The UNM women will feature plenty of fresh faces this season with 26 newcomers, including 22 freshmen, joining 19 returning letterwinners. Head coach Matt Henry added some impressive young talent in the sprints, distance events, jumps and pole vault who should all be ready to contribute right away. While the team's overall inexperience may result in some growing pains at times, New Mexico returns its top performers in virtually every event and should have a good chance to climb up the Mountain West Conference standings this spring.
SPRINTS, HURDLES, RELAYS -Junior Kimilia Davis (Bellaire, Texas) has established herself as the team leader in the sprints and one of the top 200 and 400-meter threats in the MWC. A finalist in both events at the 2004 outdoor championships, Davis has steadily improved each year and will be a strong all-conference candidate this spring. Henry has also given her more help in the sprints with the addition of talented freshmen Ariel Burr (Carrizozo, N.M.), Kristan Matison (San Diego, Calif.), Tabatha Shaw (Austin, Texas) and Shakira Williams (Austin, Texas).
Burr was one of New Mexico's most decorated prep sprinters over the past five years, finishing her career with 14 individual gold medals at the state championship meet. The daughter of former UNM All-American sprinter René Matison, Kristan Matison has shown excellent speed in the 100, 200 and 400. The duo of Shaw and Williams, meanwhile, both qualified for the Texas state championship meet in the 200 during their career. Shaw should also make an immediate impact in the 100, while Williams has outstanding potential in the 400.
Senior Erin Teske (Alamogordo, N.M.) is the Lobos' most experienced sprinter and should continue to help the team in the 100 and 200. Sophomore KC Pritchard (Moriarty, N.M.), meanwhile, can also contribute in any of the sprint events.
Davis will lead what should be two much improved relay units. Burr, Matison, Williams and sophomore middle distance runners Brandie Mills (Missouri City, Texas) and Riann Lucy (Albuquerque, N.M.) could all vie for spots on the Lobos' rising 4x400 relay team, while Shaw, Matison and Burr should bolster the 4x100 squad.
True freshmen Nizhoni Fairey (Gallup, N.M.), Haily Lee (House, N.M.) and Tiyana Peters (Flanders, N.J.) will have much of the 100 and 400m hurdle responsibilities this spring. All three enjoyed solid prep careers in the hurdles and will gain valuable collegiate experience that should benefit them in the years to come. Senior Amber Nolte (Sparks, Nev.) and sophomore Stefany Setliff can also contribute in the short hurdles when called upon.
MID-DISTANCE/DISTANCE -Senior Jacquelyne Gallegos (Pojoaque, N.M.) is perhaps the Lobos' top threat on the track and one of the league's premier talents in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters. After having her sophomore season ruined by a near career-ending auto accident, Gallegos has worked her way back into the elite form that made her one of Henry's most prized signees in 2001. An all-conference runner in the 1,500 at last year's outdoor championships, Gallegos earned first team all-conference honors with her third place finish at the 2004 MWC Cross Country Championships and went on to finish a strong 69th at the NCAA Championship meet during the fall. Henry said he believes she is poised to take the next step forward this spring to establish herself among the nation's best distance runners.
Talented junior Timmie Murphy (Farmington, N.M.) will be looking for a comeback season of her own after nagging leg and hip injuries forced her to redshirt the 2004 cross country season. Murphy clocked a career-best 5,000 time of 17:13.59 last spring, just off the NCAA regional qualifying standard, and was an MWC scorer in the indoor 5K. Her return to health would provide a big boost to the UNM distance crew. Third-year runner Janice Tosa (Jemez Pueblo, N.M.), meanwhile, will also look to put together a solid 2005 campaign. Limited by various ailments in the early stages of her career, Tosa has logged just 11 indoor/outdoor races over the past two years. However, she has shown solid potential during the cross country seasons and could be a real threat in the 5,000 when she puts it all together on the track.
New Mexico returns an up-and-coming middle distance group in junior Jaime Hall (Albuquerque, N.M.) and sophomores Riann Lucy and Brandie Mills. Lucy established herself as the top 800-meter runner in the Henry era, clocking a season-best 2:13.39 in her first season. Hall, meanwhile, impressed the coaches with her offseason training program and should continue to rise up the MWC ranks this spring, along with the promising Mills.
