Alamogordo Sport History: A Look Back at the 1973 Alamogordo Tigers Track and Field Team with District & State Results – Alamogordo Town News & Sports

A Look Back at the 1973 Alamogordo Tigers Track and Field Team brings us to the first of many track and field state trophies to be awarded to Alamogordo High School under the leadership of Coach Bob Sepulveda who led the team from the late 60’s to the mid 90’s. Under his leadership the track and field team won 5 state title, 4 in a row in the mid 90’s and countless 2nd, and 3rd place state trophies as well as district titles. 1973 was a defining year in the path upward for Alamogordo High Track and Field.

The 1973 Alamogordo Tiger Track and Field felt the pressure of District Wins each of the 3 preceding years. From a team of only 13 just 3 years ago, the 1973 squad consisted of 32 team members.

(Photo above 1973 Alamogordo High Track and Field Team Fieldsmen L-R: Norman Avila, Terry Rich, Bob Tuttle. Backrow: Ron Gourley, Steve Fredrick, Carl Hutchison, David Burch & Tim McMurry.)

Photo Above 1973 Alamogordo High Track and Field Team Sprinters  front row: Will Henley, Paul Najera, Ken Washington, David Finley. Back row: Dale Norman, Dennis Baca, Larry Vorquez, Pat Telles, Jim Sanders. Third Row: Joe Wright, Scott Hutt and Chuck Wood.

Photo Above: 1973 Alamogordo High Track & Field Distance Runners front row: David Dunlop, Russell Golightly, Tom Woolworth, Brad Person, Charles Racoosin. Second row: David Sanchez, Steven Garcia, Terry McLean, Eddy Garcia, Robert Golightly and Ken Burns.

Photo in story above Coach Bob Sepulveda in 1973 with the stopwatch checking his teams times. His saying prevails today, “the stopwatch never lies, run, run, run”

The Alamogordo Tiger Boy’s took several medals at the White Sands Rolla Buck Invitational Meet of 1973. At that time girls did not participate in interscholastic sports but all of that was in the process of changing as GAA was phasing out and interscholastic sports for girls would begin the next year via title IX at Alamogordo High.

Alamogordo Boy’s who placed at the 1973 Rolla Buck White Sands Invitational Sponsored by the Lions Club included:

  • Terry Rich, 3rd Place Pole Vault
  • Chuck Wood, 1st Place, 220 Yard Dash
  • Dale Norman, 2nd Place 120 High Hurdles
    • 3rd Place Low Hurdles
  • Will Henley, 2nd Place, 100 Yard Dash
    • 2nd Place, 220 Dash
  • Robert Golightly, 3rd Place, Mile Run
  • Steve Frederick, 3rd Place, Shot Put
  • Mark Taylor, 2nd Place, 440 Yard Dash
  • Scott Hutt, 3rd Place, 880 Run
  • Art Keller, Ken Washington, Chuck Wood, Jimmy Sanders, 4th Place, Medley Relay

School records were established in the mile relay and the 180- yard low hurdles Saturday during the White Sands Relays sponsored by the Tiger Track Team and the Evening Lions Club of 1973.

Art Keller flashed over the hurdles in 19.6 in the preliminaries and went on to win the event and he was named the “Outstanding Athlete” for the Relays.

The Tiger mile relay team ripped off that distance in 3.24.7 to break the school record set by Bowie in 1972 during the Relays when they ran it in 3.26.2. Relay team members were Ken Washington, Dennis Baca, Mark Taylor and Jimmy Sanders.

The Tiger 440 Relay Team took first when they ran it in 43.6 Art Keller, Ken Washington, Chuck Wood and Jimmy Sanders were on the team. Keller also took first in the 100- yard dash. Chuck Wood took 1st in the 220 dash. Jimmy Sanders took 1st in the 440 dash. Carl Hutchison tied for1st in the High Jump. Steve Frederickson took 1st in the discus. Robert Golightly placed 1st in the two-mile run….

Meet results showed the Tigers with a team 1st place win with a final total of 112 ½ Bowie came in 2nd at 46 ½ and Cobre came in 3rd with a 41 ½.

The District Title in 1973 went again to the Alamogordo Tigers for a 4th consecutive year in a row. The local paper of the time the Alamogordo Daily News Reported:

1972/73 District Track & Field Results  May 6th, 1973 Headline Alamogordo Sports Section…”Thinclads Get 135 Points to Cop 4th District Win”

“Tiger Thinclads walked… or ran… jumped or threw further and faster than anyone else in the district 3AAAA at Las Cruces on Saturday, to take their 4th District Win in a row under Coach Bob Sepulveda. 12 of the Tigers placed 1st
Place in the meet competitions as the Tigers Topped 135 points for a 1st Place finish. Mayfield scored 94 points for a 2nd Place Finish and Las Cruces scored 75 points for a 3rd Place Finish.”

