Jan. 21, 2006
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- - With the national track and field spotlight focused on Albuquerque today for the Modrall Sperling Lobo Invitational, University of New Mexico senior Derek Mackel solidified his status as one of the best pole vaulters in the country. Mackel delighted his hometown crowd at the Albuquerque Convention Center with a career-best and NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 17-11.00.
Host New Mexico and the visiting athletes from Arizona, BYU, California, Colorado State, Florida State, LSU, Portland State, Texas A&M, USC, and UTEP combined to record 44 provisional and seven automatic qualifying marks for the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championship meet. Twenty-seven of the 32 events today had at least one athlete surpass the NCAA qualifying standard.
Mackel put himself in contention for a NCAA Championship berth by clearing the provisional standard of 17-00.75 on his first attempt. The Sandia High School product then slid over the bar at 17-11.00 before missing all three attempts at what would have been a school record mark of 18-03.00. Mackel, who was one of the final provisional qualifying vaulters left out of the NCAA Indoor Championship field last year, matched the defending national outdoor champion, BYU's Robison Pratt, but placed second on attempts. Teammate Robert Caldwell also surpassed the NCAA provisional qualifying mark for the first time in his career, clearing a height of 17-02.75. The junior from Socorro, N.M. placed third and established a personal record for the second time in as many weeks. On the women's side, sophomore Whitney Johnson rebounded from a no height performance last weekend to tied for third place in the pole vault with a mark of 12-05.50.
In other New Mexico action, senior Timmie Murphy smashed her career-best in the 3,000, placing third with an altitude adjusted time of 9:55.2. Fellow senior Jacquelyne Gallegos (10:03.37 altitude adjusted)and Leslie Luna (10:04.58 altitude adjusted) followed close behind in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Sophomore Kristan Matison also notched her indoor PR in the 200 with a time of 25.48 (20th).
Junior Jeremy Johnson led the UNM men in the distance events, finishing second (altitude adjusted 8:29.66) in the 3,000 behind Colorado State's Rob Watson (8:15.40 adjusted). Johnson set the pace in the first half of the race before Watson made a strong move down the back straightaway with roughly 1,400 meters to go.
Lobo sophomore Jarrin Solomon turned in one of the most exciting races of the day in heat four of the men's 400. Solomon (lane 3), Quinton Young (lane 1) of Texas A&M and Florida State's Tywayne Buchanan (lane 5) all collided as after moving into the inside lane for the final 200 at virtually the same time. Young was sent into the infield, Buchanan staggered into the outside line, while a stunned and slowed Solomon somehow kept his inside position. Colorado State's Justin Hazzard, who was fourth after the first 200, took advantage of the collision and edged Solomon by 0.23 seconds to win the heat. Solomon finished 16th overall with a time of 49.72.
The City of Albuquerque will host the second community all-comers meet of the year tomorrow (Jan. 22) beginning at 9 a.m. at the Convention Center. The collegians return to the Duke City next weekend for the three-day University of New Mexico Invitational (Jan. 26-28), featuring the host Lobos, Texas, Texas Tech, the Florida women, TCU, New Mexico State's women and Division II powers Adams State and Western State. The meet opens with heptathlon/pentathlon competition on Thursday and Friday, beginning at 11 a.m. with the full meet to follow on Saturday.