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Lobos Welcome Elite Field For NCAA Championships Mountain Regional
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/07/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 7, 2006

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UPCOMING

The University of New Mexico will host one of the premier cross country meets in the nation when the NCAA Championships Mountain Regional returns to the UNM North Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 11. The Mountain Region traditionally boasts many of America's finest distance runners and 2006 is no exception with nine nationally ranked teams among the field, battling for a place in the NCAA Championship field. The action at the North Course gets underway with the women's 6,000-meter race at 10 a.m., followed by the men's 10K at 11. Admission is free.

NCAA QUALIFYING 101

The top two teams at each regional meet automatically qualify for nationals and the first four individuals not on a qualifying team also earn an automatic berth. As many as four teams from the Mountain Region in previous years have earned at-large bids to the NCAA Championships.

READING THE RANKINGS

Nine of the nation's top-30 men's and women's teams will be competing in Albuquerque on Saturday. The women's race boasts five ranked squads, including: No. 9 Colorado, No. 12 BYU, No. 17 Texas Tech, No. 24 Colorado State and No. 30 Weber State.

No. 2 Colorado and fourth-ranked UTEP highlight a men's field that also includes, No. 14 BYU and No. 30 Weber State. Northern Arizona is receiving six votes - 35th among the teams in the national coaches poll.

Colorado swept the men's and women's Mountain Regional titles last year in Provo, Utah. The UTEP men and BYU women also earned automatic bids in 2005, while the BYU men and NAU women earned at-large berths to the NCAA Championship meet.

THE UNM STARTERS

WOMEN:
Sr. Timmie Murphy (2-time 1st team all-MWC...all-Mountain Region in `05, finishing 19th)
Jr. Leslie Luna (2-time all-MWC (2nd team in `06)...all-Mountain Region in `05, finishing 23rd)
Fr. Vanessa Ortiz (First UNM woman to be named MWC Freshman of the Year...`05 N.M. 5A XC champion)
Jr. Sheyenne Lewis (Scored in 6 of 9 career races, including all 4 in `06...making Mountain Regional debut)
Jr. Melanie Velarde (Scored in 5 of 9 career races, including all 4 in `06...making Mountain Regional debut)
Sr. Roxann James (Team top-7 in all 9 career races...84th at `05 Mountain Regional)
Fr. Kelly McCabe (`05 N.M. 5A XC runner-up...making 3rd appearance on Saturday...missed Sept. due to injury)

MEN:
Sr. Juan Ortega (1st team all-MWC...scored 13 times in 18 career races...2 regional appearances...39th in `05)
Jr. Jeremy Johnson (1st team all-MWC...running XC at UNM for first time in 4 yrs...59th at `02 Mtn. Regional in ABQ)
Jr. Joseph Garcia (Scored 10 times in 12 career races, including all 4 in `06...53rd at `05 Mountain Regional)
Fr. Jeremy Newland (All-state (4A) XC at Aztec (N.M.) HS...son of former UNM runner Jef Newland...4 races in `06)
Fr. Jason Petty (All-state (4A) XC at ABQ St. Pius X HS...scored in all 5 races this fall)
Jr. Chris Bratton (13 career races...dropped out midway through `05 Mountain Regional due to injury)
Fr. Brian Vallie (Montana Gatorade T&F Athlete of the Year...3 races this fall...scored in home opener - 22nd)

MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS

Complete information and results from the 2006 NCAA Championships Mountain Regional can be found here on GoLobos.com, the official website of the University of New Mexico Athletics Department.

UNM AT THE REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Since taking over the program at New Mexico in 2000, head coach Matt Henry has qualified one team (2004 men) and five individuals (2001: Matt Gonzales, Ben Ortega, Jacquelyne Gallegos. 2002: Gonzales. 2004: Gallegos) to the NCAA Championship meet. Matt Gonzales is the only Lobo ever to win the men's Mountain Region title, taking the crown in 2004.

The Lobo women are coming off their best performance at the Mountain Regional meet under Henry, finishing sixth out of 18 teams last year in Provo, Utah. The UNM men top finish came in 2004, when they placed fourth to earn the second at-large bid out of the region to the NCAA Championships.

