Indoor Track: Lobos Visit Nebraska For Final Regular Season Tune-up
UPCOMING The University of New Mexico indoor track and field team visits Lincoln, Neb. this Saturday, Feb. 15 for the 28th annual Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. New Mexico will face a stiff test in its final regular season meet, taking on a six-team field which includes Nebraska’s No. 13 women and No. 14 men, the 10th-ranked BYU women and the No. 16 Colorado women. Air Force, Texas Tech, Wichita State and Wyoming will also be among the teams competing. The meet opens with the field events at 1 p.m. (MST), followed by the running events at 3 p.m.
The Lobos enter the Husker Invite on a bit of a roll, following several strong performances at the Mountain T’s Invitational in Flagstaff, Ariz. New Mexico established season-best marks in 11 men’s and women’s events, including both the men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams. In addition, 29 different athletes had season-best performances in their respective events.
UNM’s trip to Nebraska will mark the end of its four-meet indoor regular season. The Lobos travel to Colorado Springs, Colo. in two weeks (Feb. 27-March 1) for the Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships. The team then opens the 2003 outdoor season three weeks later at home in Albuquerque when it hosts the 13th annual Modrall Sperling Don Kirby Memorial Invitational (Mar. 20-22).
MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS Complete information and results of the Sevigne Husker Invitational are available at the official athletic department website of the University of Nebraska:
LAST TIME (Mountain T’s Invitational) FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Junior Matt Bishop picked up his first career 800-meter victory to lead the University of New Mexico today at the Mountain T's Invitational at the J.L. Walkup Skydome. Sophomore transfer Bridgid Isworth finished second in the women’s invitational pole vault competition to pace the Lobo women in the non-scoring event.
Competing in just his fourth career collegiate 800-meter race, Bishop recorded a season-best time of 1:55.03 to win the event by a relatively-easy 1.44 seconds. A strong 110 and 400m hurdler outdoors, Bishop owns the Lobos' top three marks in the event indoors. Fellow junior Sean Flaherty finished second in the open mile competition with a time of 4:34.57, while sophomore Isaac Burgener was the runner-up in the open 400m event, running a season-best 49.40. True freshman Chris Ashcraft led the men in the field, placing third in the open pole vault with a mark of 15-03.00. Redshirt freshman Derek Mackel finished two spots down in fifth (14-11.00). Sophomore Willie Yuen had a solid performance in the triple jump, placing fourth with a leap of 44-06.00. Junior Jordan Parker led the Lobo throwers, taking seventh in the weight throw with a toss of 48-10.25.
Isworth turned in another solid performance in her third meet as a Lobo, surpassing the NCAA provisional-qualifying mark in the pole vault for the third-straight week with her mark of 12-10.00. Fellow sophomore Erin Johnson was fifth in the high jump with a season-best leap of 5-03.00, while senior Keren Sari-Bentzur tied for fourth in the long jump (19-00.00). In the throwing events, sophomore Amanda Barnes recorded a season-best of 43-10.00 in the shot put (8th), while fellow sophomore Jamie Fishencord increased her own school-record in the weight throw with a mark of 46-05.00. Meanwhile, true freshman Tosa led a solid performance by New Mexico's young distance crew which finished 5-7-8 in the 3,000 meters. Freshman Timmie Murphy placed two spots behind Tosa in seventh with a time of 11:30.05, while sophomore Vanessa Funston was eighth (12:07.64). True freshmen Kimilia Davis and Tiara Poland paced UNM in the sprints, finishing 12th (58.87) and 13th (58.90), respectively, in the open 400m race. Both times were the Lobos' fastest of the season.
VAUNTED VAULTERS Since teaming with Matt and Mark Henry three years ago, assistant coach Scott Steffan has worked to make the pole vault a marquee event at University of New Mexico. An all-conference decathlete himself, Steffan was a teammate of New Mexico’s greatest pole vaulter, Simon Arkell, who was a three-time All-American and six-time Western Athletic Conference champion from 1987-91. However, UNM had not had any athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships since Arkell and only had one vaulter on the roster when the Henry’s and Steffan took control of the program in June of 2000.
Three years later, the increased effort in recruiting and training has begun to pay dividends as New Mexico boasts some of the top men’s and women’s pole vaulting talent in the Mountain West Conference. This season, UNM has 14 athletes with vaulting ability, including six decathletes on the men’s side. Junior transfer Branden Bennett (Phoenix, Ariz.) and sophomore transfer Bridgid Isworth (Melbourne, Australia) have emerged as the clear leaders of the vault crew as both surpassed the NCAA indoor provisional qualifying mark in their Lobo debuts at the Air Force Invitational.
Unfortunately, Bennett, a two-time indoor and outdoor national junior college champion, has been sidelined with a heel injury since his tremendous UNM debut. In his first Division I pole vault competition on Jan. 24, Bennett cleared 17-04.50 to win the event at the Air Force Invite. Despite not competing in the past two meets, his mark is still currently tied for the eighth-best in the country. On Feb. 4 Bennett became the second New Mexico men’s athlete under Matt Henry (David Lloyd - 400m IH - 2002) to earn a spot on the Trackwire Online “Dandy Dozen” national rankings, debuting at No. 10 in the pole vault. He is currently ranked 12th in the “Dandy Dozen” rankings. UNM will petition the NCAA to allow Bennett to gain medical redshirt status for the 2003 indoor season as he continues to recover from his injury. Meanwhile, true freshman Chris Ashcraft has also put himself in scoring position at the MWC Championships, currently ranked 10th in the league with a top mark of 15-11.00.
