March 31, 2004
UPCOMINGThirteen University of New Mexico track and field athletes will join a field of Olympic champions and world record holders this weekend at the 77th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays hosted by The University of Texas. The four-day event, which runs Wednesday, March 31, through Saturday, April 3, at Mike A. Myers Stadium, also features some of the nation's finest amateur athletes, NCAA champions and national high school record holders. Nearly 5,000 athletes will compete in 125 events at this year's Relays, which are presented by Motorola.
Senior Mark Johnson, the 2004 Mountain West Conference indoor heptathlon champion, opens the meet on Wednesday afternoon when he joins the university decathlon field. Johnson, who owns a career-best score of 6,773, will be gunning for the NCAA provisional qualifying standard of 7,000 points during the two-day competition.
Fellow senior Chris Garofola will compete in the 400-meter hurdles on Thursday afternoon and then will join the field of the 110m hurdles on Friday morning. Senior Branden Bennett (pole vault) and junior Jamie Fishencord (hammer) will be in action on Thursday afternoon, while junior Amanda Barnes (shot put), senior Jason Barkemeyer (discus/shot put), senior Jimmy Minner (javelin), junior Veronica R. Gonzales (javelin) and freshman Kayla Brown (javelin) will compete on Friday. The UNM women's distance medley relay team of sophomore Kimilia Davis, senior Amanda Swann, freshman Riann Lucy and junior Jacquelyne Gallegos will cap the meet with their race on Saturday afternoon.
STARS OF THE TEXAS RELAYSHeadlining the invitational men's athletes at the Texas Relays are Olympic gold medalists Maurice Greene, Jon Drummond, Bernard Williams, Jerome Young and Charles Austin. The 2000 Olympic champion in the 4x100-meter relay and 100 meters, Greene will be making his ninth Texas Relays appearance. The former world-record holder in the 100 meters (9.79) was tabbed the 1995 Texas Relays Most Outstanding Male Performer when, as a relatively unknown 20-year-old, he won the Invitational 100 with a wind-aided 9.88 to upset Carl Lewis.
Drummond and Williams joined Greene on USA's 4x100-meter relay that claimed gold at the 2000 Olympic games, while Young was an alternate for USA's winning 4x400-meter relay in Sydney. Young and Tyree Washington, who also will compete at Relays, are part of USA's 4x400-meter relay that holds the world record of 2:54.20.
Austin won the high jump gold at the 1996 games in Atlanta with a clearance of 7-10. The Texas native and 1990 Texas State grad most recently won the 2003 U.S. Indoor title to give him nine U.S. medals (six outdoor; three indoor).
On the women's side, Olympic medalists and Texas Relays regulars Torri Edwards, Chryste Gaines and Inger Miller all are slated to compete, along with junior record holder Allyson Felix and World Champion Angela Williams.
Gaines has been one of the world's top sprinters for more than a decade and has two Olympic medals to her credit. A graduate of South Oak Cliff High in Dallas, Gaines won gold in the 4x100-meter relay at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta followed by bronze at the 2000 games in Sydney. She has earned seven medals on the international scene, including three golds as part of USA's 4x100-meter relay at the World Championships (1995, 1997, 2001). Miller was teammates with Gaines on USA's 4x100-meter relay at the 1996 games, and has six international medals to her credit. Edwards won the 100-meter silver and the 200-meter bronze at the 2003 World Outdoor Championships to establish herself as a legitimate threat in both events at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She joined Gaines in earning bronze at the 2000 games in Sydney in the 4x100-meter relay.
Williams won an unprecedented four NCAA titles in the 100 meters during her time at Southern California (1999-2002). Most recently she won gold in the 60 meters at the 2003 USA Indoor Championships and silver as part of USA's 4x100-meter relay at the 2003 World Outdoor Championships. Felix is one of the world's most promising young sprinters, having bypassed college to jump to the professional ranks. Felix ran 22.11 in the 200m at the Grand Prix Banamex in Mexico City in 2003 to establish a world junior record.
