Stevens: Lobo Women Finish No. 9 at NCAA Cross Country Championships
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/21/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 21, 2011

Lobo Cross Country -- At NCAA Championships

When/Where: Monday, Terre Haute, Indiana - Lavern Gibson Course
Lobos: Lobo women, No. 9; Lobo men, No. 31

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Once again the podium was out of reach for the New Mexico Lobo women, but when you finish in the Top Ten at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, you really have something to brag about.

Lobo Joe Franklin knew a lot of favorable things had to happen for his Lobo women in order to place in the top four and climb atop the podium during the awards ceremony in Terre Haute, Ind.

His Lobos also needed to come out sizzling. They came out solid on a chilly run in Indiana, and finished ninth in the nation.

"The women ran pretty well. They ran solid," said Franklin. "We had a lot of things wear on us all year, but they went out today and ran hard and gave it a shot. The women's field is incredibly deep and they did a good job.

"We didn't have a great race, but it was by no means awful."

The awful day was reserved for Lobo Ross Millington, UNM's top runner on the men's side, who went to Terre Haute battling a bug and had to drop out of the race near the 6,000 meter mark. The Lobo men, minus their star, fell into 31st place.

"For what we had left on the course, I thought we did a good job," said Franklin. "Ross was ill and he gave it a go, but it got the better of him. But when you compete at nationals, you are in the top ten percent of the cross country programs across the country and that's pretty special."

With Millington out of the race, Sean Stam picked it up for his team by finishing in 139th place with a time of 31:07.2. He was followed by No. 213 Patrick Ortiz at 31:57, No. 236 Pierre Malherbe at 32:19, No. 238 Michael Asay at 32:25, No. 242 Allen Pittman at 32:31 and No. 250 Vincent Montoya at 32:85.

Franklin said when teams go into a national championship there are always some surprise shifts that can influence team and individual placement. The big shift Monday came in the women's 6K race when Florida State, the heavy favorite, slipped into the No. 4 spot.

The Georgetown women took the title with 162 points in a tight race with No. 2 Washington (170), No. 3 Villanova (181) and Florida State (189).

Villanova's Sheila Reid had to win a sprint to the finish line to claim the individual title with a time of 19:41.2. Oregon's Jordan Hasay gave chase at 19:41.8 followed by Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino at 9:42.9.

UNM's Ruth Senior was the top Lobo woman finisher with a time of 20:32 that placed her No. 41 nationally. Natalie Gray came in 81st with a clocking of 20:53 followed by No. 91 Kirsty Milner at 20:57, No. 94 Imogen Ainsworth at 21:00, No. 131 Josephine Moultrie at 21:16, No. 148 Sarah Waldron at 21:24 and No. 213 Shawna Winnegar at 22:07.

On the men's side, the order was pretty close to pre-race hype. Wisconsin (97 points) held on to claim the title over two-time defending champion, Oklahoma State (139). Colorado (144) was third and Brigham Young (203) came in fourth.

There was no shock in the men's finish as Arizona freshman Lawi Lalang remained undefeated with his 10K run of 28:44. Stanford's Chris Derrick was second at 28:58.

The national run marked another great season for UNM cross country under Franklin. The Lobo men and the Lobo women defended their Mountain West titles with another sweep and the UNM women added the NCAA Mountain Region title to their trophy case.