Notes from the North

Correction appended

New Mexico’s college football season wasn’t quite over.

New Mexico Military Institute entered the National Junior College Athletic Association playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the first-ever national postseason tournament. The Broncos entered the game as the country’s leader in rushing after finishing 10-1 in the regular season.

They hosted No. 3 seed Northwest Mississippi on Sunday (yes, Sunday) at Roswell’s Wool Bowl. Their 49-30 win sends them into the Dec. 17 national championship game against No. 1 Iowa Western in Little Rock, Ark. Iowa Western beat No. 4 Snow (Utah), 30-29, on Saturday.

A win Dec. 17 would be the state’s first and only national championship in college football.

There’s also extended seasons for eight teams from Mountain West teams, as well as Colorado School of Mines. Mines, the top seed in Super Region Four, is taking part in the NCAA Division II playoffs.

The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champs are into the national semifinals for the first time in school history after wins over Bemidji State and Angelo State. The Orediggers (12-1), who beat New Mexico Highlands 31-21 on Sept. 11, head to Georgia on Saturday to play No. 2 overall seed Valdosta State.

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LaTora Duff’s 24 points led the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team to a 73-66 win over New Mexico State on Sunday afternoon at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces. It completed a season sweep for UNM.

The Lobos men will go for their own sweep of the Aggies on Monday night in The Pit.

It begs the question: When was the last time the north swept the south in the Rio Grande hoops rivalry?

Easy — it was the last time they each played a full season, the pre-pandemic 2019-20 campaign that started off like a career-saving run for then-Lobos coach Paul Weir. It was part of UNM’s 15-3 start with a deep and talented roster.

Even though it was only two years ago, not a single player who now wears UNM’s uniform had ever played in the rivalry until last week’s win in Las Cruces.

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The Pecos League will field a 16-team, two-conference, four-division format in 2022.

At least, that’s the plan as of the first week of December.

If there’s anything we know to be true about the independent baseball league, it’s this: Things change, often without warning. It could well be a 16-team league — or it could be 12, maybe 18, perhaps with no divisions and two conferences. We’ll just have to wait for opening day.

One certainty: The Santa Fe Fuego will be back. The Fuego are part of the Mountain North Division alongside Trinidad, Garden City and Colorado Springs. The Mountain South will have Roswell and Alpine alongside expansion teams Austin (the Weirdos; no joke) and Weimar (the Hormigas).

The league announced a schedule last week, one that has Santa Fe playing a 50-game schedule with 29 of them at home at Fort Marcy Ballpark. The team will play the vast majority of the home games on the weekends, getting 17 of its 25 June dates at home.

Mondays are reserved for travel.

The season opener will be June 1 against Roswell, the first of four straight games against Roswell. All but four games will be against Mountain Conference teams, the only exceptions being back-to-back two-game sets at home against Tucson and Wasco in mid-June.

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Chloe Grieco, an 11-year old from Santa Fe, earned All-America status when she took seventh place in the 11-12 age division at the Amateur Athletic Union National Cross Country Championships in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday. Grieco, who competes for Albuquerque’s Cougar Track and Cross Country Club, ran the 3-kilometer race in 11 minutes, 11.55 seconds.

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Capital’s Jaguar Invitational went through a schedule change, which also meant the wrestling season began a week sooner than usual.

When the Al Armendariz boys and girls basketball tournament moved to this weekend, Capital opted to move the wrestling tournament to Saturday.

Belen won the team title with 189.5 points, followed by West Las Vegas (163), the host Jaguars (126) and Santa Fe High (119). It was a good day for Northern wrestlers, as they won 12 of the 14 weight classes.

The two city schools combined for seven individual champions, with Capital wrestlers winning four division.

On the girls side, Los Alamos won the tournament title with 69 points, while Moriarty had 59 and Capital 39. It was the first time Capital and Santa Fe High competed in the girls tournament, although they have had girl wrestlers in the program before.

The Jaguars had five wrestlers, with Libri Hernandez-Carmona (107 pounds) and Alyssa Sandoval (114) win their weight classes. The Demons had two, with Eden Sladery (100) and Alana Juarez (138) taking the runner-up spot in their respective divisions.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified New Mexico Military Institute. 

(1) comment

Nick King

It’s NMMI (Roswell) that’s playing not NMJC (Hobbs).

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