San Juan High 2020 sports year in review
In this issue of the Record we’re looking back at the 2020 high school sports year for all the teams in San Juan County. In this story we feature the San Juan High School Broncos.
One of the goals for the 2019-2020 San Juan High School boys basketball team was to win their state play-in game and advance to the 3A quarterfinals – a task recent Bronco teams had struggled to accomplish.
When they did conquer that hilltop, they found themselves facing one of their toughest opponents of the season in Judge Memorial on February 20.
The Broncos jumped out to a 23-18 lead and battled all game, but too many turnovers bit them. When the final horn sounded they were three points short of the Bulldogs 66-63.
It was truly a heartbreaker that took a great emotional and mental toll on the San Juan boys. The next day they ended the season with a tough 60-43 loss to Grantsville.
The Broncos finished the season with a 16-8 record, their best in nine seasons. Jaxon Torgerson was the top scorer with 387 points on the year (16.1 per game). Randall Flavel scored 333 points (13.9 ppg) and grabbed a team-high 191 rebounds.
Shaw Nielson’s 57 threes were best for San Juan and he added 234 points. Ryan Imlay scored 166 points and Elijah Lee got 148.
Reflecting on the season, Bronco Head Coach Travis Black said his players grew as individuals and became better young men – always a goal for a coaching staff.
The San Juan girls basketball team also accomplished their goal of qualifying for the state tournament in 2020, making just their fourth trip to the quarterfinals in the last 14 years.
To earn a birth in the tourney they upset #6 Emery, but suffered losses to Grantsville and Morgan in the quarterfinals and fifth-place semifinals at Sal Lake Community College to close out the year.
The Lady Broncos finished the season 12-11, outscoring their opponents 1,256 to 1,071. Leading scorer Tasiah Little got 315 points on the season (15.8 per game), Madison Palmer scored 234 (11.7 ppg), and Syannah Ketchum got 144 (7.2 ppg).
The San Juan High School wrestling team sent five wrestlers to the 2020 state tournament when those wrestlers all finished in the top 10 at the 3A Divisional Wrestling Tournament in Richfield January 31 and February 1. Jeter Perkins was the top Bronco with a sixth place result at 160 pounds.
Landon Black came home seventh for the Broncos at 138 pounds, Kash Shumway and Dresden Seely got eighth at 138 pounds and 145 pounds respectively, and Tyler Bayles earned ninth place at 160 pounds.
Before the 2020 spring season was cancelled due to COVID-19 the softball, boys soccer, and baseball teams all got a week of competition under their belts.
The softball team arguably played the most exciting game of the week when they hosted Kirtland Central, NM on March 3 in a battle pitting two Lady Bronco squads against each other.
Early on, the teams battled back and forth, but by the third inning Kirtland Central had built a 9-5 lead. That’s where the score remained until the seventh and final inning. San Juan needed their best offensive output of the game to pull off a comeback and 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.
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 liked what he saw.
Junior Travis Black and sophomore Brett James scored a goal apiece – the Broncos’ only two goals in the four games. Sophomore goalkeeper Lennon Done made 22 saves.
Coach Jones said two of the main strengths of the team in 2020 were the unity they had begun to build and the positive attitude they maintained, even in tough losses.
The San Juan 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.
The Broncos were unable to muster a better result in game two when they lost to Sports Leadership and Management Academy Nevada 7-1 in a five-inning contest.
The Broncos broke through for their first win of the season, 5-4 over Indian Springs, NV in game three. 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 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.
Sports resumed in the fall with trepidation. Though some schools were not as fortunate, thankfully San Juan High School was able to complete their fall seasons.
For the football team, it was a year worth writing home about. The Broncos’ eight wins this season matched their output in 2019 which is tied for their most since 2016.
They ended the year 8-4 overall and 4-1 in Region 12, posting strong wins over Delta, Grantsville, and Emery along the way.
In the final game of the year San Juan gave the eventual 3A state champion Juab Wasps a run for their money in a 20-7 state quarterfinal loss.
The Broncos scored 468 points in 2020, the most in 3A football and an average of 39 per game. They allowed the sixth-fewest points at 265.
The Broncos made some noise individually this year also. Ladd Ivins’s eight interceptions were tied for the most in the state with Milford’s Heston Sullivan (Sullivan played one more game than Ivins). Ivins’s 1,315 receiving yards were fifth-best in the state.
