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Lobos Look To Upset Favored Cougars At MWC Championships
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/28/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 28, 2009

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UPCOMING

The University of New Mexico men's and women's cross country teams face one of their biggest challenges of the season on Saturday when they travel to Orem, Utah for the Mountain West Conference Championships. The Lobos will face the preseason favorite BYU men and women on the Cougars home course in what is expected to be a two-team race on both sides. The UNM men and women are ranked 19th and 20th, respectively in the most recent USTFCCCA national coaches poll, while BYU checks in at No. 7 on the men's side and 21st in the women's rankings.

The men will run an 8K (5 miles) at 10 a.m. (Mountain), followed by the women's 6K (3.7 miles) at 11. This will be the first MWC Championship meet held at the Cascade Golf Course.

The Lobo women broke through for their first conference title last year in San Diego, knocking off eight-time champion BYU, 31-33, in the closest championship race in MWC history. The UNM men finished third in 2008 with 64 points - two behind second place Air Force and 28 behind the nine-time champion Cougars.

NEW MEXICO PROJECTED TOP-SEVEN

WOMEN:
Jr. Ruth Senior (Trans. from Loughborough (England) U...has led team in first 3 official races...12th at Notre Dame (Oct. 2))
Sr. Nicky Archer (Lobos' No. 1 4x, 1st team all-MWC (7th), NCAA all-region in `08...NCAA Outdoor 10K qualifier)
Sr. Ashley Gibson ('08 NCAA all-region...26th at `08 MWC Championships...NCAA 1,500m qualifier in `09)
So. Lacy Oeding (`08 1st team all-MWC (2nd)/MWC Fr. of the Year...NCAA all-region...scored in all 10 career races)
Fr. Janna Mitsos (3x all-state XC runner at Lockport (Ill.) Township HS...Lobos' No. 5 in official debut at Notre Dame on Oct. 2)
Jr. Delyth James (XC specialist trans. from Birmingham (England) Univ...Lobos' No. 5 at Pre-Nationals (Oct. 17))
Sr. Carolyn Boosey (`08 1st team all-MWC (3rd), NCAA all-region...has scored in 13 of 15 career races)

MEN:
Sr. Jacob Kirwa (Lobo Invite (Sept. 5) & Notre Dame (Oct. 2) winner...1st team all-MWC (5th), NCAA all-reg. in `08...MWC `09 5K champ)
Sr. Chris Barnicle (Lobos' No. 2 in both races in `09...'09 10K All-American...2x NCAA all-reg. at Arkansas)
Sr. David Bishop ('08 NCAA all-reg...19th at `08 MWC meet...'09 NCAA reg'l 1,500m qual.)
Fr. Ross Millington (Enrolled at UNM in Jan. of `09...has scored in both XC meets...'09 NCAA reg'l 1,500m qual.)
Jr. Keith Gerrard (XC specialist trans. from St. Mary's Univ. (England)...3 races...Lobos' No. 4 at Pre-Nationals)
Sr. Rory Fraser (NCAA all-reg., 2nd team all-MWC (9th) in '08...'09 NCAA indoor/outdoor 5K qual.)
Sr. Lee Emanuel ('08 NCAA all-region, 22nd at MWC Championships...'09 NCAA mile champ/1,500 All-American (3rd))

MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS

Complete information and results from the 2008 Mountain West Conference Championships can be found on the official athletic department website of the MWC:

www.TheMWC.com

NEW MEXICO MWC CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY

The UNM men and women will be competing in the Mountain West Conference Championship meet for the 11th time on Saturday. Open the the PDF of this week's meet notes at the top of the page to see the Lobos' year-by-year results and individual award winners at the MWC Championship meet.

Joe Franklin is the third head coach to direct the Lobos at the MWC meet. Richard Shannahan coached the men and women in 1999 and Matt Henry led the Lobos from 2000-06.

The New Mexico men won five Western Athletic Conference titles, with four coming from 1963-68 and the last in 1988. Since joining the MWC in 1999, Lobo runners have earned first or second team all-conference honors 20 times - 3 apiece by Cameron Clarke and Matt Gonzales. UNM had a school record 4 all-MWC runners (1 1st team, 3 2nd team) in 2007.

