June 3, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. — Six Lobos have been capturing school records and personal best all season.
Now, at the national championships, they're out to capture All-American status.
The University of New Mexico track and field team is sending six of its best athletes to the final round 2013 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships this week, June 5-8.
Josephine Moultrie, Charlotte Arter and Chloe Anderson will be competing in the women's 1500-meter run at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., while Luke Caldwell (5000), Django Lovett (high jump) and Floyd Ross (triple jump) are representing the men.
“It's good group,” UNM head coach Joe Franklin said. “I think we could go in and score some points at the national championships.”
For the Lobos to score points at the national championship, they'll need to place in the top eight in their events. And while there's only 24 athletes in each event, scoring at the NCAAs is far from an easy proposition.
“The NCAA meet is one of the tougher meets in the world,” Franklin said. “You have Olympic medalists in lots of events.”
Nonetheless, the Lobos think they can compete with those top-notch athletes and will look to back it up with NCAA-caliber performances.
On the women's side, three Lobos will be competing in one event, the 1500, with the goal of advancing past Thursday's semifinal round.
And with Moultrie, Arter and Anderson competing in the same event, this meets represents the first time in program history that the UNM women qualified three athletes in one event to a national championship.
Still, despite the historical ramifications of this triple-qualification, New Mexico is concentrating more on moving the women on to the finals.
“If we could go there and get two people to the finals, that's going to be a huge accomplishment,” Franklin said. “There's some very, very good women, including ours, [competing].”
Moultrie, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, leads the women in the metric mile as the UNM record holder and as the Lobos' top seed at the NCAAs. With a seed time of 4 minutes, 19.03 seconds (recorded at the NCAA West Preliminary round two weeks ago), Moultrie heads to Eugene ranked 17th.
However, her personal record of 4:14.44 is more indicative of her talents, which includes winning both the 800- and 1500-meter titles at the 2013 Mountain West Outdoor Championships and the 800-meter and mile crowns at the 2013 MW Indoor Championships.
Close behind is Arter, a junior from Carlisle, England. Prior to Moultrie setting the UNM record in late April, Arter broke the standard twice. Her seed mark heading into the national championships is 4:20.04, just seconds off of her personal best of 4:16.94.
And while she's seeded 22nd, her credentials—including placing second in the 1500 and helping sweep the medals at the MW Outdoor Championships—should make Arter right at home at the NCAAs.
The last Lobo women competing, Chloe Anderson, just made the NCAAs, claiming the final berth available at the preliminary round. With a personal record of 4:20.64 doubling as her seed time, the Cullompton, England, product will have to continue her recent hot streak (which features a bronze finish in the 1500 at the MW Championships that helped seal the medal sweep for the Lobos) to advance to the finals.
However, Franklin has this week's objective focused for the women.
“Obviously we'd love to have three women in the finals in the 1500,” he said. “It's a goal and it can happen, but I don't who is going to be on or who is going to be off. Luckily we've on pretty much all year so far.”
But the women's mid-distance standouts aren't the only ones who have been on pretty much all year.
For the men, all three entrants have been producing stellar results lately, including Luke Caldwell in the 5000.
Caldwell, a junior from Betchworth, England, holds the school record in the 5K (13:29.94) and has been churning out postseason accolades for the Lobos throughout the school year.
He claimed individual titles at the Mountain West Championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track, winning cross-country's 8K course as well as sweeping the indoor 3K and 5K and the outdoor 5K and 10K.
He also earned All-American status in cross country and indoor track and field this season, which puts him in a position to become the first male athlete in school history to win All-American status in cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field in one year.
“Luke is doing very well right now,” Franklin said. “He's in a good spot. … When's he's doing the hunting instead of the being the hunted, he can do pretty well.”
High jumper Django Lovett is another Lobo who can do pretty well, but for the junior from Surrey, British Columbia, he needs to be clean instead of being the hunter.
“If Django can be clean at early bars, he's got a chance to score,” Franklin said. “He just needs to be clean—no misses—at early bars. He's jumping well, having a good time.”
Lovett, the only Lobo to advance to three straight NCAA Championships in the high jump, has been very consistent during the outdoor campaign, finishing at or above 6 feet, 11 inches his last five competitions.
And with incremental improvement lately—including a season-best clearance of 7-1 at the preliminary round—Lovett has a chance to outdo is seed of 14th and capture All-American status.
Floyd Ross rounds out the UNM athletes heading to Eugene, and, fittingly, comes last in this preview. While the order may seem insignificant, anyone who has followed Ross knows his proclivity for that which is last.
“Floyd is the master of the last jump,” Franklin said matter-of-factly.
Ross, who finished as the 2012 NCAA runner up in the triple jump because of his last jump, produced his best best leap of the prelim round—a mark of 52-8—on his final jump of the meet.
The senior from Memphis, Tenn., is seeded third at the NCAAs, which puts him on track for his fourth All-American nod at UNM.
“He's scored at all three championships so far,” Franklin said. “… He's going in the right direction right now. He started the season very late at the conference championships, so where others may be a little bit tired, he's just getting going.”
For New Mexico, however, it'll need all of its momentum and talent to shine through this weekend.
And while the Lobos and Franklin would like to see competitiveness across the board, the expectations are simple.
“I'd like to see that we try to get two women in the finals in the 1500 and try to get everybody in a position to score,” Franklin said.
Which, for a group that has been capturing honors and records all season, might just possible.
The Lobos will open competition Thursday at 5:30 p.m. MT (women's 1500) and will follow that up on Friday with action at 4:20 p.m. MT (men's high jump). New Mexico will finish up Saturday at 1:30 p.m. MT (men's triple jump) and 4:23 p.m. MT (men's 5000).
Check back each day after competition for a recap of Lobo action, including Saturday for a complete recap and results.