May 3, 2008
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - On a perfect day for track and field the University of New Mexico gave its fans plenty to cheer about at its lone home meet of 2008, the 18th Don Kirby Memorial Invitational. The Lobos won 10 events and the women's team clinched the Rio Grande Rivalry title for UNM with a 204-143 victory over New Mexico State. New Mexico won the 2007-08 Rio Grande Rivalry by a cumulative score of 16.25-6.75.
Senior Ariel Burr left a lasting impression in the final outdoor home meet of her great career. Burr teamed with Sandy Fortner, Alesha Walker and fellow senior Kristan Matison to record an NCAA regional qualifying time of 45.70* en route to an easy victory in the first running event of the day. Running their first relay race of the year, the group became the first New Mexico foursome to advance to the regional meet in the event.
Burr came back to run a sizzling 200 later in the afternoon, out-kicking South Plains College All-American Stephanie Simpson to win the event with an altitude-adjusted time of 23.74. The Carrizozo, N.M. product missed her career-best in the event - which she recorded at the 2007 Don Kirby Invitational - by one-hundredth of a second as she added the 200 to her regional qualification resume. Burr finished her career undefeated in four outdoor home meets.
Fortner, meanwhile, punched her first ticket the NCAA Midwest Region Championships with a second place leap of 19' 9" (6.02m) in the long jump. Already one of the nation's top heptathletes, was over five inches beyond her previous career-best in the event.
Walker won the event with a mark of 20' 5" (6.22m) as the Lobos swept the first four places. Sophomore Deanna Young was third with a jump of 19' 3/4" (5.81m), while freshman Asal Salehpoor finished fourth with a season-best leap of 18' 11 1/4" (5.77m).
Young came back to win the triple jump with a career-best leap of 42' 10 3/4" (13.07m). The Albuquerque Highland product improved over five inches on her previous best, which was ranked third in the Mountain West Conference and 31st in the nation entering the meet. Junior teammate Hagit Salamon was third with a season-best mark of 39' 10" (12.14m) in her third competition of the spring.
It wasn't all women's highlights, however. Senior Robert Caldwell matched his career-high, recorded two weeks ago at TCU, with a clearance of 17' 6 1/2" (5.35m) in the pole vault. Caldwell was the top collegiate finisher (T-2nd overall) in an elite field of vaulters.
Former teammate and current UNM volunteer coach Derek Mackel (Albuquerque Sandia) secured his place at the U.S. Olympic Trials later this summer with a winning mark of 18' 1/2" (5.50m). Mackel matched his best mark as a Lobo, which he recorded en route to winning the NCAA Midwest Region title as a senior in 2006. The pair were two of five men to clear 16' 6 3/4" (5.05m) in the event. Two-time Olympian Dominic Johnson (Saint Lucia) tied Caldwell for second, while former Arizona standout Kevin Opalka and former Air Force All-American Paul Gensic were fourth and fifth, respectively, with jumps of 16' 6 3/4".
The New Mexico men and received solid performances from throwers Matthew Henry-Marshall and Anthony Fairbanks. Henry-Marshall won the discus with a career-best mark of 160' 7" (48.95m), while Fairbanks was second in the javelin with a throw of 211' 8" (64.52m). UTEP standout Alex van de Merwe handed Fairbanks his first home loss with a winning mark of 227' 2" (69.25m).
In the marquee sprint event of the day, South Plain freshman Renny Quow won the men's 200 title with an altitude-adjusted time of 20.74. Quow, the 2006 World Junior 400 champion, defeated a field that included two-time U.S. Indoor 400 champion James Davis, former USA 4x100 team member and current Lobo assistant coach Leo Settle, and former UTEP All-American Taiwo Ajibade.
South Plains' Fred Samoei turned in perhaps the best performance of the meet as he smashed the 20-year-old stadium record in the 800 by more than a second with a time of 1:47.08. Samoei's altitude-adjusted time was a sensational 1:46.42 - nearly two seconds ahead of UTEP All-American and 2007 NCAA outdoor runner-up Elias Koech.
UTEP's Nina Schvedoff opened the meet with a stadium record in the women's hammer throw, recording a mark of 193' 11" (59.12m).
There were plenty of other Lobo highlights from Saturday, including:
Junior Sheyenne Lewis notching her first collegiate victory with an altitude-adjusted time of 17:46.89 in the women's 5,000...Lewis finished 18 seconds ahead of the runner-up, sophomore teammate Vanessa Ortiz (18:04.63*).
Junior Whitney Johnson winning the women's pole vault with a season-best mark of 12' 1 1/2" (3.70m)...Johnson also won in her last official home appearance in 2006 when she cleared a school record height of 13' 1/4"...she redshirted all of 2007 after undergoing major knee surgery in the summer of '06.
Junior Katie Coronado finishing second in the javelin with a throw of 155' 5" (47.38m)...former UTEP All-American Erma Gene Evans handed Coronado her first loss of the year, but the Ruidoso, N.M. product has yet to be defeated by a collegiate competitor in six meets this year.
Freshman Chris Keeling clocking season-bests in both the 100 and 200...Keeling was fourth in the 100 with an altitude adjusted time of 10.87 and was ninth in the 200 with a time of 22.04*.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Steadman and sophomore Brian Vallie finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the fastest 800 ever run at the G.F.O. UNM Track Stadium...Steadman clocked an altitude adjusted time of 1:52.59*, while Vallie recorded a season-best 1:53.91*.
Rookie Matt Everett winning the 1,500 (4:11.34*) and fellow freshman Brian Wilson taking the 110m (15.34*) in their home debuts.
Junior Josh Cosio finishing second in the men's high jump with a mark of 6' 8 1/4" (2.05m).
* indicates altitude-adjusted time