June 3, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS -- Seven University of New Mexico athletes - four men and three women, including four New Mexico high school products - saw their names appear this morning when the NCAA Championship Committee announced the field for the 2008 Outdoor Track and Field Championship meet, June 11-14, in Des Moines, Iowa. It's the most athletes New Mexico has qualified to nationals in the modern era of the championships since the men's and women's competition was combined into one meet in 1983.
The Lobos have sent 12 men and women to the NCAA Outdoor Championships over the past two years - the most in consecutive seasons since 16 qualified from the national power UNM men's teams in 1967-68. New Mexico has been represented at the NCAA Championships every year since 2002 - the longest streak since a 10-year run for the men from 1961-70. The four UNM men at the NCAA Championships are the most since 1987, while the women's team sent three athletes for the second straight year.
Seniors Jeremy Johnson (10,000 meters) and Robert Caldwell (pole vault), and junior Katie Coronado (javelin) are making their second appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Johnson (Albuquerque Manzano) earned All-America honors with a seventh place finish in the 10,000 last year, while Coronado (Ruidoso, N.M.) finished 16th in the javelin. Caldwell (Socorro, N.M.), who redshirted in 2007, did not clear the opening height in his NCAA Outdoor pole vault debut in 2006.
Senior Tiyana Peters (high jump) and juniors Sandy Fortner (heptathlon), Mat Ashton (10,000m) and Lee Emanuel (1,500m) will be making their first trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Peters (Flanders, N.J.) is the first Lobo high jumper to qualify since 2002, while Fortner (Fort Sumner, N.M.) is the first heptathlon competitor since 2003. Emanuel (Hastings, England) is the first UNM 1,500 runner to advance since 1979, while Ashton (Oxford, England) will team with Johnson to give the Lobos a pair of men in the 10,000 for the first time in program history.
It's not only a big group for New Mexico, but a highly ranked one as well. Five Lobo athletes are seeded among the top-10 in their respective events, led by Caldwell, who shares the second-best mark in the pole vault at 18' 1" (5.51m).
Coronado is the No. 5 seed in the javelin with a top throw of 178' 7" (54.43m), while Emanuel ranks fifth in the 1,500 with a time of 3:40.77. Fortner is the seventh seed in the heptathlon with a top score of 5,641, while Johnson is ranked 10th in the 10,000 with a career-best time of 28:33.08.