May 16, 2008
Interview with Katie Coronado | Interview with Robert Caldwell
FORT WORTH, Texas - University of New Mexico fifth-year senior Robert Caldwell became the first Lobo since 1991 to win a conference pole vault title and junior Katie Coronado captured her second straight javelin crown to lead the Lobos today at the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Championships at TCU's Lowdon Track and Field Complex. Caldwell (Socorro) and Coronado (Ruidoso) joined Fort Sumner's Sandy Fortner (heptathlon) to give the Lobos three MWC gold medalists through three days of competition - all from New Mexico class 3A high schools or smaller.
Caldwell turned in the most stirring performance of day as he cleared a championship meet and stadium record height of 18' 1" (5.51m) on his third and final attempt of the afternoon to finish nearly a foot ahead of the runner-up, BYU senior Matt Weirich. After finishing no higher than fourth in three previous MWC Outdoor meet appearances, Caldwell joined former All-American Simon Arkell (1989-91, WAC) as the only Lobos to win the event in the past 33 years.
The Socorro product's mark was one inch shy of Arkell's 17-year-old school record as he tied former teammate and current Lobo volunteer coach Derek Mackel for second on the UNM all-time list. Caldwell's mark unofficially equaled the second-best in the NCAA this year and made him eligible for the U.S. Olympic Trials berth this summer.
Coronado was the first Lobo to strike gold this morning as she remained undefeated against collegiate competition and 7-1 overall this season in the javelin. The overwhelming favorite entering the meet, Coronado wrapped up the title with a throw of 169' 1" on her first attempt before smashing her own school record by over four feet with a mark of 176' 1" (53.67m) on her next throw.
She finished nearly 23 feet ahead of the runner-up as she unofficially moved into fifth on the NCAA performance chart with the seventh-best throw by an American woman this year. The mark also ranked second on both the Mountain West all-time and championship meet performance lists.
New Mexico had two other all-conference results on Friday with sophomore Alesha Walker earning silver in the long jump after a first place tie-breaker and junior Josh Cosio placing second in the high jump.
As expected the women's long jump came down the top two seeds as the upstart Walker and Colorado State senior All-American and defending MWC champion Janay DeLoach finished tied with a mark of 21 feet even (6.40m) - good for second in MWC Championships history. The gold medal came down to the jumpers' second-best marks, which gave DeLoach the victory.
Despite the narrow loss, Walker recorded the best mark ever by a Lobo at conference championship meet and turned in the highest finish in the event since 2003. The Killeen, Texas product was eighth outdoors in 2007 and fourth at the 2008 MWC Indoor Championships.
Earlier in the day, Cosio earned all-MWC honors for the third time in his career and first time outdoors since 2006 with season-best jump of 6' 9" (2.06m). The Albuquerque Manzano product joined Hank Baskett as the only Lobo high jumpers to medal twice in their careers at the MWC Outdoor Championships. BYU senior Bryce Bergen completed his 2008 indoor/outdoor sweep with a winning mark of 6' 11 3/4" (2.13m).
New Mexico also did a fine job in the preliminary events on the track, qualifying eight athletes to Saturday's finals. Junior Lee Emanuel clocked the fastest time of the day in the 800 meters (1:51.19), while senior and 2007 MWC Indoor champion Ariel Burr set herself up nicely with a season-best time of 54.02 (fourth) in the 400.
Other Lobo highlights from Friday included:
Men's Pole Vault
New Mexico survived a plague of no height performances to combine for 17 points in the unpredictable event. Led by Caldwell's victory, the Lobos also received points from freshman Kyle Walker (16' 3/4" - 4.90m) and junior Adam Martinez (15' 7" - 4.75m), who finished fifth and sixth, respectively. It was Martinez's second consecutive sixth place finish at the MWC Outdoor meet.
Seniors Juan Ortega (Albuquerque Rio Grande) and Joseph Garcia (Belen) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, while redshirt freshman Brock Hagerman (31:56.56) was eighth to give the Lobos 10 points in the first men's running event of the day. Ortega clocked a time of 31:28.31 - exactly three seconds ahead of Garcia - in his first official collegiate race since the winter of 2007. He scored in the event for the second time after finishing sixth in 2006, while Garcia closed his career with his third straight top-five finish in the MWC 10,000.
Junior Jermaine McQueen (Raleigh, N.C.) clocked a team-leading time of 10.68 (seventh) in his official collegiate track debut to move on to Saturday's finals. McQueen, a senior-to-be wide receiver, is the fifth Lobo football player to qualify for the 100-meter finals at the MWC Championships, joining cornerback Aaron Brack (2006 - 6th, 2005 - 7th), running back Quincy Wright (2002 - 2nd, 2001 - 5th), and receiver Rob Caston (2001 - 7th). Former UNM receivers Marcus Smith (6th) and Larry Davis (2nd) were 200-meter finalists in 2005 and 2001, respectively.
Women's Long Jump
Sophomore Deanna Young (Albuquerque Highland) scored for the first time in the long jump, finishing seventh (19' 4 1/4" - 5.90m) to give New Mexico 10 points in the event. Fortner just missed adding another point with a ninth place finish (18' 11 3/4" - 5.78m).
Led by Emanuel's 1:15.19, New Mexico qualified all three of its runners to the finals. Redshirt freshman Ryan Steadman (Albuquerque St. Pius X) clocked the third-fastest time of the day with a season-best 1:51.49, while sophomore Brian Vallie (Hardin, Mont.), the 2007 silver medalist in the event, was eighth with a season-best 1:52.33.
Women's 3,000m Steeplechase
Senior transfer Kara Henry (Elmhurst, Ill.) finished fifth - the best by a Lobo in MWC history - with an NCAA regional qualifying time of 10:45.96. Henry finished six second out of third place and a spot on the all-MWC team.
Heptathlon champion Sandy Fortner and fellow junior Briana Paxton (Albuquerque La Cueva) finished seventh and eighth, respectively. Fortner scored in the event for the first time with a top mark of 45' 5 3/4" (13.86m), while Paxton recorded a season-best 44' 7" (13.59m).
Sophomore Matthew Henry-Marshall rebounded form a disappointing foul out in the hammer on Thursday to finish eighth in the discus with a career-best throw of 168' 4" (51.32m). The Albuquerque High School product threw over seven feet beyond his previous best to give UNM a point in the event for the first time in three years.
Junior Christina Zarrella (Rio Rancho) clocked a career-best time of 57.29 (ninth) to join Burr in Saturday's finals for the first time in her career. Zarrella's performance will give the Lobos two finalists in the event for the first time at the MWC Championships.
Women's 400m Hurdles
Sophomore Kim Perkins (Clovis) clocked a time of 1:02.70 (ninth) to advance to the MWC finals for the first time. Perkins is the fourth Lobo to make the 400 hurdles finals at the MWC Championships, but the first since 2001.
Sophomore Lynn Brasher (Albuquerque Eldorado) clocked a career-best time of 2:16.90 (eighth) advance to the finals for the first time in her career. Brasher knocked over a second off her previous best to give the Lobos a finalist in the event for the first time since 2005.