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Lobos Set To Make History At NCAA Championships
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/20/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 20, 2009

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UPCOMING

For the first time in history, New Mexico will send both its men's and women's teams to the NCAA Cross Country Championships together. The Lobos will be one of 31 teams and 255 total runners in each nationally televised (live on VERSUS and streamed on NCAA.com) race on Monday morning at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind. The men's 10K (6.2 miles), starts at 10:08 a.m. (Mountain), followed by the women's 6K (3.7 miles) race at 10:58.

The 12th-ranked men return to the national meet for the first time since 2004 and fifth time in program history. This is the highest ranking UNM has ever entered the NCAA Championships with. The No. 25 women, meanwhile, are making their fourth trip to the NCAA meet and back-to-back visits for the first time.

The VERSUS network is available on Comcast channel 37 and in high definition on channel 259. It's also available in HD on Dish channel 151. This is the first time the NCAA Cross Country Championships have been televised in high definition.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS AT A GLANCE

Course: LaVern Gibson Championship Course (sea level; some hills)

The LaVern Gibson Course is one of the nation's only courses designed specifically for cross country racing. Built on reclaimed mining land, the course was dedicated in 1997 and hosted its first NCAA Championships meet in 2002. It has been the site of the NCAA meet every year since 2004.

Schedule:
Men's 10K - 10:08 a.m. (MT)/12:06 p.m. (ET)
Women's 6K - 10:58 a.m. (MT)/12:56 p.m. (ET)

Race Conditions: The weather forecast for Monday afternoon predicts partly cloudy skies, temperatures in the mid 50s, a light breeze, 10% chance of rain and humidity reaching 74%.

The Field: 31 teams - 255 runners (38 individuals)

Scouting The 2009 Lobos: UNM sends a veteran men's squad to the NCAA meet with Jacob Kirwa leading a group of five seniors expected to shoulder the scoring load. If all five runners have big day, the squad certainly has the ability to be a top-five team on Monday. Senior Chris Barnicle - an Arkansas transfer - is the lone Lobo with previous NCAA Championship experience.

The women's strength is its high quality depth throughout the lineup. Junior transfer Ruth Senior has led the team in the last five meets, but the average pack spread has been 39 seconds in those races. Three of the women expected to run on Monday competed at the `08 NCAA meet, including senior Nicky Archer, who led the team with a 56th pace finish.

NEW MEXICO TRAVEL SQUAD*

WOMEN:
Jr. Ruth Senior (Trans. from Loughborough (England) U...1st team all-MWC (2nd) & all-reg'n (11th)...UNM's No. 1 in all 5 races)
Sr. Nicky Archer (2x 1st tm. all-MWC & NCAA all-reg'n...UNM's No. 1 4x in 12 races, incl. `08 NCAAs (56th)...NCAA 10K qual.)
So. Lacy Oeding (2x 1st tm. all-MWC...'08 MWC Fr. of the Yr. & all-reg'n...has scored in all 12 races...UNM No. 3 at `08 NCAAs)
Jr. Delyth James (Trans. from Birmingham (England) Univ...has scored 2x in 5 races...UNM's No. 4 at reg'ls...2nd tm. all-MWC)
Sr. Carolyn Boosey (`08 1st tm. all-MWC, all-Reg'n...'09 2nd tm. all-MWC...UNM's No. 4 at `08 NCAAs...scored in 14 of 17 races)
Jr. Vanessa Ortiz (NCAA debut...`09 2nd tm. all-MWC...has scored in 13 of 16 races...UNM's No. 6 at reg'ls...RS all of `08-09)
Fr. Janna Mitsos (3x all-state XC at Lockport (Ill.) Township HS...has scored 1x in 3 races...UNM No. 6 at Pre-Nat'ls)
Sr. Ashley Gibson (`09 1st tm. all-MWC...UNM No. 5 at `08 NCAAs...doubtful to race (illness)...'09 NCAA 1,500m qual.)

