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Lobos' 11 NCAA Hopefuls Ready For Midwest Regional Championship Meet
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  05/23/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

May 23, 2006

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UPCOMING

After months of intense training and competition, 11 University of New Mexico men and women will put their season on the line when they travel to Austin, Texas for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships. An athlete earns an automatic trip to the NCAA Championships, next month in Sacramento, with a top-5 finish, while a top-8 effort makes an athlete eligible for an at-large bid. Perhaps the most difficult of the four national groupings, the Midwest Region consists of all 39 Division I schools from New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota.

THE NCAA MIDWEST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS AT A GLANCE

Results: Live event-by-event meet results will be available online at www.texassports.com.

Schedule: The meet takes place on Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28 at Mike A. Myers Stadium. The UNM contingent competes at the following times (Mountain Standard Time):

Friday, May 27
1 p.m. - Sr. Mike Powdrell (long jump)
2 p.m. - Fr. Katie Coronado (javelin)
5 p.m. - Sr. Derek Mackel, Jr. Robert Caldwell (pole vault)
7 p.m. - So. Ariel Burr (400m prelims)
7:20 p.m. - So. Jarrin Solomon (400m prelims)
8:20 p.m. - Sr. Jacquelyne Gallegos (5,000m)

Saturday, May 28
12 p.m. - Sr. Jamie Fishencord (hammer)
2 p.m. - Sr. Matt Keeran, Fr. Anthony Fairbanks (javelin)
5 p.m. - Fr. Josh Cosio (high jump)
6:30 p.m. - (women's 400m finals)
6:40 p.m. - (men's 400m finals)

Regional Veterans: Six of New Mexico's 11 qualifiers have prior experience at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships. Pole vaulters Derek Mackel and Robert Caldwell are both competing at the regional meet for the third time, as is hammer thrower Jamie Fishencord. Ariel Burr, Jarrin Solomon and Matt Keeran all have one regional meet under their belt, while Mike Powdrell, Katie Coronado, Jacquelyne Gallegos, Anthony Fairbanks and Josh Cosio are first-time qualifiers.

Austin Experience: Nine of the regional qualifiers competed at Myers Stadium in early-April during the Texas Relays. Matt Keeran is making his fourth trip to Austin, while Derek Mackel, Jamie Fishencord, Robert Caldwell and Ariel Burr are competing in the Texas capital city for the third time. Seniors Mike Powdrell and Jacquelyne Gallegos will be making their first trip Austin.

Johnson Out With Knee Injury: UNM suffered a significant blow when sophomore pole vaulter Whitney Johnson, the outdoor school record holder in the event, injured her knee during training last week. Johnson, who was the No. 7 seed entering the meet, will be out for the remainder of the season.

Qualifying For Nationals: Athletes need to finish in the top-5 in the finals of their respective events in order to receive an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship field (June 7-10, Sacramento). Athletes who finish sixth, seventh or eighth are eligible for an at-large invitation to the national meet. The at-large candidates are placed into a national pool, ranked according to their top performance of the season and added to the meet at the discrepancy of the NCAA Championship Committee.

Austin Weather Forecast: The weather in Austin is predicted to be hot and humid for the regional meet. The highs are expected to reach the low 90s each day with humidity ranging from 55-60 percent. There is also a 60 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms on Saturday.

NEW MEXICO AT THE MIDWEST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2006 season marks the fourth year of the regional qualifying format for the NCAA Championships. New Mexico has qualified at least 12 athletes to the Midwest Regional Championships each year since 2003.

UNM had a program-best 14 individuals and two relay teams qualify during the 2003 regular season for the inaugural NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in Lincoln, Neb. Three women, seven men and both men's relay teams competed in the meet. Matt Gonzales shocked the 1,500-meter field, winning the event to help the Lobo men tie for 21st place.

In 2004, 12 individuals surpassed the regional qualifying standard during the season with five women and five men eventually joining the field in College Station, Texas. Bridgid Isworth just missed a trip to the national meet, coming up a little short in the fifth place tie-breaking jump-off in the pole vault. Isworth's effort netted the New Mexico women 3.5 points, which was good for 29th in the standings.

UNM enjoyed its best performance at the regional meet last year in Norman, Okla. as Amanda Barnes and Matt Keeran both advanced on to the NCAA Championship meet. Barnes finished fifth in the shot put, while Keeran used a seventh place finish in the javelin to eventually earn an at-large invitation to the national meet. Both athletes recorded their top mark on their final throw of the meet.

