May 11, 2013
LAS VEGAS — The Lobos might not had held the winning hands, but they certainly didn't disappoint.
The University of New Mexico track and field teams put on superlative performances at the 2013 Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships as the women placed second with 145.5 points and the men finished third with 149 points.
While the odds didn't ended up in the Lobos' favor, the women did tie their best finish ever at the MW Outdoor Championships while also recording the most points at an outdoor conference meet in nearly 30 years. The men also did well, scoring more than 100 points for the fifth-consecutive year.
"It was an amazing weekend," said New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin. "We scored more points that we thought we could on both sides. We just scored everywhere and we had lots of great performances. It was a really fun weekend."
On the women's side, their showing greatly atoned for their disappointing seventh-place finish at last year's conference meet. After producing only 76.5 points last year, the women almost doubled that en route to scoring the most points in program history since 1985, when the Lobos tied for the High Country Athletic Conference crown with 164 points.
"Most people thought we score around 110 [points]," Franklin said. "... And across the board, we had just about every who traveled on the trip score, and that's pretty phenomenal."
The group scored in both the 800-meter run and the 1500, with Moultrie claiming the individual title in both. Moultrie ran times of 2 minutes, 7.54 seconds in the 800 and 4:26.25 in the 1500 to contribute 20 points to the women's tally. Arter went second in the 1500 (4:27.02) and eighth in the 800 (2:11.60), while Anderson finished third in the 1500 (4:27.88) and fourth in the 800 (2:09.44).
The distance runners also contributed nicely for the women, especially Shawna Winnegar, who placed second in the 10000 on Friday (36:18.15) and third in the 5000 on Saturday (16:46.82).
Also scoring for the women in distance races were Janna Mitsos (fourth, 16:48.46) and Imogen Ainsworth (eighth, 17:25.71) in the 5K and Kendra Schaaf (fifth, 37:14.57) in the 10K. Ainsworth and Nicola Hood also scored in Friday's 3000 steeplechase.
The Lobos received four more individual scoring performances on the track, as Kayla Fisher-Taylor took eighth in both the 100 (personal record of 11.81) and 200 (24.39); Shirley Pitts earned fourth in the 400 (54.91); and Precious Selmon claimed sixth in the 100 hurdles (13.95).
The relay teams also produced, as the 4x100 relay team of Fisher-Taylor, Yeshemabet Turner, Selmon and Casey Dowling took fifth and the 4x400 team of Tawsha Brazley, Jasmin McCray, Zoe Howell and Pitts took second, just missing a school record.
However, the women also had strong finishes in the field events, as well, including a pair of silver medalists.
Turner took second in the long jump with a personal-record leap of 20-feet, 2 ½ inches, giving New Mexico eight points. She also scored in the triple jump with a third-place mark (and PR) of 41-11 ¼.
The second runner-up finish from the field came from Amber Menke in the pole vault, whose 13-3 ½ clearance from Friday led three other scorers (Margo Tucker in third, Nathalie Busk in sixth and Annie Stirling in seventh). The women pole vaulters scored 19 points for the Lobos.
Also bringing in points for New Mexico was Marin Schweigert in the high jump (tied for third, 5-6 ½), Dowling in the triple jump (seventh, 40-feet), Lexi Ross in the javelin throw (sixth, 138-8) and Samantha Bowe (fourth) and Holly Van Grinsven (seventh) in the heptathlon.
Overall, the women benefited greatly from their scoring multiple times in multiple events, but ultimately couldn't keep pace with champion San Diego State.
However, the women kept it close for most of Saturday, even leading nationally ranked San Diego State with five events remaining.
"There for a while, we were giving San Diego State a run for it, and we were all cheering for each other," Franklin said.
But, if the championships were all about winning titles, then the Lobo men might have won in spades. However, despite seven individual titles, New Mexico couldn't gather enough scoring marks to contend with victor Air Force or runner-up Colorado State.