MEN:
Sr. Jacob Kirwa (MWC Champion (3rd win of `09)...2x 1st tm. all-MWC & all-reg'n (3rd in `09)...'09 NCAA Out. 5K qual.)
Sr. Rory Fraser (2x all-reg'n & 2nd tm. all-MWC...7th at `09 Mtn. Reg'l...scored 9x in 10 races...'09 NCAA in/out 5K qual.)
Sr. Chris Barnicle (3rd NCAA meet (Arkansas' No. 3 in `07)...trans. to UNM in Jan. `09...1st tm. all-MWC & all-reg'n...'09 10K AA)
Sr. David Bishop (`09 1st tm. all-MWC...'08 NCAA all-reg'n...has led UNM 3x in 11 career races...'09 1,500m reg'l qual.)
Sr. Lee Emanuel (`09 2nd tm. all-MWC...'08 all-reg'n...scored in 12 of 16 races...'09 NCAA mile champ/1,500 AA (3rd))
Jr. Keith Gerrard (Trans. from St. Mary's Univ. (England)...4 races...Lobos' No. 4 at Pre-Nationals (73rd))
Fr. Ross Millington (MWC Fr. of the Yr./2nd tm. all-MWC...questionable to race (illness)...enrolled at UNM in Jan. of `09)
Fr. Allen Pittman (Has scored in 2 of 6 races...questionable to race (hip)...RS in `08...former No. 1 for ranked Los Alamos HS)
So. Patrick Ortiz (Has scored 4x in 9 career races...No. 2 freshman in the MWC in '08...top-25 4x in `09)

*Teams can race seven runners and travel two alternates to the NCAA Championships

MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS

Complete coverage of the 2009 NCAA Championships can be found on the following websites:

www.GoLobos.com (results/recap)
www.NCAASports.com (results/recap)
www.GoSycamores.com (results/recap)
www.FloTrack.com (results/recap/video/interviews/photos)

NEW MEXICO MEN'S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

The UNM men return to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2004 and fifth time in program history. New Mexico has finished among the top-20 each time, including a program record ninth place finish (330 pts.) five years ago. The Lobos were 11th (311 pts.) in 1966, 14th (352 pts.) in `75 and tied for 20th in 1988 (462 pts.).

LOBO MEN'S ALL-AMERICANS

Seven different men's runners have combined to earn All-America honors eight times since 1975. New Mexico has had four runners finish among the top-20, including a runner-up performance by Matt Gonzales in 2004 and third place effort by Kip Koskei in 1979. Jeremy Johnson was the last men's All-American at UNM, finishing 20th in 2007.

NEW MEXICO WOMEN'S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

The UNM women are making their second straight and fourth trip overall to the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Last year's appearance (18th - 475 pts.) was the team's first since 1985. New Mexico finished a program-best 11th (284 pts.) at the 1981 NCAA meet - the first year the women's meet was sponsored by the NCAA. The Lobos returned four years later and finished 14th (296 pts.).

LOBO WOMEN'S ALL-AMERICANS

Two New Mexico women have earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championships, but none since Gwen Willink in 1988 (36th). Carole Roybal established herself the greatest cross country runner in UNM women's history with All-America finishes in 1984 (19th), `85 (13th) and `86 (28th). The top-40 finishers (regardless of nationality) at the 2009 NCAA Championships earn a spot on the All-America team.

FRANKLIN AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS

Third-year UNM head coach Joe Franklin is taking a team to the NCAA Championships for the eighth time in his career. This is the third time Franklin has qualified both men's and women's teams in the same season.

Pior to arriving at New Mexico in 2007, he led Butler University to the NCAA meet six times between 1998 and 2006. Franklin was named NCAA Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2004 after leading the Bulldogs to a program-best fourth place finish - five spots head of the Lobo men who finished a program-best ninth under former head coach Matt Henry.

In his three seasons at New Mexico Franklin has qualified three teams (two women's) - all since 2008 for the most successful two-year span in program history - and one individual (All-American Jeremy Johnson) to the NCAA Championships.

Joe Franklin's Teams At the NCAA Championships
1998 (Butler): Men - 16th
2001 (Butler): Men - 23rd
2002 (Butler): Men - 19th
2004 (Butler): Men - 4th; Women - 31st
2005 (Butler): Men - 25th; Women - 24th
2006 (Butler): Men - 25th
2008 (New Mexico): Women - 18th

MIDWEST TIES

Albuquerque and Terre Haute may be separated by 1,200 miles, but don't be surprised if the Lobos have a small cheering section in the crowd on Monday. Sophomore Lacey Oeding (Jasper) and head coach Joe Franklin (Greencastle) are both Indiana natives, while assistant coach Erin Howarth is product of nearby New Lenox, Ill. and competed at Butler in Indianapolis. Freshman Janna Mitsos is from Lockport, Ill. - about a four-hour drive from Terre Haute.

