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UNM To Face National Powers USC and Texas A&M In Los Angeles
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/30/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 30, 2006

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UPCOMING

The University of New Mexico track and field team will make a rare visit to the City of Angles this weekend when it takes on a pair of national powers in Texas A&M and Southern Cal in the Trojan's Cardinal & Gold Invitational on Saturday at Katherine B. Loker Stadium. It's the Lobos' first trip to Los Angeles since 1992 and first of four scheduled meets in California this spring, including the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento.

After the full team opened the outdoor season last weekend in Tucscon, Ariz., New Mexico will send a reduced travel party of 32 athletes to Los Angeles. The Lobos will host the 16th annual Don Kirby Memorial Invitational at Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium on Saturday, April 29.

THE CARDINAL & GOLD INVITATIONAL AT A GLANCE

Results: Meet results will be available online at www.usctrojans.com.

Schedule: The meet will be held all day on Saturday, April 1.

The Opponents: The USC men (6th) and women (7th) both finished among the top-10 at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championship meet and were in the top-20 (women - 8th, men - tied for 19th) three weeks ago at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Texas A&M men (tied for 25th) and women (17th), coached by Matt and Mark Henry's older brother Pat, both placed among the top-25 at the NCAA Indoor meet. The Aggies were 29th on the men's side and 47th on the women's side at last year's outdoor championships. Both schools visited Albuquerque during the recent indoor season, competing in the Modrall Sperling Lobo Invitational.

Weather: Saturday's forecast in Los Angeles should be fairly agreeable for track & field competitors. The weather report calls for partly cloudy skies, a high of 61 degrees and light 5 mile-per-hour winds. While 50 percent humidity will be a change of pace for the UNM athletes, there is no chance of precipitation.

Last Meet In Los Angeles: UNM competed in the 1992 Oxy Invitational, hosted by Occidental College, in L.A. two weeks before the Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Championship meet. The Lobo women last competition at Southern Cal was in 1986 when it faced USC and San Diego State. The men's last meet at USC was in 1985 against the host Trojans and UC-Irvine.

LAST TIME OUT: JIM CLICK SHOOTOUT

Senior Matt Keeran led the Lobos in their outdoor season-opener in Tucson, Ariz. with career-best and NCAA regional qualifying throw of 218' 8" in the javelin. The former Albuquerque La Cueva standout was one of four UNM men to punch their ticket to the NCAA regional meet at the Jim Click Shootout, while rookie Sandy Fortner recorded an NCAA provisional qualifying score of 5,017 in her first collegiate heptathlon.

The Lobos' powerful javelin crew came home with seven top-5 finishes, including freshman Katie Coronado's victory (138' 5") in her collegiate debut. Coronado, senior Jessica McIntyre (131') and fellow freshman Vanessa Strobbe (127' 3") finished 1-2-3 on the women's side.

Keeran, however, was the story of the day for the men as he recorded the best mark by a Lobo since Donnie Lujan set the modern javelin record 15 years ago with a throw of 225' 4". Keeran smashed his previous personal best by over seven feet as he and promising Albuquerque Highland High School product Anthony Fairbanks (193' 5") finished 2-3 in the men's event. Arizona senior transfer Saku Kuusisto, a three-time Finish national junior champion, won with a heave of 227 feet even.

Senior Derek Mackel, a 2006 NCAA Indoor Championship qualifier, got off to a solid start in the outdoor opener, winning the pole vault with a regional qualifying mark of 17' 3/4". The victory was Mackel's third this year and sixth of his career.

Freshman high jumper Josh Cosio, meanwhile, turned in an outstanding performance in his first outdoor meet, clearing 6' 10 3/4" to secure a berth in the NCAA Midwest Regional field. Cosio was part of a 1-2-3 freshman finish in the event, which was won by national high school record holder Scott Sellers (7' 2 1/2") of Kansas State.

Sophomore Jarrin Solomon paced the Lobos on the track, clocking a tremendous early season time of 47.18 in the 400-meter dash to qualify for the Midwest Regional meet for the second straight season. Solomon, the 2005 Mountain West Conference runner-up in the event, finished 0.15 seconds behind the winner, former Big East champion Ryan Postel of Notre Dame.

Fortner set the early tone for New Mexico finishing fifth in a powerful field during the two-day (Thursday-Friday), seven-event heptathlon competition. The former Fort Sumner (N.M.) High School standout was one of five athletes to surpass the NCAA provisional standard, including two-time national champion Jacquelyn Johnson, who won with an automatic qualifying score of 5,797. Fortner used a balanced performance, finishing seventh or higher in six events, to defeat eight other competitors. Her score was the best by a Lobo since 2003 when UNM assistant coach Keren Bentzur qualified for the NCAA Championship meet.