UNM MIDWEST REGIONAL FINALISTS

2003 (1) - So. Matt Gonzales, 4th, 1,500m (3:42.83)
2004 (1) - Jr. Bridgid Isworth, T5th (lost jump-off), Pole Vault (12-10.00)
2005 (3) - Sr. Amanda Barnes, 5th, Shot Put (51-11.25)
Sr. Matt Keeran, 7th, Javelin (197-04)
Fr. Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott, 10th, 1,500m (3:52.87)

Bold indicates athlete qualified for the NCAA Championships

AMERICA'S TOUGHEST REGION

The Midwest Region has a well-deserved reputation as the strongest of the four national groupings for Division I track and field. Here's where the region ranks in each event the Lobos will be competing in this weekend:

Men's High Jump - First (13 top-25 competitors)
Men's Long Jump - First (12 top-25 competitors)
Women's Javelin - First (11 top-25 competitors)
Men's Pole Vault - First (10 top-25 competitors)
Women's 400m - First (10 top-30 competitors)

Men's 400m - Second (7 top-25 competitors)
Women's Hammer - Tied for third (4 top-25 competitors)
Women's 5,000m - Fourth (4 top-25 competitors)
Men's Javelin - Fourth (4 top-30 competitors)

THESE ARE NEW MEXICO'S LOBOS

Over the past six years UNM head coach Matt Henry has worked to rebuild the track and field program primarily using in-state and in-city athletes. Few D-I athletics programs in the state of New Mexico can match Lobo track and field when it comes to being a truly New Mexican product.Zia pride is what fuels the program, coaches and athletes alike.

The 2006 roster features 75 in-state products, including 38 from the Duke City. Thirty-one men and women are former New Mexico high school track & field champions. More and more, the elite athletes in the state are choosing to stay home at New Mexico, even declining offers from big name out-of-state schools with greater financial resources.

Ten of the 11 athletes representing UNM this weekend at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships graduated from New Mexico high schools. Senior hammer thrower Jamie Fishencord (Littleton, Colo.) is the only out-of-state product.

The New Mexico connection is just as strong with the coaching staff as Matt Henry (Albuquerque), Mark Henry (Albuquerque), Scott Steffan (Aztec, N.M.), Keren Bentzur (Israel) and Matt Kraft (Albuquerque) all competed at and graduated from the University of New Mexico.

NEW MEXICO'S REGIONAL QUALIFIERS

WOMEN

Ariel Burr • 5-4 • So-1L • Carrizozo, N.M. • 400 meters
UNM indoor and outdoor record holder in the 400 and a four-time all-Mountain West Conference honoree...MWC outdoor 400m runner-up in 2005 and `06...is attempting to become the first Lobo women ever to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the 400...enters the meet as the No. 8 seed after clocking a career-best time of 53.04 (altitude adjusted) in the MWC finals in Provo, Utah...ran under the regional qualifying standard 4 times this season and has lowered her PR by 1.08 seconds over the past year...2 wins (Mt. SAC Relays OD section & UNM Don Kirby Invite) in her 4 400m races (finals only) this spring...also won the 200m at UC-San Diego...entered last year's Midwest Regional Championships ranked 15th with a top time of 54.11 and finished 20th in the prelims (55.47)...one of 14 graduates in the class of 2004 at tiny Carrizozo HS (town population 1,043) in southeast New Mexico...dominated the 1A competition throughout her career, capturing 14 individual gold medals and an additional four relay titles in state track meet appearances...top 100 and 400-meter runner in the entire state as a senior...400-meter prelims - Fri., 7 p.m./finals - Sat., 6:30 p.m.

Katie Coronado • 5-11 • Fr-HS • Ruidoso, N.M. • Javelin
MWC runner-up, only trailing defending national champion Dana Pounds of Air Force, on May 13 in Provo, Utah...destroyed her previous best with a PR throw of 161-11 at the MWC meet, which ranks 23rd in the nation, but only 10th in the country's best women's javelin region...looking to become the first Lobo since 1997 to qualify for nationals in the event...surpassed the NCAA regional qualifying mark 4 times during the season, but had not thrown over 150 feet until May...has set a PR in her last two meets...top-3 finishes in 6 of her 7 competitions, including wins at Arizona (March 25) and at home in Albuquerque (April 29)...fouled on all 3 attempts in her first trip to Austin for the Texas Relays (April 8)...two-time class 3A javelin champion at Ruidoso HS...Javelin - Fri., 2 p.m.