The following is a list of the Lobos' performances and all-region honorees at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships under Henry.

MEN - 10K
2000: 12th/17 (298 pts.) • Top Runner: Ben Ortega - 26th (31:59.7)
2001: 9th/17 (189 pts.) •Top Runner: Matt Gonzales - 9th (31:28.6)
2002: 7th/18 (186 pts.) •Top Runner: Matt Gonzales - 8th (30:36)
2003: 13th/14 (313 pts.) •Top Runner: Sean Flaherty - 48th (32:35.9)
2004: 4th/15 (136 pts.) •Top Runner: Matt Gonzales - 1st (29:45.1)
2005: 8th/15 (222 pts.) •Top Runner: Cameron Clarke - 30th (31:55.4)

WOMEN - 6K
2000: 14th/17 (344 pts.) •Top Runner: Ashley Othick - 34th (22:39.2)
2001: 12th/18 (332 pts.) •Top Runner: Jacquelyne Gallegos - 19th (22:29.8)
2002: 15th/17 (417 pts.) •Top Runner: Sarah Gonzales - 74th (23:11)
2003: 13th/16 (317 pts.) •Top Runner: Sarah Gonzales - 30th (22:11.1)
2004: 12th/16 (306 pts.) •Top Runner: Jacquelyne Gallegos - 8th (21:03.2)
2005: 6th/18 (163 pts.) •Top Runner: Jacquelyne Gallegos - 15th (21:50.6)

Men's All-Region Honorees
Year •Athlete (Finish)
2001 • Matt Gonzales(9th)/Ben Ortega (11th)
2002 •Matt Gonzales (8th)
2004 •Matt Gonzales (1st)/Ben Ortega (8th)

Women's All-Region Honorees
Year •Athlete (Finish)
2001 • Jacquelyne Gallegos (19th)
2004 • Jacquelyne Gallegos (8th)
2005• Jacquelyne Gallegos (15th)/Timmie Murphy (19th)/Leslie Luna (23rd)

A LOOK BACK AT THE 2005 MOUNTAIN REGIONALS

PROVO, Utah -- The University of New Mexico women placed three runners in the top-25 en route to a sixth place (114 total) finish at the East Bay Golf Course. While New Mexico fell short of earning a berth to the NCAA Championships, the Lobos notched their best finish at the regional meet since 1988. Earlier in the day, the UNM men finished eighth (222 points), four spots higher than their regional ranking entering the weekend.

Senior Jacquelyne Gallegos placed 15th among the field of 114, finishing the 6,000-meter course in 21:50.6 to become the second Lobo ever to earn all-region honors three times in a career (Carole Roybal, 1983-86). Junior Timmie Murphy followed close behind in 19th (22:05.0), followed by sophomore Leslie Luna, who was 23rd (22:11.9). Both Murphy and Luna received all-region honors for the first time in their career, giving UNM three all-region runners for the first time since 1988.

The New Mexico trio ran a strong, confident race, battling among the leader for roughly 3,000 meters on the cold, breezy afternoon. In her second race back from a hamstring injury, Gallegos recorded her second-best finish at the regional meet. Luna, who was 94th at the 2004 regional meet, ran side-by-side with Gallegos, while Murphy kept herself within striking distance in a solid, consistent performance.

The Lobos also received points from senior Janice Tosa and sophomore Lindsay Barr, who finished 52nd and 54th, respectively. Tosa completed the 24th and final race of her career with a time of 23:13.3, while Barr improved seven spots on her finish of a year ago and crossed the line in 23:12.4. Rookie Seny Archuleta ran sixth for UNM and 76th overall (23:46.4), while junior transfer Roxann James was 84th (24:05.7).

In the men's 10,000-meter race, senior Cameron Clarke wrapped up his Lobo cross country career with his best performance at the regional meet, finishing 30th (31:55.4) in the field 102. Clarke faded a bit after running among the top-25 during the first half of the race, but closed strong, placing 16 spots higher than he did in 2004.

