Lobos Surge Into San Diego For UCSD Triton Invitational
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/20/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 20, 2006


The University of New Mexico track and field team will be making one of its favorite road trips of the season this weekend when it visits California for the third time this season to compete in the UC San Diego Triton Invitational (April 21-22). New Mexico has traveled to the meet each of the past three seasons and generally turned in some of its best performances of the year at Triton Stadium. The Lobos will be part of a large collegiate field in San Diego, which includes MWC schools BYU, San Diego State and UNLV, along with national powers Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and USC.


Results: Final meet results will be available online at www.ucsdtritons.com.

Schedule: Senior Jamie Fishencord will be the lone Lobo competing on Friday, April 21 in the hammer throw, the rest of the team will be in action on Saturday, April 22. The meet is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. (MST) to approximately 8 p.m. on Saturday.

UNM at the Triton Invitational: This is the third straight season the Lobos have competed at the UC San Diego Triton Invitational. New Mexico athletes have recorded five NCAA regional qualifying marks and won four events over the past two years at the meet. Amanda Barnes set school and then-Mountain West Conference records in the shot put in San Diego last year with a mark of 52' 9 1/2".

Last Chance At Sea Level: The Triton Invitational will be the final chance this spring for the Lobos to earn NCAA regional qualifying marks at sea level. New Mexico's last two qualifying opportunities will be at home (5,085 feet) next weekend and May 10-13 at the MWC Championships in Provo, Utah (4,627 feet). While the thinner air at elevations of 3,000 feet or more is slightly advantageous to throwers and jumpers, sprint times recorded at altitude are inflated in an attempt to adjust for less air resistance. Distance times are adjusted to reflect faster results, but less oxygen available generally keeps races slower than normal.

San Diego Connections: Sophomore sprinter Kristan Matison is the only San Diego native on the UNM roster who will be running on Saturday. Matison was a 2004 graduate of Mount Carmel High School, where she set the school record in the 100 and was a two-time team MVP. Fellow sophomore Whitney Johnson also has Southern California ties, graduating in 2004 from Mission Viejo High School, where she set the pole vault record and earned All-America status.

San Diego Weather Forecast: Saturday's forecast calls for a mix of sun and clouds with highs in the mid 60s. There is a 20 percent chance of rain and 60 percent humidity. The winds will be light, blowing at 10 miles per hour.

LAST TIME OUT: Mt. SAC Relays/UTEP Invitational

Sophomore Ariel Burr smashed her own school record in the 400-meter dash, winning the Olympic Development section of the event with a time of 53.48 to lead the UNM contingent on Thursday at the Mt. SAC Relays. Burr defeated Arizona senior Marquita Taylor by 0.46 seconds and clocked the fastest time in the Mountain West Conference this season in just her second individual 400 race of the spring.

New Mexico picked up its second victory of the meet in the men's 5,000-meter run as junior Jeremy Johnson crossed the line with a time of 14:35.85, nearly ten seconds ahead of the nearest finisher in the 22-man field. Sophomore Jarrin Solomon also had a strong performance in the men's Olympic Development 400-meter dash, placing second overall and first among collegiate competitors with a time of 47.19. Solomon defeated former Big East champion Ryan Postel of Notre Dame by 0.08 seconds in heat two.

At nearby Azusa Pacific University, UNM freshman Sandy Fortner placed 11th out of 17 in the women's heptathlon, improving her NCAA provisional qualifying rankings with a score of 5,088. Fortner notched top-10 finishes in the high jump (T3rd, 5' 6"), 200m dash (6th, 25.25) and javelin throw (10th, 113') over the two-day competition.

Two days later in El Paso, senior Mike Powdrell led the men's team by winning the long jump with a mark of 24' 5 1/2", the best by a Lobo under sixth-year head coach Matt Henry and tops in the MWC this season. Sophomore Kristan Matison, meanwhile, paced the women with a Henry-era record of 11.80 in the 100-meter dash. New Mexico also received winning performances from sophomore Stasia Ploskonka (2,000m steeplechase) and senior Frank Hemingway (1,500m), while sophomore Whitney Johnson tied her career best with a third place mark of 12' 11 1/2" in the pole vault.


The 16th annual Don Kirby Memorial Invitational will be held on Saturday, April 29 at the renovated Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. New Mexico's lone home meet of the outdoor season, the Kirby Invite will once again feature UNM head coach Matt Henry's homegrown Lobos taking on some of the best talent in the Mountain West Conference along with several regional teams, including the New Mexico State women.

The meet will provide a bit of a sneak preview of the upcoming MWC Championships meet (May 10-13) with conference rivals Air Force, Colorado State and Wyoming headlining the field of opponents. The CSU women return to Albuquerque for the first time since knocking off BYU for the first time at the MWC Indoor Championships held in late Feb. downtown at the Convention Center.


