New Mexico State baseball prepares for season-opening series

With February now in full swing (no pun intended), that can only mean one thing… Baseball season is now within arm’s reach.

The 2018 season was nothing short of extraordinary for head coach Brian Green and the New Mexico State baseball team: first-time WAC Tournament champions, first NCAA regional appearance since 2012, tons of individual awards within the squad and even named the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame (NMSHOF) College Team of the Year.

But now all that hardware and fame is in the rearview mirror for the defending WAC champions, and Green and his team are solely focused on moving forward in 2019, hopeful that they’ll be able to surpass the previous year’s success.


“Grind to get better,” Green said when asked what it’s going to take to produce another fruitful season. “We feel like we got a chance to be deeper on the mound just in terms of the numbers and having more guys that can come in and compete and throw strikes. We like our experience at the plate, you potentially have got seven guys who were starters last year offensively – and you bring back all that defense who set a school record for fielding percentage (.977).

“What we’re really talking about with our guys is just taking better pride in the preparation and the process and really making a drive towards May and getting better every day.”

NM State put up gaudy numbers a year ago, topping the WAC in multiple categories including batting average (.310), slugging percentage (.478), on-base percentage (.409), runs scored (493) and hits (656) while cracking the NCAA top-25 marks in hit by pitch (119) and triples (25) – just to name a few.

NM State is even garnering national attention, with College Baseball Daily ranking the Aggies at no. 39 in their preseason Top-40 poll.

The 2019 slate will be all but easy for NM State as they bring back quality opponents in Texas Tech (whom the Aggies lost to in last year’s NCAA tournament regional matchup), Arizona State, Arizona and Yale.

“Really excited about the schedule and the potential of it, you got potentially in the first four weekends three projected league champions,” Green said. “Texas Southern has been in the postseason three out of the last 4 years, Yale is picked to win their league, Delaware is always competitive, you got Nebraska in week five – aside from the midweeks a really really challenging schedule for us and the fact that we get to play those first four weekends at home is exciting as well.”

Although NM State’s numbers are flashy, Green is focused on what he and his team can control right now – and it’s evident that his humble attitude is reflected throughout the whole club house.

“This is definitely the best team we’ve had – like [as] a family and as a whole, just coming together and working together and the younger kids are starting to pick up on it,” redshirt-senior leader Caleb Henderson said about this year’s squad.

Henderson sat out the 2017 season after transferring from Arizona Community College following a knee injury. The now-senior admitted that he was playing through some knee pain in 2018 and was not 100 percent – although his junior season stats say otherwise.

The Aggie first-baseman lead the WAC in runs batted in (65), doubles (20) and even added 10 homeruns, earning himself a spot on the All-WAC First-Team list to conclude 2018. He said his knee now feels “the best it’s ever felt”, which is scary news for the rest of the nation.

“Over the offseason I’ve been working on my speed a little bit – just being really versatile at the plate,” Henderson said when asked how we would exceed his individual stats from a season ago. “You just got to have a good mindset, stay positive all the time, can’t get down on yourself – keep working.”

With success comes high expectations and added pressure, as other NM State athletic programs have come to know as well in recent years, and that’s no different for the Aggie baseball team.

“New Mexico State Athletics is such a great department, everybody is successful, so for us –and for me personally – there’s always pressure to perform,” Green said. “You want perform for the administration, and the honor of getting the opportunity here. There’s no more added pressure, we put that on our self, we want to do something that’s never been done here and that’s win a regional. But there’s no added pressure, but I think anytime you’re in a head coaching position there’s certainly pressure, and you just want to perform to the best of your abilities.”

NM State will bring back big-name starters with the aforementioned Henderson, junior Joey Ortiz, senior Tristen Carranza and the All-American honoree sophomore Nick Gonzales. The Aggies will open the 2019 season with a four-game home-series against Texas Southern, starting Feb. 15 at Presley Askew Field – opening pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m.


Salas to cap off illustrious career with one final trip to the Big Dance

Brooke Salas has completely rewrote the New Mexico State women’s basketball record books.

Salas, who was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, also took home the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award – becoming the first player in WAC history to win both prestigious awards in the same season.


