June 12, 2004
AUSTIN, Texas - Mark Johnson finished his memorable University of New Mexico career in style today, moving up five spots on the second and final afternoon of the decathlon competition to place 15th (7,277 points) out of 26 athletes at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The Lobo senior defied his pre-meet ranking of 22nd and went out on top by shattering his personal record in the 1,500, his 173rd and final event in Cherry and Silver.
"We always knew that Mark was a competitor and that there was no way he'd be sitting at 22nd when this thing was all said and done."
UNM head coach Matt Henry
"We always knew that Mark was a competitor and that there was no way he'd be sitting at 22nd when this thing was all said and done," said UNM head coach Matt Henry. "He's made a habit of overcoming obstacles his entire career and this was just a great way for him to finish. This was only really his second full year of decathlon competition and I just wish he was a sophomore coming back for us next year."
Johnson, who earned his Masters in Business Administration degree last month, recorded four career-bests during the 10-event decathlon, including a time of 14.89 in the 110-meter hurdles to move up to 18th in the first competition of the day. Following a strong effort in the discus (126-11), the Fontana, Wisc. native cleared 15-09.00 in the pole vault (T6th) to climb into 14th place in the overall standings. Though his career-best of 16-05.25, set two weeks ago at the Midwest Regional Championships, would have topped the field, Johnson battled through the frustration and held strong in the javelin with a solid mark of 143-08 to set the stage for his 1,500 performance.
He was the first Lobo decathlete to compete at the NCAA Championships since All-American Gary Kinder in 1985. Johnson also joined skier Stian Eriksen as the only athletes in UNM history to appear at the NCAA Championships in two different events. Johnson and Eriksen were teammates on the Lobo men's soccer team which advanced to the second round of the 2001 national tournament.
"Overall, I really am pleased with what Mark and Matt (Gonzales) were able to accomplish over these past three days," said Henry. "Neither one of them had the perfect performance that we all would have like them to have, but they really should be proud of themselves and the way they represented the University of New Mexico at this meet."