April 9, 2005
AUSTIN, Texas - What a weekend it was for University of New Mexico assistant coach Scott Steffan and his Lobo pole vaulters. Competing in front of a large final day crowd at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, senior Derek Mackel cleared a stunning personal record 17-08.50 to place third in the elite section A field, while freshman Whitney Johnson punched her ticket to the NCAA Midwest Region Championships with a mark of 12-11.50 in the women's section A competition. Senior Amanda Barnes, meanwhile, placed a strong fifth in the section A shot put on Saturday with a mark of 51-01.50.
Two days after sophomore Robert Caldwell cleared 17-00.75 to finish third in the section B pole vault, Mackel turned in the best performance by a Lobo vaulter in 14 years. Competing in a field that included four of the nation's top-10 ranked athletes, the walk-on from Albuquerque Sandia High School got off to a shaky start as he missed his first attempt at 16-06.75. Mackel rebounded, however, matching his outdoor personal record of 17-00.75 on his first try. He then got over 17-04.50 on his second attempt and after missing twice, sailed over the 17-08.50 bar. Mackel missed all three attempts at 18-00.50, but surpassed his previous best all-time height of 17-05.50, set at the 2005 Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships, by a full three inches. His clearance was the second-best in the conference this year and the fifth-best in MWC history.
Mackel equaled the mark of fourth-ranked Scott Martin of Oklahoma State, but used more attempts. The country's No. 2 ranked vaulter, Nebraska junior Ray Scotten, won the event with a mark of 18-00.50. Seventh-ranked Brandon Glenn of Arizona State finished seventh with a clearance of 17-04.50, while No. 8 Gabe Baldwin of Nebraska failed to clear the opening height of 16-06.75.
On the women's side, Johnson also got off on the wrong foot, missing her first attempt before clearing the opening height of 12-05.50 to surpass the NCAA regional qualifying standard. With her spot in the regional field secure, Johnson got over the 12-11.50 bar on her third and final attempt, just missing the UNM record by a quarter of an inch. The Mission Viejo, Calif. native bowed out after three runs at 13-03.50 and finished eighth in the field of 14. Kansas State's Breanna Eveland, the nation's fourth-ranked pole vaulter, won the event with a mark of 13-07.25.
While she was unable to extend her shot put winning streak to four-straight meets, Barnes turned in a fine performance on Saturday. Recording her best mark on her opening toss, she surpassed the 50-foot mark for the fourth time in her career and third time this season, while recording a regional qualifying mark for the fourth time this spring. Barnes more then held her own in the elite field, defeating eight other competitors. Top-ranked Kimberli Barrett of Miami won with a heave of 57-04.25, while ninth-ranked Jessica Pressley of ASU was second with a mark of 54-01.00. Texas' Michelle Carter, the No. 2 ranked shot putter in the country, finished third with a throw of 53-02.25.
New Mexico will be in split squad action next weekend with most of the team competing at the Mesa (Ariz.) Classic, while a select group will join the field at another of the nation's most prestigious meets, the Mt. SAC Relays.