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Gonzales Runs For National Title On Friday Night
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/09/2005
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 9, 2005

University of New Mexico senior Matt Gonzales will make his NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships debut on Friday, March 11 when he competes in the men's 5,000-meter race for just the second time in his indoor career in Fayetteville, Ark. The race, which will be held at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas, will get underway at 7:30 p.m. (MST) with live results to be posted on www.ladybacks.com.

Gonzales, who is seeded eighth in the field of 15 with a top time of 13:49.06, has earned All-America honors in the 10,000 each of the past two years at the outdoor national championships and is a two time Division I All-American in cross country. The Santa Fe native was also the top collegiate finisher in the outdoor 5,000 at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials last summer, placing sixth in the finals. Gonzales is ranked 10th in the event in the most recent Trackwire.com "Dandy Dozen" indoor rankings. He will be competing in Arkansas for the first time in his career.

The 5-5 Gonzales is the first New Mexico man to compete at the indoor national championships since Chip Smith ran the 3,000 (12th) at the 1993 NCAA meet in Indianapolis. Gonzales is the second Lobo under fifth-year head coach Matt Henry to qualify for the indoor championships, joining former pole vaulter Bridgid Isworth, who finished tied for 12th in the event in 2003.

FROM HEAD COACH Matt Henry:
"We want to win it. He may not have run a lot of 5Ks indoors, but Matt is a racer. He's a big time competitor and there's nothing that guy can't do on the track. As long as he doesn't let the lead pack get too far away from him, like he did a little bit at the cross country championships, he'll be right there with a chance to win it."

THE ROAD TO ARKANSAS:
Unlike his last two outdoor campaigns, the 5-5 Gonzales has come from out of nowhere to make a run at a national title. He did not compete at all during the 2005 indoor regular season before making his debut at the Mountain West Conference Championship meet in Colorado Springs, Colo.

After running the anchor leg mile for the Lobos' runner-up distance medley relay team on day two of the meet (Feb. 25), Gonzales came back less than 24 hours later to win the 3,000 in his first individual race of the year. He clocked a career-best altitude-adjusted time of 8:11.96 en route to, remarkably, his first career indoor conference victory.

A week later (March 4), Gonzales travelled with a group six Lobos to Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational last chance meet and stunned the field in his first career indoor 5,000-meter race. Leading nearly from start to finish, he won the event with a NCAA automatic qualifying time of 13:49.06, setting both UNM and MWC records in the process.

NEW MEXICO AT THE NCAA INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS:
While Gonzales is the first Lobo in 12 years to compete at the meet, the New Mexico men's program has history of success at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Since 1967, UNM has earned All-America honors in 13 individual events and four relays. Lobos Charles Dramiga and Michael Solomon captured back-to-back 600-yard national titles in 1976 and `77, while the UNM two-mile relay team of Jay Quade, Mark Romero, Jeremiah Ongwae and Sam Kipkurgat won the gold medal at the 1978 NCAA Championships. As a team, New Mexico has finished among the top-25 nine times, including top-10 finishes in 1967 (T5th), 1976 (T10th), 1977 (9th) and 1984 (10th).

Lobos' Last Indoor National Champion: 1977 - Michael Solomon (600 yards)

Lobos' Last Indoor All-American: 1990 - Darren Crawford (weight throw)

Lobos' Last Indoor All-American On The Track: 1984 - Ibrahim Hussein (1,000 yards)

*Did You Know?: Current UNM head coach Matt Henry earned indoor All-America honors in 1972 as part of the Lobos' all-Albuquerque two-mile relay team of Henry, Reid Cole, Gary Easterly and Bob Dooley.

GONZALES ON THE NATIONAL STAGE:
Since transferring from New Mexico Highlands University in 2001, Matt Gonzales has established himself as one of the finest athletes in Lobo track and field history. A homegrown New Mexican, Gonzales has proudly donned his cherry and silver New Mexico jersey at some of the most prestigious meets in the nation. The following is a breakdown of his recent performances on the national stage:

Nov. 22, 2004 - NCAA Cross Country Championships (Terre Haute, Ind.)

Gonzales leads the Lobo men to a program-best ninth place finish and secures his place as the finest runner in the 42-year history of New Mexico cross country in his final collegiate race. Gonzales finishes second (30:40.9) in the 10,000-meter race (6.2 miles), the best in school history, to become the Lobos' second two-time cross country All-American (Ibrahim Hussein - 1981 & `83).

The Santa Fe native runs in the lead pack for much of the race before dropping back a bit with just over a mile left on the soggy, waterlogged course, eventually crossing the line 3.2 seconds behind the winner, Simon Bairu of Wisconsin. Gonzales is third with about 300 meters to go, but surges one last time, passing Joseph Boit of Arkansas, to finish second.

July 16, 2004 - U.S. Olympic Trials Finals (Sacramento, Calif.)

Gonzales misses out a trip to Athens, but caps a stellar 2004 track season with a sixth place finish in finals of the 5,000 meters. Gonzales is the highest placing collegiate runner, crossing the finish line with a time of 13:41.25. He is among the leaders throughout much of the race before slipping a bit over the final two laps. Gonzales edges former Colorado standout Jorge Torres, the 2002 NCAA cross country champion, by less than a second at the line. 2003 U.S. 5,000 champion Tim Broe wins the race with a time of 13:27.35.

July 12, 2004 - U.S. Olympic Trials Prelims (Sacramento, Calif.)

