Oct. 1, 2006
STANFORD, Calif. -- Junior Jeremy Johnson continued his early season success on Saturday night, placing third at the 33rd annual Stanford Invitational to lead the University of New Mexico men to a sixth place finish (181 points) in the 19-team field. Johnson completed the 8,000-meter course at the Stanford Golf Course in a career-best 23:40, just nine seconds behind the winner, Stanford All-American Neftalem Araia.
The former Albuquerque Manzano High School standout defeated several notable runners including Cardinal All-American Jonathan Pierce (fifth), Big West Conference champion Chris Ashley (eighth) and two-time all-Big West honoree Mike Chavez (fourth), both of UC-Santa Barbara. Johnson sliced 31 seconds off his previous best in the 8K, which he ran as a true freshman at New Mexico back in 2002.
An all-Mountain West Conference runner on the track last winter, Johnson spent a year and a half at Arizona, before returning to UNM in 2005. He sat out last fall due to NCAA transfer regulations.
The UNM women also placed sixth (164 points), led by senior Timmie Murphy's seventh place finish. Murphy completed the 6K course in career-best 20:40, 26 seconds faster than her previous best, which she recorded last year in a third place finish at the MWC Championship meet. The Farmington, N.M. native edged Stanford All-American Lindsay Flacks by one second and was 37 seconds behind the winner, the Cardinal's six-time All-America honoree Arianna Lambie.
Junior Leslie Luna turned in a strong race of her own, placing 20th - 44 spots higher than she finished last year at Stanford - with a time of 21:38. Freshman Vanessa Ortiz, meanwhile, continued her development with a 35th place finish (22:08). Juniors Melanie Velarde and Sheyenne Lewis placed 49th (22:32) and 64th (22:57), respectively, to cap the UNM scoring. Velarde was 119th at Stanford last year, while Lewis was 159th.
Back in the men's race, senior Juan Ortega clocked a career-best 8K time of 24:21 en route to a finish of 23rd - 46 spots higher than the previous year at Stanford. Junior Joseph Garcia placed a solid 41st with a time of 24:53 - three seconds off his personal best.
Freshman Jason Petty was fourth on the team (90th - 25:40) and junior Chris Bratton was the Lobos' fifth and final scoring runner (101st - 25:50). Rookies Alex Willlis (126th - 26:17) and Brian Vallie (133rd - 26:24) completed the New Mexico top-7.