June 21, 2012
By Mike Mulcahy
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For every track and field athlete, there are trials and tribulations.
But for some athletes, it's just Trials.
Over the next ten days, 13 University of New Mexico athletes past and present will compete at their respective country's Olympic Trials in an effort to make their national team for the 2012 Summer Olympics to be held in London later this summer.
Of those 13, six are currently on the New Mexico roster, while the other seven are mix of some of UNM's most storied athletes of the last five years.
Trying out at the Trials this weekend are Kendall Spencer and Floyd Ross for the US; Sam Evan, Ross Millington, Imogen Ainsworth, Sarah Waldron, Lee Emanuel, David Bishop, Rory Fraser, Keith Gerrard and Carolyn Boosey for the UK; Django Lovett for Canada; and Jarrin Solomon for Trinidad and Tobago.
U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS
Spencer, the 2012 NCAA indoor long jump champion, and Ross, the 2012 NCAA outdoor triple jump runner up, have seen considerable success the past few months. Spencer, out of San Mateo, Calif., lead the nation in the long jump for over a month, and Ross, originally from Memphis, Tenn., has picked up first-team All-American honors both indoors and outdoors.
Spencer also has a shot to make it to London if he can improve on his 26-foot, 8.25-inch (8.13-meters) personal record. In order to make the US team, Spencer would need to at least jump an extra seven centimeters to reach 8.20 meters and finish top three in the long jump at the Trials.
Ross could also qualify, but would need to set a new PR to do so. With a career best of 54-6 (16.61m), Ross would have to jump over five inches more than his PR to even be in contention for qualifying. Nonetheless, Ross—who sleeps in his track uniform the night before competing—has set PRs at his past two meets and could duplicate those results once more.
U.K. OLYMPIC TRIALS
Across the pond, a number of current and former Lobos are trying their hands at earning a place in London. Led by current New Mexico athletes Ross Millington, Sam Evans and Imogen Ainsworth and recently graduated Lobo Sarah Waldron, these track standouts all can challenge the field at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, England.
Millington, who owns the school and conference record in the 3000-meter run, is aiming to advance in the 5000. With a personal best of 13:36.39, the senior from Stockport, England, isn't too far off the Olympic A Standard needed to qualify. The two-time All-American also has experience, having competed at three NCAA Championships.
Evans is another athlete who could have an impact over the weekend. Competing in the 1500, Evans owns a PR of 3:43 95 and ranks ninth all-time at New Mexico. The senior from Stafford, England, is also the reigning Mountain West champ in the metric mile.
Like Evans, senior Imogen Ainsworth could also make a splash at the Trials—both literally and figuratively. Competing in the 3000 steeplechase (which is renowned for its water jump), the London native heads to Birmingham with a PR of 10:34.81 (altitude adjusted; 10:51.72 raw) that ranks fifth all-time in UNM history.
Recently graduated, Sarah Waldron is looking to continue her hot streak into the Olympics. Riding a 2012 campaign that saw her pick up two All-American nods, Waldron and her personal record of 15:37.49 in the 5000 could end up in London. The Puddleston, England, product also owns the New Mexico record in the 5K and the 10K.
CANADIAN OLYMPIC TRIALS
The only Canadian on the roster, Django Lovett is looking to reach new heights in the high jump at the 2012 Canadian Track & Field Trials in Calgary, Alberta.
A junior from Surrey, British Columbia, Lovett is also the youngest Lobo to attend the Trials. Nonetheless, Lovett, who owns a PR of 7 feet, 2 inches (2.18m) in the high jump, has competed at the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the first Lobo to compete at any national championship in the high jump since 1992.
Lovett was also nominated for the Canadian Youth Athlete of the Year in 2009 and is the Canadian youth high jump record holder.
FORMER LOBOS AT THE TRIALS
Excepting the recently-graduated Waldron, six additional former Lobo athletes will compete at their nation's Olympic Trials.
Lee Emanuel (1500-meter run) leads the pack of past Lobo greats at the UK Trials, which also includes David Bishop (1500), Rory Fraser (5000), Keith Gerrard (10000), and Carolyn Boosey (3000 steeplechase).
Jarrin Solomon (400) will compete at the Trinidad and Tobago Trials.
Emmanuel, who won back-to-back national titles in the mile for UNM in 2009 and 2010, holds a PR of 3.37.25, while Bishop has a very similar career mark in the 1500 of 3:37.51. Both are less than three seconds off an Olympic A Standard.
Fraser will head to Birmingham with a personal record of 13:27.70 in the 5K while Gerrard owns a PR of 13:50.06.
Boosey rolls into the Trials with a season best of 10:38.57 in the steeplechase. Her career best, set back in 2006, is 10:35.99.
Solomon, who is originally from Albuquerque, will try to follow his father, a former Olympian for Trinidad and Tobago, as he competes in the 400. He should be able to make the small Caribbean nation's 4x400 relay team.
SCHEDULE AND MEDIA COVERAGE
The US Team Trials will take place from June 22 to July 1. Spencer will jump tomorrow, June 22, and Floyd will compete next week on June 28. The US Trials will be broadcast on NBC and NBC Sport Network. More information can be found here.
The British Trials also start July 22, but end two days later on July 24. Evans, Emanuel and Bishop have preliminary competition on Friday, while Millington, Ainsworth, Waldron, Fraser, Gerrard and Boosey will run on June 24. The trials will be broadcast live on the BBC on July 23 and July 24.
Lovett will compete next week, with the preliminary round on June 28.
Check back here for updates on the Lobos, including athletes advancing to the finals of the Trials and to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.