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Lobos Travel To Lubbock For Texas Tech's Wes Kittley Classic
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/26/2005
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 26, 2005

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UPCOMING

The University of New Mexico men's and women's track and field teams will make their lone indoor appearance in the Lone Star state on Saturday when they visit regional rival Texas Tech for the Wes Kittley Classic. The meet will be held at the TTU Athletic Training Center, which is also known as "The Bubble". The schedule opens with the field events at 9:30 a.m. (MST), followed by action on the track at 11:30.

NEW MEXICO'S RECENT HISTORY AT TEXAS TECH

New Mexico will be competing in Lubbock for the third time under fifth-year head coach Matt Henry. The Lobos visited Texas Tech in 2001, Henry's first year, and competed last winter at the2004 Red Raider Classic. In that meet, former Lobo Jason Barkemeyer and current indoor junior Jacquelyne Gallegos took home gold medals in the shot put and 3,000 meters, respectively, to lead the UNM effort. Barkemeyer recorded a personal-best mark of 56-06.00 to win the shot, while Gallegos breezed to victory with a time of 10:07.09, which was a career-best at the time.

Some of the Lobos' top indoor marks of the 2004 season came at Texas Tech last year, including Kimilia Davis in the 55-meter dash, Suzanne Nguyen in the triple jump.

MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS

Complete information and results from the Wes Kittley Classic will be available at the official athletic department website of Texas Tech University:

Wes Kittley Classic meet information/results

LOBOS CAPTURE FIVE GOLD MEDALS IN SEASON-OPENER AT AIR FORCE

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Freshman Whitney Johnson enjoyed a stellar collegiate debut on Friday (Jan. 21), soaring 12-03.50 to win the women's pole vault with ease on the first day of competition at the 15th annual Air Force Invitational. Johnson became just the second woman in UNM history to surpass 12 feet in the pole vault, joining teammate and current school record holder Bridgid Isworth. The rookie from Mission Viejo, Calif. won the event by nearly 10 inches as the runner-up from Utah State cleared just 11-05.75.

In other action on the first day, indoor junior Jacquelyne Gallegos won the non-seeded mile race with an altitude converted time of 5:11.15. The foursome of Clem, Smiel, Martinez and McCain, meanwhile, ran a strong converted time of 10:00.43 to edge Colorado for second place in the distance medley relay.

On Saturday, distance aces Jacquelyne Gallegos and Ben Ortega swept the seeded 3,000-meter races, while freshman Derek McDonald won the heptathlon in his collegiate debut to lead the University of New Mexico on the final day of the Air Force Invitational. The UNM men finished fifth with a score of 59.5, while the women were sixth with 52 points.

Junior Kimilia Davis captured 10 points for the Lobos as the first collegiate finisher in the 400-meter finals. Davis clocked a strong time of 57.20, only trailing unattached runner Akia Davis (54.91). New Mexico also scored well in the 800, as sophomore Riann Lucy (2:20.89) and senior Jaime Hall (2:21.17) combined for nine points by finishing fifth and sixth, respectively.

GALLEGOS ADDS HER NAME TO THE RECORD BOOK

Two years removed from a near career-ending auto accident, Jacquelyne Gallegos has cemented her status as one of the finest distance runners ever to compete at the University of New Mexico. A junior in eligibility indoors, Gallegos opened the 2005 season with the best 3,000-meter race in UNM history last Saturday at the Air Force Invitational.

The Pojoaque, N.M. native won the seeded 3K event with an altitude adjusted time of 9:54.07, besting Kelly Dix's (now Kelly Dunbar) 1993 record by 0.3 seconds. Dunbar, who is currently a volunteer assistant coach for the Lobos, still owns the UNM indoor 5,000-meter record which she also recorded in 1993.

Under fifth-year head coach Matt Henry, the Lobos have rewritten the school's indoor records. Since Henry took over the program in 2001, an amazing 13 winter records have beet set, including Gallegos' performance in the 3,000 last weekend. Gallegos is the fourth women's record holder who is still competing for the Lobos, joining seniors Bridgid Isworth (pole vault), Amanda Barnes (shot put) and Jamie Fishencord (weight throw).

ORTEGA CLOCKS FASTEST 3,000 IN HENRY ERA

Several other Lobos enjoyed career performance in the 2005 indoor season-opener at Air Force, including senior Ben Ortega. Ortega helped UNM sweep the seeded 3,000-meter races, winning the event with an altitude adjusted time of 8:13.56. The Taos, N.M. native's time was nearly 12 seconds under his previous personal record and the fastest ever run under fifth-year head coach Matt Henry. Interestingly, Ortega's previous best time of 8:25.17 came en route to a victory in the seeded 3K at the 2003 Air Force Invite.

INDOOR TRACK AT THE ALBUQUERQUE CONVENTION CENTER

Good timing, a proactive city council 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, Albuquerque and University of New Mexico officials believe the city now has an indoor track that will be a destination for some of the nation's premier events.

The new Albuquerque indoor track is a 200-meter, 60-degree banked track 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.

The Albuquerque All-Comers meet marked the University of New Mexico's first indoor competition at home since hosting the 1987 Western Athletic Conference Championships in Tingley Coliseum at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. Current UNM assistant coach Scott Steffan, who competed at the '87 WAC Championships as freshman decathlete, said the new indoor track will provide a tremendous boost to the head coach Matt Henry's rejuvenated Lobo track and field program. The U.S. Air Force Academy has hosted every Mountain West Conference Indoor Championship meet since the league formed in 1999, but UNM coaches are hoping for a change of venue as early as next year.

