Nov. 12, 2011
Provo, Utah --- In a sport that's based on time, every second sure did count in the women's NCAA Mountain Regional in Provo, Utah. The University of New Mexico Lobos and the University of Colorado Buffaloes tied for the NCAA Mountain Region title, with both teams punching its ticket to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana on November 21.
The men's team finished just ahead of Southern Utah for fourth place in the region, and they will now await to see if they qualified for an at-large berth for the national championships. For the women, it gives them a share of back-to-back Mountain Region titles.
On the women's side, both New Mexico and Colorado finished amazingly enough with 84 points, easily ahead of third place Weber State, who totaled 134. The Lobos had the shorter time gap between runners, and the distance between top finisher Ruth Senior and No. 5 scorer Imogen Ainsworth was just 42.0 seconds. Colorado's distance was 59.5 seconds, but they had two finishers ahead of UNM's Senior, and two behind Ainsworth.
New Mexico's Ruth Senior, the reigning Mountain West champion, led the squad with a seventh place finish at 21:05.8 over the 6K course.
In a race where teams tie for the title, any small measure of time could be the difference in winning and losing. For Colorado, fourth scorer Katie Cumming scored 27 points, missing 26th place by three tenths of a second. For the Lobos, Sarah Waldron finished 12th, three tenths of a second out of 11th. The fact Waldron (21:21.3) ran was itself a wonder, after having surgery performed on her hand at the beginning of the week after cutting her tendon in her thumb on a can of beans.
Natalie Gray continued to return to form, finishing 20th at 21:39.4, Kirsty Milner was 21st at 21:41.7, and Imogen Ainsworth was 23rd at 21:47.8. Shawna Winnegar and Kirsten Follett also ran for the Lobos, finishing 39th and 66th.
New Mexico received an automatic berth in the NCAA Championships, and they will attempt to better their fifth place finish of a year ago.
On the men's side, reigning Mountain West champion Ross Millington finished third in the region with a time of 30:24.8 over the 10k course, 15.5 seconds out of first. Sean Stam was UNM's second-best runner at 31:15.5 to finish 23rd.
After that the finishes dropped off a bit, with Patrick Ortiz 48th at 31:58.4, Pierre Malherbe 51st at 32:03.2, and Allen Pittman 53rd at 32:04.5. Vincent Montoya and Mike Asay also ran for the Lobos.
Brigham Young won the title by six points over Colorado. New Mexico, which finished 16th last year at the NCAAs and was the defending Mountain Region champion, will now have to wait until Monday to see if they will qualify for an at-large berth to the NCAA Championships.