April 11, 2009
Final Team Standings
Men: 1. New Mexico (164), 2. Wyoming (154), 3. Northern Arizona (148), 4. South Florida (143)
Women: 1. Rice (140), 2. Northern Arizona (135), 3. South Florida (133), 4. New Mexico (118.5), 5. Wyoming (98.5)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Four weather delays on an unseasonably cold, rainy, and windy day at the Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium didn't dampen the New Mexico Lobos' spirits in their 2009 outdoor home opener today. The New Mexico men rallied in the final event of the day - the javelin - to win the team title 164-154 over second place Wyoming in the rare scored regular season meet. The UNM women finished fourth overall, 21.5 points behind first place Rice.
The meet was barely underway when the first of four 30-minute lightning delays forced the mandatory suspension of the meet. Meet officials were able to squeeze in the women's 4x100-meter relay after the second delay before sending the athletes off for an hour wait.
Any fears that the unpredictable delays would affect New Mexico national champion Lee Emanuel's outdoor debut and first-ever race at the G.F.O. UNM Track Stadium proved to be unfounded. The Hastings, England product seemed right at home in the cold, gray conditions taking charge 200 meters in the men's 800 and pulling away for a sensational victory.
Emanuel clocked an altitude adjusted time of 1:49.21 in his first race since winning the NCAA Indoor mile title exactly four weeks earlier. The career-best time moved him into seventh on the UNM all-time performers chart and was the best by a Lobo since 1986. The time was also well under the NCAA regional qualifying standard.
Junior teammates Rory Fraser (1:52.58) and Jacob Kirwa (1:52.94) finished second and third in the event, combining with Emanuel for 24 points. It was also Fraser's outdoor debut after last competing in the 5,000 at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The men's team title came down to the final event of the day as three points separated New Mexico, Wyoming, and Northern Arizona entering the javelin.
Senior Anthony Fairbanks clinched the Lobo victory early with a winning throw of 209' 10" (63.66m) on his opening toss. Sophomore Brian Wilson, an improving multi-event competitor, was third with a career-best mark of 160' 11" (49.05m), while junior discus/hammer man Matthew Henry-Marshall chipped in with a fifth place effort (137' 5" - 41.88m).
There were plenty of highlights on the women's side as well, including senior pole vaulter Whitney Johnson's remarkable return to the NCAA Regional Championships.
Johnson cleared 12' 7 ½" (3.85m) on her second attempt, marking her best performance in nearly three years since undergoing major knee surgery. The Mission Viejo, Calif. product qualified for the regional meet for the third time in her career, but first since her sophomore year of 2006 when she suffered a devastating knee injury while training for her second consecutive Midwest Regional Championship meet.
Junior Alesha Walker improved her national and regional ranking with a winning leap of 20' 10 ¾" (6.37m) in the long jump. The school record holder in the event and 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier, Walker finished two feet ahead of the runner-up, teammate Asal Salehpoor.
Senior Vanessa Strobbe capped the day with a victory in the meet final, capturing the women's javelin with a season-best throw of 131' 3" (40.02m) as the sun went down behind the stadium press box.