Three-Sweep! Lobo Cross Country Sweeps MW Titles for Third Straight Year
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/29/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 29, 2011

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Fort Collins, Colo. --- In the closest title fight in conference history, the New Mexico Lobo men's cross country team squeezed out a three-point win over runner-up Air Force, giving the Lobos a third consecutive sweep of the men's and women's Mountain West cross country titles. The Lobo women easily won their fourth consecutive title, defeating second place Colorado State.

The Lobos also swept the individual awards, as titlists Ross Millington for the men and Ruth Senior for the women were named 2011 Mountain West Athletes of the Year, and Joe Franklin won his fourth straight Mountain West Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year award, and his third straight Mountain West Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year Award.

The Lobo women cruised to their fourth consecutive Mountain West title with a 23-point win over Colorado State 30-53. BYU won the first eight titles and Colorado State won the 2007 crown until this current Lobo run. The title was fueled in part by UNM running their full squad for the first time this season.

Ruth Senior won the event, taking home the individual title with a time of 20:47.8, keeping the individual title in Albuquerque as teammate Natalie Gray won the title last year. Senior, who finished third at the MW championships last year, won he first race of the year. She defeated second place Ellie Keyser of Colorado State by 12.6 seconds. UNM had four of the top seven runners in the meet, with Gray fourth, Kirsty Milner sixth, and Sarah Waldron seventh. Imogen Ainsworth rounded out the scoring with a 12th place finish.

Ross Millington won the men's title

Teamwise, UNM scored 30 points, easily pacing the Lobos to a 23-point win over Colorado State.

"I think our women did a really good job," said head coach Joe Franklin. "We are starting to head in the right direction on the way to the National Championship race (on November 22). Ruth was phenominal, and Natalie Gray is making great progress. What's been great is Sarah Waldron, Shawna Winnegar, Kirsty Milner, and Imogen Ainsworth have gotten better and better." Franklin added, "Going into the team championship season, it should be a lot of fun to see what we can do. Colorado just won their conference meet, so we are going to have our work cut out for us at regionals."

For the men, they definitely didn't field a full squad as two-time Mountain West Athlete of the Week Nicholas Kipruto was held out of the meet as he continued to recover from an injury. Sam Evans also did not run. Stepping up was Ross Millington, who won the individual title with a time of 24:59.9. Sean Stam and Pierre Malherbe were 4th and 9th respectively, but it was key finishes by UNM's fourth and fifth runners that got the Lobos the title.

Patrick Ortiz and Allen Pittman finished 18th and 19th at 25:54.4 and 25:54.6, just enough ahead of Air Force's Gavin Owens to give UNM the title.

"We held out Sam and Nicholas, but what is great for us is that six local guys ran out of our nine, and it was just tremendous," said Franklin. "For those guys to run out there and win a championship and keep the tradition alive is awesome." The three-point win was the smallest margin of victory in the history of the men's cross country championship in Mountain West history, edging UNM's four-point win over BYU 33-37 in the 2009 title race.

On the women's side, Senior, Gray, Milner, and Waldron were all named First Team All-Mountain West, and Ainsworth was Second Team, while on the men's side Millington and Sean Stam were both First Team and Pierre Malherbe was Second Team. The Lobos will now head to the Mountain Regionals hosted by TCU in Fort Worth on November 13th.

Men's All-MW First Team
Ross Millington, Jr., New Mexico
Jeremy Drenckhahn, Jr., Air Force
Spenser Lynass, Sr., Colorado State
Sean Stam, So., New Mexico
James Walmsley, Sr., Air Force
Christian Meyer, So., Colorado State
Nick Ekel, Sr., Wyoming

Men's All-MW Second Team
Paul Burke, Sr., Wyoming
Pierre Malherbe, Fr., New Mexico
Drew O'Donoghue McDonald, So., Boise State
Vince Hamilton, Fr., Boise State
Andrew Quallio, So., Air Force
Jake Keyser, Sr., Colorado State
Isaiah Bragg, So., So., Air Force

Men's Athlete of the Year: Ross Millington, Jr., New Mexico
Men's Freshman of the Year: Vince Hamilton, Fr., Boise State
Men's Coach of the Year: Joe Franklin, New Mexico

Women's All-MW First Team
Ruth Senior, Sr., New Mexico
Ellie Keyser, Sr., Colorado State
Agnes Kemboi, Jr., TCU
Natalie Gray, Sr., New Mexico
Nicole Peters, Sr., Colorado State
Kirsty Milner, Sr., New Mexico
Sarah Waldron, Sr., New Mexico

Women's All-MW Second Team
Marisa VanderMalle, Fr., Boise State
Melissa Fuerst, Jr., Air Force
Hannah Pensack-Rinehart, So., Colorado State
Emma Bates, So., Boise State
Imogen Ainsworth, So., New Mexico
Tessa Murray, So., Boise State
Whitney Henderson, So., Colorado State

Women's Athlete of the Year: Ruth Senior, Sr., New Mexico
Women's Freshman of the Year: Holly Page, Fr., Wyoming
Women's Coach of the Year: Joe Franklin, New Mexico