Lobos Welcome 12 Teams For the Albuquerque Invitational
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/09/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 9, 2006

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The historic 2006 indoor track and field schedule at the Convention Center continues this weekend with the Albuquerque Invitational (Saturday, Feb. 11) and Green Chile All-Comers (Sunday, Feb. 12) meets. The Albuquerque Invitational will feature 13 college teams with the host New Mexico Lobos taking on a field that includes the eighth-ranked Arizona State women, Mountain West Conference champion BYU women, Conference USA men's and women's champions from Houston and Big West men's champs Cal State Northridge. Two-time defending NCAA Division II men's champion Abilene Christian and the 2005 national runners-up from Adams State are also among the field.

The action gets underway with the field events 8:30 a.m., followed by the first event on the track at 9:45. Tickets will be available at the door - $3 for adults, $2 for students and free for ages 5 and under.

Over 600 college athletes have been entered in the Albuquerque Invitational, with nearly 200 more area competitors of all ages and ability signed up for the Green Chile meet. The six week, nine-meet schedule at the Convention Center continues on Feb. 18 with the First to the Finish High School Invitational, followed by the 2006 Mountain West Championship meet (Feb. 23-25).


Meet Information/Results: Live meet results will be available online at www.recordtiming.com. The complete results packet will be available immediately following the meet at www.golobos.com.

Schedule: The meet gets underway on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. with the women's high jump and men's long jump. The first event on the track, the women's distance medley relay, starts at 9:45 a.m. There will also be a Public Servants 4x200m relay race at 12:15 featuring teams from the Albuquerque Fire Department, Police Department and Department of Corrections. The meet is expected to finish at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Teams Competing (13): Air Force, Arizona State, BYU (women), Cal-State Northridge, Houston, New Mexico, New Mexico State (women), San Diego State (women), Texas State (women), UNLV (women), Abilene Christian (D-II), Adams State (D-II), Wayland Baptist (NAIA).

Top Individuals: Five nationally ranked athletes (Trackwire.com) are entered in Saturday's meet, including Lobo pole vaulter Derek Mackel (No. 6). The women's pole vault will feature No. 5 April Kubishta from Arizona State, along with the MWC's top two vaulters - Erin Asay of San Diego State and New Mexico's Whitney Johnson. The Sun Devils' Jacquelyn Johnson, who is ranked sixth in the long jump and eighth in the heptathlon, will compete in the long jump, high jump and 60-meter hurdles. Other ranked competitors include BYU's Kamila Rywelska (No. 8) in the triple jump and Ashley Owens (No. 9) of UNLV in the 60. The women's high jump will feature the top two jumpers in the MWC - Tiyana Peters of UNM and SDSU's Nicole Carmier, while the league-leader Decontee Kaye of SDSU will join Rywelska and New Mexico's Hagit Salamon (MWC No. 4) in the triple jump.


The men's pole vault (1 p.m.) will be the marquee event of Sunday's Green Chile All-Comers meet with 2000 Olympic gold medalist Nick Hysong headlining a field that includes four former NCAA All-Americans, two former national junior college champions and some of the top high school vaulters in the country. At the Sydney Olympics, Hysong cleared a lifetime best 19-04.50 to became the first American since Bob Seagren in 1968 to win Olympic gold in the pole vault.

Hysong is one of two gold medalists coming to Albuquerque this weekend, along with University of Houston head coach Leroy Burrell, who will lead his Cougars into the Convention Center on Saturday. In 1992, Burrell teammed with Carl Lewis, Mike Marsh and Dennis Mitchell to win gold for the United States with a world record time of 37.40 seconds in the 4x100m relay in Barcelona, Spain. Two years later, on July 6, 1994, Burrell reclaimed the title as the "World's Fastest Human" when he reset his then-world record time of 9.85 seconds in the 100 meters.


After enjoying a breakthrough year in 2005, senior Derek Mackel has established himself as one of the best pole vaulters in America this winter. Currently ranked No. 6 in the event by Trackwire.com, Mackel has cleared 17 feet in each of his four meets this year, including a lifetime best of 17-11.00 to tie top-ranked Robison Pratt of BYU at the Modrall Sperling Lobo Invitational (Jan. 21). The Albuquerque Sandia HS product owns the second-best mark in UNM history and is No. 4th on the NCAA qualifying list. On Jan. 24 he became the second Lobo ever and first since 2002 to be named Mountain West Conference Men's Indoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week.

The fifth-year senior has improved by more than five feet in the pole vault since joining the program as an unrecruited walk-on in 2001-02 and will likely become the first UNM men's vaulter to compete at the NCAA Championships since All-American Simon Arkell in 1991. Mackel also has his sights fixed on Arkell's 15-year-old indoor record of 18-01.50. He has attempted the height twice this season, just missing on Jan. 28 en route to a victory in the New Mexico Invitational.

