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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sports briefs

Scholar-Athletes

On Tuesday the Mountain West Conference announced that a record 651 student-athletes were named Scholar-Athletes.

Of those 651 student-athletes, UNM had 117 Scholar-Athletes — 25 more than the next-most institution.

To be eligible for selection, student-athletes must have completed at least two academic terms at a member institution while maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or better, and have participated in a varsity competition for a Mountain West-sponsored sport.

Of the 16 sports that the Mountain West sponsors, nine UNM teams had the most Scholar-Athletes of any team in their respective sports. The Lobo baseball team had six, women’s basketball tied with five, men’s cross country finished with 11, women’s cross country earned 14, women’s soccer garnered 15, men’s tennis had five, women’s tennis received seven, women’s track and field had 26 and volleyball ended with five.

Men’s basketball

The Lobos earned six academic all-conference selections from the Mountain West for the 2013-14 season.

Obij Aget, Cameron Bairstow, Cullen Neal, Deshawn Delaney, Hugh Greenwood and Alex Kirk were all honored. UNM’s six honorees are the largest group in the MW.

Neal was also named a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete for the 2013-14 season. He was one of just five players in the conference to receive the award and became the first Lobo honored since the 2009-10 season.

Football

UNM center LaMar Bratton was named to the 2014 Rimington Award Fall Watch List, the Rimington Trophy Committee announced Tuesday.

Bratton is one of 66 players to receive the honor and takes over for Dillon Farrell, who is now in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers.

Bratton is a two-time All-Mountain West honorable mention performer.

Five other Mountain West centers join Bratton on the list: Nevada’s Matt Galas, Air Force’s Michael Husar, San Jose State’s David Peterson, San Diego State’s Jordan Smith and UNLV’s Robert Waterman.

Men’s soccer

Former Lobo midfielder Michael Kafari signed a professional contract with MLS club Sporting Kansas City on Tuesday.

In January, Kafari was originally drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the third round of the MLS Superdraft.

“I’m relieved,” Kafari said. “It’s been a long six months (since the draft). I’m happy to sign with Kansas City because I came (to Kansas City) before my senior season and trained for a week and really enjoyed myself. With (U.S. Men’s National Team Players) Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, it’s a great team. They won the MLS Cup last year and I look forward to playing with them.”

Kafari became the third Lobo from the 2013 team to sign an MLS contract, joining defender Kyle Venter (LA Galaxy) and goalkeeper Michael Lisch (Houston Dynamo).

Kafari is one of seven Lobos who have went on to compete in the MLS after playing under head coach Jeremy Fishbein.

“I’m really happy for him,” Fishbein said. “He gets to play for the defending MLS champion. I think it’s a good fit for him. I think he can make a contribution in their pursuit of another championship.”

Men’s tennis

Former student-athlete Ben Dunbar will join the men’s tennis program as the graduate assistant coach, interim head coach Bart Scott announced last week.

“Ben was a special student-athlete who excelled on the court as well in the classroom. Ben is young and hungry, yet he is wise beyond his years when it comes to tennis experience and coaching,” Scott said. “I expect him to hit the ground running as he already knows the program and university inside and out.”

Dunbar spent his college career playing at UNM from 2008-12. He finished with a singles record of 55-49 and a doubles record of 73-34.

Compiled by Thomas Romero-Salas