SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Earlier in the week, New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said his Lobo harriers would give everything they could.
And that they did.
The University of New Mexico's nationally ranked cross-country teams sizzled versus a competitive field and unfavorable conditions at the Notre Dame Invitational, as the No. 15 women stormed to second place and the No. 21 men raced to sixth.
Despite 80-degree temperatures and humidity reaching 80 percent, the Lobo women posted a stellar team performance, while the men ran to a sixth-place finish for the second straight year.
“It was not a pleasant cross-country meet from the heat and humidity standpoint,” Franklin said. “[But] it went really well on the women’s side. … I think that was very, very positive.”
For the women, the story was all about the newcomers, as five of the Lobos’ top six finishers made their UNM debuts on Friday.
Sammy Silva, a transfer from Harvard, was one of the new faces making an impact, as she paced the women over the 5-kilometer course with a strong third-place clocking of 17 minutes, 4 seconds.
“Sammy just lit it up,” Franklin said. “She had a great race.”
Silva was joined in the top 10 by some veteran talent, as Charlotte Arter placed 10th with a time of 17:18.7.
Right behind, though, were a bevy of newcomers.
Overall, the women combined to score 82 team points, nearly halving their output from last year (147 points).
“The one thing that this women’s team has done really well is that they all get along and they all support each other and they all want each other to be successful,” Franklin said. “They all come together with one goal, and that’s to be a great women’s cross-country team.”
The women finished just five points off of a team title, as second-ranked Florida State posted a team score of 77 points. This difference between the Lobos and the Seminoles was the smallest difference recorded at the Notre Dame Invitational since 2005, when No. 5 Michigan edged No. 20 Illinois by the same score (82-77).
On the men’s side, Luke Caldwell was the headliner, claiming runner-up honors for the sixth-place Lobos.
Caldwell raced to a time of 24:22.3 and guided the Lobos with his fifth team-leading in the last year. After finishing 12th overall in 2012, Caldwell deftly handled the competition, finishing less than four seconds off of an individual title.
“Luke had a great race,” Franklin said.
But the three-time All-American wasn’t the only Lobo racing greatly at the Notre Dame Golf Course.
The Lobo men turned in a team performance that was nearly identical to 2012. Last year, New Mexico finished sixth overall and scored 200 team points, while this year, the Lobos finished sixth with 202 team points.
However, the heat and humidity didn’t help either side, especially the men.
“To come out with a sixth-place finish, I was surprised,” Franklin said. “I thought we were further down. We had some guys struggle in the heat.”
Nonetheless, both the men and the women picked up some substantial victories over nationally ranked teams, which bodes well for building postseason résumé.
The Lobo women, by dint of their second place finish, tallied wins over No. 4 Duke, No. 19 Notre Dame, No. 24 San Francisco, No. 28 BYU and No. 30 Princeton.
The men also registered a handful of wins, knocking off No. 22 Notre Dame, No. 24 Virginia, No. 26 Florida State and No. 29 Michigan.
“It relieves just a little bit a stress going into Wisconsin [in two weeks],” Franklin said of picking up the victories. “You can go in and run the race and not worry about beating certain people.”
The Lobos will have a week off before they head to the Wisconsin Invitational, another premier national race, on Oct. 18.