen Shutiva, Grants.
  • Raquel Woody, Kirtland Central.
  • Taylor Henderson, Kirtland Central.
  • Kalen Henderson, Kirtland Central.
  • Arnetia Begay, Kirtland Central.
  • Tessa Begay, Kirtland Central.
  • Taylor Yazzie, Kirtland Central.
  • Melissa Saavedra, Laguna-Acoma.
  • Lacey Natseway, Laguna-Acoma.
  • Brianna Clah, Many Farms.
  • Rhonda Lee, Many Farms.
  • Charmaine Begay, Many Farms.
  • Danielle Chee, Miyamura.
  • Nicole Money, Miyamura.
  • Presleigh Smiley, Miyamura.
  • Heidi Nelson, Monument Valley.
  • Naomi Whitehair, Monument Valley.
  • Demetria Clichee, Navajo Pine.
  • Raecal Catron, Navajo Pine.
  • Kaitlin Chee, Navajo Pine.
  • Brianna Kee, Navajo Prep.
  • Heather Rogers, Navajo Prep.
  • Danielle Coleman, Navajo Prep.
  • Nakisha Antonio, Navajo Prep.
  • Shavon Yazzie, Newcomb.
  • Celeste Claw, Page.
  • Amber Tso, Page.
  • Malerie Williams, Page.
  • Molly Davis, Payson.
  • Bree Walkingeagle, Piedra Vista.
  • Christina Yazzie, Piedra Vista.
  • Amanda Chee, Piedra Vista.
  • Krysta Bond, Ramah.
  • Shelley Lalio, Ramah.
  • Bridget Lee, Santa Fe Indian.
  • Jennifer Willie, Santa Fe Indian.
  • Mystri Jodie, Santa Fe Indian.
  • Justina Coriz, Santa Fe Indian.
  • Samantha Peters, Shiprock.
  • Danielle Johnson, Shiprock.
  • Jade Dee, Shiprock.
  • Shasta Dazen, Show Low.
  • Rebekah Young, Show Low.
  • Lish Titus, Snowflake.
  • Tara Nezzie, Snowflake.
  • Samantha Hardy, St. Michael.
  • Brooke Overturf, St. Michael.
  • Felecia House, Thoreau.
  • Raelene Charley, Thoreau.
  • Amberline Chapo, To'hajiilee.
  • Tia Holyan, Tohatchi.
  • Taneka Ben, Tohatchi.
  • Tamika Sandoval, Tse Yi Gai.
  • Brittany Nacki, Tse Yi Gai.
  • Jamie Roe, Tuba City.
  • Vernene Sheppard, Tuba City.
  • Arianne Sheka, Window Rock.
  • Robyn Hubbell, Wingate.
  • Leah Brown, Wingate.
  • Kelsay Henry, Wingate.
  • Mateea Begaii, Winslow.
  • Corey Nez, Winslow.
  • Marcella Joe, Winslow.
  • Halle Hayes, Winslow.
  • Chelena Betoney, Valley.
  • Adrianna Nez, Valley.
  • Tamara Homer, Zuni.

Boys' basketball

Holbrook's Torrian Epps and Gallup's Nick August are the co-players of the year for boys' basketball.

Epps was the go-to player. When the team needed energy, he upped their defense. He was their ball handler, he could break down defenses, led his team in scoring, had leadership, and a good mid-range game.

He also created his own shots and created shots for others.

Epps led the No. 1 Holbrook Roadrunners to another Arizona Division III state run, but they fell to No. 4 Thatcher in the semifinals.

Gallup Bengal Nick August overcame a wrist injury during the season but remained the leader of his team.

August is very aggressive going to the basket, he is a big rebounder for the team and led his team to the Class 4A state championship game of the state tournament.

The Bengals had not been to the state championship game in nearly 75 years.

Coaches of the year are Holbrook's Raul Mendoza and Shiprock's Chester Atcitty Jr.