Fellow senior Nate Clem used a steady surge over the final half the course to finish 36th (32:11.0), 29 spots higher than he was a year ago. Junior Juan Ortega, meanwhile, turned in a tremendous race, battling among the lead pack for virtually the entire race before eventually finishing 39th (32:14.7). Ortega was 78th in his last appearance at the regional meet in 2003.

Sophomore Joseph Garcia ran a gutsy race in his first NCAA regional appearance, finishing fourth on the team and 53rd overall with a time of 32:40.0. Junior Steven Martinez capped the scoring for the Lobos, finishing 64th (33:03.3). Sophomore Chris Bratton pulled out of the race due to an injury.

LOBOS HOSTING MOUNTAIN REGIONAL FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2002

New Mexico will be hosting the NCAA Championships Mountain Regional for the second time at the University of New Mexico North Golf Course. Four years ago UNM junior Matt Gonzales finished eighth to lead an injury-ravaged men's team to a tight seventh place finish. New Mexico knocked off No. 26 Utah State, but fell six points shy of upending No. 15 Colorado State, which would have given the Lobos an at-large bid to the national meet.

Gonzales, who ran through a painful Achilles injury, edged Utah's Delfino Arevalo with a lean at the finish line to guarantee himself a spot in the NCAA Championship field. Sophomore Cameron Clarke finished 31st overall (31:05), while junior Ben Ortega overcame several nagging injuries to finish 37th overall (31:18). Fellow junior Nick Martinez finished 51st (31:51), while freshman Jeremy Johnson, also battling injuries, was 59th (31:59) to round out the Lobo scoring. Junior Sean Flaherty and sophomore Chad Dawson were 72nd and 81st, respectively, in the 114-man field.

A young New Mexico women's team took 14th overall, led by junior Sarah Gonzales, who placed 74th overall (23:11) after battling a week-long bout of illness. Gonzales was followed by a pair of true freshman in Janice Tosa (78th) and Timmie Murphy (84th), while sophomores Vanessa Funston (97th) and Racquel Ricci (99th) wrapped up the Lobo scoring.

Top-ranked Brigham Young University cruised to the women's team title, while Northern Arizona upended No. 3 Colorado for the men's championship. BYU junior Michaela Manova was the women's individual winner, just one second ahead of sophomore Ida Nilsson of NAU. Meanwhile, CU senior Jorge Torres defended his Mountain Region title in impressive fashion with a dominating wire-to-wire victory.

The defending national champion Cougar women placed all five scoring runners in the top-10 to finish with a score of 29 points, 37 ahead of Colorado's third-ranked women. The Buffaloes earned the second NCAA Championship automatic qualifying spot with 66 points. Northern Arizona (90), Colorado State (99) and Weber State (105) finished a tight third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

NAU's Nilsson, and her sister Johanna (6th), New Mexico State junior Rachael Cuellar (11th), Colorado State junior Katie Yemm (14th) and Montana State junior Ariana Lee were the only athletes not affiliated with BYU or CU to finish in the top-15.

On the men's side, freshman Nurani Sheikh and junior Travis Laird finished fifth and sixth, respectively, to help lead Northern Arizona to a 19-point victory over defending regional champ Colorado. Paced by Torres and his brother Eduardo (3rd), the Buffaloes held off No. 11 BYU (93-99) for the second automatic qualifying spot.

Jorge Torres finished the 10,000-meter course in 29:33. Montana sophomore Antony Ford was a distant second, clocking a 30:11. Montana State senior Lyle Weese (4th), UTEP senior Bashar Ibrahim (7th), Gonzales (8th), Arevalo and MSU junior Casey Jermyn (10th) rounded out the top-10.

UNM NORTH GOLF COURSE - THE HOME OF LOBO CROSS COUNTRY

Thanks to the efforts of Matt Henry and his staff, University of New Mexico runners have the luxury of competing in one of the top cross country environments in the nation. Located 5,085 feet above sea level in the heart of Lobo country, the UNM North Golf Course has been the home of Lobo cross country since Henry took over the program in 2000.

