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Lobos Among Top MWC Championship Contenders
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/29/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 29, 2008

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UPCOMING

Mountain West Conference pride and NCAA Championship at-large points will be on the line when the University of New Mexico men's and women's cross country teams travel to San Diego for Saturday's MWC Championship meet. No. 23 New Mexico and 28th-ranked BYU will be the two favorites in the women's race while No. 11 BYU is the favorite on the men's side. However, the UNM men - who have been ranked as high as 15th this fall - and Air Force could pose a challenge to the Cougars' quest for a fifth straight MWC title.

The women will run a 6,000-meter (3.7 miles) race at 11 a.m. (Mountain), followed by the men's 8,000m (5 miles) race at noon. This will be the first MWC Championship meet held at the Mission Bay Park, which hosted the 2008 USA Cross Country Championships in February.

San Diego State was originally supposed to host this meet in 2007 before wildfires forced its relocation to Albuquerque. SDSU hosted the 2004 MWC Championships at Morley Field where Lobos' Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott and Matt Gonzales finished 1-2 in the men's race. Jacquelyne Gallegos led the UNM women that day with a fourth place finish.

MWC CHAMPIONSHIPS AT A GLANCE

Course: Mission Bay Park (sea level; flat and fast)

This world class course was the site of the 2008 USA Cross Country Championships in February, but has never hosted the MWC Championship meet.

Schedule (Mountain Time):
Women's 6K Race - 11 a.m.
Men's 8K Race - 12 p.m.

Race Conditions: The weather forecast for Saturday should be nearly perfect with a high of 74, mostly sunny skies and light winds. There is no chance of precipitation and humidity levels expected to be in the upper 50s.

The Fields: All 9 MWC institutions sponsor women's cross country. San Diego State, UNLV and Utah do not have men's programs.

Nationally Ranked Teams:
Women's (2) - No. 23 New Mexico, No. 28 BYU.

Men's (1) - No. 11 BYU.

NEW MEXICO TRAVEL SQUAD

WOMEN:
Jr. Nicky Archer (Trans. from U. of Birmingham (England)...has led UNM 3x...owns MWC's top 6K time...2x MWC AOW)
Sr. Michelle Corrigan (1st team all-MWC in `07 (5th)...has led UNM in 6 of 8 meets...owns MWC's No. 2 6K time)
Sr. Carolyn Boosey (Scored in all 9 career races...28th at `07 MWC meet...10th at `08 Roy Griak Invite)
Fr. Lacey Oeding (2x class 3A all-state XC at Jasper (Ind.) HS...owns fastest 6K time by an MWC freshman in `08)
Sr. Leslie Luna (2x all-MWC & all-Mountain Region...medical RS in `07...top-8 finishes in last 2 MWC meets)
Jr. Ashley Gibson (Trans. from Loughborough Univ. (England)...scoring runner in 3 of 4 meets this fall)
So. Emma Reed (Trans. from Boston U...3 meet appearances...52nd in official debut at Roy Griak Invite)
Jr. Polina Ermoshina (3x All-American Nordic skier at UNM...has scored in 2 of 6 career XC races)

MEN:
Jr. Jacob Kirwa (Trans. from Diné College (Shiprock, N.M.)...2x USCAA nat'l XC champ...owns MWC's No. 4 8K time)
Jr. David Bishop (Trans. from U. of Wales Institute, Cardiff...British Univ. 3K champ...led UNM (17th) at Roy Griak Invite)
Jr. Rory Fraser (Trans. from Leeds Metropolitan U. (England)...has scored in all 4 meets...57th at Pre-Nationals)
Jr. Brock Hagerman (2x all-region honoree...2nd team all-MWC in `07 (11th)...14 career races)
Sr. Lee Emanuel (Scored 8x in 10 career races...MWC 1,500m champion/NCAA qualifier...24th at `07 MWC meet)
Sr. Mat Ashton (2nd team all-MWC in `07 (8th)...10th in the 10,000m at `08 NCAAs...UNM's No. 6 in both races in `08)
Jr. Alex Willis (Scored 5x in 14 career races...3rd career MWC meet appearance...30th at `08 Championships)
So. Jason Petty (Scored 8x in 9 career races...redshirt in `07...33rd at `06 MWC Championships)
Fr. Patrick Ortiz (3 races..making his MWC debut on Saturday (2nd time on travel squad)...redshirt in `07)

MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS

Complete information and results from the 2008 Mountain West Conference Championships can be found on the official athletic department website of the MWC:

MWC Championship Headquarters

NEW MEXICO MWC CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

The UNM men and women will be competing in the Mountain West Conference Championship meet for the 10th time on Saturday. The following is the Lobos' year-by-year results at the MWC Championship meet. Joe Franklin is the third head coach to direct the Lobos at the MWC meet. Richard Shannahan coached the men and women in 1999 and Matt Henry led the Lobos from 2000-06.

