May 29, 2004
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Senior Mark Johnson made the most of his first appearance at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships, a meet he hopes will serve as a tune-up for a potential decathlon competition at the outdoor national championships. Johnson, who was ranked 17th entering the meet, skied a personal best 16-05.25 to finish tied for ninth in the men's pole vault. The Fontana, Wisc. native is on the bubble to be selected to make his NCAA Championship debut in two weeks in the decathlon, where he is ranked No. 23 in the nation.
Johnson's performance led an up-and-down performance by the Lobos on Saturday. Junior Amanda Barnes was unable to repeat her performance in winning the Mountain West Conference shot put title two weeks ago, finishing ninth in the regional field. Barnes recorded her top mark of 48-10.75 on her first attempt, fouling on both her third and final throws. Her MWC-winning toss of 50-11.00 would have secured her place in the national championship meet as the fifth and final qualifier finished with a mark of 50-07.50.
In other event action, junior Veronica Gonzales placed 13th in the javelin (142-10), followed by teammate Kayla Brown, who was 21st (123-02). Senior Jason Barkemeyer concluded his stellar Lobo career by placing 27th in the discus (166-02), while freshman Robert Caldwell and junior Derek Mackel did not clear the minimum height in the pole vault.
While Johnson awaits his fate, junior Matt Gonzales is the lone Lobo guaranteed to continue his season. Gonzales will compete in the 5,000-meter run at the elite U.S. Open on Sunday night in Stanford, Calif. The Santa Fe native will look for his first national title in two weeks when he competes in the 10,000 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas.