April 26, 2006
UPCOMINGThe University of New Mexico men's and women's track and field teams will host their lone home meet of the outdoor season on Saturday when they welcome 11 regional teams for the 16th annual Don Kirby Memorial Invitational. Mountain West Conference rivals Air Force, Colorado State and Wyoming, the New Mexico State women and Division II national power Adams State headline the field competing at the newly renovated Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. The meet opens with the field events at 9 a.m., followed by the first event on the track at 10:30 a.m. Admission is free and concessions stands will be open throughout the day.
THE DON KIRBY MEMORIAL INVITATIONAL AT A GLANCEResults: Final meet results will be available online at www.golobos.com.
Schedule: The meet gets underway with the field events at 9 a.m. The first event on the track, the women's 5,000-meter run, is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
The Biggest Outdoor Meet In New Mexico: The Don Kirby Invitational is the biggest collegiate track meet in the state of New Mexico each year and a showcase for some of the top talent in the state and region. This year 10 teams and over 500 athletes are scheduled to compete.
Don Kirby Memorial Invitational History: Named in honor of the long time Albuquerque meet official and friend of the UNM track and field program, the first Don Kirby Memorial Invitational was held on April 27, 1991 as a scored meet between the men's and women's teams of New Mexico, San Diego State and Cal State Los Angeles. The Lobos won the men's competition 141-94 over runner-up SDSU, but finished second behind the Aztecs on the women's side, 128-74.5.
Last year, UNM turned in one of its finest all-around performances in recent memory, winning a staggering 15 events and setting a pair of school records. Jamie Fishencord improved her own school record in the hammer throw, while Amanda Barnes claimed the discus record. The Lobos swept both the men's and women's 4x100m relay races and the women won the 4x400 relay with ease. Other UNM winners last year included: Jacquelyne Gallegos (5,000m), Kristan Matison (100m), Ariel Burr (400m), Veronica Gonzales (javelin), Amanda Barnes (shot put), Whitney Johnson (pole vault), Tiyana Peters (high jump), Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott (1,500m & 800m), Ahmed Raji (200m), Derek Mackel (pole vault), Willie Yuen (triple jump).
Albuquerque Weather Forecast: Saturday's forecast calls for a highs in the mid 60s with a 40 percent chance of rain. The winds are expected to be relatively light, blowing at 12 miles per hour.
Directions: The G.F.O. UNM Track Stadium is located on Avenida César Chavez east of University Blvd. The track facility is on the east side of the University football stadium. Fans should enter at the north side of the facility.
WHAT'S NEW AT THE UNM TRACK STADIUM??The 21-year-old Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium will have a new look on April 29 when the Lobos host the Don Kirby Memorial Invitational. A year-long construction project is nearing completion that will expand the east side of the facility to allow the long jump, triple jump, pole vault and shot put all to be contested in the same area within the stadium.
Two new long jump runways/pits and two triple jump runways/pits have been installed, along with a new pole vault runway, all running north and south to minimize the effect of the notorious New Mexico winds during the spring. A new shot put ring has also been put down on the east side, moving the event from the adjacent practice fields, back into the stadium. A wall was constructed to enclose the east side of the stadium and plans are also in the works to place bleachers on the east side to give spectators a up-close view of the field events.
The expansion is the first phase of the athlete and fan-friendly stadium renovations that also include plans to resurface the track oval this summer, beginning in early June.
"This project is a real positive for both our athletes and fans at our home meets," UNM head coach Matt Henry said. "We're going to have a lot more room to accommodate more athletes in the field events, which, once we get the track resurfaced, will help us bring some top teams to compete in Albuquerque."
Originally a track-only facility when it was constructed in 1985, the infield of the G.F.O. UNM Track Stadium was modified in 1996 to accommodate the Lobo men's and women's soccer field. The addition of the soccer field squeezed the shot put rings and jumping runways into the south end of the oval. In order to alleviate the congestion in the area, Henry and his staff eventually moved the shot, discus and hammer cages outside of the stadium to the practice fields. Due to safety concerns, the hammer and discus events will continue to be held at the practice field.