ROSTER MOVES

Fifth-year senior Cameron Clarke, a three-time all-MWC honoree in cross country and 2005 indoor all-MWC 800m runner, is back for his final season this spring. Clarke finished his indoor eligibility last year and redshirted the 2005 outdoor season. His last race on the outdoor oval was a 5,000m run at the 2004 Midwest Regional Championship meet.

Fifth-year senior Jamie Fishencord, UNM record holder and an all-MWC honoree in the hammer throw, is also back for her final campaign. Fishencord did not compete during the winter after completing her indoor eligibility last year.

Seniors Dan Feltman and Timmie Murphy are redshirting the outdoor season and will return to competition in the spring of 2007. The coaching staff is hopeful that Feltman, who missed virtually the entire 2005 indoor season due to injury, will have one more season of indoor eligibility as well next year.

THE GRIDIRON CONNECTION

Throughout UNM head coach Matt Henry's six years at the helm of track and field, the men's team has maintained close ties with Rocky Long's Lobo football program. Long has allowed any players in good academic standing to train and compete with track team after completing their spring football committments.

Since 2001, eight scholarship football players have competed for the UNM track team, including five on associate head coach Mark Henry's sprint crew. Over the past five years, the Lobo football players have combined to earn all-MWC honors nine times (all outdoors), including a high jump title by former wide receiver Hank Baskett III in 2004.

Four active or former UNM football players are on the 2006 roster: seniors Aaron Brack (sprints), Jerrell Malone (sprints) and Mike Powdrell (jumps) and junior Marcus Smith (sprints). Brack and Powdrell were the first football players under Matt Henry to compete indoors this past winter. Brack set the UNM indoor record in the 60 (6.88) and finished fourth in the event at the MWC meet, while Powdrell combined for five points in the high jump (T4th) and long jump (8th). Malone joined the team after the MWC Indoor Championships and Smith, the only active player on the team, will hit the track in late April after spring football practice ends. A fifth two-sport athlete, freshman sprinter Phillip Williams, is a scholarship track athlete who walked on to the football team in the fall, playing cornerback for the defensive scout team last season. Williams is also expected to rejoin the team following the spring football season.

The following is a list of the scholarship football players who have competed under Henry:

WR Hank Baskett (2002-04): 3-time all-MWC (high jump), `03 MWC Champion

WR Aaron Brack (2005-current): MWC 60m/100m finalist, UNM 60m record holder

WR Larry Davis (2001): 2-time all-MWC (200m/4x100m relay), UNM indoor 200m record holder

CB Jerrell Malone (current): First season

DT Guillermo Morrison (2003): all-MWC (discus)

WR/CB Mike Powdrell (2002-current): all-MWC (high jump)

WR Marcus Smith (2005-current): MWC 100m/200m finalist

RB Quincy Wright (2002-03): 2-time all-MWC (100m/4x100m relay)

NEW MEXICO POLE VAULTING

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 this winter.

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

TRACK & FIELD DOJO

While most UNM track and field athletes enjoyed success in additional sports during their high school careers, three Lobos also received high honors in the martial arts. Senior Jamie Fishencord, the UNM record holder and an all-MWC honoree in the hammer throw, is a black belt in Shotokan karate. Senior pole vaulter Derek Mackel, a two-time all-MWC selection, has a second degree black belt in tae kwon do and freshman thrower Briana Paxton is a first degree black belt in tae kwon do.

LOBO TRACK & FIELD ALUMNI CLUB

Championship track and field programs are not built overnight. They are constructed gradually, built upon a strong foundation of pride, tradition and a commitment to excellence. The University of New Mexico track and field program has built its legacy with the same championship formula.

Since 1930, New Mexico athletes have earned All-America honors 69 times, won 11 NCAA Championship events and claimed 197 conference events. Perhaps the most exceptional group of athletes ever to compete in any sport at UNM were on legendary coach Hugh Hackett's track and field teams of the 1960s.

A large group of Lobo legends from that era, including coach Hackett and former national champions Adolph Plummer and Art Baxter, reunited in Albuquerque on Jan. 20 for a memorable evening spent sharing memories and reaffirming a commitment to New Mexico track and field excellence. That night, reunion organizer Rene Matison, a two-time All-American at UNM, announced the founding of the Lobo Track and Field Alumni Club.

The Alumni Club seeks to unite all the men and women from the 1960s, `70s, `80s, `90s and even the 2000s who have been part of New Mexico's proud track and field history. Its goals include celebrating and preserving the program's proud tradition while helping current and future generations of Lobo track and field athletes establish a championship legacy of their own through facility and equipment upgrades and donations to the track and field scholarship fund.

