Sure, consistency was still the norm, but championships dominated the headlines.
New Mexico cross-country and track & field registered a program-defining year during the 2013-14 campaign, winning five out of a possible six Mountain West team championships and qualifying athletes to the NCAA championships at a record pace.
The Lobos swept both the MW cross-country titles in November and both MW indoor track titles in March, while winning the men’s outdoor track title in May.
It’s the first time since 2009 that a MW team won five conference titles in one year.
|New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin
But this year, the storyline is a different “c” word: championships.
The Lobos also advanced both teams to cross-country nationals for the fifth straight year, while qualifying strong numbers to the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets.
And with 57 All-Mountain West selections, 14 individual conference champions, six All-American nods, and five conference titles, the 2013-14 season was indubitably a championships season.
2013 Cross CountryFor the third year in a row, the Lobos were selected as preseason favorites in the Mountain West, with the prognosticators tabbing UNM for an unprecedented fifth straight sweep of the conference titles.
But, the rest of the conference wasn’t going to make it easy, as an unparalleled six MW teams were ranked heading to the conference meet.
New Mexico, however, was unfazed.
The men won their fifth consecutive MW championship, while the women rolled to their sixth straight. The Lobos, with five consecutive sweeps of the conference titles, have the second-longest active streak — and the fourth-longest in Division I history — of conference sweeps.
All five men’s scorers placed in the top 15, with Luke Caldwell (second place), Adam Bitchell (third), Patrick Zacharias (fourth), Sean Stam (eighth) and Elmar Engholm (15th). Caldwell, Bitchell and Zacharias were accorded First-Team All-Mountain West honors, with Stam on the second team.
The men, who were nationally ranked all year, managed to edge then-No. 28 Air Force 32-51 in low-score-wins format.
The women’s story was hardly any different, as New Mexico cruised to victory in a show of incredible depth.
Six Lobos were named All-Mountain West — an astounding fact considering the top 14 finishers gain the honor — while seven women were among the top 16 finishers.
Despite Boise State's Emma Bates taking top individual honors, the Lobos topped No. 25 Boise State 31-60.
Franklin, the back-to-back MW Men’s and Women’s Coach of Year, kept the Lobos rolling, guiding UNM through the NCAA Regional Championships and back to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
For the women, it was their sixth consecutive NCAA appearance, while the men were making their fifth straight. Together, UNM’s streak is tied for the 10th longest streak in Division I history.
At the national meet, the women raced to a 10th-place finish behind All-Americans Silva and Arter, while the men took 11th as a result Caldwell’s second straight All-American performance.
UNM shined in the classroom as well, as the MW named 15 Lobos (seven men and eight women) to the Academic All-Conference team in the fall.
2014 Indoor Track & Field2013 saw the men win the program’s first-ever conference title indoors. In one year, the Lobos tripled their number of indoor team titles.
Both the men and the women claimed the Mountain West indoor team titles as New Mexico became the only school in Division I to sweep their conference’s cross-country and indoor track championships in 2014.
Caldwell, Bitchell and Zacharias contributed heavily to the Lobos’ cause, as the trio swept the top three finishes in both the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs. Caldwell won both events, two of UNM’s six event titles.
Django Lovett (high jump), Kendall Spencer (long jump) and Warrick Campbell (triple jump) also won individual titles, with the 4x400 meter relay team of Chris Kline, Mustafa Mudada, Charles Lewis and Cheyne Dorsey emerging victorious, too.
Every titlist received All-MW honors, which are awarded to the top three finishers in each event.
Also earning All-MW plaudits were Bitchell (3000, 5,000), Zacharias (3000, 5,000), Engholm (mile), Lewis (400), Logan Pflibsen (pole vault), Yannick Roggatz (long jump) and the distance medley relay team of Alex Cornwell, Dorsey, Jake Shelley and Graham Thomas.
The women won their first-ever outright conference track and field title — indoors or outdoors — behind superb parity, with victories coming from Arter (mile), Margo Tucker (pole vault) and Aasha Marler (long jump).
Along with their individual titles, Arter and Marler were also all-conference in the 3000 and the 60, respectively.
Also earning All-MW certificates were Chloe Anderson (800, mile), Armoush (DMR), Suzi Boast (mile, DMR), Casey Dowling (long jump), Kayla Fisher-Taylor (60), Kirsten Follett (3000), Jannell Hadnot (triple jump), Silva (DMR), Hannah Riker-Urrutia (DMR) and Annie Stirling (pole vault).
