Ben Ortega

Ben Ortega

Player Profile


Taos, N.M.

High School:
Taos HS






Six-time all-Mountain West track and cross country honoree and a former MWC 10,000-meter champion who enters his final season as fit and dangerous as he's ever been on the track after struggling with various injuries over the past couple years...returned to his place as one of the premier runners in the nation last fall and will be a strong all-conference candidate once again in the 5,000 and 10,000 this year...has flirted with a trip to the NCAA Championships several times in his career, but could be ready to punch his ticket this spring...UNM indoor record holder in the 5,000 and a two-time MWC Athlete of the Week award winner (cross country/track)...one of the gutsiest competitors on the team and proud representative of the Land of Enchantment...exemplary student-athlete who is a six-time cross country/track Academic All-MWC honoree...a former president of the UNM Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and will attend law school next year.

2004: (cross country) Played a tremendous role in the greatest season in the history of UNM men's cross country, a program he helped build from the ground-up...finished among the Lobos' top-3 in five of his six meets...was forced to miss the Great American XC Festival meet due to a scheduling conflict with his LSAT law school exam back in Albuquerque...finished second on the team and eighth overall in a sensational race at the Mountain Regionals...clocked a career-best 10K time of 30:07.3 to help the short-handed Lobos advance to the NCAA Championships without injured No.2 man Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott...was the team's No. 3 man at the national championship meet (106th overall) and was the third scorer at the Pre-Nationals as well...three top-10 finishes, including a season-best seventh to lead the Lobos at New Mexico State...Academic All-MWC honoree.

2003-04: (outdoor) Finished third in the 10,000 (30:29.46) at the MWC Championships to earn all-conference honors in the event for the second time in his career...displayed tremendous toughness in his 5K win at UTEP...cut through the strong wind and took the lead midway through the race, allowing the pack to draft behind him...refused to concede the victory, however, and outlasted the field down the stretch, leaning for the win with a season-best time of 14:57.73...reached the NCAA provisional qualifying mark in the 10K for the second time in his career, clocking a time of 29:36.66 at the Mt. SAC Relays...Academic All-MWC honoree... (indoor) Returned to the track after a year hiatus from competitive running and finished the winter as the best indoor 5K runner in New Mexico history...won the event at Houston and placed fourth at the MWC Championships with a school record time of 14:32.52, surpassing Jeremy Vehar's 1998 record by six seconds... (cross country) Redshirt season.

2002-03: (outdoor) Redshirt season... (indoor) Owned the Lobos' top two 5,000-meter times and ran the fourth-fastest 3,000m...won the 3K in the season-opener at Air Force in a season-best 8:25.17...placed second at Washington State before injuries slowed him once again in the second half of the season... (cross country) Gutted out an injury-plagued season...got off to an outstanding start, earning his first career victory at the Lori Fitzgerald Invitational...was named MWC Athlete of the Week for his efforts...was third and 17th in his next two races before being sidelined by a painful case of tendonitis in his hip and knee...missed nearly a month before returning for the Mountain Region Championships...personal-best 8K time of 24:07 was ranked fifth in the MWC and fourth on the team...Academic All-MWC honoree.

2001-02: (outdoor) MWC runner-up in the 5,000m to earn all-conference honors on the track for the fourth time in two years...did not attempt to defend his 10,000m title after making a valiant effort to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the event...eclipsed the provisional qualifying mark twice, including a personal-best time of 29:11.67 at the Cardinal Invitational...time was the second-fastest in the MWC and ranked 28th in the nation...earned MWC Athlete of the Week honors on April 23, following his performance at Stanford...reeled off three-straight 5K victories from March 23-April 12, including a personal-best time of 14:34.43 at the UTEP Springtime Invitational...third team Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award and Academic All-MWC honoree... (indoor) Redshirt season... (cross country) Outstanding sophomore cross country campaign...earned first NCAA Championship bid by finishing 11th at the NCAA Mountain Region meet, 15 spots better than the year before...finished 106th out of 244 runners at the NCAA's...time of 31:03 was the second-fastest 10K of the year for UNM...took home second team all-MWC honors after placing 10th at the conference championships...finished among the Lobos' top-three in six meets and was the second runner in each of the last four races...owned three of the team's top-10 8K times and notched three top-10 finishes.

2000-01: (outdoor) Captured the 10,000 meters at the MWC Outdoor Championships, winning in a championship record time of 30:02.00...became UNM's first men's conference champ in four years...also earned all-MWC honors by finishing third in the 5,000...owned the team's top-three 5K times and the top-two 10K times...never finished lower than third in six outdoor races...third in the 5K at the Willie Williams Classic and runner-up in the 10K at the Texas Relays...Academic All-MWC honoree. (indoor) Earned all-MWC honors with third place finish in the 3,000 (8:27.19)...also took fourth in the 5,000 (14:56.06)...won the 3K at the Flagstaff Invite...(cross country) Was the Lobos' first or second runner in all seven meets as a true freshman...had four top-10 finishes...ninth place finish at the ASU Invitational...owned the team's top 8K time of the year, a 25:40 at the UNM Lobo Invitational...Academic All-MWC honoree.


Two-time state cross country champion and state cross country record-holder at Taos (N.M.) High School under coaches James Branch and Bruce Gomez...also captured state track title in the 3,200 meters...lettered four years in track, three years in cross country and one year in basketball...science fair regional participant and was honored by the N.M. State Legislature as a role model for youth.


Born on Aug. 5, 1982 in Arroyo Seco (Taos Co.), N.M....age is 23...son of Doug and Julia Ortega...has a sister, Alma (20), and brother Fredrick (16)...enjoys archery, hunting and fishing...major is University Studies.


1,500: 4:03.83, 5,000: 14:34.43, 10,000: 29:11.67


Mile: 4:27.41, 3,000: 8:25.17, 5,000: 14:32.52