Lobos To Battle Three Midwest Region Teams In El Paso
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/31/2005
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 31, 2005

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The University of New Mexico men's and women's track and field teams will look to continue their strong start to the 2005 outdoor season when they travel to El Paso, Texas on Saturday for the annual UTEP Springtime Invitational. The Lobos will take on Kansas State and Texas Tech of the Big 12 Conference, along with the host Miners, in a rare scored regular season meet. All four teams are members of the NCAA's Midwest Region and will see each other again in late May at the regional championship meet. The field event action at historic Kidd Field gets underway at 9:45 a.m. (MST), followed by the running events at noon.

New Mexico's men finished fourth in the five-team field at last year's Springtime Invite, defeating Oklahoma and finishing behind Texas Tech, Texas A&M and UTEP. The UNM women, meanwhile, tied Oklahoma for fourth, while Texas Tech, Texas A&M and UTEP claimed the top three spots. Persistent wind slowed many of the times on the track last year in El Paso, but this Saturday's forecast of temperatures in the high 60s and nine MPH winds should be ideal for competition.

Kansas State: The Wildcats boast perhaps the most impressive resumé with six men and women earning All-America honors at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships. The KSU women finished 14th at the NCAA meet, while the men were 28th. The men finished third at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, while the women were fifth. Kansas State enjoyed a tremendous 2004 outdoor campaign as well with 10 athletes qualifying for the national championship meet last year.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are led by one of the nation's premier 800-meter men in Jonathan Johnson, the defending outdoor champion and a 2004 Olympian. Johnson was one of two Texas Tech individuals to earn All-America honors during at the 2005 indoor national championships, in addition to the men's 4x400-meter relay team. Johnson helped the Red Raiders finish fourth in the team standings at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. The TTU women were also fourth in the Big 12, led by 400-meter champion Licretia Sibley and high jump champ Lacy Wilson.

UTEP: Though the Miners will join Conference USA next year, they made their final indoor season in the Western Athletic Conference a memorably one, as the men won their 16th indoor championship title and the women finished fourth. Adriana Pirtea earned All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a runner-up finish in the women's 3,000, while Mickael Hanany earned All-America laurels with a fifth place performance in the men's high jump.

Complete information and results from UTEP Springtime Invitational will be available at the official athletic department website of the University of Texas-El Paso:


In an effort to compete against the top talent available, head coach Matt Henry announced that the Lobos will travel to the Mesa (Ariz.) Track and Field Classic meet on Saturday, April 16 instead of hosting the Modrall Sperling Lobo Open. The move to Mesa gives New Mexico another chance to compete at sea level, helping the qualifying chances of the team's runners. This could prove especially valuable this spring with the Mountain West Conference Championships being held in the mountains of Fort Collins, Colo.

The Lobos will still host the 15th annual Don Kirby Memorial Invitational, sponsored by the Modrall Sperling law firm, on Saturday, April 30 at the Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. MWC foes Colorado State and Wyoming will headline the field, which will also include athletes from several regional colleges.

In the spring of 1965, head coach Hugh Hackett assembled one of the greatest track and field teams in University of New Mexico history. Under Hackett, the Lobos never lost a meet that spring and asserted themselves as a bonafide national power with a stirring 93 1/3 to 46 2/3 upset of USC at University Stadium in Albuquerque. New Mexico won every race on the track as they handed the mighty Trojans their first loss in three years and just their second defeat in 20 years.

New Mexico won five events on the track to capture its second consecutive Western Athletic Conference championship before taking on the field at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Berkeley. Clarence Robinson swept the long (25-10.50) and triple jump (50-02.00) to lead the Lobos to a fifth place finish with a program-best 25 points, just seven points behind co-national champions Oregon and USC. Robinson's school record of 26-09.25 in the long jump and the 440-yard relay team's (Bernie Rivers, Art Carter, Steve Caminiti, René Matison) converted 4x100-meter time of 39.84, both set in `65, remain two of the oldest school records at UNM.

New Mexico went on to capture two more WAC titles in 1966 and `67, and finished tied for 11th and tied for fifth at the NCAA Championships in both years, respectively. The 1966 team had four individuals and one relay team earn All-America honors after bringing home seven conference event victories. In `67, Art Baxter captured the triple jump national crown and Web Loudat earned All-America accolades in the steeplechase, while the Lobos won six events at the WAC Outdoor Championships.