2008 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP REWIND

Junior Nicky Archer placed 56th with a season-best time of 20:53.0 to lead the New Mexico women to an 18th place finish (475 points) at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships at the Lavern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind. 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.

2004 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP REWIND

Former head coach Matt Henry couldn't have scripted it any better when he took over the New Mexico cross country program four years earlier. Just five years after inheriting a men's team that was a unanimous pick for last in the Mountain West Conference, Henry's 2004 Lobos established themselves as the best team in UNM history by placing a program-best ninth at the 2004 NCAA Cross Country Championships at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind.

In his final collegiate race, senior Matt Gonzales finished second (30:40.9) in the men's 10,000-meter race - the best in school history - to become the Lobos' second two-time cross country All-American (Ibrahim Husein - 1981 & `83). The Santa Fe native ran in the lead pack for much of the race before dropping back a bit with just over a mile left on the soggy, waterlogged course, eventually crossing the line 3.2 seconds behind the winner, Simon Bairu of Wisconsin.

"Matt made one little mistake - and he told me that - by letting those guys pull away from him a little bit," said Henry. "He was third with about 300 meters to go and could've been happy with that, but that's a special little guy though, he wasn't going to leave anything in the tank."

True freshman Shadrack Kiptoo Biwott, an Albuquerque La Cueva High School product, joined Gonzales on the All-America podium, placing 14th with a time of 31:16.9. Biwott's performance came just one week after he was briefly hospitalized with an intestinal virus, which forced him to miss the Mountain Region Championship meet. He and Gonzales were also the top two finishers from the Mountain West Conference in the race.

Senior Ben Ortega (Taos, N.M.) also capped his tremendous career with a strong performance, finishing third on the team and 106th overall (32:40.2). Ortega, who was one of Henry's first signees in 2000, was the 77th scoring runner to cross the line in his second NCAA appearance. Junior Cameron Clarke (Albuquerque, N.M.), meanwhile, was the fourth Lobo to cross the line, placing 139th (33:00.4) in his NCAA debut.

One of the stories of the day, however, was that of fifth-year walk-on Sean Flaherty, who was the Lobos' fifth and final scoring runner. According to Henry, Flaherty was laboring near the back of the 255-man pack around the midpoint of the race before surging up the ranks. The Albuquerque Manzano High School product passed roughly 80 runners over the last 5,000 meters to finish 175th with a time of 33:22.2. Brothers Stephen and Nick Martinez of Pojoaque, rounded out the history-making UNM top-7, finishing 190th and 235th, respectively.

Flaherty's late surge, helped New Mexico, which entered the meet ranked 19th in the country, edge Cal Poly by three points. UNM finished 15 points behind Arizona State and was the No. 2 team from the Mountain West Conference behind fifth place BYU. Mountain Region champion Colorado upset top-ranked Wisconsin 90-94 to claim the national championship. The Lobos knocked off nine higher ranked teams, including No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 6 Georgetown and No. 9 Cal Poly.

2009 NCAA MOUNTAIN REGIONAL RECAP

One team booked its travel plans, while the other had to wait for some pieces to fall into place around the country. However, when the at-large bids to the NCAA Championships were announced New Mexico saw both its men's and women's teams appear for the first time in the same season after their performances on Nov. 14 at the NCAA Mountain Regional at the UNM North Golf Course.

The 12th-ranked men's team left no doubt about its NCAA qualifying status with a third place finish - it's best at the regional meet since 1988. New Mexico placed three runners in the top-15 and all five scorers in the top-30 en route to a regional record 77-point score.

UNM defeated No. 4 Northern Arizona (fourth) by nine points and was 81 ahead of fifth place UTEP. No. 14 BYU stunned No. 5 Colorado, 54-55, to take the team title.

The women's race, unfortunately, did not go as smoothly. The 20th-ranked Lobos fell victim to a late surge by UTEP and finished fifth with 120 points - four behind the Miners and just six back of third place and 22nd-ranked BYU. No. 6 Colorado edged No. 8 Texas Tech, 48-53, to take the team title. The UNM women, however, did just enough to secure their second straight trip to the NCAA Championships.

