Sept. 28, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Earlier in the week, Joe Franklin thought New Mexico might be rusty.
Instead, the Lobos shined.
The University of New Mexico's nationally ranked cross country teams rolled versus a star-studded field at the Notre Dame Invitational, as the No. 19 women took third and the No. 21 men placed sixth.
The Lobos turned in a strong effort at the Notre Dame Golf Course, running for the first time in 2012 with a squad filled with talented, if perhaps inexperienced, runners.
"I think it was a good start," said Franklin, the New Mexico head coach. "I think those teams have to run considerably better later in year. It's the first race for a lot of women and men. I think it shows a little bit."
The Lobos, despite finishing in the top ten for the fifth consecutive year at Notre Dame, have not competed enough for their top runners to completely mesh.
But in the results, it hardly showed.
The women stormed to a team finish of third, finishing with 147 points behind a stellar effort by senior Josephine Moultrie.
Moultrie led the Lobos in the 5-kilometer run, clocking a blazing 16-minute, 46-second time to place fourth. Her time was the fastest women's 5K time in the Mountain West prior to this weekend by nearly half a minute.
"She keeps improving and improving, year after year," Franklin said, in reference to Moultrie's 45th-place finish at the 2011 Notre Dame Invitational.
"I thought if they raced as well as they have been training," Franklin said, "they would race well."
On the men's side, Luke Caldwell, a junior transfer from the UK, paced the Lobos with a 12th-place time of 23:59 over the 5-mile course.
"I think Luke did a really good job," Franklin said. "I think he's improved a lot."
The five runners—which included three junior transfers (Caldwell, Zacharias and Bitchell) and a redshirt sophomore (Evans)—combined to notch 200 points, a vast improvement over last year's 264 points.
The races featured 15 nationally ranked squads, including ten on the men's side and five on the women's.
The second-ranked Florida State women placed first overall, claiming five of the top 12 places for 29 points. The Seminoles were followed by No. 24 Notre Dame in second (111 points), New Mexico in third, No. 25 N.C. State in fourth (148) and Illinois in fifth (187).
No. 20 Tulsa won the men's race with 104 points, as Chris O'Hare earned the individual title with a 23:33 time. No. 17 Princeton (139 points), No. 24 Notre Dame (143), No. 10 Florida State (152) and No. 25 Eastern Kentucky (167) rounded out the top five.
The Lobos will have a week off before they head to another premier national race, the Wisconsin Adidas Invitation, on Oct. 12.