April 1, 2007
TUCSON, Ariz. - If the final day of March was any indication, the University of New Mexico track and field team should turn some heads in April. The Lobos put together their most impressive performance of the season on Saturday, winning six events and recording two NCAA regional qualifying marks at the Arizona International meet in Tucson. Later that night at the elite Stanford Invitational, seniors Jeremy Johnson and Timmie Murphy secured their first trips to the Midwest Regional Championships with a pair of sizzling times in the 5,000 meters.
Murphy finished fifth (fourth among collegiate runners) in section 2 of the women's 5,000 with a time of 16:28.03 - the fastest in seventh-year head coach Matt Henry's tenure. The Farmington, N.M. native's performance was over 45 seconds faster than her previous best in the event, which she recorded in 2004.
Johnson, meanwhile, placed ninth (sixth among collegiate runners) in the section 1 race with a time of 13:50.85. The Albuquerque Manzano High School product smashed his previous personal record in the 5,000 by more than 30 seconds. Johnson's time was second only to All-American Matt Gonzales in Henry's seven years at UNM.
Earlier in Tucson, the large New Mexico contingent made its presence felt in almost every event.
Junior Jarrin Solomon scorched the 400-meter field with a career-best and NCAA regional qualifying time of 46.42. Solomon finished 0.13 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Arizona State senior and six-time All-American Domenik Peterson, as he recorded the fastest time by a Lobo since 1991. Solomon also shaved 0.39 seconds off his previous best in the event, which he recorded at the 2006 Mountain West Conference Championship meet, en route to his third career outdoor victory.
Senior Randle McCain finished sixth in the 400 with a career-best time of 48.67, while sophomore Taylor Siemon was seventh with a time of 48.76. Solomon, McCain, Siemon and junior Kurt Henry later teamed to record a time of 3:10.72 in a second place finish in the 4x400-meter relay. The MWC indoor champions finished 1.02 seconds behind Arizona State and came within 0.72 second of the NCAA regional qualifying standard as they clocked the Lobos' fastest time in the event since 2003.
New Mexico freshman Brian Vallie picked up his first outdoor victory in the 800, crossing the finish line in 1:53.18. Junior teammate Karl Kalm was second in his first career outdoor race, clocking at time of 1:54.58. Senior Dylan Rose-Coss, meanwhile, continued his strong 2007 campaign, earning his first collegiate victory in the 1,500 with a time of 4:06.15.
On the women's side, sophomore Vanessa Strobbe smashed her previous best in the javelin by over four feet as she won the even with a throw of 142' 5". With sophomore teammate and MWC javelin leader Katie Coronado taking the week off, Strobbe stepped up to earn her first career victory in the event.
Freshman Alesha Walker, meanwhile, won the long jump for the second time in three meets, recording a top mark of 19' 2 1/2". Fellow rookie Vanessa Ortiz cruised to victory in her collegiate debut outdoors, winning the 3,000 meters with a time of 10:35.11. The MWC Cross Country Freshman of the Year, Ortiz missed virtually the entire indoor season with nagging injuries.
Sophomore Christina Zarrella picked up the sixth win for the Lobos on Saturday, taking the 800-meter run with a time of 2:16.48. A 400-meter specialist last year, Zarrella's victory was the first of her collegiate career.
Other New Mexico highlights from the Arizona International included:
-Junior Domnick Meadows flying a career-best 48' 6 3/4" in a second place finish in the men's triple jump...Meadows' mark was 1 foot, 5 inches beyond his previous best in the event.
-Junior Tiyana Peters recording an NCAA regional qualifying mark of 5' 8 3/4" in the women's high jump (second place) for the second straight week.
-Junior Kristan Matison finishing second in the women's 100 meters with a season-best time of 12.05.
-Junior Ariel Burr finishing second in the women's 200 meters with a season-best time of 24.49.
-Senior KC Pritchard clocking a career-best time of 58.59 en route to a fourth place finish in the women's 400 meters.
-The women's 4x400-meter relay team of Burr, Pritchard, Zarrella and freshman Kim Perkins clocking a season-best time of 3:49.69 in a third place finish.
-Senior Stefany Setliff finishing second in the women's pole vault with a career-best height of 11' 11 3/4".
-Sophomore Hagit Salamon finishing second in the women's triple jump with a mark of 39' 4".
-Sophomore Briana Paxton recording a career-best mark of 43' 1/2" en route to a fourth place finish in the women's shot put.
-Freshman Jeremy Newland finishing second in both the 3,000 meters (9:15.80) and 3,000-meter steeplechase (season-best 9:43.43).