The 14 all-conference nods for the Lobo women eclipsed the program’s highest total indoors of 11 selections set in 2012.
Franklin earned some honors of his own for his teams’ performances. He was named the Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year by the Mountain West and the Mountain Region Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
After the conference meet, Spencer, Caldwell, Bitchell and Engholm were able to parlay their success in the regular season to berths at the UNM- and Albuquerque-hosted NCAA Championships.
The Lobos, who hosted a number of big-name schools at top-notch meets during the regular season in anticipation of the NCAAs, shined on their home track at the Albuquerque Convention Center, as Caldwell and Spencer both scored.
Caldwell was sixth in the 5,000 and Spencer was eighth in the long jump, and the USTFCCCA recognized both as All-Americans.
Subsequently, Caldwell was selected as the conference’s Men’s Student-Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year.
2014 Outdoor Track & FieldHeading outdoors, the expectations were high. After not losing a conference title so far in 2013-14, New Mexico was the team to beat.
The men outlasted Colorado State, Air Force and host Wyoming at the MW Outdoor Championships in Laramie, Wyo. While the Rams proved a staunch opponent for virtually the entire meet, the Lobos’ track record proved the be the deciding factor.
UNM translated incredible performances from their distance runners at key junctures of the meet — including a clinching medal sweep in the 5,000 — to claim their title.
It was the first outdoor team title for the men since 1967.
The same trio that dominated the indoor championships ruled outdoors, as Caldwell, Bitchell and Zacharias went 1-2-3 in the 5,000 and 10,000.
Along with Caldwell earning an unprecedented seventh and eighth individual conference track titles, Peter Callahan (1,500), Gabe Aragon (800), Reneilwe Aphane (triple jump) and Richard York (javelin) all scored victories.
That pack highlighted a group of 14 individuals and two relay teams that claimed 20 total All-MW honors.
Bitchell (5,000, 10,000), Zacharias (5,000, 10,000), Spencer (long jump), Charles Lewis (400, 400 hurdles), Chris Kline (400), Jake Shelley (1,500) and Warrick Campbell (triple jump) all received all-conference honors individually, as well.
The relay teams of Ridge Jones, Mudada, Spencer and Kline (4x100) and Kline, Mudada, Lewis and Aragon (4x400) were also accorded honors.
For the women, their title pursuit was halted by San Diego State as they placed second behind the Aztecs. But the Lobo women still produced masterful performances in the sprints and middle-distance events.
Arter scored in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 — the only woman in MW history to do that — and led a conference-record-tying six scorers in the 1,500.
The UNM sprinters also registered five scoring efforts, with Haley Sanner’s runner-up finish in the 400 spearheading the charge.
Behind Arter, four Lobos tallied a podium finish for an All-MW nod, including Anderson (800), Boast (800, 1,500), Sanner (400) and Stirling (pole vault).
Out of all of the regular-season success, Franklin and the Lobos were able to qualify 26 athlete to the NCAA West Preliminary Championships competition, the most in three years.
From that group, UNM advanced eight — Caldwell, Bitchell, Callahan, Lewis, York, Silva, Arter and Boast — to the NCAA Championships at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
The eight qualifiers are the most under the current NCAA qualification system (which started in 2010), and tied for second-best in program history.
Callahan, an All-American from his undergraduate career at Princeton, put a bow on the Lobos’ season at the NCAAs, placing fourth in the 1,500 and earning All-American honors in the process.
The Lobos, by dint of Callahan’s scoring performance, tied for 44th at the NCAA Championships, their eighth straight year scoring at the NCAAs.
Subsequently, New Mexico finished in 11th place in the USTFCCCA’s John McDonnell Program of the Year award standings for the 2013-14 academic year. UNM is one of only two schools to finish in the final standings each of the last five years, joining Texas.
Academically, UNM earned its stripes, as the men posted a 3.30 team GPA and the women a 3.61 team GPA in the spring semester. Both marks are the program bests according to statistics dating to the mid 1980s.
On top of that, Aragon, Caldwell and Zacharias were named to the 2014 Capital One Academic All-District Track/Cross Country First Team, with Caldwell also claiming the All-America of the Year award.