Oct. 31, 2009
OREM, Utah - It was all New Mexico this morning at the Cascade Golf Course as the Lobos swept the men's and women's Mountain West Conference Cross Country titles, defeating nationally-ranked hosts BYU in both races. Third-year head coach Joe Franklin led the 20th-ranked UNM women to their second straight MWC championship, while the No. 19 men stunned the seventh-ranked Cougars to win their first conference title since 1988.
Franklin was named both men's and women's MWC Coach of the Year as New Mexico swept conference crowns for the first time in school history.
"It's a great day to be a Lobo and both teams winning makes for a fun flight home," said Franklin. "Last year we were happy for the women, but sad for the men after they finished third. This year we're all having a great time."
The men's team put together its best performance of the year as each of the Lobos' five scoring runners defeated his Cougar counterpart en route to a 29-34 victory. New Mexico avenged a five-point loss to BYU two years earlier in Albuquerque, breaking through to win its first MWC title and sixth conference cross country championship overall. The Lobos won Western Athletic Conference titles in 1963, '65, '66, '68 and '88.
Senior Jacob Kirwa outkicked BYU's Miles Batty to win the individual title and MWC Runner of the Year honors with an MWC record time of 23:34.5 over the 8K course. It was also the fastest 6K ever run by a Lobo at a conference championship meet.
Kirwa became the second New Mexico runner in three years to win the MWC men's title and third Lobo champion in Mountain West history. Jeremy Johnson won the 2007 title in Albuquerque and Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott was the 2004 champion in San Diego.
Kirwa had plenty of help, however, as a record three Lobos earned first team all-MWC honors. Senior Chris Barnicle finished fourth with a time of 23:51.2 in his MWC cross country debut, while fellow senior David Bishop finished sixth with a time of 24:03.3. Bishop improved 13 spots on his 2008 performance.
Senior Rory Fraser turned in his best race of the year, placing eighth (24:14.6) to lead a trio of UNM runners on the all-MWC second team. True freshman Ross Millington continued his stellar season, passing several BYU runners over the final 2,000 meters to finish 10th (24:18.5). Millington capped the Lobo scoring with the best finish by a freshman in the field. The men's scoring five were separated by a season-low 44 seconds.
Senior Lee Emanuel was 14th (24:44.9) to earn all-MWC accolades for the first time in cross country. The 2009 NCAA mile champion was 22nd at the MWC Championships last year. Redshirt freshman Allen Pittman (20th - 25:07.4), meanwhile, gave New Mexico seven runners in the top-20
"This was the first time all year where we all fired at the same time," said Franklin. "We've been kind of up and down all season, but today everybody that we needed to have a big race had a big race. Jacob did exactly what I thought he could do and Chris and Dave were right there with the lead pack too. Rory had his best performance of the year and Ross Millington was huge for us down the stretch."
The victory ended the Cougars' five-year MWC championship run as UNM joined Air Force (2003) as the only teams to defeat BYU in the league's 11-year history.
It was New Mexico's lowest score at a conference meet since the 1965 team won the Western Athletic Conference title with 27 points.
After the Lobos' narrow victory in 2008, the women's race was much less dramatic this year. UNM relied on its outstanding depth to calmly and patiently hand eight-time champion BYU its worst loss in Mountain West history, 24-45.
New Mexico went 2-3-4 and had a record four women finish among the top seven to earn first team all-MWC honors. The Lobos' five scoring runners were separated by a remarkable 25 seconds.
BYU's Cecily Lemmon Lew won with a time of 20:47.4, but the UNM trio finished 13 seconds ahead of the No. 2 Cougar and New Mexico put all five scoring runners ahead of BYU's No. 3 to win going away.
Senior Ashley Gibson improved a remarkable 17 spots from 2008 to finish seventh (21:31.7) and earn first team all-MWC honors in her breakthrough final season. Junior Vanessa Ortiz turned in her finest MWC performance as well, placing eighth (21:36.3) to lead a group of three Lobos on the all-MWC second team. Ortiz, who redshirted all of 2008-09, was 18th at both the 2006 and '07 MWC Championship meets.
Senior Carolyn Boosey continued to work her way back from injury with a solid 12th place finish (21:56.2), while junior transfer Delyth James was 13th (22:02.7) in her MWC debut. True freshman Janna Mitsos (19th - 22:30.1) gave the Lobos eight runners in the top-20.
"The women's team ran a patient, strong race, but I never would've guessed the margin of victory would be that big," said Franklin. "Again, our No. 5 runner was outstanding with Vanessa Ortiz having a great day. To beat an NCAA qualifier in (Colorado State's) Kristin Hemphill and last year's champion Angela Wagner (of BYU) was phenomenal."
New Mexico Accolades At The 2009 MWC Cross Country ChampionshipsJoe Franklin - Men's & Women's Coach of the Year
Sr. Jacob Kirwa - Men's Runner of the Year
Fr. Ross Millington - Men's Freshman of the Year
Men's First Team All-MWC (3)Sr. Jacob Kirwa
Sr. Chris Barnicle
Sr. David Bishop
Women's First Team All-MWC (4)Jr. Ruth Senior
Sr. Nicky Archer
So. Lacey Oeding
Sr. Ashley Gibson
Men's Second Team All-MWC (3)Sr. Rory Fraser
Fr. Ross Millington
Sr. Lee Emanuel
Women's Second Team All-MWC (3)Jr. Vanessa Ortiz
Sr. Carolyn Boosey
Jr. Delyth James