June 22, 2009
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Really, there is no finish line in sight for Lobos' track and cross country coach Joe Franklin, even though the nature of his sport draws lines where winners are found and crowned. Franklin is more like a javelin or discus guy. He keeps reaching for marks a little more further out than his last heave.
"We have gone places we have never gone before," said Franklin. "And we will build on that success. It's going to get better as more athletes realize that the University of New Mexico is a great place to go for a quality education and a quality track and field experience."
The New Mexico Lobos' track program under Franklin keeps reaching new marks, new heights, new distances. It happened in his first season of 2007-08. It happened again in 2008-09 and these are not simply words or hype from a coach trying to build up the reputation or over state the success of his program.
With Franklin, there are marks you can reach out and feel. They are solid, with form and substance. There are runners breaking the tape at the finish line. There are facts, stats and progress that prove that New Mexico has one of the fastest growing track & field/cross country programs in the nation.
In 2008-09, Franklin's program produced the school's first ever conference championship in women's cross country. That team had its most all-league picks in school history and went on to finish 18th in its first NCAA Championship appearance since 1985. The Lobo men's cross country team had its best score ever at an NCAA Regional, just missing the NCAA Championship cut. Both squads were nationally ranked during the regular season.
The Lobos had a national track champion in Lee Emanuel, who won the indoor title at a mile, and seven athletes earn All-America honors during the indoor/outdoor seasons. The UNM men finished tied for 16th at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Franklin's Lobos advanced a program-record 20 individuals and a relay team to the NCAA regional meet and record 11 athletes (seven men, four women) to the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The list of accomplishments and progress is huge. The cream, the cherries, on top of that list can be found at the bottom of this story.
"If we would have gone into the year thinking we would be be Top 20 in several programs, that would have been a lofty goal," said Franklin. "We were No. 18 in women's side in cross country. We were 16th on men's side in indoor track. We had seven All-Americans in indoor and outdoors. We obviously are going in the right direction."
The Lobo All-Americans indoors were Emanuel (mile), Jarrin Solomon (400 meters), and Deanna Young (triple jump). The Lobos got outdoor All-America status from Emanuel (1,500), Anthony Fairbanks (javelin), Katie Coronado (javelin), Michelle Corrigan (10,000), and Chris Barnicle (10,000).
The Lobos qualified a program-record 20 athletes and a relay team for the NCAA Midwest Region Championships and a program-record 11 Lobos marched on to the NCAA finals.
Like all Lobo programs, success and progress also is measured and stressed in the classroom. Both the UNM men's and women's cross country teams earned All-Academic Team honors handed out by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The men's team had eight named to the MWC All-Academic Team and the women matched that number. Franklin had 19 men and 25 women athletes named MWC All-Academic for the spring session.
"There is no reason for us not to continue to build success competitively and in the classroom," said Franklin. "Some places worry and concentrate too much on what they don't have. We are proud of and we stress what we do have, and we have a lot.
"We have climate and altitude and a supportive administration and great educational support and tools. We have a great school with great facilities and we are in a great conference. There are so many positives in track at New Mexico and we have some outstanding talent that we have held back and they aren't even running yet."
Here is a list of some of the many highlights of New Mexico's 2008-09 seasons:
2008 Cross Country
-- The UNM women won their first Mountain West title, which also marked the first conference title in school history for the women. UNM placed Lacey Oeding, Carolyn Boosey and Nicky Archer on the all-MWC first team with Leslie Luna and Michelle Corrigan making the second team. It was the most all-conference Lobos in school history.
-- Joe Franklin was the MWC's 2008 Women's Cross Country Coach of The Year.
--The UNM women finished second at the NCAA Mountain Regional and returned to the NCAA Championships for the first time in 23 years, finishing 18th. The women's score at regionals was their best since 1981.
--The women had program record six runners on the all-region team: Michelle Corrigan, Lacey Oeding, Nicky Archer, Carolyn Boosey, Leslie Luna and Ashley Gibson. Luna became the second Lobo to earn all-region honors three times in a career.
