Dec. 1, 2005
The University of New Mexico cross country program continued its ascent in 2005 as the men and women combined to turn in one of the most successful and balanced seasons in school history. The surprising UNM women led the charge in `05, enjoying their best campaign in nearly 20 years under Mountain West Conference Women's Coach of the Year Matt Henry. The Lobos stunned the MWC field with their second place finish at the conference meet and narrowly missed out on a trip to the NCAA Championships by placing sixth at the Mountain Region Championship meet. The New Mexico men, meanwhile, ran strong in a rebuilding year and proved to be a stiff test for each team they faced.
Both teams defied the prognosticators, as the women finished three spots above their projected MWC ranking and were the No. 6 team in the Mountain Region despite being unranked in the preseason poll. The Lobo men matched their predicted fifth place finish at the conference meet and placed ninth, a spot higher than their preseason projection, at the regional championships. UNM entered the Mountain Regionals ranked 12th, but finished four spots higher than expected.
As usual, the Land of Enchantment's best distance runners led the Lobo pack. Fifth-year senior Jacquelyne Gallegos (Pojoaque, N.M.) was one of top women's runners in the nation much of the year before an injury slowed her down the stretch. Gallegos won the Lobo Invitational and finished third at the elite Stanford Invite in her first two meets of the year, earning MWC Athlete of the Week honors after each race. She rebounded from what was feared to be a season-ending hamstring injury at Auburn to earn second-team all-MWC honors and a spot on the all-Mountain Region team. Fellow fifth-year senior Cameron Clarke (Albuquerque, N.M.) led the UNM men in all five races, earning second team all-conference honors and the MWC Athlete of the Week award following the regular season finale.
Junior Timmie Murphy (Farmington, N.M.) and sophomore Leslie Luna (Albuquerque, N.M.) proved that the future is bright for the women's team with their breakthrough performances in 2005. Coming off a redshirt year, Murphy was a first team all-MWC honoree and earned a place on the all-Mountain Region team as well. Luna, meanwhile, gave the squad a tremendous boost, also earning first team all-conference and all-region honors. The varsity team also received a big contribution from senior Janice Tosa (Jemez Pueblo, N.M.), who closed her career by scoring in four of five meets, and second-year runner Lindsay Barr (Albuquerque, N.M.), who ran with the team's top-five throughout the year.
Fifth-year senior Nate Clem (Albuquerque, N.M.) turned in his best cross country campaign, running second on the team in three meets and scoring in all five. Junior Juan Ortega and sophomore Joseph Garcia (Belen, N.M.) also enjoyed breakthrough seasons, scoring each week and finishing among the top-25 at the conference meet. Junior Steven Martinez (Pojoaque, N.M.), meanwhile, was solid once again as he scored five times.
For just the second time in the last five years, however, the Lobos were shut out of the national championship meet. Running at less than 100 percent, Gallegos was the last individual runner left out of the women's field. A two-time NCAA participant in 2001 and `04, Gallegos finished two spots and a mere five seconds shy of the final individual qualifier out of the region. As a team, the UNM women were 70 points away from earning the lone at-large berth given to the Mountain Region this year.
The following is a meet-by-meet recap of the 2005 season:
Lobo Invitational (Albuquerque, N.M.) - Sept. 10
Gallegos recorded her first collegiate victory to lead the UNM women to a strong third place finish (89 pts.) in the talented 13-team field at the Lobo Invitational cross country meet at the UNM North Golf Course. New Mexico also received strong races from junior Timmie Murphy (17th) and sophomore Leslie Luna (19th), helping the Lobos defeat Division II power Western State, Texas Tech, LSU and UTEP. Gallegos broke open a tight race midway through the 6,000-meter course and surged to a 26-second victory over Adams State College senior Victoria Martinez (22:03), a Division II All-American last fall.
Meanwhile, on the men's side, New Mexico's scoring runners all crossed the line within 42 seconds of each other en route to a fifth place finish (153 pts.). Clarke paced the group with his 25th place finish (26:12), while junior Steven Martinez was 31st (26:25).
