Stevens: Heptathlon Crown to UNM's Fortner; Decathlon Title to Freshman York
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  05/13/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

May 13, 2010

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

The Mountain West decathlon title that came to Lobo freshman Richard York on Thursday wasn't really a surprise, wasn't really in doubt, after the pole event event.

Well, not if you know what Lobo coach Joe Franklin knows.

Sure, there were two events to go, but Franklin predicted if York made a few jumps over the pole-vault bar, he would pass Wyoming's Jay Petsch for the MWC Outdoor title.

York made a few jumps, tied Petsch for second-place points in that event and it was over.

York then made a huge jump in the javelin, picking up 177 points on the talented Cowboy. The two decathletes went into the 1,500-meter run tied for first place and Franklin's prediction was a lock.

York can run the mile, and he did it better than anyone else in the decathlon's final event to snatch the 2010 title. York totaled 7,292 points to 7,112 for Petsch. UNM's Brian Wilson was third at 6,762.

There wasn't really any surprise in the MWC heptathlon either. There really wasn't anyone big enough, good enough or strong enough to stand between New Mexico's Sandy Fortner and the 2010 title.

Not the best from Colorado State, Brigham Young, Utah, TCU or any other MWC program. But a tiny bug did keep Fortner from reaching her goal of 5,800 points.

"I'm a little disappointed," said Fortner. "It's good and bad. But considering how I feel right now, I guess I can take the conference record."

Fortner was speaking from the training room at the South end of the Great Friends of UNM Track. She had just gutted out the 800-meter run with a solid time of 2:28.59 which handed her 5,723 points - the most ever scored in the MWC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Fortner didn't win the 2010 title lying down, but that's almost how she finished the seven-event grind. A stomach bug hit Fortner Wednesday night after the first day of competition - a day in which the Lobo senior won all four events.

"They said there is something going around," she said. "The stomach is churning a little more than it should be. I had stomach cramping. It definitely hurt my endurance for the 800."

Fortner came out Thursday and won the first event, the long jump. "Every time I took a jump off the board, it felt like my stomach was coming up into my throat," she said.

The next event was the javelin. Fortner said her stomach didn't come into play on that long heave. She finished second. The last event was the 800-meter run. Fortner needed to come close to her personal best to reach her goal of 5,800 points. That mark would have been the highest total ever scored by a MWC woman in the heptathlon.

You could see Fortner buckle a bit in the final 100 meters or so. She finished about six seconds off her personal best and 77 points off her goal of 5,800.

Instead, Fortner has the best total ever scored in the MWC finals. Not bad. Her personal best score in the heptathlon going into the MWC meet was 5,657. Colorado State's Kristen Kugler was second with 5,057 points and BYU's Mindy Robins was third with 4,816 points.

"It's a PR (personal record) for point total and I still have nationals to go," said Fortner, eyeing that 5,800 mark at the NCAA Championships. "I'm happy with the score. It helps my confidence for nationals."

The Lobos also got gutsy performances from York and Wilson in the decathlon.

Wilson got off to a good start on Thursday winning the hurdles. Petsch came in second and York finished fourth. Wilson made up a little more ground on the leaders with a second-place finish in the discus. York was fifth and Petsch was seventh.

In the pole vault, Petsch and York both cleared 14-5.25 to tie for second-place points. York made a move in the javelin with a toss of 195-0 to win the event. Wilson was second at 172-02 and Petsch went 156-03 to finish in seventh place. York gained 177 points in that event.

York won the multi-event crown with a 4:35.52 time in the 1,500.

The bulk of the MWC running, jumping and throwing will be Friday and Saturday at the UNM Track. Fortner is scheduled to compete in three events. She said she will be there for each start.

"This is conference and you have to go all out," she said. "I'm not going to let a little stomach bug keep me from helping the team get some more points."

Said Lobo coach Joe Franklin: "Her win is a testament to her work ethic. Remember, this time last year she was coming off knee surgery. She is such a hard worker and will work through pain and illness and never lets that deter her from the challenge at hand."

The Brigham Young Cougars are favored to win the 2010 MWC title on both the men's and women's side. The sprinter points on the TCU men's squad make the Horned Frogs favored for the No. 2 spot, but UNM's balance could challenge TCU for runner-up honors.

On Wednesday, Fortner won the high jump, 110-meter hurdles, shot put and 200-meter run.

UNM senior Lee Emanuel is looking to give the Lobos blue-ribbon points at both 1,500 meters and 800 meters. The two-time reigning NCAA Indoor champ at 1,500 meters is favored in that run. He also was the MWC Indoor champ at 1,500 and 800 meters and will look to grab those titles outdoor.

On the women's side, UNM is looking for points from Deanna Young, UNM's record holder in the triple jump, Nicky Archer, Michelle Corrigan, Ruth Senior, Ashley Gibson, Lacey Oeding and Briana Paxton.

This is UNM's second time to host the MWC Outdoor Championships. The Lobos also hosted in 2003. At last year's MWC championships, two men's records were broken, while 17 men's and women's performances ranked among the top-five in MWC championships history. BYU won seven individual titles.