June 22, 2013
By Mike Mulcahy
Historically, New Mexico track & field and cross country has had success. There have been All-Americans, championships and accolades.
But, for the most part, there wasn’t consistency.
Now, after six years at the helm, head coach Joe Franklin has all but changed that.
The All-Americans, championships and accolades are still coming in, but under the guide and tutelage of Franklin, those honors are coming in more consistently, reaching a peak this year with one of the best seasons yet in the Franklin era.
The 2012-13 cross country and track & field campaign saw the Lobos register 56 All-Mountain West selections, 21 individual conference champions, six All-American nods and three conference team titles.
And while many years during Franklin’s tenure could rival this season on achievements, no Lobo team in the past has even done what this squad did: win three conference titles in one school year.
While UNM has monopolized cross country as of late—winning four straight men’s titles and five consecutive women’s crowns—the Lobos finally broke through and claimed their ever first men’s indoor track & field championship in February.
In fact, the Lobos are the only current member of the Mountain West to win at least three of the six conference titles (men’s and women’s cross country, indoor track and outdoor track) in one season.
Additionally, New Mexico has shown more regularity regarding winning team championships, as it has claimed the most conference titles of any Mountain West member since the start of the 2009-10 school year.
Which, for a historically proud program, shows considerable consistency.
2012 Cross Country
To almost no one’s surprise, the Lobos entered the season as the preseason favorites to repeat their sweeps of the team titles at the Mountain West Championships for the fourth straight year. With a strong returning core on the men’s side and a troupe of new talent on the women’s, New Mexico was looking like the team to beat in the fall.
And the Lobos certainly did not disappoint.
Behind stellar runs from individual titlists Luke Caldwell and>Lacey Oeding, New Mexico swept the team crowns at the conference championships once again, giving the men four straight and the women five-in-a-row.
MW Men’s Athlete of the Year Caldwell led the men’s team—which was nationally ranked the entire season—to a resounding win as the men placed five runners in the top 10.
Along with All-MW performers Patrick Zacharias (third place), MW Freshman of the Year Elmar Engholm (fourth), Adam Bitchell (sixth) and Sean Stam (eighth), the Lobo men held off runner-up Air Force 22-49 in the low-score-wins format and recorded the largest margin of victory at the MW Championships since 2006.
Most MW Titles* since 2009-10
UNM — 9
* Men's & women's cross country, indoor track and outdoor track
The women’s story was hardly any different, as>Lacey Oeding paced New Mexico to victory in a show of the Lobos’ incredible depth.
With the squad’s ace, Josephine Moultrie, placing just fifth due to illness, the rest of the team—including runner-up Charlotte Arter, 13th-place Shawna Winnegar and 14th-place Imogen Ainsworth—was able to pick up the slack and propel UNM to another title.
For their efforts, all five women were named to the All-MW team, while Oeding picked up the Lobos’ third consecutive MW Women’s Athlete of the Year plaudit.
However, Franklin, the MW Men’s and Women’s Coach of Year, didn’t let his conference champs sit on their laurels, as he guided his teams through the NCAA Regional Championships and back to the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky.
For the women, it was their fifth consecutive NCAA appearance, while the men were making their fourth straight.
At the national meet, the women raced to a 10th-place finish behind Moultrie’s All-American run, while the men fought through illness and rough runs en route to taking 21st by dint of Caldwell’s All-American performance.
UNM shined in the classroom as well, as the MW named 15 Lobos (seven men and eight women) to the Academic All-Conference team in the fall. The men’s and women’s cross country teams also sported robust four-year Academic Progress Rates (APR), as the men’s team clocked a rate of 975 and the women 983.
2013 Indoor Track & Field
Entering the season, to say expectations were high might have been an understatement. The Lobos knew they had the experience and the talent for an unprecedented run of postseason success.
Behind 2012 NCAA indoor long jump champion Kendall Spencer, 2012 NCAA outdoor triple jump runner-up Floyd Ross and a bevy of other talented athletes, Franklin saw the potential to claim the team’s first ever indoor conference crown ever.
And, like with cross country, the Lobos did not let their coach down.
Spencer and Ross both notched individual victories as the men combined for seven total individual titles and a program-record 15 all-conference selections en route to winning the elusive team trophy.
Caldwell proved to be key to UNM’s title run, as he nabbed wins in the 3000-meter run and 5000-meter run, as well as a third-place finish in the mile.
And with Alex Herring (800-meter run), Django Lovett (high jump) and Richard York (heptathlon) taking home wins as well, the Lobos were in firm control of victory almost all of the last day of competition.