This is the second straight year Mendoza is named for this honor. Mendoza coached last year's team to an incredible come-from-behind victory over Estrella Foothills after trailing by 20 points to win the 3A state championship.

He is well respected by fellow coaches as he received the most nominations this year.

Under the tutelage of Atcitty, the Shiprock boys' basketball team posted more wins than any other Chieftain team before them, including the 1969 team that won 25 games.

With a talented group, Atcitty told the Navajo Times, "All they needed was a little bit of direction."

With that, Shiprock finished the year at 25-4 and made the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state tournament.

Boys' basketball All-Stars

The boys' basketball Navajo Times All-Star team includes the following players.

  • Niles Betone, Alamo-Navajo.
  • Elijahwon Apachito, Alamo-Navajo.
  • Kyrel Lupe, Alchesay.
  • Joel Cosay, Alchesay.
  • Brannen Parrish, Alchesay.
  • Ty Antencio, Aztec.
  • Clay Payne, Bloomfield.
  • Erik Miller, Bloomfield.
  • Justin Largo, Crownpoint.
  • Jordan Jake, Crownpoint.
  • Aaron Yazzie, Flagstaff.
  • Tevin Tso, Flagstaff.
  • Nick August, Gallup.
  • Darrin Spencer, Gallup.
  • Dominic Martinez, Gallup.
  • Lionel Kinsel, Gallup.
  • Patrick Whitman, Gallup.
  • Anthony Lopez, Gallup Catholic.
  • Gary King, Gallup Catholic.
  • Brent Becenti, Ganado.
  • Sheridan Billie, Ganado.
  • Westin Zeller, Grants.
  • Ruben Hands, Grants.
  • Devin Yazzie, Greyhills.
  • Tyler Blackhorn, Greyhills.
  • Torrian Epps, Holbrook.
  • Jalen Jackson, Holbrook.
  • Bryson Keoni, Holbrook.
  • Rashaun Baldwin, Holbrook.
  • Tremaine Begay, Hopi.
  • Darnell Ben, Hopi.
  • Christian Mackey, Kirtland Central.
  • Cyrus Cly, Kirtland Central.
  • Christian Benally, Kirtland Central.
  • Joe Adair, Kirtland Central.
  • Isaiah Raymond, Kirtland Central.
  • Anthony Carpio, Laguna-Acoma.
  • Austin Jones, Laguna-Acoma.
  • Josh Paytiamo, Laguna-Acoma.
  • CJ Salvador, Laguna-Acoma.
  • Chad Keith, Monument Valley.
  • Jaron James, Monument Valley.
  • Shaquille Sherlock, Monument Valley.
  • Lydal Thompson, Navajo Pine.
  • Joshua Poyer, Navajo Pine.
  • Arvin Curley, Navajo Pine.
  • Harold Smith, Newcomb.
  • Ishmael Lee, Newcomb.
  • Chavis Charley, Page.
  • Marcus Begay, Page.
  • Tyrell Henio, Pine Hill.
  • Damian Walley, Pine Hill.
  • Daryl Jones, Pinon.
  • Ty Jaquez, Piedra Vista.
  • Sean Jordan, Ramah.
  • Tyrell Morgan, Ramah.
  • Terrance Chatto, Ramah.
  • Angelo Begay, Red Mesa.
  • Zach Serna, Rehoboth.
  • Michael Kempkes, Rehoboth.
  • Will Golden, Rehoboth.
  • Jerethan Tsinijinnie, Richfield.
  • Brandon Van Winkle, Rough Rock.
  • Jacob Benally, San Jon.
  • Keagan Nahkai, Shiprock.
  • Justin Begay, Shiprock.
  • Patrick Toehe, Shiprock.
  • Kevin Aspaas, Shiprock.
  • Hiram Gleason, Shiprock.
  • Tanner Yellowhair, Snowflake.
  • Aavon Thomas, St. Johns.
  • Dallan Waite, St. Johns.
  • Justin Johnson, Thoreau.
  • Dustin Abeita, Thoreau.
  • Seth Watuema, To'Hajiilee.
  • Christian Apachito, To'Hajiilee.
  • Marcus Burbank, Tohatchi.
  • Brandon Lee, Tohatchi.
  • Lydale Thomas, Tohatchi.
  • Ethan Castillo, Tse Yi Gai.
  • Peter Toledo, Tse Yi Gai.
  • Cody Smyth, Tuba City.
  • Alonza Thompson, Tuba City.
  • Malcolm Goldtooth, Tuba City.
  • Karl Holly, Whitehorse.
  • Tavis Martin, Whitehorse.
  • JayDiamond Taliman, Window Rock.
  • Kyler Ashley, Window Rock.
  • Dominique Dale, Window Rock.
  • Christopher Dawes, Wingate.
  • Randall Pine, Wingate.
  • Nicholas Desiderio, Wingate.
  • Tremayne Nez, Winslow.
  • Tyler Williams, Winslow.
  • Corey Quigley, Valley.
  • Arlyson Chapo, Valley.
  • Jared Penketewa, Zuni.


