New Mexico Team Invitational — Albuquerque, N.M.
When: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014
Where: Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, N.M.
Live Results: LiveRunningResults.com
Household names and national brands are coming to the Albuquerque Convention Center.
And it’s up to the hometown Lobos to defeat them.
The University of New Mexico’s track and field team is squaring off against a superb collection of talent, including four nationally ranked squads, as it hosts the New Mexico Team Invitational Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Premier track & field programs in Air Force, Arizona State, LSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, TCU, UCLA and Utah State will face off with the Lobos in the team-scored meet. It’s the first time in 22 years that Notre Dame will visit New Mexico for a regular-season sporting event in any sport.
“Our meet this weekend is an outstanding competition,” New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said. “… It’s a team-scored completion with some of the best teams in the country.”
Arizona State (11th-ranked men and 22nd-ranked women) has both its teams ranked in the top-25 nationally by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, joining the No. 8 LSU women and No. 9 Nebraska men.
Additionally, a number of schools — like the UNM women, Air Force men and Notre Dame women — are tabbed by the USTFCCCA as top-three teams in their respective regions.
This meet is also the first time the Lobos will field their entire squad as they look to finish high in the team standings.
“It’ll be the first time this year that our team has lined up just about everyone that’s healthy,” Franklin said. “There’s only one or two people that won’t run due to where they are in their progression. But anybody that’s healthy is going be toeing the line this weekend for the University of New Mexico.”
And the Lobos will need all their top athletes.
Out of the teams competing, there are 14 marks that rank top-10 nationally on the men’s side and 10 top-10 marks for the women. Altogether, it makes this weekend a highly competitive meet.
“It becomes the best meet this weekend in the country, hands down,” Franklin said. “You’re going to see national qualifying marks.”
Some of those marks could come from the men’s sprints, which features a number of superb times.
In the 60-meter dash, Arizona State’s Ryan Milus (ranked fifth in the NCAA) and Tatum Bernard-Taylor (seventh) will duel UNM’s Ridge Jones (19th).
Jones, a wide receiver for the UNM football team, will also look to maintain his title as the fastest football player in the NCAA.
The 200 is another stacked event, with the LSU trio of Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (eighth), Tremayne Acy (10th) and Sam Watts (37th). UNM’s Carlos Wiggins, the 10th fastest football player in the 200, and Jones are also slated to compete.
“Both guys are doing very well, are highly coachable and developing skills that will not only allow them to score in the Mountain West conference indoor track championships but make them a better football player,” UNM sprints coach Rich Ceronie said.
The final sprints event, the 400, features Notre Dame sprinters Patrick Feeney (seventh) and Christopher Giesting (18th), LSU’s Qunicy Downing (17th) and Lobo Charles Lewis.
New Mexico’s distance runners will also compete in force for the first time this weekend. Gabe Aragon, Alex Cornwell, Ross Matheson and Graham Thomas will take aim in the 800, while the mile race will showcase Adam Bitchell, Luke Caldwell, Elmar Engholm, Sean Stam and Patrick Zacharias, among others.
Notre Dame and UCLA also feature strong runners, including UCLA’s Nick Hartle, who’s sixth nationally in the 800.
Elsewhere, the men’s pole vault competition looks to be high-flying, with Air Force’s Joey Uhle (fifth) and Dylan Bell (ninth), UCLA’s Michael Woepse (seventh) and UNM’s Logan Pflibsen (57th) entered.
On the women’s side, the Lobos will race their top distance runners, including Charlotte Arter (19th in the nation in the 800), Chloe Anderson (20th), Tamara Armoush, Suzi Boast and Kirsten Follet in the 800 and mile.
The Lobos are also looking to their jumpers to show well against some staunch competition.
The triple jump features three top-25 athletes in Nebraska’s Ellie Ewere (10th) and New Mexico duo Jannell Hadnot (14th) and Yeshemabet Turner (24th), while the long jump has LSU’s Nataliyah Friar (12th) and Turner (40th).
The high jump — with 13th-ranked Chari Hawkins of Utah State, 18th-ranked Rachel Herald of Air Force, 21st-ranked Caroline Gyllenbem of UCLA and 39th-ranked Samantha Bowe of New Mexico — is also worth a mention.
The meet starts Saturday with preliminary races around 11 a.m. Check liverunningresults.com throughout the meet for live results and GoLobos.com after the meet for a full recap.