Still, the Lobos did take home plenty of gold.
Luke Caldwell collected two wins on his own, winning the 10000 on Friday and backing that up with a victory Saturday in the 5000. In both races, his times of 14:30.00 in the 5K and 30:27.71 earned him the victory, giving him MW titles in the outdoor 5K and 10K as well as the indoor 3K and 5K.
The other titles from the track came from Elmar Engholm in the 3000 steeplechase (8:59.16) and Alex Herring in the 800 (1:49.06). Engholm snapped up UNM's first-ever steeplechase title, while Herring replicated his 800 title from the indoor meet in February.
Out in the field, the Lobos found three additional victories, all in the events ending with "jump".
Kendall Spencer won the long jump, Django Lovett won the high jump and Floyd Ross won the triple jump. For Spencer and Lovett, their marks of 24-6 ½ and 7 ½, respectively, harkened back to their titles in 2011, while Ross' 51-2 ¾ mark was his first of the outdoor season.
Nonetheless, all three defended their indoor championships in each of their events and contributed 10 points apeice to UNM's cause.
"It was ridiculous," Franklin said of the seven individual titles. "It shows that we have great athletes and that we have great students."
However, despite the seventh individual championships, the Lobos couldn't overcome a general lack of medaling finishes. After the seven crowns, the New Mexico received just three more finishes in the top-three.
Part of that was attributable to depth issues, as a number of top-caliber Lobos did not compete.
"We went to the fight without a third of our ammo," Franklin said. "We had a lot of people sitting at home who could score, that we're redshirting or are injured."
Still, New Mexico nabbed three other medaling marks, including Patrick Zacharias placing second in the 5000 (14:36.14). Herring and Engholm added the other two, as they went 2-3, respectively, in the 800.
Even then, the rest of the events didn't come up for naught, posting valuable points for the men.
Thomas Trujillo scored in both the 100 (fourth, 10.98) and 200 (fifth, 21.92), as did Ridge Jones in the 100 (fifth, 11.00) and Chris Kline in the 400 (fifth, 48.88). Gabe Aragon also added points in the 800 (fifth, 1:50.42), while JP Cordova contributed in both the 800 (eighth, 1:52.60) and 1500 (eighth, 3:53.16).
De'Vron Walker in the 110 hurdles (sixth, 14.89); the 4x100 relay team of Trujillo, Spencer, Carlos Wiggens and Jones (fifth, 41.09); and the 4x400 relay team of Kline, Cordova, Graham Thomas and Aragon (sixth, 3:22.42) rounded out the scorers from the track events.
The field events tacked on a few more scorers. Friday saw Markus Miller score in the high jump, Ty Kirk in the long jump and Marcus Simon in the javelin. On Saturday, Kirk produced in the triple jump (fourth, 48-9 ½) and Robert Warensjo did work in the pole vault (fourth, 16-8 ¾).
On the men's side, Air Force scored 210 points to take the team title, while Colorado State (165 points) finished second. Boise State claimed fourth (108 points), Fresno State fifth (90) and Wyoming sixth (85).
The San Diego State women won the MW crown, registering 182 team points. In third was Colorado State (89.5 points), followed by UNLV (83) in fourth, Nevada (78) in fifth, Fresno State (68) in sixth, Boise State (66) in seventh, Wyoming (56) in eighth and Air Force (51) in ninth.
Air Force's Ralph Lindeman was named the Men's Coach of the Year, while Sheila Burrell of SDSU was named Women's Coach of the Year. Boise State sophomore Daveon Collins earned the Men's Most Outstanding Performer award, while San Diego State junior Allison Reaser was named the Women's Most Outstanding Performer.
With the conclusion of the conference championships, New Mexico's outdoor season has ended for most of the team. A handful will travel to the NCAA First-Round Qualifying Meet in Austin, Texas, on May 23-25 as they try their luck at making it to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 5-8.