New Mexico To Battle Three MWC Foes In Lone Home Meet Of The Spring
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/27/2005
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 27, 2005


Some of the top track and field talent in the Mountain West Conference will be on display this Saturday in Albuquerque as the University of New Mexico hosts the 15th Don Kirby Memorial Invitational, sponsored by the Modrall Sperling law firm, at the Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. The meet will be a sneak preview of the upcoming MWC Outdoor Championships (May 11-14 in Fort Collins, Colo.) with Air Force, Colorado State and Wyoming headlining a strong field of regional teams. New Mexico State's women and athletes from Adams State, Colorado College, Colorado School of Mines, New Mexico Highlands and Western State will also be in attendance. The meet opens with the field events at 9 a.m. (MST) with the first track event to follow at 10:30. Admission is free.

Last year, New Mexico dazzled the home crown, recording season-best marks/times in an 12 events, eight more than any other regular season meet. Among the highlights last year were: Amanda Barnes setting school records in the discus and shot put, Hank Baskett winning the high jump, the Lobo men edging Wyoming for the 4x100-meter relay title and Kimilia Davis' victory in the 400.

Since taking over the program in 2001, UNM head coach Matt Henry has made the Don Kirby Invitational a showcase of the best collegiate track and field talent in the state of New Mexico. This year, over 80 percent (74 total) of Henry's Lobos hail from the Land of Enchantment, including 35 athletes from Albuquerque. Thirty-one men and women on the 2005 roster are former New Mexico high school state champions.

The preliminary weather forecast for Saturday could be ideal for track and field competition if the notorious Albuquerque spring winds cooperate. The forecast (as of April 27) calls for mostly sunny skies with a high of 66 degrees and winds blowing at a relatively light 13 mph.


Following the Don Kirby Invitational, senior All-American Matt Gonzales travels to Northern California on Sunday night to take part in the Cardinal Invitational. Gonzales will join a world-class field in the Kim McDonald Memorial 10,000, his first race of the year at that distance. The gun fires at 9:55 p.m. (MST) at Stanford's Cobb Field and Angell Track facility.

Gonzales has enjoyed some of the finest performances of his career in Northern California. He earned All-America honors for the first time with a third place finish in the 10K at the 2003 NCAA Championships in Sacramento. Last year, he set the UNM record in the 5,000 at the U.S. Open meet in Stanford and later that summer advanced to the 5K finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Sacramento. The Santa Fe native clocked a season-best 3:43.31 (ranked fourth in the Midwest Region) in the season-opener at the Stanford Invitational and two weeks ago, ran a Mountain West Conference and Midwest Region best time of 13:40.57 in the 5,000 at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.

Last year at the Cardinal Invite, Gonzales ran a Mountain West Conference record time of 28:22.77, which was also the fastest collegiate time in the nation in 2004. He missed Ibrahim Kivina's 1984 UNM record by 17 seconds, however, and would like nothing more than add the record to his still growing resume. More importantly, though, Gonzales and head coach Matt Henry will be looking to get under the NCAA automatic qualifying time of 29:00.0 to ensure Gonzales' third straight trip to the national championship field. He will need to finish in the top-5 of either the 1,500 or 5,000 at the Midwest Regional Championships in Norman, Okla. in late May to qualify in those events.


Complete information and results from the Modrall Sperling Don Kirby Memorial Invitational will be available at the official website of the University of New Mexico Athletic Department:


Complete information and results from Matt Gonzales' race at the Cardinal Invitational will be available at the official website of the Stanford University Athletic Department:

Stanford University Athletics


Located 5,085 feet above sea level, the Great Friends of University of New Mexico Track Stadium has been the home of the Lobo track and field program since 1985. The stadium is a multifunction, 5,000-seat facility that was renovated in the summer of 1996 to include a soccer field.

