Signing day: NM's top soccer scorer makes her college choice; ENMU gets haul of local football talent

Feb. 6—The uncertainty within Savanah Sanchez needed some time to resolve itself.

When it had, she realized that what she wanted and what she needed was in her own backyard.

The Hope Christian senior forward, the state's leading scorer during the 2023 prep soccer season and one of the all-time great scorers in the state's history, will sign her national letter of intent with the University of New Mexico.

Sanchez said she was not sure when, exactly, she would sign with the Lobos, only that they were her choice. And she only last week chose UNM.

"Honestly, I had an opportunity (to commit) to them my junior year, but I wasn't ready. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with soccer and everything. I thought I wanted to go out of town," Sanchez, 17, said.

"Then I went on a couple of visits outside the state, and they were really nice, but I kept thinking about how cool it would be to play in my hometown and have people you love support you at every game," she added.

Sanchez capped a brilliant career with the Huskies by scoring 46 goals last season. She scored 105 points for Hope, the Class 4A state champion.

She explained her delay in choosing a college.

"(I didn't know) what I wanted to pursue in life," she said. "I was really unsure with everything."

Visiting with the Lobos eased her concerns, she said.

"I saw how hard everyone works, and how hard everyone wants it," Sanchez said.

The 5-foot-8 Sanchez was a goal-scoring machine throughout her career at Hope Christian. The next phase, she admitted, will be difficult, as "everyone is good, everyone is big, everyone is strong, everyone is fast."

Sanchez said she wants to eventually become an elementary school teacher.

Wednesday marks the opening to the latest signing period, and it will be heavily populated with football players.

Aside from Hope's Sanchez, Cleveland linebacker Strat Shufelt (UTEP) and West Mesa quarterback/athlete Elijah Brody (UNM) are two of the other Division I signees; Shufelt and Brody both are planning to sign Wednesday.

Brody had previously committed to Eastern New Mexico, but flipped to the Lobos early last week. His father Landrick once played at UNM.

"With my dad playing over there, it felt like a second home," Brody said. "It felt like the right decision. ... This is special. It's something not a lot of people get to share with their father."

Brody said the Lobos' rebuild with new coach Bronco Mendenhall rang a familiar bell.

"It's something that reminded me of something we're trying to do at West Mesa," said Brody, who was at Cleveland High but joined his father on the West Side after Landrick got the head coaching job at West Mesa. "I just knew it would be a great fit for me over there."

Shufelt is signing his national letter on Wednesday next to five of his Storm teammates, most of whom are going to Eastern New Mexico in Portales, which has been extremely active recruiting the state.

Four Cleveland players are signing with ENMU: linebacker Isaac Medrano, running back Harris Mbueha, stalwart defender Chuka Tutman and athlete Andres Aguirre. Receiver Karter Weddle is signing with Western New Mexico, as is Albuquerque High offensive lineman T.J. McCarthy.

Cruz Markham, a tight end from Class 6A state champion La Cueva, is also signing with Eastern New Mexico. The ENMU list also includes Albuquerque Academy linebacker Brody Whitaker, linebacker Ryan Brown and lineman Andrew Gustafson from Rio Rancho, and linebacker Kian Vander Wilt from Volcano Vista.

Another Hawk, running back Alijah Gonzales, on Tuesday made his verbal commitment to the Greyhounds.

Diego Viscarra of AHS, plus Rio Rancho running back Rayce Ramirez, are signing with New Mexico Highlands. Among the signees at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell are Rio Rancho receiver Anthony Raymer, Volcano Vista linebacker Hunter Martinez and West Mesa receiver Ricky Martinez.

Two other Volcano Vista athletes, cross country runners Marisa Sena and Orion Chavez, are signing with New Mexico State.