On Nov. 5-6, 2011, three Highlands Vato student athletes were selected to play for the Eastern Rockies Rugby Union College All-Star Team in the USA West Rugby Union All-Star Championships in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Eastern Rockies All-Stars reached the finals before losing to the Heart of America All-Stars. The Texas All-Stars won the consolation.

Senior Estevan Martinez from Mora, junior Adrian McDuff from Dallas, and junior Jake Whiting from Los Angeles were highly applauded by Coach Micah Carter from Regis University in Denver. “The young Vatos were exemplary representatives of Highlands and New Mexico on and off the field. They may be selected to the USA West All-Star Team next spring to compete at the national level against the USA East, Midwest, and Pacific Unions All-Stars. From this competition, the USA All-American Team will then be formed and will tour internationally next summer. By their merits, they have entered a highly selective pool," Coach Carter noted.   

“It was a good experience to play at a high college level with some of the best players in the West. Everyone knows the game well and is smart and athletic. Not needing to instruct others, I can focus on my game and skills. It was fun to have a go with them," remarked halfback Estevan Martinez.
“Obviously, better opposition produces better rugby. It was fun to represent small Highlands in the arena of major universities," added Jake Whiting.

Center Adrian McDuff remarked, “Good rugby flows through channels plowed only by experience. All the players were experienced sportsmen. I will run sharper angles and tackle more effectively from my time in Kansas City. Like all sports, rugby is only a game, but a great game that respects fitness and fair play.”

Coach Dick Greene was not surprised by the success of the chosen Vatos. “I expect all Vatos to act as hard gentlemen – rugby men – nothing less. They did. I tip my hat to them.”

The Highlands Vatos (11-3-1) continue their quest to reach the 2012 National Playoffs in mid February 2012.

Finally, at the annual Vato Awards Dinner on Nov. 1, 2011, the following players were honored for 2011:

Overall MVP Scotty Soto
Forward MVP Brian Ybarra
Back MVP Estevan Martinez
Rookie MVP Jake Whiting
Vato Loco Award  Matt Guzman
Vato Character Award  Andrew Lavea
Everyone is invited to have a run in 2012. Please contact Coach Greene at greene_d@nmhu.edu