ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Governors Office amended their COVID Safe Practices for intercollegiate sports on Tuesday, which now makes it possible for teams from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University to return home and practice in New Mexico.
“The ability to be able to do this is really so gratifying to know that they are going to have the chance to do it. Is it going to be challenging, absolutely, football was a challenge, basketball has been challenging, as we go through this process with all the spring sports it’s going to be challenging as well. Nothing changes, our expectation and our focus is going to be on making sure that we do it and do it right,” said UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nunez.
Both athletic directors from UNM and NMSU thanked the Governor’s Office for their continued work with the universities to get to this point. So with this chance to the COVID Safe Practices, College teams can practice in state and then travel out of state to play without quarantine.
Student-athletes will need to initially quarantine when returning to the state (this means after the winter break), but after that, they can participate in full practices. This does not apply to high school athletics and as of now, teams will not be able to compete in the state.
“If things continue to get better then there is a chance that we will go from red to yellow to green and at that point, it will hopefully give us the ability to have the conversation in more detail on having contest here, but we anticipate that probably won’t happen until sometime in February at the earliest,” said Nunez.
Teams at UNM that have already quarantined for two weeks prior to Tuesday, can begin practice as early as Wednesday. Athletes will be tested 3 times per week moving forward and this applies to all sports, including football who hopes to start their spring workouts in March.
UNM Men’s basketball holds a 4-8 overall record and 0-8 record in conference play, after a 53-46 loss to UNLV on Monday night. This is a tough loss for UNM as they were never out of this game, and they got off to their best start of the year.
UNM led for most of the 1st half and got a huge spark from Saquan Singleton, as he scored 10 points in the first half. The Lobos played a great game on defense as they held UNLV to just 53 points, but it’s tough to win when UNM only puts up 46 points and turns over the ball 20 times.
“I think that the runs that we have had, particularly offensively are what hurt us right now. We just go through these 4-5-6-7 possessions of turnovers and really poor shot selection that get us. We just got to make sure that each possession along the way, we don’t let too many get away from us,” said UNM Head Basketball Coach Paul Weir.
UNM will play San Jose State next Thursday at 1 p.m., and that game will be shown on the Mountain West Network. New Mexico United and the Somos Unidos Foundation announced on Tuesday, that they have signed the first Academy player in their history. Valley High School’s Josh Baros will play for the New Mexico United Academy in the 2021 season.
“Josh is one of our longest-serving players, starting his soccer career in Rio Rapids Youth Academy,” said Chris Hurst, one of Baros’s coaches at Rio Rapids. “Josh’s determination, dedication and desire to compete mean that he will be a great addition to New Mexico United’s Academy.”
These scholarships include registration, travel, equipment, and coaching costs.
Now to boxing, as three-division champion, Claressa Shields finally has a date set for her fight with Marie-Eve Dicaire. Shields, who currently trains at the Jackson Wink Academy, will fight Dicaire on March 5th. This fight has been talked about for a while and it has a lot on the line, as the winner will earn the WBC and WBO titles, which are currently held by Shields, and also the IBF belt which Dicaire has, but the new WBA belt in the division will also be on the line. Shields will look to unify the super welterweight division.
“I’d be the first boxer to have, to be undisputed in two different weight classes in the 4 belt era. The last time there was a two-time undisputed champ was Evander Holyfield. It’s never been done in the 4 belt era, so I will be the first person to do that when I take care of Dicaire,” said Claressa Shields. This PPV event will be held in Flint, Michigan, on March 5.
Sticking with combat sports, New Mexico professional MMA fighter Jerome Rivera (10-3) will be back in UFC action on Wednesday morning. The UFC Flyweight made weight on Tuesday and is ready to fight Francisco Figueiredo (11-3-1-1 NC) on the UFC’s Fight Island.
Rivera will be featured on the preliminary card of this UFC FIght Night Event. Rivera is coming off of a loss in his UFC debut back in September, so he is hungry for a victory and feels confident that he will get his hand raised. “Me being the younger, more athletic, hungry lion, I am going to go out there and just try and break him. I want to overwhelm him with pressure and striking. I really have a feeling I am going to get the finish in this fight. I think it’s going to happen in the 2nd round, I just have an intuition and I really think I am going to break this dude,” said Jerome Rivera.
That UFC preliminary card will be shown on ESPN and will start at 7 a.m. on Wednesday.