Kachina Classic (Las Cruces, N.M.) - Sept. 17
Junior Brandon Vigil and sophomore Sheyenne Lewis led a young group of Lobos to a solid performance at the New Mexico State University Golf Course. In his first collegiate cross country race since 2003, Vigil placed 12th overall to help the UNM men finish third (91 pts). Lewis, meanwhile, placed a career-best 11th to pace the fourth place (95 pts.) UNM women. Henry held out most of his top-five runners on both the men's and women's side as they prepared for their next race at the elite Stanford Invitational.
Stanford Invitational (Stanford, Calif.) - Sept. 24
Gallegos continued her stellar start to the season with third place finish at the Stanford Golf Course. Gallegos finished six seconds behind the winner, Cardinal All-American Arianna Lambie, completing the 6,000-meter course in 21:21. Murphy finished 12th, helping to lead the UNM women to a strong 10th place finish in the 32-team field.
On the men's side, Clarke (26th) and Nate Clem (27th) led a tight pack of New Mexico runners as the Lobos five scorers finished within 1:20 of each other. UNM finished 9th (235 pts.) overall and downed the only other Mountain Region team in the field, Texas Tech (10th - 253 pts.).
Auburn Invitational (Auburn, Ala.) - Oct. 8
Clarke notched his highest finish in three years, placing seventh overall to lead the men to a strong second place finish in wet conditions at the Indian Pines Golf Course . New Mexico, the 10th ranked team in the Mountain Region, defeated 23 squads in the field, including three that were ranked among the top-five in their respective regions. Clarke completed the 8,000-meter course in a season-best time of 24:06.55 while the Lobos' other six runners all turned in career-best 8K times. The Lobos pack spread was a season-low 32 seconds, but Auburn placed four runners in the top-30 to hold off the Lobos' 99-118 for the meet title.
The Lobo women, meanwhile, had a respectable sixth place finish despite running without Gallegos who suffered a painful hamstring injury during warm-ups. Murphy carried the flag with a seventh place finish, her highest since 2003, and completed the 5,000-meter course in 17:17.24.
Mountain West Conference Championships (Fort Collins, Colo) - Oct. 29
Murphy and Luna each turned in the finest race of their careers, while Gallegos battled through a hamstring injury to lead an unheralded UNM women's team to a second place finish at the Collindale Golf Course. Picked fifth in the league's preseason coaches poll, New Mexico matched its highest finish ever at a conference meet as Henry earned MWC Women's Coach of the Year honors for the first time. The team finished as the conference runner-up for the fourth time in program history, edging third place Colorado State, 74-75, while No. 8 BYU (28 points) won its seventh straight MWC crown.
Murphy and Luna shocked the field of 66 in the women's race, finishing third and sixth respectively, to earn first team all-MWC honors for the first time. Both women recorded their highest finish in any cross country race and shattered their previous best 6,000-meter time. Gallegos, meanwhile, turned in one of the most courageous races of her fine career, placing 10th to earn second team all-MWC honors.
Clarke earned all-conference honors (second team) for the third time in his career, placing 11th as the Lobo men finished fifth in the team standings. New Mexico finished with a score of 119, 11 points behind fourth place Wyoming. Ortega ran second on the team as he notched the highest finish in his three conference meet appearances, placing 23rd. Garcia improved 12 spots on his 2004 MWC performance, finishing 25th while Martinez had his highest finish in three conference races, placing 29th.
NCAA Mountain Region Championships (Provo, Utah) - Nov. 12
The New Mexico women placed three runners in the top-25 en route to a sixth place (114 total) finish at the East Bay Golf Course. The Lobos notched their best finish at the regional meet since 1988. Gallegos placed 15th among the field of 114 to become the second Lobo ever to earn all-region honors three times in a career (Carole Roybal, 1983-86). Murphy and Luna received all-region honors for the first time in their career, finishing 19th and 23rd, respectively.
