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Hagerman athletic boss looks back on rookie year

(From left)-Hagerman athletic director Alex Morales, Cerria Lucero, Esther DelaCruz and Martin Flores pose with the second place trophy won by the Bobcat and Lady Bobcat track teams last month at the state small school track meet. (Mike Smith Photo)

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HAGERMAN — Alex Morales admits his first year as athletic director for the Hagerman Municipal Schools was an eye opening experience, and with his rookie year under his belt he’s looking forward to what the second year will bring as the Bobcat and Lady Bobcat sports boss.

Morales has been a teacher and coach for a number of years in Hagerman and he feels he got to see things from more than just a coach’s perspective.

“I thought it went really well,” Morales said. “I did have a mentor (Jal Municipal Schools athletic director Elaine O’Neal), so she helped out quite a bit. Also last year’s AD, Mark Lovas, helped out as well.”

Morales added that Lovas was ready to let go of the athletic director’s reigns and he was next in line for the position.

Morales feels the biggest thing he had tackle was the athletic department’s budget.

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“Sometimes coaches want a lot of things,” Morales said. “We do have a budget and it is hard to always accommodate all the sports and divvy up (the money). I think I was trying to be fair to all and be consistent.”

As he gets ready for his second year in the AD’s chair Morales said he would like to learn more.

“I would like to take more courses or training as an athletic director to see how I can better myself, my school and my coaches,” Morales said.

As the Bobcats get ready for the upcoming academic and athletic year, Morales said there will be some changes in the competition.

“We’re going stay in Class 2A,” Morales said. “There are a few teams that went down and there will be some teams that are coming up. Gateway (Christian) will be leaving us. Tatum will be leaving us and we will be getting Eunice and Loving in our district and Jal will remain with us.”

Morales admits he’s looking forward to the new competitors.

“I’m not scared of competition,” Morales said. “I like it — in order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. I know Eunice, they’re turning into a powerhouse. That will be interesting.”

Since the 2017-2018 sports season ended in May for the Bobcats, Morales assessed how the various teams did.

During the fall, Morales coached the cross country team.

“Cross country really went well this year,” Morales said. “Our girls were back-to-back district champions. I have seven girls on the team and I have six boys. Our girls up at state ended up getting third place, which is another first for our school getting a trophy on the boys side or girls side. That was something big and motivating for them next season too.”

During the spring, Morales turns his attention to the track team. Despite being small in numbers the Bobcats and Lady Bobcats left a big mark.

“We had a lot of firsts this year,” Morales said. “The majority of the kids qualified. I think overall our kids broke 10 school records and they kept breaking them over and over. One hundred percent of our kids did have personal records this year. Both boys and girls won district championships.”

Morales said the boys have won multiple league titles over the years.

“On the girls’ side this is probably the first time in 18-plus years they’ve won the district championship,” Morales said. “Both teams won a state runner-up trophy. Bringing home a trophy from state no matter what place it is, is really big.”

Right now, Morales and other Hagerman school officials are looking to fill some vacancies with the football team. Last year the Bobcats went 0-9 under first year head coach Adrian Olivas.

“We will be looking to fill all football coaching positions,” Morales said. “We have been in the process of interviewing. We have some really good applicants so far. The kids that went out, they worked hard and never gave up. Kudos for those kids, they never gave up.”

The Lady Bobcat volleyball team saw some success last fall, finishing with a 13-10 record and making it to the state playoffs.

“They did really well, they’re coached by Monica Morales, she’s actually my sister,” Morales said. “They are always a force to be reckoned with. I feel for the last several years, they always make it to the state playoffs. They did fall short this year (but) overall they had a great season.”

When it comes to basketball, Morales said the Bobcats and Lady Bobcats, “had their moments. Lots of ups and downs.”

Andrew Rodriguez saw the boys finish the season with a 12-16 record.

“Coach Rodriguez, he does a great job,” Morales said. “They worked hard and both the boys and girls fell short this year. The effort was there and the work ethic was there.”

Candace Pollard coached the girls to a 10-15 record.

Even though Hagerman is in the midst of summer break, Morales is hoping the student-athletes will keep active until the fall semester starts in August.

“It would be nice if our kids would go out for multiple sports,” Morales said. “We’re going to try and encourage them to do several sports, which is tough. They can do it and we feel it makes them better. We’re just gonna hit the weights and continue to keep pushing them to be the best they can be.”

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