Lobos Look To Increase NCAA Travel Squad This Weekend
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/04/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 4, 2010


The University of New Mexico will look to add to its three-person NCAA Indoor Championship travel squad this weekend when five individuals and a men's distance medley relay team travel to South Bend, Ind. for Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational last chance meet. Seniors Chris Barnicle (5,000m) and Jacob Kirwa (5,000m), and the distance medley relay team of senior David Bishop, sophomore Thomas Trujillo, redshirt freshman Ross Millington, and freshman Raffi Cote will run on Friday evening, while Bishop (mile), Millington (mile), and senior Ashley Gibson (mile) take the track on Saturday. Seniors Lee Emanuel (No. 1 mile, No. 4 3,000m), Rory Fraser (No. 6 5,000m, No. 11 3,000m), and Sandy Fortner (No. 4 pentathlon) have already secured their place in the NCAA Championship field (March 13-14).

UNM has never sent more than four individuals and one relay team to the NCAA Indoor meet, accomplishing that feat in 1978 and again last year. New Mexico has already assured itself of a program record for most individuals qualified to the NCAA Indoor Championships in consecutive years with seven so far. From 1991-2008 UNM had only six total individuals advance to the Indoor meet.


Kirwa (No. 19) and Barnicle (No. 20) enter Friday's race squarely on the NCAA bubble after their fine performances in a stellar 5K race at the Mountain West Conference Championships last week in Albuquerque. Despite running at nearly a mile in elevation, the top four finishers in that race all clocked altitude adjusted times ranked among the top-20 in the nation. Kirwa (season-best 13:55.75) and Barnicle (season-best 13:56.06) will likely need to run under the 13:54 mark on Friday night to join their teammate Fraser in the NCAA 5,000 field.

Bishop (No. 24) and Millington (No. 31), meanwhile, will both need to run sub four minute miles on Saturday to put themselves in contention for an NCAA berth. Bishop has come the closest to this feat, clocking a career-best 4:00.38 last year at Washington and a 4:00.74 again this year in Seattle (Feb. 12). Millington recorded a career-best 4:02.02 on Feb. 6 at Notre Dame's Loftus Center track.

Gibson faces a tall order in the women's mile, likely needing to slice over two seconds off her school record time of 4:43.78 (recorded Feb. 12. in Seattle) to move on the NCAA Championships. She enters the meet currently ranked No. 32 nationally.

The men's distance medley relay team will be the true wildcard of the weekend in what will be the foursome's first race together. The squad needs to run around 9:31 to secure an automatic bid in this event which sees its heaviest participation around the country in the final week of qualifying meets.

Last year at the same Alex Wilson Invitational meet, New Mexico was one of a stunning 15 teams to reach the then-automatic qualifying time of 9:34.00. The NCAA selection committee responded by lowering the auto time to 9:30.18 this year, which only Oregon (9:29.82) has managed to reach so far.

Bishop (mile leg) is the most experienced member of the Lobo DMR team, teaming with Emanuel last year to shatter the school record with a time of 9:30.38 at this meet. Millington (1,200m leg) was part of the Lobos' gold medal DMR at last week's MWC Championships. Trujillo (400m leg) and Cote (800m leg - 4th in the MWC), meanwhile, will make their DMR debuts.


Alex Wilson Invitational Schedule: The women's 5,000 begins at 6 p.m. Mountain, on Friday night, followed by the men's 5K at 6:25 and men's distance medley relay at 7 p.m. The women's mile is Saturday at 12:30 p.m., followed by the men's mile at 12:50.

Notre Dame Facility Information: The indoor track at Notre Dame's Lofus Center is a six-lane, 320-meter, flat surface oval. The facility is unique for the proximity between the competitors and spectators that crowd the infield, just inches inside of lane one, and the narrow space outside of lane six. UNM's Lee Emanuel clocked the first sub four-minute mile at the facility on Feb. 7, 2009 and one month later helped the Lobo distance medley relay record a school record and NCAA automatic qualifying time of 9:30.38 on the same track.

