June 25, 2011
Lobo Track/Cross Country 2010-11 Season Review
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
A review of New Mexico's three seasons of track -- cross country, indoor, outdoor -- is beginning to sound like an old phonograph record with the needle stuck on a single sound. The sound coming from Coach Joe Franklin's surging programs is the sweet sound of success.
Once again, Franklin's Lobos set new standards of excellence and climbed higher up the ladder of national recognition. The message to any athlete looking for success on the track is, "Come to New Mexico if you want to get better and have fun doing it."
Franklin's method of working hard in a low-stress environment continues to produce results and champions. Check out just a few track highlights produced by the Lobo coach, who sometimes calls himself, "just the bus driver":
"The kids work hard, the programs continue to move in the right direction and we are doing things the right way," said Franklin. "I think it's fun to be a Lobo, but at this level of athletic commitment, it's only fun when you are out there improving and competing. We do that, too.
"A lot of programs will have a good men's or a good women's team and let the other one suffer. We take pride in having the best teams we can possibly have. When you come to New Mexico, it's important for a runner to know that we emphasize and support success on both sides."
2010 NEW MEXICO CROSS COUNTRY
Probably the Lobos' highest level of competing came in the 2010 cross country season. Simply put: it was an amazing season.
The Lobos back-to-back sweeps at the Mountain West Championships and the NCAA Region was unprecedented in UNM track. Of course, Franklin was the region's Coach of The Year.
The Lobos sweep at the MWC run wasn't exactly a surprise. The Lobos did the same thing in 2009 and even with a target on their backs, these Lobo runners were not to be denied.
The Lobo women had a 1-2-3 sweep behind Natalie Gray, Sarah Waldron and Ruth Senior. Gray was named the MWC Female Athlete of the Year. She was joined on the All-MWC Cross Country First Team by Waldron, Senior and Vanessa Ortiz. Lobos Kirsty Milner and Delyth James were named to the second team.
The Lobo men might have been slight underdogs in the 8K run, but fired up to defend their crown as Rory Fraser finished fourth and Keith Gerrard was fifth. The Lobo men used their depth to snatch the crown away from Brigham Young. Fraser and Gerrard were named to the All-MWC First Team and Ross Millington (8th), David Bishop (9th) and Brock Hagerman were placed on the second unit.
"It was a special meet for us," said Franklin. "The sweep further emphasizes to all the great runners out there that New Mexico is truly an endurance Mecca at the world-class level. There is a reason athletes come to New Mexico and find success."
The formula for success at the University of New Mexico isn't simply one ingredient or thin air. It's also a program run by a special coach, who continues to find athletes motivated to improve.
However, Franklin doesn't simply point out a finish line to his Lobos. He also points out the importance of a college degree. New Mexico cross country, for the second straight season, earned a Public Recognition Award from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for their high scores in the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) compilation.
The Lobos domination at the MWC meet was backed by more excellence at the NCAA West Region. The Lobo men did not have a good day at nationals finishing 16th, but the UNM women continued to bring it.
The Lobo women shocked the field at the NCAA D-I Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., with their fifth-place finish paced by junior Natalie Gray's 15th-place run. It was the highest finish ever for a Lobo women's team at nationals.
"We had expected to get on the podium, but we're not disappointed," said Gray. "We expect to get better and better."
2011 NEW MEXICO INDOOR TRACK
The Lobos lost a few major headliners from the 2010 season, but there was still enough blue chip talent and depth to make this an exciting UNM team to watch indoors.
At the MWC Championships held in the Albuquerque Convention Center, the Lobos found a headliner in Richard York, who was honored for the meet's outstanding male performance with his win in the heptathlon.
The Lobos ended the three-day meet in Albuquerque with four MWC champions: York, Selmon in the 60-meter hurdles, Senior at 3,000 meters and Deanna Young in the triple jump. Senior set a new MWC meet mark at 9:45.24. York's win came off the fifth best MWC indoor total ever.
The Lobos sent four individuals and the men's distance medley team to the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas. The individual competitors were Young, Natalie Gray, Ruth Senior and Ross Millington . The relay team consisted of Gabe Aragon, David Bishop, Sam Evans and Richard York finished sixth. Senior was fifth in the 5,000-meter run.
2011 NEW MEXICO OUTDOOR TRACK & FIELD
So, is there a heir apparent to the talented and deep Brigham Young Cougars, who have left the MWC and no longer are the bullies on the outdoor block?
The hand writing on the wall and the numbers on the paper suggest it might be Franklin's New Mexico Lobos. The Lobo men and the Lobo women both finished second to BYU in the Mountain West Championships held in Fort Collins, Colo.
"When (BYU) leaves, it changes things for everybody, including us. You will have a meet that will be a five to 15-point meet instead of having the winner run away with it. Things will open up next year."
These Lobo men were named to the 2011 All-MWC Outdoor Team: David Bishop (1,500), Warrick Campbell (triple), Sam Evans (800), Keith Gerrard (5,00), Nicholas Kipruto (5,000, 10,000), Charles Lewis (400 hurdles), Django Lovett (high jump), Ross Millington (1,500), Yusuf Muhammad (400 hurdles), Kendall Spencer (long jump), Lamaar Thomas (100 meters), Brian Wilson (decathlon), Richard York (decathlon), and the UNM 4x100-meter relay team of Thomas Trujillo, Derek Montoya, De'Vron Walker and Lamaar Thomas.
The Lobos on the women's All-MWC Team were: Alex Darling (steeplechase), Natalie Gray (5,000), Amber Menke (pole vault), Lacey Oeding (10,000), Precious Selmon (100 hurdles, long jump), Ruth Senior steeplechase, 5,000), Sarah Waldron (5,000), Alesha Walker (long jump), Deanna Young (triple jump), and the UNM 4x100-meter relay team of Kayla Fisher-Taylor, Tawsha Brazley, Selmon and Walker.
Franklin took a program-record 29 Lobos to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field qualifying meet and advanced 10 out of that pack to the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship held June 8-11 in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Lobos advancing were Deanna Young (triple jump), Richard York (decathlon), Ross Millington (5,000 meters), Nicholas Kipruto (5,000), Rory Fraser (5,000), David Bishop (1,500), Alesha Walker (long jump), Ruth Senior (10,000), Keith Gerrard (10,000) and Django Lovett (triple, high jump).
UNM's Fraser earned First Team All-American honors with his sixth-place finish at 5,000 meters (13:39.40). Kipruto garnered Second Team All-American honors by finishing 11th in a time of 13:48.52.
"Our reputation in track continues to grow and continues to attract the best athletes in the U.S. and the world," said Franklin. "The top athletes in New Mexico also take a serious look at our program because they know we provide the support system for them to excel both athletically and academically and do it in front of friends and family."
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and Columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.