This is the second-consecutive season that the senior from Placentia, Calif. has earned the Player of the Year honor, in what has been another banner-season for the 5-foot-11 guard. The awards don’t stop there, as Salas also received a First Team All-WAC and All-Defensive Team nod, voted by the WAC’s nine head coaches.

Add that to her three All-WAC tournament teams and being the first player in program history to play in three NCAA Tournaments and it is fair to wonder if Salas has a room big enough to store the accolades in.

“It’s very exciting, it’s very humbling,” Salas said in a press conference earlier this week. “I think it gives us a lot of momentum going into the tournament – it’s also a testament to my teammates and the coaching staff here.”

Salas has evolved into the complete package since coming to NM State in 2015. Since her freshman year, she has increased her scoring and rebounding averages by drastic means – nearly tripling her rebound average from 4.6 to a current and essentially growing 11.2 and doubling her points average from 9.4 to a now 19.0, while also leading the conference in points and rebounds per game.

Impressively, she has started in all but one of the 125 games played in her Aggie career (so far) and her 1,913 career points has her set in second-place in career scoring at NM State, trailing only Anita Maxwell’s 2,601 points, and fifth on the all-time WAC scoring list. Her 611 points this year also marks a new career high for season scoring, topping her already outstanding 592 points during last year’s campaign.

At this point, Salas is accustomed to climbing up the school record boards, and she continues to do that in a well-rounded manner, pulling down 355 total rebounds on the year (the third most in a single season for NM State) and bringing her career total to 941, situating Salas in sixth place on the program’s all time rebounding list.

All so often, fans have heard women’s basketball head coach Brooke Atkinson preach about defense being her team’s pride and joy, and Salas bought in and became the definition of a defensive terror, establishing herself as one of the greatest defenders ever to put on an Aggie jersey.

It was Salas’ second-straight season being put on the All-Defensive team, with her 1.7 blocks a game before the conference tournament putting her as the WAC’s runner-up in blocked shots. Not surprisingly, she also averaged 2.7 steals a game in the regular season, the second most in the WAC. Her 156 career blocks earn her the top spot in career blocks at NM State.

The Aggies will return to the NCAA Tournament after last year’s hiatus, defeating UTRGV in a double-overtime thriller to secure head coach Brooke Atkinson’s first WAC Tournament title in her two years and NM State’s fourth in the last five seasons.

Salas delivered on the biggest stage with a vintage 29 point, 12 rebound performance, doing everything she could to get the Aggies back to the Big Dance, where in their last appearance they nearly upset No. 2 seeded Stanford in the opening round (behind another stellar 26 point showing by Salas).

Time will tell if Salas and the Aggies will be able to bust some brackets for the first time in school history, but if one thing for sure, though, it’s that NM State will miss its back-to-back WAC Player of the Year once her illustrious career draws its end. Salas will undoubtedly go down as one of the all-time Aggie greats.

NMSU Enters Partnership; Introduces Own Beer

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State Aggies will be able to cheer on their teams this athletic season with their very own NMSU beer.

NMSU and Bosque Brewing Co. officially unveiled Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale today at Bosque’s Las Cruces taproom at 901 E. University Ave. A good crowd of both current NMSU students and NMSU alumni attended the event.

NMSU President Garrey Carruthers, Bosque Managing Director Gabe Jensen, and Athletic Director Mario Moccia pose on Thursday as the University announced a partnership that includes their own, branded, beer. Photo courtesy: NMSU Round Up

The beer was named after the Aggie Mascot and the year NMSU was founded. Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale, or ’88 for short, will also be a huge complement while attending NMSU games.

“I discovered this product to be an A plus product and it’s very smooth,” NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said while at the event’s press conference Thursday evening.

Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale will be available in its NMSU themed can statewide early next year. The Ale will available be on tap at Bosque’s Las Cruces taproom and at the first Aggie home football game on Sept. 16 at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

NMSU is now the fifth school in the country to have its own brand of beer, according to NMSU Athletic Director Mario Moccia.

“But the best of the bunch by far is Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale, officially licensed product of New Mexico State University, and we’re very excited about that,” Moccia said. “Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale will be sold at all Aggie football games, Men’s Basketball, and it will be available in cans, end of December – early January.”

