NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – High school baseball teams all across the state started practice Monday. For the Volcano Vista Hawks, it’s a chance to defend the 2019 title in Class 5A that the team picks up pre-COVID-19. “The kids keep saying we’re still state champs, right. You know, nobody’s dethroned us yet, but it’s going to be a long road ahead with all the protocols and everything else, but we’re excited,” said Head Coach Todd Flores.
“I mean it’s a good feeling that we have something to defend this year,” said senior shortstop Jack Kolich. “I mean, I just want our team to work hard this year and I know we may have a chip on our shoulder, but I just really want us to go and show we are not just a one time thing.”
The Hawks are young with the bulk of the seniors from the championship team gone because their last opportunity was during the COVID season that never happened. Despite the youth of the team, Flores is optimistic about the season. “I think there’s a lot of communication among the boys, they get along well and, you know, I think we are going to have some pretty good pitching coming back, being able to hit our spots, just hopefully getting guys out,” said Flores.
The Hawks are still waiting for details concerning their schedule, who and when they will play.
In other sports news, a men’s national champion in college basketball will be decided Monday night. Gonzaga will not be only representing their school, but carrying the torch for all of the schools outside of the power six conferences. Gonzaga head coach Mark Few believes the Lobos basketball program can be special one day. He told head new head coach Richard Pitino before he was hired to lead the Lobos. “The one thing Mark Few told me is he feels like New Mexico could be special,” said Pitino. “He called me when my name was kind of rumored here and he said that is a place you got to seriously consider.”
University of New Mexico football is striking the iron while it’s hot. Lobo football season ticket renewals started Monday, after a weekend that saw nearly 5,000 fans attend the Lobos spring game. Meanwhile, with spring football a wrap, the Lobos are putting their focus towards the fall. The season starts Sept. 2 when Houston Baptist comes to Albuquerque.
Despite what may think of UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou intimidating knockout power, Jackson and Wink’s Mike Winkeljohn believes his fighter, former UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, would perform well against him if the fight is ever made. “It’s one of those things, it could be very easy for Jon if it goes the way we are thinking about it,” said Winkeljohn. “If Francis comes out throwing bombs on Jon, which is what people fear the most, that makes it easy because you know what he’s going to do. If he comes out with a lot of fakes and a lot of changes in his game, it gets a little tougher. There’s no doubt I put my money on Jon Jones.”