Lobo Men Notch Highest Outdoor Conference Finish In 18 Years
May 16, 2009
Final Team scores (Women):
Final Team scores (Men):
LARAMIE, Wyo. - The University of New Mexico men's team scored a program record 135 points en route to a third place finish this afternoon at the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Wyoming's Louis Madrid Sports Complex. New Mexico, which had never finished higher than fourth at the MWC Outdoor meet, recorded its highest conference finish since 1990. The UNM women, meanwhile, were sixth with 75.5 points.
Both Lobo sides piled up a record number of all-MWC medals during the four-day meet. The men had 11 all-conference performances, including victories by senior Jarrin Solomon in the 400 meters and junior Jacob Kirwa in the 5,000 today. The women earned eight medals with event titles by senior Katie Coronado in the javelin today and senior Whitney Johnson's pole vault victory on Friday.
Coronado and Solomon helped New Mexico sweep the MWC Championships Most Outstanding Performance awards for the second straight year. UNM had never earned the award prior to Coronado and pole vaulter Robert Caldwell's sweep last year.
The UNM men, who were fifth last year, finished four points behind second place TCU despite a later flurry of points in the 5,000. The Lobo women were half a point behind fifth place Utah and just 20 behind third place Colorado State.
Kirwa led the charge for the Lobos, putting up a team-high 18 points in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter races at the nation's highest Division I track field stadium, 7,163 feet above sea level.
After finishing second in the 10K last night, Kirwa came back with a stirring victory in the 5K today. The transfer from Dine College set a stadium record with a season-best altitude-adjusted time of 14:05.31 to give Lobos their first conference title in the 5,000 since All-American Matt Gonzales won it in 2004. Kirwa's time moved him into 10th on the UNM all-time performers list.
The Eldoret, Kenya product finished 1.33 seconds ahead of junior teammate Chris Barnicle as New Mexico put up 21 points in the event. Fellow junior Rory Fraser was sixth with an adjusted time of 14:27.90. Kirwa and Barnicle held off Air Force senior Sean Houseworth, the MWC Indoor 5,000 and 3,000 champion who was third.
Earlier in the day, Solomon turned in the most dominant performance of the meet, destroying the 400 field with a career-best and MWC Championships record altitude-adjusted time of 45.89 (45.68 raw) - 0.12 seconds off his father Michael's 33-year old school record. Solomon finished 1.38 seconds ahead of the runner-up, matching the biggest margin of victory in the 400 in MWC Championships history.
The Albuquerque La Cueva product became the first Lobo to sweep indoor and outdoor conference titles in the 400 and joined the great Adolph Plummer as the only UNM quarter-milers to win multiple conference titles outdoors. Plummer won four straight 440-yard titles from 1960-63 (Skyline and Western Athletic). Solomon finished his MWC Championships career with victories in his final 400-meter races (2007 outdoor, 2009 indoor, 2009 outdoor).
Coronado capped the meet for the UNM women with her third straight Mountain West javelin crown. The Ruidoso, N.M. product broke out of a mini-slump to dominate the field once again, winning with a throw of 174' 6" (53.18m). Coronado became the third Lobo woman to win three consecutive conference titles in an event, joining triple jumper Monique Harris (2000-02) and 100m/200m sprinter Barbara Bell (1983-85).
Fellow javelin standout Anthony Fairbanks, however, was on the wrong end of a career-best performance for the second year in a row. Fairbanks, who lost the MWC gold to TCU's Joe Brown on the final throw last year, had to settle for silver once again after BYU's Blaine Baker broke Fairbanks' conference record with a throw of 225' 7" (68.76m). Both men smashed the previous MWC Championships record as Fairbanks unleashed the second-best throw of his career with a mark of 223' 7" (68.15m). Baker had never thrown beyond 217' prior to his performance today.
UNM sophomore Brian Wilson, who was sixth in the decathlon earlier in the meet, took eighth with a career-best throw of 182' 6" (55.63m).
Senior Jermaine McQueen anchored a sensational performance by the new-look Lobo 4x100 relay team, which finished second behind top-ranked TCU with a school record and NCAA regional qualifying time of 40.30 (altitude adjusted; 40.06 raw). The foursome of freshman Thomas Trujillo, Solomon, junior Philip Reid, and McQueen broke the 2003 team's record by 0.17 seconds and notched New Mexico's highest MWC finish in the event in their first race of the year together.
McQueen came back to grab the silver in the 200 with a career-best altitude-adjusted time of 20.95. It was the best finish by a Lobo in the 200 since Ahmed Raji also placed second in 2003. McQueen also forged a tie with Raji for third on the school's all-time performers list.
Top-seeded Mychal Dungey of TCU won the event with an adjusted time of 20.79, while Trujillo was eighth (altitude-adjusted 21.75) for the Lobos.
McQueen's suffered some of the disappointment in the 100, however, as he finished sixth after clocking the fastest preliminary time on Friday. The Raleigh, N.C. product clocked an adjusted time of 10.47 - a tenth of a second slower than his career-best time in the prelims and 0.15 seconds behind the winner, TCU's Andon Mitchell. Mitchell led the Horned Frogs' sweep of the top five spots in the event, while Trujillo was eighth (altitude-adjusted 10.75).
The Lobo men picked up another silver in the final track event of the day as the 4x400 relay team of Reid, Solomon, freshman Chad Clark, and sophomore Ryan Steadman recorded a season-best adjusted time of 3:12.66. It was the fifth runner-up finish for New Mexico in the MWC 4x400 race and third silver in the past five years.
Junior Nicky Archer and senior Laura Bowerman grabbed the final medals of the day for the UNM women, finishing second and third, respectively, in the 5,000. Archer clocked an adjusted time of 17:01.18 - 15 seconds behind BYU's Cecily Lemmon - while Bowerman record an adjusted 17:07.46 in the final race of her collegiate career. The duo extended the Lobos' streak to five years in a row with an all-MWC honoree in the women's 5K.
Fifth-year senior Leslie Luna was eighth (adjusted 17:37.59) in her final collegiate race.
Archer, who was third in the 10,000 on Friday, scored a team-high 14 points for the New Mexico women.
Elsewhere, junior Kim Perkins became the first UNM woman to medal in the 400 hurdles, placing third with an adjusted time of 1:00.36 (1:00.15 raw). Fellow junior Ashley Gibson picked up a bronze in the 1,500 with an adjusted time of 4:23.57, giving New Mexico its first points in the event since Jacquelyne Gallegos' third place finish in 2004.
Other Finals Highlights
Women's 800m - Senior Andrea Wright finished sixth with an altitude adjusted time of 2:14.48, giving New Mexico its first points in the event since 2005.
Women's Triple Jump - Sophomore Asal Salehpoor picked up another point for the Lobos in the triple jump, placing eighth with a mark of 38' 9 ¾" (11.83m). Salehpoor, who was also eighth in the long jump on Friday, had never scored at the MWC Championships prior to this weekend.
Men's Pole Vault - Freshman Wes Ross matched his season-best with a height of 15' 7" (4.75m) to finish seventh. After graduation from Albuquerque La Cueva, Ross took a year off from track and field competition in 2007-08 before joining the team this year.
UNM All-MWC Medals At The 2009 MWC Outdoor Championships
Silver (6) - Chris Barnicle (5,000m); Anthony Fairbanks (javelin); Jacob Kirwa (10,000m); Jermaine McQueen (200m); Trujillo, Solomon, Reid, McQueen (4x100m relay); Reid, Solomon, Clark, Steadman (4x400m relay).