March 12, 2013
NEW ORLEANS — Two championships in, and the Lobos are on the right track.
The University of New Mexico men's cross country and track & field teams stand in 18th place in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's John McDonnell Program of the Year award standings for the 2012-2013 academic year. After placing 49th at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend, the Lobos are in position to notch their fourth-consecutive recognition for the award.
Lead by head coach Joe Franklin, the Lobos have combined to gain 72 points and sit in 18th in the current standings, which account for the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships and 2013 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.
At the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships, the Lobos were paced to a 21st-place finish by junior Luke Caldwell, who finished 27th individually and earned All-American status. With standout Adam Bitchell battling illness, New Mexico relied on Elmar Engholm (85th place), Sam Evans (126th), Patrick Zacharias (133rd) and Donovan Torres (223rd) to record its fourth-straight NCAA finish.
Caldwell again performed well for the Lobos at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, finishing eighth in the 5,000-meter run to receive an All-American nod from the USTFCCCA. Alongside fellow First-Team All-American Floyd Ross, who took eighth in the triple jump, New Mexico placed 49th as a team and scored for the fifth-consecutive year at the national championships.
The only championship left to determine the final standing for the Program of the Year award is the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held June 5-8, in Eugene, Ore.
The Lobos also finished in the final standing for the award the past three years, dating back to 2010. Last year, New Mexico placed a program-best 11th, with a 31st-place finish in cross country, a 15th-place finish in indoor track and a 33rd-place finish in outdoor track.
In 2011, New Mexico finished the season ranked 14th (16th in cross country, 50th in indoor track, and 41st in outdoor track), and in 2010 the Lobos also placed 11th (8th in cross country, 8th in indoor track, 55th in outdoor track).
New Mexico is one of only four schools to with the chance to finish in the final standings each of the last four years. Stanford, Florida State and Texas are also in position to accomplish this feat.
Presented annually, the NCAA Division I Program of the Year Award recognizes the most outstanding cross country and track & field programs in Division I based on the institution's performance through the academic year. Final standings are predicated on the institution's combined finishes at the NCAA Division I Championships in cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field.
To be eligible for the award, teams must qualify for all three NCAA Championships. Scores for award are calculated from the team's each finish at those championships (i.e., first place earns one point, second place two points, 31st place 31 points, etc.). The team with the lowest total score for all three championships receives the award.
Only 18 men's teams have scored at the first two 2012-2013 championships. Wisconsin is leading through two with five combined points, while Oklahoma State (9 points) and Arkansas (11) round out the top three.
The Lobos will return to action in two weeks with their outdoor-season opener, the UTEP Springtime Invitational on March 23 in El Paso, Texas.