May 26, 2006
AUSTIN, Texas - University of New Mexico senior Derek Mackel cleared a career high 18' 1" to win the pole vault this afternoon at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships meet in Austin and become the first Lobo vaulter since 1991 to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Mackel, who had missed all of his previous six attempts in the event at the 2004 and '05 regional meets, cleared both 17' 1" and 17' 5" on his third and final attempts before surpassing the 18-foot mark for the first time.
The Albuquerque Sandia product missed the 15-year-old UNM record by one inch, but became the second Lobo to win a Midwest Regional crown. Matt Gonzales was the first, winning the 1,500 in 2003.
Mackel knocked the bar off on his first two attempts and was facing the end of this five-year UNM career before making his way over the 17' 1" mark. He faced elimination once again after two misses, but surpassed 17' 5" on his third run. Then things started clicking as Mackel cleared an outdoor personal record of 17' 9" on his first attempt and sailed over the 18-foot bar on his second run.
Mackel, who was seeded eighth entering the meet, mastered the nation's toughest pole vault grouping, which boasted 10 of the NCAA's top-25 competitors. Nebraska's Gable Baldwin and Oklahoma's Scott Martin, both All-Americans, finished tied for second with a mark of 17' 9".
Junior teammate Robert Caldwell, meanwhile, just missed the automatic berth, but made himself eligible for an at-large bid to the national meet with a sixth place finish. Caldwell turned in his best performance in his third regional apperance with an outdoor career-best vault of 17' 5". The indoor All-American missed just twice before bowing out at 17' 9". Caldwell will have to wait until early next week for the NCAA Championship Committee to announce the field of the event.
Rookie Katie Coronado may have secured her first trip to the national meet with a seventh place performance in the women's javelin. Coronado, who entered the weekend ranked 24th in the country, but only 10th in the nation's best javelin region, recorded a mark of 159-07 on her third attempt.
The Ruidoso, N.M. product finished second two weeks ago at the Mountain West Conference Championships behind defending NCAA Champion Dana Pounds (Air Force) with a career-best throw of 161' 11". Like Caldwell, she will have to wait until next week for her invitation to the NCAA Championships in Sacramento. The Lobos' last national qualifier in the women's javelin was in 1997.
In other Friday action, senior Jacquelyne Gallegos concluded her stellar UNM career with an 11th place finish in the women's 5,000-meter run (17:40.08), while fellow senior Mike Powdrell finished 19th in the long jump (23-07.25) in his final meet in the cherry and silver. Sophomores Jarrin Solomon and Ariel Burr, meanwhile, finished 18th and 21st, respectively, in the prelims of the 400-meter run. Solomon crossed the line in 47.76, while Burr was timed in 55.35.
Four Lobos take aim at an NCAA berth on Saturday, including top-10 ranked javelin throwers Matt Keeran (No. 5) and Anthony Fairbanks (No. 9). Senior Jamie Fishencord (hammer) and freshman Josh Cosio (high jump) will also be in action on the final day of the Midwest Regionals at the University of Texas' Mike. A. Myers Stadium.
Live results are available at www.texassports.com.