Johnson Sparks Lobo Men On Day Two of MWC Indoor Championships
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/24/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 24, 2006

Final\ Men\'s\ Heptathlon\ Results
Day\ Two\ Team\ Standings
Saturday\ Start\ List

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Junior transfer Jeremy Johnson set an early tone for the New Mexico men with his second place finish in the 5,000 meters, the first running event final on the second day of the Mountain West Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Johnson clocked an altitude-adjusted time of 14:28.70 to earn all-conference honors in his MWC debut and help the Lobo men finish the day in fourth place overall (28 points).

The UNM women, meanwhile, received a strong third place performance from its distance medley relay team of Leslie Luna, Christina Zarrella, Riann Lucy and Timmie Murphy to end the day in sixth place (9.5 points) through six events. The Lobos clocked an altitude-adjusted school record time of 11:56.70 to earn all-MWC honors in the DMR for the third time in the past four years.

The Colorado State University women and Brigham Young University men are atop the team standings. CSU leads second place BYU on the women's side 73-64.5, while the Cougars have a 71-67 lead on the Rams in the men's race. The final events get underway on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

For Johnson, today's race marked a triumphant return to Mountain West Conference competition after traveling a winding road back to the Land of Enchantment. The former Albuquerque Manzano High School standout originally signed with New Mexico in 2002 and was one of the top runners on the Lobo cross country team as a rookie before transferring to Arizona for the 2003-04 season. He returned to UNM last year and made is Lobo track debut this winter after sitting our the 2004-05 season due to NCAA regulations, Johnson joined 2005 MWC 5,000 champion Ben Ortega as the only two Lobos to earn all-conference honors in the event.

"I thought he could either win it or not place - that's how close I thought that field would be today," UNM head coach Matt Henry said. "Jeremy's been through a lot, but I think he's still a young runner and for him to get up there and get second was a real treat to watch."

Senior Dan Feltman got the Lobos on the scoreboard with a fifth place finish in the heptathlon. Feltman recorded a personal best time of 8.60 (adjusted) in 60m hurdles and matched his indoor PR in the pole vault (14-01.25) en route to career-best final score of 5,145, just 55 points shy of the NCAA provisional qualifying standard.

The Deming, N.M. native had been plagued by misfortune throughout his indoor career as he missed virtually all of the 2005 indoor season due to injury, dropped from third to 13th after failing to clear a height in the pole vault in the 2004 MWC heptathlon and was forced out of the 2003 MWC pentathlon with a pulled hamstring. Henry said Feltman will redshirt the 2006 outdoor season and will petition the NCAA to extend his indoor eligibility to replace his '05 campaign, which was ruined when he pulled his hamstring in the first race of the first meet of the year.

Elsewhere in the finals, New Mexico's Josh Cosio and former Lobo cornerback Mike Powdrell tied for fourth (combined eight points) in the high jump with a mark of 6-06.00 in their Indoor Championships debut. Cosio and Powdrell entered the meet ranked sixth and 11th, respectively, in the event.

Powdrell (21-11.75) went on to finish eighth in the long jump, three spots behind sophomore teammate Domnick Meadows, who was fifth with a leap of 22-03.50. Meadows notched his highest MWC meet finish after placing seventh in the long jump outdoors and eighth in the indoor triple jump last year.

The New Mexico women suffered a big blow in the pole vault when third-seeded sophomore Whitney Johnson, an indoor all-MWC honoree last year, was unable to clear her opening height. Junior Nicole Huyge, however, turned in the best performance of her career, finishing eighth with a personal best mark of 12-00.75. Huyge, who entered the year with an indoor best of 10-06.75, improved by 16 inches over the final two weeks of the season to finish eight spots above her pre-meet ranking.

Lobo freshman Sandy Fortner picked up three points for the Lobos in the long jump, finishing sixth with a season-best mark of 18-08.50. The men's distance medley relay team capped the day's events with a sixth place finish.

Associate head coach Mark Henry's sprinters asserted themselves in the preliminary heats this afternoon as senior Aaron Brack (60m), sophomores Jarrin Solomon (400m), Kristan Matison (60m), and Ariel Burr (400m), and freshmen Phillip Merritt (200m) and Taylor Siemon (200m) all qualified for the finals in their respective events.

Ariel Burr smashed the 1990 UNM 400m record by 0.11 seconds.

Brack eclipsed teammate Jeramie White's 2004 record in the 60, finishing sixth in the prelims with an altitude adjusted time of 6.88. The former UNM wide receiver entered the meet seeded 11th in the event. Matison also overcame a No. 11 seed to place seventh in the women's 60 prelims with a career-best (adjusted) time of 7.64, just 0.01 seconds shy of the UNM record.

Solomon smashed his career-best in the two-lap 400, clocking a time of 48.67 (7th) despite being boxed in a bit throughout much of the race. Burr, meanwhile, established herself as the premier women's 400 runner in UNM history as she flew to a school record time of 55.88 (3rd) in just her third 400 race of the season. The Carrizozo, N.M. native, who set the outdoor record in an all-MWC performance (3rd) last spring, knocked 0.11 seconds off Catherine McKinney's 1990 record and improved on her previous PR by 0.61 seconds.

