March 8, 2012
By Mike Mulcahy
NAMPA, Idaho - Idaho, for the most part, is known for its potatoes and its gems.
However, potatoes and gems will most likely be the last thing on the mind of the University of New Mexico track and field team.
In fact, it's more accurate to say that the Lobos participating at the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships in Nampa, Idaho, are not small potatoes, but well-polished gemstones.
After months of practicing and competing, five talented New Mexico athletes will take the trip up to the Gem State this Friday and Saturday to showcase their talents on the national stage.
On the men's side, senior Ross Millington (3,000-meter run) and juniors Kendall Spencer (long jump) and Floyd Ross (triple jump) are competing as the nation's best. For the women, senior Sarah Waldron (5,000m) and junior Josephine Moultrie (mile) are vying to prove they are elite as well.
Millington, a Stockport, England, native, punched his ticket three weeks ago at the Washington Husky Classic with a NCAA Automatic Qualifying mark in the 3,000m of 7:49.11. He goes into his second-straight NCAA Indoors with what is not only the fifth fastest time in the nation in the 3000m, but also a Mountain West and New Mexico record.
Spencer, a San Mateo, Calif., product, secured his berth with a 25-foot, 7.5-inch leap in the long jump recorded two weeks ago at the Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Championships. Like Millington's, Spencer's mark is both fifth in the nation, a school record and a conference record.
Ross, a transfer from Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan., earned his place with a 51-11.75 mark in the triple jump tallied at the Alex Wilson Invitational this past week. The Memphis, Tenn., product owns the 13th best jump in the nation with that mark.
Waldron gained admission to the NCAA Championships with a 15:59.93 time in the 5000m she registered last week at the Alex Wilson Invite. While she was on the outside looking in with the 16th best mark in the land (as typically only the top 14 are selected), the Puddleston, England, native made her way into the field.
Moultrie was also on the bubble over the weekend, as her school-record 4:38.37 time in the mile was 20th nationally. Nonetheless, the junior out of Glasgow, Scotland, was selected to compete, giving her another chance to continue her torrid pace through the UNM record books.
This will be the fourth consecutive year New Mexico has sent at least four athletes to the NCAA Championships. In 2011 and 2009, four individuals and a distance medley relay team qualified. In 2010, four athletes competed.
The five competitors going this year will mark the most individuals the Lobos have ever sent to an NCAA Indoor Championship.
The Lobos also look to build on the success the last three years have had. Three years ago, New Mexico notched a trio of All-Americans, and upped that in 2010 with four All-Americans. Last year, Joe Franklin's squad posted two All-Americans with every participant placing in the top 15 in their respective events.
The meet starts Friday at 10 a.m. with the running of the heptathlon 60m dash and continues Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with the heptathlon 60m hurdles.
The Lobos will compete on Friday at 5:15 p.m. (men's long jump) and 8:25 p.m. (women's 5000m). They will follow that up on Saturday with action at 5:30 p.m. (men's triple jump), 6:25 p.m. (women's mile) and 7:55 p.m. (men's 3000m).
Live results will be available on RecordTiming.com and the meet will be streamed live on ESPN3 on Friday from 5:30-9:45 p.m. and Saturday from 6-9:15 p.m. A tape delay of the championship will also air Sunday, March 18 at 5:30 p.m. on ESPNU.