Lobos Travel To Mt. SAC Relays and UTEP Invitational This Week
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/12/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 12, 2006


A full slate of track and field competition is on tap for the University of New Mexico this week with seven Lobos competing in the Mt. SAC Relays on Thursday and a large travel squad busing down to El Paso, Texas for the UTEP Invitational on Saturday. New Mexico will look to add to its group of nine NCAA regional qualifiers, beginning tomorrow when senior Jacquelyne Gallegos (5,000m), juniors Joseph Garcia (10,000m) and Jeremy Johnson (5,000m), and sophomores Lindsay Barr (10,000m), Ariel Burr (400m), Joseph Garcia (10,000m) and Jarrin Solomon (400m) join an elite field at the 48th running of the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.

On Saturday at UTEP's Kidd Field the Lobos will face athletes from nationally ranked Alabama (No. 17 women), Texas Tech (No. 7 men), Southern California (No. 2 women, No. 17 men) and UTEP (No. 5 men, No. 25 women). The women's teams from Florida, New Mexico State and UT-San Antonio will also be among the invitational field. Saturday's meet will be the Lobos first outdoor competition at altitude with Kidd Field sitting 3,707 feet above sea level. New Mexico's athletes do, however, train year-round at Albuqueruqe's elevation of 5,085 feet.


Results: Event-by-event meet results will be available online at www.mtsacrelays.com.

Schedule: New Mexico's athletes all compete on Thursday afternoon and evening (April 13). The 400-meter runners open the day with Ariel Burr running at 2:20 p.m. (MST) and Jarrin Solomon at 2:50 p.m. Jeremy Johnson toes the line for the men's 5,000 at 4:50 p.m., followed by Jacquelyne Gallegos in the women's 5K at 8 p.m. Lindsay Barr runs the 10,000 at 8:45 p.m., while Joseph Garcia and Juan Ortega wrap up the day with the men's 10K at 9:25 p.m.

UNM at the Mt. SAC Relays: New Mexico will be competing at the Mt. SAC Relays for the fifth straight season. Jacquelyne Gallegos is the only Lobo entered in the 2006 meet with past experience at the Mt. SAC Relays. Gallegos competed in the 1,500-meter run in 2004, placing 81st overall in a massive field of runners.

Walnut Weather Forecast: The weather in Walnut, outside of Los Angeles, on Thursday calls for mostly sunny skies, a high of 77, 43 pecent humidity and winds at nine miles per hour. No rain is expected.


Results: Final meet results will be available online at www.utepathletics.com.

Schedule: The field events get underway at 9:45 a.m. (MST), followed by the first even on the track at 3 p.m.

El Paso Weather Forecast: Saturday's forecast calls for mostly sunny skies, a high of 82 degrees and winds of 14 miles per hour. There is a 20 percent chance of rain.

LAST TIME OUT: Texas Relays

Two more Lobos punched their tickets to the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship meet as senior Jamie Fishencord threw 177' 9" (14th) in the hammer and sophomore Whitney Johnson cleared 12' 5 1/2" (T5th) in the pole vault to lead a solid UNM effort at the Texas Relays. Rookie Anthony Fairbanks, meanwhile, threw a season-best 210' 9" to finish second in the section B javelin, while senior Derek Mackel continued his strong start to the spring with a seventh place performance (17' 4 1/2") in the elite section A pole vault competition. Mackel defeated three All-Americans from the Big 12 Conference in Scott Martin and Chip Heuser of Oklahoma, and Texas Tech's Bobby Most.


The 16th annual Don Kirby Memorial Invitational will be held on Saturday, April 29 at the renovated Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. New Mexico's lone home meet of the outdoor season, the Kirby Invite will once again feature UNM head coach Matt Henry's homegrown Lobos taking on some of the best talent in the Mountain West Conference along with several regional teams, including the New Mexico State women.

The meet will provide a bit of a sneak preview of the upcoming MWC Championships meet (May 10-13) with conference rivals Air Force, Colorado State and Wyoming headlining the field. The CSU women return to Albuquerque for the first time since knocking off BYU for the first time at the MWC Indoor Championships held in late Feb. downtown at the Convention Center.


The 21-year-old Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium will have a new look on April 29 when the Lobos host the Don Kirby Memorial Invitational. A year-long construction project is nearing completion that will expand the east side of the facility to allow the long jump, triple jump, pole vault and shot put all to be contested in the same area within the stadium.

Two new long jump runways/pits and two triple jump runways/pits have been installed, along with a new pole vault runway, all running north and south to minimize the effect of the notorious New Mexico winds during the spring. A new shot put ring has also been put down on the east side, moving the event from the adjacent practice fields, back into the stadium. A wall was constructed to enclose the east side of the stadium and plans are also in the works to place bleachers on the east side to give spectators a up-close view of the field events.

The expansion is the first phase of the athlete and fan-friendly stadium renovations that also include plans to resurface the track oval this summer.

"This project is a real positive for both our athletes and fans at our home meets," UNM head coach Matt Henry said. "We're going to have a lot more room to accommodate more athletes in the field events, which, once we get the track resurfaced, will help us bring some top teams to compete in Albuquerque."

Originally a track-only facility when it was constructed in 1985, the infield of the G.F.O. UNM Track Stadium was modified in 1996 to accommodate the Lobo men's and women's soccer field. The addition of the soccer field squeezed the shot put rings and jumping runways into the south end of the oval. In order to alleviate the congestion in the area, Henry and his staff eventually moved the shot, discus and hammer cages outside of the stadium to the practice fields. Due to safety concerns, the hammer and discus events will continue to be held at the practice field.


