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Lobos Hope To Start Late-Season Surge At MWC Championships
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/25/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 25, 2006

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UPCOMING

The University of New Mexico men and women travel to Salt Lake City, Utah this weekend for the 2006 Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championships, Saturday, Oct. 28 at the Rose Park Golf Course. New Mexico is making its first trip to Salt Lake City since competing in the 1994 Western Athletic Conference/District 7 Championships. The meet opens with the women's 6,000-meter race at 10 a.m. (Mountain), followed by the men's 8K at 11 a.m.

The UNM women were picked third in the MWC preseason coaches poll after finishing a program-best second last year in Fort Collins, Colo. The Lobos return a pair of first team all-conference runners from a year ago in senior Timmie Murphy (3rd) and junior Leslie Luna (6th). Four runners on the eight-woman travel squad are making their MWC debut.

The men, meanwhile, were projected to repeat their fifth place performance of 2005 in the preseason coaches poll. Junior Jeremy Johnson, an all-MWC 5,000 runner on the track, and senior Juan Ortega lead a young travel squad that features five rookies.

THE UNM TRAVEL TEAM

WOMEN:
Sr. Timmie Murphy (1st team all-MWC, all-Mountain Region...MWC's 3rd-fastest 6K time in `06)
Jr. Leslie Luna (1st team all-MWC, all-Mountain Region...MWC's 7th-fastest 6K time in `06)
Fr. Vanessa Ortiz (`05 N.M. 5A XC champion and two-time prep Athlete of the Year...season-best 6K of 22:08)
Jr. Sheyenne Lewis (Scored in 5 of 8 career races, including all 3 in `06...first MWC Championships appearance)
Jr. Melanie Velarde (Scored in 4 of 8 career races, including all 3 in `06...career-best 6K of 22:32 this year at Stanford)
Sr. Roxann James (Team top-7 all 8 career races...Lobos' No. 8 runner at `05 MWC Championships)
Fr. Kelly McCabe (`05 N.M. 5A XC runner-up...making 2nd career appearance this weekend)
Fr. Rachelle Billie (All-state XC (3A) at Shiprock (N.M.) HS...two races in `06...Lobos' No. 7 runner at Stanford)

MEN:
Jr. Jeremy Johnson (Running XC at UNM for first time since `02...spent 1 1/2 years at Ariz...MWC's 2nd-fastest 8K in `06)
Sr. Juan Ortega (Scored 12 times in 17 career races...MWC's 10th-fastest 8K in `06...23rd at `05 MWC meet)
Jr. Joseph Garcia (Scored 9 times in 11 career races...3rd MWC appearance...25th at `05 MWC meet)
Fr. Jason Petty (All-state (4A) XC at ABQ St. Pius X HS...scored in all 4 races this fall...season-best 6K of 25:40)
Fr. Jeremy Newland (All-state (4A) XC at Aztec (N.M.) HS...son of former UNM runner Jef Newland...2 collegiate races)
Fr. Alex Willis (All-state XC at Leadville (Colo.) HS...4 collegiate races...'06 Nordic Skiing Jr. Olympics qualifier)
Fr. Brian Vallie (Montana Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year in `06...2 collegiate races, scored in season opener)
Fr. Nick Argüelles (2-time all-state (5A) XC at ABQ Highland HS...Lobos' No. 4 in debut at Pre-Nationals)
Jr. Chris Bratton (12 career races...scored for first time in 6K at `06 Stanford Invite...2nd MWC meet appearance)

MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS

Complete information and results from the 2006 Mountain West Conference Championships can be found on the official website for MWC Cross Country:

MWC Cross Country

NCAA Championships Mountain Regional Returns To Duke City

The University of New Mexico will host one of the premier cross country meets in the nation when the NCAA Championships Mountain Regional returns to the UNM North Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 11. The Mountain Region traditionally boasts many of America's finest distance runners and 2006 will be no exception with over 30 men's and women's teams expected to battle for a place in the national championship field.

The Mountain Regional was last held at the UNM North Golf Course in 2002, when Colorado's Jorge Torres captured the men's 10K en route to the national title. A crowd of several hundred lined the spectator-friendly course to cheer on the elite field, including Lobo All-American Matt Gonzales. Gonzales advanced to the `02 NCAA Championships with an eighth place finish in Albuquerque.

