Aug. 27, 2003
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of New Mexico men's and women's cross country teams were picked to finish fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 2003 Mountain West Conference preseason coaches poll the league announced on Tuesday. BYU was picked to win both the men's and women's titles.
BYU collected four first place votes and a total of 23 points to capture the top spot in the men's poll. Colorado State notched the other two first place votes as it totaled 21 points to capture second place, while Air Force claimed third place with 16 points. New Mexico (12 points) was picked to finish fourth this season, followed by Utah (11 points) in fifth and Wyoming sixth (six points).
The New Mexico men notched their highest MWC finish last fall, placing third at the conference meet in Provo, Utah. UNM was also ranked as high as No. 27 in the nation before a rash of late season injuries hampered the team's efforts. Fourth-year head coach Matt Henry returns eight letterwinners on the men's side, including a pair of all-MWC runners in senior Ben Ortega (2001) and junior Cameron Clarke (2002). Three-time All-American Matt Gonzales, and fellow senior Nick Martinez will both redshirt the 2003 season.
For the fourth straight season, the BYU women's team received seven first place votes and gathered a perfect score of 49 points to capture the top spot in the poll. Colorado State's women's team collected the other first place vote and was predicted to finish second with 43 points. Air Force claimed the third spot with 34 points, followed by Utah (33) in fourth. New Mexico and Wyoming tied for fifth in the poll with 20 points apiece, while San Diego State (18) and UNLV (7) were picked seventh and eighth, respectively.
The Lobo women return nine letterwinners from 2002, including senior Sarah Gonzales and junior Jacquelyne Gallegos, who led the team in every meet last year. Both Gonzales and Gallegos enter the fall healthy after battling injuries last year, though senior Amanda Swann will miss the 2003 season as she recovers from foot surgery. New Mexico will also add six newcomers, including former Cibola High School standout Riann Lucy.
The Cougar men's and women's teams won their fourth consecutive MWC crown in 2002. The BYU women went on to defend their NCAA Cross Country Championship, their third in four years, in Terre Haute, Ind. The 2003 squad will be led by senior Michaela Mannova, who finished fifth at last year's NCAA Championship. The Cougar men finished 16th in last year's NCAA's and will be led by junior Kip Kangogo, the 2002 MWC Runner of the Year.