March 26, 2006
TUCSON, Ariz. -- University of New Mexico senior Matt Keeran is finally healthy and it shows. After grinding his way to the NCAA Championships last year with a surgically repaired elbow and torn hamstring, Keeran issued a powerful statement in the Lobos' season-opener on Saturday at Arizona with career-best and NCAA regional qualifying throw of 218' 8" in the javelin. The former Albuquerque La Cueva standout was one of four UNM men to punch their ticket to the NCAA regional meet at the Jim Click Shootout, while rookie Sandy Fortner recorded an NCAA provisional qualifying score of 5,017 in her first collegiate heptathlon.
The Lobos' powerful javelin crew came home with seven top-5 finishes, including freshman Katie Coronado's victory (138' 5") in her collegiate debut. Coronado, senior Jessica McIntyre (131') and fellow freshman Vanessa Strobbe (127' 3") finished 1-2-3 on the women's side.
Keeran, however, was the story of the day for the men as he recorded the best mark by a Lobo since Donnie Lujan set the modern javelin record 15 years ago with a throw of 225' 4". Keeran smashed his previous personal best by over seven feet as he and promising Albuquerque Highland High School product Anthony Fairbanks (193' 5") finished 2-3 in the men's event. Arizona senior transfer Saku Kuusisto, a three-time Finish national junior champion, won with a heave of 227 feet even.
Senior Derek Mackel, a 2006 NCAA Indoor Championship qualifier, got off to a solid start in the outdoor opener, winning the pole vault with a regional qualifying mark of 17' 3/4". The victory was Mackel's third this year and sixth of his career.
Freshman high jumper Josh Cosio, meanwhile, turned in an outstanding performance in his first outdoor meet, clearing 6' 10 3/4" to secure a berth in the NCAA Midwest Regional field. Cosio was part of a 1-2-3 freshman finish in the event, which was won by national high school record holder Scott Sellers (7' 2 1/2") of Kansas State.
Sophomore Jarrin Solomon paced the Lobos on the track, clocking a tremendous early season time of 47.18 in the 400-meter dash to qualify for the Midwest Regional meet for the second straight season. Solomon, the 2005 Mountain West Conference runner-up in the event, finished 0.15 seconds behind the winner, former Big East champion Ryan Postel of Notre Dame.
Fortner set the early tone for New Mexico finishing fifth in a powerful field during the two-day (Thursday-Friday), seven-event heptathlon competition. The former Fort Sumner (N.M.) High School standout was one of five athletes to surpass the NCAA provisional standard, including two-time national champion Jacquelyn Johnson, who won with an automatic qualifying score of 5,797. Fortner used a balanced performance, finishing seventh or higher in six events, to defeat eight other competitors. Her score was the best by a Lobo since 2003 when UNM assistant coach Keren Bentzur qualified for the NCAA Championship meet.
Other highlights for New Mexico on Saturday included:
The women's all sophomore 4x100-meter relay team of Kristan Matison, Ariel Burr, Tabatha Shaw and Shakira Williams clocked the fastest time of head coach Matt Henry's six-year tenure, finishing fourth in 46.12. The Lobos downed Notre Dame and Wyoming, and trailed third place San Diego State by just 0.04 seconds. Kansas State (44.57) and Arizona (44.88) both ran under 45 seconds in a 1-2 finish. Williams, who finished eighth in the 400m with a collegiate best time of 58.14, ran the lead leg for the Lobos' fourth place 4x400m team (3:56.43).
Sophomore Lindsay Barr, who redshirted the 2006 indoor season, finished third in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 10:38.64. Fellow sophomore Melanie Velarde finished three spots back (10:54.58).
Women's Field Events
Sophomore Tiyana Peters finished fifth in the high jump, clearing 5' 7" to match her best collegiate mark outdoors. Junior Stefany Setliff recorded a mark of 11' 7 3/4", which was tied for sixth in her first career outdoor pole vault competition. Rookie Sarah Swartwood was eighth in the shot put with a toss of 40' 1/2".
Former Lobo wide receiver Aaron Brack opened the outdoor season with a solid time of 10.90 en route to a third place finish in the 100m. Junior Jeramie White was seventh in the 100 (11.18), and led UNM with a fifth place effort in the 200m (21.99). Brack finished seventh (22.05) in his first collegiate 200 race and ran the lead leg for the Lobos' second place 4x100m team. Brack, freshman Taylor Siemon, sophomore Jarrin Solomon and senior Jerrell Malone, who was the Lobos' starting cornerback last fall, finished in 41.29, 0.72 seconds behind Kansas State. UNM also finished second in the 4x400 relay (3:13.00), defeating Arizona and Wyoming and trailing K-State by 2.32 seconds.
Junior Jeremy Johnson turned in runner-up performances in both the 1,500m and 3,000m races in his first outdoor meet as a Lobo. Johnson finished 0.14 seconds behind Michael Huntington of Wyoming in the 1,500, clocking a time of 3:57.55. He came back to finish the 3K in 8:29.57. Teammate Juan Ortega finished fourth in the 1,500 (3:59.90) and fifth in the 3,000 (8:55.25).
Men's Field Events
Former Lobo cornerback Mike Powdrell, finished third in the long jump with a mark of 22' 7 3/4" and tied for fourth in the high jump with a leap of 6' 6 3/4". Sophomore Domnick Meadows turned in a strong season-opening mark of 45' 10 3/4" to finish second in the triple jump and placed sixth in the long jump (21' 7 1/4").