For more information on the Lobo Track and Field Alumni Club, contact Rene Matison via email at rpmatison@msn.com.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING 101

Making sense of the official NCAA qualifying formula for outdoor track & field can be a challenge. The basic system, however, is relatively simple when its broken down.

In order to be eligible for the outdoor national championship meet all men and women must first qualify and participate in the NCAA Regional Championship meet their school is affiliated with (West, Midwest, Mideast or East).

• Athletes have from the beginning of March through the middle of May to earn a regional qualifying mark.

• Any athlete or relay team that wins an event at their conference championship meet is also automatically entered into the regional meet.

Once at the regional meet, any athlete that finishes in the top-5 of an event or any relay team that places in the top-3 earns an automatic berth to the national championships.

Athletes and relay teams that do not finish in the top-5/top-3 at the regional championships can still earn an at-large bid to the national meet if their best performance of the season ranks high enough.

•After the automatic bids are awarded, the next three finishers (6th-8th for individuals, 4th-6th for relay teams) at the regional meet are placed into an at-large pool.

• The at-large pool of athletes are then listed in order of their best performance of the year, including any top marks recorded at the regional meet.

• The NCAA Championship Committe selects hands out between 5-10 at-large bids to the national meet.

Each year between 25-30 individuals are selected to compete in each event at the national meet. Between 18-20 relay teams are invited to nationals as well. The NCAA Outdoor Championship field consists of a maximum of 544 men and 544 women.

The exception? Three events, the 10,000-meter run, men's decathlon and women's heptathlon, are not contested at the regional meets. Athletes in those events must reach either the NCAA automatic qualifying standard or provisional qualifying standard during the season to be eligible for the national championship meet.

•Provisional Qualifying Standards: Competitors who meet the provisional qualifying standard during the season are candidates to be selected for the national championship field. Provisional qualifiers are selected using a descending order performance list. The number of athletes selected from the provisional qualifiers list is determined by the number of automatic qualifiers in each event. Again, between 25-30 athletes are generally selected to fill each event at the national meet.

•Automatic Qualifying Standards: Competitors who meet the automatic qualifying standard during the season are guaranteed a spot in the national championship field.

INDOOR SEASON REVIEW

The 2006 indoor season proved to be one of the most memorable in recent UNM track and field history. As the Albuquerque Convention Center quickly earned a reputation as America's best new indoor venue, head coach Matt Henry's Lobos thrived in their new world-class facility. The following are some of the superlatives from the winter of `06:

• New Mexico qualified two athletes (pole vaulters Robert Caldwell and Derek Mackel) to the NCAA Championship meet for the first time since 1990...UNM had two national qualifiers in the same event for the first time indoors...junior Robert Caldwell became the second Lobo to earn All-America honors in the pole vault, tying for eighth (17-06.50)...Caldwell (Socorro) was the second New Mexican in the past two years to earn All-America honors indoors, joining Santa Fe native Matt Gonzales (5,000m).

• The UNM men (5th - 67 pts.) and women (5th - 57 pts.) matched their highest finish at the MWC Indoor Championships...the teams had their best combined performance (127 pts.) in 15 years of joint appearances at the indoor conference championship meets...the New Mexico men defeated Wyoming for the first time since it joined the MWC, despite losing 79 percent of their (53) points from the 2005 MWC indoor meet.

• UNM athletes earned all-conference honors 10 times, including a program-record six medals for the women...five school records fell during the season, including four on the women's side.

AMERICA'S BEST NEW INDOOR TRACK & FIELD FACILITY

The Albuquerque Convention Center earned a well-deserved reputation in 2006 as the best new indoor track and field facility in America. The City of Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico hosted eight meets in downtown Albuquerque, including the Mountain West Conference Championships.

Fourteen top-25 men's and women's teams, 56 nationally ranked athletes and seven of the nation's top 4x400m relay teams competed in Albuquerque during the regular season. Six of those individuals and two relay teams went on to win gold medals at the NCAA Indoor Championship meet. On the season, 14 NCAA automatic qualifying marks and 108 provisional qualifying marks were recorded in the Convention Center, including two of the top marks in Division I in 2006. Texas' Trey Hardee set a collegiate record of 6,208 points in the heptathlon during the Zia Classic Multis competition (Jan. 26-27).

Saturday, January 10
All Day - 
Track & Field
at Air Force Open *
Saturday, January 24
All Day - 
Track & Field
vs. Lobo Collegiate Invitational *
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