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Jun. 4—In the fall, the high school state soccer season is scheduled to return to normal. But one of the new wrinkles created by the pandemic is going to remain.

While the six state championship games — boys and girls in Classes 1A-3A, 4A and 5A — are going to remain centralized in the metro area, the format for other rounds that was utilized for the special 2021 spring season will remain intact in the fall.

The New Mexico Activities Association board of directors on Wednesday voted to allow the higher-seeded teams to host state quarterfinals and semifinals.

The state expects to return to its allotment of 12 playoff qualifiers for 4A and 5A; Class 1A-3A has eight. For this spring, 4A and 5A were reduced from 12 to eight.

First-round games in 4A and 5A already were being played at the sites of the higher seed before the pandemic, but the quarterfinals and semifinals in all classes were contested in the metro area.

This spring, the quarterfinals and semifinals were played at home sites, a change created by the pandemic.

Marquez, who had her contract extended Wednesday by the board through the 2023-24 school year, said she expects first-round and quarterfinal games to be held in Week 1 of the postseason next fall, with the semifinals and finals in Week 2.

The University of New Mexico, where the finals were held in April, is the lead candidate to be the site of the championship games in November.

CROSS COUNTRY: Albuquerque Academy will be the new, permanent site of the state meet starting in November. The Chargers hosted state this spring in late March after a super-condensed monthlong season. But Academy will take over from Rio Rancho High as the regular host.

The two schools also did some schedule trading. The Rio Rancho Jamboree, usually held three weeks before state as the official pre-state race, will continue, but it will be moved up to September, on the same date that Academy used to stage its annual invitational meet.

This fall, Academy won’t have its invite as usual, but it will host a giant pre-state race on Oct. 16, in the old Rio Rancho Jamboree slot, three weeks ahead of state (Nov. 6).

—The Academy will be unveiling its new track later this summer and it will likely be on display as the finish line for state cross country in November.

The current — and weathered — nine-lane track at Richard Harper Memorial Field, which is 33 years old, is being torn up and resurfaced. The project is expected to last about 10 weeks, Chargers coach Adam Kedge said.

Kedge said the school also is resurfacing the areas behind Harper’s football end zones where the high jump, long jump and triple jump are held for track and field meets. The whole area is being resurfaced, not just the runways, Kedge added.

For the rest of this track season, Academy is practicing at nearby La Cueva, which has been “gracious enough to lend us their track in the evening,” Kedge said.

A LARGER PROGRAM: The state track and field meets later this month will feature an additional event: the 4-by-800-meter relay.

The event was added in deference to the aforementioned shortened cross country season, as the NMAA wanted to give runners an opportunity for another event at state track.

It is unknown if the 4×800 will continue into 2022 and beyond.

GO WEST, YOUNG MAN: St. Pius’ recently graduated senior, Marcus Garcia, had the lone goal for the West squad last Saturday at the All-American High School Soccer Game in St. Louis.

“It was really cool to get the opening goal, and the only goal, for the West,” Garcia said, adding with a laugh, “I could’ve had a better celebration.”

The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

“I wanted to get (a goal) really bad,” said Garcia, who will play collegiately at Maryland. “It’s a high-level game, and it’s a unique experience to get something out of it.”

HONORED: For the second straight season, Sandia guard Viane Cumber is New Mexico’s Gatorade girls basketball Athlete of the Year.

The 5-foot-10 Cumber, who has signed to play at New Mexico, averaged 26.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists for the Matadors last season.