The action at the North Course gets underway with the women's 6,000-meter race at 10 a.m., followed by the men's 10K at 11. Admission is free.

LAST TIME OUT AT INDIANA STATE PRE-NATIONALS (OCT. 14)

Team leaders Jeremy Johnson and Timmie Murphy turned in solid performances once again to lead the University of New Mexico men's and women's teams, respectively, at the elite Indiana State Pre-Nationals Meet at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center. Johnson finished 48th out of 246 runners to lead the UNM men to a 27th place finish (out of 36 teams), while Murphy was 44th in a field of 245, helping the women finish 30th (out of 36).

Johnson, a junior from Albuquerque, completed the 8,000-meter LaVern Gibson Course in 24:24.5, 17 seconds ahead of senior teammate Juan Ortega, who was 74th (24:41.1). Junior Joseph Garcia was a solid 144th (25:11.0), while true freshman Nick Argüelles was 195th (25:43.9) in his first career 6K. Fellow rookie Jason Petty capped the Lobos' scoring, placing 227th (26:23.7), followed closely by freshmen Jeremy Newland (229th - 26:27.4) and Alex Willis (234th - 26:37.8).

UNM was fifth among the Mountain Region teams in the men's White Race, knocking off Mountain West Conference rival Colorado State (29th). CSU entered the meet ranked fifth in the region and was picked to finish third in the MWC preseason coaches poll, two spots higher than New Mexico. The Lobos were ranked 11th in the Oct. 10 Mountain Region rankings.

Earlier in the women's Blue Race, Murphy and junior teammate Leslie Luna both finished among the top-60 and less than a minute behind the winner, Wake Forest's Michelle Sikes. Murphy, a senior from Farmington, N.M., finished in 21:03.4, the second-fastest 6K time of her career, while Luna sliced nearly four seconds off her personal best, placing 57th with a time of 21:13.7.

The Lobo pack spread a bit to far behind the lead runners, however, as freshman Vanessa Ortiz finished nearly a minute behind Luna in 158th place (22:10.3) and 4-5 runners Sheyenne Lewis (221st - 23:10.4) and Melanie Velarde (230th - 23:25.0) crossed the finish line a minute after Ortiz.

The UNM women (No. 7 regionally), were fourth among the five Mountain Region teams in their race. Downing the region's No. 10 team, Montana State, but falling to second-ranked BYU, fifth-ranked Weber State and the No. 6 squad in the region, Northern Arizona.

NEW MEXICO CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY

The UNM men and women will be competing in the Mountain West Conference Championship meet for the eighth time on Saturday. The following is the Lobos' year-by-year results at the MWC Championship meet. Seventh-year head coach Matt Henry took over the program in 2000.

MEN
Year Place/Teams Score Top Finisher (8K time)
1999 6th/6 153 pts. Fr. Louis Cuellar - 27th (26:49)

2000 6th/6 153 pts. Fr. Chris Orrell - 17th (25:57)
2001 5th/6 87 pts. So. Matt Gonzales - 2nd (24:19)
2002 3rd/6 72 pts. So. Cameron Clarke - 3rd (24:41)
2003 4th/6 123 pts. Jr. Sean Flaherty - 18th (25:51)
2004 3rd/6 69 pts. Fr. Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott - 1st (24:44)
2005 5th/6 119 pts. Sr. Cameron Clarke - 11th (25:03.3)

WOMEN
Year Place/Teams Score Top Finisher (6K time) 1999 8th/8 185 pts. So. Jackie Morgan - 17th (18:51 - 5K)

2000 7th/8 173 pts. So. Ashlee Othick - 15th (22:12)
2001 5th/8 139 pts. So. Sarah Gonzales - 16th (22:16)
2002 6th/8 173 pts. Jr. Sarah Gonzales - 16th (22:16)
2003 5th/8 141 pts. Sr. Sarah Gonzales - 7th (22:03)
2004 6th/8 163 pts. Jr. Jacquelyne Gallegos - 4th (22:16)
2005 2nd/9 74 pts. Jr. Timmie Murphy - 3rd (21:06.7)

