Surging Lobos To Take On Strong Field At Northern Arizona Meet
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/02/2005
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 2, 2005

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The University of New Mexico men's and women's track and field teams will be at nearly full strength for the first time this winter when they join a fine collegiate field at the 2005 Mountain T's Invitational meet on Saturday in Flagstaff, Ariz. Three Pac-10 teams in Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon will be in attendance, as will Mountain West Conference foe San Diego State, New Mexico State, Southern Utah and host Northern Arizona. The meet action gets underway with the field events at 8 a.m. (MST), followed by the running events at 8:25.


Complete information and results from the Mountain T's Invitational will be available at the official athletic department website of Northern Arizona University:

Northern Arizona Athletics Website


Senior Matt Gonzales and freshman Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott will be making their 2005 indoor season debuts on Saturday in their first competition since leading UNM to a ninth place finish at the 2004 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Gonzales is a four-time All-American in both cross country and track, while Kiptoo-Biwott earned All-America honors. The Eldoret, Kenya native was a prep All-American at Albuquerque's La Cueva High School, competing mostly in the mile and two-mile runs.

Gonzales and Kiptoo-Biwott headline the field of the men's invitational mile race and will also drop down in distance to compete in the invitational 800 meters. Gonzales swept both events in his 2004 indoor season debut at NAU, clocking times of 4:08.88 and 1:53.69, respectively.


One the oldest active indoor track and field facilities in the Southwest United States, Northern Arizona's J.L. Walkup Skydome has been the site of winter track competition since 1978. While the interior colors have always been Lumberjack blue and gold, the University of New Mexico has made itself at home for 26 of the 27 years the facility has been in existence. UNM made the journey to Flagstaff in the first year of competition in the Skydome, but former head coach Bill Silverberg decided to omit Northern Arizona from the 1979 schedule. The Lobos, however, returned in 1980 and have been back every year since. New Mexico's appearance at the 2005 Mountain T's Invitational on Saturday will mark the 26th straight year the team has visited the J.L. Walkup Skydome.

The Lobos' familiarity with the Skydome has yielded some outstanding results under fifth-year head coach Matt Henry. Since 2001, New Mexico has recorded season best results in an average of 6.5 events during its trips to Flagstaff. Last fall, the men and women notched their season bests in four events apiece during a triangular meet at Northern Arizona. Amanda Barnes and Jeramie White led the way with school records in the weight throw and 60 meters, respectively.

Distance ace Matt Gonzales won the 800 and mile races in his indoor season debut to lead the UNM men to a trio of head-to-head victories over UC-Irvine (97.5-49.5), Southern Utah (88.5-58.5) and NAU (81-69) in their 2004 visit to Flagstaff. Barnes swept the shot put and weight throw, but the women finished the day with a 1-2 mark, defeating UC-Irvine (74.5-62.5) and falling to NAU (79-65) and Southern Utah (85.66-53.33). The Lobos combined for eight gold medals on the day, including wins by Jordan Parker (shot put), Kimilia Davis (400m) and Riann Lucy (800).

LAST TIME OUT (at the Wes Kittley Classic)

LUBBOCK, Texas - Derek Mackel continued his breakthrough season on Jan. 29, earning his first career indoor victory at Texas Tech's Wes Kittley Classic with a career-high and NCAA provisional qualifying height of 17-01.00 in the pole vault. Mackel, a junior in eligibility indoors, became the first Lobo to record a national qualifying mark this winter. Senior Amanda Barnes paced the women with a victory in the weight throw and runner-up finish in the shot put.

After clearing an unofficial career-best of 17-00.75 on Jan. 15 in the Lobos' exhibition indoor meet in Albuquerque, Mackel soared nearly a full foot higher than his top mark of 2004. The Sandia High School product also became the second Lobo in head coach Matt Henry's five-year tenure to surpass 17 feet in the pole vault, joining current volunteer coach Branden Bennett who cleared 17-04.50 in 2003.

Barnes, meanwhile, earned her third career indoor victory and reclaimed the school record from teammate Jamie Fishencord with a toss of 54-01.00. Barnes defeated the runner-up, Texas Tech's Olivia Clardy, by two feet while Fishencord finished fourth with a solid early-season mark of 50-08.75. Barnes capped her day with a 47-08.00 mark in the shot put to finish second.

New Mexico was also well represented in the women's pole vault as freshman Whitney Johnson battled Texas Tech's nationally-ranked vaulter Kelley Schulz to a first place tie. Johnson improved nearly three inches from the week before, matching Schulz with a height of 12-06.00.


The University of New Mexico track and field program boasts an elite tradition of excellence that has included 11 national championship event victories, 66 All-America honors, 19 national top-25 team finishes, 193 conference championship event victories and five conference team titles. While many of the architects of the New Mexico's track and field tradition made their mark in the 1960s and `70s, several current Lobos have grown up with a unique appreciation of the program's proud history. Five athletes on the 2005 roster are second generation members of the Lobo track and field program, many of whom can still see their surnames prominently displayed in the UNM record books.

