San Juan High School spring teams get a week of competition in before season is suspended

The Utah high school sports landscape is very uncertain following an announcement that the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) suspended all activities and athletics beginning March 16 for a period of at least two weeks in the wake of the worldwide COVID-19 virus outbreak.
According to the Association, “The UHSAA has suspended spring activities and athletics, including practice and team gatherings, to properly fulfill best practices regarding protection of students and the general public.”
So, for now, coaches and athletes await word from the UHSAA to find out whether the season will resume after the two-week suspension or be cancelled entirely.
It hasn’t been a complete loss for San Juan High School teams though. Before the season was suspended, the baseball, softball, and boys soccer teams all got a week of competition under their belts.
The softball team arguably had the most exciting game of the week when they hosted Kirtland Central, NM on Tuesday, March 3 in a battle pitting two Lady Bronco squads against each other.
From the start it was indeed a battle. Kirtland Central opened with a three-run first inning, but San Juan bounced right back to put up four of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
Kirtland Central established a solid lead when they touched San Juan starter Kaitlynne Perkins for five runs in the second frame and San Juan was only able to respond with one. Kirtland added one more run in their half of the third inning to go up 9-5.
That’s where the score remained until the seventh and final inning and San Juan needed their best offensive output of the game to pull off a comeback. That’s exactly what they got.
San Juan was clutch, scoring five runs in the inning to stun Kirtland Central 10-9. Batters six through nine produced for the Lady Broncos, then the top three batters in the order completed the amazing rally.
Offensively, senior Ta’ssi Su’esu’e led the way for San Juan. She was three for five with four RBIs and a run scored. Jalynn Swenson and Makaeli Begay were both three of four on the day.
Swenson drove in one run and scored three. Emilie Palmer and Liz Pugh collected two RBIs apiece in the win. Su’esu’e hit two triples in the game and Palmer hit a double.
Senior Delaney Palmer was strong in relief of Perkins. She shut down Kirtland Central for the final four innings of the game, allowing no runs on just one hit, two strikeouts, and two walks.
San Juan Head Coach Craig Swenson said, “It’s always good to come back, even in the bottom of the seventh.” He was confident his girls could get it done.
Swenson is hoping the season suspension will eventually be lifted and that the team will get a few more games in before it’s over.
He said that the players were just starting to get their arms in shape and too long of a break may hurt their progress.
He said he was looking forward to seeing what the team could do this year hitting since they are strong from the first spot all the way down to the ninth.
He added that if the season doesn’t resume it will be a “bummer.” He is seven wins away from 300 on his 20-year career and was likely to hit that goal. Unfortunately, he’s also set to retire from coaching after this season.
The San Juan boys soccer team opened their third season and got four games under their belts before the season was suspended by the UHSAA.
On the scoreboard, it wasn’t super pretty, but as far as players learning a new sport and continuing to improve their skills, head coach Jay Jones likes what he sees.
The boys opened the season with a tough 8-0 loss to Grand in Blanding on Wednesday, March 5. The next day they traveled to Monroe, UT to take on South Sevier.
The Rams scored three first-half goals on the Broncos and the teams traded goals in the second in San Juan’s second loss of the year 4-1. Junior Travis Black scored the lone goal for San Juan on a penalty kick.
The Broncos completed a very busy three-day swing when they returned to Blanding to host a preseason tournament on Friday, March 6.
They lost to Union 7-1 in the morning, then to Morgan 8-0 in the afternoon match. Sophomore Brett James scored San Juan’s goal in the loss to Union. Sophomore goalkeeper Lennon Done has made 22 saves in the first four games of the season.
Coach Jones said that his team has been stronger in second-half play and part of his challenge this season was figuring out a way to help the players bring the same level of play for entire games.
He was especially looking forward to a three-game home stand that would have taken place this week before the season was suspended, saying that the team was really starting to communicate and work together better.
Jones said two of the main strengths of the team this season are the unity they had begun to build and the positive attitude they maintained, even while losing games.
One weakness he pointed out is that San Juan players simply don’t have the playing experience of their opponents, and he said some of the players aren’t fully committed to working on their skills on their own.
They’ll definitely have that opportunity now that the season is temporarily (possibly completely) over.
The baseball team traveled to Mesquite, NV for the annual Cactus Classic hosted by Virgin Valley High School March 5-7, opening the tournament with a tough 6-0 loss to the host Bulldogs on Thursday, March 5.
The Broncos were unable to muster a better result in game two Friday morning when they lost to Sports Leadership and Management Academy Nevada 7-1 in a five-inning contest.
San Juan opened the scoring in the first inning, but a three-run third by the Bulls and a four-run fourth inning put the game out of reach.
The Broncos broke through for their first win of the season, 5-4 over Indian Springs, NV Friday night. Senior Shaw Nielson and sophomore Jeter Perkins scored two points apiece in the win.
Senior Randall Flavel went two for three on the night with two RBIs. Freshman Jerzy Nieves was an impressive two for two with one RBI and a run scored. Perkins was one for two on the night.
Nielson stole three bases in the win. Perkins, Nieves, and Elijah Lee all snagged two apiece. Senior pitcher Kash Shumway worked three and two-thirds innings, struck out four, and didn’t allow a run.
San Juan kept the momentum alive to close out the tourney with a 5-3 win over Virgin Valley JV on Saturday, March 7. The Broncos were six for 19 and their five runs were scored by five different players.
Nieves led the way with two RBIs; Flavel, Nielson, and Perkins all got one apiece. Senior Davis Mendoza was a perfect two for two on the day with a run scored. Mendoza also pitched three shutout innings, allowing just one hit.
San Juan Head Coach Jens Nielson was happy with the weekend, saying the team got “a strong pitching performance from Mendoza and Nielson. Nieves provided some key at bats…and got our offense rolling [against Indian Springs].”

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