Outdoor Track: Gonzales Punches Ticket To Sacramento
STANFORD, Calif. -- University of New Mexico sophomores Matt Gonzales and Nick Martinez turned in a pair of stellar performances in their outdoor season debut late Friday night at the Stanford Invitational. Gonzales had the best 10,000-meter race of his career, finishing third in the top section with a time of 28:38.64, 22 seconds under the NCAA automatic qualifying standard. Meanwhile, Martinez clocked his fastest 5,000, finishing with a time of 14:23.55 to secure a berth in the NCAA Regional Championship field.
A 2001 cross country All-American, Gonzales finished just five seconds behind the 10K winner, Joep Tigchelaar of Florida State. The Santa Fe native ecclipsed his previous best by over three minutes to become the first member of the UNM men's team to qualify for the national championships under head coach Matt Henry. Senior heptathlete Keren Sari-Bentzur earned a NCAA provisional qualifying score last weekend in her season debut. The 2003 NCAA Outdoor Championship meet runs June 11-14 in Sacramento, Calif.
Earlier in the night, Martinez ensured his place at the inaugural NCAA Midwest Regional Championship meet in Lincoln, Neb. with his 17th place finish in the 5K. The Pojoaque native finished two seconds under the regional qualifying standard and will have a chance to join Gonzales in Sacramento later this year.
For the first time in NCAA history, participants at the national meet will be determined based on head-to-head competition at regional championship meets. Athletes must qualify for the regional championships, then once there, simply need to earn a top-five finish in their respective events to join the national field. The heptathlon, decathlon and 10,000 meter competitors must meet automatic or provisional standards as those events will not be held at the regional meets.