May 13, 2006
PROVO, Utah - Senior Jacquelyne Gallegos, sophomore Ariel Burr and freshman Katie Coronado turned in all-conference performances today to lead the University of New Mexico women to a fifth place finish at the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Championships at BYU's Clarence F. Robison Track. The Lobos scored 67.5 points en route to their highest conference finish outdoors since 1996. The UNM men's team, meanwhile, also placed fifth (79 pts.) with sophomore Jarrin Solomon and the 4x100-meter relay team earning all-MWC medals.
BYU took both the men's and women's titles for the third year in a row. Colorado State finished second in both competitions, followed by MWC newcomer TCU. San Diego State was fourth on the women's side, followed by New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Air Force and UNLV. Air Force was fourth on the men's side, followed by UNM and Wyoming.
The New Mexico women used a balanced attack on the track and in the field to move up a spot from the previous year, despite the addition of track power TCU to the conference. The Lobos were also fifth in a nine-team field at the 1996 Western Athletic Conference Championships. The Flyin' Frogs presence pushed the UNM men down to fifth after five straight fourth place finishes at the MWC outdoor meet.
The UNM women received nine points late in the day from Gallegos, a fifth-year senior, and redshirt freshman Leslie Luna in the 5,000 to move past Utah in the team standings. Gallegos secured her first trip to the NCAA regional meet by clocking a time of 16:50.38*, the fastest in sixth-year head coach Matt Henry's tenure. The Pojoaque, N.M. native earned all-MWC honors for the third time outdoors with a third place finish. Luna finished sixth, recording a time of 17:21.23, in her MWC Outdoor Championships debut.
New Mexico's elite 400-meter runners also enjoyed an outstanding afternoon. After placing third a year ago, Burr edged San Diego State freshman Nicole Stone by one hundredth of a second to finish second behind TCU junior Nathandra John (52.42*). The Carrizozo, N.M. product lowered her school record for the second day in a row, crossing the line with an altitude-adjusted time of 53.04 (52.93 raw). Burr is the first UNM woman to earn all-MWC honors twice in the 400.
Solomon, meanwhile, also became the first Lobo to earn all-conference honors twice in the event, finishing third behind TCU All-Americans Lewis Banda and Ché Chavez in a sizzling men's 400. Solomon clocked a personal record time of 46.81*, the fastest by a Lobo in 15 years, and was one of four athletes to run under the NCAA regional qualifying standard. Banda, an Olympic semifinalist in 2004, won the race with a Mountain West Conference record time of 46.01* (45.90 raw). UNM rookie Taylor Siemon was seventh in the race with a season-best time of 48.25*.
Solomon earned the fourth outdoor all-MWC medal of his career in the final event, leading the UNM men's 4x400-meter relay team to a third place finish behind BYU and TCU. The foursome of Solomon, Siemon, Randle McCain and Kurt Henry clocked a season-best time of 3:11.89*, the fastest by a Lobo team at the MWC meet since 2002.
Coronado led a tremendous performance by the UNM women in the javelin, finishing second behind the defending national champion, Dana Pounds of Air Force. The Ruidoso, N.M. product recorded a mark of 161' 11" on her first throw of the day, coming four feet shy of the UNM record, en route to the highest finish in the event by a Lobo at the MWC meet. Fellow freshman Vanessa Strobbe (137' 11") and senior Jessica McIntyre (134' 9") also recorded season-bests on their first throw, finishing seventh and eighth, respectively, as the Lobos combined for 11 points in the event.
Back on the track, sophomore Kristan Matison turned in the best meet performance of her young career, scoring nine points in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. Matison finished fourth in the 100 with a career-best time of 11.79*, just 0.04 seconds off the NCAA regional qualifying standard, and came back to place fifth in the 200 with a time of 24.43*. Matison, who was eighth in the 200 last year, notched the highest finish by a Lobo in the event since 2001.
Senior Aaron Brack capped his outstanding two-year track career with a sixth place finish in the 100. The former UNM wide receiver clocked a time of 10.56*, the fastest by a Lobo since 2003 and 0.04 seconds under his previous best. Brack, who was seventh in the event last year, finished three spots above his seed entering the meet.
Brack, Solomon, Siemon and Phillip Merritt teamed to finish fourth in the men's 4x100m relay. The Lobos, who were disqualified at the MWC meet last year due to an illegal exchange, got the stick around the track in a season-best time of 41.25*. The women's all-sophomore 4x100 relay team of Matison, Burr, Tabatha Shaw and Shakira Williams was also fourth, finishing with a time of 46.44*.
Sophomore Whitney Johnson finished fourth in the pole vault for the second straight year, clearing 12' 9 1/2", while freshman Hagit Salomon was fourth in the triple jump, the highest by a Lobo in the event since 2002. After struggling with injuries much of the spring, Salamon recorded a season-best mark of 39' 3 3/4".
In other finals action, junior Mark Lamb scored in the 110-meter hurdles for the first time in his career, finishing eighth with a career-best time of 14.73* and junior Jeremy Johnson was seventh in the 5,000 with a time of 14:53.77*. Freshman Anthony Fairbanks and senior Matt Keeran finished sixth (201' 2") and seventh (200' 7"), respectively, in the javelin. Sophomore Domnick Meadows scored for the first time outdoors in the triple jump, placing seventh with a leap of 47' 1 1/2". Later, the women's 4x400m relay team of Burr, Matison, Williams and Sandy Fortner finished sixth in the final event of the afternoon, crossing with a time of 3:50.15*.
* indicated altitude-adjusted time recorded at an elevation of 4,627 feet in Provo.