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Lobos Roll Into Las Vegas For MWC Outdoor Championships
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  05/11/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

May 11, 2004

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UPCOMING

The University of New Mexico track and field team travels to Las Vegas this week for its biggest meet of the year, the 2004 Mountain West Conference Men's and Women's Outdoor Championships. The four-day meet begins Wednesday, May 12 with the men's decathlon and women's heptathlon and continues through Saturday, May 15, at Myron Partridge Stadium and Sheila Tarr Smith Field on the campus of UNLV. New Mexico has not traveled to Las Vegas since the women's team competed at the 1990 UNLV Invitational. The UNM men, however, are making their first ever trip to Las Vegas.

UNM enjoyed a well-deserved break from competition last weekend after turning in its best overall performance of the outdoor season in front of its home fans at the Modrall Sperling Don Kirby Memorial Invitational (May 1). The New Mexico men have finished fourth at the MWC Outdoor Championships each of the last three years, scoring 91 points last spring in Albuquerque, while the women will look to move up from their seventh place finish (49.5 points) in 2003.

BYU's men have yet to be defeated in four outdoor championship meets, winning by an average margin of 70 points. The Cougar women, however, had their string of three straight league titles snapped by San Diego State last year. BYU had won the first three MWC crowns by an average of 73 points before the Aztecs' 217-206 victory last year at Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. This year the league boasts three women's teams ranked among the nation's top-25 by Trackwire.com. Defending champion San Diego State is ranked 17th, BYU is tied for 18th and Colorado State is No. 20.

MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS

Complete information and results from the 2004 Mountain West Conference Outdoor Championships will be available on the official website of the Mountain West Conference:

2004 MWC Outdoor Championships Headquarters

NEW MEXICO AT THE OUTDOOR CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Under fourth-year head coach Matt Henry, the Lobo men have been steadily returning to the high levels of performance they were accustomed to throughout the 1970s and '80s. New Mexico has averaged 102.5 points in each of its last three MWC outdoor meets after averaging just 37 points in the 10 years (1991-2000) before Henry's arrival, including a mere 12 points per meet from 1992-2000. In 2002, Henry was named Mountain West Conference Men's Outdoor Coach of the Year after leading the Lobos to 125.5 points, the most since tallying 127 at the 1989 Western Athletic Conference Championships. Though current Lobos Mark Johnson (decathlon - 2002) and Ben Ortega (10,000 - 2001) are the only two to be crowned conference champion in Matt Henry's tenure, the duo have helped the team earn all-MWC honors 23 times over the past three years.

Though a lack of depth has hampered their team scoring efforts in recent years, the UNM women have captured at least one event title each of the past five seasons and six of the past seven years. New Mexico's women have stood atop the awards podium five times since Henry took charge of the program and have earned 11 all-MWC honors during his three-year tenure.

LAST YEAR AT THE MWC OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The host UNM women finished seventh (49.5 points), while the men were fourth for the third-straight year (91 points) at the four-day (May 14-17) Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. Sophomore Amanda Barnes led a strong effort by the Lobos' New Mexican athletes by becoming the first female thrower in program history to capture a conference title. The Carlsbad, N.M. native won the shot put, bettering her school record and NCAA regional qualifying mark in the process, with a toss of 48-06.25. Barnes' victory also gave New Mexico a women's champion for a fifth-straight year.

While Barnes was the only Lobo to take home a gold medal, 11 other UNM athletes, including members of the men's 4x100 (3rd place) and 4x400-meter (second place) relay teams, earned all-conference honors.

On the women's side, sophomore transfer Bridgid Isworth earned all-MWC honors with her second place finish in the pole vault, while senior Keren Sari-Bentzur medaled for the 10th time (indoor/outdoor) in her career by taking second in the long jump. Junior Jason Barkemeyer earned a surprising third place finish in the shot put to earn all-conference honors for the first time in his career, while sophomores Hank Baskett (second - high jump) and Matt Keeran (second - javelin) were honored for the second-straight year.

On the track, senior David Lloyd earned all-MWC laurels in the 400-meter hurdles (3rd) and both relays, while junior Ahmed Raji was a two-time medalist in the 200 (second) and 4x100 relay. Sophomore Matt Gonzales was an all-conference honoree in the 5,000 (second), junior Chris Garofola and freshman RaShawn Jackson earned a pair of medals as part of the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.

Over the four days of competition, 14 Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium records were tied or broken, including 10 on the women's side alone. New Mexico also set school records in the women's shot put (Barnes - 48-06.25) and hammer throw (Jamie Fishencord - 157-03.00), and recorded NCAA regional qualifying marks in 12 events.

READING THE RANKINGS

Six women (in 5 different events) and 16 men (in 16 events) are ranked among the MWC top-10 in their respective events.

