OUTDOOR TRACK: Lobos And Miners Duel In Old El Paso On Saturday
UPCOMING The University of New Mexico renews acquaintances with an old rival on the track when it squares off against the UTEP Miners in a dual meet on Saturday, March 29 at historic Kidd Field in El Paso, Texas. Once a staple of track and field competition, scored dual meets have become a bit of a rarity around the nation. Saturday’s meet will be the Lobos’ lone scored competition of the regular season and the first head-to-head meet under head coach Matt Henry. The action gets underway at 10 a.m. (MST) with the hammer throw. The men’s and women’s 4x100-meter relays open the running events at 12:30. Kidd Field is located on the UTEP campus adjacent to the Sun Bowl in West El Paso.
UNM sophomore distance runners Matt Gonzales and Nick Martinez will travel with Henry to California to compete at the Stanford Invitational on Friday, May 28. Gonzales, a 2001 cross country All-American, will compete in the 10,000-meter race at 9:30 p.m. (MST), while Martinez will battle a strong field in the 5,000m at 9:10. The remainder of the Lobo athletes and coaching staff will travel to El Paso.
The Lobos’ had a bit of a false start to the outdoor season when last Saturday’s main track and field events of the Modrall Sperling Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque were cancelled due to poor travel conditions for the visiting teams. Multi-event athletes Keren Sari-Bentzur, Suzanne Nguyen, Ryan Voge, Adam Frangos and Robert Gunn were able to get a little competition under their belts, completing the Don Kirby heptathlon and decathlon on Thursday and Friday.
After a fine indoor campaign, the outdoor-oriented Lobos will spend the next six weeks on the road, before returning home for the 2003 MWC Championships at Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. New Mexico will also compete at the inaugural NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in Lincoln, Neb. 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 the 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. Multi-event and 10,000-meter competitors must still meet automatic or provisional NCAA qualifying marks during the season.
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.
SCOUTING THE MINERS New Mexico and UTEP were longtime rivals in the Western Athletic Conference before the Lobos left to join the Mountain West Conference in 1999. Both teams enjoyed tremendous success in the old WAC during the 1960s and ‘70s. UNM captured four-straight WAC titles from 1964-67, before the Miners went on to earn seven conference titles from 1970-79. One of the most storied programs in the nation, UTEP has captured 21 outdoor, indoor and cross country national titles since 1969.
Though UTEP has not won a national title since 1983 (men) or a conference crown since 1997 (men), the international Miner men and women will still provide a stiff test for Henry’s up-and-coming Lobo track and field program. Twenty-three of the 53 men and women on the UTEP roster are foreign-born, including all seven returning All-America honorees. Last year, the UTEP men and women finished second and fifth, respectively, at the WAC Outdoor Championships. New Mexico will need to use its solid depth to counter the Miners’ top individual scoring threats as both teams will look to open the 2003 outdoor season with a strong performance.
MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS A complete event schedule and results of the 2003 UTEP Springtime Invitational can be found on the official website of the UTEP athletic department:
A complete event schedule and results of the 2003 Stanford Invitational can be found on the official website of the Stanford athletic department:
LAST TIME (Modrall Sperling Don Kirby Invitational) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- University of New Mexico senior Keren Sari-Bentzur picked right up where she left off in 2002, breezing to a victory in the heptathlon on March 21 at the Modrall Sperling Don Kirby Invitational at Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. An NCAA heptathlon finalist last spring, Sari-Bentzur finished with a two-day score of 5,170, 170 points above the NCAA provisional qualifying standard. UNM sophomore transfer Ryan Voge finished second with 5,898 points, while Jason Simmons (6,115) of South Plains College moved up three spots to take the decathlon title.
Sari-Bentzur won five of the seven events on Thursday and Friday to finish 835 points ahead of her nearest competitor, Genea Long of NMSU (4,335). The Omer, Israel native captured the long jump (18-08.75) to begin this afternoon’s competition and finished a tight second in the 800 (2:24.86) to finish the day. True freshman Suzanne Nguyen also turned in solid performances in the long jump and 800 to move up to fifth (3,493 pts.) in the final standings.
On the men’s side, all three Lobos performed well in their first collegiate decathlon competitions. Voge enjoyed a solid lead through seven events, but slipped into second after failing to score any points in the pole vault. Trailing Simmons by 84 points, Voge was unable to make up any ground as the South Plains decathlete outscored him 1,231-1,098 in the final two events, the javelin and 1,500-meter run.
Meanwhile, true freshman Adam Frangos turned in a strong performance in his outdoor track and field debut. Frangos won the discus (118-11.00) and 1,500 (4:49.40) on Friday to move up two places into fourth place (5,672 pts.) in the final standings. Fellow freshman Robert Gunn, who was second after day one, slipped to fifth over the final five events, but still finished with a solid score of 5,610.
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. +