June 12, 2012
NEW ORLEANS — The University of New Mexico men's cross country and track & field teams finished 11th in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's John McDonnell Program of the Year award final standings for the 2011-2012 academic year. After placing 15th at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships this past March, the Lobos were able to notch their third-consecutive recognition for the award.
Lead by head coach Joe Franklin, the Lobos combined to gain 82 points to place 11th in the final standing. Along with its 11th-place indoor track & field finish, New Mexico added a 31st-place finish at the cross country championships along with a 33rd-place finish at the outdoor track & field championships to match its highest finish for the award.
"To be in that truly upper echelon of track & field and cross country teams in the country again is a testament to our administration and support, but most importantly the kids that work so hard," Franklin said.
At the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships, a short-handed Lobos squad managed to place 31st. Without standouts Ross Millington and Nicholas Kipruto, New Mexico relied on Sean Stam (139th place) Patrick Ortiz (213th), Pierre Malherbe (236th), Michael Asay (238th), Allen Pittman (242nd) and Vincent Montoya (242nd) to record its third-straight NCAA finish.
The 2012 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships were a different story, as Kendall Spencer recorded the Lobos' first national champions since 2010 after his school-record mark in the long jump. Along with fellow USTFCCCA First-Team All-American Floyd Ross in the triple jump, New Mexico placed 15th and registered its highest finish since 2010's eighth-place finish.
Ross again performed spectacularly earlier this month at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Placing runner-up in the triple jump, Ross gained eight team points for the Lobos, which was good enough to place 33rd overall.
The Lobos also finished in the final standing for the award in 2011 and 2010. Last year, New Mexico ended up ranked 14th (16th in cross country, 50th in indoor track, and 41st in outdoor track), and in 2009 the Lobos also placed 11th (8th in cross country, 8th in indoor track, 55th in outdoor track).
New Mexico is one of only six schools to have finished in the final standings the past three years. Stanford, Florida State, BYU, Oklahoma and Texas have also accomplished this feat.
Presented annually, the NCAA Division I Program of the Year Award recognizes the most outstanding cross country and track & field programs in Division I based on the institution's performance through the academic year. Final standings are predicated on the institution's combined finishes at the NCAA Division I Championships in cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field.
To be eligible for the award, teams must qualify for all three NCAA Championships. Scores for award are calculated from the team's each finish at those championships (i.e., first place earns one point, second place two points, 31st place 31 points, etc.). The team with the lowest total score for all three championships receives the award.
Only 20 men's teams scored at all three 2011-2012 championships. The New Mexico women's cross country and track & field teams also placed in the finals standing of the award, which is in its fourth year of existence.