A large, active crowd made its presence felt on a chilly, drizzly morning at the UNM North Golf Course, which was also the site of the 2002 and 2006 NCAA Mountain Region Championships.

New Mexico seniors Jacob Kirwa, Chris Barnicle, and Rory Fraser got out well and were among the lead pack of runners through the first half of the winding 10K course.

Northern Arizona's David McNeill and BYU's Miles Batty distanced themselves from the group with roughly 2K remaining. McNeill eventually pulled away, defending his regional crown with a time of 29:51.6.

Kirwa finished a strong third (30:17.3) - 19 spots better than his performance in 2008 - to lead the Lobos for the sixth time in as many meets this fall. The Eldoret, Kenya product has finished no lower than seventh in `09.

Fraser, meanwhile, was the story of the day for the UNM men, surging to a seventh place finish (30:35.5). After struggling for much of the regular season, Fraser picked off several runners over the final two kilometers and improved 16 spots on his `08 finish in his best race as a Lobo.

Barnicle, meanwhile, finished a solid 13th (30:45.5) to join Kirwa and Fraser on the all-region team.

UNM received strong efforts once again from middle distance specialists David Bishop and Lee Emanuel to cap its scoring. Both men used strong final kicks and rode the crowd's energy down the final 50 meters to finish 26th (31:12.3) and 28th (31:14.7), respectively.

New Mexico's pack spread - the difference in time between the first and fifth scoring runner - was just over 57 seconds. It was the second time in as many meets this fall that the scoring five finished less than a minute apart.

Later in the women's race, New Mexico received a strong performance from junior transfer Ruth Senior, but was unable to match its dominant effort two weeks earlier at the Mountain West Conference Championships.

Senior finished 11th, covering the 6K course in 21:17.2 to secure her individual berth to the NCAA Championships if the team were to be left out. She has led New Mexico in five straight meets since making her official Lobo debut on Sept. 19.

Nicky Archer joined Senior on the all-region team with a 20th place finish (21:30.4), but faded a bit down the stretch - likely the result of a week-long battle with an illness - after running with the lead pack throughout much of the race.

Sophomore Lacey Oeding placed 26th (21:41.2), despite a solid effort to gain ground over the second half of the course. Junior transfer Delyth James was 30th (21:55.5) in her regional debut, while senior Carolyn Boosey fought through a painful side ache to finish 33rd (22:05.0) and cap the Lobo scoring.

New Mexico's pack spread was 48 seconds after finishing less than 30 seconds of each other the past two meets.

Despite the team's struggles, the Lobos achieved back-to-back top-five finishes at the regional meet for the first time since an eight-year run from 1981-88.

LAST TIME IN TERRE HAUTE: 2009 Pre-Nationals

The 21st-ranked New Mexico men's and women's cross country teams each turned in strong seventh place finishes in an elite national field on Oct. 17 at Indiana State's Pre-Nationals Invitational. The Lobo women (260 points) knocked off a pair of top-20 teams - No. 12 Baylor and No. 17 Arizona State - while the men (278 points) upset No. 18 Iowa State.

Junior transfer Ruth Senior led another tight Lobo scoring pack, finishing 34th and covering the 6,000-meter loops at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course a time of 21:23.7. Sophomore Lacey Oeding was 45th (21:34.0), while seniors Nicky Archer (21:39.7) and Ashley Gibson (21:39.9) finished side-by-side in 51st and 52nd, respectively. Junior transfer Delyth James capped the UNM scoring with a 78th place finish (21:51.8). The Lobos' scoring five were separated by a season-low 28 seconds.

Senior Jacob Kirwa turned in yet another outstanding performance, finishing seventh overall with a time of 23:51.7 on the 8K course. Kirwa was the highest among the Mountain West Conference and Mountain Region runners in the race, crossing the line 24 seconds behind the winner - Stanford's Chris Derrick.

Senior Chris Barnicle was 52nd (24:35.6), followed by senior David Bishop in 67th (24:43.8). Junior Keith Gerrard was 78th (24:48.7) and freshman Ross Millington was 79th with a time of 24:55.1 - 1:05 behind Kirwa - to cap the Lobo scoring. New Mexico's final four scorers were just 20 seconds apart.

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