Johnson, Ortega Lead the Way On Day Two of MWC Championships
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/23/2007
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 23, 2007

Friday Results | Johnson Postrace Interview

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Juniors Jeremy Johnson and Juan Ortega finished second and fifth, respectively, in the men's 5,000-meter run to lead the University of New Mexico on day two of the Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships today at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Johnson became the Lobos' first two-time indoor all-MWC honoree in the 5,000, but a late surge by NCAA cross country champion Josh Rohatinsky of BYU kept him from his first conference title.

After a bit of a slow start, Johnson took the lead, followed closely by Rohatinsky. The duo distanced themselves from the field as Johnson continued to set the pace. The national champion, however, surged ahead with about a mile to go en route to a championship and facility record time of 14:26.92.

Johnson crossed the line in 14:44.35, which translated into an altitude-adjusted personal record time of 14:21.89. The Albuquerque Manzano High School product earned the silver medal last year as well with a time of 14:28.70 at the Convention Center. Ortega, meanwhile, finished with an adjusted time of 14:44.0. The Albuquerque Rio Grande High School product had never placed higher than 16th in two MWC Indoor Championship races.

New Mexico also got points from sophomore high jumper Josh Cosio, who finished sixth with a mark of 6' 5 ½". The distance medley relay team of freshman Brian Vallie, junior Kurt Henry, freshman Nick Arguelles and Ortega finished the day with a fifth place finish, clocking an altitude-adjusted time of 10:24.86.

The women got on the scoreboard late as sophomore Sandy Fortner rebounded in a big way from her disappointment in the pentathlon yesterday. The Fort Sumner, N.M. product flew an indoor-best 19' 1 ¼" to finish seventh.

The distance medley relay foursome of freshman Lynn Brasher, senior KC Pritchard, redshirt freshman Katie Candelaria and freshman Kelly McCabe capped the day with a sixth place finish, running a season-best time of 12:55.54.

In qualifying action, junior Jarrin Solomon matched his indoor PR with a time of 47.34 - the second fastest of the day behind TCU freshman Dell Guy, who ran a career-best 47.32. Sophomore teammate Taylor Siemon, the No. 7 seed, was not as fortunate, as he was boxed in early and finished 12th (49.18).

Junior Ariel Burr advanced the finals as well in the women's 400m, finishing with a time of 55.33. Burr, however, will likely be running by herself out front of the first finals heat on Saturday as she finished with the fifth-fastest time of the day.

Elsewhere, Vallie turned in an impressive come-from-behind performance in the men's 800m, clocking a season-best time of 1:54.41* to finish fourth in the prelims.

New Mexico's luck was split in the 60-meter races as freshman Terance Brown advanced to the finals by five-thousandths of a second (0.005), edging Denny Majerus of Colorado State and Raymond Jones of TCU with a preliminary time of 7.09*.

Junior Kristan Matison was not as fortunate, however, as Colorado State's Tanesha Johnson edged her for the eight and final qualifying spot by two-thousandths of a second (0.002). Matison was officially credited with a time of 7.69*.

Entering the third and final day of the Championships, the Lobo men are fifth with a score of 19, while the women are seventh with five points. BYU leads the men's and women's competition with 68 and 68.5 points, respectively.

Saturday's events begin at 10:30 a.m. and admission is $4 for adults, $2 for students (high school and under).