UNMís Top Distance Runners Eyeing NCAAs at Husky Classic
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/12/2014

When: Friday-Saturday, Feb. 14-15, 2014
Where: Dempsey Indoor in Seattle, Wash.
Live Results: GoHuskies.com

During their last five trips to the Husky Classic, the Lobos have qualified an athlete to the NCAA Championships.

This year, they’re aiming to go six-for-six.

Five of the University of New Mexico's top distance runners are heading to the Husky Classic in Seattle this weekend as they aim to register NCAA Championship-worthy marks in one of the top distance races of the year.

Luke Caldwell, Adam Bitchell, Patrick Zacharias and Sean Stam are looking to advance to the national championship for the men, while Charlotte Arter and Chloe Anderson are eying the NCAAs for the women.

“[Qualifying athletes to the NCAAs] is the only reason we’re going there,” New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said. “Some will, some won’t, but that’s the goal.”

It’s a goal that has historical precedence, however, considering the streak UNM has going at the Husky Classic.

Caldwell punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships at last year’s edition, racing to a school record in the 5000-meter run.

He is one of nine instances of NCAA qualifications occurring at Dempsey Indoor for the Lobos, a trend that Franklin wants to see continue.

However, it won’t be a walk in the park.

The Husky Classic is one of the most competitive indoors distance meets in the entire nation that produces some of the best teams every season — hence all of the Lobos’ qualifying marks in previous years.

“Every distance runner of merit will show up there,” Franklin said. “… You really have no choice but to run fast.”

But this year’s squad of harriers can definitely run fast.

“They’re all very fit,” Franklin said. “Luke and Adam have had some of their best workouts they’ve ever had going up to this. Charlotte and Chloe have had some of the best workouts they’ve ever had.”

Caldwell, a four-time All-American, is 25th in the nation in the mile. He will compete in the 5000 at the Husky Classic, the same event in which he set the school record last year.

He will be joined by Zacharias and Stam in the 5K.

Zacharias, who ran a 5K in December’s Hoosier Open in Indiana, is currently 11th in the NCAA in the event with a time of 14:09.85. Stam will run his first 5000 of the season.

Stam did compete in the 5000 at last year’s Husky Classic, clocking a time of 14:05.07 to rank eighth all-time at New Mexico.

“Pat’s had exceptional workouts [and] Sean’s had exceptional workouts,” Franklin said.

Bitchell has already ran a 5K this season — a 13:44.70 at the Hoosier Open to rank second in the NCAA — so he will race in the 3000 instead. He hasn’t run a 3K since 2012, but owns a personal record of 8:05.

For the women, the duo of Arter and Anderson are entered in the mile.

Arter, via a superb pacing effort from Anderson, ran to the ninth-best mile time (4:38.20) in the NCAA this year at the New Mexico Team Invitational early this month.

That time is second all-time at UNM and earned Arter a Mountain West Athlete of the Week nod.

Anderson will run her first complete mile this weekend, but has considerable experience in the 1500, the outdoor version of the mile.

In the 1500, which is also known as the metric mile, Anderson qualified to the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year and ranks third in New Mexico history in the 1500.

The men’s 5000 is a 6:50 p.m. MT Friday, while the men’s 3000 is at 5:55 p.m. MT Saturday. Arter and Anderson will compete at 4:20 p.m. MT Saturday, as well.

Check GoHuskies.com throughout the meet for live results and GoLobos.com after the meet Saturday for a full recap.