Senior Derek Mackel cracked Trackwire.com's national pole vault rankings for the first time during the 2006 outdoor season on Monday, making his debut at No. 11. Teammate Robert Caldwell, however, dropped out of the top-12 after missing on all three attempts at the Texas Relays. Caldwell opened the outdoor season at No. 10. Both men were ranked during the indoor season with Mackel climbing as high as No. 4 and Caldwell No. 10. Mackel was ranked seventh for several weeks last spring, the highest by a Lobo during the outdoor season.

TRACKWIRE MEN'S POLE VAULT RANKINGS (April 11) 1. Tommy Skipper (Oregon)
2. Robison Pratt (BYU)
3. John Russell (Akron)
4. Brian Mondschein (Virginia Tech)
5. Jimmie Heath (McNeese)
6. Ray Scotten (Nebraska)
7. Brad Gebauer (Michigan State)
8. Sage Thames (Texas Tech)
9. Mike Landers (UCLA)
10. Mark Johnson (Coastal Carolina)
11. Derek Mackel (New Mexico)
12. Chip Heuser (Oklahoma)


Sixth-year assistant coach Scott Steffan has established one of the premier men's and women's pole vaulting programs in the nation at New Mexico. A former teammate of three-time All-American and school record holder Simon Arkell, Steffan rebuilt the vault crew from the ground up after returning to Albuquerque. Under his watch, three New Mexico pole vaulters have competed at the NCAA Indoor Championship meet with junior Robert Caldwell earning All-America honors in 2006. UNM has also had at least three athletes qualify for the NCAA Regional meet outdoors each of the past three years. The Lobo vaulters have also earned all-MWC honors seven times since 2003. Since 2002, UNM has boasted seven 16-foot vaulters on the men's side, including three that have cleared 17 feet. Five women have surpassed the 12 foot mark, including two over 13 feet. Four have also been nationally ranked in the event by Trackwire.com

Led by NCAA Championship qualifiers Derek Mackel and Robert Caldwell, the Lobo vaulters enjoyed their best indoor season in 2006. Mackel (17-11.00), Caldwell (17-07.25) and sophomore Whitney Johnson (13-01.50) all surpassed the NCAA provisional qualifying standard with career-best marks. Meanwhile, senior Zach Bingham (16-00.00), sophomore Zach Graham (16-02.75), junior Nicole Huyge (12-00.75) and junior Stefany Setliff (11-07.00), a first-year vaulter, all recorded their career bests during the winter.

For more about the Lobos' vaunted vaulters, check out the group's website, dedicated to pole vaulting in New Mexico: www.nmpv.com


The University of New Mexico track and field program boasts an elite tradition of excellence that has included 11 national championship event victories, 70 All-America honors, 19 national top-25 team finishes, 197 conference championship event victories and five conference titles. While many of the architects of the New Mexico's track and field tradition made their mark in the 1960s and `70s, several current Lobos have grown up with a unique appreciation of the program's proud history. Five athletes on the 2006 roster are second generation members of the Lobo track and field program, many of whom can still see their surnames prominently displayed in the UNM record books.

Sophomore Kristan Matison is the daughter of one of New Mexico's finest sprinters, Rene Matison, who earned All-America honors in the 100-yard dash and as part of the 440-yard relay in 1966. Matison was also a member of four Western Athletic Conference champion relay teams and played a year of football for the Lobos before being drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys in 1969. Matison's name is also in the UNM record books as he anchored the record-setting 4x100y relay team and matched the fastest 100-yard time ever recorded at UNM. In 2006, he has continued to make an impact on the program with the founding the UNM Track & Field Alumni Club.

Fellow sophomore Jarrin Solomon can also find his family name featured throughout the history of New Mexico track and field thanks to the efforts of his father Michael Solomon. The elder Solomon was a two-time All-American and the 600-yard champion at the 1977 NCAA Indoor Championships. From 1974-77, Solomon claimed four-straight 600 titles, one 440 crown, was a member of the Lobos' three-time WAC champion mile relay team indoors and part of the outdoor record-setting 4x400m relay team. Solomon was also a two-time Olympian, competing at the 1976 Montreal games and 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Kurt Henry is another second-year Lobo who has been in surrounded by UNM track and field tradition his entire life. His dad, Matt Henry, is the fifth-year head coach at New Mexico, a former All-American for the Lobos and member of four WAC Champion relay teams. Kurt's uncle Mark was also a letterwinner for UNM and is currently the associate head coach, while his grandfather Bub and great-grandfather Gwinn have a legacy of success in UNM athletics that goes back to the 1930s.

Sophomore Erik Coleman is a second generation UNM distance runner whose father, Ed Coleman, who was the Lobos' first conference cross country champion, claiming the WAC title in 1963. Coleman was also a three-time all-WAC runner between 1963-65. Rookie thrower Briana Paxton's mother, Laurie, competed for the UNM women's team.

So far the cherry and silver genes appear to be paying off for the second generation Lobos. Matison was an all-MWC honoree in the 100m dash last spring and currently leads the team once again in both the 100 (5th Mountain West) 200 (11th MWC). She also helped the 4x100m relay team clock the fastest time since 2000 with a 46.12 at Arizona in the season-opener.

Solomon was the MWC runner-up in the 400 last spring and is currently ranked third in the league with a time of 47.18. He qualified for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship meet for the second straight season and also has the UNM 4x100 and 4x400 teams both ranked among the top-3 in the MWC. Henry, meanwhile, earned all-conference honors with Solomon in the 4x400m relay last year and continues to be a key member of the long relay team. He is also the Lobos' top 800 runner this spring. Coleman has given New Mexico another weapon in the 3,000-meter steeplechase while Paxton is one of the team's top young throwers.

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