1. Robbie Pratt (BYU)
2. Tommy Skipper (Oregon)
3. Keith Highman (Pittsburgh)
4. John Russell (Akron)
5. Brian Mondschein (Virginia Tech)
6. Derek Mackel (New Mexico)
7. Chip Heuser (Oklahoma)
8. Gabe Baldwin (Nebraska)
9. Scott Martin (Oklahoma)
10. Grame Hoste (Stanford)
11. Andre Poljanec (Northern Iowa)
12. McKane Lee (Washington)


Sixth-year assistant coach Scott Steffan has established one of the premier men's and women's pole vaulting programs in the nation at New Mexico. A former teammate of three-time All-American and school record holder Simon Arkell, Steffan rebuilt the vault crew from the ground up after returning to Albuquerque. Under his watch, New Mexico pole vaulters have earned all-MWC honors five times since 2003 and have had at least three athletes qualify for the NCAA Regional meet each of the past three years. Since 2002, UNM has boasted seven 16-foot vaulters on the men's side, including three that have cleared 17 feet. Four women have surpassed the 12 foot mark, including two over 13 feet. Three have also been nationally ranked in the event by Trackwire.com

Led by fourth-ranked Derek Mackel, the Lobo vaulters are off to a quick start in 2006. Mackel, junior Robert Caldwell (17-02.75) and sophomore Whitney Johnson (12-11.50) all surpassed the NCAA provisional qualifying standard during the first month of the season, competing in the friendly confines of the Albuquerque Convention Center. Meanwhile, sophomore Zach Graham has recorded his collegiate-best (16-02.75) and junior Stefany Setliff has cleared 11-06.00 in her first year of vaulting.

The group also maintains its own website for pole vaulting in New Mexico: www.nmpv.com


The annual all-Mountain West Conference team is comprised of the top-3 finishers in each event at the MWC Championships meet. Since Matt Henry took over the track & field program in 2001, UNM athletes have earned all-MWC honors 90 times. The following are the athletes currently ranked among the league's top-3 in an indoor event:

WOMEN: RS-Fr. Leslie Luna - 3,000 (3rd - 9:57.51), Sr. Timmie Murphy - 3,000 (2nd - 9:46.99), RS-Fr. Tiyana Peters - High Jump (1st - 5-08.00), So. Whitney Johnson - Pole Vault (2nd - 12-11.50).

MEN: Jr. Jeremy Johnson - 3,000 (3rd - 8:17.20), Sr. Derek Mackel - Pole Vault (2nd - 17-11.00), Jr. Robert Caldwell - Pole Vault (3rd - 17-02.75).


Senior Timmie Murphy's breakthrough season continued as she finished third in women's 3,000-meter run at Nebraska's Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational. Murphy recorded her career best in the event for the third straight week and just missed teammate Jacquelyne Gallegos' school record with a time of 9:46.99. New Mexico's Leslie Luna (7th) and Gallegos (9th) also placed among the top-10 in the event, while junior Jeremy Johnson was sixth in the men's 3,000.

Luna also clocked a personal record time of 9:57.51 to give the Lobo women a pair of sub-10:00 runners indoors for the first time in head coach Matt Henry's six years. Gallegos, who set the school 3K record with a time of 9:45.99 last year, was timed at a season-best 10:02.84 on Saturday as she continues to work her way back from a late season cross country injury. Johnson shaved seven seconds off his personal record and defeated 29 other runners en route to a time of 8:17.20.

Elsewhere, senior Derek Mackel and junior Robert Caldwell finished third and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault, both with a mark of 17 feet even. Mackel, who came into the meet ranked fourth in the nation, entered the competition when the bar went to 17 feet, which he cleared on his first attempt. For the first time in three weeks, however, he was unable to go any higher as he missed all three runs at 17-05.75. Caldwell needed his third and final attempts to clear 16-06.00 and 17 feet before exiting. Stanford's Graeme Hoste won the event with a mark of 17-07.75, while Nebraska's Gable Baldwin, the No. 11 vaulter in the country, was second (17-05.75).

Back on the track, sophomore Ariel Burr clocked a time of 56.79 to finish 9th out of 28 in her first 400-meter race of the year. Fellow sophomore sprinters Shakira Williams, Tabatha Shaw and Kristan Matison all turned in strong efforts as well. Williams clocked a personal best 59.03 (21st) in the 400, while Shaw recorded a PR time of 25.43 (17th) in the 200 and Matison matched her best for the second week in a row with a 7.77 (T19th) effort in the 60.

