June 12, 2008
DES MOINES, Iowa - Six years after arriving on campus as a 17-year old freshman, Jeremy Johnson finished his collegiate career tonight at Drake Stadium as one of the greatest long distance runners in the University of New Mexico's proud history. Johnson finished seventh in the 10,000 meters for the second straight year at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships to earn All-America honors for the second time on the track and third time in his career.
The Albuquerque Manzano product became the second Lobo to earn All-America honors in back-to-back years in the 10,000, joining former teammate Matt Gonzales (Santa Fe, N.M.) who did so in 2003 and '04. Johnson, who was also a cross country All-American this past fall, was granted a sixth year of eligibility in late March to replace his injury ruined 2004 season.
Junior transfer Mat Asthon (Oxford, England) finished a strong 10th - two spots shy of a place on the All-America team and nine spots above his seed - in his NCAA Championships debut. Ashton's impressive performance helped New Mexico join distance power Arkansas (second and ninth) as the only schools with a pair of top-10 runners in the event. It was the first time UNM had ever qualified two runners in the 10,000 in the same year.
All four of Lobos' all-time NCAA qualifiers in the 10K have finished in the top-10 in the event, with Ibrahim Kivina (1984), Gonzales and Johnson combining for five All-America awards.
As expected, the race emerged as a slower-paced, strategic competition. Johnson and Ashton ran with the top-10 throughout, with Ashton taking the lead for several laps midway through the run. Johnson finished three spots above his seed with a time of 29:06.13 - 16.46 seconds ahead of Ashton.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi senior Shadrack Songok won his second straight 10K title with a time of 28:46.69. The top five finishers were separated by less than six seconds with a 36-second spread between the top-10 runners.
The Lobos got off to a tremendous start earlier in the afternoon as junior Katie Coronado breezed into the finals of the women's javelin throw. Coronado, who was the second thrower in the first flight, wasted no time in securing her place in the 12-woman finals. The Ruidoso, N.M. product unleashed a school record throw of 178' 11" (54.53m) on her opening attempt then called it a day after guaranteeing her trip to the finals and locking up a bid to the USA Olympic Trials in two weeks.
Coronado broke her own school record for the third time in as many meets and fourth time this season. She also surpassed the Olympic Trials "A" standard to become the first Lobo to qualify for the Trials since Gonzales (5,000m) in 2004. She currently ranks seventh on the American performance list in 2008.
Things didn't fare as well for UNM junior transfer Lee Emanuel (Hastings, England) later in the 1,500-meter semifinals. Emanuel, who entered the meet as the No. 5 seed, was unable to hold his position in the final 50 meters of his race, finishing seventh in his heat and 16th overall with a time of 3:44.53 - 0.67 seconds shy of a spot in the finals.
Emanuel was the first Lobo since 1979 to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the 1,500. He finished his first American track season with a pair of all-Mountain West Conference medals, including the 1,500 title, along with the indoor mile record.
Three Lobos remain in action at the NCAA Championships. Junior Sandy Fortner (Fort Sumner, N.M.) will begin heptathlon competition tomorrow at 12 p.m. The first day of the seven-event contest consists of the 100 hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200 meters.
Later in the day, senior Robert Caldwell will be one of 15 men battling for the gold medal in the pole vault finals, which open at 3:15 p.m.