Listed to improve athlete welfare, the athletics department Research and Public Service Projects Funding request was increased by $3.5 million from last year. This increase comes amidst conversations about the potential realignment of the Mountain West Conference. “With the recent changes in membership composition in several conferences, the Mountain West is exploring all opportunities to strengthen the league, including through the addition of new member schools,” MWC Board of Directors statement from Aug. 9 reads, which President Garnett Stokes serves as the chair of. The MWC is one of 10 NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision conferences with some independent programs. Its uncertain future follows the reorganization of the Pacific 12 Conference, now left with four teams.
The Tulsa Football Club Roughnecks came to town this past Saturday, Aug. 26, playing against our boys in black and gold and were sent home after a 2-1 loss. Not even the rain in the first half could stop United from bringing the heat. Dark clouds and a light rain started off the match at the Rio Grande Credit Union, but thankfully for United, the game would go on no matter what. By the second minute, #33 Harry Swartz was immediately able to take control of the ball and sink it into the net, causing Isotopes Stadium to erupt, and the game was off with a bang.
The University of New Mexico Women’s volleyball team played in an exhibition match on Saturday, Aug. 19 against the New Mexico Highlands Cowgirls. Following last season’s exhibition victory against the Cowgirls, the Lobos won 4-0 for the second year in a row. UNM’s volleyball team had a strong season last year, going 17-12 in the regular season and 8-10 in conference play. The Lobos finished the season in fifth place, making the University’s second appearance in a row in the Mountain West Tournament.
The University of New Mexico football team will begin to get back on track after a 2 - 10 season last year. This year on their schedule, six of the teams they played against went to bowl games, two were last season division winners and three are teams that go by the nickname “Aggies.”
The New Mexico United’s 22nd match of the season took place on Aug. 12 against the current second ranked team in the Western Division – San Antonio FC. The game went long with minute before half time and an extra seven minutes additional by the end – still not enough time for the boys in black and gold. United lost to San Antonio 3 - 0; all three goals were made in the first half, the first made within the two minute mark.
Duke City Championship Wrestling was an all-ages event, action-packed with dramatic confrontations that kept the crowd cheering. Held at the Historic El Rey Theater on July 15, Fred Slow, co-owner of DCCW and promoter, said there were over 400 people in attendance. Mosh Pit Mike started professionally wrestling in Albuquerque 22 years ago with his best friend, Hobo Hank. He said his favorite part about wrestling for the DCCW is the reactions during the matches. “I get to wrestle here for the people I love and the city I love. It’s awesome. I think Albuquerque is ready to be a wrestling town again,” Mosh Pit Mike said.
The Albuquerque Aardvarks, established in 1973, meet weekly to practice rugby on Johnson field. The origin of the team's name has been forgotten, “Bear” said, but the story is that someone flipped through a dictionary to the first animal with the letter A, although nothing is certain. Fables and stories are a common practice around the team, many also using rugby names like Bear or Chonch which originated out of college and high school rugby clubs. Josh “Chonch” Lamb said the name stuck and just became what he was known as. Bear said that the name helped him on the field as well.
Duke City Championship Wrestling is presenting a “Clash of Titans” tag-team showdown at the historic El Rey Theater on July 15. This all ages event will host eight professional wrestling matches inside the ring. Jerry Herrera, a professional wrestler, expects this upcoming event to be just as big as the first one. The overall goal for him and his local wrestlers is to make professional wrestling a more well known sport in Albuquerque, Herrera said. “Hopefully they (fans) are ready for the second show – more action, more wrestlers, more competition and more entertainment,” Herrera said.
EDITORS NOTE: A previous version of this story said that Andrew Sanford was the new owner of the Suika Circuit. This has sense been changed, and as The Suika Circuit is owned by Dan Brockett, Jim Guthrie and Mike Ossell since Feb. 2023, according to the Rio Rancho Observer. The article has been updated with the corect owner. Just outside of Albuquerque city limits is the Suika Circuit, formerly known as the Sandia Speedway. It's now under new ownership of Dan Brockett, Jim Guthrie and Mike Ossell and is starting to bounce back and start racing. July 1 was the first one-day event to kick off the refurbished pavement track. Members of Southwest Motorsport Inc. came out with their racing cars for their monthly races. The original Sandia Speedway location hosts events throughout each month on the 1.7 mile long pavement or the slightly smaller dirt track. On July 1, the modified street cars were put on the 14 turn pavement – a tricky course.
The Women’s National Basketball Association season is in full swing and nearing the league’s All-Star game on July 15. While the league celebrates their top talent, it is a good time to recognize what the gauntlet athletes have to endure to reach that point. With only 144 roster spots across the 12 team league, talented players are waived before they get a chance to develop. Just 15 players from the three round draft made the roster for the team. In the cutthroat league, prospects have to help their teams win from the jump. With limited spots, teams will opt for players with no weaknesses, which leaves players like Brea Beal without a team.