Peoria's Jaimen Bennalley, Page's Julius Descheenie and Parker's Aaron Herder are the Arizona wrestlers of the year for the heavy-, middle- and lower-weight categories, respectively.

In wrestling, there seems to be a love-hate relationship and Peoria senior and heavyweight wrestler Bennalley knows that all too well.

"I love it when I can come out on top, but in this sport you have to sacrifice a lot," Bennalley said. "Sometimes you have to push yourself to go that extra mile."

Bennalley went that extra mile to rise above the competition and claimed the Division II state-wrestling crown in the 220-pound division.

He finished the season at 37-1 after outlasting Iron Ridge wrestler Lislate Otuafi by a 7-2 count.

As the No. 7 seed in the 145-pound weight class, middle weight Julius Descheenie of Page worked his way through the consolation bracket and placed sixth in the Division III state wrestling tournament.

Descheenie lost a 10-9 decision in the second round to the Tabias Banayat of Moon Valley, the tournament's No. 2 seed.

The Page junior then picked up two wins before he lost his next two bouts, including a heartbreaking 4-3 contest to Mica Barker of Coconino in the fifth-place match. Descheenie finished the year with a 28-9 record.

Sometimes it may take two, three and even four years to make a name for yourself in prep wrestling.

Aaron Herder is the only exception as the Parker freshman reached the 106-pound finals in the Division IV wrestling tournament this past February.

Lightweight wrestler Herder earned the tournament's No. 1 seed despite sporting a 42-11 record. Nonetheless, he upset Michael Casillas, the state's top prospect, in the sectional tournament the week before.

But in the finals, the Camp Verde senior came up with two takedowns late in the match to push his lead before Herder came up short in a highly contested contest in which Casillas won, 8-6.

Shiprock's Zane Frasier, Bloomfield's Mikey Loy and Miyamura's Brandon Garnanez are the New Mexico wrestlers of the year for the heavy-, middle- and lower-weight categories.

Shiprock Chieftain Zane Frasier, a heavyweight, entered the New Mexico Class 3A state wrestling tournament undefeated in the 195-pound weight category.

With a businesslike approach, the senior pinned two of his opponents and made the finals where he lost an 11-1 decision to Joe Crespin of Las Vegas Robertson.

Despite coming up short, Frasier was ecstatic about the year he had.

"I don't regret any of it because I had a fantastic year," he said. "The match didn't happen and it is what it is, but I had a lot of fun."

Frasier ended the season at 39-1 and improved on his fifth-place finish from the year before.

The championship run for Bloomfield's Loy included three early round pins before Loy, a senior, met his match in the finals of the 152-pound category in the Class 4A field.

In the championship round, Loy capped his season with a 4-2 win over Anthony Burgueno of Belen and finished the year at 42-3.

Everything seems to go up when you move up a classification.

Miyamura's Garnenez saw that first hand as he capped his senior year with a third-place finish in the 120-pound category in the Class 4A ranks.