Jamie Fishencord • 6-0 • Sr-3L • Littleton, Colo. • Hammer
New Mexico record holder and an all-MWC honoree in the hammer throw who is making her third straight appearance at the Midwest Regional Championships...ranked 14th entering the meet with a season-best mark of 184-00 on April 29 in Albuquerque...career-best was a throw of 192-06 at last year's home meet...placed 12th at the 2005 regional meet (178-11) and finished 11th (178-11), 6 spots higher than her seed, in 2004...is competing in Austin for the third time in her career...has enjoyed a meteoric rise after coming to UNM four years ago as an unheralded walk-on...three-time Academic All-MWC honoree and a black belt in shotokan karate...Hammer - Sat., 1 p.m.

Jacquelyne Gallegos • 5-8 • Sr-3L • Pojoaque, N.M. • 5,000m
One of the best women's distance runners in UNM history who will make her NCAA regional debut and first trip to Austin...finished third at the MWC Championships with an altitude-adjusted time of 16:50.38 to earn her first regional berth...time was also the fastest by a Lobo during sixth-year head coach Matt Henry's tenure...has clocked sub-17:00 (altitude adjusted) 5K times twice in her career, both coming in her last two races...enters the Midwest Regional meet as the No. 13 seed...4-time all-MWC runner on the track and 2-time all-MWC honoree in cross country...three-time all-NCAA Mountain Region cross country runner...also an Academic all-MWC honoree each year in cross country and track...career was nearly ruined three years ago when an auto accident left her with fractures in her lower back and pelvis...her incredible return to elite distance running has been one of the nation's best comeback stories...5,000m - Fri., 8:20 p.m.

MEN

Robert Caldwell • 6-0 • Jr-2L • Socorro, N.M. • Pole Vault
2006 indoor All-American and an all-MWC honoree indoors who is making his third appearance at the regional meet...matched his career-best vault outdoors with a mark of 17-00.75 in a fourth place finish two weeks ago at the MWC Championships...mark is tied for the 11th best in the region this spring...has cleared the regional qualifying standard three times (2 top-3 finishes) and has no heighted twice in his five competitions this spring...finished tied for 15th at the regional meet last year with a height of 16-07.25 and no heighted in 2004...has visited Austin twice for the Texas Relays...cleared 17-00.75 to place third in section B last year, but missed all three attempts in his last visit in early April...finished tied for 8th (17-06.50) in his NCAA Indoor Championships debut and cleared an all-time best mark of 17-07.25 during the winter...has improved by over two feet since arriving at UNM...Pole Vault - Fri., 5 p.m.

Josh Cosio • 6-4 • Fr-HS • Albuquerque, N.M. • High Jump
One of the most pleasant surprises on the team this year...cleared a season-best 6-10.75 in the season-opener at Arizona, an improvement of nearly three inches from his high school PR...only surpassed the regional qualifying mark once, but had five top-3 finishes and was an all-MWC honoree...jumped 6-08.75 or better in his first three meets, including an eighth place finish in section B at the Texas Relays...is the third Lobo to qualify for regionals in the event, but the first to actually compete at the Midwest Championship meet...enters the meet tied for the 16th-best qualifying mark...class 5A runner-up in the high jump as a senior at Albuquerque Manzano HS...High Jump - Sat., 5 p.m.

Anthony Fairbanks • 6-0 • Fr-HS • Albuquerque, N.M. • Javelin
Three-time class 5A javelin champion who set the New Mexico state meet record and was ranked eighth in the country during his senior year at Albuquerque Highland HS...has established himself as one of the top rookie javelin men ever to come through UNM and is the first freshman to qualify for regionals in the javelin...top throw of 213-09 is ranked ninth in the Midwest Region...surpassed the regional qualifying standard four times this spring...five top-3 finishes, including wins at USC, UCSD and at home, in six javelin competitions...threw over 200 feet in every meet after the season-opener...Javelin - Sat., 2 p.m.

