Outdoor Track: Lobos Venture Into Bayou Country For A Henry Family Reunion
UPCOMING University of New Mexico head coach Matt Henry and associate head coach Mark Henry lead the Lobo track and field team into Baton Rouge, La. this Saturday, April 12 for the LSU Alumni Gold meet. The Henrys will be greeted by a familiar face in older brother Pat Henry, the head coach of the Louisiana State University Tigers. LSU is currently ranked second in both the mens and womens national outdoor rankings and has captured 23 national titles since Pat, a 1973 graduate of UNM, took over the program in 1987. After split squad competition last weekend, New Mexico will take a full team to LSU. The action gets underway at 10:30 a.m. (MDT) at Bernie Moore Stadium, the site of the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
UNM senior Keren Sari-Bentzur is the only current Lobo who competed at the NCAA Championships last spring in Baton Rouge. Sari-Bentzur finished ninth in the two-day heptathlon competition in her last visit to Bernie Moore Stadium. The Henry brothers have gone head-to-head once before since Matt and Mark joined the collegiate coaching ranks in 2000, when LSU travelled to Albuquerque during the 2001 cross country season for the UNM Lobo Invitational. The younger Henrys got the better of Pat in their first meeting as New Mexico defeated LSU in both the mens and womens races.
MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS A complete event schedule and results of the LSU Alumni Gold track and field meet can be found on the official website of the Louisiana State University athletic department:
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING 101 The 2003 outdoor track and field season will be unique as the NCAA will use head-to-head competition for the first to determine the national championship field. This year, athletes must meet regional qualifying standards during the season to secure a berth in the field of their respective regional championship meets (East, Mideast, Midwest, West). Once at the regional meet, athletes need only to finish in the top-five of their respective events to advance to the national championship meet. However, competitors in the 10,000-meter run, heptathlon and decathlon still must use the old system of meeting provisional or automatic qualifying standards to earn a spot in the national championship field. The following is a quick overview of the NCAA Championship qualifying system:
Regional Qualifying: Athletes must meet minimum standards in their respective events, except for the 10,000m and heptathlon/decathlon, during the regular season in order to compete at the NCAA Regional Championship Meets the last weekend of May.
National Qualifying: Athletes, except for competitors in the 10,000 and heptathlon/decathlon, must place among the top-five in their respective events at the regional championship meet in order to advance to the national championship meet, June 11-4 in Sacramento, Calif. Provisional Qualifying Standards: Competitors in the 10K and heptathlon/decathlon who meet the provisional qualifying standard during the season are candidates to be selected for the national championship field. Provisional qualifiers are selected using a descending order performance list. The number of athletes selected from the provisional qualifiers list is determined by the number of automatic qualifiers in each event. The total number of athletes in the national championship field of each event is generally 16-18. Automatic Qualifying Standards: Competitors in the 10K or heptathlon/decathlon who meet the automatic qualifying standard during the season are guaranteed a spot in the national championship field.
LAST TIME (Texas Relays) AUSTIN, Texas -- The University of New Mexico turned in a solid performance at the elite 2003 Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, April 3-5, at Mike A. Myers Stadium. Three members of the UNM mens team, senior David Lloyd, sophomore Matt Keeran and junior Branden Bennett, earned Midwest Regional qualifying marks over the weekend. Lloyd clocked a time of 51.87 in the prelims of the 400-meter hurdles to advance to the event finals for the second-straight year. Lloyd recorded the fourth-fastest preliminary time, but finished eighth in the finals. Meanwhile, Keeran just missed his career-best with a throw of 205-09 to finish seventh in the B section javelin competition. Bennett wrapped up the final day of competition by finishing tied for 16th in the top section of the pole vault with a mark of 16-04.75.
In other action on the track, the mens 4x100-meter relay team of junior Ahmed Raji, Lloyd, senior Nick Lott and junior Chris Garofola recorded the fastest time in the Mountain West this season (41.16) to finish a solid 16th in the prelims. The foursome also ran their fastest 4x400m relay of the year, placing 21st in the prelims with a time of 3:13.97. Back in the field events, freshman Chris Ashcraft (15-11 - pole vault) and juniors Craig Keish (191-06 - javelin) and Jimmy Minner (187-02 - javelin) all recorded season bests.
Sophomore Amanda Barnes paced the womens team with her 13th place finish (46-00.75) in the top section of the shot put. The womens short and long relay teams were both unable to compete after freshman Sandra Maxwell injured her hamstring prior to the meet. Senior Keren Sari-Bentzur also had some bad luck in the long jump where she failed to meet the minimum mark after scratching on her first two attempts.
LAST TIME (NMSU Invitational) LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico men and women captured 11 events, including five in the throws, on April 5 at the NMSU Invitational. Sophomore Veronica Gonzales secured her place in the Midwest regional field by winning the javelin with a career-best throw of 138-10. Junior Jason Barkermeyer had career-best throws in the shot put and discus to pace the Lobo men.
Gonzales earned her second-straight victory of the season and increased her personal-best for the second time this year. The Carlsbad, N.M. native entered the season with a previous best mark of 125-10. She joined fellow sophomore, and former high school teammate, Amanda Barnes (shot put) as the first two UNM women to qualify for the Midwest Regional Championship meet later this year in Lincoln, Neb.
On the men's side, Barkermeyer enjoyed a career day with victories in the shot put and hammer throw, and a third place finish in the discus. The Belen, N.M. native recorded personal-best marks of 51-03 in the shot and 158-11 in the discus. Fellow junior Jordan Parker also notched a career-best mark of 49-01.50 in the shot put to finish second.
