Mountain West Outdoor Track & Field Championships— Laramie, Wyo.
When: Wednesday-Saturday, May 14-17
Where: Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex in Laramie, Wyo.
Live Results: LiveRunningResults.com
On the campus with the highest elevation in Division I, the Lobos have the highest goal.
At 7,200 feet in Laramie, Wyo., the University of New Mexico’s track and field team is aiming to defend it place at the top of the conference and take home the conference titles at this week's Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The Lobos, winners of the MW cross-country titles in November and the MW indoor track titles in March, are primed to capture the program’s first “Triple Crown” — sweeping the conference titles in cross-country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field.
“I think going in and having a chance to compete for a championships [is the goal],” New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said. “Everybody always wants a chance, just to have a shot. And we realistically have a chance. We have to do everything we can to make that a reality, which is going to be very difficult.”
Undoubtedly, claiming the outdoor conference titles is a tall task for the Lobos with the rest of the conference looking to unseat New Mexico.
But, the New Mexico men are the only nationally ranked men’s team in the conference, checking in at No. 23. The women also have just one ranked team, with San Diego State tabbed 18th.
In the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Mountain Region rankings released Tuesday, UNM’s men’s team is third, with Colorado State right behind at fourth. Air Force is ranked seventh, Utah State eighth and Wyoming 10th.
“The expectation is to give Colorado State a run for their money,” Franklin said of the men’s title race. “Colorado State has people everywhere. Air Force is going to be very good. ... Wyoming will have a great meet; it’s at home. Boise has some great steeplers. I think it’ll be a great meet on the men’s side.”
The women’s teams are similarly ranked, with the New Mexico women third in the Mountain Region, Colorado State seventh and Utah State 10th. In the west region, San Diego State is sixth.
“It’s absolutely a coin toss between us and San Diego State and Wyoming will be very good,” Franklin said.
Nonetheless, the Lobos are still riding their momentum from clearing the first two obstacles of their “Triple Crown” pursuit.
“These kids are willing to do anything for each other,” Franklin said. “We’ve had kids that are upset that they’re not doing more events. ... And that shows that they care about their team and their university.”
While New Mexico will be judicious about entering athletes in too many events, the Lobos will rely on their depth and balance in an effort to claim Division I’s first “Triple Crown” since 2012.
On the men’s side, UNM has athletes leading the conference in multiple events and will look to translate that into solid points.
Gabe Aragon (800-meter run), Peter Callahan (1,500), Luke Caldwell (5,000) and Adam Bitchell (10,000) lead the MW in the middle-distance in distance events, while Kendall Spencer and Reneilwe Aphane lead the conference in the long jump and triple jump, respectively.
But beyond that group of six, the Lobos have a bevy of talent athletes that can help the men improve on their third-place finish at last year’s MW championships.
“I think we’re a lot deeper than we were last year,” Franklin said. “Our distances are deeper, our jumps are deeper, our sprints are deeper. Just about every place is deeper than it has been.”
The distance races will feature a number of the Lobos, with Alex Cornwell, Elmar Engholm, Jake Shelley, Graham Thomas, Donovan Torres and Patrick Zacharias all poised to contribute, especially in the 1500, where the Lobos hold four of the top five seed times.
The Lobos’ depth also extends to the field events, with potential scorers in all of the jumps.
For the women, their strategy is also predicated on depth and balance, but their title bid is keyed by their distance runners.
“Again, I think we're a lot deeper,” Franklin said. “We have a lot more bodies. We’ve entered seven people in the 1500, five in the 800. We’ve got good jumpers, great vaulters. Across the board, we’ve got bodies everywhere.”
New Mexico has seven of the nine fastest metric milers in the MW and has multiple potential scorers from the 800 to the steeplechase.
Charlotte Arter leads the charge in the distance races with the conference’s top 1500-meter time, and is backed up by Sammy Silva, Calli Thackery, Chloe Anderson, Amber Zimmerman, Suzi Boast and Tamara Armoush.
In the field events, the Lobos’ pole vaulters — Margo Tucker, Annie Stirling, Emily Heisler and Nathalie Busk — are capable of scoring points in droves, as can Aasha Marler, Jannell Hadnot and Lindsay Read in the horizontal jumps.
The meet starts Wednesday with the women’s heptathlon at noon MT, and continues Thursday with the completion of the multi-events. Friday’s activities start at 11 a.m. in the field and at 1 p.m. on the track. On Saturday, events start at noon with the awards ceremony scheduled for 4 p.m.
Live results are located at LiveRunningResults.com, and daily recaps will be posted at GoLobos.com.