May 1, 2009
What: Don Kirby/Rio Rancho Invitationals
When/Where: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, UNM track
Admission: $5 adults, $3 children, UNM students free.
Online: Complete results on GoLobo.com
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
This is a test for all track aficionados, who think they know Lobo track & field coach Joe Franklin. It's a multiple-choice test.
Here's the question: Coach Franklin has some time to kill this weekend, so UNM's energizer-bunny coach has decided to:
1. Re-sod the UNM track and paint the bleachers.
2. Pick up the trash on the East side of I-25 from Albuquerque to Santa Fe in the morning and hit the West side on the way back in.
3. Run a marathon.
4. Hold a track meet for 1,000 competitors.
5. All of the above.
OK, we're not positive that Franklin isn't doing all that other stuff, too, but GoLobos.com is sure that Franklin is holding a meet for 1,000 or so competitors on Saturday. If Joe isn't too tired at the end of the day, he might run a marathon.
"We might be more workers this weekend than coaches," said Franklin looking ahead to combining the Don Kirby Memorial Invitational and Rio Rancho High School Invitational Saturday at the UNM track. "We are laying it on the line and we know there are going to be a few bumps."
Well, like Martha Stewart once said, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs and Franklin is willing to merge collegiate and high school athletes, break a few eggs, and try to put together one of the top track extravaganzas ever seen in New Mexico.
Like we said: 1,000 or so guys and gals - nine college/17 HS teams -- running and jumping over at the Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium.
Of course, Franklin has motives. Besides putting together a Saturday spectacular, Franklin wants the high school athletes and their parents to know how much the University of New Mexico believes in, and supports, track.
"It's a huge event for us," said Franklin. "We want people to leave here talking about Lobo track and what a quality meet it was and we want them to come back next year and bring even more people.
"We are out to get track noticed again on a high level. Part of our job is to get that message out. We are out to remind people that track is alive and well in New Mexico and there is a lot of excitement about this sport."
Of course, the meet also is a not-so-subtle recruiting message. Franklin wants the New Mexico athlete to know that if he or she comes to UNM, they are coming to a quality program and a quality university.
Part of that message is displayed simply by looking at Franklin's Lobo roster, which is dotted with New Mexico talent making a big splash in collegiate track: Katie Coronado (Ruidoso), Jarrin Solomon (Albq), Anthony Fairbanks (Albq), Leslie Luna (Albq), Stasia Ploskonka (Albq), Vanessa Strobbe (Albq), Josh Cosio (Albq), Ezra Esquibel (Albq), Domnick Meadows (Albq). And that's just naming a few.
"We obviously want the New Mexico athlete to consider the University of New Mexico and there are a lot of reasons to do that," said Franklin. "You get to come to a great university, compete in a great program and do it in front of your friends and family.
"You don't have to go to the Midwest or the West Coast to have a great college experience and a great experience in track."
Saturday's meet will be one of the largest track events ever held in New Mexico. Franklin, naturally, has plans for the event to grow, possibly into a two-day meet with tailgating, overnight RV parking, etc. Franklin probably will be the guy cleaning up the parking lot when it's all over.
"We want this to be the biggest and the best college and high school meet that New Mexico has ever seen," said Franklin. "There will be some bumps along the way, until we get everything smoothed out, but we will get it done.
"We plan for this to be a festive atmosphere celebrating track and its athletes and the fans who support it. What I'm looking at down the road is a two-day event where people come to Albuquerque for a few days, spend the night, go shopping, come and watch a quality meet. This thing already is huge and it's going to get bigger."
There were a few more questions GoLobos.com wanted to ask Franklin, but he had to go do something over at Lobo track. Seems there was some sod and fresh paint being delivered.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous GoLobo.com articles can be found on The Richard Stevens Corner.