May 16, 2011
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
If you do the math while eliminating the MWC-bolting Brigham Young Cougars from the 2012 Mountain West Conference Track & Field Championships, the teams to beat next season are a pack of New Mexico Lobos.
The Lobos have a lot of youth and a lot of talent on both their men's and women's side and both squads are coming off runner-up honors at the MWC's 2011 meet. "We did awesome," said Lobo coach Joe Franklin.
For now, Franklin doesn't have to deflect any hype or pressure off his surging programs because 2012 is a long ways away and the UNM coach has closer, and bigger, fish to fry - the NCAA Regionals.
The Lobos will go to the qualifying meet in Eugene, Ore., with at least 23 Lobos, who have qualified for the postseason meet. That number could swell as athletes drop out of events for a variety of reasons, including injuries or maybe saving themselves for other events. The NCAA Championships are June 1-4 in Des Moines, Iowa.
"We're very excited for the NCAA meet and we're very excited about how we did at the Mountain West Championships," said Franklin. "We did about as well as we could do."
Franklin went into the MWC meet in Fort Collins, Colo., knowing that his Lobos couldn't catch the loaded BYU Cougars on either the men's side or the women's side. But he also knew his Lobos had great potential and the balance needed to finish second.
BYU won the men's meet with 212 points followed by UNM with 177 points. The BYU women totaled 191 points followed by UNM's 129 points. The Lobo men were 38 points ahead of the No. 3 team and the Lobo women were 30 points ahead of the No. 3 team.
"When (BYU) leaves, it changes things for everybody, including us," said Franklin. "You will have a meet that will be a five to 15-point meet instead of having the winner run away with it. We did a phenomenal job this past weekend and still got beat pretty good. Things will open up next year."
We'll save the math for next year. For now, the Lobos have a nice pack of Lobos looking to do well in NCAA regional competition and advance to the 2011 NCAA finals.
The Lobos have 13 men heading to Eugene: Sam Evans (800), David Bishop (1,500), Ross Millington (1,500/5,000), Rory Fraser (5,000/10,000), Nicholas Kipruto (5,000), Keith Gerrard (5,000/10,000), Charles Lewis (hurdles), Yusuf Muhammad (hurdles), Alex Willis (steeple), Django Lovett (high jump), Logan Pfibsen (pole), Kendall Spencer (Long jump) and Warrick Campbell (triple jump).
The Lobo men with a shot of slipping off the bubble and into the NCAA meet are: David Brown (triple), Matthew Henry-Marshall (hammer), Kyle Walker (pole), De'Vron Walker (hurdles), Gabe Aragon (800) and Lamaar Thomas (100).
The Lobo women have 10 athletes advancing for sure to Eugene: Ruth Senior (steeple/5,000/10,000), Natalie Gray (steeple/5,000/10,000), Sarah Waldron (10,000/5,000), Kirsty Milner (5,000, 10,000), Alex Darling (steeple), Precious Selmon (hurdles, long jump), Margo Tucker (pole), Amber Menke (pole), Alesha Walker (long) and Deanna Young (triple jump).
The UNM women teetering on the bubble are: Shirley Pitts (400), Delyth James (5,000), Vanessa Ortiz (5,000/10,000), Lacey Oeding (10,000), Nicola Hood (steeple), Emma Reed (steeple) and Lexi Ross (javelin).
"People will scratch. That will happen," said Franklin. "We're hoping to send 28 or 29." UNM sent a school-record 26 athletes in 24 events last year.
Franklin went to Fort Collin expecting to watch BYU raise the championship trophy on both the men's and women's side. He didn't expect to grab runner-up honors by such wide margins.
The most dominating show by the Lobos came in the women's 5,000-meter run where UNM grabbed the top five spots. Lobo Natalie Gray set a Jack Christiansen Track record, clocking in with a first-place time of 16:51.46. UNM's Sarah Waldron (16:55.54) placed second followed by Ruth Senior (16:58.21), Kirsty Milner (17:00.74) and Delyth James (17:16.77).
New Mexico owned three of the four top spots in the 1,500-meter run, with David Bishop (3:57.11) in second, Ross Millington (3:58.28) in third and Rory Fraser (3:59.61) in fourth. BYU's Miles Batty won as expected at 1500 meters with a time of 3:56.62.
Lobo Nicholas Kipruto won at 10,000 meters with a 32:42.73 time and was second at 5,000 meters, just ahead of teammate Keith Gerrard. Air Force's Justin Tyner won at 5,000 with a 14:10.22 time, but was pushed hard by Kipruto, who clocked in at 14:11.48.
The Lobos picked up a solid 18 points in the decathlon as Richard York defended his title. Brian Wilson finished third and Sam Potter finished in seventh place. UNM freshman Kendall Spencer was a MWC champion in the long jump with a leap of 23-10.75. In the triple jump, UNM's Warrick Campbell finished third and David Brown came in fourth.
Lobo Sam Evans came in third at 800 meters with a clocking of 1:50.24. BYU's Justin Hedin won the event at 1:49.60.
UNM freshman Django Lovett won the high jump event by soaring over the bar at 7-01.75. Lobo Logan Pfibsen was fourth in the pole vault at 17-01.50. The winning jump was 17-05.50.
Lobo speedster Lamaar Thomas, on loan from UNM football, blazed to a 10.51 clocking at 100 meters to finish third behind TCU's Charles Silmon (10.32) and Horned Frog Mark Barnes (10.41).
Lobo Ruth Senior captured the 3,000-meter steeplechase title with a time of 10:34.50. Teammate Alex Darling came in third at 10:52.41. At 10,000 meters, Lacey Oeding was third at 36:24.13 and Vanessa Ortiz was fifth at 37.00.40).
Lobo Precious Selmon broke the tape in the 100-meter hurdles with a 13.64 clocking. The Lobo pack of Kayla Fisher-Taylor, Tawsha Brazley, Precious Selmon, and Alesha Walker came in third in the 4x100 relay.
Lobo Amber Menke was the MWC runner-up on the pole with a jump of 13-00.75. The winning jump was 13-04.50. "She had never picked up a pole before she came to UNM," said Franklin. "Her progress is amazing."
Deanna Young was the MWC titleholder in the triple jump by less than three inches with her jump of 41-10.75. SDSU's Shanieka Thomas went 41-08.00.
MWC Champions -- Lobo Men
Django Lovett (high jump)
Nicholas Kipruto (10,000)
Kendall Spencer (Long jump)
Richard York (Decathlon)
MWC Champions -- Lobo Women
Natalie Gray (5,000)
Ruth Senior (Steeple)
Precious Selmon (100 Hurdles)
Deanna Young (triple jump).