Nov. 24, 2008
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Junior Nicky Archer placed 56th with a season-best time of 20:53.0 to lead the University of New Mexico women to an 18th place finish (475 points) this morning at the NCAA Cross Country Championships at the Lavern Gibson Championship Course. The 21st-ranked Lobos defeated 13 teams, including No. 10 Wisconsin (21st), No. 18 Baylor (19th) and No. 19 Rice (22nd) in their first NCAA appearance as a team since 1985.
Top-ranked Washington won the national title with a score of 79 points, while Texas Tech senior Sally Kipyego (19:28.1) became the first woman in NCAA history to win three individual cross country crowns.
As they've done all season, the New Mexico women used a strong group effort to notch the third top-20 finish in program history. The Lobos' five scoring runners were separated by 51 seconds, giving UNM a pack spread of a minute or less in every scored meet this fall.
Archer (Cheshire, England) led the team for the fourth time this fall, but hadn't done so since finishing 19th with a time of 20:54 on the same course at the Pre-Nationals Invitational on Oct. 18. Her finish was the best by a Lobo at the NCAA Championships since 1988 when Gwen Willink - UNM's last women's All-American - was 36th. Archer's time was the fastest 6K ever run by a Lobo at the national meet and was the best by a Mountain West Conference runner since 2005.
Senior Michelle Corrigan finished 85th, trailing Archer by just over 13 seconds (21:06.3), while true freshman Lacey Oeding was 140th (21:31.1). Senior Carolyn Boosey crossed the line 152nd (21:36.7), while junior Ashley Gibson capped the UNM scoring in 167th (21:43.4).
Fifth-year senior Leslie Luna was 193rd (21:54.1), while sophomore Emma Reed was 223rd (22:19.1) in the field of 255 runners to round out the Lobos' historic seven-woman squad - all of whom were making their NCAA Championships debut.
"We had a very solid day and to finish 18th - three spots above where we were ranked - is a step in the right direction for our cross country and track programs," second-year head coach Joe Franklin said. "Nicky and Michelle had decent days, but we didn't all hit it like I think we could have today.
"The NCAA Championship meet is a different beast though. There are no bad teams here," Franklin said. "The best thing is that we return four of our top seven next year and the experience that those runners got today is priceless."