The 21-year-old Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium will have a new look on April 29 when the Lobos host the Don Kirby Memorial Invitational. A year-long construction project is nearing completion that will expand the east side of the facility to allow the long jump, triple jump, pole vault and shot put all to be contested in the same area within the stadium.

Two new long jump runways/pits and two triple jump runways/pits have been installed, along with a new pole vault runway, all running north and south to minimize the effect of the notorious New Mexico winds during the spring. A new shot put ring has also been put down on the east side, moving the event from the adjacent practice fields, back into the stadium. A wall was constructed to enclose the east side of the stadium and plans are also in the works to place bleachers on the east side to give spectators a up-close view of the field events.

The expansion is the first phase of the athlete and fan-friendly stadium renovations that also include plans to resurface the track oval this summer, beginning in early June.

"This project is a real positive for both our athletes and fans at our home meets," UNM head coach Matt Henry said. "We're going to have a lot more room to accommodate more athletes in the field events, which, once we get the track resurfaced, will help us bring some top teams to compete in Albuquerque."

Originally a track-only facility when it was constructed in 1985, the infield of the G.F.O. UNM Track Stadium was modified in 1996 to accommodate the Lobo men's and women's soccer field. The addition of the soccer field squeezed the shot put rings and jumping runways into the south end of the oval. In order to alleviate the congestion in the area, Henry and his staff eventually moved the shot, discus and hammer cages outside of the stadium to the practice fields. Due to safety concerns, the hammer and discus events will continue to be held at the practice field.


In just two years, sophomore Ariel Burr has cemented herself as the greatest quarter-miler in UNM women's history. After breaking the school's 16-year old indoor record in February, Burr shattered her own outdoor record in the 400 by 0.68 seconds last week at the Mt. SAC Relays. The 5-4 Burr won the Olympic Development section of the event with a time of 53.48, the fastest in the Mountain West Conference this year and over a second under the NCAA regional qualifying standard. Next month the two-time indoor/outdoor all-MWC honoree will attempt to become just the third UNM woman ever to win a conference title in the 400 outdoors, joining Arline Smith (2001) and Shannon Vessup (1983).

A 2004 graduate of tiny Carrizozo High School (town population 1,043) in southeast New Mexico, Burr dominated the class 1A competition throughout her prep career, capturing 14 individual gold medals and an additional four relay titles in state track meet appearances. She was the top 100 and 400-meter runner in any class as a senior.


The University of New Mexico track and field program boasts an elite tradition of excellence that has included 11 national championship event victories, 70 All-America honors, 19 national top-25 team finishes, 197 conference championship event victories and five conference titles. While many of the architects of the New Mexico's track and field tradition made their mark in the 1960s and `70s, several current Lobos have grown up with a unique appreciation of the program's proud history. Five athletes on the 2006 roster are second generation members of the Lobo track and field program, many of whom can still see their surnames prominently displayed in the UNM record books.

Sophomore Kristan Matison is the daughter of one of New Mexico's finest sprinters, Rene Matison, who earned All-America honors in the 100-yard dash and as part of the 440-yard relay in 1966. Matison was also a member of four Western Athletic Conference champion relay teams and played a year of football for the Lobos before being drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys in 1969. Matison's name is also in the UNM record books as he anchored the record-setting 4x100y relay team and matched the fastest 100-yard time ever recorded at UNM. In 2006, he has continued to make an impact on the program with the founding the UNM Track & Field Alumni Club.

Fellow sophomore Jarrin Solomon can also find his family name featured throughout the history of New Mexico track and field thanks to the efforts of his father Michael Solomon. The elder Solomon was a two-time All-American and the 600-yard champion at the 1977 NCAA Indoor Championships. From 1974-77, Solomon claimed four-straight 600 titles, one 440 crown, was a member of the Lobos' three-time WAC champion mile relay team indoors and part of the outdoor record-setting 4x400m relay team. Solomon was also a two-time Olympian, competing at the 1976 Montreal games and 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Kurt Henry is another second-year Lobo who has been in surrounded by UNM track and field tradition his entire life. His dad, Matt Henry, is the fifth-year head coach at New Mexico, a former All-American for the Lobos and member of four WAC Champion relay teams. Kurt's uncle Mark was also a letterwinner for UNM and is currently the associate head coach, while his grandfather Bub and great-grandfather Gwinn have a legacy of success in UNM athletics that goes back to the 1930s.

Sophomore Erik Coleman is a second generation UNM distance runner whose father, Ed Coleman, who was the Lobos' first conference cross country champion, claiming the WAC title in 1963. Coleman was also a three-time all-WAC runner between 1963-65. Rookie thrower Briana Paxton's mother, Laurie, competed for the UNM women's team.