As a sophomore, Garnenez placed third in the 112-pound weight division in Class 3A, but in terms of speed, strength and endurance, the mindset is much different.

Tuba City's Roman McCabe and Piedra Vista's Levi Stout are the wrestling coaches of the year.

Wrestling All-Stars

The Navajo Times All-Star wrestling team includes the following athletes.

  • Rio Escojeda, Aztec, 138 pounds.
  • Casey Ford, Aztec, 145.
  • Marlin Norman, Aztec, 285.
  • Troy Rightmere, Bloomfield, 113.
  • Mike Loy, Bloomfield, 152.
  • John Ellsaesser, Bloomfield, 182.
  • Orin Kennedy, Bloomfield, 285.
  • Jerome Yazzie, Chinle, 220.
  • Joshua Smith, Chinle, 285.
  • Jerome Crowther, Coconino, 160.
  • Taylor Martin, Coconino, 138.
  • Brandon Padilla, Farmington, 126.
  • Eduardo Trevizo, Farmington, 132.
  • Dion Vandever, Gallup, 132-pound
  • Hershel Browning, Gallup, 160.
  • Layne Curley, Ganado, 152.
  • Daniel Sedillos, Grants, 220.
  • Daniel Gordon, Grants, 285.
  • Darrel Yazzie, Greyhills, 182.
  • Carlton Robbins, Greyhills, 195.
  • Marcus Begay, Higley, 120.
  • Zack Yazzie, Higley, 220.
  • RJ Alvarado, Holbrook, 132.
  • Shem Bowman, Holbrook, 182.
  • Clayton Hunt, Holbrook, 152.
  • Zachery Youvella, Hopi, 145.
  • Shane Davis, Hopi, 220.
  • Keishaun Aspaas, Kirtland Central, 113.
  • Nataani Hatathalie, Kirtland Central, 145.
  • Daniel Nelson, Many Farms, 120.
  • Zachery Gonnie, Many Farms, 126.
  • Brandon Garnenez, Miyamura, 120.
  • Brandon Gray, Miyamura, 220.
  • Jerecal Etsitty, Monument Valley, 126.
  • Dion Bailey, Monument Valley, 182.
  • Travis Allen, Newcomb, 195.
  • Landon Yazzie, Newcomb, 220.
  • Aaran Mowbray, Page, 120.
  • Kemp Todacheene, Page, 132.
  • Julius Descheenie, Page, 145.
  • Aaron Herder, Parker, 106.
  • Anthony Juckes, Piedra Vista, 113.
  • Nick Pacheco, Piedra Vista, 126.
  • Christian Acosta, Piedra Vista, 195.
  • Troy Young, Piedra Vista, 285-pound
  • Wilfred Yazzie Pinon, 113.
  • Dannovan Teller, 245.
  • Jedrek Hot, Red Mesa, 132.
  • Raven Deswood, Red Mesa, 285.
  • Daniel Foley, Tuba City, 285.
  • Michael Begay, Tuba City, 126.
  • Ryan Smith, Sanders Valley, 170.
  • Blaine Hillis, Salt River, 152.
  • Raygen Charley, Shiprock, 138.
  • Zane Frasier, Shiprock, 195.
  • Blake Hubbard, Shiprock, 220.
  • Marsano Byjoe, Window Rock, 106.
  • Andreas Lonebear, Window Rock, 160.
  • Jeremy Jesus, Window Rock, 182.
  • Hiram Thompson, Wingate, 106.
  • Thomas Wallace, Wingate, 160.
  • Paul Jaramillo Jr., Winslow, 126.
  • Jacob Huddleston, Winslow, 170.

Awards ceremony

The Navajo Times will honor the All-Star teams and athletes and coaches of the year at a ceremony on April 26 beginning at 1 p.m. The ceremony will be held at The Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock.

All athletes are encouraged to bring their team uniforms for a photo session.

Information: 928-871-1130.

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