Feb. 11, 2006
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - With two weeks remaining before the Mountain West Conference Indoor Track Championships come to Albuquerque, the host University of New Mexico Lobos appear to be hitting their stride. Today's Albuquerque Invitational saw New Mexico athletes notch personal records aplenty on the track and in the field as UNM took on a 12-team field that included the eighth-ranked Arizona State women at the Convention Center.
Overall, two athletes earned an automatic berth to the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championship meet and 15 more put themselves in contention for the national field by surpassing the provisional standard. Six Albuquerque Convention Center records were also established in the final collegiate meet in the facility before the MWC Championships. Both automatic marks were recorded by MWC athletes as Ashley Owens of UNLV clocked an altitude adjusted time of 7.27 (7.25 raw) to win the 60-meter dash and San Diego State's Erin Asay cleared 14-00.00 to win the pole vault. Owens' mark broke the conference and facility record while Asay shattered the facility record and matched former teammate Shayla Balentine for the top mark in league history.
Former UNM All-American Matt Gonzales, made his debut on the Convention Center track, running the mile as part of an unattached distance medley relay team and coming back to finish second in the 5,000. Gonzales, who finished fourth in the 5,000 at the NCAA Indoor Championships last year, pulled up at the finish line to give the 5K victory to training partner Brandon Leslie, a former All-American at Adams State College.
Senior Timmie Murphy (9:52.00 adjusted) and junior Robert Caldwell (17-03.00) led the Lobos with victories in the women's 3,000 and men's pole vault, respectively. Murphy notched her second win of the season in the 3K, while Caldwell picked up his first career indoor victory and surpassed the NCAA provisional qualifying standard for the second time this season with a mark of 17-03.00.
A handful of New Mexico athlete will compete in tomorrow's Green Chile All-Comers meet at the Convention Center before the team takes a week off to prepare for the MWC Championships (Feb. 23-25). The following is a recap of the Lobos' highlights today:
Sophomore Kristan Matison and Tabatha Shaw continued their steady improvement, recording personal record altitude adjusted times of 7.76 (11th) and 7.78 (17th), respectively, in the 60m dash. Both women also finished second in their heat and among the top half of the field of 48. Shaw capped a tremendous day by clocking a time of 25.17 to finish 18th out of 54 competitors in the 200. Her time was the fastest by a Lobo since 2002. Four Lobos turned in their best indoor 400 race, led by sophomores Ariel Burr and Shakira Williams who finished 8th and 15th, respectively, in the field of 32. Burr crossed the line in 56.49, the fastest in head coach Matt Henry's tenure, while Williams shattered her PR with a time of 57.39. Freshman Christina Zarrella (59.04 - 22nd) and junior KC Pritchard (59.46 - 23rd) also had their fastest indoor times in the event. Rookie pentathlete Sandy Fortner led the way in the 60 hurdles, clocking a season-best 9.20 (adjusted) to finish 17th out of 40 in the event. Sophomore Haily Lee also had a PR in the hurdles, finishing in 9.62 (29th).
Murphy and redshirt freshman Leslie Luna were the story of the day, turning in a pair of fine performances in the mile and 3,000m. The duo began their day in the mile where Murphy ran an altitude adjusted time of 4:58.24 (5th), the fastest in Henry's six years at UNM. Luna also ran her fastest mile, coming in sixth at 5:04.63 (adjusted). The pair came back to blow away the 15-woman field in the 3,000 by 14 seconds as Murphy finished in 9:52.00 (adjusted), just ahead of Luna's season-best 9:52.63 (adjusted). Murphy ran under 10 minutes in the event for the fourth straight week, while Luna was sub-10:00 for the second week in a row. Sophomore Melanie Velarde also had a solid 3K race, capping a 1-2-5 finish for the Lobos with a career-best time of 10:34.81 (adjusted). In the 5,000, junior transfer Roxann James recorded a season-best time of 18:50.93 (adjusted) in a third place finish.
Women's Field Events
High jumpers Tiyana Peters and Khristina Curtis continued to shine, finishing tied for second with a leap of 5-06.00, which matched Curtis' season-best. The duo defeated eight jumpers from the MWC in the field of 17. In the pole vault, sophomore Whitney Johnson recorded her second-best mark of the year, clearing 12-06.25 to finish tied for fourth. Junior Nicole Huyge smashed her old indoor personal record by nearly a foot with a clearance of 11-06.50 (T0th). The Lobos' young weight throwers all recorded a season-bests as well.
Former Lobo football player Aaron Brack advanced to the finals of the 60-meter dash where he clocked the team's fastest 60 of the season, an altitude adjusted time of 7.01 (8th). Brack ran 7.02 in the prelims (7th) to move on the finals. The senior from Austin, Texas is competing indoors for the first time in just his second year of collegiate track. Junior Jeramie White also turned in a season-best time of 7.03 (adjusted) in a ninth place finish. Sophomore Jarrin Solomon finished 11th (22.35) out of 28 in a rare 200-meter race while junior Mark Lamb just missed the finals with a ninth place finish in the prelims of the 60-meter hurdles (8.68 adjusted). The 4x400m relay team of Taylor Siemon, Solomon, Kurt Henry and Randle McCain enjoyed their best race of the winter, finishing second behind Abilene Christian with a time of 3:16.41. Solomon's strong second leg vaulted the Lobos into second behind D-II power ACU.
Men's Field Events
With senior Derek Mackel, the nation's sixth-ranked pole vaulter, off this weekend, the stage belonged to Robert Caldwell who defeated 14 competitors with his PR mark. Caldwell's pole vault victory was the third by the UNM men in the four collegiate home meets this season at the Convention Center. Sophomore Zach Graham, meanwhile, surpassed 16 feet for the third week in a row, finishing tied for second in the event (16-00.75). The Lobos' rookie high jumpers Stuart St. Louis and Josh Cosio both turned in their best performances of the year. St. Louis jumped 6-09.50 to finish third, while Cosio tied for fifth with a leap of 6-07.50. Both men improved 1.5 inches on the previous best. Multi-event man Dan Feltman led the way in the long jump, finishing fifth out of 24 with a mark of 22-08.50, the best by a Lobo this season. Sophomore Domnick Meadows tied for eighth in the event with a jump of 21-11.50.