FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In the span of 10 minutes, three Lobos punched their tickets to the national championships.
The University of New Mexico track and field team advanced a trio of athletes to the national championships on the opening day of the 2014 NCAA West Preliminary competition Thursday while another eight qualified to the quarterfinal round of competition.
Luke Caldwell and Adam Bitchell both qualified to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., in the men’s 10000-meter run while Richard York moved on in the men’s javelin throw. Right after Caldwell and Bitchell finished their 25-lap tour of John McDonnell Field to advance, York claimed his spot in the NCAA Championships.
The threesome’s success highlighted a day of positive results for the Lobos, as New Mexico advanced seven runners in the 1500 and one athlete in the 400 hurdles to go along with their three NCAA qualifiers.
Caldwell advanced to his sixth NCAA championship in as many tries during his two-year cross-country and track career at UNM. He finished with a time of 29:35.83 in the 10000, placing ninth and securing the requisite top-12 finish needed to advance to the NCAA championships.
Bitchell also qualified in the 10000, racing to an 11th-place time of 29:40.35. He is advancing to his second NCAA championship this year after earning a bid to the UNM- and Albuquerque-hosted NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
Both will run the 5000 on Saturday as they aim for the 5K/10K double.
York was the third Lobo to earn his berth to the NCAAs Thursday, as he tallied a personal-record mark of 215 feet, four inches in the javelin to place 10th overall and move on.
The MW javelin champion is just the sixth UNM athlete ever – and just the third in the last 40 years – to make the NCAA championships in the event.
Elsewhere, the Lobos’ metric milers made strides to qualifying for Eugene, as five women and two men advanced to the event’s quarterfinal round Saturday.
The first round, which feeds into the quarterfinals and then on to Eugene, advances the top-three finishers from each of six heats and the next six fastest times for 24 quarterfinalists.
Leading the charge for the women was Sammy Silva, who placed 11th overall with a time of 4:22.36. Behind her was Calli Thackery (13th place, time of 4:22.43), followed by Suzi Boast (14th, 4:22.48), Charlotte Arter (16th, 4:22.55) and Amber Zimmerman (22nd, 4:23.70).
New Mexico is the only school with five runners advancing the event.
Charles Lewis was the final New Mexico athlete to advance to the quarterfinals, doing so in the 400 hurdles. He place 13th overall in the event with a time of 51.34.
Nine other Lobos competed in Fayetteville Thursday. In the long jump, Kendall Spencer tied for 17th (24 ¼) and Yannick Roggatz was 27th (23-7 ½) for the men, while Aasha Marler was 28th (19-2 ½) for the women.
Rounding out Thursday’s competitors was Gabe Aragon in the 800 (41st, 1:53.02) and Pat Zacharias in the 10000 (23rd, 30:15.78).
On Friday, five Lobos will be competing: Jannell Hadnot in the triple jump; Nicola Hood and Nicole Roberts in the women's 3000 steeplechase; Elmar Engholm in the men's 3000 steeplechase; and Lewis in the quarterfinals of the 400 hurdles.
New Mexico action starts with Hadnot at 4 p.m. MT, with Lewis running at 6:30 p.m. MT and the steeplechases starting at 7:50 p.m. MT. Check back tomorrow night for a recap of the Lobos’ action.