Stevens: Lobos' Chase of BYU Should Produce NCAA Qualifying Marks
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  05/10/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

May 10, 2011

Mountain West Championship Central / Real Time Scoring / Schedule Of Events /

Lobo Men's-Women's Track & Field -- At The Mountain West Outdoor Championships
Wednesday-Saturday -- Fort Collins, Colo.
GoLobos.com: Meet Recaps, Results

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

When it comes to the bully of the block in Mountain West Conference Track & Field, Lobo Coach Joe Franklin and the rest of the MWC probably will not be shedding any tears when Brigham Young bolts the league.

But it's also almost a given that BYU will be holding up at least one MWC trophy come Saturday in Fort Collins, Colo., as the Cougars' final season in the league nears its conclusion. Simply put, the Cougars are loaded -- on the men's side, on the women's side.

"I'll miss the friendships with their coaches and with their athletes," said Franklin. "But I won't miss their team. They are so deep in so many places. They are just head and shoulder over the rest of us."

The bad thing about the BYU men is they make the chase for the MWC title virtually a one-team race. The Cougar men have won the outdoor title every year since the league was formed in 1999. That's 11 straight, looking for No. 12. The BYU women are looking for title No. 9.

The good thing about BYU is the Cougars' excellence pushes opposing teams and opposing athletes to better times and better marks, and those measures in time and distance form the eventual NCAA field.

Franklin goes into the Mountain West meet with 23 Lobos having reached NCAA qualifying marks, but the marks can change. The top 48 marks in individual events qualify for NCAA postseason meets. You can go into the MWC meet rated No. 46 in the nation and leave ranked No. 50, depending on what happens at other meets.

On the other hand, you can turn a No. 50 spot into a qualifying mark.

Franklin says his Lobos don't have the depth to beat BYU to the team title, but is hoping his Lobos can finish top three on both the men's and women's side.

The other goal is to push as many Lobos as possible toward NCAA glory. The Cougars might be helpful here. Ditto for TCU and all that Horned Frogs' speed. To hang with Cougars and Frogs, you usually have to perform at a high level.

"We are running our best kids in virtually every race," said Franklin. "We know the times (and marks) we need to hit."

A few Lobos already have thrown out a few excellent marks in 2011. Senior Keith Gerrard has posted the fourth-fastest time (28:27.03) in the nation in the 10,000-meter run. Sophomore Richard York, the MWC's defending champion in the decathlon, set a Lobo school mark in the heptathlon this season with 5,537 points. Junior De'Vron Walker owns the UNM indoor mark in the 60-meter hurdles and is a threat outdoors in the 110-meter hurdles.

There is quality on the Lobo women's side, too. Ruth Senior is outstanding at 5,000 meters with the top time in the MWC, about four seconds better than teammate Natalie Gray. Sophomore Precious Selmon has the school mark in the 60-meter hurdles and is solid at 100-meters. Deanna Young has the best triple jump so far in the MWC.

BYU has a 1,500-meter ace in junior Miles Batty, who broke the NCAA indoor mile record with a 3:55.79 run. But Batty (3:36.25 at 1,500) will be pushed by three quality Lobos: David Bishop (3:41.12), Ross Millington (3:42.90) and Rory Fraser (3:44.12).

The Lobos strongest event might be at 5,000 meters where UNM has the top three times in Fraser (13:39.37), Millington (13:44.10) and Gerrard (13:58.33). UNM's Nicholas Kipruto has the No. 6 time at 13:59.63.

UNM has two threats in the 400-meter hurdles in Charles Lewis and Yusuf Muhammad. Lobos Alex Willis and Sean Stam are solid in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The Lobos also have point potential behind Django Lovett (high jump), Logan Pfibsen (pole), Kendall Spencer (long jump), Warrick Campbell (triple jump), David Brown (triple), and York (decathlon).

The UNM women are hoping for points from Shirley Pitts (400), Alex Darling (1500), Ruth Senior (5000), Natalie Gray (5000), Delyth James (5000), Nicola Hood (steeplechase), Alex Darling (steeplechase), Margo Tucker (pole vault), Amber Menke (pole vault), Alesha Walker (long jump), Precious Selmon (long jump), and Deanna Young (long jump, triple jump).