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Cross Country Season Heats Up As Lobos Travel To Stanford
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  09/28/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Sept. 28, 2006

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UPCOMING

University of New Mexico head coach Matt Henry will take 14 men and women to Northern California for the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 30. Saturday marks the first of several pivotal meets on the schedule as teams begin to jockey for position in the eyes of the NCAA Championship selection committee.

The field for the women's 6,000-meter race (6:22 p.m.) features 18 collegiate teams, including No. 11 UC-Santa Barbara and a split squad from top-ranked Stanford, the defending NCAA Champions. UNM will be one of 31 teams in the men's 8K (7:18 p.m.) race, including a split squad from No. 4 Stanford. All races will be held at the Stanford University Golf Course.

THE UNM TRAVEL TEAM

WOMEN:
Sr. Timmie Murphy (1st team all-MWC, all-Mountain Region...career-best 2nd place in season-opener)
Jr. Leslie Luna (1st team all-MWC, all-Mountain Region...career-best 3rd place in season-opener)
Fr. Vanessa Ortiz (N.M. 5A XC champion in `05 and two-time Athlete of the Year...11th in collegiate debut)
Jr. Melanie Velarde (Scored twice in 6 career races...career-best 18th place finish in season-opener)
Jr. Sheyenne Lewis (Scored 3 times in 6 career races...20th in season-opener)
Sr. Roxann James (Team's top-7 all 6 career races...28th in season-opener...'04 JC All-American at Central Arizona)
Fr. Rachelle Billie (Team-best 7th in collegiate debut last week at NMSU...N.M. all-state XC runner)

MEN:
Jr. Jeremy Johnson (Running XC at UNM for first time since `02...spent 1 1/2 years at Arizona...MWC Athlete of the Week on Sept. 12)
Sr. Juan Ortega (Scored 10 times in 15 career races...career-best 4th place finish in season-opener)
Jr. Joseph Garcia (Scored 7 times in 9 career races...20th in season-opener)
Fr. Brian Vallie (Montana Gatorade Male Track Athlete of the Year in `06...22nd in collegiate debut)
Fr. Jason Petty (All-state XC runner at ABQ St. Pius X HS...team-best 7th at NMSU last week)
Jr. Chris Bratton (11 career races...7 finishes among team top-7...career-best 11th last week at NMSU)
Fr. Alex Willis (All-state XC runner at Leadville (Colo.) HS...'06 Nordic Skiing Jr. Olympics qualifier...10th last week at NMSU)

MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS

Complete information and results from the 2006 Stanford Invitational can be found on the official website of the host Stanford Cardinal.

MOUNTAIN REGION RANKINGS

The UNM women's team remained in seventh in the latest Mountain Region coaches poll. The Lobos were ranked among the region's top-10 for the first time to open a season under seventh-year head coach Matt Henry. The Lobos finished 5th in last year's poll after beginning the year unranked.

Women's Mountain Region Rankings (Sept 25)

Rank • Team (Preseason Rank)
1. Colorado (1)
2. BYU (2)
3. Colorado State (3)
4. Weber State (5)
5. Texas Tech (6)
6. Northern Arizona (4)
7. NEW MEXICO (7)
8. Montana (8)
9. Utah State (9)
10. Montana State (--)

Italics indicate Mountain West Conference team

BEST OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST

Junior Jeremy Johnson was named Mountain West Conference Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Week on Sept. 12, becoming the seventh Lobo under seventh-year head coach Matt Henry to win the men's award.

Johnson, an Albuquerque native, turned in a career-best third place finish at the Lobo Invitational to help the UNM men finish third in the 13-team field. He crossed the finish line in 24:59 (8K), just 12 seconds behind the winner, UTEP All-American Stephen Samoei. It was the highest finish by a Lobo men's runner since Matt Gonzales placed second at the 2004 NCAA Championship meet.

Johnson was competing in his first hometown cross country meet since the 2002 season. The former Manzano High School standout was one of the Lobos' top runners as a true freshman in '02 before transferring to Arizona for two years. Johnson returned to UNM in 2005, but had to sit out last fall due to NCAA transfer regulations.

LAST WEEK AT NEW MEXICO STATE

University of New Mexico freshmen Jason Petty and Rachelle Billie both finished seventh to lead a strong performance by the Lobos' split squad on Sept. 23 at New Mexico State's Kachina Classic meet. The UNM men (57 pts.) finished second behind No. 13 UTEP (15), which competed with all of its top runners, while the New Mexico women were third (94).

UNM head coach Matt Henry rested his top four on the men's side (Jeremy Johnson, Juan Ortega and Joseph Garcia and Brian Vallie) and six best runners on the women's side (Timmie Murphy, Leslie Luna, Vanessa Ortiz, Melanie Velarde, Sheyenne Lewis and Roxann James).

Petty completed the 7,400-meter course in 23:45.6 in his second collegiate race. Freshman Alex Willis and junior Chris Bratton finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Rookie Jeremy Newland was 13th and junior Dylan Rose-Coss crossed 16th to cap the scoring for the men. Bratton and Rose-Coss both notched their best career finishes. Sophomore Ezra Esquibel (17th) and junior Michael Deason (22nd) rounded out the Lobos' top-7.

Billie enjoyed a strong collegiate debut, finishing the 5K course in 19:49.5, just 18 seconds behind the winner, Kelly Young of UTEP. Juniors Lindsay Barr and Stasia Ploskonka crossed in 15th (20:29.7) and 20th, respectively, while rookie Lynn Brasher was 24th (20:57.9). Sophomore Becky Green was the Lobos' fifth scoring running, finishing 31st (21:48.6), while second-year runner Carolyn Romero was the team's No. 6 runner (38th, 22:35.6).

LAST YEAR AT STANFORD

Senior Jacquelyne Gallegos continued her stellar start to the cross country season with third place finish at the elite Stanford Invitational at the Stanford Golf Course. Gallegos finished six seconds behind the winner, Cardinal All-American Arianna Lambie, completing the 6,000-meter course in 21:21. Junior Timmie Murphy finished 12th (22:09) in one of the finest races of her career, helping to lead the UNM women to a strong 10th place finish in the 32-team field.

On the men's side, seniors Cameron Clarke (26th) and Nate Clem (27th) led a tight pack of New Mexico runners as the Lobos five scorers finished within 1:20 of each other. Clarke finished the 8K with a time of 24:39, one second ahead of Clem. UNM finished 9th (235 pts.) overall, but downed the only other Mountain Region team in the field, Texas Tech (10th - 253 pts.).

Stanford swept the men's and women's races, winning with scores of 50 and 31 points, respectively.

The UNM women also got solid scoring efforts from a trio of sophomores in Leslie Luna, Lindsay Barr and Melanie Velarde. Luna continued her resurgent season, finishing 64th overall with a time of 23:22, while Barr was 88th (23:43). Velarde, meanwhile, scored for the first time in her Lobo career, finishing 119th overall in the 227-runner field with a time of 24:14. Senior Janice Tosa (143rd - 24:38) and sophomore Sheyenne Lewis (159th - 24:52) rounded out the top-7.

Back in the men's race, the Lobos' close group of scorers included juniors Juan Ortega and Steven Martinez, and sophomore Joseph Garcia. Ortega had his best race of the year, placing a strong 69th in the 130-man field with a career-best time of 25:30. Martinez followed in 95th place (25:57) with Garcia three spots behind in 98th (25:59). Junior Brandon Vigil was New Mexico's No. 6 runner (118th - 26:11) in his second race of the year.

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