Jace Palmer’s 2,859 passing yards in 2020 were ninth-most; his 31 passing touchdowns were seventh. Cooper Black’s 14 touchdown catches were also ninth-most in the state.
Head coach Barkley Christensen is excited about his team, which will return a lot of experience in 2021, boast solid depth, and will be poised to build on an excellent 2020 season and advance to the next level.
A young San Juan volleyball squad ended the 2020 season 7-19 overall and 0-9 in Region 12 play. They spanked American Leadership in straight sets in the first of two state tournament play-in matches on October 24, but suffered a tough loss to #1 Union in game two to end the season.
Senior Jerika Torgerson led the Lady Broncos’ serving game with an impressive 2.18 service rating. She served 93.8 percent on the year.
Sophomore Avina Cordova was right behind her with a 2.13 rating. She bested Torgerson, however, with a 94.7 serve percentage for the year.
Torgerson and Bailey Brown co-led the Lady Broncos with 37 aces apiece this season. Sadie Brown hit 34, Cordova got 28, Kaeahliyah Howard hit 25, and Maycee Conway had 13.
The top San Juan serve returners for 2020 (among players with at least 100 attempts) were Torgerson with a 1.88 rating, Sadie Brown with a 1.74, Bailey Brown with a 1.50, Howard with a 1.49, and Conway with a 1.46.
In hitting, Torgerson also led the way for the Lady Broncos in kills with 372. Sophomore Kinley Noyes weighed in with 142, Sadie Brown got 102, Bailey Brown 91, and sophomore Macy Jacobsen 75.
Torgerson led the team in blocks this season also, with 68. Jacobsen had 39, Bailey Brown got 31, junior Halli Palmer had 19, Noyes collected 17, and Sadie Brown got 16.
Torgerson was tops in digs for San Juan with 293. Bailey Brown got 286, Sadie Brown was right behind with 285, Cordova had 150, and Howard got 130.
Bailey Brown collected the most assists for the Lady Broncos in 2020 with 381. Cordova had 228 helpers, Palmer 82, Sadie Brown 25, and Torgerson 18.
Like the football team, head coach Marci Black’s squad will return a good deal of experience in 2021. Black said the coaches were all proud of the girls’ progress in 2020 and look forward to seeing them continue to advance headed into 2021.
In just their second year at the varsity level, the San Juan girls soccer team picked up wins over Gunnison Valley (2), Grand, and South Sevier to finish 2020 13th in the 3A ranks with a 4-9 overall record.
Senior Emily Jacobsen led the Lady Broncos’ offensive effort with 20 goals on the season. Senior Shae Nielson added four; senior Kyrell Patterson scored three; and Ashlyn Palmer, Elizabeth Pugh, and Abby Jacobsen tallied one apiece.
Senior goalkeeper Emilie Palmer was outstanding between the pipes for San Juan all season, amassing an astounding 232 saves (almost 18 per game).
San Juan High School was well-represented on Deseret News 3A All-state sports teams for seasons that concluded in 2020.
In boys basketball, senior Jaxon Torgerson made first team All-state, senior Randall Flavel was named to the second team, and seniors Shaw Nielson and Ryan Imlay received honorable mentions.
In girls basketball, senior Tasiah Little was named first team All-state and senior Madison Palmer made third team.
Senior goalkeeper Emilie Palmer earned second team girls soccer All-state honors and senior forward Emily Jacobsen received an honorable mention.
In football, junior wide receiver Ladd Ivins made the All-state first team. Junior defensive tackle Bronson Snyder and junior middle linebacker Jensen Grover made second team.
Three Broncos received football honorable mentions for 2020: junior quarterback Jace Palmer, junior wide receiver Cooper Black, and senior offensive guard Jaden Baker
And in volleyball, senior middle blocker Jerika Torgerson made third team All-state.
Three San Juan High School student athletes earned Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) Academic All-state honors in the 2020 winter sports season.
Sophia Redd was named to the Academic All-state drill team, Madison Palmer was honored in girls basketball, and Kash Shumway received wrestling team honors.
In the spring, five more Broncos were honored despite the season being shortened by COVID-19. Staten Perkins was named to the Academic All-state tennis team, Madison Palmer and Delaney Palmer were honored in softball, and Levi Ward and Alexander Lott received soccer team honors.
And the honors continued in the fall season when two SJHS student athletes were named to Academic All-state teams. Kalea Chamberlain was honored in girls soccer and Lydia Pugh in girls cross country.