RIO RANCHO — The second set of inductees for the Cleveland High School Sports Hall of Fame was announced last month, and it’s a stellar class.
There will be an induction ceremony in the school cafeteria before the game, and the inductees will be recognized at halftime of the Storm’s Oct. 20 football game vs. Cibola High School.
In this class – seven were in the inaugural Class of 2022 — you’ve got a key player on the Storms’ first championship football team, a two-time state cross country champion, a phenomenal soccer player and one of the first Storm athletes to play his sport – basketball – at a Division 1 school. Plus, a girls’ coach who won four state team titles, a wrestling coach with a team title and a guy who’s already in the sports hall of fame at the high school on the other side of Northern. Blvd.
This Class of 2023 consists of:
- football and track & field standout Reece White (Class of 2012);
- basketball standout P.J. Horgan (Class of 2011);
- soccer player Emily Cubbage (Class of 2012);
- distance runner Malia Gonzales (Class of 2013);
- former girls’ track coach Tim Flores;
- former wrestling coach Corey Anderson;
- former AD Larry Chavez; and
- contributor Rodney Anderson.
Reece White: When you mention this guy, longtime Storm fans remember him catching a short pass from quarterback Cole Gautsche on the Field of Dreams in November 2011 and taking it 87 yards to the house. The Storm turned what had been a 28-14 halftime deficit vs. Mayfield that Championship Saturday into a 13-0 season and took home the blue trophy. He was the state runner-up in the 110-hurdles as a senior, also running on the Storm’s winning 4×100 relay team. White grew up in Las Cruces, where he dreamed of playing for the Mayfield Trojans before playing for New Mexico State University; former UNM coach Bob Davie got White to change his mind and play for the UNM Lobos, like Gautsche had done. Originally a walk-on, he was awarded a scholarship for the 2013 season, added 30 pounds and was called by most analysts the best pure football player on the squad.
P.J. Horgan: He had been playing at RRHS, until it was time for Cleveland to open and high school students living on the north side of Northern Blvd. Horgan headed there as a junior for the 2009-10 season, under former Rams basketball coach Brian Smith. Easily the tallest player on the floor, he came up big time in a game vs. visiting La Cueva in January 2011, when he sank a 40-foot 3-pointer to beat visiting La Cueva, 64-62. Not only was then-UNM basketball coach Steve Alford in the gym, his sons, Bryce and Kory, combined for 42 of the Bears’ points. As one of the school’s first D1 athletes, he played four seasons (2011-15) at The Citadel. (84 games, 7.8 ppg and 5.3 rpg.)
Emily Cubbage: A three-year letter-winner, and captain of the Storm in 2010 and ’11, she was a three-time first-team All-District, All-State and All-Metro first teamer. She led the Storm in scoring all three seasons; after sitting out her freshman year with an injury, she came back with a vengeance as a sophomore, with 21 goals and 23 assists as a sophomore. By the time she graduated, she had scored 60 goals and added 45 assists. She headed to St. John’s University and in 2012, only a freshman, she playe
d in all 17 games and led team with three goals and two assists for eight points. In her four seasons there, she started every game, capping her career with a Big East championship in her senior season of 2015.
Malia Gonzales: It’s got to be hard to pick out favorite kids as a coach, when you have more than 100 hopefuls every spring, but such was the case for former girls’ track & field coach Tim Flores. But this girl, he said, “was fun to coach; she was a great kid.” Gonzales was also a great runner, and not only a four-year letterwinner in both sports, but also the state cross country champ in 2011 and 2012. In springtime, she won the 1,600 and 3,200 meters as a junior in 2012; she was second in each as a senior. After her great senior season (2012-13), she was named the Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year in New Mexico. She parlayed her prep success into four seasons of competition at Hawaii-Pacific.
Tim Flores: Like many City of Vision coaches, he came from Moriarty to Rio Rancho, coaching the girls’ track & field team from 2001-05. “Then I took four years off; my kids were little, and I wanted to spend time with them,” he said. When CHS opened in 2009, “(My kids) were old enough; I told Scott (Affentranger, the principal) I was interested.” He led the CHS girls to state titles in 2012, when he was named the state’s Track & Field Coach of the Year, and then from 2015-17, missing another title because of a relay team disqualification. “I had great kids and a great staff. … Dave Latham for six of those years; Carla Chavez (who succeeded him in 2018), Rhonda Esparza and Lupe Gallegos.” Says La Cueva track coach Jim Ciccarello: “Cleveland was a super-rival of ours. He kept me up on my toes! His teams were well-coached.”
Corey Anderson: This is who got the acclaimed wrestling program started in 2009, winning three state team titles (2012, ’13 and ’16) and a runner-up finish in 2015 before departing in 2016. During his seven seasons at CHS, he coached 53 state placers, which included 18 stat champions. In dual meets during his tenure, the Storm were 97-21, and 11 of those losses came in the debut season of 2009-10. He was the New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year in 2013, the same year he was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year. He and successor Evan Copeland have given the Storm program one of the best reputations in the state.
Larry Chavez: A three-sport letter-winner at Las Vegas Robertson in cross country, basketball and track, he headed to Eastern New Mexico University, where he was a four-year letterman for the cross country and track teams. After coaching in Tucumcari and then Santa Rosa, Chavez became the first cross country and boys track & field coach at RRHS in 1997. He retired from RRHS in fall 2007, then was named as the athletic director at Cleveland High when Randy Adrian retired in 2010. After Bruce Carver retired in 2018 after 10 years as the district’s AD, Chavez took his place as the district’s AD. While at CHS, Storm teams amassed 28 state championships and 20 runners-up finishes. In 2021, Chavez retired again, and Carver returned in that role. Chavez is also in the RRHS Sports Hall of Fame and the N.M. Track and Cross Country Association’s Hall of Distinction.
Rodney Anderson: If you remember hearing the public address announcer saying, “We need lumber,” at a Storm baseball game years ago, you’ll at least remember his voice. He played key roles in the basketball boosters and football boosters through the years and is credited for starting the cannon firing after TDs at football games. Anderson worked closely with head coaches, athletic directors and the CHS administration to help them become successful. He had three sons – Kyle, Ryan and Cody – that were student-athletes at CHS. “It was an honor to be part of Cleveland’s football and baseball programs,” Anderson said. “I enjoyed supporting my boys over the years. I worked with great coaches and parents to make it an enjoyable experience.”