Stevens: Lobos Are Challenged in 2011 To Beat The Excellence of 2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/31/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 31, 2011

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New Mexico Lobos Tailwind Invitational
Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium
Friday: 4 p.m., women's hammer; 5:30 p.m., men's hammer
Saturday: Field, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Running, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Who: New Mexico, Utah State, Oklahoma State, New Mexico State, Air Force, Colorado College, Colorado-Colorado Springs, Northern Arizona, Lubbock Christian, Western State, New Mexico Highlands.
GoLobos.com: Meet Recap, Results

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

In looking at the powerful potential of the New Mexico Lobos' outdoor track team in 2011, it might be prudent to start the story with Coach Joe Franklin's women. The Lobos are loaded on this side of the track.

Now, that isn't saying the men's team is hurting in 2011. Franklin lost some quality points in All-Americans Lee Emanuel, Chris Barnicle and Jacob Kirwa, but Franklin also is quick to point out, "We have a lot of guys coming back who have improved. We are moving in a positive direction."

The Lobos' track program has seen nothing but positive movement since Franklin took over the show. However, Franklin, the reigning Mountain West and NCAA Mountain Regional Coach of The Year, has some big shoes to fill from 2010.

His Lobos advanced a school-record 26 athletes to the NCAA Regional last season. Both his men and women set school marks for points scored in the MWC Championships. Does Franklin have the quality depth to do all that again?

It's likely the women won't have much trouble holding up their end of NCAA advancement. The women's side was hit hard by the loss of Sandy Fortner (heptathlon), but besides losing Fortner and Brianna Paxton, that squad returns almost everyone who produced points in 2010.

"We could have one of our better finishes on the women's side," said Franklin. A few headliners returning for the Lobo women include Deanna Young, Natalie Gray, Lacey Oeding and Ruth Senior. Young and Senior advanced to the NCAA finals in 2010.

The Lobo men lost NCAA finalists in Emanuel (1,500), Barnicle (10,000), and Kirwa (5,000), but there is a lot of quality depth on this side, too.

Franklin is expecting NCAA charges from David Bishop, Sam Evans, Warrick Campbell, Richard York, Logan Pfibsen, Kyle Walker, De'Vron Walker, Kendall Spencer, Zach Smith, Rory Fraser, Nicholas Kipruto, Keith Gerrard, Gabe Aragon, Ty Kirk and Lamaar Thomas, who was an NCAA qualifier in 2010.

The Lobos are holding their first, and only, home meet of the outdoor season Friday and Saturday at the Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium.

"The season is just starting and we are still blowing out some cobwebs and experimenting with people in different events, but this is going to be a good meet," said Franklin.

"There will be about 450 athletes out there. Every event will have quality athletes in it, and the weather is going to be nice."

The MWC Championships are set for May 11-14 in Fort Collins, Colo. The NCAA Mountain Region will be held May 26-28 in Eugene. Ore., and the NCAA Championships are set for June 1-4 in Des Moines, Iowa.