MEN: Junior Matt Gonzales, who has never won a conference title, is the Lobos' top-ranked athlete, owning the league's fastest times in both the 5,000 and 10,000...fellow junior Hank Baskett is tied for the top mark in the high jump, while senior Chris Garofola, the Lobos' high-point man at the 2004 MWC Indoor Championships, is ranked among the MWC's top-10 in four events: the 100 (5th), 200 (3rd), 110m hurdles (5th) and 400m hurdles (9th)...UNM has three athletes (Jr. Derek Mackel, Fr. Robert Caldwell, Sr. Mark Johnson) who are tied for sixth in the pole vault...senior Jason Barkemeyer could become the first Lobo under Matt Henry to score in two events, as he is currently ranked fourth in the shot put and sixth in the discus...senior Mark Johnson, the 2004 indoor heptathlon champion, enters the meet ranked second as he begins his quest for the second decathlon title of his career.

Veronica Gonzales is the league's second-ranked javelin thrower.


WOMEN: The Lobos' strength lies in the field events, particularly the throws where junior Amanda Barnes, the defending MWC outdoor shot put champion, is ranked fourth in the shot and ninth in the discus...fellow junior Jamie Fishencord is among the league's top-10 for the first time in her career, currently standing ninth in the hammer...Veronica Gonzales, meanwhile, moved up to a solid No. 2 position in the javelin, followed by true freshman teammate Kayla Brown, who is fifth in the event...New Mexico also has two pole vaulters ranked in the top-10 in No. 5 Bridgid Isworth and 10th-seeded Amber Nolte.

LAST TIME OUT (Don Kirby Invitational - Albuquerque, N.M.)

Junior Amanda Barnes smashed the 10-year-old UNM record in the discus with a throw of 151-08 (fourth overall), then increased her own school record and NCAA regional qualifying mark in the shot put with a second place toss of 49-05.00 to lead the Lobo effort in front of an appreciative home crowd. Fellow juniors Hank Baskett (6-10.75 - high jump) and Bridgid Isworth (12-04.00 - pole vault), cleared season-best and NCAA regional qualifying heights in their respective events, while Jamie Fishencord increased her school record in the hammer throw (179-04). Junior Veronica Gonzales also improved her standing in the javelin, finishing second with a career-best throw of 152-01.

GONZALES GAINING MOMENTUM

As the weather in May gets warmer so too does junior Matt Gonzales. The Santa Fe native, who lives to race in May and June, is at it again this year. Gonzales was recently named Mountain West Conference Men's Outdoor Track and Field Athlete of the Week after his performance in the 10,000 meters at the elite Cardinal Invitational on April 30, in Stanford, Calif. Gonzales, the first repeat Athlete of the Week honoree for the UNM men's team, ran the third-fastest collegiate 10K of the year at Stanford, crossing the line with a time of 28:22.77. He improved on his personal-best and MWC record time, which he set in a third place finish at the 2003 NCAA Championship meet, by over four seconds and was 37.23 seconds under the NCAA automatic qualifying time in his first 10,000-meter race of the season. Gonzales also earned a "B" qualifying time for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the second straight year and was just eight seconds off the automatic "A" standard for the event.

"Honestly, I thought he could've run maybe 15 seconds faster than that," said UNM head coach Matt Henry. "He said he wasn't feeling that great out there, but to clock a 28:22 when you're not at the top of your game is pretty remarkable."

Gonzales currently owns the top times in the Mountain West in both the 5,000 and 10,000. He is slated to compete in the 5K at the Midwest Region Championships, where he is currently ranked second. Gonzales will also look for his first career conference title in the 5,000 after finishing second last spring.

CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES!

Seven UNM track and field athletes will cross the undergraduate finish line this week when they receive their bachelor's degrees. The list includes: seniors Jason Barkemeyer, Leighton Katsuda, Matt Bishop, Brooke Gosling, David Lloyd and Amanda Swann, and junior Matt Keeran (a medical redshirt this year), who finished his BBA in just three years.

Sr. Mark Johnson, who has competed in 150 events in his Lobo career, will earn his MBA in just four years.


Senior Mark Johnson, meanwhile, will receive his masters of business administration this spring in just four years after earning his undergraduate degree in Spanish last year. A 4.0 graduate student, Johnson has earned academic all-MWC honors each of his three years on the track and is a finalist for a $7,500 NCAA postgraduate scholarship. The Fontana, Wisc. native will be looking for athletic honors as well this week as he goes for his second career decathlon title at the MWC Championships. Johnson has competed in 150 events during his Lobo career, including five decathlon competitions.

WHO'S IN?

Through seven weeks of competition this spring, 11 New Mexico athletes and have earned qualifying marks for either the NCAA national or regional championship meets. Last year, 14 individuals, and the members of both the UNM men's 4x400m and 4x100m relay teams, qualified for the regional meet. Lobo athletes qualified in four different women's events and 12 men's events during the '03 season.

