March 12, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - What a sweet homecoming it was for University of New Mexico senior Chris Barnicle. The former Arkansas standout finished fourth tonight on his old home track at the Randal Tyson Track Center to earn All-America honors in the 5,000 meters on the opening day of competition at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. Barnicle clocked a career-best in the 5K for the third time in as many weeks, crossing the line in a school record 13:43.20 - 2.52 seconds faster than former Lobo great Matt Gonzales did in an identical fourth place finish at the 2005 NCAA Championships.
The Newton, Mass. product started slowly, but steadily worked his way through the pack, climbing as high as third with 800 meters to go before holding on for fourth. It was a stark reversal of fortune for Barnicle, who finished 15th out of 15 5K runners on the same oval in his last NCAA Indoor appearance during his junior year at Arkansas in 2008.
Tonight marked just the third indoor race of Barnicle's brief UNM career. After missing much of the winter due to injury he clocked a then career-best altitude-adjusted time of 13:56.06 en route to a fifth place finish in the 5K at the Mountain West Conference Championships in Albuquerque (Feb. 26). One week later he punched his NCAA ticket with a time of 13:47.16 in a convincing victory at Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational last chance meet.
Barnicle Postrace Interview (Flotrack.org):
Top-seeded David McNeill of Northern Arizona held off 2009 NCAA cross country champion Sam Chelanga of Liberty over a scintillating final 200 meters, winning with a time of 13:36.41 - 0.60 seconds ahead of Chelanga.
Fellow senior Rory Fraser was unable to hold his strong early pace and finished 13th (14:07.77) in his second straight NCAA Indoor 5,000 appearance. Fraser ran a third much of the way, pulling near-even with McNeill and Chelanga several times in the first half of the race. With four laps to go, however, he grimaced and faded back to the chase pack.
Fraser will have a chance to make ammends tomorrow night though when he joins senior Lee Emanuel in the 3,000-meter finals.
The top-seeded and defending NCAA champion Emanuel cruised into the mile finals earlier in the day, winning his semifinal heat with the fastest time of the day - a relatively easy 4:02.95.
Earlier in the day top-seeded and defending NCAA champion Emanuel cruised into the mile finals, winning his semifinal heat with the fastest time of the day - a relatively easy 4:02.95.
Emanuel took control of the semifinal midway through the race and opened up a sizeable lead before throttling down over the final 50 meters an an impressive performance. He'll look to defend his 2009 mile title and become the first Lobo in school history to win back-to-back NCAA crowns tomorrow at 5:15 p.m. (Mountain).
Emanuel Postrace Interview (Flotrack.org)
The Hastings, England product is also the No. 3 seed in the 3,000 finals, which is scheduled to begin just two hours after the mile.The Lobos' lone womens qualifier, Sandy Fortner, opens the day in the pentathlon at 10:30 a.m.