The new NMSU beverage is great way to promote the University throughout the state. NMSU athletic programs will also get proceeds from each purchase of the beer.

Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale appears in silver and crimson colored cans and was designed at NMSU. Both the cans and the boxes containing the ale feature the lyrics of the Aggie fight song. The Boxes were also made at NMSU and contain the Aggie and Bosque Brewing logos in crimson and white, along with the ale’s nickname “’88” and the Pistol Pete logo on there as well.

Not only are NMSU officials excited, but former and current Aggies are excited as well.

“Its great to you know – see your college on a beer, especially like at Bosque’s, one of my favorite brewery’s,” alumnus Eric Ellis said.

People are excited for this new beverage and see the unveiling of the ’88 as a big deal to the Aggie community.

“Considering the amount of people that are here, obviously it’s a big deal to the Aggie community,” current NMSU student Stephen Garcia said. “It’s going to be awesome when they start serving this at the games – cheer on the Aggie’s winning, and drink the ’88.”

NMSU Students also liked the appearance of the can and as well as how their school was represented.

“Definitely like the can, it’s also cool that they included the fight song on it,” Garcia said.

Visit Bosque’s and attend the first Aggie home game on Sept. 16 at Aggie Memorial Stadium to grab your ’88.

In ever-changing WAC, New Mexico State manages to remain king of the conference

Early doubts of whether or not this New Mexico State men’s basketball team would produce wins have been silenced due to the success by NMSU head coach Chris Jans and his squad – and that is accredited to solid wins and a high-energy type of play from the Aggies.

This Aggies (17-3, 5-0 WAC) team is much different than past recent NMSU teams that fans are use to watching. Fans and spectators have seen NMSU prove they can hang with almost any team in the nation, even beating once then No. 6 Miami (Florida) and getting to the Diamond Head Classic Championship – which was no easy road.

Photo courtesy: NMSU Round Up

“It’s really fortunate that it’s all came together the way that it has,” Jans said about his team’s season so far in a post-game press conference after defeating Seattle U. “It was a crazy spring and summer, a lot of moving parts, a lot of scratching your head wondering what the finished product would look like.”

NMSU’s losses have not been bad either, only losing to now No. 16 Saint Mary’s (CA) –whom they faired close to all the way up to the second half –, a solid San Diego team and USC where the Aggies led for most of the game in Hawaii.

Another key factor that differs this team is that they have won games they are supposed to win. Respectively, no games are a given in Division I basketball, but being in the WAC means NMSU will be playing below average to decent teams.

The Aggies have created an identity of being the power house team in the WAC over the years, and that equals to expectations of winning most, if not all of their conference regular season games.

“The biggest thing for us is that these players have allowed us to coach them,” Jans said. “They’ve (NMSU players) really bought in and they jumped off the bridge so to speak, and trusted us a little bit more than maybe they were in the summer – and that’s the reason for our success.”

Although just five games into the conference regular season, the Aggies have gone on the road and defeated, now post season eligible-Grand Canyon University by a convincing score of 70-59. With another win also coming against WAC foe Cal State Bakersfield, who despite their struggles this year, have always been a team to give NMSU trouble.

The Aggies also dismantled the Utah Valley Wolverines last Saturday evening to gain sole possession of first place, after losing at home to UVU last year and snapping NMSU’s conference home game win streak. Respectively, this year’s team is much different than last year’s Paul Weir team and coach Jans seems to have many more athletes that can produce on any given night.

“I’ve been telling them since I’ve arrived that talent won’t be our problem,” Jans said. “We’ve got enough talent, it’s ‘can we come together?’.”

It’s legitimate to say that this team has come together as NMSU is ranked No. 44 in the NCAA rating percentage index (RPI) poll. This style of ranking takes in to mind the strength of a team’s schedule, as well as a team’s wins and losses.

The Aggies have also received votes in the Associated Press top 25 poll.

In the poll the Aggies are the only WAC team to break the top 50 coming in at No. 46. The closest WAC opponents are GCU at No. 92 (RPI rank: 193) and UVU at No. 103 (RPI rank: 77).

