Lobos Snap Cougars' Distance Medley Streak On Day Two Of MWC Meet
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/26/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 26, 2010


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico capped day two of the Mountain West Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships with a convincing victory in the men's distance medley relay, snapping BYU's seven-year winning streak in the event. Senior Lee Emanuel cruised across the finish line in the final event of the day at the Albuquerque Convention Center, giving the Lobos their first ever conference DMR title.

UNM finished the day in third place in the overall standings through six events with 43.5 points. BYU leads with 63.5, followed by Wyoming with 53. The MWC Championships conclude with the final 11 events, beginning at 9:45 a.m. tomorrow.

The Lobo women finished the day fourth with 25 points.

New Mexico had finished second behind BYU in the distance medley relay four times in the past six years, including a narrow 0.26-second defeat last year at the Air Force Academy in the closest DMR final in Mountain West history.

This year, the foursome of senior Rory Fraser, freshman Josh Lovato, redshirt freshman Ross Millington, and Emanuel took the photo finish out of the equation.

Fraser powered the Lobos into a share of the lead with a tenacious opening leg (1,200 meters). Lovato, a Gallup, N.M. product, kept the Lobos within striking distance on his 400m leg, and Millington turned in a solid 800 leg to maintain the team's position, roughly 40 meters behind BYU.

Emanuel, who had just run a qualifying time in the 800 an hour earlier, took the baton on the mile-long anchor leg and immediately went to work reeling in the Cougars' anchor, Brandon Babiracki. Emanuel pulled even with approximately 800 meters to go, then shifted to another gear, leaving the field nearly 100 meters behind.

With the title in hand and two races left on his slate tomorrow, the Lobo star slowed up significantly, glancing over his shoulder frequently over the final 300 meters as he floated to the finish. New Mexico's time of 10:01.74 (altitude adjusted 9:52.96) was easily its best at the MWC Championships and was 1.69 seconds ahead of hard-charging TCU. Air Force was third (10:03.43) while BYU finished a distant fourth (10:12.13) - its worst finish in the event since 2001.

Earlier, the women's distance medley relay team received a sensational 800m leg from redshirt freshman Bianca Martin to finish third in the event with a school record altitude adjusted time of 11:55.46 (12:05.64 raw).

New Mexico was fifth through the first two legs (junior Ruth Senior - 1,200 and freshman Tawsha Brazley - 400) before Martin brought the Lobos back into medal contention. Senior Ashley Gibson brought UNM home on the anchor mile, as the team broke the 2006 squad's previous record by 1.36 seconds.

Utah upended nine-time champion BYU, snapping the Cougar's eight-year winning streak with an altitude adjusted time of 11:28.41 (11:38.59 raw).

The Lobo men had a pair of true freshmen contribute two more all-MWC performances earlier in the day.

Richard York used a strong 1,000-meter run in the seventh and final event to maintain his hold on second place in the heptathlon. York put up a two-day score of 5,224 to notch the highest finish by a Lobo in the competition since Mark Johnson won the inaugural MWC heptathlon in 2004.

York came back later to tie for sixth in the high jump with a mark of 6-00.75 (1.85m).

BYU''s Phillip Bettis successfully defended his 2009 heptathlon crown with a score of 5,489. UNM junior Brian Wilson, who was eighth a year ago, finished a strong fourth with a career-best score of 4,895.

Later in the long jump, Kendall Spencer uncorked the best leap of his young career on his opening attempt to finish third in the event. Spencer's mark of 24-03.75 (7.41m) was the best by a Lobo since 1985 and moved him into seventh on the school's elite all-timer long jumpers list.

The top three finishers in the event were all over 24 feet for the first time since 2003. Wyoming's Jeremiah James and Lenyn Leonce shared the gold with jumps of 24-06.25 (7.47m).

In other finals action today, the UNM trio of senior Jacob Kirwa (14:18.22), senior Chris Barnicle (14:18.53), and junior Keith Gerrard (14:41.95) combined for 12 points with a 4-5-6 finish in the men's 5,000.

The top five runners in the sizzling race all surpassed the facility record and provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships with times that converted to less than 14 minutes at sea level. TCU junior Festus Kigen held off Air Force junior Justin Tyner to win at the line with a time of 14:14.19.

UNM picked up four points in the women's 5K as redshirt freshman Lacey Oeding finished sixth (17:31.05) and senior Nicky Archer was eighth (17:39.54).

Newly crowned MWC pentathlon champion Sandy Fortner, meanwhile, continued her charge toward the MWC High Point Award with a sixth place finish in the long jump (18-09.00, 5.71m). The senior from Fort Sumner, N.M. also qualified for tomorrow's finals in 60 hurdles with a season-best time of 8.68. She is scheduled to compete in the women's high jump as well on Saturday.

Fortner's strong performance in the hurdles helped minimize the loss of freshman phenom Precious Selmon who suffered a hamstring injury during warm-up and did not start. Selmon entered the meet as the Lobos' school record holder in the event and a strong gold medal contender.

New Mexico had several key athletes move on to Saturday's finals in their respective events, including:

• Emanuel and freshman Raffi Cote in the men's 800...Emanuel got a scare in his leisurely second heat when he was boxed in with just under 100 meters to go, but he managed to squeeze through in the final meter to grab the second automatic qualifying spot in the heat (1:56.50)...Cote, meanwhile, advanced with his time of 1:56.02 in heat one.

• Spencer made up for a disappointing 12th place finish (7.00) in the 60 dash prelims with a season best time of 21.79 (seventh) to qualify in the 200 prelims...sophomore teammate Thomas Trujillo also had a season-best time of 22.03 (ninth) to move on to the finals for the second straight year indoors

• Sophomore transfer Lamaar Thomas tied his own school record with a time of 6.84 (fifth) to move on to the 60 dash finals on Saturday morning...Thomas, who will be a wide receiver on the Lobo football team, is competing in his first indoor track season after running outdoors for Ohio State last spring...UNM has never had an all-MWC honoree in the event, which has been dominated by TCU since the Horned Frogs joined the league in 2006.

• Redshirt freshman De'Vron Walker won his 60 hurdles heat with ease, crossing the line in 8.10, to advance to the finals...TCU junior Jordan Pitts was the only man faster, clocking the best time in the MWC this winter (8.05) to win the second heat...New Mexico has never finished higher than fifth in the event at the MWC Championships (Mark Lamb, 2007).

• Sophomore Alex Darling moved on in the women's 800 with a time of 2:14.37 (eighth) in the prelims...Darling (Albuquerque La Cueva) was eighth in the event last year