In 2003 the NCAA began the use of head-to-head competition for the first to determine the outdoor track and field national championship field. Once again this year, athletes must meet regional qualifying standards during the season to secure a berth in the field of their respective regional championship meets (East, Mideast, Midwest, West). Once at the regional meet, athletes need only to finish in the top-five of their respective events to advance to the national championship meet. However, competitors in the 10,000-meter run, heptathlon and decathlon will continue to use the old system of meeting provisional or automatic qualifying standards to earn a spot in the national championship field. The following is a quick overview of the NCAA Championship qualifying system:

Regional Qualifying: Athletes must meet minimum standards in their respective events, except for the 10,000m and heptathlon/decathlon, during the regular season in order to compete at the NCAA Regional Championship Meets the last weekend of May.

National Qualifying: Athletes, except for competitors in the 10,000 and heptathlon/decathlon, must place among the top-five in their respective events at the regional championship meet in order to advance to the national championship meet, June 8-11 in Sacramento, Calif.

Provisional Qualifying Standards: Competitors in the 10K and heptathlon/decathlon who meet the provisional qualifying standard during the season are candidates to be selected for the national championship field. Provisional qualifiers are selected using a descending order performance list. The number of athletes selected from the provisional qualifiers list is determined by the number of automatic qualifiers in each event. The total number of athletes in the national championship field of each event is generally 16-18.

Automatic Qualifying Standards: Competitors in the 10K or heptathlon/decathlon who meet the automatic qualifying standard during the season are guaranteed a spot in the national championship field.

After just two weeks this spring, 6 New Mexico athletes and have already earned qualifying marks for either the NCAA national or regional championship meets. During the 2004 outdoor season, 12 Lobos earned qualifying marks for either the national or regional meets. UNM athletes qualified in four different women's events and seven men's events last year. The following is a look at the 2005 qualifiers:

NCAA Provisional Qualifiers

(1 in 1 men's event)

Sr. Ben Ortega

10,000m • 29:10.34 • Stanford Invitational - Stanford, Calif. (March 25)

NCAA Midwest Regional Qualifiers

(5 in 3 men's and 2 women's events)

Sr. Amanda Barnes

Shot Put • 52-01.25 • Willie Williams Classic - Tucson, Ariz. (March 18)

Sr. Matt Gonzales

1,500m • 3:43.31 • Stanford Invitational - Stanford, Calif. (March 26)

Fr. Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott

5,000m • 14:03.32 • Stanford Invitational - Stanford, Calif. (March 25)

Jr. Jessica McIntyre

Javelin • 144-10 • Willie Williams Classic - Tucson, Ariz. (March 18)

Sr. Jordan Parker

Shot Put • 55-03.00 • Willie Williams Classic - Tucson, Ariz. (March 18)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Matt Gonzales proved once again to be one of the most underrated distance talents in the nation as he knocked off six higher-ranked runners in a fourth place finish in the men's 5,000 at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center. The University of New Mexico senior improved his own school record with a time of 13:45.72 in just his second career indoor 5K, finishing less than three seconds behind Stanford senior Ian Dobson, who won the race in 13:43.36. A native of Santa Fe, Gonzales earned All-America honors for the third time in his track career, snapping a 15-year drought for the Lobos indoors.

After completing a near wire-to-wire victory (13:49.06) in his first indoor 5,000-meter race last week at Notre Dame, Gonzales stayed back in the middle of the 15-man pack for much of the race before making a late charge. Although he passed a pair of runners in the final 400 meters, including top-seeded Matt Tegenkamp of Wisconsin, UNM head coach Matt Henry said the leaders had pulled a bit too far away for the tenacious 5-5 Gonzales to catch.

"It's not typical of the way he normally races, but we thought we'd try to sit back this time and see what we could do," Henry said. "I know we both wish we could do it over again tomorrow, but he showed how special he is once again tonight and I couldn't be more proud of his performance."

Dobson, an eight-time All-American, won his first career national title after finishing fifth in the 5,000 at last year's NCAA Indoor Championship meet. Arizona junior Robert Cheseret of Kenya finished second (13:44.51), while Wisconsin sophomore Chris Solinsky was third (13:45.34).

"This was a very, very good field," Henry said. "Just to get in this race in the final week of the season was something special. We're really excited about what happened and can't wait to see what Matt can do outdoors."

Gonzales, who was the first UNM man to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships since 1993, became New Mexico's first indoor All-American since weight thrower Darren Crawford in 1990 and the first Lobo to earn All-America honors inside on the track since Ibrahim Hussein finished third in the 1,000-yard run in 1984.

Already a two-time honoree for UNM during the fall in cross country, Gonzales also earned All-America honors for the third time on the track, including each of the past two outdoor seasons in the 10,000. He is the first men's runner in Mountain West Conference history to earn All-America honors in the indoor 5,000 and has never finished lower than fourth in his three career national championship races on the oval.

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.