Henry and his staff have re-established Albuquerque as one of the premier cross country running locations in America. Blessed with excellent weather throughout much of the fall, the Duke City has been the site of two Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championships, the 2002 and 2006 NCAA Championships Mountain Regional as well as one the biggest cross country meet in the state of New Mexico each year, the annual Lobo Invitational.

Each year thousands of vocal and knowledgeable New Mexico distance running enthusiasts pack the North Golf Course to see their homegrown Lobos compete against some of the nation's finest teams. The spectator-friendly course winds its way through the cheering crowd several times, giving athletes a tremendous boost. And with its ideal location, less than a mile from the main campus, many UNM runners can simply jog home after competition.

DIRECTIONS: (the golf course is located near the corner of Yale Blvd. and Tucker Rd. on the UNM North Campus)

(from I-25 north) Take Lomas exit and head east, towards the mountains, on Lomas Blvd. Turn left on Yale Blvd. and continue north before turning right on Tucker Rd. The golf course clubhouse and parking lot will be on the left.

(from I-25 south) Take Lomas exit and turn left, heading east on Lomas Blvd. Turn left on Yale Blvd. and continue north before turning right on Tucker Rd. The golf course clubhouse and parking lot will be on the left.

(from I-40) Exit I-25 south then take Lomas exit and head east, towards the mountains, on Lomas Blvd. Turn left on Yale Blvd. and continue north before turning right on Tucker Rd. The golf course clubhouse and parking lot will be on the left.

LAST TIME OUT (at the MWC Championships)

Seniors Juan Ortega and Timmie Murphy both finished fourth to lead the University of New Mexico men and women, respectively, to a pair of strong performances at the Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championships. The UNM women placed third (94 points), while the men were fourth with a score of 89, just one point shy of third place Colorado State. The start of the races were delayed 30 minutes due to frost on the Rose Park Golf Course.

Ortega, Murphy and junior Jeremy Johnson (fifth) all earned first team all-MWC honors, while junior Leslie Luna was a second team honoree (eighth). Albuquerque Cibola High School product Vanessa Ortiz earned Women's Freshman of the Year honors with an 18th place finish.

Murphy, who was third at the MWC meet a year ago, covered the 6,000-meter course in 21:74.4. Luna, meanwhile, finished one spot shy of first team honors for the second straight year, crossing the line in 21:39.4. Ortiz was the first freshman across the finish line, recording a time of 22:24.4, while junior Melanie Velarde was 31st (23:00.2). Junior Sheyenne Lewis capped the UNM scoring, finishing 37th with a time of 23:21.8.

Senior Roxann James (44th - 24:01.5) and freshmen Rachelle Billie (48th - 24:30.6) and Kelly McCabe (51st - 24:41.8) rounded out the Lobo contingent.

On the men's side, Ortega turned in one of the best performances of his career, completing the 8,000-meter course in 24:42.3 to earn all-conference honors for the first time. Johnson, who was making his first MWC Championship appearance since 2002, finished with a time of 24:48.5.

Junior Joseph Garcia was 22nd (25:48.0), his best finish at the league championship meet, while freshmen Jeremy Newland (32nd - 26:15.0) and Jason Petty (33rd - 26:17.6) capped the Lobo scoring.

Junior Chris Bratton (39th - 26:37.0) and rookies Alex Willis (43rd - 27:00.3) and Brian Vallie (45th - 27:08.9) rounded out the UNM runners.

NOTES FROM THE MWC CHAMPIONSHIPS

Timmie Murphy became the third UNM woman ever to earn first team all-conference honors twice in a career, but the first since Cynthia Herhahn (High Country Athletic Conference) in 1988 and '89...Murphy and Carole Roybal are the only Lobo women ever to notch back-to-back top-5 finishes at the conference meet...Roybal did it three straight years, finishing second in 1984 and `85 before winning the HCAC title in `86.

• UNM has had at least one woman earn first team all-MWC honors each of the last four years, matching the longest such streak in program history (1983-86, HCAC)...the Lobos' five all-conference awards the past two seasons are the most in UNM women's history.