In other throwing events, redshirt freshman Reuben Trujillo picked up his first collegiate victory in the javelin (180-09), while sophomore Jamie Fishencord earned her first in the hammer throw with a team-best mark of 139-05. Fishencord finished also finished second in the discus with a season-best mark of 124-09, while true freshman Amanda Grover was the runner-up in the javelin with a season-best throw of 124-08.
Other New Mexico winners included: freshman Tiffany Grigg (400-meter hurdles), junior Erin Johnson (high jump & triple jump), sophomore Amber Nolte (pole vault), freshman RaShawn Jackson (400m) and freshman Rodney Hocker (long jump).
QUALIFIED Entering the LSU Alumni Gold meet, eight New Mexico athletes have earned qualifying marks for either the NCAA national or regional championship meets later this spring. Sophomore Matt Gonzales became the first Lobo under head coach Matt Henrys tenure to earn an automatic bid to the national championships with his time of 28:38.64 in the 10,000 at the Stanford Invitational (March 28). Gonzales is also the first member of the UNM mens team to compete at the NCAA Championships since 1998. Currently ranked third in the country, Gonzales will compete in the 10K at the NCAAs in Sacramento, Calif. on June 11. Meanwhile, senior Keren Sari-Bentzur, a 2002 NCAA participant, also has a good chance to join Gonzales in Sacramento. Sari-Bentzur is currently ranked sixth in the nation after surpassed the national provisional qualifying standard in the heptathlon with a score of 5,170 at the Don Kirby Invitational. She will likely compete twice more in the two-day event before the season ends. The 10,000 and heptathlon/decathlon are not held at the NCAA regional meets, so national championship participants are determined using the old automatic and provisional qualifying standards.
Six Lobos have also qualified for the Midwest Regional Championship meet in Lincoln, Neb. (May 30-31), where they will have a chance to move on to Sacramento with a top-five finish in their respective events. Sophomore Nick Martinez is ranked fourth in the region in the 5,000 after clocking a 14:23.55 at the Stanford Invite, while senior David Lloyds 400-meter hurdles time of 51.87 in the prelims of the Texas Relays (April 3) is ranked third in the region. Junior Branden Bennett is No. 6 ranked pole vaulter in the Midwest after clearing 16-04.75 at the Texas Relays (April 5), while sophomore Matt Keerans mark of 205-09 at Texas (April 4) is currently ranked 13th among the regions javelin throwers. On the womens side, sophomore Amanda Barnes school record-setting toss of 47-05.25 in the shot put is ranked sixth while fellow sophomore, and former high school teammate, Veronica Gonzales is ranked 17th in the region.
DANDY DUO The University of New Mexico had a pair of athletes voted among the first Trackwire.com top-12, or Dandy Dozen, event rankings list of the 2003 outdoor season on April 8. Sophomore Matt Gonzales, an NCAA automatic qualifier in the 10,000 is currently ranked eighth in the event by Trackwire. Meanwhile, senior Keren Sari-Bentzur, who placed ninth in the heptathlon at the 2002 NCAA Championships, is the 11th-ranked heptathlete in the latest Trackwire Dandy Dozen list. BARNES STORMING Sophomore Amanda Barnes wasted little time in establishing herself as the best shot put performer in UNM womens track and field history. In just her eighth career meet, Barnes set a new school record with a winning toss of 47-05.25 at the UTEP Springtime Invitational on March 29. The Carlsbad, N.M. native eclipsed Myra Smiths 1994 record of 47-05.00 one month after surpassing Smiths nine-year-old indoor record. Currently ranked No. 2 in the Mountain West Conference, Barnes placed fifth at the 2002 MWC Championship meet with a top throw of 46-08.75.
Barnes has improved her personal-best by nearly three feet since coming to UNM and has earned three career victories in the shot put. According to head coach Matt Henry, the presence of volunteer assistant coach Matt Kraft, a former Lobo thrower, this season has been a tremendous help to Barnes and the rest of the UNM throwers. With Kraft on board, up-and-coming Lobo throwers, like Barnes, are getting the one-on-one specialized training they need to take their performances to the next level. Barnes performance in the season-opener secured her spot in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship field on May 30 in Lincoln, Neb. Currently ranked sixth in the region, Barnes must place among the top-five in Nebraska to advance to the national championships in Sacramento, Calif.
GONZALES NAMED MWC MENS ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Sophomore Matt Gonzales was selected as the Mountain West Conference Mens Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week the league office announced on April 1. Gonzales is the first Lobo to earn the weekly award this year and fourth outdoor track athlete of the week honoree in head coach Matt Henrys tenure.
Gonzales turned in the best race of his collegiate track career, finishing third in the top section of the 10,000 meters at the elite Stanford Invitational with a time of 28:38.64 to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Outdoor Championship field in Sacramento, Calif. His time was 22 seconds under the NCAA automatic qualifying standard and over three minutes faster than his previous personal-best, recorded in a fourth place finish at the 2001 MWC Championships. The blazing time was also a new Mountain West Conference all-time record (29:05.37 - Teren Jameson, Utah) and is the third-fastest in the nation this year.
A 2001 cross country All-American, Gonzales led all MWC competitors in the race and finished just five seconds behind the 10K winner, Joep Tigchelaar of Florida State. The Santa Fe native is the first member of the UNM men's team to earn a spot in the NCAA Championship field since 1998 and the first athlete in Henry's three years to earn an automatic qualifying mark.
Three Lobos were voted Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week in 2002. Senior David Lloyd became the first member of the UNM mens team to earn the award on March 26, followed by junior Ben Ortega (April 25) and Kelli Myers (May 7). In its first two years of MWC competition, New Mexico had just one athlete (Monique Harris - 2000) honored by the conference.
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.