May 31, 2008
LINCOLN, Neb. - After a tough opening day of competition the University of New Mexico reversed its fortunes today at the NCAA Midwest Regional Track and Field Championships at Nebraska. Junior Katie Coronado broke her own school record with a winning throw of 178' 7" (54.43m) in the women's javelin, while senior Tiyana Peters secured her place in the NCAA Championship field with a dramatic fifth place finish in the high jump. Senior Robert Caldwell and junior Lee Emanuel, meanwhile, wrapped up at-large bids in the pole vault and 1,500 meters, respectively.
Coronado was the story of the day for the Lobos as the Ruidoso, N.M. product improved to a remarkable 9-0 versus collegiate competition this season. Her only loss in 2008 came at home against former UTEP All-American Erma Jean Evans. Top-ranked Ruby Radocaj of Minnesota was second with a mark of 177' 11" (54.22m).
Coronado, who entered the meet seeded third in the region and fifth nationally, smashed her own school record for the second straight meet on her fifth throw of the afternoon. The Mountain West Conference champion surpassed the 170-foot mark for the third time this spring as she became the first UNM woman to win a Midwest Region event title. She will make her second straight trip to the NCAA Championships after a 16th place finish in 2007.
On the bubble for an NCAA bid entering the week, Peters locked up her first trip to the Outdoor Championships with a clutch jump-off victory over Nebraska's Kim Shubert. Both women cleared 5' 9 ¼" (1.76m) on their second attempt but missed all three at 5' 11 ¼" (1.81m) to finish in a tie for the fifth and final automatic qualifying spot.
Peters, however, cleared a career-best 5' 10 ½" (1.79m) on her first attempt in the jump-off. When Shubert was unable to match, the Flanders, N.J. became the first Lobo high jumper since 2002 to advance to the NCAA Championships.
Caldwell capped the day with a strategic ninth place finish in the men's pole vault. Ranked second in the country entering the day, the Socorro, N.M. product needed just a top-12 finish to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA meet.
After clearing 16' 7 ½" (5.06m) on his opening attempt, Caldwell surpassed 17' 1" (5.21m) on his third run. He then waiting for the bar to move up to 17' 9" (5.41m) before re-entering the competition, but missed all three attempts. His MWC winning height of 18' 1", however, will be more than enough to ensure his return the NCAA Championships after redshirting all of 2007.
On the track, junior transfer Lee Emanuel became the first Lobo since 1979 to advance to the NCAA Championships in the 1,500 with a seventh place finish (3:45.28). Ranked eighth in the nation entering the meet, Emanuel also needed just a top-12 finish to secure his place in the NCAA field.
Elsewhere, senior Ariel Burr's sensational outdoor track career came to an end with a courageous effort in the finals of the women's 400. The eighth and final qualifier on Friday, Burr ran a season-best time of 53.49 to finish sixth - just 0.08 seconds out of fifth place and an automatic bid the NCAA Championships.
Burr, who owns both the UNM indoor and outdoor records in the event and was the first Lobo to qualify for nationals in the 400 last year, will return to New Mexico for her final indoor season in 2008.
The New Mexico women finished a program-best 15th in the overall standings, scoring 16 points. It was the second straight top-20 finish and double-digit point total for the women at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships. UNM had scored a combined 9.5 points in its first four years of regional competition.
The men, meanwhile, finished tied for 28th with two points.