Bennett Leads New Mexico On Day One Of Air Force Invitational
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- University of New Mexico junior pole vaulter Branden Bennett started his Lobo career with a bang today at the Air Force Invitational at the Cadet Field House in Colorado Springs, Colo. The two-time indoor national junior college champion cleared an NCAA provisional-qualifying height of 17-04.50 to win the pole vault in his Division I debut. The UNM men’s distance medley relay team of sophomores Cameron Clarke, Matt Gonzales, Ben Ortega and senior transfer Mike Pestorich clocked a time of 10:20.10 to pick up the second win of the day for the Lobos.
Bennett led a strong effort by New Mexico’s retooled pole vault crew. True freshman Chris Ashcraft finished tied for fourth with a mark of 15-11.00, while sophomore Derek Mackel tied for eighth with a vault of 15-05.00. In other event finals, sophomore Nick Martinez finished third in the non-seeded mile (4:27.04), while true freshmen Janice Tosa (11:36.75) and Timmie Murphy (11:40.52) were fourth and fifth in the non-seeded 3,000-meter run.
Seven UNM men and women qualified for Saturday’s event finals in preliminary competition this afternoon. True freshman Brandilyn Williams clocked a time of 26.53 to advance in the 200, while fellow rookie Tiara Poland ran a 59.70 400-meter time to move on the finals in her event. On the men’s side, junior Matt Bishop clocked an impressive qualifying time of 1:56.28 in his first collegiate 800-meter race to qualify for tomorrow’s finals. Bishop will be joined in the 800-meter finals by fellow qualifiers Sean Flaherty (1:59.67) and Nate Clem (1:59.97). In the sprints, junior Chris Garafola clocked a time of 22.30 to advance to the 200-meter finals, while senior Nick Lott qualified for the 400 finals with his preliminary time of 49.77.
Day two of the Air Force Invitational gets underway tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. (MST). Complete meet results can be found at www.airforcesports.com.