Sept. 15, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - The defending Mountain West Conference champion University of New Mexico women were ranked 22nd, while the promising men's team debuted at No. 26 in the preaseason U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national rankings released today. The Lobo women were the top ranked team in the MWC - three spots ahead of BYU - while the men were the No. 2 team in the conference behind the 12th-ranked Cougars.
Defending national champions Oregon and Washington enter the 2009 season as the top ranked teams in the men's and women's polls, respectively.
The New Mexico women return five starters from the 2008 squad that finished 18th at the NCAA Championships, including top NCAA finisher Nicky Archer, MWC runner-up Lacey Oeding, first team all-MWC honoree Carolyn Boosey, and all-Mountain Region honoree Ashley Gibson. Gibson turned in a second place finish in her season debut at the Lobo Invitational on Sept. 5.
The UNM men return six starters from last year's squad, which was ranked as high as 18th in the national coaches' poll. Senior Jacob Kirwa - a first team all-MWC honoree last fall and winner of the 2009 Lobo Invitational - is one of four returning all-NCAA Mountain Region runners for New Mexico, along with fellow seniors Lee Emanuel, Rory Fraser, and David Bishop. The Lobos also add another senior in Chris Barnicle, an Arkansas transfer who earned All-America honors in the 10,000 meters last spring in his first season of competition for the UNM track team.
New Mexico will send split men's and women's squads down to Las Cruces on Saturday morning to compete in the annual Kachina Classic. However, third-year head coach Joe Franklin won't run his full teams until Oct. 2 when the Lobos begin their NCAA Championship meet push in earnest at Notre Dame.