Lobos Get Last Chance For NCAA Bids On Saturday
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/05/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 5, 2008

The University of New Mexico track and field team will send five athletes to Seattle for the University of Washington Last Chance Meet on Saturday. Senior Robert Caldwell (pole vault), juniors Mat Ashton (mile), and Lee Emanuel (mile), and sophomores Deanna Young (triple jump), and Alesha Walker (long jump), will be looking to better their NCAA provisional qualifying marks and lock up a spot in the NCAA Championships field next week in Fayetteville, Ark. (March 14-15).

Ashton and junior Sandy Fortner appear likely to advance to the NCAA meet in the 5,000 meters and pentathlon, respectively. Ashton is currently ranked 17th nationally in the 5,000 with a top time of 14:00.30 while Fortner ranks 14th in the pentathlon after winning the Mountain West Conference title last week with a school record score of 4,005. The NCAA Championship Committee generally selects 15-18 to compete in each event at the national meet.

Caldwell, Emanuel, Young and Walker will all need their best performance of the year on Saturday to secure their place in the NCAA Championship field. UNM head coach Joe Franklin broke down what the Lobos will need to do to better their chances of advancing.

"Sandy Fortner is on the bubble, but we are rolling the dice and taking the chance that she is in," Franklin said. "Deanna Young needs three inches to be considered and Robert Caldwell is jumping very well right now. He needs about 5.35 meters (17' 6 3/4"), but he has jumped 5.40 in his career."

While Ashton will run the mile primarily as training, Franklin said Emanuel will need to slice almost three seconds off his school record time in the event to earn an NCAA bids on Saturday.

"Lee Emanuel needs to run under four minutes, plain and simple," he said. "Being that this is an Olympic year the race should be so good with all the athletes that will be trying to better their times."

Franklin said that Walker faces a daunting task of jumping at least eight inches beyond her previous best - a school record 20' 1/4" last week at the MWC Championships.

"Alesha Walker keeps getting better and she is going to need a jump of 20-10 or 20-8," he said. "Being on the (provisional qualifying) list is just half the battle. These athletes have to make sure that they focus and get the same emotion as in the conference meet."


Jr. Sandy Fortner • 14th in the pentathlon (4,005 pts.) -45 points shy of the automatic qualifying standard...expected to earn an NCAA bid

Jr. Mat Ashton • 17th in the 5,000m (14:00.30) -on the bubble, but expected to advance if standings remain the same and if several higher ranked athletes declare for other events...will run the mile for the first time this winter at the Washington Last Chance meet.

Sr. Robert Caldwell • tied for 17th in the pole vault (17' 2 3/4") -recorded his best mark of the season back on Jan. 5 at the National Pole Vault Summit, but needs to surpass 17' 5" to challenge for a spot in the NCAA field...career-best indoor vault of 17' 7 1/4" in 2006 and earned All-America honors (tied for 8th) with a mark of 17' 6 1/2" at the '06 NCAA Indoor Championships.

So. Deanna Young • tied for 19th in the triple jump (42' 7") -needs to add at least three inches to her PR to put herself in contention for an NCAA bid...smashed her previous best by over 2 1/2 feet last weekend at the MWC Championships.

Jr. Lee Emanuel • 34th in the mile (4:02.47) -shattered a 24 year old school record in his first mile as a Lobo at the Meyo Invitational on Feb. 9, needs to trim a little more than two seconds off his record setting time.

So. Alesha Walker • 44th in the long jump (20' 1/4") -set a school record and PR at the MWC championships, will need to improve eight inches to have a chance.