WHO AND WHAT TO WATCH AT THE DON KIRBY INVITESome of the top talent in the region will be on display on Saturday at the G.F.O. UNM Track Stadium, including one nationally ranked Division I competitor and eight of the top ranked athletes in the Mountain West and Western Athletic Conferences. Colorado State shot putter Magnus Lohse headlines the men's field, currently ranked sixth in the country and first in the MWC in his event. New Mexico's Mike Powdrell (long jump) and CSU's Nate Heyrman (hammer) are also ranked first in the MWC in their respective events. On the women's side, Colorado State's Rheannon Backes (high jump) and Katie Hansen (discus) are atop the league's performance charts, while Danielle Korb, the top-rated 1,500 runner in the conference, will be entered in the 800. New Mexico State's Sandra Anane (long jump & triple jump) and Erin Streater (hammer & shot put) are both leading the WAC in their respective events this spring.
Many of the marquee events on Saturday will be held in the field. The women's high jump features five of the top-10 athletes in the Mountain West, including UNM sophomore Tiyana Peters and freshman Sandy Fortner. The women's triple jump and hammer throw both have six top rated MWC athletes, plus WAC leaders Anane (triple jump) and Streater (hammer) of NMSU. Six top-10 MWC competitors, including the Lobos' Katie Coronado and Jessica McIntyre, and Aggie leaders Randi Grimes and Amanda Coyazo make for a strong women's javelin field as well.
The long jump will be one the most competitive event on the men's side, with MWC leader Powdrell and UNM teammate Domnick Meadows among the seven top rated athletes. Meadows is also one of five top-10 men in the triple jump. The men's hammer throw should also be a real battle with Heyrman of CSU leading nine of the MWC's top-10 competitors.
There will be plenty of action on the track as well, starting with the men's 100, where New Mexico's Aaron Brack, Wyoming's Dwight Neptune and CSU's Drew Morano and Michael Curl of the Colorado School of Mines should vie for the title. Brack was fourth in the 60m indoors, while Neptune earned all-MWC honors last spring with a third place finish in the 100. The women's 5,000 could also shape up to be a tight race with six evenly matched runners competing in UNM's Leslie Luna, Jacquelyne Gallegos and Lindsay Barr, Colorado State's April Thomas, Wyoming's Michelle Kvernmo and Grace Thompson of NMSU.
Elsewhere, Lobo sophomore Ariel Burr has set her sights on the 22-year-old school record in the 200, an event that also features Colorado State's Megan Fox and one of the WAC's top threats in NMSU's Katrina Powell. The men's 400 should be a fine race as well with New Mexico's Jarrin Solomon and Taylor Siemon, Terrence Fenton and Jermaine Kelly of Wyoming, and Chris Moulinet and Jake Streeter of Adams State expected to be in the final heat.
SO LONG, SENIORSSaturday's meet will mark the final home appearance outdoors for 14 UNM seniors, including seven fifth-year competitors in Jamie Fishencord (throws), Jacquelyne Gallegos (distance), Jaime Hall (mid-distance), Cameron Clarke (mid-distance), Frank Hemingway (mid-distance), Matt Keeran (javelin) and Derek Mackel (pole vault). The 2006 senior class includes two NCAA Championships qualifiers, one conference champion, five all-MWC honorees and two school record holders.
The 2006 University of New Mexico seniors: Kimilia Davis (Bellaire, Texas), Jamie Fishencord (Littleton, Colo.), Jacquelyne Gallegos (Pojoaque, N.M.), Jaime Hall (Albuquerque, N.M.), Jessica McIntyre (Farmington, N.M.), Jon-Paul Barabe (Albuquerque, N.M.), Jason Bigott (Los Alamos, N.M.), Aaron Brack (Austin, Texas), Cameron Clarke (Albuquerque, N.M.), Frank Hemingway (Las Cruces, N.M.), Matt Keeran (Albuquerque, N.M.), Brenton Laws (Albuquerque, N.M.), Derek Mackel (Albuquerque, N.M.), Jerrell Malone (Rowlett, Texas).