Since taking control of the track and field program in 2001, Matt and Mark Henry have injected new life into the stadium. Local fans and alumni alike have returned to the track to catch the Henry's promising, homegrown teams in action. Each year, the Lobos welcome some of the region's top teams for the annual Don Kirby Memorial Invitational. New Mexico has hosted the 2003 Mountain West Conference Outdoor Championships and the 1996 Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships. The venue has also been the longtime home of the elite Great Southwest Track & Field Classic, one of the nation's premier postseason high school invitationals.

DIRECTIONS: The Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium is located on Avenida César Chavez east of University Blvd. The track facility is on the east side of the University football stadium.


Saturday's meet will mark the final home appearance for 14 UNM seniors, including Matt Gonzales, who will be in attendance, but will not compete. Distance men Nick Martinez and Ben Ortega, and thrower Jordan Parker are the only three Lobos remaining from the 2001 season, head coach Matt Henry's first year leading the program. The 2005 senior class has combined to earn three All-America awards, six MWC event titles, 19 all-MWC awards and have set five indoor/outdoor school records.

Ben Ortega is one of 14 seniors who will make their final home appearance this weekend.

The 2005 University of New Mexico seniors: Amanda Barnes (Carlsbad, N.M.), Katie Coles (Palouse, Wash.), Veronica R. Gonzales (Carlsbad, N.M.), Jaime Hall (Albuquerque, N.M.), Cheyenne Renfroe (Cimarron, N.M.), Erin Teske (Alamogordo, N.M.), Jason Bigott (Los Alamos, N.M.), Nate Clem (Albuquerque, N.M.), Matt Gonzales (Santa Fe, N.M.), Nick Martinez (Pojoaque, N.M.), Ben Ortega (Taos, N.M.), Jordan Parker (Albuquerque, N.M.), Ahmed Raji (Oyo, Nigeria), Willie Yuen (Albuquerque, N.M.).


• Lobo wide receivers Aaron Brack and Marcus Smith joined the men's team this week and will make their collegiate track debuts in the 100-meter dash on Saturday. Brack, a senior, has clocked a 4.41 40-yard dash and was one of the top 100-meter men in his region during his prep career at Austin Del Valle High School. Smith, a sophomore, is generally considered one of the fastest players on the UNM football team. He was timed at 10.7 in the 100 as a prep at San Diego Morse HS and also competed in both relay events. He unleashed his pure speed in spectacular fashion last year, ripping off a 65-yard touchdown run down the sideline at UNLV last year. Both men competed unattached at last year's Don Kirby Invite, running the 100 and two legs of the all Lobo football 4x100 relay team. Fellow wide receiver Hank Baskett, the reigning MWC outdoor high jump champion, will redshirt this track season to rest a nagging groin injury, but plans to return for his senior season in 2006.

• Three women's records have been set this spring. Senior Amanda Barnes bettered her own mark in the shot put last week in San Diego with a toss of 52-09.50, while junior Jamie Fishencord surpassed her hammer throw record with a mark of 183-09 earlier in the season at UTEP. True freshman Stasia Ploskonka became the third UNM woman ever to compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase this year and went on to break the four-year old school record in event with a time of 12:06.25 at the Mesa Classic.

Amanda Barnes has won a career-high four of her six shot put competitions this season and her average margin of victory over the runner-up has been an amazing five feet, 10 inches.

• Junior Dan Feltman notched the second-highest decathlon score of head coach Matt Henry's five-year tenure at the Mt. SAC Relays, scoring a MWC-high 7,278 points. Currently ranked 11th in the nation, Feltman leads the team in the javelin (4th MWC) and owns top-5 marks in six events, including the 100m (19th MWC), long jump (9th MWC), high jump (20th MWC), 110-meter hurdles (10th MWC).

• Middle distance man Frank Hemingway was recently selected as a 2005 Goldwater Scholar. A junior majoring in Electrical Engineering, Hemingway is one of 320 recipients in the U.S. Goldwater scholars were selected from a field of 1,091 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. Awards are made on the basis of merit. The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to $7,500 per year. Hemingway has appeared in three meets this spring, notching four top-10 finishes. The Las Cruces native currently owns the team's third-fastest 800 time.

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