July 18, 2013
By Mike Mulcahy
After one of the best campaigns in program history, Lobo track and field is looking to continue that momentum.
And they’ve reloaded.
As recruiting across collegiate athletics continues through summer, the University of New Mexico track and field program has added a new group of talented student-athletes as it aims to challenge for postseason success.
With a 2013 Mountain West men’s indoor title and a pair of women’s MW runner-up finishes indoor and outdoor, the Lobos have the pieces to extend their success into another year.
And while some of the Lobos’ standouts have graduated, new ones—both straight out of high school and with college experience—have the potential to help New Mexico to its goal.
On the men’s side, that new crop of talent is mostly home-grown, as a number of the newcomers hail from the Land of Enchantment.
One of the more decorated signees is Mustafa Mudada, a sprinter and hurdler from Albuquerque’s Highland High School.
A two-time state champion in the 300-meter hurdles, he excelled in the hurdles, posting personal records of 14.24 seconds in the 110 hurdles and 37.25 in the 300 hurdles.
“Mustafa is a great all-around athlete is ranked in the top-25 in the 300 hurdles nationally,” UNM assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Austin Brobst said. “We are looking for him to come in and continue to build on this momentum.”
And there’s good reason to think Mudada can build on his momentum after nearly going undefeated in the 300 hurdles his senior outdoor season. He tallied seven straight victories to open the outdoor season before registering a second-place finish (and personal record) at the regionally-competitive Great Southwest Classic in June.
But Mudada isn’t the only local talent looking to help the Lobos, with two more Duke City sprinters also aiming high.
Mudada’s high school teammate and fellow Highland grad Shawn Prince is one of the incoming sprinters and has considerable potential of his own.
A fourth-place finisher in the 400 at the 2013 New Mexico State Championships, Prince was a consistent threat to finish under 50 seconds in the 400 during his senior year.
“He’s another great local talent who came on late in the year,” Brobst said. “Shawn is extremely raw and looks to have a great upside.”
That great upside starts with his solid personal best in the quartermile, where’s he has been clocked at 49.29 seconds. In comparison, the Lobos only had one of their sprinters run a faster time outdoors in 2013.
The second homegrown sprinter is Assad Rizvi from La Cueva High School, who has a comparable personal best of 49.39.
“He’s a great local talent who has had some injuries during his high school year, but looking for him to compete for a spot on the 4x400,” Brobst said.
Rizvi claimed third at the 2013 state championships in the 400 and could prove a valuable asset in the relays where the Lobos have seen some of their runners graduate.
New Mexico also adds a pair of local javelin throwers in Roswell’s Nik Aston and Rio Rancho’s Jason Fitzpatrick.
Aston, a Goddard High School grad, is the reigning 4A District 4 champion in the javelin, where he tossed the spear a personal-best 179 feet, five inches. He performed well for Goddard in the javelin, winning five straight competitions last season.
He also has a personal best of 43-7 1/2 in the shot put, which would have been one of the top marks for the Lobos in 2013.
Fitzpatrick is another New Mexico product by way of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo.
Originally a Rio Rancho High School graduate, Fitzpatrick was a quarterback at Fort Lewis in 2012-13 before transferring to UNM.
“He’s a solid athlete who stepped away from the sport for a year to play football at Fort Lewis College,” Brobst said.
As an all-state quarterback at Rio Rancho, Fitzpatrick demonstrated his arm strength, which translated into a state title in the javelin his senior year.
“He threw 196-9 after eight weeks of training in high school,” Brobst said.
Fitzpatrick projects to be a strong force for the Lobo throwers, with a high-school best that outpaces the top mark for the Lobos last year.
The final recruit on the men’s side is Reneilwe Aphane, a transfer from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where he held the program records in both the indoor and outdoor triple jump when he left in 2012.
“We look for Reneilwe to come in and be an instant threat on the national scene in the triple jump,” Brobst said.
Before the Academy of Art University, Aphane competed for the University of Pretoria in South Africa and took third in the triple jump at the 2013 South African Senior Championships.
