Joe Franklin enters his fifth year as the head track and field/cross country coach at the University of New Mexico. Franklin took over the program on June 18, 2007 after 13 years in the same role at Butler University. He replaced Matt Henry who retired after seven years at New Mexico. Franklin is the seventh men's and fifth women's head track and field coach at UNM.
At the time of his hiring Franklin said, "I'm excited and thrilled," Franklin said. "This is a very unique opportunity, especially when you look at the great tradition and history that New Mexico has had in cross country and track and field. I think the University of New Mexico and city of Albuquerque are tremendous settings for competition and training and places that provide unique opportunities for student-athletes."
Franklin said he has lofty expectations for the future of the UNM track and cross country programs. "The goals for the program are always to see where we can max out in every event," he said. "Let's see how high we can go. Let's see if we can get to be a top-10 team in cross country. Let's see if we can get to be a top-25 team in track and field. We want to have athletes in the sprints, throws, jumps, vaults and distance events qualifying for the NCAAs consistently and then see if we can build on that and start moving up in the team standings."
Since that time Franklin has wasted little time making his mark at New Mexico and achieved many of the goals he laid out in his hiring.
During 2007, senior Jeremy Johnson won the Mountain West Conference men's title and earned All-America honors by placing 20th in his NCAA Cross Country Championship debut. The Lobo men turned in their best ever MWC performance, finishing second with a score of 51 - the team's best at a conference meet since 1965. UNM also had a program-best four runners earn all-MWC honors on the men's side.
In 2008 the women then turned in one of the best cross country seasons in program history. New Mexico won its first conference title, edging BYU 31-33 in the closest Women's Championship meet in MWC history. The Lobos set program records with three first team all-conference runners and five total all-conference honorees. Franklin was named MWC Women's Coach of the Year. New Mexico went on to finish second at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships and placed a school record six women on the all-region team en route to a 70-point score - the team's lowest since 1981. A week later, junior Nicky Archer (56th) led the Lobos to an 18th place finish at NCAA Championships in their first trip to the national meet since 1985.
Franklin's debut season on the track in 2008 was filled with highlights. Junior Sandy Fortner became the first UNM woman to compete in the pentathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships (12th) after winning MWC gold in the competition, along with high jumper Tiyana Peters. Five school records also fell during the indoor season. The 2008 outdoor track season saw seven athletes - four men and three women - advance to NCAA Championship meet, giving New Mexico its best representation in the modern era of the championships. Three athletes - seniors Robert Caldwell (pole vault) and Jeremy Johnson (10,000m), and junior Katie Coronado (javelin) - earned All-America honors - the most for UNM since 1989. Coronado's silver medal in the javelin was the best ever recorded by a New Mexico woman at the NCAA Championships. Caldwell and Coronado gave UNM a sweep of the men's and women's MWC Outstanding Performer awards.
During the 2009 track season the Lobo men finished second at the MWC indoor meet, the highest ever finish to that point and then duplicated the highest outdoor finish in MWC history when they got third. During the indoor NCAA championship junior Lee Emanuel took the NCAA title in the 1 mile run when he put up the years fastest time of 3:57.62. Both MWC outstanding performers went to Lobos as Jarrin Solomon was the men's award winner and Katie Coronado was the women's. Following the 2009 MWC championship the Lobo program sent 10 athletes to the NCAA regional championships, the most in program history. Out of the NCAA regional championship eleven Lobo tracksters qualified for the NCAA championships. At the NCAA meet three Lobos earned All-American honors.
In 2009-10 the Lobo program really took off, with both the men and women winning MWC cross country titles, and Coach Franklin earning Coach of the Year honors for both genders. Both teams then qualified for the NCAA championship where the men finished eighth and the women 13th. Only eighteen programs qualified both men's and women's teams to the NCAA and when adding the team scores together UNM was the fourth best program in the country. During the 2010 indoor season Lee Emanuel again won the NCAA mile title while Sandy Fortner, Chris Barnicle, and Rory Fraser earned All-American honors. The Lobo men placed 8th at the NCAA indoor meet while the ladies finished 36th. During the MWC outdoor meet the Lobo men were runner-ups scoring the most points in history. Twenty six Lobo athletes qualified for the NCAA regional championship and seven qualified their way to the NCAA championship.
In 2010-11 the Lobo women's cross country program took their third consecutive MWC title, while the men made it two in a row. Franklin was again the Coach of the Year with both programs and Natalie Gray was chosen as MWC athlete of the year. The teams then went to the NCAA regional championship and took both titles there with Franklin being named NCAA regional coach of the year. At the NCAA championship the Lobo women placed fifth with two runners (Natalie Gray and Ruth Senior) earning All American honors. The men's program finished 16th with All American Keith Gerrard leading the way. During the indoor season the Lobos sent their record setting distance medley relay to the NCAA championship. In outdoor track both programs finished runner-ups at the MWC championship and sent twenty-nine athletes to the NCAA regional championship, the most ever. Out of that meet nine Lobos qualified for the NCAA championships. At the NCAA championship Keith Gerrard and Rory Fraser earned All-American honors in the 10,000 and 5000 meter races respectively.
During the 2011 cross country season the Lobo men and women repeated as MWC champions, the women gaining their fourth in a row and the men their third. Both groups qualified for the NCAA championships where the women finished 9th.
During his time in Indianapolis, Franklin built the Butler program into a national force in men's and women's cross country. He led eight teams (six men's, two women's) to the NCAA Cross Country Championships between 1998-2006 with seven squads earning top-25 finishes. In 2004, Franklin was named NCAA Cross Country Coach of the Year after leading the Butler men to a program-best fourth place finish at the national meet. The Bulldogs sent a team to the NCAA Championships five of the last six years Franklin was at the helm and dominated the Horizon Conference in cross country. In 2006, the men's team won its ninth straight conference title, while the women won their fifth in a row. Franklin earned conference Coach of the Year honors 17 times in cross country and was named Men's Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year in 1998. He also earned conference Indoor Track Coach of the Year honors twice at Butler. Under Franklin, Butler athletes earned track or cross country All-America honors nine times, won 128 conference titles and earned 276 all-conference awards. On the track, Butler had three outdoor All-Americans with Mitchell winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase national title in 2005, Becky Lyne finishing third in the 800 in 2003 and Fraser Thompson placing seventh in the 5,000 in 1999. Scott Overall became Butler's first indoor track All-American in 2007 when he finished sixth in the mile run. Butler athletes also fared well in the classroom under Franklin's watch. The men and women both posted team grade point averages over 3.2 in the fall of 2006 and Thompson earned a Rhodes Scholarship in 2002 - the highest academic award ever by a Butler University student.
A native of Greencastle, Ind., Franklin was a four-year letterman in track at Purdue University and a two-time all-Big 10 Conference honoree in the 800 (2nd - 1989, 3rd - 1991). He received his bachelor's in Professional Writing in 1991 and his master's degree in Education Administration in 1994, both from Purdue. Franklin and his wife, Melinda, have a 17-year-old son, Elijah.
THE JOE FRANKLIN FILE
Age: 43 (born March 1, 1968)
Birthplace: Greencastle, Ind.
Alma Mater: Purdue '91
Collegiate Athletic Experience: Purdue (middle distance - 1986-91)
All-Americans Coached (17):
2007-current: 7th men's and 5th women's head track and field coach at New Mexico
1994-07: Head M&W Cross Country/Track & Field Coach, Butler
1992-94: Asst. Men's Cross Country/Track & Field Coach, Purdue
1991-92: Head Cross Country Coach, DePauw