May 28, 2005
NORMAN, Okla. - University of New Mexico senior Amanda Barnes came face-to-face with the end of her career this evening at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships and didn't like what she saw. After scratching on her first two attempts in the trials round, Barnes was one misstep away from an early exit in the regional shot put competition for a third straight year. However, the Carlsbad native powered her way into the finals on her next throw and clinched her first trip to NCAA Championships with a mark of 51' 11.25" on her sixth and final attempt.
Nothing came easy for Barnes at the University of Oklahoma's John Jacobs Track and Field Complex as she quickly found herself on the outside looking in after Texas A&M junior Abby Ruston jumped into fifth place on her first throw of the finals. Barnes rallied once again though, passing Ruston (49-07.25) to recapture the fifth automatic qualifying spot on her sixth attempt and securing her ticket to Sacramento on her final throw. Barnes' performance, which came two days after watching her six-year-old daughter Sable graduate kindergarten back in Albuquerque, placed the UNM women into a tie for 27th in the final standings. Meanwhile, junior Matt Keeran's effort in the javelin on Friday gave the men 31st place.
In other action today, New Mexico rookie Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott ended his highly successful freshman season by finishing 10th in the finals of the 1,500-meter run. Kiptoo-Biwott clocked a time of 3:52.87, seven seconds out of the top five and five seconds off his preliminary qualifying time on Friday.
The men's pole vault proved to be the most unpredictable event of the weekend as seven of the top 10 ranked competitors placed out of the top five and failed to secure their spot in the NCAA Championship field. Lobo sophomore Robert Caldwell finished tied for 15th, ahead of 14 other vaulters and second among the five Mountain West Conference men in the field, with a clearance of 16-07.25. He missed all three of his following attempts at a personal record height of 17-01.00. Junior teammate Derek Mackel, the No. 8 seed, was among the top-ranked athletes to fall on Saturday as he was unable to clear the opening height of 16-07.00.
Mackel certainly wasn't alone, however, as top ranked Ray Scotten of Nebraska (17-05.00) lost the fifth place tie-breaker to the No. 10 seed Justin Sutton of Texas A&M (17-05.00) and fellow Cornhusker Gable Balwin, the No. 2 seed, finished tied for seventh (17-01.00). Sam Houston State's Randy Flach, the No. 3 seed, finished 12th (17-01.00), fourth ranked Paul Gensic of Air Force missed all three attempts at his opening height of 17-05.00, No. 6 Andre Poljanec of Northern Iowa was ninth (17-01.00) and seventh ranked Scott Martin of Oklahoma tied for 18th (16-07.25). Air Force's Makisi Haleck, the No. 9 seed, won the event with a mark of 17-09.00 and was joined in the top five by fifth ranked Bobby Most of Texas Tech (17-05.00), 22nd ranked Austin Landreth of Oklahoma (17-05.00), 11th ranked Jarno Kivioja of Northern Iowa (17-05.00) and Sutton.
Elsewhere for the Lobos, senior Veronica R. Gonzales placed 17th with a throw of 137-03 in the javelin, while junior teammate Jessica McIntyre was 22nd with a mark of 128-04. Gonzales ended a stellar UNM career that included two all-MWC awards and three straight trips to the Midwest Regional Championships. Barnes, meanwhile, opened the day with a 17th place finish in the discus with a mark of 147-10.
UNM head coach Matt Henry said he expects to see junior Dan Feltman's name announced as an at-large qualifier for the NCAA decathlon competition early next week. Feltman owns the nation's 18th-best score in the decathlon. Twenty six competitors were selected for the field of the two-day event at the 2004 NCAA Championships.
Henry also said Keeran's strong seventh place finish at the regional meet and season-best mark of 211-05 en route to the MWC Championship title could net him an at-large bid to the national championship meet. According to Henry, Caldwell's regional performance and career-best 17-foot vault earlier in the year could be enough to gain an invite into the NCAA field. New Mexico has had two athletes compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships every year since 2002.