St. Mary's student-athlete succumbs to motocross incident

March 14, 2014 Updated: March 14, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Following a near-weeklong coma, St. Mary's junior AJ Archuleta died early Friday morning.

Archuleta was involved in an incident in a motocross race on Sunday that forced him to be put into a medically induced coma, according to one of his St. Mary's boys' lacrosse teammates.

Archuleta, who was reportedly at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette following the accident, died at the hospital.

"AJ was a great kid," St. Mary's lacrosse teammate Connor Gosselin said. "He was really nice, always a hard worker."

The Pirates lacrosse team was given a choice by administrators to cancel Friday's game against Bishop Machebeuf or to go ahead and play.

"We pulled aside the seniors and captains and went into a room," said Gosselin, a co-captain. "We said guys, it's a tough decision to make, but we (co-captain Tyler Anderson and I) want to do this for AJ. And it was unanimous. Everyone said we want to make sure we represent AJ tonight."

The Pirates, with players wearing the number 212 (Archuleta's motocross number) in duct tape on their jerseys, went out and beat Machebeuf 14-2. Before the game, Machebeuf helped honor Archuleta.

St. Mary's had a school mass Friday morning in memory of Archuleta.

"We had several priests there, and we started with a rosary and had a 10 o'clock mass," St. Mary's athletic director Jim Felice said. "The kids got through it and got through the day. It's hard on everybody. It's family there. There's 300 kids, 50 faculty or whatever; it's just a tight community. They love each other."

Archuleta was in his first year of lacrosse, St. Mary's coach Ike Anderson said. Archuleta played junior varsity and varsity. He was also on the boys' soccer team and a manager on both the volleyball and girls' basketball teams, Gosselin said.

Not unexpectedly, school wasn't quite the same on Friday.

"You try to get as normal as you can on a day like this," Felice said. "Obviously, the kids were upset, but they were able to be around each other and hug each other a little bit, and I think that helped."

Funeral arrangements were not known.

"When we found out, it became very somber," Gosselin said. "There was not much smiling or laughing at school ... It was relatively quiet. We were all thinking of AJ and how much we missed him."

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