Henry has also brought in a large group of rookie runners that will have an opportunity to make their mark this season. Lindsay Barr (Albuquerque, N.M.), Stasia Ploskonka (Cedar Crest, N.M.) and Leslie Luna (Albuquerque, N.M.) all earned a great deal of collegiate racing experience during the cross country season and will help the Lobos in both the 1,500 and 5,000. Rebecca Johnson (Albuquerque, N.M.) proved to be one of New Mexico's top prep 800 runners last spring, while Paige Kinucan (Alpine, Texas) is a former Texas state meet qualifier in the mile. Former state 3,200 champ Melanie Velarde (Albuquerque, N.M.) could also make a significant impact in the distance events as she continues to work herself back into shape after being slowed over the past year by a foot injury.
POLE VAULT/JUMPS -New Mexico should maintain its status as one of the Mountain West's top pole vaulting schools with a pair of promising newcomers set to join a solid group of returnees this season. Senior Amber Nolte has been one of the league's top vaulters over the past three years and will be a valuable conference scoring threat this spring. Fourth-year competitor Cheyenne Renfroe (Cimarron, N.M.) and sophomore Nicole Huyge (Las Cruces, N.M.) could also make an impact with continued improvement in 2005.
Newcomers Katie Coles (Palouse, Wash.) and Whitney Johnson (Mission Viejo, Calif.) should step right in and become factors in conference scoring this season. Coles, a senior transfer who last competed two years ago at Eastern Washington, cleared a personal best of 12 feet while training part-time in the event. Johnson, meanwhile, established herself as one of the country's top high school vaulters last spring, earning prep All-America honors with a personal record height of 12-10.00.
New Mexico's improving jumps group will get a solid boost from the addition of freshman Tiyana Peters. Peters, a 2004 indoor high school All-American in the high jump, cleared 5-08.00 during her prep career and could vie for all-conference honors as a rookie. She could also provide some help in the long jump, along with multi-event athletes Bridgid Isworth, and Stefany Setliff (El Paso, Texas). Improving sophomore Jai McBride (Houston, Texas) will handle the triple jump duties again and will look to challenge for conference points this spring.
THROWS/JAVELIN -While depth will be an issue, New Mexico will be a legitimate conference scoring threat in both throwing events and the javelin this spring. The Lobos return the greatest throwers in school history in seniors Amanda Barnes (Carlsbad, N.M.) and Jamie Fishencord (Littleton, Colo.), both of whom will be looking to bolster their legacy with a tremendous finish to their careers.
Barnes became the first New Mexico woman to earn all-conference honors in the shot put last winter, then went on to claim her second straight MWC outdoor shot put title with a school record toss of 50-11.00. This spring she will seek to become the first men's or women's three-time shot put winner in both UNM and conference history. A two-time Midwest Regional qualifier in the shot put, Barnes will also take aim at the national championship berth that has eluded her during her career. She should also be a factor in the MWC discus competition after ranking among the league's top-10 a year ago.
Coming off her breakthrough junior campaign, the hard-working Fishencord could challenge for all-conference honors in the discus and her specialty, the hammer throw. A marginal walk-on when she first arrived at UNM in 2002, Fishencord improved her own school record in the indoor weight throw, then secured the top marks of all-time in both the discus and hammer throw last year. After upsetting much of the hammer throw field with an 11th place finish at the 2004 Midwest Region meet, she could find herself in contention for a spot at nationals once again in 2005.
Stalwart senior Veronica R. Gonzales (Carlsbad, N.M.) has already established herself as one of the top javelin competitors in UNM women's history, earning all-MWC honors in 2004 and a trip to the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships, where she was ranked No. 7. Boasting a personal record of 152-01, Gonzales will look to become the first UNM woman ever to win a conference javelin title and perhaps a spot in the national field as she caps her career.
Junior Jessica McIntyre (Farmington, N.M.) also has the potential to make a real impact in the javelin as she returns to track & field competition after a long layoff. One of the nation's top-rated competitors while winning back-to-back New Mexico state titles, McIntyre took a three-year hiatus from collegiate competition after leaving Troy University in 2001. Her successful return to form could be a tremendous benefit to the Lobos this spring. Another newcomer in freshman Jessica McCall (Albuquerque, N.M.) might also develop into a conference scoring threat to keep an eye on this spring.