He comes to New Mexico with a strong personal best of 52-7 1/4 and leaped 51-1 3/4 while at the Academy of Art.
The women’s recruiting class is similarly strong, with five sprinters and a pair of horizontal jumpers aiming to make an impact at UNM.
Two of the incoming sprinters, Ariel Burch and Brittany Myricks, are transfers from Mt. San Antonio College and come to Albuquerque with collegiate experience.
Burch, originally from Montclair High School in Montclair, Calif., was the South Coast Conference champion in the 400 and was the runner up in the quartermile at the Southern California Championships.
She also was part of the 4x400 team that won gold at the South Coast Conference Championships and at the Southern California Championships.
“She’s a great 400 runner out of Mt. SAC Junior College who we look to step in and fill the void of some of the seniors departing,” Brobst said.
Burch enters with a personal best of 55.85 in the 400.
Myricks, a graduate of Upland High School in Upland, Calif., is another standout in the sprints and has some serious family pedigree to back it up.
Her mother Arnita was one of America’s top 100-meter hurdlers during the 1980s and early '90s, while her father Larry Myricks is a four-time Olympian who won a bronze medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
However, Brittany has earned recognition of her own, including a runner-up finish in the 100 and a third-place finish in the 200 at the 2013 South Coast Conference Championships.
She also helped the Mounties’ 4x100 relay team to runner-up finish at the Southern California Championships.
“She’s a solid all-around athlete that we look to make an impact in the 4x100 and be a conference scorer,” Brobst said.
He collegiate bests are 12.11 in the 100 and 24.65 in the 200.
However, Burch and Myricks won’t be the only new faces in the Lobos’ sprint corps.
Kelsi Lewis and Peri Moran are incoming freshman with the potential to contribute at New Mexico.
Lewis is an in-state products who will compete for the Lobos. A Hobbs High School graduate, Lewis claimed third in the 400 at the 2012 New Mexico State Championships.
“Kelsi’s another raw New Mexico talent who has continued to refine her skills as the season has progressed,” Brobst said.
And while she has shown range in her skill set, running in distances ranging from the 100 to the 800, it’s likely she’ll find he spot in the 400 and 4x400 relay.
Moran is another newcomer with talents in the sprints after running at Marcus High School is Flower Mound, Texas.
“She’s a young 100/200 sprinter who has switched over from soccer to track full time and we hope to see big gains out of during her freshman year,” Brobst said.
Moran has shown quickness from her soccer background and has recorded personal bests of 11.92 in the 100 and 24.99 in the 200.
She’s also performed well at Marcus HS, including a top-10 finish in the 60 at the Arkansas Invitational and a win in the 100 at the Texas District 5-5A meet.
The Lobos also bring two new horizontal jumpers into the fold with Jannell Hadnot and Lindsay Read.
Hadnot, a graduate from Tokay High School in Lodi, Calif., has a stellar season in the jumps for the Tigers winning the triple jump at least a dozen times and the long jump at least another six.
She also has a personal best of 41-2 1/4 in the triple jump, a very strong mark for an incoming freshman.
“She ranked top-five in the nation among high school triple jumpers,” Brobst said. “She is a very raw talent that we believe to have a tremendous upside.”
That upside looks to pair nicely with the burgeoning group of jumpers the Lobos already have.
New Mexico will add one more to that group, as well, with the addition of Read from Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, Colo.
Another high-level competitor, Read claimed victories a number of times, including titles at the Kansas Relays and the USATF Region X Junior Olympic Championship.
“Another raw talent who continues to improve each time on the track,” Brobst said. “Lindsay has seen large improvements over her senior year.”
With personal bests of 38-9 1/4 in the triple jump and 17-3 1/4 in the long jump, Read could also add to the Lobos’ talents in the horizontal jumps.
However, with all returning talent on both the men’s and women’s sides, the Lobos seem to be set for a strong 2014.
Adding the newcomers will only help.