May 22, 2012
By Mike Mulcahy
AUSTIN, Texas -- After months of practice and competition, members of the University of New Mexico track and field team will face the tried and true trope of postseason play: Win and advance or lose and go home.
Up to this point, competing again next week didn't have the prerequisite of winning and going home didn't happen because of a losing effort.
But that was back then.
With a possible trip to the NCAA Championships on the horizon, the 18 Lobo athletes competing at this weekend's preliminary rounds have the task of placing high enough to qualify for a trip to the championships.
Win and advance, or lose and go home.
Place in the top 12 in your event and you advance to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Finish 13th or worse and you can pack your bags and hit the road.
And while placing top 12 in an event that has at least 48 entrants may seem daunting, the Lobos have two very important factors on their side: talent and history.
In the talent department, 17 of the 18 Lobos competing in preliminary action are in the UNM record books in their events, with nine placing in the top five in their respective events.
As for history, every year head coach Joe Franklin has been at New Mexico, at least seven Lobos have competed at the NCAA Championships, with as many as 11 going in 2009.
This year, Franklin will take 18 of his best athletes to Michael A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas, to try to win and advance.
For the men, 12 Lobos will compete in 14 events, with multiple athletes competing in the triple jump and the 5,000-meter run.
Floyd Ross and Ty Kirk are both primed to move forward in the triple jump. Ross, a 2012 Indoor All-American in the triple jump, holds a career-best of 52-feet, 5.25-inches that is good for the eighth seed in the west and sixth best in Lobo history. Kirk, whose PR is seventh all-time at New Mexico, currently claims a season-best of 50-9.5 that ranks 27th in the west.
The 5K will also have multiple Lobos trying to advance with Nicholas Kipruto and Sean Stam. Kipruto, who ranks sevenths all-time in UNM history, boasts a season best of 13:59.56 that ranks 21st in the west region. Stam, who has come on very strong in 2012, has recorded a time of 14:03.88 that places him 28th in the west region.
The rest of the men's track events also have excellent Lobos athletes. Freshman Beejay Lee won the 200 at the Mountain West Outdoor Championships, and holds solid marks of 10.49 in the 100 and 21.09 in the 200. Sam Evans, competing in his third consecutive preliminary round, looks to advance to his first NCAA Championships with his 16th-ranked seed time of 3:43.95.
Lobo hurdlers De'Vron Walker and Chaz Lewis are also looking to advance in the 110 hurdles and 400 hurdles, respectively. Walker, whose 14.32 seed time is sixth in Lobo history, has also been to the last two first-round meets and is ready to advance for the first time. Lewis, another veteran of the prelims, comes in with the eighth-best mark all-time at UNM and a seed mark of 52.14 that ranks 42nd in the west.
The field events will also have a few more premier Lobo men looking to make to the second weekend of the NCAA Championships.
Kendall Spencer, the 2012 indoor long jump champ, is just an inch off the UNM outdoor record with a 26-8.25 mark. Nonetheless, Spencer holds the third best mark in Division I in 2012 and even led the nation for over a month.
Django Lovett, a two-time All-MW performer, is the Lobos' most explosive high jumper, capable of reaching seven feet. His season-best 6-11.75 seeded him 30th, but his PR of 7-1.75 is more indicative of his talents.
Logan Pflibsen is also another Lobo who could perform above his seed mark of 46th. With a personal-best clearance of 17-1.5, Pflibsen could have a shot of surpassing his 16-10.75 seed mark.
Multi-athlete Richard York -- who will also compete in Des Moines at the NCAA Championships in the grueling and physical decathlon -- is slated to participate in the javelin at the preliminary competition with his PR of 205-7.
On the women's side, five distance stars and one hurdle expert will represent the cherry and silver out in Texas.
Long-distance threats Sarah Waldron and Lacey Oeding are primed to take on the longest race, the 10,000 meters, and advance. Oeding, a decorated distance athlete, holds a 34:27.53 time that ranks 24th in the west. Waldron, the school-record holder in the 5K and 10K, has been on a hot streak, and holds a mark of 32:36.07 that ranks third in the west.
Josephine Moultrie had a spectacular season indoors and has been quietly successful outdoors, going into the preliminary meet with a seed time of 2:07.55 in the 800. Her clocking ranks 26th in west and fifth in New Mexico history.
The other mid-distance race, the 1,500, will have another Lobo distance standout in Imogen Ainsworth. Ainsworth holds a seed time of 4:25.24 that ranks her 36th in the west and seventh all-time in the metric mile at UNM.
Ruth Senior, who has already competed at two outdoor championships, looks to add on a third when she takes her 22nd-ranked seed time of 10:22.55 in the 3,000 steeplechase to Austin. Senior holds the top six times in UNM history in the steeplechase and is one of the Lobos best all-time distance runners.
The last Lobo to take her talents to Texas is Precious Selmon, a late entrant in the prelims. Selmon, who holds the second best time in UNM history in the 100 hurdles, enters with a seed time of 13.92.
The meet kicks off 11 a.m. (CT) with the field events and the running events at 4:30 p.m. (CT). The meet will continue through Friday and concludes around 9:45 p.m. (CT) on Saturday.
Check back each day for a quick recap on the Lobos' action and again on Saturday for a full recap.