Outdoor Track: Lobos Welcome Nine Teams to Albuquerque For Outdoor Season-opener
UPCOMING The University of New Mexico track and field team opens its eagerly-awaited 2003 outdoor track season this weekend when it hosts the 13th annual Modrall Sperling Don Kirby Memorial Invitational, March 20-22. New Mexico will welcome nine teams to Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium, including Mountain West Conference foes Colorado State and Air Force, and intrastate rival New Mexico State’s women. Teams from Colorado College, Dine’ College, Fort Lewis, South Plains, SIPI and Western State are all scheduled to compete in the three-day meet as well. The action gets underway on Thursday and Friday at noon with men’s and women’s decathlon/heptathlon competition. Saturday’s final track and field events begin at 10:30 a.m. and conclude at approximately 3:15 p.m. (MST).
After a fine indoor campaign, the outdoor-oriented Lobos will compete in 12 regular season meets this spring, followed by the MWC Championships at home in Albuquerque and the inaugural NCAA Midwest Regional Championships. This year will be unique as the NCAA will use head-to-head competition for the first time to determine the outdoor national championship field. Athletes must meet qualifying standards during the outdoor season to earn an invitation to their particular regional championship meet. However, once there, they simply must finish in the top-five of their particular event to earn a place at the NCAA Championship meet.
Limited by a lack of indoor training facilities during the winter season, UNM head coach Matt Henry has always geared his men and women to reach their peak outdoors. This spring will be no exception as 44 returning letterwinners are back to pace the up-and-coming men’s and women’s squads. The UNM men will also regain the services of a stellar javelin crew and All-America candidate David Lloyd, a phenomenal talent in the sprints and hurdles who redshirted the 2003 indoor season. Several standouts from the Lobo football team will also contribute later in the outdoor season when they finish their spring practice schedule.
New Mexico has performed quite well at Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium under Henry’s tenure. In their two home meets last season, the UNM men and women captured 17 events, including 10 victories in the 2002 home-opener, the Modrall Sperling Lobo Open. Lloyd provided the highlight of the opening meet and garnered MWC Athlete of the Week honors with his stirring victory over defending MWC 400m hurdles champion Seth Billy of Wyoming. Both New Mexico 4x400m relay teams picked up victories to cap the meet.
MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS This is the 13th consecutive year that New Mexico has hosted the Don Kirby Memorial Invitational. Don Kirby was a longtime meet official and a good friend of the UNM track and field program. The Albuquerque-based Modrall Sperling law firm, which also has offices in Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Roswell, is the title sponsor of the Lobos’ home-opener for the second-straight year. Complete information and results of the Modrall Sperling Don Kirby Invitational are available at the official athletic department website of the University of New Mexico:
LAST TIME (MWC Indoor Championships) COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Senior Keren Sari-Bentzur scored a meet-high 30 points, including victories in the pentathlon and long jump, to lead the University of New Mexico women to a sixth place finish (49.5 points) at the 2003 Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships at Cadet Field House, Feb. 27-March 1. Junior Chris Garofola led a balanced men’s effort, scoring a team-high nine points and helping the mile relay team to a runner-up finish as the UNM men finished in fifth place with 49 points.
New Mexico athletes earned all-MWC honors five times, including three conference honors for Sari-Bentzur, and won three women’s events. The UNM women had won just two indoor conference championship events in program history prior to Henry’s arrival in 2000. Since 2000, the women have brought home five gold medals.
Sari-Bentzur capped one of the finest conference championship performances in school history by scoring 10 points in the triple (38-07) and high jumps (5-05.75) on March 1. She earned victory in the long jump (19-01.25) on Feb. 28 and bested her own school record with a winning score of 3,845 in the pentathlon on Feb. 27. Sophomore transfer Bridgid Isworth captured the third title of the weekend, soaring a season and conference championship best 13-02.50 to win the pole vault. Meanwhile, sophomore Amanda Barnes broke an 11-year-old UNM record in the shot put (47-00.25) and reclaimed the school’s top weight throw mark as well with a toss of 49-09.25.