1973 Alamogordo High School Boys Track and Field District Medalist included:

  • Carl Hutchison, 1st Place, High Jump
  • Steve Frederick, 1st Place, Discus
  • 1st Place, 440 Relay Team
  • 2nd Place, Shot Put
  • Art Keller, 1st Place, 100 Yard Dash
    • 1st Place, 880 Relay Team
  • 1st Place, Mile Relay Team
  • 2nd Place,120 Low Hurdles
  • Jimmy Sanders, 1st Place, 440 Relay Team
  • Larry Vazquez , 1st Place, Mile Relay Team
  • Dale Norman, 1st Place, High Hurdles
    • 1st Place, Low Hurdles
  • Mark Taylor, 2nd Place, 440
  • Scott Hutt, 1st Place ,880
  • Chuck Wood, 1st Place220
    • 2nd Place, High Hurdles
  • Robert Golightly, 1st Place, 2Mile
    • 2nd Place, 1 Mile
  • Dennis Baca, 2nd Place,220
    • 5th Place, 120 High Hurdles
  • Brad Pierson, 2nd Place, 2 Mile
  • Charlie Racoosin, 4th Place, 2Mile
  • Art Keller, Ken Washington, Chuck Wood, Jimmy Sanders, 3rd Place, Medley Relay
  • Will Henley, 3rd Place,220
    • 4th Place, 100 Yard Dash
  • Terry McClean, 5th Place, Mile
  • Terry Rich, 5th Place, Pole Vault

13 Tigers qualified to attend the state meet in Albuquerque May 11th and 12th, 1973.

May 12th, 1973 is a day that will live in the memories of most of the class of 1973 as that is the day the Boys brought home a state trophy. The headlines across the state raged on about the upset and surprise that Alamogordo pulled off a 2nd place showing at the state level.

“The Alamogordo Tiger Thinclads surprised most of the track experts when they pulled into the 2nd Place position during

the State Track Meet to capture a big trophy at Albuquerque”

Photo Above 1973 2nd Place State Track and Field Trophy and Winning Team: Back L-R: Coach Dick Strong, Coach Jack Geron, Dale Norman, Steve Frederick, Carl Hutchison, Jimmy Sanders, Scott Hutt, Mark Taylor, Coach Jack Narrell, Head Coach Bob Sepulveda. Front L-R: Manager Pat McMurry, Art Keller, Robert Golightly, Brad Pierson, Dennis Baca, Ken Washington and Chuck Wood. (Photo Courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days Book 1- Alamogordo News 5/17/73)

Defending State Champion Hobbs took an early lead and placed 1st to win the state. Alamogordo Tigers placed second in the state meet with 48 points followed by Carlsbad in 3rd place and Clovis closing out with a 4th place win.

Individual State Medalist for the 1973 State Track Meet from the Alamogordo Tiger’s Track and Field Team included:

  • Steve Fredericks, 1st Place, Discus, 159’10”
  • Robert Golightly, 1st Place, 2 Mile Run ,10.31.1
  • Ken Washington, Larry Vazquez , Mark Taylor & Jimmy Sanders 1st Place, Mile Relay, 3.25.4
  • Jimmy Sanders, 3rd Place, 440,49.8
  • Dale Norman, 5th Place, 180 Low Hurdles, 21.3
  • Art Keller, Ken Washington, Chuck Wood, Jimmy Sanders, 3rd Place, 440 Relay, 48.4
  • Scott Hutt, 4th Place, 880,2.00
  • Chuck Wood, 3rd Place, 220, 22.6
    • 5th Place, 100, 10.2
  • Carl Hutchison, 3rd Place, High Jump, 6’.0
  • Art Keller, 4th Place, 100,10.1

(Photo Above Art Keller Team Member 1973 Track & Field State Medalist Alamogordo Tiger Track Team of 1973.)

(Photo Above Jimmy Sanders at the New Mexico State Track Meet Placing 1st in the 1 Mile Relay with team members Ken Washington, Larry Vazquez and Mark Taylor. (Photo courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda Collection)

Alamogordo High School Girls competed in the state GAA event that same weekend. 59 Girls attended the 6th annual GAA track meet representing Alamogordo. Seventh to Twelfth graders took part in three classes: Senior, Junior and Intermediate. 31 Junior High, 21 Mid High and 7 High School girls entered.

The Alamogordo Girls took 2nd in the Senior High level, 3rd in the Junior Division and 3rd in the Intermediate Division.

The coaches were Marilyn Sepulveda, Fran Stirman and Helen Reed.

