This past week newly appointed APS Director of Athletics Adrian Ortaga announced the participation of 8th graders in high school sports. You could say APS is entering the game a little late considering some schools have been able to have 8th grade participate for more than two decades.

Former APS Director of Athletics Kenny Barerras was recently forced to resign this past year, giving way for Ortega to take over. Barreras did not allow 8th grade athletes to participate in APS sports when he was director nor did he ever step into a wrestling room to see what he could do to help the sport. With lack of trying Barerras did a good job trying to kill the sport. A big issue Barerras got triggered for was his refusal to recognize Female Wrestling as a sport. Considering Female Wrestling is the fastest growing sport in New Mexico it was time for Barreras to take a hike.

What does this mean for APS Wrestling? Ortega has been sound on his word allowing 8th graders to participate in high school sports. This is a big move for APS not just for wrestling but for all sports. Now that 8th graders are allowed to wrestle, this will potentially cut off the illegal recruitment pipeline coming from Rio Rancho Schools. For years Rio Rancho Schools have been successfully stealing Albuquerque talent due to 8th graders being able to participate in the Rio Rancho school system. With Rio Rancho being a hop-skip away from Albuquerque in the past, it was an easy choice for some parents to make a move to Rio Rancho. Since the turn of the century, only 4 APS teams have claimed a state title (2000,2001,2002,2006). Immediate results for APS teams may be on the horizon as APS Wrestling takes a big step forward.

What still needs to change for APS Wrestling to be successful? Traveling! We are not certain at this time what Ortega plans for out-of-state traveling. This was also a big issue before Ortega stepped in. Most of the time a coordinator from the Kenny Barerras bunch would make schedules or run tournaments for all APS coaches. Most of the time these coordinators such as Rich Geralds, or Ed Drangmeister made schedules or managed events that they knew nothing about, causing tension for years among the coaches. Before departure Barerras and his goons were asked to help with schedules. They had no idea what they were doing, and in confusion, they handed a schedule in from the previous year. Thankfully Geralds and Drangmeister have also taken a hike. No clarification on traveling has been mentioned just yet, however, with Ortega's big move on 8th graders we can bet on seeing more traveling opportunities for APS athletes.