"We've now joined Air Force as the only two programs in the Mountain West that have NCAA sanctioned indoor track facilities," said Steffan. "We're going to host one meet this year, but, with the city's help, we would like to once again make Albuquerque one of the country's top destinations for indoor track competition. We've already put in a bid to host the 2006 conference meet and we think this could be a future site for the NCAA Championships as well, which is great for our recruits to know."

In the mid-60s Albuquerque was one of the nation's elite indoor track and field locations. 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.

2005 UNM INDOOR TRACK & FIELD PREVIEW

While outdoor competition remains the focal point for fifth-year head coach Matt Henry and his staff, the Lobos will field a solid, exciting squad this winter. The city of Albuquerque's recent purchase of an indoor track created a buzz around indoor competition. Though the track is not yet available for training purposes, New Mexico's athletes got a solid head start on the 2005 campaign, competing in the Jan. 15 home exhibition meet.

WOMEN

The UNM women will feature plenty of fresh faces this season with 25 newcomers, including 22 freshmen, joining 20 returning letterwinners indoors. While the team's overall inexperience may be a factor at times, New Mexico returns its top performers in virtually every event.

Senior Jacquelyne Gallegos is the Lobos' top threat on the track and is one of the league's premier talents in both the mile and 3,000 meters. An all-conference runner in the 1,500 outdoors, Gallegos placed third at the MWC Cross Country Championships and went on to finish a strong 69th at the NCAA Championship meet during the fall.

The Lobos also return the greatest throwers in school history in seniors Amanda Barnes and Jamie Fishencord, as well as the best UNM pole vaulter of all-time in senior Bridgid Isworth. Barnes became the first New Mexico woman to earn all-conference honors in the shot put last winter, finishing third with a school record toss of 49-03.50. Fishencord, meanwhile, surpassed her own school record in the weight throw, placing eighth at the MWC meet with a toss of 53-11.75. Isworth, the 2003 MWC indoor pole vault champion, did not vault last winter, but came on strong during the outdoor season. She sailed 12-07.50 to win the MWC title, then soared 12-10.00 in a fifth place finish at the Midwest Regionals.

Back on the track, junior Kimilia Davis has continued to improve each year and is poised to become one of the league's best sprinters in 2005. Davis led the Lobos in the 60, 200 and 400 indoors last year and was an outdoor finalist in both the 200 and 400. This year, she should have some more help with the addition of freshmen Kristan Matison, Tabatha Shaw and Shakira Williams. Senior Jaime Hall and sophomore Riann Lucy give the Lobos a solid 1-2 punch in the 800, while junior Timmie Murphy leads a large, talented group of young distance runners.

Senior Suzanne Nguyen and sophomore Stefany Setliff return to handle the pentathlon and will also help in several field events. Versatile senior Amber Nolte, meanwhile, will also contribute in the pole vault and hurdles. True freshman Tiyana Peters could give the Lobos an immediate scoring threat in the high jump, while fellow rookie Whitney Johnson could emerge as one of the league's best in the pole vault.

MEN

The New Mexico men's team should be a solid, balanced unit this winter with 16 newcomers blending with a strong group of veterans. UNM loses several big guns in MWC heptathlon champion Mark Johnson, sprinter/hurdler Chris Garofola, as well as throwers Jason Barkemeyer and Jordan Parker, but the door is open for the next generation of Lobo stars to make their mark.

All-everything distance runner Matt Gonzales is back for his final year in Cherry and Silver after leading the UNM men's cross country team to a ninth place finish at the 2004 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The two-time track All-American will likely ease into the indoor season, but will be a threat to win both the mile and 3,000 at the conference championships. Fellow senior Ben Ortega, a five-time all-MWC honoree on the track, is one of the league's premier 5,000 and 3,000 runners, while senior Nick Martinez is a scoring threat in the mile and 3K. Senior Cameron Clarke, who is slated to redshirt during the spring, could be one of the Mountain West's top runners in the 800 and mile in his final indoor campaign.

Fresh off his All-America performance at the national cross country meet, freshman Shadrack Kiptoo Biwott leads a fine group of young UNM distance runners. The prep All-American owned the fastest high school two-mile time (8:45.44) in the nation last year has been clocked at 4:02.80 in the mile. He is equally dangerous in the 5K, owning a personal best of 13:57. Sophomores Steven Martinez and Juan Ortega should be factors as well this winter after enjoying a fine cross country campaign.

The sprint events should get some real help with the return of senior Ahmed Raji, who redshirted the entire 2004 season. Raji joined the team late in the 2003 indoor season, but proved to be one of the Mountain West's fastest men outdoors, earning all-conference honors in the 200. Sophomores Jeramie White and Randle McCain also return, looking to build off of their strong debut seasons. White ripped off a stunning school record time of 6.91 in the 60-meter dash last year, while McCain led the team in the 400. Redshirt freshman Jeremy Davis will be counted on to share the load, as will junior Brenton Laws, a transfer from Washington. Freshmen Chris Cole, Kurt Henry, George Mullen and Jarrin Solomon will also have an opportunity to make their mark in the sprints.

New Mexico should also be a force in the jumps and heptathlon this winter. Junior Dan Feltman is easily the team's best all-around athlete and should challenge for the heptathlon crown this season after placing fourth in the MWC decathlon competition. Junior Rodney Hocker and true freshman Derek McDonald will join Feltman to give the Lobos a solid multi-event group. Senior Willie Yuen, a five-time indoor and outdoor triple jump finalist is back to lead the team in both horizontal jumps, while indoor junior Derek Mackel appears ready to lead the perennially strong UNM pole vault crew. Junior Zach Bingham, sophomore Robert Caldwell and freshman Zach Graham should also be MWC scoring threats in the vault.

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