March 1, 2007
UPDATE:The University of New Mexico will send four athletes to Fayetteville, Ark. for the Arkansas Last Chance meet on Friday. Juniors Ariel Burr (400m), Jeremy Johnson (3,000m), Juan Ortega (3,000m) and Jarrin Solomon (400m) will be looking to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships, which will also be held in Fayetteville at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center, March 9-10.
Burr and Solomon recorded NCAA provisional qualifying times in the 400m last weekend at the Mountain West Conference Championship meet in Albuquerque, but will be looking to climb higher on the national performance list on Friday.
Burr is currently ranked 19th in the country after winning the MWC title with a school record time of 53.73. She will likely need to run under 53.5 at Arkansas in order to secure a place in the NCAA field. The Carrizozo, N.M. product sliced 0.54 seconds off her indoor best last weekend.
Solomon, meanwhile, is ranked 25th with a school record time of 47.00, which he recorded in a silver medal performance the MWC meet. With a time of 46.7 or less on Friday, he would likely punch his ticket to the national meet. The Albuquerque La Cueva product has already lowered his indoor best in the event by a remarkable 1.62 seconds this winter.
Johnson clocked a career-best altitude-adjusted time of 8:09.68 (8:21.65 raw), 4.68 seconds off the provisional qualifying standard, in a runner-up finish in the 3,000m last weekend in Albuquerque. Ortega was just off that pace in the 3K, finishing sixth at the MWC meet with a career-best altitude-adjusted time of 8:18.53 (8:30.40 raw).
Friday will mark his first indoor race at sea level for both men in their UNM careers. They will have their work cut out for them, however, likely needing a time of 7:57.0 or faster to earn a return trip to Fayetteville.
Matt Gonzales is the lone Lobo under seventh-year head coach Matt Henry to earn a trip to the NCAA Championships at a last chance meet. Back in 2005, Gonzales clocked an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 13:49.06 to win his first career indoor 5,000m race at Notre Dame. The Santa Fe native went on to earn All-America honors with a fourth place finish at the NCAA Championship meet with a school record time of 13:45.72.
While all four New Mexico athletes will be competing for the first time at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center, the surface should be very familiar. The track at Arkansas is nearly identical to the one at the Albuquerque Convention Center - a 200-meter, 60-degree banked Mondo oval.
Burr opens the competition for the Lobos at 5:50 p.m. (MST), followed by Solomon at 5:55 p.m. Johnson and Ortega are scheduled to race at 6:35 p.m. Live results and meet entries are available here.