Lobo Men Debut At No. 15 In Preseason Cross Country Rankings
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  09/16/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Sept. 16, 2008

• Men\'s\ Preseason\ National\ Rankings
• Women\'s\ Preseason\ National\ Rankings
• Men\'s\ and\ Women\'s\ Preseason\ Regional\ Rankings

NEW ORLEANS - The University of New Mexico men's cross country team debuted at No. 15 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association preseason top-30 poll, which was announced this morning. The women's team received 16 votes to unofficially rank 34th nationally.

It's the highest national ranking for the men of New Mexico since the 1989 team climbed as high as 14th and the Lobos' first appearance in the national poll since 2004. The 2004 team ranked as high as 19th during the season, but went on to finish a program-best ninth at the NCAA Championship meet.

UNM is the highest ranked Mountain West Conference team. Preseason MWC favorite BYU is No. 30.

New Mexico is ranked No. 2 in the Mountain Region coaches poll, but trails No. 12 UTEP (4th regionally) in the national rankings. Colorado is the top ranked team in the Mountain Region and is third nationally. Both the Mountain Region and West Region each placed five teams in the top 30 in the men's preseason poll.

The UNM men opened the season with an impressive performance at the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque on Sept. 6. While the meet was not officially scored, the Lobos dominated Conference USA favorite UTEP despite holding several starters out of the lineup.

Both the men and women return five of their top-7 runners from 2007. The men's team lost All-American and MWC champion Jeremy Johnson to graduation, but return a trio of second team all-conference runners in senior Mat Ashton, junior Brock Hagerman and junior Brian Vallie from last year's MWC runner-up squad. Ashton went on to finish 10th in the 10,000 at the 2008 NCAA Track Championships, while Hagerman earned all-NCAA Mountain Region honors in cross country.

Talented junior transfers Jacob Kirwa - a two-time USCAA national champion at Diné College - Rory Fraser (Leicester, England) and David Bishop (Chippenham, England) were outstanding in their New Mexico debuts and should provide a scoring boost.

Senior Lee Emanuel should be a bigger factor this fall after an outstanding track season, highlighted by his MWC gold and NCAA appearance in the 1,500. The Lobos also return improving junior Alex Willis and sophomore Jason Petty, who should add excellent depth to the top-7.

Senior Michelle Corrigan - a first team all-MWC honoree who set the UNM indoor record in the 5,000 meters last winter - leads the UNM women. Corrigan is one of three senior starters back for the women, along with fellow captains Carolyn Boosey and Stasia Ploskonka. UNM should continue to get scoring points from junior Vanessa Ortiz as well.

Second-year head coach Joe Franklin has also added 10 newcomers to an increasingly deep and talented women's side, led by senior transfer Laura Bowerman - a two-time all-NCAA South Region selection and 2005 NCAA Cross Country Championships qualifier at Florida State. Junior transfer Nicky Archer (Cheshire, England), sophomore transfer Emma Reed (Clevedon, England) and prep standout Lacey Oeding (Jasper, Ind.) should also make big impacts in their first Division I seasons.

Oregon is the top-ranked team in both the men's and women's polls. The UO men are the defending national champions while the women were second.

The voting panel for the USTFCCCA Division I Men's National Poll consists of the elected executive committee and regional representatives of the USTFCCCA and is conducted by Don Kopriva.