-- The UNM men finished fourth at the NCAA Mountain Regional, placing a program record four runners on the all-region team: David Bishop, Lee Emanuel, Jacob Kirwa and Rory Fraser. Their regional score was their best ever.
-- Nicky Archer became the second Lobo woman ever to earn MWC Athlete of The Week honors twice in a season.
2009 Indoor & Outdoor Track & Field:
-- Lee Emanuel gives UNM a national champion in the indoor mile and almost makes it a double by finishing No. 3 in the 1,500 NCAA outdoor finale. He tied a UNM mark for the highest finish ever by a Lobo in the 1,500 (outdoor) and became one of two Lobos to medal in a running event at the outdoor championships since 1984. He also sets the UNM record at 1,500 meters.
-- Franklin's Lobos advanced a program-record 11 athletes (seven men, four women) to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Lobos qualified only four women athletes from 1998 to 2006. UNM also sent a program-record 20 Lobos and a relay team into NCAA regional competition.
--Senior Anthony Fairbanks became an NCAA All-American with his ninth-place javelin throw in the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He also broke the UNM and MWC records with a throw of 225-feet, 9 inches to win an NCAA Regional title.
-- Senior Katie Coronado became the first UNM woman ever to earn All-America honors in back-to-back seasons at the NCAA Championships with an 11th-place throw in the javelin finals. She was the second UNM woman ever to advance to the NCAA Championships in three straight seasons. Coronado also was the NCAA Midwest Regional champion for the second time, the only Lobo to ever accomplish that feat.
-- Juniors Michelle Corrigan (eighth) and Chris Barnicle (13th) both earned All-America honors at 10,000 meters at the NCAA finals. Corrigan finishes 12 spots above her seed and defeats defending 10K champion Lisa Koll of Iowa State. Barnicle finishes seven spots above his seed to give UNM an All-American in the men's 10,000 for the third straight year and fifth time since 2003.
-- The Lobos also got NCAA all-region honors from Fairbanks and Coronado, Jacob Kirwa (5,000 meters), Barnicle (5,000), Whitney Johnson (pole vault), Nicky Archer (5,000), Jarrin Solomon (400), Ashley Gibson (1,500) and Kim Perkins (400 hurdles).
-- The men gave UNM a top-10 team at the NCAA Midwest Regional for the first time, tying for ninth with a program best 25 points. The women set a school mark with a 13th-place finish (19 points) at the regional meet.
-- The Lobo men set a school mark with 135 points and a third-place finish at the MWC Outdoor Championships. The men had 11 all-MWC athletes and two MWC champions in Jarrin Solomon (400) and Jacob Kirwa (5,000). The men's 4x100 relay team set a school mark (40.30) in a second-place finish. It was the men's highest conference finish since 1990.
-- The Lobos tied a program record by advancing four individuals and one relay team to the NCAA Indoor Championships. Lee Emanuel became UNM's first indoor champ since 1977 with his win in the mile and Jarrin Solomon finished fifth at 400 meters - the best ever by a New Mexico sprinter at the Indoor Championships. Deanna Young finished tied for 12th in the triple jump to give the UNM women their first indoor All-American.
-- The Lobo men finish second at 2009 MWC Indoor Championship. Their highest previous MWC finish was fifth. That finish also tied a program mark for highest conference finish ever indoors. The Lobos had eight all-MWC performers. The UNM women had four all-MWC athletes.
-- School records fell in seven indoor events and three outdoor events. Lee Emanuel set four records in 2009, breaking a 15-year-old standard in the indoor 3,000, 25-year-old mark in the indoor 800, and 30-year-old record in the outdoor 1,500. Ashley Gibson smashed a 15-year-old record in the women's indoor mile.
-- All told, the UNM cross country and track & field programs' national success results in 130.5 of New Mexico's total 335 points - 39 percent - in the 2008-09 national Director's Cup standings.