Over the past few years NMSU has struggled in the kenpom poll, but has worked its way up. From 2015 to 2017 they finished at ranks of 98, 111 and 84 according to

It is yet to be heard if Jans feels these numbers are relevant to him and his team but he has said that he’s enjoyed watching this team grow and feels they have “plenty of growth left.”

Whether these numbers actually matter or not, NMSU looks to continue to roll and control their own destiny in hopes of making yet another NCAA Tournament appearance.

Fans and spectators do know this though; this squad is special.

“Over time our practices were better, our communication was better – some of the other guys started stepping up and mimicking the things I was saying,” Jans said about his team. “It’s been fun to be a part of it.

Amberg twins enjoy final season of competing together at New Mexico State

It is hard work and takes a little bit of luck to find a best friend to go through the peaks and valleys of life, but having a best friend forever is something two seniors on the New Mexico State Cross Country and Track and Field teams have had their whole lives and spoiler alert — they are sisters and were born only seconds apart.

Photo courtesy: Crissey Amberg

Photo courtesy: Crissey Amberg

Crissey and Cassey Amberg are identical twins and are distance runners on both the NMSU Cross Country and Track team, also being New Mexico natives from Albuquerque. The Amberg’s have brought much success to both their respected teams and have helped sought out and bring WAC championship titles as well, even having much success in their own individual events.

But when asked if running has always been a part of their lives, they admitted that the sport was never fully picked up until their sophomore year of high school.

“We were soccer players our freshman year (of high school),” Crissey said. “We did Cross Country our sophomore year, our friends – they were like ‘come try out, come during the summer, do our summer workouts with us.’ – and we were hooked like after the first practice. Now were long distance runners.”

The young women have a history of winning, as the Eldorado High School alumnae said they won the state championship in track as a team during their senior campaign and were also crowned the state champs in Cross Country during their junior year.

“We’ve always been like pretty good runners, we’ve always just like loved running,” Cassey said very humbly.

The two of them have an obvious special bond, and have always been a package deal, even up to their college days. So when it came to deciding where to go to for college, there was no second thought of maybe being separated from one another. The two had multiple offers from schools, including notable offers from in-state rival the University of New Mexico and as well as from the University of Nevada, Reno. After an official visit to NMSU, it was Aggie Nation who was able to land the two dynamic runners.

“We were hooked,” Crissey said. “The team had such a family atmosphere, everyone was so excited to be running – it was a great environment to be in. We knew after our visit; we were in the car going home and were like ‘this one we just can’t pass up on.’”

The two made it clear that the transition to NMSU was smooth sailing and having each other in a new environment was a big reason for the easy change.

“We’ve never had problems,” Cassey said about always having her sister by her side. “We have so much fun together, I think it helps more than anything just to have that one person to support you through no matter what – I can always lean on her.”

Although similar in appearances, academically the sisters venture off to their respected but different fields of study; Crissey is majoring in French and Spanish while Cassey is a public health major.

Superb athletes, identical twins and even closely spelled names aren’t the only unique aspects of the duo; the pair of them are also outstanding in the classroom and handle their hectic schedules with high quality effort.

“It’s definitely not easy,” Crissey said about handling the workload of college classes and athletic events. “I like to think I have a good work ethic. I love my major, I love doing every part of it. I just like school and Cassey likes school too.”

The two seniors will unfortunately put their streak of being together to an end after the conclusion of this spring semester.

“It’s definitely going to be difficult,” Cassey said about being away from her sister after graduation. “Crissey is staying (at NMSU) for the next two years, she’s getting her masters and I’m going back to Albuquerque where I’m from – I’m planning on going to nursing school next fall. So this is going to be the first time we’ve been apart, ever – for like a long time. It’ll be weird just not having her around.”

Crissey is a redshirt senior and will have one more season of indoor and outdoor track and will also start graduate school at NMSU.

One of Crissey’s most memorable moments of being an Aggie was when she placed first in the mile at the 2017 WAC indoor Track and Field championship, even setting a new personal record in the mile with a time of 4:54.79. She was also named the WAC Outstanding Track Performer during that year’s indoor championship.