MEET INFORMATION/RESULTSComplete information and results from 77th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays will be available at the official athletic department website of the Texas Relays:
LAST TIME (at UTEP Springtime Invitational)EL PASO, Texas - Junior Ben Ortega picked up his first outdoor victory in two years and sophomore Nicole Hansen-Solum won the first race of her career to pace the University of New Mexico on Saturday at the UTEP Springtime Invitational. New Mexico's men and women each finished fourth in the powerful five-team field at windy Kidd Field.
Ortega leaned past UTEP's Stephen Samoei at the finish line to capture the 5,000-meter run with an altitude adjusted time of 15:05.27, 0.26 seconds ahead of Samoei. Ortega, who redshirted the 2003 season, earned his first victory outdoors since winning three straight 5K races from March 23 - April 12 in 2002. Hansen-Solum, meanwhile, continued her strong first full year of competition, clocking an altitude-adjusted time of 1:04.64 to win the 400-meter hurdles.
UNM enjoyed a strong effort in the field once again, led by senior Jason Barkemeyer and junior Jamie Fishencord, who improved their career bests and NCAA Midwest regional qualifying marks in the shot put and hammer throw, respectively. Barkemeyer shattered his personal record in the shot put by over a foot, recording a mark of 56-09.50 to finish second in the event. Fishencord, meanwhile, bested her mark of a week ago, finishing second in the hammer with a throw of 177-06. Fishencord also improved her PR in the discus, finishing fourth with a toss of 145-04.
Teammate Amanda Barnes enjoyed a strong afternoon as well. Barnes finished second in the shot put (47-09.75), fifth in the discus (144-09) and recording a career-best mark of 152-01 to place fourth in the hammer. Fellow junior Willie Yuen had the best performance of his career, smashing his personal bests en route to fifth place finishes in both the long jump and triple jump. Yuen recorded a mark of 22-10.50 in the long jump and his mark of 47-03.75 in the triple jump was over a foot better than his previous best.
On the track, sophomore Kimilia Davis finished fourth in the 200 (25.23) and 400, clocking a personal-best time of 56.18 in the quarter mile. Junior Matt Gonzales was the runner-up in the 1,500, finishing with an altitude adjusted time of 3:52.67, less than a second behind the winner, Mircea Bogdan of UTEP. Senior Chris Garofola turned in another strong all-around meet, despite suffering a painful toe injury the week before at Arizona. Garofola finished third in the 110-meter hurdles with a career best altitude-adjusted time of 14.68 and was fourth in the 200 with an adjusted time of 21.75.
PERSONNEL MOVESTwo-sport standout Alfred Neale, who was scheduled to make his high jump debut last weekend in El Paso, will in not likely to compete in 2004...a two-time junior college All-American, Neale recently added a Saturday course to his class schedule, which conflicts with the UNM track meet schedule...junior Matt Keeran, a two-time all-MWC honoree in the javelin, will also miss the 2004 season after having surgery on his injured elbow....senior Jimmy Minner, however, has returned to competition after being projected to redshirt the '04 campaign...Minner, a NCAA regional qualifier last spring, owns the team's top mark this season.
MWC ATHLETE OF THE WEEK NOMINEES
Barkemeyer shattered his personal record in the shot put by over a foot, recording a mark of 56-09.50 on his final throw to finish second in the event behind 2003 NCAA qualifier Ronny Jimenez of Texas A&M. Barkemeyer's toss was the best by a Lobo in 14 years since former UNM All-American Darren Crawford won the 1990 WAC title with a mark of 58-00.75.
Fishencord, meanwhile, bested her mark of a week ago, finishing second in the hammer and improving her own school record with a mark of 177-06. Fishencord's previous best of 174-10 (set on 3/19/04 in Tucson, Ariz.) was nearly twenty feet beyond her top mark of 2003. She also improved her PR in the discus at UTEP, finishing fourth with a toss of 145-04.
TAOS TOUGHBen Ortega's 5,000-meter victory last weekend in El Paso may have been by the narrowest of margins (0.26 seconds), but the Taos, N.M. native blew away the field in the guts competition.