The New Mexico men won five Western Athletic Conference titles, with four coming from 1963-68 and the last in 1988. Since joining the MWC in 1999, Lobo runners have earned first or second team all-conference honors 17 times - 3 apiece by Cameron Clarke and Matt Gonzales. UNM had a school record 4 all-MWC runners (1 1st team, 3 2nd team) last year.

In 2007, Jeremy Johnson became the fifth Lobo to win an individual conference title, joining 2004 MWC champion Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott and Western Athletic Conference champions Ed Coleman (1963), John Baker (1964) and George Scott (1965 & `66). Kiptoo-Biwott also earned Freshman of the Year honors in `04.

The UNM women have never won a conference title, but have finished second three times, including in the expanded nine-team MWC field in 2005. The Lobos were also the High Country Athletic Conference runners-up in 1983 and `84.

Carole Roybal is the only New Mexico woman to win a conference title, taking the HCAC crown in 1986. The Lobos have had a first team all-MWC runner each of past five seasons - the longest streak in program history. UNM had gone eight years without an all-conference honoree of any kind and 11 years without a first team runner before Sarah Gonzales broke through with a seventh place finish in 2003.

The Lobos have had runners earn first or second team all-MWC honors eight times - all since 2003. Timmie Murphy is the only woman to earn first team all-MWC honors twice in a career and her third place finish in 2005 is still the best by a Lobo at the MWC Championships.

Matt Henry took home MWC Women's Coach of the Year honors in 2005, the first conference honor for a UNM coach since Cindy Schmandt earned the HCAC Women's Coach of the Year in 1983.

2007 MWC CHAMPIONSHIPS REWIND

Jeremy Johnson dominated the field in a wire-to-wire victory (24:23) at the Mountain West Conference Championship meet held at the UNM North Golf Course. New Mexico placed its five scoring runners in the top-20 to finish second (51 points) - just five points behind BYU.

Michelle Corrigan placed fifth (21:20) in her MWC debut to lead the New Mexico women to a third place finish (94 points).

Just three days earlier, the MWC office announced that due to the wildfires threatening Southern California the conference championship meet would move from San Diego to Albuquerque. Johnson and the Lobos made the most of the unexpected opportunity to run in front of their home crowd.

Johnson, Wyoming's Mark Korir and TCU's Festus Kigen got out quickly, completing the first mile in 4:43. The trio was still tight two miles into the race as they crossed at 9:36 (4:53 second mile).

The New Mexico senior, however, began to apply the pressure midway through the race, running his third mile in 4:52 - 12 seconds faster than Korir and well ahead of a rapidly fading Kigen. Johnson continued to pour it on over the final two miles, breaking Korir with a 5:05 fourth mile followed by a blazing 4:50 fifth mile to win by 25 seconds.

As Johnson distanced himself the other UNM scorers maintained a tight group near the front of the chase pack. Mat Ashton ran with the top-10 throughout the race and finished eighth with a time of 25:09 - just nine seconds out of fifth place. Brock Hagerman ran one of his best races of the season, placing 11th with a time of 25:23.

Brian Vallie, meanwhile, turned in the biggest performance for the Lobos in the finest cross country race of his young career. Vallie blew by four runners down the final straight to finish 13th with a time of 25:25. He improved a remarkable 32 spots on his MWC finish from 2006.

Not to be outdone, Joseph Garcia also used a late surge to pick off several runners and finish 18th - his best MWC performance - with a time of 25:35. Garcia's effort at the No. 5 position allowed UNM to hold off third place Air Force 51-52 and finish two spots above its projection in the preseason coaches' poll.

On the women's side, Corrigan ran a strong, consistent race, crossing the line just 15 seconds behind the winner, Colorado State senior April Thomas.

Kara Henry and sophomore Vanessa Ortiz finished within four seconds of each other, placing 16th (22:20) and 18th (22:24), respectively. Henry was two spots shy of a place on the all-MWC second team.

Carolyn Boosey and Sheyenne Lewis capped the UNM scoring, finishing 28th (22:53) and 29th (22:58), respectively. Lewis improved 16 spots on her 2006 MWC finish.

NOTES FROM THE `07 MWC CHAMPIONSHIPS

• New Mexico placed both its men's and women's teams among the top-three at the conference championships for the first time since 1988 when the men won the Western Athletic Conference title and the women were third in the old High Country Athletic Conference.

• The UNM men's team had its best conference finish since winning the WAC in 1988 and its best score (51) at a conference meet since the 1965 team won the WAC title with a program record score of 27.

• The men also had all five scoring runners finish among the top-20 at the conference meet for the first time since 1988.

• The Lobo women finished among the top-three in the conference for the third straight year - the best run since six consecutive top-three finishes from 1983-88.

• The women placed their five scoring runners among the top-30 at the conference meet for the first time since 1986.

Jeremy Johnson clocked the sixth-fastest 8K time in MWC Championship history (24:23) and became the first native New Mexican to win a conference cross country title for the Lobos since John Baker in 1964.

• Johnson was just the second UNM runner to win a men's conference title in the last 41 years, joining Albuquerque La Cueva product Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott (2004).

