Lewis Punches Ticket to NCAAs at West Preliminary Meet
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  05/30/2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Another day, another qualifier.

University of New Mexico track and field athlete Charles Lewis punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships Friday as he stormed to a lifetime performance in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2014 NCAA West Preliminary competition.

Lewis, one of five Lobos competing Friday at John McDonnell Field, is the fourth New Mexico athlete to qualify to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., next month, joining Thursday’s qualifiers Luke Caldwell, Adam Bitchell and Richard York.

Lewis, a junior from Albuquerque, advanced to his first-ever NCAA championship in the 400 hurdles as he placed 10th overall and grabbed one of three at-large berths to nationals.

As the top-three finishers in each of the three heats plus the next three fastest times advance, Lewis parlayed a personal-record time of 50.55 seconds to move onto Eugene.

He is just the third New Mexico male athlete ever — and the first since 1979 — to qualify to the NCAAs in the 400 hurdles.

His time also ranks second in UNM history behind two-time NCAA qualifier Fatwell Kimaiyo (50.15). Lewis is the first athlete since Kimaiyo in 1978 to record a sub-50.75 time in the 400 hurdles.

The Lobos had four other athletes compete Friday, including Elmar Engholm and Jannell Hadnot, who both just missing advancing to Eugene.

Engholm, competing in the 3000-meter steeplechase, ran to a season-best time of 8:50.26 to place fifth in the first of three heats.

After his heat, he was in position to advance with one of the three at-large bids, but was bumped out of contention by the finals two heats.

His margin was razor-thin, however. He placed 13th overall, missing the requisite 12th-place finish needed to advance by .31 seconds.

Hadnot found herself in a similar situation, narrowly missing a chance to qualify in the triple jump. She was in 10th place at the end of the preliminary round of jumps with a mark of 41 feet, six inches, but couldn’t improve with her three attempts in the finals.

She finished 15th overall.

The last two Lobos that competed were the two women’s steeplechasers, Nicole Roberts and Nicola Hood. Roberts was 24th overall with a personal-record-matching time of 10:30.52, while Hood was 28th with a time of 10:33.60.

On Saturday, 12 Lobos will be competing, including seven in the quarterfinal round of the 1500. Peter Callahan and Jake Shelley will run for the men, while Sammy Silva, Calli Thackery, Suzi Boast, Charlotte Arter and Amber Zimmerman will race for the women. 

Also competing tomorrow are Caldwell and Bitchell in the 5000 as they look to qualify in both the 10000 (in which they qualified yesterday) and the 5000. Patrick Zacharias will join them in the 5K.

Reneilwe Aphane and Warrick Campbell will also compete in the triple jump.

New Mexico action starts with the triple jumpers at 5 p.m. MT and then the 1500-meter runners, starting at 5:30 p.m. MT for the men and 5:45 p.m. MT for the women. The 5000-meter runners will race at 7:05 p.m. MT.

Check back tomorrow night for a recap of the Lobos’ action.