So far the cherry and silver genes appear to be paying off for the second generation Lobos. Matison was an all-MWC honoree in the 100m dash last spring and last week clocked an altitude-adjusted time of 11.80, the fastest of Matt Henry's tenure in the event. She leads the team once again in both the 100 (4th Mountain West) 200 (12th MWC) and also helped the 4x100m relay team clock its fastest time since 2000 with a 46.12 at Arizona. Solomon was the MWC runner-up in the 400 last spring and is currently ranked third in the league with a time of 47.18. He qualified for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship meet for the second straight season and also has the UNM 4x100 and 4x400 teams both ranked among the top-3 in the MWC. Henry, meanwhile, earned all-conference honors with Solomon in the 4x400m relay last year and continues to be a key member of the long relay team. He is also the Lobos' top 800 runner this spring. Coleman has given New Mexico another weapon in the 3,000-meter steeplechase while Paxton is one of the team's top young throwers.


Throughout UNM head coach Matt Henry's six years at the helm of track and field, the men's team has maintained close ties with Rocky Long's Lobo football program. Long has allowed any players in good academic standing to train and compete with track team after completing their spring football commitments.

Since 2001, eight scholarship football players have competed for the UNM track team, including five on associate head coach Mark Henry's sprint crew. Over the past five years, the Lobo football players have combined to earn all-MWC honors nine times (all outdoors), including a high jump title by former wide receiver Hank Baskett III in 2004.

Four active or former UNM football players are on the 2006 roster: seniors Aaron Brack (sprints), Jerrell Malone (sprints) and Mike Powdrell (jumps) and junior Marcus Smith (sprints). Brack and Powdrell were the first football players under Matt Henry to compete indoors this past winter. Brack set the UNM indoor record in the 60 (6.88) and finished fourth in the event at the MWC meet, while Powdrell combined for five points in the high jump (T4th) and long jump (8th). Malone joined the team after the MWC Indoor Championships and Smith, the only active player on the team, will hit the track in late April after spring football practice ends.

The following is a list of the scholarship football players who have competed under Henry:

WR Hank Baskett (2002-04):
3-time all-MWC (high jump), `03 MWC Champion

WR Aaron Brack (2005-current):
MWC 60m/100m finalist, UNM 60m record holder

WR Larry Davis (2001):
2-time all-MWC (200m/4x100m relay), UNM indoor 200m record holder

CB Jerrell Malone (current):
First season

DT Guillermo Morrison (2003):
all-MWC (discus)

WR/CB Mike Powdrell (2002-current):
all-MWC (high jump)

WR Marcus Smith (2005-current):
MWC 100m/200m finalist

RB Quincy Wright (2002-03):
2-time all-MWC (100m/4x100m relay)


Sixth-year assistant coach Scott Steffan has established one of the premier men's and women's pole vaulting programs in the nation at New Mexico. A former teammate of three-time All-American and school record holder Simon Arkell, Steffan rebuilt the vault crew from the ground up after returning to Albuquerque. Under his watch, three New Mexico pole vaulters have competed at the NCAA Indoor Championship meet with junior Robert Caldwell earning All-America honors in 2006. UNM has also had at least three athletes qualify for the NCAA Regional meet outdoors every year since 2003. The Lobo vaulters have also earned all-MWC honors seven times since 2003. Since 2002, UNM has boasted seven 16-foot vaulters on the men's side, including three that have cleared 17 feet. Five women have surpassed the 12 foot mark, including two over 13 feet. Four have also been nationally ranked in the event by Trackwire.com

Led by NCAA Championship qualifiers Derek Mackel and Robert Caldwell, the Lobo vaulters enjoyed their best indoor season in 2006. Mackel (17-11.00), Caldwell (17-07.25) and sophomore Whitney Johnson (13-01.50) all surpassed the NCAA provisional qualifying standard with career-best marks. Meanwhile, senior Zach Bingham (16-00.00), sophomore Zach Graham (16-02.75), junior Nicole Huyge (12-00.75) and junior Stefany Setliff (11-07.00), a first-year vaulter, all recorded their career bests during the winter.

For more about the Lobos' vaunted vaulters, check out the group's website, dedicated to pole vaulting in New Mexico: www.nmpv.com


While most UNM track and field athletes enjoyed success in additional sports during their high school careers, three Lobos also received high honors in the martial arts. Senior Jamie Fishencord, the UNM record holder and an all-MWC honoree in the hammer throw, is a black belt in Shotokan karate. Senior pole vaulter Derek Mackel, a two-time all-MWC selection, has a second degree black belt in tae kwon do and freshman thrower Briana Paxton is a first degree black belt in tae kwon do.