May 14, 2004
LAS VEGAS - After runner-up finishes each of the past two years, University of New Mexico junior Hank Baskett elevated his performance - literally - to claim his first high jump title this afternoon at the 2004 Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Baskett cleared a collegiate-best height of 6-11.00 to lead the New Mexico men into a solid fourth place on the third day of the meet, hosted by UNLV at Myron Partridge Stadium/Sheila Tarr Smith Field.
Fellow junior Bridgid Isworth, meanwhile, captured her first outdoor pole vault title after a second place finish a year ago. The native of Melbourne, Australia cleared 12-07.50 to extend the UNM women's streak to six years with at least one conference champion.
Entering Saturday's final events, the UNM men trail third place Air Force by just 11 points, 51.5-40.5. New Mexico has finished fourth each of the past three years. The UNM women, meanwhile, are currently fifth with a score of 19 points, 18 behind fourth place Air Force. BYU holds a large early lead on both sides with the Cougar men and women scoring 93 points apiece.
Baskett, a 6-4, 215-pound wide receiver for the Lobo football team, jumped four inches higher than his nearest competitor to become the first Lobo to win the men's high jump since Kimani Harper's victory (7-00.50) at the 1994 Western Athletic Conference Championships. The former Clovis High School standout is the third Lobo to win a men's title at the MWC Championships, all under fourth-year head coach Matt Henry, and the fourth different high jump champion in men's program history. Baskett, who will be the Lobos' No. 1 receiver this fall, teamed with fellow junior wideout Mike Powdrell to score 11.5 points in the event. Powdrell, finished tied for seventh with a leap of 6-04.75.
Already the first indoor pole vault champion in UNM women's history, Isworth secured the program's first outdoor crown in the event with relative ease, despite competing in seven heptathlon events over the two previous days. Isworth, who finished second in the event on attempts last spring, defied her No. 5 seed to win by an easy four inches. Her conference title was the sixth for the Lobo women under Henry.
In other event finals, junior Ben Ortega earned all-MWC honors for the fourth time outdoors with his third place finish in the 10,000 meters early this morning. Ortega crossed the line in 30:29.46, three seconds out of second place, in his first outdoor championship meet since 2002. On the women's side, junior Veronica R. Gonzales took home all-conference laurels for the first time in her career with a third place throw of 146-06 in the javelin. The Carlsbad, N.M. native was sixth a year ago in the event.
UNM continued to excel in the throws as fellow junior Jamie Fishencord broke teammate Amanda Barnes' recent school record in the discus by one inch with a mark of 151-09. Fishencord, who entered the meet ranked 14th in the event, scored for the first time in her career at the outdoor meet by placing seventh overall.
The Lobo men scored in three other events on Friday, including Powdrell's fifth place leap of 22-10.50 in the long jump. Sophomore Dan Feltman, a fourth place finisher in the decathlon the day before, placed fifth in the javelin with a season-best mark of 196-11, while senior Jimmy Minner was eighth (195-09). Fellow senior Sean Flaherty was also eighth in his second career 3,000-meter steeplechase race, clocking a time of 9:36.56.
Eight Lobos advanced out of preliminary heat competition today, including senior Chris Garofola, who qualified in the 100 and 200 meters. Garofola clocked a personal-best time of 10.70, third-fastest of the day, in the 100, then finished fourth in the 200 prelims with a time of 21.59. Sophomore RaShawn Jackson returned to the MWC finals in the 400, finishing eighth (49.12) in the preliminary round to edge teammates Randle McCain and Isaac Burgener. Juniors Cameron Clarke (3:51.60) and Matt Gonzales (3:52.50), meanwhile, both qualified in the 1,500. Clarke advanced to the MWC finals for the third-straight year, while Gonzales will run the 1,500 for the first time at a conference meet. The Santa Fe native clocked the fastest NCAA regional championships time in the country last year (3:42.83) before moving on to earn All-America honors in the 10,000 at the national championships.
On the women's side, sophomore standout Kimilia Davis advanced in both the 200 (24.68) and 400 (55.28), despite her pre-meet ranking of 13th and 12th, respectively in the events. Davis ran the eighth-fastest preliminary times in both races, including a career-best 55.28 in the 400. The Lobo women also had a pair of runners qualify in the 1,500 with junior Jacquelyne Gallegos finishing fourth (4:39.31) and senior Amanda Swann placing 11th (4:44.68) in the prelims.
The fourth and final day of the Mountain West Conference Championships begins Saturday morning at 9 a.m. (MDT) and should conclude at approximately 4 p.m.
Compete meet results can be found on www.themwc.com.
MEN'S TEAM SCORES (through 7 events)
1. BYU - 93 pts.
2. Colorado State - 59 pts.
3. Air Force - 51.5 pts.
4. New Mexico - 40.5 pts.
5. Wyoming - 21 pts.
6. Utah - 8 pts.
WOMEN'S TEAM SCORES (through 7 events)
1. BYU - 93 pts.
2. Colorado State - 53 pts.
3. San Diego State - 45 pts.
4. Air Force - 37 pts.
5. New Mexico - 19 pts.
6. Utah - 11 pts.
7. UNLV - 8 pts.
8. Wyoming - 7 pts.