In other action, junior Riann Lucy finished a solid 15th (2:18.95) in a 35-woman field in the 800, while sophomore Jarrin Solomon was 12th out of 43 (49.21) in the men's 400. Junior Jeramie White clocked a season-best 22.32 to finish 19th out of 44 in the 200.


Championship track and field programs are not built overnight. They are constructed gradually, built upon a strong foundation of pride, tradition and a commitment to excellence. The University of New Mexico track and field program has built its legacy with the same championship formula.

Since 1930, New Mexico athletes have earned All-America honors 69 times, won 11 NCAA Championship events and claimed 197 conference events. Perhaps the most exceptional group of athletes ever to compete in any sport at UNM were on legendary coach Hugh Hackett's track and field teams of the 1960s.

A large group of Lobo legends from that era, including coach Hackett and former national champions Adolph Plummer and Art Baxter, reunited in Albuquerque on Jan. 20 for a memorable evening spent sharing memories and reaffirming a commitment to New Mexico track and field excellence. That night, reunion organizer Rene Matison, a two-time All-American at UNM, announced the founding of the Lobo Track and Field Alumni Club.

The Alumni Club seeks to unite all the men and women from the 1960s, `70s, `80s, `90s and even the 2000s who have been part of New Mexico's proud track and field history. Its goals include celebrating and preserving the program's proud tradition while helping current and future generations of Lobo track and field athletes establish a championship legacy of their own through facility and equipment upgrades and donations to the track and field scholarship fund.

For more information on the Lobo Track and Field Alumni Club, contact Rene Matison via email at rpmatison@msn.com.


After just one month of competition, the indoor track and field facility at the Albuquerque Convention Center has already established itself as the best new venue in America. Twelve top-25 men's and women's teams, 47 nationally ranked athletes and six of the nation's top relay teams have competed in Albuquerque in 2006. Ten NCAA automatic qualifying marks and 56 provisional marks have been recorded in the Convention Center this year, including five of the top marks in the country. One of the five was set by Texas' Trey Hardee who established a collegiate record of 6,208 points in the heptathlon during the Zia Classic Multis competition last week. In addition, three of the best marks in NCAA Division II were established two weeks ago in Albuquerque by visiting Adams State and Colorado School of Mines.


Good timing, a proactive city government and an irresistible sale all contributed to the return of indoor track and field to the Albuquerque after nearly a 20-year absence. During the spring of 2004 Albuquerque city leaders learned of a $1 million unused and undamaged indoor track sitting in storage in Canada that could be purchased for a mere $500,000. The state-of-the-art Mondo track had originally been ordered, then later declined, for use in the Los Angeles Staples Center arena.

The track finally found a home inside the Convention Center in downtown Albuquerque and made its debut on Jan. 15, 2005 for the inaugural Albuquerque All-Comers meet. Nearly identical to the track used by the University of Arkansas at the Randal Tyson Track Center, Albuquerque's new indoor facility received rave reviews from athletes, coaches and fans. Like the Arkansas facility, which has been the site of every NCAA Indoor Championship meet since 2000, the city of Albuquerque now has an indoor track that will be a destination for some of the nation's premier events.

The new indoor track is a 200-meter, 60-degree banked oval that has 60m straightaways running the entire length of the facility. It also includes men's and women's jumping runways and pits, as well as an areas for shot put, pole vault and high jump events. The surface of the track is red and white Mondo.

In the 1960s and `70s Albuquerque was one of the nation's elite indoor track and field locations, drawing top professional and collegiate talent to compete in front of the large crowds at the annual Jaycee meets. The 1966 AAU Indoor Nationals (now known as the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships) drew a two-day total of nearly 20,000 fans to Tingley Coliseum and was featured on the March 14 cover of Sports Illustrated. Albuquerque officials were able to lure the meet away from its regular home at Madison Square Garden in New York City that year. In the new Albuquerque Convention Center facility, city leaders and track and field enthusiasts have a reason to stand up and cheer once again.


The Albuquerque Convention Center has added free, wireless internet "Hot Zones". These "Hot Zones" are located in the Center's public lobby areas and allow attendees with wireless enabled devices to access the internet and internet based email at no charge. Some laptop computers may be able access the wireless signal from their seat trackside in the arena.


Thanks to the leadership of sixth-year head coach Matt Henry and his staff, the University of New Mexico boasts one of the most improved track and field programs in the country. Built upon a foundation of elite in-state talent with a blend of premier national and international competitors, the Lobos continue to reach new heights each year. Under Henry's tutelage UNM athletes have gone to the NCAA Championship meet four years in a row, earned three All-America awards, won 21 MWC event titles and claimed all-MWC honors 90 times since 2001.

The 2006 UNM men's and women's roster features 76 in-state products, including 39 from the Duke City. Thirty-one men and women are former New Mexico state track champions.