Fall sports in New Mexico postponed until at least January 2021 amid rising COVID-19 cases

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com
Quinn Yost of Piedra Vista High School hits down the fairway on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, during the Durango High School golf tournament at Dalton Ranch Golf Club.

FARMINGTON — Fall sports in New Mexico will have to wait until at least January 2021 to start back up.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced during Thursday’s press conference that those sports — cross-country, volleyball and golf — will not be able to begin this month amid the latest surge of COVID-19 cases.

“Not shocked with the way things have gone,” Piedra Vista boys golf coach Tom Yost said.

Since Sept. 24, New Mexico’s added another 3,532 positive cases — putting the statewide total at 31,756 through Thursday.

“It’s really heartbreaking to see,” Kirtland Central volleyball coach Nadia Begay-Watson said. “COVID has taken things from (the kids). They’re ready to get out of the house, they’re ready to be social… Isn’t that part of what sports is about, the social aspect of it? They’ve been waiting, and they’ve been patient.”

Cross-country and volleyball events across the state were and originally scheduled to begin competitions on Saturday, but those were canceled. Golf events were originally scheduled to start early next week.

“Our kids are struggling. Our kids need to have something to look forward to. I hate it,” Aztec athletic director Bryan Sanders said. “We’re going try to keep encouraging kids, academically and athletically.”

But through it all, coaches and athletic department personnel still expressed reason for optimism and positivity because the entire 2020-2021 sports season wasn’t canceled completely.

Because golf courses haven’t been shut down, Yost said PV will do a couple workouts per week in getting ready for the spring.

Limited non-contact practices — featuring group pods in 9-to-1 ratios — remain permitted under the latest public health order.

“We’ll continue to plug on,” Yost said.

Going forward, Begay-Watson said she’s concerned about the prospect of squeezing volleyball in with sports like basketball, given that Kirtland has multiple female student-athletes that play both.

But like everyone else, she’s trying to remain positive.

“I’m praying and hoping we will have a (start) date,” Begay-Watson said. “Thats what we’ll hang on to.”

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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