All six titlists received All-MW honors, as did Gabe Aragon (4x400), Sam Evans (mile), Ridge Jones (60), Chris Kline (4x400), Charles Lewis (400, 4x400), Derek Montoya (4x400) and Logan Pflibsen (pole vault).
For the women, the conference title chase was a bit more one-sided with nationally ranked San Diego State snapping up titles.
However, the women did place second as they produced a cohesive team effort and eight All-MW honors.
Along with Moultrie and Schaaf, Julie Brasher (distance medley relay), Casey Dowling (long jump), Kirsten Follett (3000), Jasmin McCray (distance medley relay), Amber Menke (pole vault), Janna Mitsos (distance medley relay), Mia Weaver (distance medley relay) and Shawna Winnegar (5000) were also named all-conference.
Franklin earned some honors of his own for his teams’ performances. He was named the MW Men’s Coach of the Year Mountain by the Mountain West and the Mountain Region Women’s Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
After the conference meet, Spencer, Ross, Caldwell and Moultrie were able to parlay their success in the regular season to berths at the NCAA Championships, were Caldwell and Ross were recognized by the USTFCCCA as All-Americans.
Caldwell—who had already broken the school record in the 5K—placed eighth in the event at the NCAAs, while Ross duplicated his performance at the 2012 championships with another eighth-place finish.
Subsequently, Caldwell was selected as the conference’s Men’s Student-Athlete of the Year.
In the classroom, the Lobos performed strongly once again, as the men’s team notched a four-year APR of 967 and the women recording an APR of 990 for the last four years.
2013 Outdoor Track & Field
After winning a conference title indoors, the men could have been penciled in as the favorite to win the outdoor conference crown.
But, in the sport of track & field, sometimes things just don’t break the right way. With a number of key athletes injured or redshirting the outdoor season, the Lobo men’s scoring power—the same might that landed them their indoor title—was limited.
But by no means was it gone.
Despite finishing third in the team standings at the conference championships, the Lobo men erupted for seven individual titles. Spencer, Ross, Lovett, Herring and Caldwell duplicated their indoor triumphs at the outdoor championships, with Caldwell switching from the 3K/5K double indoors to the 5K/10K double outdoors.
Engholm chipped in a title in the 3000 steeplechase, as well, giving the men a program-record seven individual titles earned at the outdoor championships.
The women fared better in Las Vegas, too, as they battled San Diego State for much of the meet—even leading SDSU with five events remaining—before finally placing second behind the Aztecs. The women also generated one of their best showing outdoors as they scored the most points in program history, 145.5, since 1985.
The Lobos’ stellar mid-distance trio of Moultrie, Arter and Chloe Anderson led the charge as they placed 1-2-3 in the 1500.
And while Moultrie (800 and 1500), was the only UNM athlete to win individual titles outdoors, five women and a relay team scored podium finishes, including Winnegar (5000, 10000), Menke (pole vault), Margo Tucker (pole vault), Yeshemabet Turner (long jump, triple jump) and Marin Schweigert (high jump).
Out of all of the regular-season success, Franklin and the Lobos were able to qualify 18 athlete to the NCAA West Preliminary Championships competition, advancing six of those standouts—Caldwell, Ross, Lovett, Moultrie, Arter and Anderson—to the NCAA Championships at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
At the finals, Caldwell and Ross once again proved their talent, as they brought home another pair of All-American plaudits.
Ross leaped to a third-place showing in the triple jump and finished his collegiate career scoring at each NCAA Championships he attended.
Caldwell snagged seventh in the men’s 5000 to earn All-American status, making him the first Lobo athlete in school history to earn All-American status in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track in one school year. As in the indoor campaign, he was named MW Men’s Student-Athlete of the Year for his performances.
The Lobos also finished in 13th place in the USTFCCCA’s John McDonnell Program of the Year award standings for the 2012-13 academic year. New Mexico is one of only three schools to finish in the final standings each of the last four years, joining Texas and five-time recipient Florida State.
Academically, UNM earned its stripes, with 26 Lobos (eight men and 18 women) earning the Academic All-Conference Award for spring 2013. The outdoor track and field teams also registered strong APRs, with the men’s four-year APR at 963 and the women’s four-year mark at 986.
On top of that, Gabe Aragon, Thomas Trujillo and Imogen Ainsworth were named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-District Track/Cross Country District VII Teams, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). They are the 13th, 14th, and 15th All-District selections this year for UNM as a whole, and are in contention for Academic All-America, which is announced later this week.