Ironically, the both share a memorable moment as well.

“For Cross Country this past year, we won WAC for the first time in like ten years,” Cassey said. “So that was like super memorable – we just got our rings for it. That’s like the best memory I’ve had because we were all together, we all raced our hearts out.”

As their Aggie careers come to an end, their running days will not. Cassey will stick to just-for-fun-5k’s and half marathons, while Crissey said she will do the same but will keep an open eye of maybe running at a higher level.

“I think if I was given the opportunity I would go pro or something – but you got to go fast, you got to be fast,” Crissey said while smiling.

NMSU has seen great student athletes come and go throughout the years and the Amberg sisters will join that highly held list. Although their paths after this semester will differ, the two will leave behind a legacy of being great on and off the track.

Deep cuts to lottery scholarship impact NMSU students

LAS CRUCES, NM – New Mexico State University students are struggling to pay for tuition this academic school year due to cuts in the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship.

The lottery will now cover only 60 percent of tuition costs for the 2017-18 school year. This is a significant drop compared to recent years when the lottery scholarship covered 90 percent of tuition costs. According to state education officials, the cut was made to stretch revenue for the financial aid program.

According to the Higher Education Department, New Mexico State students now only receive $1,721, which is a decrease of more than $700 from last year. New Mexico community colleges will also decrease their scholarship amounts from $617 to $432.

Earlier this year the New Mexico Board of Regents agreed on a rise of about six percent in tuition for NMSU and its branch colleges around the state. This creates additional problems for NMSU students.

Efrashia Crespin, 19, a sophomore at NMSU, is among the many students who are now facing problems due to the financial cuts in the lottery scholarship. Crespin, who has a part-time job, said she is now paying out of pocket for her books and for some of her tuition.

Students at New Mexico State University walk to their early morning classes on Aug. 22. (Photo by Ione Blanco)

“I am a student that comes from a low-income family and the lottery was a big factor in helping with my tuition and book fee costs,” Crespin said.

She is aware of the possible additional cuts in the lottery scholarship in the near future and she plans to apply to other financial aid programs such as Scholar Dollar$ to help pay for school. However, she thinks she may have to drop to a part-time enrollment status eventually.

“Due to recent cutbacks and the increase of tuition, my paycheck only helps oh so much with paying my expenses,” Crespin said.

Austin Gentry, the Financial Aid outreach advisor at NMSU, said the reduction in the lottery is due to recent decreased revenue from New Mexico lottery proceeds. Gentry explained that the scholarship fund must maintain a $2 million balance at the end of each year.

Gentry said that even with the lottery cuts there has been no decline in enrollment at NMSU this academic year. In fact, NMSU has seen the opposite.


“This year, NMSU welcomed the largest first-year class since 2012, thanks to the efforts of the university admission’s office, new scholarships to incoming students, building a caring community, and various other programs NMSU has started in recent years,” Gentry said.

New Mexico State University students visit the financial aid office Aug. 22, in the Educational Services building. (Photo by Ione Blanco)

According to the Higher Education Department, $39.5 million were funded for lottery proceeds, but this falls well short of the $68 million needed to pay for full tuition.

Anissa Wright, 21, a senior at NMSU, has had the lottery scholarship since her freshman year back in 2014. She said she didn’t expect the cuts to impact her that much, but certainly feels the financial problems now.

“I had absolutely no money to assist me with books this semester,” Wright said.

Wright has two jobs to help pay for school and is a full-time student at the NMSU main campus. She also lives off campus and has to worry about paying for rent, bills and food. Wright said she takes out student loans to help pay for school and now has to pick up extra shifts in order to make ends meet.

With additional cuts in the lottery coming, Wright believes there isn’t any way to prepare for it, but will give it her all to come up with the money to pay for her schooling and other necessities.

“I will do my best to work as much as I can on top of being a student, being involved in on-campus organizations, being a coach, and internships for my future career,” Wright said. “I also plan to take full advantage of my fall, winter, and spring breaks to get caught up financially.”

While some students take out student loans to help pay for school, Gentry said students are seeking to avoid debt by working or finding other scholarships.