NCAA Provisional Qualifiers (3 in 2 men's events)

Sr. Mark Johnson

Decathlon * 7,141 pts. * Texas Relays - Austin, Texas (March 31 - April 1)

Jr. Matt Gonzales

10,000m * 28:22.77 * Cardinal Invitational - Stanford, Calif. (April 30)

Jr. Ben Ortega

10,000m * 29:36.66 * Mt. SAC Relays - Walnut, Calif. (April 16)

NCAA Midwest Regional Qualifiers (12 in 5 men's and 4 women's events)

Sr. Jason Barkemeyer

Shot Put * 56-09.50 * UTEP Springtime Invitational - El Paso, Texas (March 27)

Discus * 173-02 * Texas Relays - Austin, Texas (April 2)

Jr. Amanda Barnes

Shot Put * 49-05.00 * Don Kirby Invitational - Albuquerque, N.M. (May 1)

Jr. Hank Baskett

High Jump * 6-10.75 * Don Kirby Invitational - Albuquerque, N.M. (May 1)

Fr. Kayla Brown

Javelin * 142-05 * Willie Willams Classic - Tucscon, Ariz. (March 19)

Fr. Robert Caldwell

Pole Vault * 16-04.75 * NMSU Invitational - Las Cruces, N.M. (April 3)

Jr. Cameron Clarke

5,000m * 14:13.90 * Mt. SAC Relays - Walnut, Calif. (April 16)

Jr. Jamie Fishencord

Hammer * 179-04 * Don Kirby Invitational - Albuquerque, N.M. (May 1)

Jr. Matt Gonzales

5,000m * 13:44.52 * Mt. SAC Relays - Walnut, Calif. (April 16)

Jr. Veronica R. Gonzales

Javelin * 152-01 * Don Kirby Invitational - Albuquerque, N.M. (May 1)

Jr. Bridgid Isworth

Pole Vault * 12-04.00 * Don Kirby Invitational - Albuquerque, N.M. (May 1)

Sr. Mark Johnson

Pole Vault * 16-04.75 * Texas Relays (decathlon) - Austin, Texas (April 1)

Jr. Derek Mackel

Pole Vault * 16-04.75 * Mesa Classic - Mesa, Ariz. (April 9)

SWIFTER, HIGHER, STRONGER

Under the direction of fourth year head coach Matt Henry and his staff, the 2004 Lobos have continued to improve their outdoor performances. Through seven weeks of competition this season, the Lobos have eclipsed the top marks of a year ago in 26 events. In addition, 17 of the top marks are also the best in Henry's tenure at New Mexico. The following is a breakdown of the improvement the men and women have made this spring on their top event marks of the 2003 outdoor season:

Women (14 events)

100m: (12.65~ 12.47, -0.18 sec.), 200m: (24.94 ~ 24.53, -0.41 sec.), 400m: (56.68 ~ 56.01, -0.67 sec.), *800m: (2:22.11 ~ 2:13.39, -8.72 sec.), *1,500m: (4:42.62 ~ 4:30.99, -11.63 sec.), *5,000m: (17:51.63 ~ 17:13.59, -38.04 sec.), 3,000m Steeplechase: (no competitors ~ 12:14.86), 400m Hurdles: (1:05.54 ~ 1:04.28, -1.26 sec.), 4x100m Relay: (47.90 ~ 47.83, -0.07 sec.), *4x400m Relay: (3:48.76 ~ 3:48.67, -0.09 sec.), *Shot Put: (48-06.25 ~ 49-05.00, +10.75 in.), *Discus: (137-04 ~ 151-08, +14 ft., 4 in.), *Hammer: (157-03 ~ 179-04, +22 ft., 1 in.), *Javelin: (141-01 ~ 152-01, +11 ft.)

Men (12 events)

*110m Hurdles: (14.74 ~ 14.65, -0.09 sec.), *5,000m: (13:48.35 ~ 13:44.52, -3.83 sec.), *10,000m: (28:26.88 ~ 28:22.77, -4.11 sec.), 3,000m Steeplechase: (no competitors ~ 9:45.32), *110m Hurdles: (14.74 ~ 14.60, -0.14 sec.), *High Jump: (6-09.50 ~ 6-10.75, +1 ft., 1.25 in.), Long Jump: (22-06.25 ~ 22-10.50, +4.25 in.), Triple Jump: (45-08.00 ~ 47-06.50, +1 ft., 10.50 in.), *Shot Put: (55-04.25 ~ 56-09.50, +1 ft., 5.25 in.), *Discus: (169-06 ~ 173-02, +3 ft., 8 in.), *Hammer: (156-02 ~ 175-07, +19 ft., 7 in.), *Decathlon: (6,525 pts. ~ 7,141 pts., +616 pts.)

* indicates top time/result under fourth year head coach Matt Henry

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