San Juan County athletic teams weigh in on spring sports postponement

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com
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FARMINGTON — San Juan County’s spring sports scene is cautiously optimistic the recent coronavirus scare won’t jeopardize the 2020 campaign altogether.

All New Mexico schools will be postponed three weeks starting Monday to help contain the spread of the virus.

"I'm kind of bummed myself," Farmington baseball coach Danny Secrest said. "I think we're just going to hang out, sit back and see what happens. I'm kind of feeling it for everybody."

The New Mexico Activities Association will reconvene on April 1 to reassess the situation.

“We know the seriousness of the virus, and we know why they’re taking measures like this,” Piedra Vista softball coach Kevin Werth said.

Werth, whose team played in this past weekend’s St. Pius Invitational, said his players were somewhat elated when they heard the initial announcement that the season wouldn’t be cancelled entirely.

“We thought the NMAA was going to shut it down. There is hope. They want to be ready,” Werth said. “We hope this can subside. We just hope our journey’s not over.”

Teams are preparing for both scenarios, whether they resume playing in early April or not.

"If there's a go at it, we're going to give it a run," Secrest said.

Aztec Athletic Director Bryan Sanders said he spent time this past Thursday rescheduling events in the wake of the virus reaching New Mexico.

“That was a crazy day. That was kind of a lot to take in,” Sanders said.

As of Sunday afternoon, there were 17 confirmed presumptive positive cases in New Mexico.

“Our kids have families, and our kids interact with senior citizens. We don’t want it to spread all over the place. It’s the overall health of our communities,” Sanders said. “It’s crazy times. It’s really unprecedented.”

Sanders said in a matter of a couple days, planning a normal schedule rapidly changed into a “screeching halt” shutdown of athletics.

“It was crazy. It did happen fast for us,” Sanders said. “It’s been fast and furious. Everybody’s been having to adapt to everything that’s happening. I think everybody’s working at staying calm. We’re not in a panic mode… it’s a preventative mode.”

What now?

Teams are trying to maintain normal training schedules to be ready to take the fields again, if that happens. 

Until then, all they can do is wait.

“We can’t control what’s going on. We’ve just got to adapt and adjust,” Werth said. “We want to be cautious about the situation.”

The impact

Sanders said teams would save money by not traveling for road events during the postponement, but would lose money because officials and spectators wouldn’t attend the in-town events.

The bottom line, however, is public health and safety.

“We support it,” Sanders said. “If we have to keep the gatherings down, we’ll do that.”

Sanders said that won’t be an easy task for track and field because each school has roughly 100 student-athletes competing in that sport, which brings in more people to those events.

Sanders said he never thought he’d see the coronavirus scare reach this point.

“It’s rough for our kids. Right now, they can’t practice or anything,” Sanders said. “I’d hate for them not to finish out their high school careers. That’d be terrible.”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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