Stevens: Lobos' Fabulous Fortner Sizzles In Heptathlon's First Day
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  05/12/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

May 12, 2010

MWC Outdoor Track & Field Championships - Thursday
Noon start: long jump, javelin, 800 meters
Decathlon: 12:30 p.m. start: 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, 1500 meters

Wednesday's leaders: Heptathlon - 1- Sandy Fortner, UNM, 3,456 points; 2- Kristen Kugler, CSU, 3,017 points.
Decathlon: 1- Jay Petsch, Wyo., 3,965 points; 2- Richard York, UNM, 3,810; 3- Brian Wilson, UNM, 3,516.

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It was the end of a grueling day of four wind-swept events, but who could blame Lobo Sandy Fortner for wanting to finish up this heptathlon thing, like, now.

"Let's just keep going," said the UNM senior. "I feel awesome. I feel better than I ever have and I'm not even that tired."

Fortner had good reason to feel awesome Wednesday at the completion of the first four events in the seven-event heptathlon at the 2010 Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Consider these results:

1. 110-meter hurdles: Winner - Fortner.
2. High jump: Winner - Fortner.
3. Shot put: Winner - Fortner.
4. 200-meter dash: Winner - Fortner.

Sensational Sandy Fortner

Yeah, it doesn't get any better than that. There will be three more events Thursday at the Great Friends of UNM Track, but you probably can pencil in at least one more final result: Overall winner - Fortner.

"I'm happy. I'm ecstatic," said the UNM All-American. "I'm ahead of my pace. I'm shooting for 5,800. It's more a personal goal, a vendetta, to get it. If I don't get 5,800, I'll be very disappointed, especially after how today went."

Fortner already has established herself as the best-ever all-around athlete in UNM's women's track. On Thursday, she has a chance to become the best MWC all-around track athlete ever. The conference record is 5,643 points for the MWC meet and 5,751 for a MWC woman at any meet.

Fortner said she knew if she hit near her personal best times in each events, she could challenge that 5,800-point goal. The only problem with that strategy is that those personal bests often are set when you are only running one or two events in a weekend.

The seven-event heptathlon is a two-day affair. You get tired. Well, maybe not if you are Sandy Fortner.

"My goal was to prove that I could come close to my PRs (personal records) in one day," she said. "I knew if I came close to them, I could score a lot of points. That was a huge step for me."

They say it isn't over until it's over, but when you hand a 439-point lead to the pre-meet favorite and a three-time Mountain West pentathlon/heptathlon champion - well, it's almost over.

Fortner went 5 feet, 7 inches to grab 855 points in the high jump. She added 952 points to her day's total with a 14.19 clocking in the 110-meter hurdles. She blew away the shot put field with a 44-foot, 2.75-inch heave. She won the 200-meter run with a 24.97 time.

In the decathlon, UNM's Richard York and Wyoming's Jay Petsch put on quite a duel over the first five events. Petsch totaled 3,965 points and York is a nose back with 3,810. Lobo Brian Wilson is in the third spot with 3,516 points. UNM's Jeremy Lee is in eighth place at 3,123.

York, a freshman, won the 100-meter run and the 200. Petsch finished second in both of those events. The Cowboy came back with wins in the long jump and the 400-meter run with York finishing second in those two events.

Petsch was third in the shot and York was sixth. The Cowboy picked up 102 points over York in the long jump and had 51 more points in the shot.

The decathlon should feature quite a finish. Well, unless Fortner is still feeling frisky and decides to enter.

The MWC heptathlon continues at noon, Thursday with the long jump, javelin and 800 meters. The decathlon starts up at 12:30 p.m., Thursday with the 110-hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500-meter run.

The bulk of the MWC running, jumping and throwing will be Friday and Saturday at the Great Friends of UNM Track.

The Brigham Young Cougars are favored to win the 2010 MWC title on both the men's and women's side. The sprinter points on the TCU men's squad make the Horned Frogs favored for the No. 2 spot, but UNM's balance could challenge TCU for runner-up honors.

"BYU is the class of the field," said Franklin. "They have good people everywhere in every event. TCU will make a strong run."

"If we have a great day, we could get second, but that depends on what TCU's sprinters do. On the women's side, we are looking at four, five, six."

The BYU women are looking for their eighth overall MWC title and their second straight.

UNM senior Lee Emanuel is looking to give the Lobos blue-ribbon points at both 1,500 meters and 800 meters. The two-time reigning NCAA Indoor champ at 1,500 meters is favored in that run. He also was the MWC Indoor champ at 1,500 and 800 meters and will look to grab those titles outdoor.

On the women's side, UNM is looking for points from Deanna Young, UNM's record holder in the triple jump, Nicky Archer, Michelle Corrigan, Ruth Senior, Ashley Gibson, Lacey Oeding and Briana Paxton.

This is UNM's second time to host the MWC Outdoor Championships. The Lobos also hosted in 2003. At last year's MWC championships, two men's records were broken, while 17 men's and women's performances ranked among the top-five in MWC championships history. BYU won seven individual titles.

Live stats will be available online by visiting TheMWC.com and GoLobos.com.