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Cross country makes debut at Portales

PHS fall sports roll out Monday.


August 12, 2018

PORTALES — With football practices already in full-swing, the focus now turns to the other fall sports. Portales’ boys and girls soccer teams, along with its volleyball and cross country teams, will all officially begin practices on Monday.

For girls soccer coach Ruben Tellez, these early practices will especially be key, after losing 12 seniors from last year’s 9-11 team. The Rams will hold tryouts on Monday and begin making cuts (if necessary) by Tuesday. They’ll open up the season on Aug. 24 at the Goddard Tournament.

“We’re gonna for sure work on passing, touches, defense,” Tellez explained. “Our goalies are definitely going to need a lot of work. We have two new girls at the position this year. (But) we have five girls returning as starters, so we got a good core group. Like I tell them, you may be young, but you’re never too young to be a champion.”

While the Portales girls soccer team will have a lot of new players, the boys team will have a new coach. Juan Mendez was recently hired to replace Nathan Dodge, who resigned to focus on assistant principal duties at the high school.

Thus far, Mendez is still trying to familiarize himself with the roster. The boys team will actually have tryouts on both Monday and Tuesday, before officially making cuts on Wednesday. Last year, Portales went 10-10, and graduated six seniors this spring. The Rams will begin this season at NMMI on Aug. 25.

“(After Wednesday’s cuts) we’re gonna work on offense drills — we’re really strong on offense,” Mendez said. “But, we struggle on defense. So, that will be a focus. (The second week of practice) we’ll work on formations, how to use them and experimenting with different things. But I feel like we are going to have a great season.”

Boys soccer isn’t the only Portales fall sport with a new coach. That’s because Portales is starting up a new cross country program, and the man in charge will be Michael Aunan. Monday’s practice will begin with physicals and paperwork to make sure everyone is eligible.

From there, Aunan will test his team’s level of fitness, including five-mile days, interval training and core work. Portales’ season then kicks off on Aug. 31 at the Clovis Invitational. “During summer training, we had seven or eight boys and one female,” Aunan said. “But there’s at least a couple of others interested, so we should end up with five to six girls.”

As for volleyball, a number of key players — Lindsay Blakey, Zamorye Cox, Sarah Blaeser — have all graduated. Blakey was named District 4-4A Player of the Year in 2017. In all, a total of six departing seniors means that replicating last year’s 16-6 success will be tough.

Nonetheless, the young Rams will show what they’ve got when they open the season at home on Aug. 30 against Roswell. As of press time, coach Charity Gomez could not be reached for comment.


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