NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – For high school athletes starving for the competition since COVID-19 put sports on hold, there is light at the end of the tunnel. With health restrictions eased, athletes can compete outside. Bosque school has a cross country meet to host Saturday and football teams actually have games on the schedule.
The New Mexico Activities Association released its schedule Wednesday. “We continue to take steps in the right direction,” said Cleveland Storm Head Coach Heath Ridenour. “That’s really positive. It’s good for the kids.”
Goddard Head Coach Chris White thinks the schedule came just in time. “You know at this point anything is a bonus,” said White. “We’ve been working off and on since July and we’ve had to shut down a lot. You know, kids start losing hope.”
Teams with at least two weeks of operating in the hybrid learning model and a week of football in pads are eligible to compete. Ten games are scheduled on the first day of March 5. Teams will play a four-game schedule. Those teams late to hybrid learning could play even less, all the way down to one game. After four games, a fifth game will be scheduled for teams still choosing to compete. Schools with other sports overlapping into football can choose to opt-out of a fifth game so they can have enough athletes available for another sport. At the moment, championship games are not scheduled. The NMAA also said fans will not be able to attend.
In other sports news, When it comes to COVID-19 and color codes guiding the state health order, Bernalillo County is currently in the yellow. College and professional teams can host fans at a 25% capacity. That is welcomed news for the University of New Mexico baseball team.
“We are excited,” said Lobos Head Coach Ray Birmingham. “We want to show off the new ballpark, want to show off the new team and we want to kick some butt at our new field.” The Lobos are hosting Air Force this weekend. The series was originally scheduled for Amarillo, Texas before the state health order in New Mexico changed.
“It’s not going to be perfect and that’s the thing people need to understand,” said UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nunez. “From the standpoint that it’s not going to be what you saw last year and the years prior. We are going to follow all the rules and everything that’s in place, there are going to be restrictions.”
The three-game series starts with a doubleheader Saturday. The first game starts at 1 p.m.
UNM men’s basketball had a chance to do something they haven’t done all year Wednesday, win a Mountain West Conference series. The Lobos fell short in their bid to sweep the Air Force Academy with the Falcons winning 62-55. Lobo’s leading scorer Makuach Maluach was the only one on his team in double figures with 20 points. The loss dropped the Lobos to 6-14 overall and 2-14 in league play. Next for the Lobos is a rescheduled game against Colorado State on March 3.
Lastly, the Albuquerque Isotopes and Colorado Rockies announced the Isotopes staff this week; Warren Schaeffer remains the skipper of the team. Schaeffer was hired last season, but did not get a chance to lead the Isotopes. COVID-19 shut down all of Minor League Baseball last season.