May 25, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Out in Texas, the Lobos had to roll the hard six.
In return, they'll get to take a half dozen athletes to the NCAA Championships.
At the final day of the 2013 NCAA West Preliminary championships, the University of New Mexico track and field team advanced five athletes to next month's national championships, bringing its total number of qualifiers to six.
Josephine Moultrie, Charlotte Arter, Chloe Anderson, Floyd Ross and Luke Caldwell -- all of whom qualified Saturday--will join Thursday's qualifier Django Lovett at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.
"I think just about everywhere it was a really good weekend," New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said. "... Across the board, we had a lot of really clutch performances."
After advancing only one athlete to the finals in the first two days of the meet, the Lobos tallied five championships-worthy performances Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.
The first athletes to move on were Moultrie, Arter and Anderson, New Mexico's mid-distance standouts, in the women's 1500-meter run.
The trio advanced to the quarterfinals of the metric mile after solid qualifying races Thursday, and all three ratcheted it up Saturday en route to qualifying to the NCAAs.
Moultrie finished third in her heat of the 1500 with a time of 4 minutes, 19.03 seconds, claiming the requisite top-five finish in her section to advance. Arter, in the same heat as Moultrie, finished fifth in the section with a 4:20.04 clocking.
Overall, the duo finished eighth and 10th, respectively.
Anderson, running in other heat, couldn't place top-five in her heat, but her personal-record time of 4:20.64 was fast enough to nab one of the two at-large berths up for grabs as she placed 12th overall.
"Those guys ran great," Franklin said of the three. "Chloe's had a remarkable season. Josephine's doing well, as is Charlotte. It's really neat to have three women in the NCAA finals in one event."
The trio, who place 1-2-3 in the 1500 at the Mountain West Outdoor Championships two weeks ago, represent the first time in program history that the women have ever qualified three athletes in a single event to a national championship.
However, two other Lobos punched their tickets to Eugene on Saturday.
Luke Caldwell, a four-time MW champion in his first year at New Mexico, claimed a third-place finish in his section of the men's 5000. His time, 14:12.27, finished 13th overall, but still qualified him to the finals.
"Luke ran 2:29 his last 1000 meters," Franklin said. "That's flying."
He is the fifth Lobo in the last four years to advance to the NCAAs in the 5K.
The final Lobo moving on was triple jumper Floyd Ross, who claimed a huge season best of 52 feet, 8 inches in his final attempt of the night.
"He's the king of the last jumps," Franklin said.
Despite missing the entire regular season outdoors, Ross is trending upward after winning the MW crown in the triple jump two weeks ago and now qualifying to his second-straight outdoor championships.
He is just the third New Mexico athlete to advance to back-to-back outdoor championships in the triple jump, joining Dwayne Rudd (1983-84) and Art Baxter (1966-67).
On Thursday, Django Lovett advanced in the high jump as he placed sixth with a clearance of 7-1. He is the first Lobo in school history to make three straight NCAA Championships in the high jump.
"Had he not made that bar [at 7-1] on his last attempt, he would not have been going," Franklin said. "He was down and he had to [make it]. He had no choice. And that just started off the weekend right."
Meanwhile, New Mexico received strong performances from the rest of its athletes in terms of improving throughout the meet.
"You always look at where you came in seeded, and what you finished," Franklin said. "And we're better in almost every one. And that was the goal."
The Lobos bettered their seeds in 12 events, including four on Saturday.
Also competing for the men in Austin over the three-day meet were Alex Herring in the 800 (40th, 1:52.01), Elmar Engholm in the 3000 steeplechase (18th, 8:49.66), Robert Warensjo in the pole vault (no height) and Kendall Spencer in the long jump (13th, 24-10 1/2).
Spencer, despite not advancing, did come within two centimeters of placing 12th and making the championships.
"I was super proud of Kendall because he competed the entire time," Franklin said.
On the women's side, the Lobos registered four more marks during the meet, including Turner in the long jump (28th, 19-5 1/2), Imogen Ainsworth in the 3000 steeplechase (33rd, 10:33.73) and pole vaulters Amber Menke (16th, 13-1 3/4) and Margo Tucker (36th, 12-2).
For New Mexico, who endured a seven-hour weather delay Friday after brutal heat Thursday, the six qualifiers match its total from last year, when six athletes (including Ross and Lovett) secured berths.
Since the NCAA reconfigured its preliminary rounds in 2010, the most UNM has sent to the NCAA Championships is six, done this year, 2012 and 2010.
The Lobos' qualifiers will travel to Eugene for the final rounds of the championships on June 5-8.