The seventh class of the Rio Rancho High School Sports Hall of Fame has been selected, and it will be honored and formally inducted on Oct. 1, prior to the Rams’ homecoming football game vs. Cibola.
The distinguished class includes three members who won multiple individual state championships, and four of them were part of team championships. The new class gives the hall two sets of brothers, a first.
The Class of 2020/21 (There was no induction in 2020 because of the pandemic) is made up of five student-athletes: Marcus Williams and Megan Muñiz, who graduated in 2008; 2009 graduate Max Ortega; and 2010 graduates Joshua Walker and Louis Trujillo.
The hall of fame committee will also honor a longtime “Voice of the Rams,” John Morelock, in the hall’s “Contributor” category.
What made them special?
Marcus Williams: Like his older brother Christopher, Marcus was a three-sport athlete: football, basketball — in hoops, he scored more than 2,000 points — and track & field. He and Chris, in the hall since 2016, combined to win five consecutive state high jump titles, and the 2006-07 Rams basketball team won the state title in The Pit. He was All-District, All-Metro and All-State in football and basketball, and selected during his senior season to play in the annual all-star games for both sports.
Remembers his basketball coach, Brian Smith: “I am so happy for him to be inducted into the RRHS Sports Hall of Fame. It is a well-deserved honor for such a decorated athlete. Marcus is probably the most-athletic player I’ve ever coached. He comes from a great family with a lot of athleticism (Wallace, Carol and Chris). He was a rare and once-in-a-lifetime athlete for me. On the basketball court he could shoot, defend, jump, rebound, and score when he wanted to. He had amazing body control and his quickness was unmatched.”
Not surprisingly, with his talent and fitness level as an adult, Williams is perennially the best player on the floor when current RRHS boys basketball coach Wally Salata holds alumni games in the RAC.
Megan Muñiz: A five-year varsity basketball guard, Megan showed her leadership skills when she was named the team captain for the junior varsity soccer team and basketball team in her freshman seasons. She made her varsity hoops debut on Dec. 18, 2004, in a victory over visiting Manzano — and four games later, she was scoring in double figures. It was to be the start of something good, as she went on to the Air Force Academy.
The HOF honor, says her former Rams coach, Bobby McIntyre, is “very deserving, obviously. She was in the top-three for assists, maybe No.2 to Bri (Rode) in scoring — she played five years, but she was good enough to play five years. … I think over the 12 years (I was at RRHS), I think Megan had to do even more for our team (without a lot of depth). We didn’t have a true post player in that senior group, so we surrounded Megan with some perimeter players and upped our tempo, tried to keep the ball in Megan’s hands. That’s what the really good ones do, they make all the others around them better. Just like Krystal (Jim), just like Bri.
“She was extremely intelligent on and off the floor — a very bright, excellent student; it probably came to easy for her,” Coach Mac recalled.
Max Ortega: One of only seven wrestlers in the state to win five individual titles, Max’s success began when he was in the eighth grade and he won the 103-pound title in 2005; he won at 112 in 2006, 130 in 2007, 140 in 2008 and ‘09.
“Max will go down as one of the best to ever step foot on the legendary Rio Rancho wrestling mat,” lauded Jason Nickal, Rams wrestling coach from 2007-10 and also a member of the RRHS HOF. “He was one of the nicest guys ever off the mat, but he was a terror on the mat. Max loved wrestling and it showed in his performance. I am proud to say I had the opportunity to coach Max Ortega.”
His older brother Matt, who won “only” four state titles, was an inductee in 2018.
“Max was never a vocal leader or vocal in terms of talking about how good he is. He is a very humble athlete and lets his wrestling do the talking for him,” said RRHS wrestling coach Mike Santos. “Most of the memorable moments for Max are that he and his brother traveled around so much to wrestle everywhere and he wrestled a lot of future NCAA All-Americans, and in high school, he did really well against them.
“Anyone who knows wrestling, when they see our Rio Rancho wrestling gear, they always ask for the Ortega boys, especially Max — they call him the ‘Five-Timer.’”
Josh Walker: A member of the Rams’ 2007 and ‘09 state championship baseball teams, Josh also dabbled in basketball and cross country in his days as a Ram. Pitching for the University of New Mexico Lobos, he earned second team All-Mountain West honors after going 7-5 with a 3.87 ERA in 15 starts as he finished his career second all-time in wins for both UNM and the Mountain West with 26. He was drafted in the 22nd round by the Baltimore Orioles in the MLB Draft, and played two seasons of minor league ball.
Primarily an outfielder his freshman season, he later became a great pitcher, even adding a three-run second-inning homer in the Rams’ key 7-5 state semifinal win over Sandia, then earning a save in relief of ace Alex Wehner in the 6-5 win over La Cueva in the championship game. (The Bears’ catcher that game, Mitchell Garver, had two hits and chased Wehner from the game; Garver is the Minnesota Twins’ catcher these days. Walker’s only pitching loss that season was at the expense of La Cueva.)
“When Josh was on the mound, I was always confident we had a win, no matter the opponent,” said longtime Rams baseball coach Ron Murphy. “He was a fierce competitor that backed away from nobody. He was a hard worker who was so loyal to every teammate and coach in our program.”
Louis Trujillo: Although his older brother, Mat, was a top-notch matman in his own right, Mat never won an individual championship. Louis did it four times: at 119 pounds in 2007, 125 in 2008, and 130 in 2009 and ‘10.
“Louis Trujillo may be the toughest and strongest wrestler that I have ever coached,” remembered Nickal. “Louis was always ready to battle and he never backed down! I will always remember Louis as having the heart of a lion.”
“Louis came through our junior program and from the very beginning we knew that he was going to be special. In his eighth-grade year, he weighed like 119-120 and wrestled up two weight classes, where he became a state-placer,” added Santos. “He was strong and had this relentless mindset that he was not going to lose, even if he was behind in a match, which was not very many.”
“(He was) someone who left everything on the mat each and every match. We have a picture in our office of him snapping another wrestler down to the mat; snapping someone from their feet down to the mat is really impressive; he did it with ease every time,” Santos recalled.
Adding a touch of class to its home games and matches, RRHS strives to have competent announcers on hand, and Morelock is the veteran of that small group.
“It all started in 1998 when we moved to Rio Rancho and my daughter Audrey was playing softball for Paul (Kohman), and at the first game in 1999, (assistant coach) Dan Elliott had a old soundboard and two big speakers and was the announcer,” the man known here as Johnny Buck recalled. “Dan could not do both coach and announce, so I volunteered — with my DJ experience, I thought it would be fun.”
It was; he’s been doing it for 22 years. His booming voice on the microphone in the Rams Athletic Center somehow turns the single-syllable “Rams” into a five-second pronounciation — and the players and fans love it.
Although it’s a paying gig, Morelock returns most of the money — he uses some of it to buy gas for his hot rod — to the athletics department.
If you’ve heard someone say at the end of a Rams sports contest, “Drive carefully — the life you save may be mine,” you’ve heard Johnny Buck.
Tickets for the event are $5 in advance and can be purchased at the RRHS Athletics Office. Tickets at the door will be sold for $8 per person. Contact RRHS athletics secretary Debbie Garcia at 962-9501 to RSVP or for more information.
Nominations for future RRHS Sports Hall of Fame members may be made by emailing email@example.com or dropping them off in RRHS A.D. Vince Metzgar’s office.