With the winds swirling around Kidd Field, Ortega and the rest of the field knew that an elite 5K time would be unlikely. Predictably, the pack eased around the track the first few laps, waiting for a runner to take the lead, to cut the wind resistance down and set the pace.
"They were crawling out there," said UNM head coach Matt Henry. "Finally, Ben decided he'd had enough and went out strong to take control of the race."
According to Henry, Ortega surged ahead through the wind while UTEP's Stephen Samoei drafted behind him, never challenging for the lead and biding his time for the final push. After letting Ortega push through the wind to set the pace for seven laps Samoei began his final kick with roughly 150 meters left. Ortega, however, refused to concede the race and battled down the stretch, eventually leaning ahead at the line.
"That was a big win for Ben Ortega," said Henry. "He could have folded, but he refused to lose that race and I think that win is going to give him some real momentum the rest of the year."
DON KIRBY MEMORIAL INVITATIONAL FIELD SETHead coach Matt Henry recently announced that Mountain West Conference rivals Air Force, Colorado State and Wyoming will headline the field of the 14th annual Don Kirby Memorial Invitational, to be held at Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium in Albuquerque on Saturday, May 1. Regional teams Adams State and Northern Colorado will also be in attendance. The meet, sponsored by the Albuquerque-based lawfirm Modrall Sperling, is tentatively scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.
JOHNSON STRIKES GOLDSenior Mark Johnson ended a 13-year drought by becoming the first member of the UNM men's team since 1991 to capture an indoor conference title with his stirring victory in the inaugural heptathlon competition at the Mountain West Conference Championships. Johnson, who entered day two of the competition in seventh place, won two of his final three events to earn his second career conference title.
The 2002 MWC decathlon champion won the 60m hurdles, then soared a career-best 16-00.75, over a foot higher than his nearest competitor, to take the pole vault. Holding a slim 78-point lead entering the final event of the day, the 1,000-meter run, Johnson did not falter, finishing second to tally an NCAA provisional qualifying score of 5,263. A two-time all-MWC honoree in the indoor pentathlon (replaced by the men's heptathlon in 2004), Johnson is also the first UNM man to win an indoor multi-event title.
2004 INDOOR SEASON NOTESThe New Mexico men's team recorded its best indoor conference meet score in 14 years...the Lobos finished fifth for the fourth straight year, but their 66 points were the most since tallying 118 in a second place finish at the 1990 WAC Championships...Amanda Barnes (shot put), Matt Gonzales (mile), Chris Garofola (200m), Mark Johnson (heptathlon), and the men's and women's distance medley relay teams earned all-MWC honors for New Mexico...the UNM men and women combined for 15 event victories over the winter, one more than their total of a year ago...four women and four men earned the first wins of their indoor career this season...head coach Matt Henry decided to redshirt senior sprinter Ahmed Raji for the 2004 indoor and outdoor seasons...Raji, an all-MWC honoree in the 200m and both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, will return in 2005 for his final collegiate season.
GONZALES STANDS TALL AMONG NATION'S BESTINDIANAPOLIS -- University of New Mexico junior Matt Gonzales finished 13th out of a field of 112 runners in the 4,000-meter race at the 2004 USA Cross Country Championships on Feb. 7. Gonzales clocked a time of 11:42, just 20 seconds shy of earning a spot on the national team, in his first Cross Country Championships appearance. The top six finishers in the men's 4K and the 12,000-meter race were automatically selected for the USA national team.
Gonzales' time was also just 28 seconds behind the winner, Charlie Gruber, who was running for Nike Unattached. The Santa Fe native also finished 12 spots ahead of former Colorado State standout Bryan Berryhill, a former NCAA Champion and USA runner-up in the 1,500 last year.
"I really thought he could make that team," said UNM head coach Matt Henry. "He told me that he got off to a slow start and that it took him awhile to get used to the snow on the course, but he said that he passed at least 10 people on the final loop."
The 4,000-meter race is half the distance of most regular season collegiate cross country courses. The men move up to run a 10,000-meter race at NCAA regional and national championship competitions.