“We have not seen any data that shows students are borrowing more in student loans to cover the reduction in lottery scholarship funds,” Gentry said.

According to the NMSU financial aid website, students must take at least 15 credit hours and maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA or higher in order to keep the NM lottery scholarship. Students must also maintain continuous enrollment to keep the scholarship.

Ione Blanco collaborated in this story.

YouTube Stardom Hitting Home

 LAS CRUCES, NM – YouTube is growing and evolving each and every day – but so have the people who constantly use the exhilarating video sharing website.

Dave Mares, a senior studying Digital Film Making at New Mexico State University, hardly has any free time. He is either in class, working, or – creating eventful videos in hopes of making others laugh. That’s right, Mares currently operates his own YouTube channel which is known to many as “itsMGW.”

The 21-year-old was born and raised in Las Cruces, NM and has two older siblings. One of them Bobby Mares, who is a well-known YouTuber and receives income for his YouTube Channel.

Dave Mares understands that making money from YouTube takes time and his brother is a living example of that.

“It took my brother more than a couple of years to start making money off YouTube – it’s not an instant thing,” Dave Mares said.

Hard Work is also a must and with Dave Mares’ experience with video and editing, it gives him an extreme advantage. Mares spends much of his time editing and perfecting videos for his YouTube channel.

“Videos have to be almost perfect when it comes to YouTube,” Dave Mares said. “Who wants to watch a poorly made video? It’s all about the viewers.”

The NMSU student said as of right now, he’s not too concerned about making money off his YouTube channel – but in all reality, getting income for making YouTube videos is possible for Dave Mares.

In only a month, he has gotten over 500 subscribers and one of his videos has close to 2,000 views.

According to many people believe YouTubers make money by the amount of views they get – to an extent that is true. But videopower said it is all about the “people’s engagement with the ad” that really gets the Channel somewhere. The website states that advertisers select ads such as Cost per Click (CPC) or Cost Per View (CPV).

“Engagement here means clicking or watching an ad for more than 30 seconds,” the video power marketing stated on its website.

Video Power also states that the best way to help yourself get income from videos is to really specify your targeted audience.

“Advertisers want targeted YouTube channels with a defined demographic,” said the video power page. “They’d [Advertisers] much rather place their ads on a specific type of person than a random user.”

Dave Mares understands that concept and has already customized his channel to fit a younger teenage audience. His channel offers challenge videos – which presents dramatic scenarios – and as well as vlogs (video blogs).

“Right now, getting paid for my YouTube videos is the least of my worries – I’m just trying to have fun with it,” Dave Mares said when asked if money was a priority concerning his videos.

In an article named “How YouTube Developed into a Successful Platform for User-Generated Content,” Margaret Holland from Elon University, said that when observing three YouTubers she found that not only did they benefit financially from YouTube but they also used that platform to raise income elsewhere.

Dave Mares explained that his brother just recently released his own merchandise to fans and because of YouTube; profit for that merchandise will be steady.

“Dropping his own merch [merchandise] now was perfect timing,” Dave Mares said. “I’d definitely use a similar approach, if I ever get to that level.”

Holland’s article also mentioned the YouTubers ended up releasing books and even creating movies. All because of YouTube, which helped give each of them a name for themselves.

Dave Mares explained that his goals after college are to move to California and open his own production company. Though he believes YouTube will eventually die out, he also thinks it holds perfect opportunity or “networking”.

“It could be something to help lift me off and get me to a bigger stage in life,” Dave Mares said.

YouTube alone has adjusted throughout the years, and just recently came up with “YouTube TV”.

Temple University offered an online article about YouTube TV, which is the future of YouTube. The article said Google, who owns YouTube, might ask for higher ad prices than cable TV.

With this possibility, Dave Mares said it doesn’t really change his view about his channel. He said whether money comes from his channel or not, he is content with just making others laugh.

“At the end of the day, something good will come from all this,” Dave Mares said.

Campus life at New Mexico State

Students go from class to class on the campus of New Mexico State University during the 2016 spring semester. A behind the scenes look at NMSU students, pre-graduation, preparing themselves to go out into the real word, and hopefully make a change in this world.

Sample of photos taken by myself.