Mat Ashton, Brock Hagerman and Brian Vallie all earned second team all-conference honors, giving New Mexico a program-record four all-MWC honorees.

Michelle Corrigan earned a spot on the all-MWC first team, giving the Lobos' a first team all-conference runner for the fifth-straight season - the longest streak in program history.

LAST TIME OUT: Pre-Nationals Invitational (Oct. 18)

Junior transfer Nicky Archer finished 26th to lead the then 27th-ranked New Mexico women to an impressive 10th place showing on Oct. 18 at Indiana State's Pre-Nationals Invitational. New Mexico defeated 31 teams in the Blue section field, including No. 18 North Carolina State, No. 21 Providence and No. 26 BYU.

Archer led all Mountain West Conference and Mountain Region competitors in a field of 278 runners. The product of Cheshire, England covered the 6,000-meter course in a season-best 20:54.6 to lead the Lobos for the third time this fall.

Senior Michelle Corrigan ran a second on the team, placing 41st overall with a time of 21:13.4. True freshman Lacey Oeding and senior Carolyn Boosey ran side-by-side, finishing 60th and 66th, respectively. Oeding covered the course in 21:23.6 - two seconds ahead of Boosey.

Senior Leslie Luna crossed the line in 21:54.4 (103rd) to give the Lobos' scoring five a pack spread of one minute.

Junior transfer Jacob Kirwa paced the UNM men for the third time this season, finishing a strong 19th in the massive field. Kirwa finished the 8,000-meter course in a season-best 24:03.9 - 28 seconds ahead of fellow junior Rory Fraser (57th - 24:32.4).

New Mexico, which was running without two of its top runners in senior Mat Ashton and junior David Bishop, placed 25th overall (685 points).

Junior Alex Willis (25:33.4) and senior Lee Emanuel (25:34.2) finished 182nd and 183rd, respectively, while sophomore Jason Petty was 244th (26:11.9) to cap the Lobo scoring.

MEN AND WOMEN EARN HISTORIC RANKINGS

On Sept. 30, the New Mexico men's and women's cross country teams both appeared in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association top-30 poll - the first time both teams had ever been nationally ranked at the same time. The women's team debuted at No. 18 - their first appearance in the national rankings since 1987 - following their impressive performance at Minnesota's Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 27. The men's team, meanwhile, checked in at No. 29.

The women of New Mexico also sat atop the NCAA Mountain Region rankings for the first time in program history the week of Sept. 29.

The Lobos are currently No. 23 in the most recent women's Division I cross country poll. UNM is the top-ranked team in the Mountain West Conference and is the No. 2 team in the Mountain Region behind 12th-ranked Texas Tech.

New Mexico was ranked among the women's top-20 for five consecutive years between 1983-87, climbing as high as 10th in the national poll in 1983.

The men's team, meanwhile, opened at No. 15 in the preseason poll (Sept. 16), marking their return to the top-30 for the first time since 2004. It was the highest ranking for the men since the 1989 team climbed as high as 14th. In 2004, the Lobos reached 19th in the national poll, but went on to finish a program-best ninth at the NCAA Championships.

UNM opened at No. 2 in the preseason Mountain Region rankings, behind only powerhouse Colorado.

RECORD NUMBER OF ATHLETES OF THE WEEK IN `08

Junior Nicky Archer was named Mountain West Conference Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Week on Oct. 21, giving the women's team three and the UNM men and women four combined weekly awards in 2008 - all of which are program records.

Archer finished 26th out of 278 runners in the women's blue race at the 2008 NCAA Pre-Nationals Invitational, leading the Lobos to a 10th place showing against a field that included No. 1 Washington, No. 4 Minnesota, No. 6 Stanford and No. 9 Michigan State. The Cheshire, England, product covered the 6K course in an MWC-best time of 20:54.6.

Archer joined Jacquelyne Gallegos (2005) as the only UNM women to earn MWC Athlete of the Week honors twice in the same season. Archer, senior Michelle Corrigan and junior Jacob Kirwa on the men's side have earned the program record four combined MWC awards this fall for the Lobos.

Corrigan was selected on Sept. 30, following her performance at Minnesota's Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 27. Corrigan earned the weekly award for the first time in her career. Archer (Sept. 9) was recognized for the first time after winning the Sept. 6 Lobo Invitational.

After a five-year drought to start its MWC tenure, New Mexico has captured six Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Week awards since 2004. Corrigan and Archer are the Lobos' first women's honorees since 2005 and are the only women other than former standout Jacquelyne Gallegos (three from 2004-05) to win the award.

Junior Jacob Kirwa earned the ninth MWC Cross Country Athlete of the Week award for the UNM men - all since 2001 - with his performance at the Lobo Invite. Kirwa became the Lobos' seventh men's runner to earn the award, extending the team's streak to five straight years with at lease one weekly award winnner.

Friday, October 03
All Day - 
Cross Country
at Notre Dame Invitational
Friday, October 17
All Day - 
Cross Country
at Wisconsin Invitational
Friday, October 31
All Day - 
Cross Country
at Mountain West Cross Country Championships
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