Results: www.UND.com

LAST TIME OUT (MWC Indoor Championships)

Senior Lee Emanuel swept the mile and 800 meters to lead the University of New Mexico men to a third place finish and program record score of 123.5 on the final day (Feb. 27)) of the Mountain West Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Emanuel finished with the meet with three gold medals after anchoring the Lobos' winning distance medley relay team the previous night. The UNM women, meanwhile, were fifth for the second straight year.

Senior Sandy Fortner's record-setting victory in the pentathlon (4,147) gave her a share of the MWC Outstanding Performance award with San Diego State pole vaulter Stephanie James (14-01.25, 4.30m). Fortner also added added a fourth place finish in the high jump (5-07.75, 1.72m), sixth place finish in the long jump (18-09.00, 5.71m), and seventh place effort in the 60 hurdles (8.72) to lead the women's team with 20 points over the three-day meet.

Emanuel paced the men's team and was the MWC High Point runner-up with 22.5 on Friday and Saturday.

The 2009 NCAA champion shattered the MWC Championship record in the mile with a time of 4:05.85 (4:00.53 altitude adjusted) and teammed with senior teammate Rory Fraser (4:10.04 - also under the previous MWC Championship record) to lead a dominant team effort by the Lobos, who combined for 32 points in the event. Senior David Bishop took the bronze (4:12.06) and redshirt freshman Ross Millington used a late surge to take fourth (4:13.94), while sophomore Matt Everett ran the best race of his career, finishing sixth (4:15.57).

Two events later, Emanuel struck again, coming from ninth to first to win the 800 with a time of 1:50.87 (1:50.26 altitude adjusted).

Emanuel's two individual indoor titles were the most by a Lobo since the late Darren Crawford swept the weight throw and shot put at the 1990 WAC Championships. He became the first UNM athlete to win three total golds since the great Dwayne Rudd captured the 60 yards, long jump and triple jump at the 1983 WAC meet. UNM had won just five total MWC Indoor men's events in the previous 10-year history of the league.

The men of New Mexico finished with seven all-MWC performances on Saturday, giving them a program record 10 medals for the meet.

The sprinters and hurdlers got into the action as well as redshirt freshman De'Vron Walker just missed the gold medal in a photo finish 60-meter hurdles final and sophomore transfer Lamaar Thomas picked up the bronze in the 60 dash.

Walker tied his own school record with a time of 8.09 - just one-hundredth behind TCU's defending champion Jordan Pitts. No Lobo had ever finished higher than fifth in the event in 10 prior MWC meets.

Thomas then smashed his own school record and became the first MWC runner in four years to break up TCU's medal sweep in the event, crossing the line in 6.75 - less than one-hundredth out of second and nearly a full tenth better than his previous best. It was New Mexico's first medal in the event.

Senior Jacob Kirwa capped the men's medal haul with a third place finish in the 3,000, crossing the line with an altitude adjusted time of 8:10.58 - less than a second out of first place and two-hundredths shy of the silver.

On the women's side, senior Ashley Gibson turned in the New Mexico's lone all-MWC performance of the day, finishing third (4:58.53) in the mile - the best by a Lobo in the event at the MWC meet.

Day two of the meet saw the UNM men's distance medley relay team of Fraser, Millington, Emanuel, and freshman Josh Lovato snap BYU's seven-year winning streak in the event, giving the Lobos their first ever conference DMR title. The Lobo women's DMR team of Gibson, junior Ruth Senior, freshman Tawsha Brazley, and redshirt freshman Bianca Martin finished third with a school record altitude adjusted time of 11:55.46 (12:05.64 raw).

The Lobo men had a pair of true freshmen contribute two more all-MWC performances earlier in the day as Richard York held onto second place in the heptathlon (5,224) and Kendall Spencer finished third in the long jump. York had the highest finish by a Lobo in the heptathlon since Mark Johnson won the inaugural MWC crown in 2004 and York's career-best leap of 24-03.75 (7.41m) was the best by a Lobo since 1985, moving him into seventh on the school's elite all-time long jumpers list.