March 11, 2005
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - - Matt Gonzales proved once again to be one of the most underrated distance talents in the nation as he knocked off six higher-ranked runners in a fourth place finish in the men's 5,000 tonight at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center. The University of New Mexico senior improved his own school record with a time of 13:45.72 in just his second career indoor 5K, finishing less than three seconds behind Stanford senior Ian Dobson, who won the race in 13:43.36. A native of Santa Fe, Gonzales earned All-America honors for the third time in his track career, snapping a 15-year drought for the Lobos indoors.
After completing a near wire-to-wire victory (13:49.06) in his first indoor 5,000-meter race last week at Notre Dame, Gonzales stayed back in the middle of the 15-man pack for much of the race before making a late charge. Although he passed a pair of runners in the final 400 meters, including top-seeded Matt Tegenkamp of Wisconsin, UNM head coach Matt Henry said the leaders had pulled a bit too far away for the tenacious 5-5 Gonzales to catch.
"It's not typical of the way he normally races, but we thought we'd try to sit back this time and see what we could do," Henry said. "I know we both wish we could do it over again tomorrow, but he showed how special he is once again tonight and I couldn't be more proud of his performance."
Dobson, an eight-time All-American, won his first career national title after finishing fifth in the 5,000 at last year's NCAA Indoor Championship meet. Arizona junior Robert Cheseret of Kenya finished second (13:44.51), while Wisconsin sophomore Chris Solinsky was third (13:45.34).
"This was a very, very good field," Henry said. "Just to get in this race in the final week of the season was something special. We're really excited about what happened and can't wait to see what Matt can do outdoors."
Gonzales, who was the first UNM man to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships since 1993, became New Mexico's first indoor All-American since weight thrower Darren Crawford in 1990 and the first Lobo to earn All-America honors inside on the track since Ibrahim Hussein finished third in the 1,000-yard run in 1984.
Already a two-time honoree for UNM during the fall in cross country, Gonzales also earned All-America honors for the third time on the track, including each of the past two outdoor seasons in the 10,000. He is the first men's runner in Mountain West Conference history to earn All-America honors in the indoor 5,000 and has never finished lower than fourth in his three career national championship races on the oval.
While Gonzales will rest next week, Henry and the rest of the UNM track and field team open the outdoor season next weekend, March 18-19, in Tucson, Ariz. at the Willie Williams Classic. The Lobos will host two meets this year at the Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium on April 16 and April 30.