Sophomore Mark Johnson earned all-MWC pentathlon honors for the second-straight year, finishing third with a career-best score of 3,650. The men’s distance medley relay team finished fourth on day two, while Garofola led the sprint efforts by taking fourth in the 60 meters (7.01) and fifth in the 200 (21.93). Sophomore Matt Gonzales took home all-conference laurels for the first time with his third place finish in a tight 3,000-meter race (8:21.37). Senior Mike Pestorich was fourth in the 800m finals (1:54.03), while sophomore Willie Yuen led the field efforts with a sixth place finish in the triple jump (45-05.25).
INDOOR PIONEER Sophomore transfer Bridgid Isworth became the first UNM woman ever selected to compete at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships when she was picked to join the pole vault field in Fayetteville, Ark. Isworth, who soared a season-high 13-02.50 en route to the MWC pole vault title, was the 16th and final competitor selected for the NCAA indoors. However, the Melbourne, Australia native finished tied for 12th with her vault of 12-11.50 on May 15 at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
SWIFTER, HIGHER, STRONGER Under the direction of third-year head coach Matt Henry and his staff, the 2003 Lobos continued to improve their indoor performances. This winter the Lobos eclipsed the top marks of a year ago in 18 events, including 11 on the men’s side alone. The following is a breakdown of the improvement the men and women made on their top event marks of the 2002 indoor season:
Men (11 events) 60m: (7.08 ~ 6.96, -0.12 sec.), 800m: (1:54.72 ~ 1:54.03, -0.69), 3,000m: (8:29.79 ~ 8:18.35, -11.44 sec.), 5,000m: (14:43.76 ~ 14:43.65, -0.11 sec.), 60m Hurdles: (8.59 ~ 8.22, -0.37 sec.), 4x400m Relay: (3:18.68 ~ 3:15.93, -2.75 sec.), Distance Medley Relay: (10:15.74 ~ 10:11.60, -4.14 sec.), High Jump: (5-10.00 ~ 6-07.00, +9 in.), Pole Vault: (15-09.00 ~ 17-04.50, +1 ft., 7.5 in.), Long Jump: (21-11.50 ~ 23-05.25, +1 ft., 5.75 in.), Shot Put: (48-06.25 ~ 51-00.75, +2 ft., 6.5 in.), Pentathlon: (3,502 ~ 3,650, +148 pts.).
Women (7 events) 800m: (2:22.49 ~ 2:21.07, -1.42 sec.), 60m Hurdles: (9.07 ~ 9.00, -0.07 sec.), High Jump: (5-07.00 ~ 5.07.25, +0.25 in.), Pole Vault: (11-11.75 ~ 13-02.50, +1 ft. 2.75 in.), Shot Put: (43-00.50 ~ 47-00.25, +3 ft., 11.75 in.), Weight Throw: (42-10.75 ~ 49-09.25, +6 ft. 10.50 in.), Pentathlon: (3,727 ~ 3,845, + 118 pts.).
INDOOR LEADERS OF THE PACK Bridgid Isworth • So-Tr • Melbourne, Australia First UNM woman ever to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships...finished tied for 12th in the pole vault with a mark of 12-11.50...MWC pole vault champion with a season-best mark of 13-02.50...eclipsed NCAA provisional qualifying mark four times during the regular season...won three meets, finished second twice...shattered UNM indoor record in the event by over a foot...ranked among the Trackwire Online “Dandy Dozen” in the pole vault throughout the year...finished the season ranked 12th.
Chris Garofola • Jr-2L • Fort Washington, Pa. Head coach Matt Henry’s preseason pick for the Lobos’ most improved men’s athlete...had a tremendous indoor campaign in the 60m dash, 200 meters and 60m hurdles, notching team and personal-best times in all three events...scored team-high nine points in the 60 (4th) and 200m (5th) at the MWC Championships..set two indoor school records...broke Larry Davis’ two-year old mark in the 60m dash at the Husker Invitational, clocking a 6.96 in the finals of the event...also erased Justin Massey’s two-year old record in the 60m hurdles with time of 8.22 at the Air Force Invitational...owned each of the Lobos’ top-five times in both the 60m dash and 60m hurdles...also led the UNM 4x400m relay team to a second place finish at the MWC Championships, just 0.66 seconds out of first, to earn all-MWC honors for the second time in his career.
