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Lobos Head to California Aiming for Improvement, Experience
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/24/2013
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 24, 2013

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Lobos are looking to strike gold in California.

As the regular season quickly comes to a close, the University of New Mexico track and field team is vying for postseason position—and some golden standards—as they travel to the Brutus Hamilton Open and Invitational and the Payton Jordan Invitational this weekend.

Because postseason competition is just two weeks away, the Lobos are trying to make their way into the top 48 of the national rankings to earn a bid to the NCAA First-Round Qualifying Meet in late May and potentially advance to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in June.

To accomplish those goals, New Mexico is heading to the Californian cities of Berkeley and Stanford as its athletes take on a pair of highly competitive meets with the goal of improving on their season marks and gaining experience.

The Brutus Hamilton Open and Invitational, which is hosted by the University of California, Berkeley, will see a majority of the Lobos take aim in their specialties as they fight for a spot in the national rankings.

Among those heading to the Golden Bears' Edwards Stadium this Friday and Saturday are a number of New Mexico's nationally ranked competitors.

On the women's side, Shirley Pitts, Yeshemabet Turner, Amber Menke, Margo Tucker and Lexi Ross will compete at Cal.

Menke (48th in NCAA in pole vault), Tucker (63rd in pole vault) and Turner (66th in long jump) are the Lobos competing who are ranked in the nation's top-100.

Additionally, Pitts ranks second in the Mountain West in the 400-meter dash, while Ross sits fourth in the conference in the javelin throw.

Other Lobos of note competing this weekend include sprinter Kayla Fisher-Taylor, hurdler Precious Selmon, distance runner Janna Mitsos, jumpers/sprinters Samantha Bowe and Holly Van Grinsven, as well as horizontal jumper Aasha Marler and pole vaulter Annie Stirling.

The men are also sending some of its standouts to the Brutus Hamilton Open and Invitational, including Kendall Spencer, Django Lovett and Ty Kirk.

Luke Caldwell just opened his season last week and is looking for more experience.

Spencer, who ranks 16th in the nation in the long jump, leads the men's charge, which also features Lovett at 60th in the high jump and Kirk 85th in the triple jump. All three lead the MW in their events, while Spencer adds a second-ranked time in the 100.

Sprinters Derek Montoya, Thomas Trujillo and Chris Kline are also aiming for significant times, while Marcus Simon, Markus Miller and Zach Smith are looking for strong marks in the field events.

Out at the Payton Jordan Invitational, New Mexico will send some of its top distance runners to Stanford's Cobb Track and Angell Field on Sunday as they look to gain experience heading into the homestretch.

While most of the Lobos competing at Stanford already have staked solid claims to participating at the NCAA First-Round Qualifying meet, most will run different distances as they prepare for the Mountain Conference Championships in early May.

Chloe Anderson and Josephine Moultrie are racing in the 1500, while Imogen Ainsworth will run in the 3000 steeplechase and Kendra Schaaf and Charlotte Arter will take turns in the 5000.

For the men, Gabe Aragon and Alex Herring are running in the 800, Adam Bitchell (in his UNM outdoor track debut) in the 1500, Elmar Engholm in the 3000 steeplechase and Luke Caldwell and Patrick Zacharias in the 5000.

Currently, the Lobo women check in at fifth in the Women's Mountain Regional Index that was released by the U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association on Tuesday. The Lobo men are ranked 12th in the men's version of the same index.

Live results for both meets can be found at RecordTiming.com. Also, check back Saturday night for a recap and results of the Brutus Hamilton and on Monday for a recap and results of the Payton Jordan.

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