March 28, 2004
EL PASO, Texas - Junior Ben Ortega picked up his first outdoor victory in two years and sophomore Nicole Hansen-Solum won the first race of her career to pace the University of New Mexico on Saturday at the UTEP Springtime Invitational. New Mexico's men and women each finished fourth in the powerful five-team field at windy Kidd Field.
Ortega leaned past UTEP's Stephen Samoei at the finish line to capture the 5,000-meter run with an altitude adjusted time of 15:05.27, 0.26 seconds ahead of Samoei. Ortega, who redshirted the 2003 season, earned his first victory outdoors since winning three straight 5K races from March 23 - April 12 in 2002. Hansen-Solum, meanwhile, continued her strong first full year of competition, clocking an altitude-adjusted time of 1:04.64 to win the 400-meter hurdles.
UNM enjoyed a strong effort in the field once again, led by senior Jason Barkemeyer and junior Jamie Fishencord, who improved their career bests and NCAA Midwest regional qualifying marks in the shot put and hammer throw, respectively. Barkemeyer shattered his personal record in the shot put by over a foot, recording a mark of 56-09.50 to finish second in the event. Fishencord, meanwhile, bested her mark of a week ago, finishing second in the hammer with a throw of 177-06. Fishencord also improved her PR in the discus, finishing fourth with a toss of 145-04.
Teammate Amanda Barnes enjoyed a strong afternoon as well. Barnes finished second in the shot put (47-09.75), fifth in the discus (144-09) and recording a career-best mark of 152-01 to place fourth in the hammer. Fellow junior Willie Yuen had the best performance of his career, smashing his personal bests en route to fifth place finishes in both the long jump and triple jump. Yuen recorded a mark of 22-10.50 in the long jump and his mark of 47-03.75 in the triple jump was over a foot better than his previous best.
On the track, sophomore Kimilia Davis finished fourth in the 200 (25.23) and 400, clocking a personal-best time of 56.18 in the quarter mile. Junior Matt Gonzales was the runner-up in the 1,500, finishing with an altitude adjusted time of 3:52.67, less than a second behind the winner, Mircea Bogdan of UTEP. Senior Chris Garofola turned in another strong all-around meet, despite suffering a painful toe injury the week before at Arizona. Garofola finished third in the 110-meter hurdles with a career best altitude-adjusted time of 14.68 and was fourth in the 200 with an adjusted time of 21.75.
New Mexico returns to action next weekend at the elite Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin, Texas. The Relays get underway on April 1.