Keren Sari-Bentzur • Sr-2L • Omer, Israel Tremendous indoor season, capped by one of the greatest conference championship performances in school history...High Point award winner, leading the way with 30 points in the pentathlon, long jump, triple jump and high jump...first UNM woman to win two events at an indoor conference meet, taking the pentathlon and long jump...bested her own school record with a score of 3,845 in the pentathlon...also earned all-MWC honors in the triple jump, finishing third with a leap of 38-07.00...was fifth in the high jump...owned team-best marks in five events: 60m hurdles (9.00), high jump (5-07.25), long jump (19-04.00), triple jump (38-07.00) and pentathlon (3,845)...four victories on the season.
Matt Gonzales • So-1L • Santa Fe, N.M. All-MWC honoree in the 3,000 meters, finished third with a time of 8:21.37, just two seconds out of first place...owned the team’s fastest 3K time of the year, clocking a personal-best 8:18.35 en route to a victory at the Husker Invitational...won two 3K races and finished second once...was never lower than third in four meets.
Amanda Barnes • So-1L • Carlsbad, N.M. Set school records in both the shot put and weight throw...eclipsed previous best by over two feet with shot put mark of 47-00.25 at MWC Championships (6th)...mark was .75 inches beyond Myra Smith’s 1992 record...also reclaimed her own indoor record from teammate Jamie Fishencord with a throw of 49-09.25 at the conference meet.
Mike Pestorich • Sr-Tr • Fresno, Calif. Senior transfer from the University of California who helped UNM offset the loss of 2002 top indoor 800-meter runner, Travis Clark...clocked the team’s fastest 800 of the season in a fourth place finish at the MWC Championships, clocking a 1:54.03, 0.69 seconds faster than Clark’s top time of a year ago...a graduate student in the UNM Sports Administration program, Pestorich owned the team’s top-three times in the 800 and also anchored the Lobos’ top-ranked and indoor record-setting distance medley relay team (10:11.60).
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. Seven new standards were established this season, including a remarkable five school records set at the 2003 indoor season-opener, the Air Force Invitational.
On the women’s side, senior Keren Sari-Bentzur bettered her own pentathlon record twice, scoring 3,771 at the Air Force Invite, then 3,845 at the MWC Championships. Her conference meet score was 118 points higher than her 2002 record and 151 above her first record-setting score in 2001. Sophomore transfer Bridgid Isworth eclipsed teammate Amber Nolte’s 2002 record in the pole vault in every meet this season, setting the new standard with a vault of 13-02.50 at the MWC Championships, over a foot above Nolte’s mark. Sophomore Amanda Barnes bettered Myra Smith’s 13-year-old record in the shot put by 0.75 inches, recording a throw of 47-00.25 at the MWC Championships. Barnes and fellow sophomore Jamie Fishencord also traded weight throw records with Barnes, the first woman ever to compete in the event at UNM, finally recording the top throw of 49-09.25 at the conference meet.
For the men, junior Chris Garofola smashed Justin Massey’s 2001 record in the 60-meter hurdles, clocking a new standard of 8.22 in the finals of the Air Force Invite. 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 at the meet. Garofola etched his name on the record books once again, eclipsing Larry Davis’ two-year old mark in the 60m dash with a time of 6.96 in the finals of the Husker Invitational.
GREAT FRIENDS OF UNM TRACK STADIUM The Great Friends of University of New Mexico Track Stadium is a multifunction, 5,000-seat facility that was completed for use in 1985. The complex was renovated in the summer of 1996 to include a soccer field. The track is constructed of an all-weather, encapsulated surface called Versaturf, which is the same surface used for the 1992 Olympic Trials in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This season the stadium will be the site of the 2003 Mountain West Conference Outdoor Championships. New Mexico also hosted the 1996 Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships at Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium.
The 400-meter track is composed of eight racing lanes and includes a steeplechase water-jump. To bolster performances, sprints can be run in either direction to negate the effects of unfavorable weather. The two long jump/triple jump runways, two pole vault runways and a high jump apron are also of Versaturf construction. They are located behind the goals of the soccer field, allowing competitors to compete in an east or west direction. The improvements to the facility also include the installation of lights, giving UNM the opportunity to host night meets. With future renovations to include a resurfaced track and track and field scoreboard, the Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium will soon be among the premier venues in the West.
In addition the opportunity to train and compete year-round in Albuquerque, gives UNM athletes an extra advantage. With more than 300 days of sunshine a year and an elevation of 5,355 feet above sea-level, Albuquerque is a favorite training location for some of the world’s best track and field athletes. The world class training environment and facilities at UNM provide an opportunity for exceptional running and field event performances. %