The New Mexico men won five Western Athletic Conference titles, with four coming from 1963-68 and the last in 1988. Since joining the MWC in 1999, Lobo runners have earned first or second team all-conference honors 11 times - 3 apiece by Cameron Clarke and Matt Gonzales. Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott earned Freshman and Runner of the Year honors in 2004 with his victory in San Diego. Kiptoo-Biwott was the fourth Lobo to win an individual conference title, joining Western Athletic Conference champions Ed Coleman (1963), John Baker (1964) and George Scott (1965 & `66).

The UNM women have never won a conference title, but have finished second three times, including last year in the expanded nine-team MWC field. The Lobos were also the High Country Athletic Conference runners-up in 1983 and `84.

Carole Roybal is the only New Mexico woman to win a conference title, taking the HCAC crown in 1986. The Lobos have had a first team all-MWC runner each of past three seasons, the longest streak since a four-year run between 1983-86. UNM had gone eight years without an all-conference honoree of any kind and 11 years without a first team runner before Sarah Gonzales broke through with a seventh place finish in 2003.

Head coach Matt Henry took home MWC Women's Coach of the Year honors in 2005, the first conference honor for a UNM coach since Cindy Schmandt earned the HCAC Women's Coach of the Year in 1983.

Men's All-MWC Honorees
Year Athlete Finish
2001 Matt Gonzales - 1st team 2nd
Ben Ortega - 2nd team 10th
2002 Cameron Clarke - 1st team 3rd
Matt Gonzales - 1st team 5th
2004 Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott - 1st team 1st
Matt Gonzales - 1st team 2nd
Cameron Clarke - 2nd team 14th
2005 Cameron Clarke - 2nd team 11th

Women's All-MWC Honorees
Year Athlete Finish
2003 Sarah Gonzales - 1st team 7th
2004 Jacquelyne Gallegos - 1st team 4th
2005 Timmie Murphy - 1st team 3rd
Leslie Luna - 1st team 6th
Jacquelyne Gallegos - 2nd team 10th

A LOOK BACK AT THE 2005 MWC CHAMPIONSHIPS (Oct. 29)

Junior Timmie Murphy and sophomore Leslie Luna each turned in the finest race of their careers, while senior Jacquelyne Gallegos battled through a hamstring injury to lead an unheralded University of New Mexico women's team to a second place finish at the Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championships at the Collindale Golf Course in Fort Collins, Colo. Picked fifth in the league's preseason coaches poll, New Mexico matched its highest finish ever at a conference meet as sixth-year head coach Matt Henry earned MWC Women's Coach of the Year honors.

Senior Cameron 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.

The New Mexico women were the story of the day, however, as the team finished as the conference runner-up for the fourth time in program history. UNM edged third place Colorado State, 74-75, while No. 8 BYU (28 points) won its seventh straight MWC crown.

The Lobos also placed second three times during their eight years in the High Country Athletic Conference, with the most recent occurring in 1986.

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 in their careers. 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 with a time of 21:31.1 to earn second team all-MWC honors. The Pojoaque, N.M. native suffered a serious hamstring injury while warming up for the Oct. 8 Auburn Invitational and was initially feared to be lost for the rest of the season.

The Lobos also received fine performances from sophomore Lindsay Barr and senior Janice Tosa, who rounded out the team's scoring. After finishing 40th a year ago at the MWC meet, Barr placed 28th with a career-best time of 22:28.6. It was her highest finish in eight meets. Tosa, meanwhile, finished 32nd overall with a career-best time of 22:36.3. It was her best effort at the conference meet since placing 27th two years ago in Albuquerque.

Earlier in the men's 8K race, UNM received a solid effort from Clarke, who crossed the line in 25:03.3, but was unable to maintain its tight group running success. The pack spread between the Lobos' five scoring runners was 1:05.9, marking just the second time all season the spread has been over a minute. New Mexico finished with a score of 119, 11 points behind fourth place Wyoming.

