May 21, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas — After fighting all season for postseason bids, a handful of Lobos are one meet away from the NCAA Championships.
All they need to do is advance.
The University of New Mexico track and field team is sending 18 athletes to the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Preliminary Championships competition this weekend, May 23-25.
The Lobos will send nine men and nine women to the NCAA West Preliminary Round at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas, with the goal of placing in the top 12 of their respective events.
A top-12 finish at the preliminary rounds—which are split between the West region in Texas and the East region in Greensboro, N.C.—advances a competitor to next month's NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.
“Everybody has a shot to make it to the national championships,” New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said. “Out of the 18 that are going, I think we can have people in position to make the top 12.”
However, getting in position is easier said than done.
“This is competition at its best,” Franklin said. “Some races are going to be fast, some are going to be slow. But it's all about what place you're in. It's not about distance, it's about winning.”
With 48 athletes entered in each individual event, the Lobos are looking to perform as the best of the west and advance as many athletes as they can.
For the men, nine Lobos will try their hands at moving on, with Luke Caldwell leading the charge.
Caldwell, a four-time Mountain West individual champion, will aim for the NCAA Championships in the 5000-meter run. The New Mexico record-holder in the 5K, Caldwell heads to Austin with the second-ranked seed time of 13 minutes, 29.94 seconds.
Patrick Zacharias, the MW runner-up in the outdoor 5000, is also entered. His seed time, 14:01.65, is 34th at the prelim round.
Herring, who won both the indoor and outdoor MW titles this year in the 800, is seeded 16th. His time of 1:49.06, which ranks ninth all-time at UNM, is also a lifetime best.
Engholm, a freshman from Sweden, is seeded 44th in the steeplechase with his MW-championship time of 8:59.16. He also ranks seventh in the Lobo record books and is aiming to be the first Lobo to qualify to the NCAA Championships in the steeplechase since 1983.
Out in the field, New Mexico is loaded with more considerable talent capable of advancing.
Kendall Spencer, the 2012 NCAA indoor long jump champion, is looking to make up for missing the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year. Despite entering the prelim round with the nation's third-best mark last year, Spencer couldn't advance.
However, this year, Spencer is primed for a better showing in the long jump, and has the meet's 17th-best distance of 25-feet, ½ inch.
Three additional preliminary-round veterans are competing this weekend as well.
Django Lovett will look to go three-for-three on NCAA Championship appearances in the high jump as he puts his 18th-ranked seed mark of 7 ½ to the test.
Floyd Ross and Ty Kirk, who both participated last year at the prelims, are both entered in the triple jump. Ross enters with a seed mark of 51-2 ¾, while Kirk takes in a seed mark of 49-8 ¼. The pair are seeded 20th and 42nd, respectively.
The final man competing, Robert Warensjo, locked up his prelim-round bid in the pole vault with a 16-8 ¾ clearance at the MW Championships last month. He is seeded 45th.
On the women's side, six distance standouts and three top-notch jumpers will represent UNM out in Texas.
Heading the charge for the women is the Lobos' stellar mid-distance trio of Josephine Moultrie, Charlotte Arter and Chloe Anderson. The threesome, all competing in the 1500, finished 1-2-3 in the metric mile at the MW Championships last week.
Moultrie enters with the fourth-best seed (and school record) of 4:14:44, while Arter enters with the 11th-best seed (and previous school record) of 4:16.94. Anderson's time of 4:24.40 is seeded 31st.
Also competing for the women on the track are Janna Mitsos and Shawna Winnegar in the 5000. Both have set new personal records in the 5K this season, with Mitsos (16:28.46) seeded 41st and Winnegar (16:28.64) seeded 42nd.
Imogen Ainsworth is also slated to compete in the 3000 steeplechase with her personal-record time of 10:27.13. Ranked second all-time at UNM in the steeplechase, Ainsworth heads to Austin as the No. 30 seed.
Out in the field, three more Lobos are ready for action.
Amber Menke and Margo Tucker are aiming high in the pole vault. Menke, the MW runner-up in the outdoor pole vault, takes in the 24th-ranked seed mark (13-3 ½), while Tucker, the school record-holder, brings the 38th-ranked seed mark (12-11 ½).
The Lobo women have never qualified a pole vaulter to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and have two entered in the prelims for the first time since in two years (also Menke and Tucker).
Also for the first time since 2011, New Mexico will send a horizontal jumper on the women's side. Yeshemabet Turner is entered in the long jump and triple jump, where she is ranked 21st in the long (20-2 ½) and 16th in the triple (41-11 ¼). She ranks sixth in New Mexico history in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump.
The meet kicks off Thursday at 11 a.m. MT with the field events and the running events at 3:30 p.m. MT. Lobos competing on Thursday include Spencer (12:30 p.m. MT); Moultrie, Arter and Anderson (4:30 p.m. MT); Lovett (5 p.m. MT); Turner (5 p.m. MT); and Herring (7:35 p.m. MT).
The meet will continue through Friday and concludes around 8:45 p.m. MT on Saturday.
Check back each day for a quick recap on the Lobos' action and again on Saturday for a full recap.