April 30, 2005
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico track and field team turned in one of its finest all-around performances in recent memory in the team's lone home meet of the 2005 outdoor season, winning a staggering 15 events during the Modrall Sperling Don Kirby Invitational today at the Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. The Lobos also set a pair of school records, competing against a 10-team field that included Mountain West Conference foes Air Force, Colorado State and Wyoming, along with New Mexico State and Adams State, the top-ranked team in Division II.
Junior Jamie Fishencord opened the day with the best performance of her career in the women's hammer, increasing her own school record by nearly 10 feet with a huge throw of 192-06. The only woman better than Fishencord was Colorado State's Loree Smith, the nation's fourth-ranked hammer thrower, who launched the ball and chain a MWC and stadium record length 220-08. Senior Amanda Barnes also recorded a personal record in the event, finishing ninth with a toss of 167-05. In the men's javelin, meanwhile, New Mexico junior Dan Feltman finished second (187-07) behind Moriarty, N.M. native Luke Marrs, a former All-American at Texas A&M, who notched a winning mark of 220-08.
In the first event on the track, junior Jacquelyne Gallegos dominated the field of the 5,000 meters earning a wire-to-wire victory with an altitude adjusted time of 17:05.41. Gallegos' performance ignited a series of highlights for the Lobos on the track and in the field.
New Mexico swept the 4x100-meter relay races as the men and women each received a powerful kick from their anchor leg runners. In the women's race, UNM trailed New Mexico State and Adams State by a few steps before freshman Kirstan Matison surged ahead and propelled the Lobos across the line with an altitude-adjusted time of 46.38. The win was the Lobos' first over the Aggies (46.56) in the 4x100 relay since the 2001 season, while the time was the fastest ever by a Mark Henry coached unit. In the men's race, meanwhile, newcomer Aaron Brack, a senior wide receiver on the Lobo football team, helped UNM (41.56) hold off Colorado State (41.63) and Wyoming (42.22) down the final stretch to complete the sweep.
Racing on a track in Albuquerque for the first time since his storied prep career at La Cueva High School, freshman Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott displayed some of the talent that made him one of the most dominant high school distance runners in the nation last year. After a tight battle, Kiptoo-Biwott edged unattached runner Salomon Candy by a hundredth of a second in the 1,500, winning the race with an altitude-adjusted time of 3:46.53 to improve his regional qualifying seed. The native of Eldoret, Kenya later came back and stunned the field of the men's 800, charging out of the pack surging down the final 60 meters to earn the upset victory over three-time MWC Champion Jeremiah Johnson of Wyoming. Kiptoo-Biwott finished with an altitude-adjusted time of 1:51.39, 0.15 seconds ahead of the Cowboy All-American.
Back in the field events, Barnes had little trouble in the shot put, winning the event for the fifth time this season with a toss of 51-04.50. The Carlsbad, N.M. native wasn't through, however, coming back to blow away the school record in the discus with a throw of 166-11 in the final competition of her home career. Barnes' mark was over 15 feet beyond her previous best and secured the first NCAA regional berth of her career in the discus. Colorado State's Katie Hanson won the event with a season-best throw of 169-00.
Earlier, senior Veronica R. Gonzales notched her third straight victory in the women's javelin with a mark of 144-05, while freshman Whitney Johnson (12-00.75) outlasted Air Force's Erin Richardson (11-05.75) to take the women's pole vault.
The Lobo rookies continued to shine on the track as former Carrizozo High School standout Ariel Burr scorched the field of the 400 meters, winning the event with a career-best time of 55.19 (altitude adjusted). Matison then smashed her previous best in the 100 by nearly three tenths of a second, winning the event with an altitude-adjusted time of 11.86, much to the delight of her proud father René, the UNM 100-yard record holder, who was in the stands cheering on his daughter. The younger Matison's time was the fastest by a Lobo since 2001 and 0.28 seconds better than the runner-up. Junior Kimilia Davis just missed giving UNM a sweep of the women's sprint events, finishing second in the 200 with a career-best time of 24.38 (altitude adjusted). Katrina Powell of New Mexico State won the event with a time of 24.31, while Matison was third (altitude adjusted 24.58).
In the men's sprints, senior Ahmed Raji gave notice to the rest of the MWC that he isn't quite ready for retirement. Raji knocked off the league's top-ranked 200-meter man, freshman Travis Picou of Air Force, to win the event with an altitude adjusted time of 21.59. A redshirt last year, Raji earned his first victory since 2003. It was his first competition in Albuquerque since placing second in the 200 at the MWC Championships with a time of 20.95. Earlier in the day, Raji was the top Lobo finisher in the 100-meter dash, placing third. Lobo wide receivers Marcus Smith (10.91) and Brack (10.97) were fourth and seventh, respectively, while sophomore Jeramie White was fifth (10.94). Freshman Jarrin Solomon, meanwhile, continued his run at an NCAA regional berth in the 400. Solomon clocked a career-best altitude adjusted time of 47.27, a mere one hundredth of a second off the regional qualifying standard, to place second in the event.
In the final track event of the day, the Lobo women maintained their momentum with an easy victory in the 4x400-meter relay (altitude adjusted 3:48.92). The men's race was far more competitive as Adams State passed New Mexico (altitude adjusted 3:14.71) just before the final exchange and held off a hard-charging Raji to win the race in 3:13.51.
New Mexico kept racking up the gold medals in the final field events of the day as junior Derek Mackel (17-00.75) outlasted teammate Robert Caldwell (16-06.75) and Air Force's Christian Morgan (16-06.75) to win the pole vault. Mackel, the seventh-ranked pole vaulter in the nation, watched the bar bounce twice on the standard before falling on his first attempt at 17-06.75. He missed his second try, then called it a day after experiencing some slight discomfort in his knee. In the women's high jump, meanwhile, freshman Tiyana Peters edged Colorado State's Rheannon Backes on attempts to win in her Albuquerque debut with a mark of 5-05.75.
It was time for the seniors to shine in the final field competitions of the day, which concluded long after the track events had ended. After struggling throughout the year with nagging injuries, senior Willie Yuen bounded to one of the best marks of his career in the triple jump. The Albuquerque native recorded a season-best mark of 46-10.75, just ahead of rookie teammate Domnick Meadows, who was second (46-05.25). With the busses started and the sun starting to set, fifth-year senior Jordan Parker uncorked the best throw of his career, sending the discus 171-00 to attain the long-awaited regional qualifying mark in the event. Already a qualifier in the shot put, Parker improved by eight feet over his previous best to place second behind CSU's Jason Schutz (178-02).