Source and certain Excerpts from Alamogordo News referenced in Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days Book 1 from 1973 Available Locally at Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue Alamogordo, Tularosa Basin Historical Society on White Sands Blvd, and on Amazon in 36 Countries.

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History: Golf Coach Billy Aldridge, “Mr. Irrelevant” a title given to the last player picked in the NFL draft was relevant!

The title of “Mr. Irrelevant” is given annually to the last player picked in the NFL draft. 1960 brought a change in leadership of the Alamogordo football and the track and field program. The new program leader was Coach Ralph Tate. Coach Tate had a connection to the Alamogordo school system, via his college friend, Alamogordo Golf Coach Billy Aldridge. 

Photo Coach Billy Aldridge New Mexico Golf (Photo Courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days Book Series 2nd Life Media Alamogordo Town News)
Photo on Blog of Mr. Relevant Coach Billy Aldridge New Mexico Golf – (Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days Book Alamogordo Town News 2nd Life Media)

Both were alumni of Oklahoma State University, both were competitive and avid golfers; (competing in many tournaments together and against each other) and both were drafted to the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. 

Neither actually had play time in the NFL instead; Aldridge pursued his passion of Coaching Golf and Tate followed his passion into Coaching Track & Field and Football primarily Track and Field. 

For a brief time Tate coached in Alamogordo for the 1960/61 Track & Field Season, while Aldridge had a long career in Alamogordo as a recognized winning coach.

Tragedy shook the boys and coaches competing at State in 1976. Concurrent to the State Track and Field meet is also competition of other athletic events, Golf being one of them. Alamogordo had one of the winningest and most successful high school golf programs on the west coast. 

The Golf Program was under the Coaching leadership of Billy Aldridge. Aldridge and Coach Tate had a very strong bond and strong relationship in the early 1960’s. Tate moved on from Alamogordo but Aldridge built a reputation unsurpassed in Alamogordo even in more modern times. 

Coach Aldridge’s program was unique in that it was coached by him and he had exclusive control of that program. He collaborated in PE and was respected by all the other athletic coaches. He produced the 3 and only three State Golf Titles Alamogordo has ever won per the NMAA. The Tigers won the team state title in 1968, 1971 and 1972 under Coach Bill Aldridge.

Alamogordo High School has had 4 male golf champions win the state golf title 3 were under Coach Aldridge.  Under Coach Aldridge in 1966, Bruce McKenzie won the title and the title went to Brad Bryant in 1971 and 1973. Bryant attended the University of New Mexico for three years, but turned professional and qualified for the PGA Tour in 1976, a year before his scheduled graduation.

May 13, 1976 Alamogordo News Headline Page 1 Article by Rick Wright: “Team Playing for Coach, Aldridge Hit by Car on Duke City Street”

“ Alamogordo High School Golf Coach was listed in critical condition…after being struck by a car Wednesday night… Aldridge 53, was struck by a car while walking across Albuquerque’s Central Avenue… A medical center spokesman said Aldridge was in critical condition and suffered a broken back, broken ankle, broken leg, broken ribs and collapsed lung…

Aldridges 5 man golf team competing at state was badly shaken up by the event. Alamogordo’s individual leader Dan Koesters spoke for the team and said,”We are trying to win for him. He’d like for us to win for sure. We are trying to put the accident out of our minds for a few hours and win it for him.”

Per the Alamogordo News, May 14, 1976; “the Alamogordo Tigers Golf Team was 3rd after the first round and only 3 strokes behind Sandia and Santa Fe.”

Coach Bob Sepulveda was asked to step in to console the boys and fill in as the tournament coach during the final phase of the golf tournament. Coach Sepulveda said, “the boys were obviously shaken up as was I. I was there to console the team and provide support. We were all shocked and broken hearted.”

Coach Billy Aldridge did not recover and died of complications from the accident with the announcement of his death on May 16th, 1976.

Jimmy Tramel, World Sports Writer did an interview with Aldridges wife in 2006 and outlined a great highlight of his life…

1945’s ‘Mr. Irrelevant,’ a former OSU player, was relevant to many people during short life. The title of “Mr. Irrelevant” is given annually to the last player picked in the NFL draft. The label doesn’t fit Billy Joe Aldridge…

Aldridge, an Alma, Okla., native and former Oklahoma State football player, was the final player picked in the 1945 NFL Draft. He was selected in the 32nd round — 330th overall — by the Green Bay Packers. Aldridge never played a lick for the Packers, but he was relevant to many people during a life cut short 30 years ago this month.

Aldridge was a successful high school golf coach in Alamogordo, N.M., for more than two decades. He accompanied his team to Albuquerque for the state tournament in 1976 and the fatal accident occurred before the event concluded. His grief-stricken players got the worst kind of wake-up call the next morning, but teed it up nonetheless.

