Sports Desk: NM high school coaches, players, parents hope for sports this spring

Local Sports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – On Tuesday the Governor’s Office loosened up the rules for college sports practices in New Mexico. However, high school sports are still in limbo as the spring semester gets underway with students still at home.

The governor’s office has yet to make a decision on if or when high school sports can be played in New Mexico. “There has been some conversation, we are hopeful, and still staying in that mode where we are hopeful, that we are going to be able to play all sports in the 2021 school year. However, we have not been given the green light as of yet,” said NMAA Director Sally Marquez.

The NMAA currently has fall sports starting in less than two weeks, but those dates haven’t been approved by the governor’s office. Right now, everyone is in the dark about the status of high school athletics. Marquez said she is willing to push back start dates for the sports just to get athletes in the competition which is something a lot of coaches, students, and parents have been pushing for.

“I often reference the Bad News Bears of ‘let them play! let them play!’ I mean, that’s the way I feel at this point and most coaches do,” said Eldorado High School Football Coach Charlie Dotson.

Safety during the COVID-19 pandemic is the main concern of the Governor’s Office in New Mexico. They want red counties to turn into green counties before they allow teams to play in the state, and that includes college athletics as well. As of now, high school teams can practice in groups of 4 players to 1 coach ratio. The NMAA sports calendar has football starting their season on February 1, but that hasn’t been approved yet. After a meeting with coaches on Tuesday, the NMAA along with the coaches agreed that if they have to push back start dates they will, because they want kids to compete.

Now to college sports, as the University of New Mexico’s women’s cross country team has been picked to finish 1st in the Mountain West preseason predicted order of finish, which was released on Wednesday. This marks the 10th consecutive year that the Lobo women have picked as the preseason favorite. The MW Championships are set to take place March 5, and the UNM team will look to win their 13th consecutive MW Title in 2021.

Albuquerque City Council announced a proclamation that has declared Jan. 20 as “Angelo Leo Day.”

“I just want to thank everyone and all of my supporters and the City Councilor Klarissa Pena for putting this all together. You know, I am extremely honored and blessed to be apart of history in the city of Albuquerque. This is the City that made me who I am, and on January 23 I will bring another win back to Albuquerque”, said Angelo Leo.

Leo is the 6th World Champion out of New Mexico, as he joined the ranks of Bob Foster, Johnny Tapia, Danny Romero, Austin Trout, and Holly Holm. Leo will defend his World Title for the first time on Saturday against Stephen Fulton jr, and that fight card will be shown on Showtime starting at 7 p.m.

Now to MMA, Santa Fe’s Jerome Rivera was in UFC action on Wednesday morning as he took on Francisco Figueiredo in a preliminary bout on the UFC’s Fight Island. Rivera didn’t get off to a good start in this fight, but he would let his hands go late in the 3rd round. It tuned out to be too little too late as Rivera’s record fell to 10-4 after losing by a unanimous decision.

Lastly, UNM men’s basketball will be back in action on Thursday afternoon. The Lobos are currently 0-8 in conference play but will now take on another 0-8 Mountain West team. They “host” San Jose State in St. George, Utah, at 1 p.m. UNM is coming off of their closest game in conference play on Monday. UNM lost to UNLV 53-46, and while head coach Paul Weir isn’t happy that his team is currently 4-8 on the year he is optimistic that his team is starting to find their identity.

“We have got to be a little bit more boring, we have got to be a little bit more deliberate, we have got to get these games in the 50s for us to have a chance to win, and I do feel like our team is becoming a more authentic version of who we need to be to win games,” said Paul Weir.

The San Jose State vs UNM game is Thursday at 1 p.m. and that game will be shown on the Mountain West Network.

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