Junior Juan Ortega ran second on the team as he notched the highest finish in his three conference meet appearances, placing 23rd overall with a time of 25:41.8. Sophomore Joseph Garcia improved 12 spots on his 2004 MWC meet performance, finishing 25th with a time of 25:45.6. Junior Steven Martinez also had his highest finish in three conference races, placing 29th with a time of 25:52.5. Senior Nate Clem capped the UNM scoring, finishing 36th overall (26:09.2).

LOBOS VISITING SALT LAKE CITY FOR FIRST TIME IN 12 YEARS

The University of Utah is hosting its first conference championship meet since the 1994 Western Athletic Conference/District 7 Championships were held at the Rose Park Golf Course. That meet, which ran the conference and regional competitions simultaneously, also marked New Mexico's last cross country road trip to Salt Lake City.

Junior Paul Ratanage led the Lobo men with an eighth place finish and spot on the all-conference team. Junior Kieth Rieger and sophomore Tony Evers also placed among the top-20 to help UNM finish fifth in the WAC, two spots higher than its preseason ranking. Sophomore Susan Prentice paced the women with a 19th place effort, helping the Lobos finish sixth in the conference.

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS

New Mexico's speed was on display earlier this season at the Stanford Invitational. Junior Jeremy Johnson and senior Timmie Murphy recorded the fastest times in head coach Matt Henry's seven-year tenure in the 8K and 6K, respectively.

Johnson finished in 23:40, 11 seconds under Cameron Clarke's Henry-Era record (also recorded at Stanford in 2002), and the fastest recorded time for an 8,000-meter course in program history. Murphy, meanwhile, crossed the line in 20:40, a full 20 seconds faster than Jacquelyne Gallegos' previous Henry-Era record at the 2004 Pre-Nationals Meet in Terre Haute, Ind.

Four Lobos are currently ranked among the MWC's top-10 in the women's 6K or men's 8k. Johnson's time is No. 2 in the MWC, behind BYU senior Josh Rohatinsky (22:58), while senior Juan Ortega's career-best time of 24:21 at Stanford is 10th in the league. On the women's side, Murphy's fastest 6K is ranked third in the MWC, while junior Leslie Luna's time of 21:14 two weeks ago at the Pre-Nationals meet is No. 7 in the conference.

ROOKIE RUNNERS

The 2006 season has already provided the opportunity for a large group of freshman runners to compete with the Lobos' top-7. Five men and three women have been on the Lobos' travel squad (Stanford and Pre-Nationals) this fall, all of which are making the trip to Salt Lake City for the MWC Championships this weekend. Rachelle Billie (Stanford, MWC), Kelly McCabe (Pre-Nationals, MWC), Vanessa Ortiz (Stanford, Pre-Nationals, MWC) have travelled for the women, while Nick Argüelles (Pre-Nationals, MWC), Jeremy Newland (Pre-Nationals, MWC), Jason Petty (Stanford, Pre-Nationals, MWC), Brian Vallie (Stanford, MWC) and Alex Willis (Stanford, Pre-Nationals, MWC) have been part of the men's starting lineup.

The eight freshmen on the travel squad are the most in the program since nine rookies, including seven on the women's side, saw significant action in 2001. Last year, a veteran New Mexico squad had just two freshmen (Seny Archuleta, Ezra Esquibel) crack the travel squad.

BEST OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST

Junior Jeremy Johnson was named Mountain West Conference Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Week on Sept. 12, becoming the seventh Lobo under seventh-year head coach Matt Henry to win the men's award.

Johnson, an Albuquerque native, turned in a career-best third place finish at the Lobo Invitational to help the UNM men finish third in the 13-team field. He crossed the finish line in 24:59 (8K), just 12 seconds behind the winner, UTEP All-American Stephen Samoei. It was the highest finish by a Lobo men's runner since Matt Gonzales placed second at the 2004 NCAA Championship meet.

Johnson was competing in his first hometown cross country meet since the 2002 season. The former Manzano High School standout was one of the Lobos' top runners as a true freshman in '02 before transferring to Arizona for two years. Johnson returned to UNM in 2005, but had to sit out last fall due to NCAA transfer regulations.

Saturday, September 06
All Day - 
Cross Country
vs. Lobo Invitational
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