LAST TIME OUT: UCSD Triton InvitationalNew Mexican's Ariel Burr (200m), Jarrin Solomon (400m), Leslie Luna (5,000m) and Anthony Fairbanks (javelin) each turned in gold medal performances to lead UNM at the UC San Diego Triton Invitational meet.
Burr won for the second straight week, but notched her first victory in the 200. Solomon, surprisingly, won for the first time in his career, while Luna was victorious in her first outdoor race as a Lobo. Fairbanks, meanwhile, notched the second victory of his stellar rookie season.
After her school-record 400-meter run last week at the Mt. SAC Relays, Burr flew through the finish line with a career-best and team-leading time of 24.11 in her first 200 of the spring. The Carrizozo, N.M. product finished ahead of 57 other competitors and edged Cal State Northridge's Deanna Goodwin by 0.02 seconds at the line.
Solomon cruised in with a time of 47.57, 0.68 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. The Albuquerque La Cueva product had notched seven top-3 finishes in the outdoor 400 before finally breaking through with the victory.
Luna led a 1-4-5 New Mexico finish in the 5,000m, the first outdoor race of her career. After redshirting the 2005 season and missing the first month of the 2006 outdoor season, the former Albuquerque Academy standout didn't miss a beat, winning the race with a time of 17:09.70. Senior Jacquelyne Gallegos finished fourth (18:01.06), followed by sophomore Melanie Velarde (18:19.80).
Fairbanks kept churning along with his fourth top-3 finish of the spring in the javelin. The former Albuquerque Highland standout threw 205' 8" to defeat the runner-up, Andrew Smith of Arizona State, by over a foot. Fairbanks was victorious in both trips to California this season, also winning at the USC Cardinal & Gold Invitational on April 1.
THESE ARE NEW MEXICO'S LOBOSOver the past six years UNM head coach Matt Henry has worked to rebuild the track and field program primarily using in-state and in-city athletes. Few D-I athletics programs in the state of New Mexico can match Lobo track and field when it comes to being a truly New Mexican product.Zia pride is what fuels the program, coaches and athletes alike.
The 2006 roster features 75 in-state products, including 38 from the Duke City. Thirty-one men and women are former New Mexico high school track & field champions. More and more, the elite athletes in the state are choosing to stay home at New Mexico, even declining offers from big name out-of-state schools with greater financial resources.
The best sprinter in the state this year, Albuquerque Cibola's Tressi Richardson, recently picked UNM over North Carolina and Oklahoma, and Albuquerque Highland's Kelly McCabe (4-time 5A state champion) also signed with the Lobos this spring. Former Highland javelin star Anthony Fairbanks signed last year, as did Albuquerque JournalFemale Athlete of the Year Sandy Fortner (Fort Sumner). Two years ago, the Henry's also landed the best female sprinter in the state in Carrizozo's Ariel Bur, while La Cueva's Jarrin Solomon passed up an offer to play soccer at North Carolina to stay home and sprint for UNM.
The New Mexico connection is just as strong with the coaching staff as Matt Henry (Albuquerque), Mark Henry (Albuquerque), Scott Steffan (Aztec, N.M.), Keren Bentzur (Israel) and Matt Kraft (Albuquerque) all competed at and graduated from the University of New Mexico.
RECORD BURR-EAKERIn just two years, sophomore Ariel Burr has cemented herself as the greatest quarter-miler in UNM women's history. After breaking the school's 16-year old indoor record in February, Burr shattered her own outdoor record in the 400 by 0.68 seconds last week at the Mt. SAC Relays. The 5-4 Burr won the Olympic Development section of the event with a time of 53.48, the fastest in the Mountain West Conference this year and over a second under the NCAA regional qualifying standard. Next month the two-time indoor/outdoor all-MWC honoree will attempt to become just the third UNM woman ever to win a conference title in the 400 outdoors, joining Arline Smith (2001) and Shannon Vessup (1983). The Lobos have never had a woman qualify for the national championship meet in the 400.
One of 14 graduates in the class of 2004 at tiny Carrizozo High School (town population 1,043) in southeast New Mexico, Burr dominated the class 1A competition throughout her prep career, capturing 14 individual gold medals and an additional four relay titles in state track meet appearances. She was the top 100 and 400-meter runner in any class as a senior.