Jan. 20, 2007
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - University of New Mexico junior Jarrin Solomon surprised everyone, including his coach, with his performance today at the 2007 Modrall Sperling Lobo Invitational. Solomon blazed to a career best time of 47.34 and knocked off two nationally ranked runners en route to a sixth place finish in the men's 400 meters this afternoon at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The Lobo Invitational saw the elite athletes in the field record 42 NCAA provisional qualifying marks, two automatic qualifying marks and set eight facility records.
Solomon surpassed his previous best in the event by an eye-popping 1.28 seconds and came within 0.31 seconds of his dad Michael Solomon's 19-year-old school record. His time was also the fastest in seventh-year head coach Matt Henry's tenure. UNM associate head coach and sprints coach Mark Henry said the time was a very pleasant surprise.
"I didn't think he'd go that fast because we haven't really been doing much speed work yet," said Henry. "If he's going over a second faster in his first 400 of the year than he did in his final indoor 400 last year, I think we're going to do some good things this season."
The Albuquerque La Cueva product finished second in his heat, but clocked a faster time than ninth-ranked Melville Rogers of LSU (7th, 47.37) and No. 12 J.T. Scheuerman of Baylor (8th, 47.39), who both ran in heat eight. Two-time Baylor All-American Reggie Witherspoon won the event with a time of 47.21, running in the ninth and final heat.
Elsewhere for the Lobos, junior Jeremy Johnson continued his stellar weekend. Less than 24 hours after knocking off two UTEP All-Americans during a second place finish in the 3,000 meters (personal record time of 8:09.94*), Johnson came back to win the 5,000-meter run with another personal record time of 14:26.94. The Albuquerque Manzano product earned team high-point honors by scoring 18 in his two events.
On the women's side, junior Ariel Burr turned a strong performance of her own in the 400 meters. The 5-4 Burr clocked a time of 55.55 in a come-from-behind victory in heat four, which was good for a fourth place finish overall in the field of 16. The Mountain West Conference runner-up in the event last year, Burr got the crowd on its feet with her late kick past Jasmine Still and Tijahnni Newton of Oklahoma down the final straightaway.
New Mexico also received solid points on Saturday from junior Melanie Velarde, who won the women's 5,000 with a time of 19:09.70*, and sophomore Josh Cosio, who tied for fifth in the high jump with a leap of 6' 7".
The UNM women finished third out of six in the team standings with a two-day score of 88 points. The Lobo men, meanwhile, were fourth out of eight with a score of 84.5. No. 3 LSU won the women's title (174), while 13th-ranked Texas A&M came away with the men's crown.
The elite Albuquerque indoor schedule resumes next week with the Roger Cox Multis (Jan. 25-26) and the Dan DeHart Invitational (Jan. 26-27) at the Convention Center.