Mackel and Caldwell Return To NCAA Championships
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  05/30/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

May 30, 2006

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - University of New Mexico senior Derek Mackel and junior Robert Caldwell both saw their names appear this afternoon as the NCAA announced the men's pole vault field for the 2006 Outdoor Championship meet in Sacramento. Mackel, an Albuquerque Sandia product, and Caldwell, a native of Socorro, N.M., competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, with Caldwell taking home All-America honors. The duo open competition in the qualifying rounds on Wednesday, June 7 at 5:45 p.m. (MST).

The pair are the first UNM pole vaulters to compete at the NCAA Outdoor meet since 1991 and just the third and fourth Lobos ever to qualify for nationals in the event. New Mexico has not had two athletes in the same event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 1976 when Michael Solomon and Charles Dramiga both ran the 400.

Mackel secured his spot at nationals by winning the event at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships last Friday in Austin, Texas with a career-best vault of 18' 1". Caldwell earned one of the six at-large bids awarded to the Midwest Region after placing seventh at the regional meet with a mark of 17' 5", his highest clearance outdoors. Eleven vaulters from the Midwest were invited to the national meet, five more then any of the four other regions.

The UNM men's team has qualified at least one athlete for the NCAA Outdoor Championships four years in a row and a total of six men have qualified seven times since 2003. Five of the six competitors have been native New Mexicans. The Lobos had just one men's athlete qualify twice in the eight years (1993-2000) prior to sixth-year head coach Matt Henry's arrival. Mackel, a fifth-year walk-on, enters the meet with the fourth-best mark in the nation, while Caldwell's best effort is tied for 20th.

The news today was not as good for freshman javelin thrower Katie Coronado (Ruidoso, N.M.), who was left out of the 27-woman field, despite owning the 24th-best mark in the country in her event with a top throw of 161' 11". The NCAA regional qualifying format worked against Coronado as four automatic qualifiers from other regions received bids to the national meet despite posting lower marks during the season. The four women finished in the top-five of their respective region to earn the automatic bid.

Coronado, meanwhile, placed seventh in the nation's toughest women's javelin grouping over the weekend. The Midwest Region had 11 of the country's top-25 competitors in the event, including the defending national champion, Dan Pounds of Air Force.

Freshmen Anthony Fairbanks and Sandy Fortner also came up a little short in their quest for an NCAA berth. Fairbanks finished seventh in the javelin at the Midwest Regional Championships, two spots shy of an automatic bid, while Fortner was six spots shy of cracking the women's heptathlon field. Fortner's season-best score of 5,190 was just 54 points lower than that of the final NCAA qualifier.

Men Pole Vault

1. Thomas Skipper • JR • Oregon • 5.79m (19-00.00)
2. Robison Pratt • SR • BYU •5.61m (18-04.75)
3. Brian Mondschein • SR • VA Tech • 5.53m (18-01.75)
4. Derek Mackel • SR •New Mexico • 5.51m (18-01.00)
5. Graeme Hoste • SO • Stanford • 5.51m (18-01.00)
6. Ray Scotten • SR • Nebraska • 5.50m (18-00.50)
7. John Russell • SR • Akron •5.50m (18-00.50)
8. Jimmie Heath • SO •McNeese St. • 5.50m (18-00.50)
9. Brad Gebauer • JR • Michigan St. • 5.42m (17-09.50)
10. Gable Baldwin • JR • Nebraska •5.41m (17-09.00)
11. Scott Martin •JR • Oklahoma •5.41m (17-09.00)
12. Sage Thames •SR •Texas Tech •5.40m (17-08.50)
13. Andre Poljanec • SO • N. Iowa •5.40m (17-08.50)
14. Mike Landers •JR •UCLA • 5.40m (17-08.50)
15. Chip Heuser •SO •Oklahoma •5.40m (17-08.50)
16. Mark Johnson •SR •Coastal Carolina •5.40m (17-08.50)
17. Keith Higham •SO •Pittsburgh •5.37m (17-07.25)
18. Matt Adkisson •JR •Sam Houston St. •5.35m (17-06.50)
19. Whitney Neves •FR • BYU •5.35m (17-06.50)
20. Shay Collett •JR •TexasArlington • 5.31m (17-05.00)
21. David Shortenhaus •JR •UCLA • 5.31m (17-05.00)
22. Robert Caldwell • JR •New Mexico •5.31m (17-05.00)
23. Jarno Kivioja •JR •N. Iowa • 5.31m (17-05.00)
24. Mitch Greeley •SO •Clemson •5.31m (17-05.00)
25. Rory Quiller •JR •Binghamton •5.25m (17-02.75)
26. Jonathan Miller •SR •S. Florida •5.24m (17-02.25)
27. Dave Jones •SR •C. Michigan •5.21m •(17-01.00)
28. Devin Rodriguez •SO • McNeese St. •5.06m (16-07.50)