Both Belen and Los Lunas high schools moved to remote learning this week, but the two will be handling athletics differently.

Belen has canceled all games and practices until Monday, Aug. 30, when the school is scheduled to resume in-person learning, while Los Lunas will continue to practice and play during their remote learning period.

Because the school’s opted to move to remote voluntarily and were not forced to make the move by the Public Education Department, the districts had the choice to decide whether they would continue with extracurriculars or pause them.

As a result of their decision to cancel sports, Belen will lose the first two football games, against West Mesa and Farmington, while the volleyball team had to cancel the Belen tournament, which was scheduled to begin Friday, Aug. 27.

“We haven’t seen a huge rise in cases within athletics, we’ve had a few kids get sick in volleyball and football, but most of the impact it’s had on us has been through the contact tracing,” athletics coordinator Joshua Griñe said.

Griñe said the hope is for the school to be able to jump right back into athletics when the Eagles return to in-person learning in order to minimize the number of games that are lost.

“We’re betting that the work we did this summer and the work we’ve done in the last two weeks (since in-season practices started) has us in a position where we’ll be able to get right in and compete,” he said.

All Belen High School athletic activities are suspended for the next to weeks following an increase in COVID-19 cases at the school, which pushed BHS to move to remote learning.

The boys soccer team, which had games against Socorro, Silver, Artesia and Organ Mountain canceled, was scheduled to play OMHS on Aug. 30.

While BHS is scheduled to be back in school on Aug. 30, Griñe said the decision was made to cancel that game anyway to allow the team to get at least one practice in before playing a game.

All teams will return to practice on Aug. 30.

As a result of the cancelations, the first games for Belen teams this year will be on Tuesday, Aug. 31, when the girls’ soccer team travels to Bernalillo and the volleyball team hosts Rio Grande.

Boys soccer will play its first game on Wednesday, Sept. 1, when the team hosts the Aztec Tigers.

The BHS football team will play the first game under new head coach Andrew McCraw on Friday, Sept. 3, when Artesia comes to town.

Cross country will be able to begin its season as schedule, starting with the Valencia Invite on Thursday, Sept. 2.

However, the Eagles were scheduled to host a scrimmage featuring all three county schools on Friday, Aug. 27, which was canceled.

Middle school athletics will continue while the high school is shut down, but Griñe said the district would be making an effort to turn all home contests into road ones and play all middle school games on the road over the next two weeks.

With LLHS going remote as well, the district made the decision all athletics and other activities would continue through the remote learning period.

“I wanted to be really particular because I think there are some groups in our community that say we are only doing this because of athletics, but that is not the case at all,” Los Lunas Schools Superintendent Arsenio Romero said.

“The majority of our students are in some kind of activity or they are in athletics and they’re a student as well. So, this is allowed for, as much as possible, to stay as normal as we could.”

Athletic director Wilson Holland said the Tigers would continue to play their games as scheduled unless their opponent cancels.

Despite a move to remote learning at Los Lunas High School, athletics and all other activities will proceed as scheduled in an effort to provide some normalcy to students.

In-season practices will continue as normal, but out-of-season work for winter and spring sports has been suspended, but Holland said the plan was to re-evaluate the status of those workouts on Monday, Aug. 23.

As Valencia continues to operate as normal, Jaguar sports will proceed as normal as well.

Both Valencia soccer teams will open their season on Tuesday, Aug. 24, while the football team opens at Alamogordo on Friday, Aug. 20.

Jaguar volleyball will open its season today, Aug. 19.

As for the Tigers, the boys’ soccer team is also kicking off today, hosting Alamogordo at 4 p.m. while the girls’ team will open on Friday and spend the weekend at the Aztec invite.

The volleyball team will open its season on Tuesday, Aug. 24, hosting Gadsden. LLHS football opens on Friday, Aug. 20, at Piedra Vista.

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Cameron Goeldner grew up in Boulder, Colo., and attended the University of New Mexico. He covers everything sports for all Valencia County schools.