Freshman Kristan Matison is the daughter of one of New Mexico's finest sprinters, Rene Matison, who earned All-America honors in the 100-yard dash and as part of the 440-yard relay in 1966. Matison was also a member of four Western Athletic Conference champion relay teams and played a year of football for the Lobos before being drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys in 1969. Matison's name is also in the UNM record books as he anchored the record-setting 4x100m relay team and matched the fastest 100-yard time ever recorded at UNM.

Fellow freshman Jarrin Solomon can also find his family name featured throughout the history of New Mexico track and field thanks to the efforts of his father Michael Solomon. The elder Solomon was a two-time All-American and the 600-yard champion at the 1977 NCAA Indoor Championships. From 1974-77, Solomon claimed four-straight 600 titles, one 440 crown, was a member of the Lobos' three-time WAC champion mile relay team indoors and part of the outdoor record-setting 4x400m relay team. Solomon was also a two-time Olympian, competing at the 1976 Montreal games and 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Kurt Henry is another Lobo rookie who has been in surrounded by UNM track and field tradition his entire life. His dad, Matt Henry, is of course the fifth-year head coach at New Mexico, a former All-American for the Lobos and member of four WAC Champion relay teams. Kurt's uncle Mark was also a letterwinner for UNM and is currently the associate head coach, while his grandfather Bub and great-grandfather Gwinn have a legacy of success in UNM athletics that goes back to the 1930s.

Redshirt freshmen Erik Coleman and Veronica K. Gonzales round out the group of second generation UNM track and field athletes. Erik's father, Ed Coleman, was the Lobos' first conference cross country champion, claiming the WAC title in 1963. Veronica's father, Rick Gonzales, meanwhile, was also a member of the UNM track and field team.


Three other current Lobos have parents who competed in athletics for New Mexico. Senior Jaime Hall's dad, Preston, played football for New Mexico from 1974-75 and was a teammate of Bob Keeran in 1974. Bob's son, Matt, is a fourth-year javelin thrower for New Mexico. Meanwhile, senior Cameron Clarke's mother, Tammy, attended UNM on a swimming scholarship and also played softball for the Lobos.


Two years removed from a near career-ending auto accident, Jacquelyne Gallegos has secured 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).


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.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico track and field team and a large, enthusiastic group of friends gathered at the Albuquerque Convention Center on Jan. 15 to welcome back indoor track competition after an 18-year absence from the Duke City. The collegiate athletes, which included the host Lobos and representatives from Oklahoma State, Adams State and Western State, were joined by over 300 athletes of all ages from the community.

Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez and city council president Brad Winter were also on hand for the meet's opening ceremonies. Chavez was the official starter for the first running event of the day, a celebrity 4x200-meter relay race between the Albuquerque Fire Department and Albuquerque Police Department. Winter later competed in the men's pole vault, tying for first in the second flight with a height of 11-06.25.

The city of Albuquerque's first indoor track meet since the 1987 Western Athletic Conference Championships was a rousing success as competitors from ages 3 to 82 enjoyed the city's state-of-the-art Mondo track. While meet directors did not have enough time to secure NCAA Division I certification, several Lobos turned in impressive early season results in the exhibition meet.

Senior Amanda Barnes opened the day with a fine performance in the shot put, winning the event with ease with a mark of 47-04.50. Fellow seniors Jaime Hall and Cameron Clarke, meanwhile, swept the 800 meters in the first event on the oval. Hall clocked a time of 2:19.56, while Clarke was just off his personal record with a time of 1:55.62.

Jacquelyne Gallegos, a junior in indoor eligibility, ran a sizzling time of 10:13.68 to take second in the 3,000. Had results been official, her approximate altitude adjusted time would have been a personal best 9:51. In the men's race, fifth-year senior Ben Ortega would have also shattered his PR with his runner-up finish. Ortega clocked a time of 8:31.05, which would have translated to an altitude adjusted time of about 8:12.

"This is the best indoor track I've ever seen," said Ortega after his race. "The banks (of the indoor track) were so perfect, I hardly noticed them. I just felt like I was floating out there and I only wish we could move the conference meet here this year so I could have one more chance to run on this surface."

Perhaps the best performance of the day came in the meet finale, when New Mexico's Derek Mackel, an indoor junior, flew a career-best 17-00.75 to win the men's pole vault. Mackel, who set his official indoor career-best of 16-01.25 last winter, just missed on his final three attempts at 17-06.

"I'm really excited about what happened today," said UNM head coach Matt Henry. "I'm excited about the performances and that so many of our athletes were able to get an early start on the 2005 season. This facility is an outstanding step forward for track and field in the state of New Mexico. I've already had calls from about 15 universities asking if they can come and compete here next year. This was a special day and the future is only going to get better."


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.