June 1, 2005
INDIANAPOLIS - Three University of New Mexico athletes saw their names appear last night as the NCAA released the declarations for the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship meet, which will run June 8-11 in Sacramento, Calif. Senior Amanda Barnes (Carlsbad, N.M.), an automatic regional qualifier in the shot put, junior Dan Feltman (Deming, N.M.), a provisional qualifier in the decathlon, and junior Matt Keeran (Albuquerque, N.M.), an at-large selection in the javelin, will each make their national championships debut next week, giving UNM its largest contingent at the NCAA meet since 1991.
Under fifth-year head coach Matt Henry, UNM has sent at least two competitors to the NCAA Outdoor Championships each year since 2002. It's been 20 years, however, since three New Mexicans represented the Lobos on the national stage. In 1985, Albuquerque natives Ted Crouch, Carole Roybal and Pam Posey were among the five UNM men and women to qualify for the national meet.
Barnes is the first UNM woman ever to compete in the shot put at the national meet. She advanced after turning in a clutch fifth place performance in the event three days ago at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships. The Carlsbad, N.M. native notched the best mark in Lobo history earlier this year, recording a toss of 52-09.50 on April 23 in San Diego. A two-time Mountain West Conference outdoor shot put champion and five-time indoor/outdoor all-conference honoree in the event, Barnes enters the meet as the No. 15 seed. The women's shot put competition gets underway with the qualifying round at 9:30 p.m. (MST) on Thursday, June 9.
Feltman enters the meet with the 18th-best decathlon score in the country, tallying 7,278 points in mid-April at the Mt. SAC Relays. The 6-4 Deming native captured the 2005 MWC decathlon title with relative ease in his last competition, although poor weather conditions limited him to a score of 7,250. Feltman is the second straight Lobo decathlete selected for the NCAAs after UNM went 19 years without a representative in the two-day event. Former teammate Mark Johnson was the 22nd man added to the field last year and went on to finish 15th out of 26 competitors. Former Olympian Gary Kinder is the Lobos' most decorated decathlete, earning All-America honors with a second place finish in 1985. The decathlon opens with the 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m on Wednesday, June 8 and concludes with the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500m on Thursday, June 9.
Keeran, meanwhile, surged into the javelin field after a dramatic two weeks of competition. After undergoing elbow surgery in the spring of 2004, Keeran made gradual progress in his return to action this spring and despite earning all-MWC honors in 2002 and `03, was considered a long shot to return to the Mountain West Conference medals podium in 2005. He stunned the MWC field, however, winning the conference title with a career-best throw of 211-05 on his final attempt. Keeran went on to finish seventh (197-04) at the Midwest Regional Championships, two spots shy of automatic qualifying berth, but high enough to be considered for the at-large bid. When the NCAA Championships Committee evaluated the season rankings, Keeran's MWC-winning mark secured his spot as the 24th competitor selected to the 26-man field. The Lobos' last All-American in the event was Buster Quist in 1958. The qualifying round of the javelin begins on Wednesday, June 8 at 4 p.m.
Since Henry took over the program in 2001, seven different athletes have competed in four-straight NCAA meets: (Keren Sari-Bentzur: heptathlon - '02, '03, Kelli Myers: '02, Matt Gonzales: 10,000m - '03, '04, Mark Johnson: decathlon - '04, Amanda Barnes: shot put - `05, Dan Feltman: decathlon - `05, Matt Keeran: javelin - `05). Matt Gonzales earned All-America honors by placing third in the 10,000-meter run in 2003 and again with a fourth place finish in the 10K last year. Keren Sari-Bentzur finished one spot shy of earning All-America honors in 2002, placing ninth in the heptathlon. New Mexico's last female All-American was javelin thrower Sarah Nicholson in 1996.