Merritt and Siemon advanced in the 200 after finishing 8th (22.51) and 10th (22.56), respectively, in the prelims. New Mexico junior Riann Lucy also moved on to the finals of the 800 meters, finishing seventh in the prelims with a season-best time of 2:17.07

Sophomore Tabatha Shaw missed the 200-meter finals by a hundredth of a second, finishing 11th with a career-best time of 24.97. Junior Randle McCain also came up one spot short in the 400 prelims, finishing ninth with a career-best time of 49.03.

"I think we did some nice things today, but of course I'm never satisfied with where we're at," said Henry. "We certainly had some missed opportunities today, but we had a number of people step up for us as well. I think we'll be well represented tomorrow and hopefully we can finish strong."

A breakdown of the rest of today's event finals is below:

• Air Force junior Brian Walsh won the men's heptathlon with an NCAA provisional qualifying and MWC Championship record score of 5,412...Walsh erased a 93-point deficit over the final two events (pole vault & 1,000m) to give Air Force its second straight MWC heptathlon title...each of the top-four finishers surpassed the NCAA provisional standard (5,200) and the 2-year-old MWC Championships record (5,263)...BYU freshman Meelis Kosk jumped from fifth to second in the final event, finishing with 5,321 points...Colorado State junior Kevin Johnson, the leader after six events, finished third (5,319) and Wyoming junior Olav Roe was fourth (5,274) in his collegiate heptathlon debut...New Mexico's Dan Feltman, the 2005 MWC decathlon champion, was fifth (5,145)...BYU junior Chris Weirich was forced to pull out of the competition after landing awkwardly and injuring his leg in the pole vault...Weirich was in sixth place after six events.

• Colorado State junior Nicole Feest ended BYU's 6-year dominance of the women's 5,000m, winning the race with a MWC Championship and Albuquerque Convention Center record time of 17:08.61...her time was also under the altitude adjusted NCAA provisional qualifying standard (17:11.35)...BYU senior Chelsea McKell, who entered the meet ranked 11th in the country by Trackwire.com, finished second (17:14.20) and junior teammate Breanne Sandberg was third (17:24.68).

• Colorado State junior Rob Watson gave the Rams a sweep of the 5K, winning the men's 5,000m with a facility record time of 14:44.83...New Mexico junior Jeremy Johnson was second (14:51.25) in his MWC Championships debut, followed by BYU sophomore Chandler Goodwin (15:01.61)...CSU has won the MWC 5,000 three of the past four years.

• BYU finished 1-2 in the men's long jump with senior Matthew Anderson (23-01.75) edging junior teammate Boian Marinov (23-00.00) for the MWC title...Air Force sophomore Devin Hart was third (22-09.75)...BYU has won four of the last five men's long jump crowns at the MWC Indoor Championships.

• Colorado State senior Jill McCormick won the women's weight throw with a mark of 64-02.25...McCormick was the runner-up last year behind teammate Loree Smith...Wyoming sophomore Kate Burton was second (61-08.50), followed by CSU junior Jaimee Troth (60-05.75).

• Colorado State senior Nate Heyrman led a 1-2-3-4-5 finish for the Rams in the men's weight throw with an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 63-09.75...it's the first time in MWC Indoor Championships history that a team has swept the first five places in a men's event...junior Trey Eder was second with an NCAA provisional mark of 63-09.00, followed by senior Jace Rivera (61-09.00), sophomore Jason Schutz (60-01.75) and sophomore Alex Godell (55-01.00).

• BYU junior David Pendergrass became the first back-to-back champion in the men's high jump, clearing 6-11.75 as the Cougars swept the top-3 spots...Pendergrass won his fourth MWC high jump title overall, adding to his 2005 and '02 outdoor crowns...teammates Bryce Bergen (junior) and Trevor Heiner (freshman) tied for second with a mark of 6-09.75.

• BYU won its fifth-straight MWC women's distance medley relay title, clocking a Championships and Albuquerque Convention Center record of 11:52.80...the Cougars have won all but one DMR race in MWC history...CSU finished second (12:03.26) and New Mexico was third (12:06.93)...all three surpassed the old MWC Championships record of 12:12.22.

• The Cougars also won their third straight men's distance medley relay title, finishing with a MWC Championship and facility record time of 10:00.73...MWC newcomer TCU was second, surpassing the previous meet record (10:03.22) with a time of 10:02.91...CSU finished third with a time of 10:05.41.

• San Diego State senior Erin Asay won her second women's pole vault crown with a clearance of 13-04.50...Asay won the 2004 MWC Indoor title and was the runner-up behind teammate Shayla Balentine last year...BYU senior Mandy Lonsway was second (13-00.75) and SDSU freshman Dana Jensen (12-08.75) was third.

• CSU junior Janay DeLoach ended a three-year BYU run in the women's long jump, winning the event with an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 20-00.50...DeLoach and current UNM assistant coach Keren Bentzur (2003) are the only athletes to break-up the Cougars' five indoor LJ titles...BYU freshman Mindy Neeley was second (19-03.25), just ahead of Utah junior Amanda Feight (19-02.50).

• Air Force sophomore Travis Picou had the fastest qualifying time in the men's 200m, tying the MWC Indoor Championship record with a time of 21.15.