Jan. 23, 2005
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Distance aces Jacquelyne Gallegos and Ben Ortega swept the seeded 3,000-meter races, while freshman Derek McDonald won the heptathlon in his collegiate debut to lead the University of New Mexico on the final day of the Air Force Invitational on Saturday. The UNM men finished fifth with a score of 59.5, while the women were sixth with 52 points.
After cruising to victory in the non-seeded mile on Friday, Gallegos completed a perfect season-opening road trip with an impressive performance in the 3K. The Pojoaque, N.M. native crossed the line in a career-best altitude-adjusted time of 9:56.19, edging Colorado State's Nicole Feest by 1.52 seconds.
Ortega, meanwhile, smashed his previous best in the 3,000, running an altitude-adjusted time of 8:15.54, which was also the fastest under fifth-year head coach Matt Henry's tenure. The Taos, N.M. native had broken his personal record a week earlier at an exhibition meet in Albuquerque, but was equally impressive in his official indoor season-opener.
In the men's heptathlon, McDonald overcame a 68-point deficit in the final two events to pass CSU senior Andrew Miller for the win in his first competition as a Lobo. The Eldorado High School product took the lead in the pole vault, clearing 12-05.50 which ws over 3 feet above Miller. McDonald then finished fourth in the 1,000-meter run, holding off Air Force sophomore Brian Walsh for a solid 4,865-4,803 victory.
Back on the women's side, junior Kimilia Davis captured 10 points for the Lobos as the first collegiate finisher in the 400-meter finals. Davis clocked a strong time of 57.20, only trailing unattached runner Akia Davis (54.91). New Mexico also scored well in the 800, as sophomore Riann Lucy (2:20.89) and senior Jaime Hall (2:21.17) combined for nine points by finishing fifth and sixth, respectively.
Other highlights for the women included: senior Amanda Barnes' fourth place finish in the shot put (46-10.25), sophomore Jai McBride placing seventh in the triple jump with a career-best leap of 36-09.50, and a sixth place finish by the women's mile relay team of Davis, Hall, KC Pritchard and Brandie Mills.
Several men also turned in fine performances on Saturday, including freshman Zach Graham, who placed second in the pole vault. Graham tied for the lead with a mark of 16-00.75, but used more attempts to clear the height. Former Lobo and current volunteer pole vault coach Branden Bennett was also second in the event, competing unattached. Senior Willie Yuen also got off to a good start, placing fourth in the triple jump (45-07.25) and sixth in the long jump (20-08.00). Back on the track, senior Nick Martinez placed fourth behind Ortega in the seeded 3,000 with a solid time of 8:29.94. Freshman Jarrin Solomon, meanwhile, enjoyed an impressive debut, placing sixth in the 400-meter finals with a time of 49.59. The men's mile relay team of Issac Burgener, Kurt Henry, Randle McCain and Solomon capped the day with a fourth place finish (3:22.87).