In 2007, Jeremy Johnson became the fifth Lobo to win an individual conference title, joining 2004 MWC champion Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott and Western Athletic Conference champions Ed Coleman (1963), John Baker (1964) and George Scott (1965 & `66). Kiptoo-Biwott also earned Freshman of the Year honors in `04.

The UNM women captured their first conference title last year with a two-point victory over eight-time champion BYU in the closest meet in MWC history. The Lobos' breakthrough win came after three previous runner-up finishes (MWC - 2005, High Country Athletic Conference - 1983 and `84).

Carole Roybal is the only New Mexico woman to win a conference title, taking the HCAC crown in 1986. The Lobos have had a first team all-MWC runner each of past six seasons - the longest streak in program history. UNM had gone eight years without an all-conference honoree of any kind and 11 years without a first team runner before Sarah Gonzales broke through with a seventh place finish in 2003.

The Lobos have had runners earn first or second team all-MWC honors 13 times - all since 2003 - including a record five honorees (three on the first team) last year. Timmie Murphy is the only woman to earn first team all-MWC honors twice in a career while then-freshman Lacey Oeding's second place finish in 2008 was the best by a Lobo at the MWC Championships.

Joe Franklin joined Matt Henry last year in taking home MWC Women's Coach of the Year honors. Henry recognition in 2005 was the first conference honor for a UNM coach since Cindy Schmandt earned the HCAC Women's Coach of the Year in 1983.

2008 MWC CHAMPIONSHIPS REWIND

SAN DIEGO - Some thought the University of New Mexico women didn't have the depth to defeat eight-time champion BYU at the Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championships. They were wrong.

The 23rd-ranked Lobos placed their five scoring runners in the top 11 to edge the 29th-ranked Cougars 31-33 in the closest championship meet in MWC history on Nov. 1 at Mission Bay Park. After three runner-up finishes in 1983, `84 and 2005 - all behind BYU - New Mexico finally broke through for its first conference title in program history.

The championship came down to a neck-and-neck sprint down the final stretch by both teams' No. 5 runners. UNM senior Michelle Corrigan (11th), who suffered an ankle injury a mile into the race, held off BYU sophomore Cecily Lemon (12th) by less than a second to secure the meet-winning point. Both women were officially credited with times of 22:00.

Had Corrigan (Green Bay, Wisc.) finished behind Lemon, the score would have been tied at 32 and BYU would have won the tie-breaker with a higher placing No. 6 runner.

The Lobos' championship run was led by two unlikely sources as true freshman Lacey Oeding (Jasper, Ind.) and senior Carolyn Boosey (London, England) finished second and third, respectively. The duo had been New Mexico's No. 3 or No. 4 runners much of the year before today.

Oeding covered the 6,000-meter course in 21:30 - six seconds behind junior Angela Wagner of BYU and four seconds ahead of Boosey - to earn MWC Freshman of the Year honors with the best conference finish ever by a New Mexico freshman. Oeding was running in the back of the pack through the first 1,000 meters before surging into the lead group. She joined redshirting teammate Vanessa Ortiz (2006) to give the Lobos' their second Freshman of the Year award in three years.

Junior transfer Nicky Archer (Cheshire, England), who led for much of the race, finished seventh with a time of 21:45. Fifth-year senior Leslie Luna (Albuquerque Academy) was eighth with a time of 21:55 - three seconds ahead of BYU's No. 4 runner, Stacy Slight.

Oeding, Boosey and Archer gave the Lobos a program record three first team all-MWC runners, while Luna and Corrigan earned second team honors. The five all-conference selections were also the most in school history. New Mexico has had at least one first team all-MWC runner each of the last six years.

Luna became the second woman in UNM history to earn all-conference honors three times in a career after missing all of 2007 with a foot injury. Corrigan earned all-MWC honors for the second straight season.

Second-year head coach Joe Franklin was named MWC Women's Coach of the Year, joining Matt Henry (2005) and Cindy Schmandt (1983) as the program's third conference Coach of the Year award winner.

Later in the men's 8,000-meter race, junior transfer Jacob Kirwa (Eldoret, Kenya) placed fifth to lead New Mexico to a close third place finish. The Lobos put three runners in the top 10 en route to a score of 64 - two behind second place Air Force. No. 11 BYU cruised to its fifth straight team title with a score of 36.