Matt Keeran • 6-2 • Jr-2L • Albuquerque, N.M. • Javelin
2005 NCAA Championships qualifier and former Mountain West Conference champion who returns to the Midwest Regionals after placing seventh a year ago...three-time all-MWC honoree...is the Lobos' top-ranked athlete entering the meet, seeded fifth with a career-best mark of 218-08, which he recorded in the season-opener at Arizona...a back injury prior to the Texas Relays in early April slowed him mid-season, but he threw over 200 feet for the second time this spring in a seventh place finish two weeks ago at the MWC Championships (200-07)...advanced to the NCAA Championships for the first time last year, finishing 15th while throwing with a torn hamstring...suffered the injury on his first throw at the regional meet...earned an at-large bid to nationals with his winning throw of 211-05 at the `05 MWC Championships...also qualified for the 2003 Midwest Regionals as a sophomore before an elbow injury forced him out...underwent surgery the following year and missed all of 2004...earned his degree in Business Administration in just three years, graduating in the spring of `04 with a 3.68 GPA...currently wrapping up his MBA...three-time MWC Scholar-Athlete Award winner...began his Lobo athletic career on the football field as a walk-on quarterback...Javelin - Sat., 2 p.m.

Derek Mackel • 5-10 • Sr-3L• Albuquerque, N.M. • Pole Vault
The Lobos' top pole vaulter, a three-time all-Mountain West Conference honoree and an NCAA Championship participant this past indoor season...is making his third straight trip to the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships, where he has surprisingly missed on all six attempts over the past two years...has had to battle through chronic pain in his knees throughout his career, but entered the 2006 season 100 percent healthy and solidified his place as one of the best competitors in the country...was probably the most improved athlete on the team in 2005...a remarkable rags to riches story who has gone from marginal walk-on to one of the top pole vault threats in the country over the past three years...has improved by more than five feet since joining the program in 2002...enters this weekend's meet tied for the eighth-best mark in the region with a top clearance of 17-04.50 which he recorded en route to a seventh place finish on April 5 in the Section A competition at the Texas Relays...has gone over 17 feet in five of his seven competitions this spring, winning twice...lone no height came after a 4-hour bus ride to UTEP...just missed the UNM indoor record in 2006, clearing a career-best 17-11.00...second-degree black belt in tae kwon do...Pole Vault - Fri., 5 p.m.

Mike Powdrell • 5-10 • Sr-2L• Albuquerque, N.M. • Long Jump
Former cornerback for the Lobo football team who has enjoyed his finest track and field season this spring...MWC runner-up in the long jump and was also fourth in the high jump...surpassed the NCAA regional qualifying standard for the first time in his career with a winning leap of 24-05.50 at UTEP (April 15)...mark was the best during head coach Matt Henry's six years at UNM...went over 24 feet for the second time with a jump of 24-01.75 at the conference meet...seven top-5 finishes this season...first Lobo ever to qualify for regionals in the long jump...enters the weekend as the No. 18 seed...the former football walk-on also turned in his best fall, finishing second on the team with three interceptions in 10 games, including three starts...grandfather founded Albuquerque favorite Mr. Powdrell's Barbecue House and his parents now manage the restaurant...Long Jump - Fri., 1 p.m.

Jarrin Solomon • 5-9 • So-1L • Albuquerque, N.M. • 400 meters
Two-time all-MWC honoree who is making his second trip to the regional championships...clocked a career-best (altitude adjusted) time of 46.81, the fastest of head coach Matt Henry's six-year tenure, in a third place finish at the MWC meet two weeks ago...TCU's Lewis Banda and Ché Chavez were the only men faster...six top-3 finishes this spring, including wins at home and at UC-San Diego...ran under the regional qualifying standard four times this season...was 17th last year in his NCAA Midwest Regional debut with a time of 47.85...UNM hasn't qualified a 400-meter runner to the NCAA Championships since 1991...three-time all-state soccer player at Albuquerque La Cueva HS and only trained part-time on the track before joining the UNM program...father, Mike Solomon, was one of the finest middle distance runners in UNM history, earning two All-America awards and winning the 600-yard title at the 1977 NCAA Indoor Championships...Mike Solomon was also a two-time Olympian, competing at the 1976 Montreal games and 1980 Moscow Olympics for his native Trinidad and Tobago...400-meter prelims - Fri., 7:20 p.m./finals - Sat., 7:40 p.m.

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