After 15 seasons with UNM’s Cross Country and Track & Field programs, Head Coach Joe Franklin has left on June 16. Franklin was named the Director of Cross Country and Track & Field at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Franklin came to UNM in 2007 and has had lots of success with the program; as a two-time national coach of the year, his athletes earned a total of 201 All-American Honors and multiple of his athletes have gone on to compete in the Olympics.
New Mexico United won their 15th game of the season 2-1 against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks on June 24. The boys in black and gold secured their revenge, having previously lost to them on April 22 with a 2-1 loss. This was not only a big win for players, but the club itself. Saturday’s game was the third for the newly appointed head coach, Eric Quill, who came in less than two weeks ago. With Quill, there seemed to be a new fire in the United players' bellies who had a never ending desire to keep possession of the ball.
The Albuquerque Roller Derby club at Wells Park provides an inclusive atmosphere to all gender, body types and skill levels, Wrecka Roller Derby – a member of the club – said. The Albuquerque Roller Derby's competitions are run and supported by skaters. The league sets up their own matches and provides referees for them. The team’s goal is to get out in the community and invite more people to watch and participate in the sport, Wrecka said. Wrecka has been with the league since 2019 and said they encourage anyone to join; the team lends gear to new skaters and teaches introductory safety skills. “I was like, ‘Roller derby –, I wanna beat people up,’ but I had no idea that I would find such a community and just an awesome, loving group of people. So that's what's kept me going,” Wrecka said.
The University of New Mexico’s Track & Field team has run far and fast. During the 2023 National Collegiate Athletic Association track and field championships, 12 UNM athletes earned All-American marks under coach Joe Franklin. The event took place over June 7-10; more than 50 teams competed head to head. Five of the athletes make up the two All-American teams that will compete in the United States of America Track and Field Outdoor Championships on July 6-9. One athlete, Amelia Mazza-Downie, earned two nominations in both the 10k and 5k. “It depends on the 8k or the 10k, but usually I try to just look at the girls in front of me – not thinking about anything in particular. I want to just stay in the moment,” Mazza-Downie said.
The Isotopes continue to push through the middle of the season with a home series against the Sugar Land Space Cowboys. The team played competitively, but ultimately lost the final three games of the series. The game on June 9 started off in favor of the Space Cowboys – hitting a home run with the second batter up. The isotopes came back in the second inning. Cole Tucker hit a ball into the far right that sent Aaron Schunk home. Schunk is one of the Isotopes most prominent hitters as of late – hitting .323 on 186 at bats. On June 11, Schunk said he will continue on to work on all parts of his game.
Aaron Katsuma will be joining the men’s basketball team as an assistant coach. He previously worked for head coach, Richard Pitino, in Minnesota and spent the last five seasons at Colorado State. Katsuma comes to the University of New Mexico with over a decade of experience. Katsuma began his career in 2010 at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota, as a student manager, according to a UNM press release. It was during this time that Katsuma met Pintino. Four of his seasons at Minnesota were spent working for the Lobos' current head coach.
New Mexico United's head coach and technical director, Zach Prince, left his position on June 3 to pursue a different position. The news broke, following a 1-0 loss to rival El Paso Locomotive FC. A statement from team owner, Peter Trevisani, was released Saturday night that thanked Prince for his time with the team.
The Atomic Sisters – a local Women’s Rugby Club – qualified for the Division II final four of the US Rugby Club Nationals in St. Louis. The Atomic Sisters will play their first game on June 3 Gabriella Rivera, team captain, said. The team has spent the past couple of weeks holding fundraisers to offset travel costs for their players. The team hasn’t qualified for the final four in 12 years, Rivera said, and they are excited to represent their community.
Jessie Truitt, the head coach of the University of New Mexico Spirit program, has been working on tryouts to fill the dance team, the co-ed cheer team and the all-girl cheer team. Over this past weekend, April 28 to 30, tryouts started. They included Spirit Squad veterans and rookies who made it through the video submission phase to compete to fill around 70 to 90 spots, Truitt said. Truitt will also be looking for new people to fill the Lobo Lucy and Lobo Louie costumes on May 4 to 5 in the SUB. “I like to say on the prowl … to build a mascot team. I'm hoping to expand because, like our athletes, they're required to go to almost all of the sporting events. It's a different beast putting on a 10-pound fur suit (and) to be in there and in that long,” Truitt said.
The Lobos swept the California State University, Fresno Bulldogs culminating in a Kyle Smith walk-off in the third game. In a critical series, the Lobos took control and passed Fresno in the standings and took the season tiebreaker over them. They are now 10-10 in conference play. UNM won by doing what they do best: hitting. Going into Sunday, April 30 the team had a batting average of .332, the third best in the nation. The team scored 39 runs on 49 hits in the series. Lobo, Reed Spenrath talked about the team's ability on offense. In the second game the Lobos went full offense getting as many hitters in the lineup as possible. This led to Spenrath playing his first collegiate game at right field and was proud his coaches trusted him to play both in the infield and outfield. After the interview his teammates were eager to debut his new nickname "The Tarp" because he covers the whole field.