Feb. 25, 2012
By Mike Mulcahy
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - You can't win them all.
But you can certainly do your best.
The University of New Mexico track and field squad tried its best to win the gold at the Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend, but had the women finish second with 116 team points and the men finish third with 141 team points.
And while an indoor conference championship was not hoisted by the cherry and silver of New Mexico, the Lobos still had one of their best meets of indoor season, as they notched 50 top-ten finishes, six individual championships and four school records at the three-day meet hosted by UNM at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
The men had a strong performance as a team, posting their most team points in a Mountain West indoor championship ever, besting their old mark of 123.5 points.
"Going into the meet, I thought we'd have to have a miracle to get close," Head Coach Joe Franklin said. "So to have an opportunity and get there I thought was a good accomplishment."
Headlining the New Mexico effort for the men were the jumps, as the Lobos combined for two gold medals and a new school record.
In the long jump, sophomore Kendall Spencer leapt 25'-7.5" to secure first and snap the 29-year old school record of 25'-7.25" set in 1983 by Dwayne Rudd. This mark also surpassed the MW conference mark of 25'-6.25" set in 2002 by BYU's Aron Szmuda and qualified Spencer for the Olympic trials.
"Kendall has now put himself in the elite level of the long jump," Franklin said.
In the triple jump, junior Floyd Ross went 51'-7.25", placing first and registering the third best mark in UNM history. Kirk posted a 48'-4.5" jump for sixth.
Also contributing out in the field events for the men was sophomore pole vaulter Logan Pflibsen, whose 17'1" mark was good for second.
The field events were also a strong source of team points for New Mexico, with five Lobos finishing top-three in seven events.
Sensational freshman Beejay Lee, fresh off of smashing the old school record in the 60m two weeks ago, finished second in both the 60m (6.78s) and 200m (21.50s). He was joined in the finals of the 60m by senior Lamaar Thomas and the aforementioned Spencer, who both clocked raw times of 6.89 and 6.94, respectively.
Sophomore Gabe Aragon registered his own victory in the 800m, as he notched a 1:51.24 raw time. Fellow sophomores James Senior and JP Cordova also finished top-ten, with Senior posting a 1:52.59 raw time for sixth and Cordova a 1:52.63 time for seventh.
In the mile run, senior Ross Millington raced out to his own gold-medal finish with a 4:07.23 raw time. He was joined by sophomore Sam Evans (4:12.33, 3rd) and senior Matt Everett (4:15.23, 6th) in gaining additional team points for the Lobo men.
Junior Sean Stam tallied another medal, going for silver in the 3000m with an 8:42.57 raw time. Millington also ran in the 3000m, notching an 8:42.57 raw time for a ninth-place finish.
In the final distance race, the 5000m, Stam again went for silver with a 14:38.72 raw time. Senior Nicholas Kipruto and freshman Pierre Malherbe competed as well, with Kipruto finishing in fourth with a 14:50.79 raw time and Malherbe finishing tenth with a 15:12.68 raw time.
Also pacing the Lobos in the track events was junior De'Vron Walker, whose 8.07 raw time in the 60m hurdles was good enough for a fifth-place finish.
Both relay squads also added some points to the Lobo effort. The men's distance medley relay team of Kipruto, junior Derek Montoya, Everett and Evans combined to finish third with a 10:10.31 raw mark. The 4x400m relay team of Montoya, Evans, York and Aragon was able to place fifth with a 3:19.17 time.
The women also had a strong overall performance, as they posted both their highest finish and the most team points in a MW indoor championship.
The highlight for the women overall was the performance in the track events, where six Lobos were able to win silver or gold.
Junior Josephine Moultrie, having broken the school records in the 800m and the mile, was able to eclipse her mark in the 800m. Her raw time of 2:09.27 just barely edged her record (and altitude-adjusted time) time of 2:09.27. (Raw times in the 800m have a small amount of time removed due to the relative difficulties of running at altitude.) She was also able to claim victory in the mile run with her 5:07.80 raw time.
Imogen Ainsworth, Kirsty Milner, and Emma Reed were also able to finish top ten in the mile, with Ainsworth finishing second with a 5:10.87 raw time, Milner finishing fifth with a 5:13.73 time and Reed finishing tenth with a 5:21.80 time.
"If you look at her last year, her improvement has been substantial," Franklin said of Pitts.
In the 3K, Waldron placed third with a 9:53.11 time, Oeding placed seventh with a 10:02.82 time and Gray placed ninth with a 10:09.13 time. Ainsworth also placed in the 3000m, going fourth with a 9:54.33 time.
Oeding finished third in the 5000m with a 17:06.42 time, with Waldron (fourth, 17:08.72) and Gray (sixth, 17:24.43) joining her.
Precious Selmon, back for the first time in a month, also logged medaling finish, tallying an 8.53 time in the 60m hurdles for third.
Out in the field for the women, only five Lobos placed top-ten, with Amber Menke finishing the highest at second in the pole vault.
Menke's 13'-5.75" vault for good for silver, and also broke the school record she set two weeks ago of 13'-4.25". Sophomore Margo Tucker went for fifth with a mark of 12'-7.5".
Junior Marin Schweigert notched a 5'6" finish in the high jump, which earned her fifth.
Freshmen Yeshemabet Turner and Aasha Marler rounded out the women field event athletes in the top ten, as Turner's 39'-2.25" mark in the triple jump was good for fifth and Marler's 38'-6.25" mark was good for eighth.
Heptathlete Samantha Bowe performed well in her second heptathlon, finishing with bronze 3482 points.
The relays also produced solid points for and women, as both the distance medley relay and the 4x400m relay went for third. The DMR team of Milner, freshman Mickey Brown, Reed and Ainsworth finished in 12:03.99 and the 4x4 team of Brazley, senior Rachel Kelchner, Brown and Pitts combined for a 3:43.61 time.
The 4x4 time was also a school record, outdoing the 3:47.65 mark set by the same crew at this year's Cherry & Silver Invitational on Jan. 21.
The TCU women won the MW crown, registering 141 team points. In third was San Diego St. (97 points), followed by UNLV (88) in fourth, Boise State (69) in fifth, Colorado State (66) in sixth, Air Force (58) in seventh and Wyoming (27) in eighth.
Air Force's 156.5 team points won the championships for the men, with Boise State (154 points) in second, TCU (103) in fourth, Colorado State (64.5) in fifth and Wyoming (38 in sixth).
Air Force's Ralph Lindeman was named the Men's Coach of the Year, and Darryl Anderson of TCU was named Women's Coach of the Year.
Boise State's Kurt Felix earned the Men's Outstanding Performance for his work in the heptathlon, and the Women's Outstanding Performances went to Mele Vaisima from Boise State for her performance in the weight throw.
New Mexico's indoor season has concluded for most of the team, with a select few eyeing the NCAA Championships on March 9-10. A few more Lobos will try to punch their ticket to the national championship at the Notre Dame Last Chance Qualifier in South Bend, Ind., March 2-3.