June 13, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - It wasn't the national title he wanted, but senior Lee Emanuel's third place finish in the 1,500-meter finals today at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships put the exclamation point on the greatest season by a middle distance runner in University of New Mexico history. Emanuel was in striking distance throughout the nationally televised race and crossed the line in 3:39.66 - 0.66 seconds behind Oklahoma State freshman German Fernandez, the pre-race favorite who was a wire-to-wire winner.
Positioned on the inside of the waterfall start, Emanuel charged off the line, but was quickly cut off and slightly clipped from the outside by Fernandez. Forced to adjust his stride to avoid a collision, Emanuel was briefly boxed in by the rest of the field, but regrouped and moved into a solid second through the first lap.
While Fernandez continued to set the pace, Emanuel stayed on his right hip through the next two laps, but was never able to surge ahead and take control of the race as he did en route to winning the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships in early March.
The Hastings, England product hit the bell lap virtually even with Fernandez, but drifted back to fourth with 50 meters to go before making a late charge to take the bronze medal.
Emanuel matched Kip Koskei (1979) for the highest finish ever by a Lobo in the 1,500 and joined Matt Gonzales (third in the 10,000 in 2003) as the only UNM men to medal on the track at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 1984.
Emanuel Postrace Interview (Flotrack.org):
New Mexico's record 11 qualifiers took home a school-record five All-America awards (three men, two women) from the 2009 NCAA Championships, breaking the previous mark of four by the UNM men at the 1967 and '66 NCAA Championship meets.
Emanuel's six points put the men in a tie for 40th place in the team standings, while the women tied for 70th with a point from Michelle Corrigan in the 10K.
UNM All-Americans At The 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships
Sr. Lee Emanuel (Hastings, England) - 1,500 (third)
Jr. Michelle Corrigan (Green Bay, Wisc.) - 10,000m (eighth)
Sr. Anthony Fairbanks (Albuquerque, N.M.) - javelin (ninth)
Sr. Katie Coronado (Ruidoso, N.M.) - javelin (11th)
Jr. Chris Barnicle (Newton, Mass.) - 10,000m (13th)