Johnson, Men's Distance Medley Relay Team Shine On Day One of Air Force Invite
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/22/2005
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 22, 2005


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Freshman Whitney Johnson enjoyed a stellar collegiate debut on Friday, soaring 12-03.50 to win the women's pole vault with ease on the first day of competition at the 15th annual Air Force Invitational. Johnson's effort propelled the University of New Mexico women to fourth place in the early standings, while the men's distance medley relay team of Nate Clem, Mike Smiel, Nick Martinez and Randle McCain finished second to put the Lobo men in fourth as well. Day two of the Air Force Invite got underway at 9 a.m. this morning and will conclude later this evening.

Johnson became just the second woman in UNM history to surpass 12 feet in the pole vault, joining teammate and current school record holder Bridgid Isworth. The rookie from Mission Viejo, Calif. won the event by nearly 10 inches as the runner-up from Utah State cleared just 11-05.75.

In other women's action, indoor junior Jacquelyne Gallegos won the non-seeded mile race with an altitude converted time of 5:12.28. New Mexico was well represented in the 800 as well with three runners qualifying for Saturday's finals. Senior Jaime Hall clocked the fourth-fastest qualifying time (2:21.15), followed by sophomore Riann Lucy (8th - 2:24.29) and freshman Stasia Ploskonka (15th - 2:27.69). Junior Kimilia Davis, meanwhile, clocked a solid early season time of 57.74 to advance to the finals of the 400 meters. Finally, in the women's pentathlon, sophomore Stefany Setliff placed just out of the scoring top-8, finishing ninth with a career-high score of 2,928.

Back on the men's side, the foursome of Clem, Smiel, Martinez and McCain ran a strong converted time of 10:03.30 to edge Colorado for second place in the distance medley relay. Colorado State took the relay crown with a time of 10:00.27.

One of the stories of the opening day, however, was the performance of true freshman Derek McDonald through the first four events of the men's heptathlon. The Eldorado High School product won the long jump (23-01.75), finished second in the 60 meters (7.20) and was third in the high jump (6-05.50) to finish the day in second place. With three events remaining on Saturday, McDonald trails Colorado senior Andrew Miller by 13 points, 2,904-2,891.

McDonald's performance came after junior multi-event leader Dan Feltman was forced to pull out of the competition due to an apparent injury he suffered during the 60-meter dash. Senior Jason Bigott, however, is also helping carry the load as he wrapped up the first four events of his debut heptathlon competition in seventh place.

Elsewhere on the track, sophomore Juan Ortega finished second in the non-seeded 3,000-meter run with a converted time of 8:50.20. Freshman Jarrin Solomon, meanwhile, was the eighth qualifier in the 400, clocking a time of 50.16 to move on the finals.