“He would have kicked us in the a– if we didn’t play,” said former player Dan Koesters, who is now director of golf at New Mexico State University’s course. “It was definitely one of those deals. There was never a day when you weren’t going to play some golf.” Aldridge coached Alamogordo teams that won multiple state championships. By Koesters’ count, at least seven Aldridge pupils played major college golf and five were All-Americans. Brad Bryant is fourth on  the Champions Tour money list this year and younger brother Bart Bryant is on the PGA Tour.

Billy Joe Aldridge died a month shy of his 54th birthday. He lived a long time in comparison to a younger brother, Bennie, a five-year NFL veteran who died in a 1956 plane crash, and a brother who died at age 3.

Another brother, Hubert, flirted with the grim reaper while in Iwo Jima. He took a sniper’s bullet and was unable to walk after he was transported to a military base.

Billy Joe Aldridge played football at Oklahoma A&M from 1941-42. His college career was interrupted by World War II. He spent three years in the Marines and his primary wartime duty was entertaining troops via athletic feats. He boxed and suited up for a Marine football squad alongside Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, an NFL Hall of Famer who was picked 325 spots before Aldridge in the 1945 draft.

Aldridge once spotted a pretty female Marine, Bonnie Pedigo, in a dance hall. He told buddies he was going to marry that gal, and he was true to his word. Said Bonnie, “He called home and said ‘Mom, sell my 4-H calf. I’m going to get married.’ ” He had to pay a whopping tab (more than $30!) for a multiday honeymoon stay at the Statler Hotel in Washington, D.C.

After his military stint was over, Aldridge returned to his home state because he wanted to fulfill his dream of being a star runner at Oklahoma A&M. Problem was, a lad named Bob Fenimore already had that job.

Aldridge and his wife took advantage of the G.I. Bill to earn degrees and, while in Stillwater, golf became a passion. He soon was playing or practicing every day, regardless of weather.

If it rained, Aldridge would go out after the downpour stopped and hit balls until “dark-thirty,” said his widow. She recalled the time she made a hole-in-one and it was so cold that when she reached in the cup to grab her ball, she came away clutching a handful of ice. Aldridge burned a pile of leaves on the next hole so he and his wife could get warm.

Billy Aldridge wanted to coach and was determined to find a way to coach and was soon enroute to Alamogordo via teaching hitch in Carnegie. His first job was a $2,400-per-year gig in Carnegie. He and Bonnie took jobs in Idabel the next year because two incomes would allow them to be better providers for a son, Kent. Oklahoma teachers weren’t getting rich back then and Aldridge doubled his salary when he drove sight unseen to take a teaching and coaching job in Dexter, N.M. He left after one year to go to Alamogordo. “I heard they were building a golf course here and decided that since I liked golf better than any of the other sports I had been connected with, I would come here,” he once told an Alamogordo sports writer.

Aldridge coached nothing but golf at Alamogordo. Dan Koesters said Aldridge was ahead of his time as a high school coach, including the use of yardage books. Koesters said Alamogordo golfers “did things as a high school golf team that college teams didn’t do and things that I still have never seen a high school team do. We would meet at the park at 6:30 every morning and hit golf balls . . . and when we would get out of school, we would go to the course and play until dark.”

During Aldridge’s coaching career seven people came out of Alamogordo High and played Division I golf, that was really pretty amazing,” per Dan Koesters.

Koesters is in New Mexico State University’s Athletic Hall of Fame. “There is absolutely no question that my whole career hinges around a couple of people — coach Aldridge and my college golf coach, another guy I would put in that same classification. I guarantee you that Brad Bryant would say the exact same thing,” said Koesters of Aldridge.

Aldridges wife Bonnie, in an interview in 2006 acknowledged her husband’s contributions and his imperfections…

The late Billy Joe Aldridge was not perfect (no golfer is — imperfection is what makes golfers always come back for another round).” She acknowledged, “he battled the demon in the bottle.”

Bonnie found out what others thought of her husband after his death. She said “people I didn’t even know sent cards and letters.” She takes solace in the fact her husband made a difference. “I would like to think that every individual did good things for other people,” she said.

So the 1975,76 Alamogordo Tiger graduating class moved forward with tears and also great memories. The decade was a period of great change. Change did come to Alamogordo over the decades but the history and contributions of Coach Billy Aldridge are certainly relevant to this sports history of Alamogordo and of New Mexico. His impact on so many youth within New Mexico was relevant and is relevant today.

To learn more stories of the relevance of Coach Aldridge, Coach Tate, Coach Sepulveda and 100s of athletes. For more stories purchase Coach Robert Sepulveda The Early Days book series available on Amazon in 46 Countries or in the US also on Amazon and at fine independent book sellers such as Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue Alamogordo, New Mexico or your local independent book seller.