Isworth has eclipsed the NCAA provisional-qualifying mark in each of her first three competitions. She soared 13-01.50 in first place finishes at two straight meets, at Air Force and at Washington State’s Cougar Indoor Invite, to open the season before placing second at Northern Arizona last weekend (12-10.00). In addition to surpassing the national qualifying mark by four inches, she has also shattered fellow sophomore Amber Nolte’s (Sparks, Nev.) 2002 indoor record by over a foot. Isworth, the 2002 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, is currently ranked sixth in the Feb. 11 “Dandy Dozen” women’s pole vault rankings.
CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN WEST As the regular indoor season comes to a close, New Mexico has positioned itself well among the conference event rankings and will look to solidify its status in its final tune-up meet at Nebraska before heading to Colorado Springs, Colo. for the MWC Indoor Championships.
The Lobos currently have athletes ranked among the MWC’s top-10 20 times in 17 different men’s and women’s events, including both the men’s distance medley (1st) and mile relay (3rd) teams. Other athletes ranked among the top-three in their respective events include: So. Bridgid Isworth (No. 1 - pole vault), Sr. Keren Sari-Bentzur (No. 1 - pentathlon, No. 2 - long jump), Jr. Branden Bennett (No. 3 - pole vault) and So. Ryan Voge (No. 3 - pentathlon). Points are awarded for the top-eight finishers in each event at the MWC Championships, while the top-three finishers earn all-conference honors.
WHO’S HOT? Matt Bishop • Jr-2L • Albuquerque, N.M. Bishop has continued to add to his track resume, establishing himself as the Lobos’ top 800-meter man this winter...a tremendous 110 and 400-meter hurdles weapon during the outdoor season, he owns New Mexico’s top-three times in the 800 and is currently ranked 12th in the MWC in the event...earned his first collegiate victory in any event last weekend at Northern Arizona, winning the open 800m race with a season-best time of 1:55.03...four 800m competitions this season are the first of his collegiate career.
Amanda Barnes • So-1L • Carlsbad, N.M. Jamie Fishencord • So-1L • Littleton, Colo. Barnes recorded personal-best performances in both the shot put and weight throw last weekend at NAU...her toss of 43-10.00 in the shot put was well over a foot beyond her previous best of 42-06.75 has moved her into 11th in the MWC shot put rankings...the first UNM woman ever to compete in the weight throw last winter, Barnes also surpassed her career-best in the event by nearly two feet with her toss of 44-09.00...meanwhile, Fishencord has continued to improve in the weight throw...she improved on her previous-best and school record-setting mark by nearly two feet, tossing the weight 46-05.00 in Flagstaff...Fishencord has thrown over 44 feet in each of her two competitions this season after recording a season-best of 29-10.75 last winter.
Chris Garofola • Jr-2L • Fort Washington, Pa. Head coach Matt Henry’s preseason pick for the Lobos’ most improved men’s athlete...has shown conference scoring potential in the 60m dash, 200 meters and 60m hurdles, where he is currently ranked among the MWC’s top-eight in all three events...has shattered his previous personal-bests in all three events and his times of 7.00 in the 60m and 8.22 in the 60m hurdles are faster than any Lobo ran last season...is currently ranked fifth in the MWC in the 60m hurdles (8.22), seventh in the 60 meters (7.00) and eighth in the 200 (22.21)...broke Justin Massey’s two-year old record in the 60m hurdles and owns each of the Lobos’ top-five times in the event this winter...is also a member of the Lobos’ third-ranked mile relay and second-ranked 4x400m relay teams.
Kimilia Davis • Fr-HS • Bellaire, Texas Tiara Poland • Fr-HS • Albuquerque, N.M. True freshmen Davis and Poland both recorded season-best times in the 400 meters at the Mountain T’s Invitational last weekend...Davis, also the team’s top-ranked 200m runner, clocked a time of 58.87, just ahead of Poland’s 58.90...both times were faster than any Lobo ran during the 2002 indoor regular season...currently ranked 17th and 18th in the MWC, the duo could make earn a berth in the MWC finals with continued improvement in the event...Davis and Poland also led the Lobos’ sixth-ranked 4x400m relay team to a season-best time of 3:58.79 at Northern Arizona.
Isaac Burgener • So-1L • Santa Fe, N.M. Has really stepped up in his second season of collegiate competition and has emerged as a potential conference scorer in the 400 meters...clocked a personal-best time of 49.60 in a second place finish last weekend...time is currently ranked second on the team and 10th in the MWC...has also run the anchor leg for the Lobos’ 4x400 (2nd MWC) and mile relay teams (3rd MWC)...only competed in one meet last year, recording a season-best of 54.46 in the 400.
RECORD BREAKERS After establishing four indoor school records last season, the New Mexico men and women barely let the ink dry before resuming their assault on the record book. Five new standards were set at the 2003 indoor season-opener, the Air Force Invitational.
On the women’s side, senior Keren Sari-Bentzur began the meet by bettering her own mark in the pentathlon with a score of 3,771. The score was 44 points higher than her 2002 record and 77 above her first record-setting score in 2001. Sophomore transfer Bridgid Isworth then eclipsed teammate Amber Nolte’s 2002 record in the pole vault with a mark of 13-01.50. Sophomore Jamie Fishencord also surpassed teammate Amanda Barnes’ year-old weight throw record with a toss of 44-03.25. Barnes, who became the first UNM woman ever to compete in the event last year, set the initial mark with a throw of 42-10.75. Fishencord has gone on to improve on her own school record, which now stands at 46-05.00.
For the men, junior Chris Garafola smashed Justin Massey’s 2001 record in the 60-meter hurdles, clocking a new standard of 8.22 in the finals of the event. The men’s distance medley relay team of sophomores Cameron Clarke, Matt Gonzales, Ben Ortega and senior transfer Mike Pestorich also surpassed the Lobos’ 2002 record time by over four seconds, clocking a time of 10:11.60.