NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships — Eugene, Ore.
When: Wednesday-Saturday, June 11-14
Where: Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Live Results: FlashResults.com
At the national championships, there are high expectations for every team.
But for Lobo head coach Joe Franklin, one goal stands out the most: “compete hard.”
Eight University of New Mexico track and field athletes are aiming for superlative performances and scoring efforts at the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships this week at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Luke Caldwell (10,000-meter run), Adam Bitchell (10,000), Peter Callahan (1,500), Charles Lewis (400 hurdles) and Richard York (javelin throw) will compete for the 22nd-ranked men, while Charlotte Arter, Sammy Silva and Suzi Boast will race the women’s 1,500.
It’s the largest group of Lobos to make the NCAAs since 2009.
“The goal is to make sure you leave it all on the track and have a shot to make the finals,” Franklin said. “And to make the finals — whether it’s in the hurdles or the javelin or the 1,500 — we have to do everything we can and enjoy the moment.”
The Lobos, coming off one their most successful seasons during Franklin’s seven-year tenure as coach, have the credentials for success at the NCAAs.
All of the eight athletes have either qualified to NCAA championships in cross-country or track before or have earned multiple All-Mountain West honors in 2014.
Subsequently, the best of the nation’s best featured at the NCAA championship will be nothing new for UNM.
“They’re seen [this level of competition],” Franklin said. “... It’s not like they’re going into something that’s unknown. They’re quality students and they're quality athletes. There shouldn’t be a fear factor.”
And if the Lobos can compete hard and make the finals in their events, then they have a chance to score points — via a top-eight finish out of 24 competitors — at the national championship.
For the men, all five are capable of scoring, with Callahan entering with one of the fastest times in the field.
Callahan, an Evanston, Ill., product by way of Princeton, is competing in his first NCAA Outdoor Championship and has the second-ranked seed time from the recent NCAA West Preliminary competition in Fayetteville, Ark.
His seed time of 3 minutes, 40.40 seconds in the 1,500 is also a personal record and ranks third in New Mexico history in the event.
“Peter hasn’t been in particularly fast races,” Franklin said, “but he’s competed well in every race he’s been in.”
Callahan, who was part of Princeton’s NCAA champion distance medley relay team in 2013, won the 1,500 at the Mountain West Championships in May.
Caldwell and Bitchell are also both in position to potentially score in the men’s 10,000.
Caldwell, a five-time All-American between cross-country and track, is going for his sixth such honor in six opportunities. His running mate, Bitchell, has rebounded from an injury-shortened 2013 season and is competing at his second NCAA meet in 2014.
“They have to run smart,” Franklin said. “They have to run the correct way and they know what that means. I think if they do that, they’ll be in a position to score, both of them.”
Caldwell’s seed time of 29:35.83 ranks him ninth overall, while Bitchell’s time of 29:40.35 tabs him 11th.
However, both have faster times this season — 28:50.43 for Bitchell and 28:59.63 for Caldwell — and the duo placed 1-2 in the event at the MW Championships with Caldwell earning gold.
The final men’s track athlete competing is Lewis, an Albuquerque native, in the 400 hurdles.
Lewis, the first Lobo to compete in the event at the NCAAs since 1979, ran a superb race at the NCAA West Preliminaries two weeks ago, capturing a lifetime best of 50.55.
“I think he’s going to have to run a race similar to what he ran in the final at Arkansas,” Franklin said. “If he runs a race similar to that, he’ll have a chance to make the finals.”
Seeded 12th, Lewis has posted remarkable performances in 2014, including earning All-Mountain West honors in the 400 hurdles, 400 dash and 4x400 meter relay at the the conference meet.
York, a senior out of St. Louis, is a national-level decathlete, but won’t be competing in the decathlon at the national championships.
After a disqualification in one of the events (the 110 hurdles) in the decathlon at the MW Championships, his attempt to make the NCAAs in the decathlon was dashed.
Undeterred, he won the conference title in the javelin and worked his way to the national championships in that event instead.
“For what he went through at the conference championships to what he’s done now is remarkable because a lot of kids would just quit,” Franklin said. “And Richard didn’t quit. Richard decided that if he wasn’t going to make the decathlon, he was going to make the javelin.”
He is seeded 22nd with a personal-record toss of 215 feet, four inches.
On the women’s side, three Lobos will compete in one event, the second straight year New Mexico has managed to do that.
Arter, Silva and Boast are all running the 1,500, where they are seeded 18th, 19th and 21st, respectively.
“The women are racing very, very well,” Franklin said. “They haven’t been in particularly fast races all year, but they’re competed well in every race they’ve been in. And that’s half the battle: can you compete within the race you’re in.”
Arter, out of Carlisle, England, leads the pack with her seed time of 4:19.67. While she has run faster during her time at UNM (4:18.56 last month and 4:16.94 last year), she has been consistent and owns six of the eight fastest times over 1,500 meters in school history.
Silva, a Harvard transfer originally from La Mesa, Calif., clocked a personal record of 4:19.80 at the NCAA West Preliminaries which is the fourth fastest time all-time at UNM.
Right behind her is Boast, from St Neots, England, who also ran a lifetime best of 4:20.06 at the preliminary round and ranks fifth in school history.
Together, the trio were three of six Lobos to score in the event at the MW Championships (Arter in second place, Boast in third and Silva fourth) and are the second threesome in two years to advance to NCAAs in the 1,500.
The Lobos will open competition Wednesday with the semifinals of the men’s 400 hurdles at 7:15 p.m. MT and the men’s 10,000 at 8:15 p.m. MT. Friday will see the semis of the men’s and women’s 1,500s (5:30 and 5:45 p.m. MT, respectively), with the finals of the men’s 400 hurdles Friday at 5:33 p.m. MT. New Mexico will finish up Saturday with the finals of the 1,500s and the javelin (1:35 p.m. MT).
Check back each day after competition for a recap of Lobo action, including Saturday for a complete recap and results.