Kirwa finished less than a second behind BYU senior Kyle Perry (fourth) and 18 seconds behind the winner, Wyoming senior Mark Korir, with a time of 24:40 in his MWC Championships debut. Kirwa gave the Lobos a first team all-MWC runner for the third straight season.

Junior transfer Rory Fraser (Leicester, England) and senior Mat Ashton (Teddington, England) finished ninth and 10th, respectively, to earn second team all-MWC honors. Fraser crossed the line in 24:57 - three seconds ahead of Ashton, who earned all-MWC honors for the second straight season.

Junior transfer David Bishop was 19th (25:17) and senior Lee Emanuel was 22nd (25:29) to cap the UNM scoring.

New Mexico also had a notable 35th place (26:26) performance from Pecos, N.M. product Patrick Ortiz, who was second among all freshman runners in the veteran-laden field in his MWC debut.

New Mexico Accolades At The 2008 MWC Championships
Joe Franklin - Women's Coach of the Year

Fr. Lacey Oeding - First Team All-MWC, MWC Women's Freshman of the Year
Sr. Carolyn Boosey - First Team All-MWC
Jr. Nicky Archer - First Team All-MWC
Jr. Jacob Kirwa - First Team All-MWC

Sr. Leslie Luna - Second Team All-MWC
Sr. Michelle Corrigan - Second Team All-MWC
Jr. Rory Fraser - Second Team All-MWC
Sr. Mat Ashton - Second Team All-MWC

NATIONAL RANKINGS WATCH

The New Mexico men and women continued their ascent in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national poll. The men climbed two spots to No. 19, while the women moved up one to No. 20. It's the highest both teams have been ranked in 2009.

The UNM women debuted at No. 22 in the preseason poll, while the men's team opened at No. 26 in the preseason. The 2008 season marked the first time in school history that both the men's and women's cross country teams were ranked among the nation's top-30 in the same season.

New Mexico In The 2009 USTFCCCA Rankings
Preseason (Sept. 15): Women - No. 22, Men - No. 26
Week 1 (Sept. 29): Women - No. 25, Men - No. 24
Week 2 (Oct. 6): Women - No. 21, Men - No. 21
Week 3 (Oct. 13): Women - No. 21, Men - No. 21
Week 4 (Oct. 20): Women - No. 20, Men - No. 19

KIRWA NAMED MWC ATHLETE OF THE WEEK

Senior Jacob Kirwa was selected as the Mountain West Conference Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Week for the second time this season and third time in his career on Oct. 20, matching former All-American and MWC champion Jeremy Johnson's men's program records for single season (2007) and career MWC Athlete of the Week awards (2006-07).

Former UNM women's standout Jacquelyne Gallegos also took home two MWC Athlete of the Week awards in 2005 to give her three for her career (2004-05).

Kirwa led all Mountain West Conference and NCAA Mountain Region runners with an impressive seventh place finish among a field of 237 runners on Oct. 17 at Indiana State's Pre-Nationals Invitational. The Eldoret, Kenya product covered the 8K course in 23:51.7 - just 24 seconds behind the winner.

Kirwa was recognized for the first time this season on Oct. 6, following his performance at the Notre Dame Invitational where he won his second consecutive race to lead the 24th-ranked Lobos to a fourth place finish. Kirwa sprinted past Arizona State All-American Brandon Bethke down the final stretch as New Mexico defeated four top-30 teams in the men's blue race, including No. 11 Tulsa.

Bethke captured the Pac-10 5,000m title and went on to finish fourth in the event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last spring.

Kirwa finished the 8K course in 23:44.00, clocking the fastest time by a Lobo since Johnson's program record time of 23:27.00 in 2007. His victory was the first by a New Mexico runner in a road meet since 2004 when eventual national runner-up Matt Gonzales won the NCAA Mountain Region title in Fort Collins, Colo.

New Mexico has had at least one runner earn MWC Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Week accolades each year since 2004. Kirwa was the lone UNM men's winner last fall following his early September performance at the Lobo Invitational.

Friday, October 03
All Day - 
Cross Country
at Notre Dame Invitational
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