The New Mexico trio ran a strong, confident race, battling among the leader for roughly 3,000 meters on the cold, breezy afternoon. In her second race back from a hamstring injury, Gallegos recorded her second-best finish at the regional meet. Luna, who was 94th at the 2004 regional meet, ran side-by-side with Gallegos much of the way, while Murphy kept herself within striking distance in a solid performance.
Earlier in the day, the UNM men finished eighth (222 points), four spots higher than their regional ranking entering the week. Clarke wrapped up his cross country career with his best performance at the regional meet, finishing 30th in the field 102. He faded a bit after running among the top-25 during the first half of the race, but closed strong, placing 16 spots higher than he did in 2004. Clem used a steady surge over the final half the course to finish 36th, 29 spots higher than he was a year ago. Ortega, meanwhile, turned in a tremendous race, battling among the lead pack for virtually the entire race before eventually finishing 39th. Ortega was 78th in his last appearance at the regional meet in 2003.
BEST OF THE MOUNTAIN WESTNew Mexico runners matched last year's program best by earning Mountain West Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week awards three times during the 2005 season. Senior Cameron Clarke was the most recent honoree as he took home the award for the first time in his five-year career after his performance at Auburn on Oct. 8. The Albuquerque Sandia product became the fifth different member of the UNM men's team to earn the weekly honor since the 2001 season.
On the women's side, the early season awards rolled in for Jacquelyne Gallegos as the UNM senior was named MWC Athlete of the Week twice during the season. Gallegos was the first Lobo runner, man or woman, ever to earn award twice in the same season and has been honored by the league three times in her career, the most of any UNM cross country runner. The Pojoaque, N.M. native won her first MWC Athlete of the Week award after finishing third at the 2004 Lobo Invitational and again this year after winning the New Mexico home meet. Gallegos' third place effort at Stanford earlier this season netted her the third and final AOW award of her career.
NEW MEXICO QUICK HITS The UNM women's team ran its streak to three years with at least one first team all-MWC honoree, while its three total all-conference runners were the most since 1988. The women also had a trio of runners named to the all-region team for the first time since `88
Matt Henry joined Cindy Schmandt as the only UNM cross country coaches to earn conference Women's Coach of the Year honors. Schmandt was honored after her team finished 2nd at the 1983 High Country Athletic Conference Championships with a score of 54, which is still the lowest in program history at a conference meet. Henry was previously recognized by the MWC in 2002 when he was named Men's Outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year.
Jacquelyne Gallegos' season-opening victory at the Lobo Invitational was the third by a UNM woman since head coach Matt Henry took over the program in the fall of 2000...Sarah Gonzales (2000-03) had the previous two wins...Gallegos and Gonzales (`01) are the only Lobo women to win the annual home meet during Henry's tenure...the Lobo men have notched 7 individual race victories under Henry, including a 4 last year...two-time UNM All-American Matt Gonzales has notched the most individual triumphs under Henry with 3 wins between 2001-04.
Running cross country for the first time in two years, junior Timmie Murphy was one of the biggest reasons for the success of the UNM women this fall...Murphy finished among the top-20 in all 5 meets this season, including an all-region performance (19th) at the NCAA Mountain Championships...with senior leader Jacquelyne Gallegos slowed by a hamstring injury late in the year, she shined as the Lobos' No. 1 runner, placing 7th at Auburn and 3rd at the MWC Championships...Murphy had placed no higher than 30th in her two previous MWC meet appearances before notching the best finish by a UNM woman at a conference meet since current UNM assistant Kelly Dunbar (formerly Kelly Dix) was third at the 1992 Western Athletic Conference Championships...she sliced over a minute off her personal record in the 6K, completing the course in 21:06.7...Murphy finished 12th at the Stanford Invite earlier in the season after placing 123rd in the same meet as a freshman in 2002...she improved 50 places on her previous best finish at the Mountain Region meet (69th - 2004)...the Farmington, N.M. native redshirted the 2004 season as she recovered from leg and hip injuries suffered in training.
