By CASEY MUSE JR.
Pima Community College has meant so much to so many students over the years. The athletics department has offered opportunities to hundreds of student athletes in various sports.
Many athletes at PCC are in it for the educational benefits, but lately several sports have been in serious contention. Success has provided both a local and national stage for some Aztecs.
Men’s and women’s soccer have each had solid seasons the last two years.
The women’s team finished the 2017 campaign at 16-6-1 and was one win away from a Region I Division I championship. The men’s team finished at 18-3-1 and won the Region I Division I championship.
Men’s soccer also saw sophomore forward Hector Banegas named third-team NJCAA All-American. Banegas and fellow sophomore Kyle VanAlstine signed national letters of intent to continue their careers at Metropolitan State University in Denver.
Women’s basketball has seen recent success under the leadership of head coach Todd Holthaus. The Aztecs were one game away from retaining the Region I Division II title they earned last season.
Sophomore guard Sydni Stallworth is a two-time NJCAA All-American and a leader on the team. She will continue her playing career at Division II powerhouse Alaska-Anchorage University.
Men’s basketball finally broke through this season, earning an overall record of 22-13, a Region I Division II title and trip to the second round of the NJCAA tournament. Head coach Brian Peabody has worked tirelessly to reinstate confidence into the program.
Sophomore big man Deion James was an incredible story this season as he earned Pima its first-ever NJCAA Player of the Year award.
Aztec softball has remained consistent with a stellar bullpen led by sophomore Bailey Critchlow and freshman Mandy Lorenson. The team has seen success under head coach Armando Quiroz, who won his 400th career game during the 2016 season.
Aztec baseball is headed in the right direction with solid young talent.
Men’s and women’s tennis had fantastic seasons and are each headed to the NJCAA tournament.
Sophomore Desiree Hong has been a staple for Aztec golf. She earned the ACCAC Player of the Year award two years in a row and did not finish lower than second in any tournament during the 2017 season.
Lastly, Pima football has seen an upward trend under the watch of coach Jim Monaco. The Aztecs are just two seasons removed from an appearance in the WSFL championship game.
The team announced it will open the 2017 regular season against nationally ranked Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas. The program hopes the game will provide national exposure and attract Texas athletes to PCC.
PCC athletics has earned respect among its peers and continues to build one of the most intriguing programs in Arizona.