Gonzales uses a late surge down the final straightaway to win heat one of the men's 5,000-meter semifinals with a time of 13:44.19. Running in front of a live national television audience, Gonzales keeps himself among the top-5 throughout the competition and remains patient despite the relatively slow pace of the race. One of the smallest competitors in the field at 5-5, Gonzales appears to be boxed in fourth place as the leaders began their final push with 80 meters to go. His size, however, serves as an advantage as he squeezes through a narrow opening on the inside of lane one and surges past Chad Johnson and Eric Savoth for the victory.

June 10, 2004 - NCAA Outdoor Championships (Austin, Texas)

Gonzales finishes fourth in the 10,000-meter race to become the first Lobo in 13 years to earn All-America honors back-to-back years. The top-seeded runner (by time) in the race, Gonzales clocks a time of 29:58.05 in the wet and humid conditions. Arkansas senior Alistair Cragg, ranked No. 1 in the event by Trackwire.com takes home the gold after finishing second in 2003.

Running for the first time ever in Austin, Gonzales attempts to seize control of the sluggish pack, surging ahead at the 3,000-meter mark. Cragg and Arizona sophomore Robert Cheseret, however, make their move with 5,000 meters remaining and slowly break away from the pack.

A fatigued Gonzales fades to sixth, but displays real grit in the final lap as he battles back into the race. The Santa Fe native passes two runners and nearly catches third place finisher, Simon Bairu of Wisconsin, over the final 400 meters.

With his finish, however, Gonzales becomes the Lobos' first two-time All-American in the 10,000 and the first repeat All-America honoree in a running event since the legendary Adolph Plummer (440-yard dash) in 1961-62.

May 31, 2004 - Payton Jordan U.S. Open (Stanford, Calif.)

Gonzales erases an 18-year old UNM record and finishes eight in the 31-man professional field with a time of 13:35.59 in the 5,000. Ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Midwest Region, Gonzales opts to compete against the world class runners at the U.S. Open and runs fifth-best time by a collegian, nearly 30 seconds faster than the winner of the 5,000 at the Midwest Regional Championships the day before.

Feb. 7, 2004 - U.S. Cross Country Championships (Indianapolis)

After redshirting the 2003 college cross country season, Gonzales finishes 13th out of a field of 112 runners in the 4,000-meter race. He clocks a time of 11:42, just 20 seconds shy of earning a spot on the national team, in his first cross country championships appearance. Gonzales' time is also just 28 seconds behind the winner, Charlie Gruber, who is running for Nike Unattached. The Santa Fe native finishes 12 spots ahead of former Colorado State standout Bryan Berryhill, a former NCAA Champion and 2003 runner-up in the 1,500 at the U.S. Championships.

June 12, 2003 - U.S.A. Track & Field Championships (Stanford, Calif.)

Gonzales wraps up his sensational sophomore track season with an 11th place finish in the 10,000 at the USA Track and Field Championships, crossing the line with a time of 28:48.21. Gonzales is running his second 10,000-meter race in seven days after placing third at the NCAA Championships and the grueling physical task takes its toll as he clocks his slowest time of the season.

June 12, 2003 - NCAA Outdoor Championships (Sacramento, Calif.)

Gonzales runs a time of 28:26.88 (a career-best at the time) to finish third, earning All-America honors, in the 10,000-meter finals. He keeps himself within striking distance throughout the race and even leads briefly, becoming the first Lobo to earn All-America laurels since 1996 and the first man to do so since 1991.

Gonzales runs a strong, confident race throughout, never falling out of the top-three. Midway through the race Gonzales, defending champion Boaz Cheboiywo of Eastern Michigan, and Arkansas runners Dan Lincoln and Alistair Cragg separate themselves from the pack. The foursome jockey for position before Lincoln and Cragg surge forward, followed closely by Gonzales. Cheboiywo, the clear favorite entering the race, is unable to keep pace and eventually fades to 10th.

The Razorback duo power forward one last time late in the race to finally pull just ahead of Gonzales. Lincoln, a junior, edges the senior Cragg by 0.09 seconds, clocking a winning time of 28:20.20, just six seconds ahead of Gonzales, who becomes the second Lobo to earn All-America honors in the men's 10,000, joining Ibrahim Kivina (1984).

List of Declared Athletes Event 7 Men 5000 Meter Run

RANK ATHLETE, YR, SCHOOL, SEED TIME (DATE)

1. Matt Tegenkamp, SR, Wisconsin, 13:36.48 (02-12)

2. Brent Vaughn, SO, Colorado, 13:38.30 (02-12)

3. Chris Solinsky, SO, Wisconsin, 13:39.07 (02-12)

4. Stephen Haas, JR, Indiana, 13:41.42 (02-12)

5. Peter Kosgei, SO, Arkansas, 13:42.67 902-12)

6. Ian Dobson, SR, Stanford, 13:45.54 (02-24)

7. Simon Bairu, JR, Wisconsin, 13:46.15 (02-120

8. Matt Gonzales, SR New Mexico, 13:49.06 (03-04)

9. Josphat Boit, JR, Arkansas, 13:50.62 (02-12)

10. Tim Nelson, SO, Wisconsin, 13:50.80 (02-12)

11. Robert Cheseret, JR, Arizona, 13:51.04 (01-29)

12. Brian Olinger, JR, Ohio State, 13:52.18 (03-04)

13. Henrik Ahnstrom, SR, N. Arizona, 13:52.33 (02-12)

14. Mark Nichol, SR, Texas, 13:53.03 (03-04)

15. Rod Koborsi, JR, Georgetown, 13:53.35 (02-11)

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