•Juan Ortega's fourth place finish matched the highest finish of his career in any meet...Ortega was 19 spots better than his previous best at the MWC Championships (23rd in 2005)...he and Jeremy Johnson teamed to give the men of New Mexico a pair of first team all-MWC runners for the third time in the past five years...five different Lobo men have earned first team all-MWC honors seven times since 2001.

• The New Mexco women recorded their second straight top-3 finish at the conference championship meet, the best performance in consecutive seasons since a six-year run of top-3 finishes from 1983-88 (HCAC).

• Albuquerque Cibola HS product Vanessa Ortiz became the first Lobo to win MWC Women's Freshman of the Year honors...her 18th place finish was the highest by a UNM woman at the MWC Championships...Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott is the only Lobo to earn MWC Freshman of the Year honors on the men's side, winning the conference title in 2004.

• Both the men and women recorded season-low pack spread times (exluding "B" team races) at the MWC Championships...the time difference between the first and fifth scoring runners was 1:35 for the men and 2:04 for the women...the men's pack has tightened each meet this year, while the women trimmed 13 seconds of their previous best, recorded earlier this year at Stanford.

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS

New Mexico's speed was on display earlier this season at the Stanford Invitational. Junior Jeremy Johnson and senior Timmie Murphy recorded the fastest times in head coach Matt Henry's seven-year tenure in the 8K and 6K, respectively.

Johnson finished in 23:40, 11 seconds under Cameron Clarke's Henry-Era record (also recorded at Stanford in 2002), and the fastest recorded time for an 8,000-meter course in program history. Murphy, meanwhile, crossed the line in 20:40, a full 20 seconds faster than Jacquelyne Gallegos' previous Henry-Era record at the 2004 Pre-Nationals Meet in Terre Haute, Ind.

ROOKIE RUNNERS

The 2006 season has already provided the opportunity for a large group of freshman runners to compete with the Lobos' top-7. Five men and three women have been on the Lobos' travel squad (Stanford and Pre-Nationals) this fall, all of which are making the trip to Salt Lake City for the MWC Championships this weekend. Rachelle Billie (Stanford, MWC), Kelly McCabe (Pre-Nationals, MWC), Vanessa Ortiz (Stanford, Pre-Nationals, MWC) have travelled for the women, while Nick Argüelles (Pre-Nationals, MWC), Jeremy Newland (Pre-Nationals, MWC), Jason Petty (Stanford, Pre-Nationals, MWC), Brian Vallie (Stanford, MWC) and Alex Willis (Stanford, Pre-Nationals, MWC) have been part of the men's starting lineup.

The eight freshmen on the travel squad are the most in the program since nine rookies, including seven on the women's side, saw significant action in 2001. Last year, a veteran New Mexico squad had just two freshmen (Seny Archuleta, Ezra Esquibel) crack the travel squad.

BEST OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST

Junior Jeremy Johnson was named Mountain West Conference Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Week on Sept. 12, becoming the seventh Lobo under seventh-year head coach Matt Henry to win the men's award.

Johnson, an Albuquerque native, turned in a career-best third place finish at the Lobo Invitational to help the UNM men finish third in the 13-team field. He crossed the finish line in 24:59 (8K), just 12 seconds behind the winner, UTEP All-American Stephen Samoei. It was the highest finish by a Lobo men's runner since Matt Gonzales placed second at the 2004 NCAA Championship meet.

Johnson was competing in his first hometown cross country meet since the 2002 season. The former Manzano High School standout was one of the Lobos' top runners as a true freshman in '02 before transferring to Arizona for two years. Johnson returned to UNM in 2005, but had to sit out last fall due to NCAA transfer regulations.

HOMEGROWN TALENT

University of New Mexico head coach Matt Henry has built the UNM program by using his greatest natural resource: New Mexico high school distance runners. Of the 34 men and women on the 2006 roster, 31 are products of New Mexico high schools. Each of the Lobos' NCAA Championship competitors, All-Americans and all-Mountain West honorees during Henry's tenure has graduated from an in-state high school.
Saturday, September 06
All Day - 
Cross Country
vs. Lobo Invitational
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