May 26, 2007
DES MOINES, Iowa - The University of New Mexico's sensational weekend continued today at the 2007 NCAA Midwest Regional Championships at historic Drake Stadium. Juniors Jarrin Solomon and Ariel Burr both finished fifth in the 400 meters to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship meet, while men's javelin throwers Anthony Fairbanks and Dan Feltman finished seventh and ninth, respectively.
Solomon (Albuquerque La Cueva High School) clocked a time of 46.55, while Burr (Carrizozo, N.M.) broke her own school record with a time of 52.85. Both runners were competing in the Midwest Regional finals for the first time in three appearances.
Running out of lane one and 8th in the prelims on Friday, Solomon was in seventh place with roughly 120 meters left, then surged into third with roughly 60 meters to go before securing fifth place. Baylor sophomore Quintin Summers won with a time of 45.62.
The `07 Mountain West Conference champion had not finished higher than 17th in his two previous trips to the Midwest Regionals before his breakthrough weekend in Des Moines. Solomon became the first Lobo to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 400 since Tony Eziuka in 1991.
Burr followed with a smooth, strong race out of lane three to match her preliminary finish. She moved into the top-five with roughly 80 meters to go and closed to finish just four-hundredths of a second out of fourth. Burr smashed her 2006 school record by 0.19 seconds as she became the first UNM woman to qualify for the national championships in the 400 and the first women's sprinter to advance since 1990. Iowa junior Kineke Alexander, a five-time All-American, won the race with a time of 52.34.
Earlier in the day, Anthony Fairbanks and Dan Feltman finished seventh and ninth, respectively, in the men's javelin. Fairbanks, a sophomore from Albuquerque Highland High School, matched his `06 regional finish with a top throw of 205' 6" (62.64m). Feltman, a senior from Deming, N.M., threw 199' 11" (60.93m) to finish 13 spots higher than his seed entering the meet. It was the 164th and final event competition of Feltman's career.
Fairbanks himself eligible for an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships, but will need help to advance to the national meet. He entered the weekend ranked 30th in the country with a top throw of 217' 10". Twenty-six athletes are generally selected in each NCAA event.
New Mexico has four athletes (Jeremy Johnson - 5,000, Timmie Murphy - 5,000, Solomon, Burr) guaranteed a spot in the field of the NCAA Championhips (June 6-9) in Sacramento, Calif. A fifth - sophomore Katie Coronado (Ruidoso, N.M.) - is virtually assured a spot in the women's javelin field. The NCAA Championship meet field will be released on Tuesday, May 29.
The Lobos' best representation at the NCAA Championships under seventh-year head coach Matt Henry came in 2005, when three athletes qualified (two men, one woman). 2007 should mark the biggest UNM contingent at the outdoor championships since 1990 when six athletes (four women, two men) qualified.
Under Henry, 11 of the Lobos' 13 individual NCAA qualifiers have hailed from the state of New Mexico. All nine qualifiers since 2004 have been New Mexico products.
Despite brining its smallest group of competitors (eight), New Mexico had a program-record six athletes finish among the top-eight at the Midwest Regional Championships. The men finished 18th out of 36, while the women tied for 18th and their combined score of 24 was the highest since the regional meets began in 2003.
The women tied for 18th out of 32 teams as a program-best three event finalists combined for 12 points - 2.5 more than the team's four-year total at the regional meet (2003-06). The men, meanwhile, scored in double digits for the second straight year at the Midwest Regionals, finishing with 12 points. UNM tallied 15 last year in Austin, Texas.