Sophomore Leslie Luna is an easy choice for the team's Most Improved Runner honors...after scoring just once in 5 races last fall as a true freshman, Luna was among the Lobos' top-3 in every meet this year, including a first team all-conference performance at the MWC Championships and all-region effort at the NCAA Mountain Championships...the Albuquerque Academy product improved a remarkable 41 spots on her finish at the 2004 MWC meet and finished among the top-10 for the first time in 9 career races...her previous best had been 19th at this year's Lobo Invite...she crossed the finish line with a time of 21:17.3, nearly two minutes faster than her previous best 6K which she ran in the 2005 season-opener at the UNM North Golf Course...she went on to place 23rd at regionals, which was a remarkable 71-spot improvement from her rookie season.
The 2005 UNM men's team established themselves as one of the best group running units in head coach Matt Henry's tenure...in 5 varsity meets this fall, the average time difference between the first and fifth scoring runner was 57.6 seconds...the top-5 were separated by a season-low 32 seconds in a second place finish at Auburn and have had a sub-minute spread twice this fall...last year's group had an average pack spread of 1:51...the 2003 Lobos were the tightest running group throughout the course of a season as the first and fifth runners finished an average of 55 seconds apart during the year, including a low of 19 seconds at a triangular meet in San Diego.
Fifth-year senior Cameron Clarke earned a spot on the all-MWC team for the third time in his career (1st team in `02, 2nd team in `04 & `05), matching Matt Gonzales and Ed Coleman (1963-65) for the most career all-conference awards by a New Mexico men's runner...Clarke and former teammate Sean Flaherty (`03) are the only runners under Henry's tenure to lead the men's team in every race during a season.
Seven women and four men made their UNM cross country debuts at the Lobo Invite...junior transfer Roxann James ran seventh for the New Mexico women (58th overall), while redshirt sophomore Dylan Rose-Coss (6th UNM, 70th overall) and redshirt freshman Ezra Esquibel (7th UNM, 76th overall) also cracked the Lobos' top-seven in their collegiate debuts...James ran in 5 meets during the year, finishing among the team's top-7 each time...Rose-Coss also ran 7th on the team at Stanford, while Esquibel was the team's No. 6 man at the MWC Championships.
HOMEGROWN TALENTUniversity of New Mexico head coach Matt Henry has built the UNM program by using his greatest natural resource: New Mexico high school distance runners. Of the 42 men and women on the 2005 roster, all but seven are products of New Mexico high schools. Each of the Lobos' NCAA Championship competitors, All-Americans, all-Mountain Region and all-Mountain West honorees during Henry's tenure have graduated from an in-state high school.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2006Women (Top-7 Starters Returning/Lost - 6/2): The Lobos lose team leader Jacquelyne Gallegos and veteran scorer Janice Tosa, but the emergence of junior Timmie Murphy and sophomore Leslie Luna this fall should keep New Mexico among the top teams in the MWC and Mountain Region. Sophomore Lindsay Barr has scored in every race in her career and continues to improve each year, while true freshman Seny Archuleta came on strong late in the `05 season and should take another step forward in `06. UNM will also get a boost from the return of junior Riann Lucy, a regular in the Lobos' top-5 who redshirted this past fall. Junior Roxann James and sophomore Melanie Velarde ran among the team's top-7 most of the year, while sophomore Stasia Ploskonka showed great promise as a rookie in `04.
Men (Top-7 Starters Returning/Lost - 3/2): New Mexico will continue to rebuild in 2006 after losing its top two runners in fifth-year seniors Cameron Clarke and Nate Clem. Fortunately, three strong scorers in juniors Juan Ortega and Steven Martinez, and sophomore Joseph Garcia should all return to form the core of the team next fall. Ortega and Garcia each made significant strides in 2005, while Martinez showed tremendous ability while running with the Lobos' top-7 en route to a top-10 national finish in `04. UNM also returns several runners who contributed to the top-7 this fall, including junior Brandon Vigil, sophomores Chris Bratton, Michael Deason, Dylan Rose-Coss and redshirt freshman Ezra Esquibel.